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1-5-8.5

A few years ago I got hooked on the campus board.  It's a great way for me to train power and I really enjoy it.  I go long stretches where I don't practice it at all, and then I'll get back into it and train on it once a week.  I do a cardio warm up and boulder lightly for 45 minutes.  After that I get to the board where I follow a modified version of Ben Moon's workout. Immediately I was fascinated with the magical 1-5-9: Start matched on rung 1, move up to rung 5, then to rung 9. Match, drop, and rejoice.

1-5-9 was made famous in the film "The Real Thing" - The first true bouldering feature film, "The Real Thing" was released in 1996 and chronicled British legends Ben Moon and Jerry Moffat on a trip to Fontainebleau.  At one point in the video they're training on a campus board and Ben completes a new personal best going from the bottom of the board to the top in only two moves doing "1-5-9".  I say "1-5-9" in quotes because if you watch the video (which everyone should) you can see that the last rung on the board is only at half the regular spacing because they have run out of room on the wall.  So, Ben Moon's accomplishment is actually "1-5-8.5" according to the specifications of his board.

This "1-5-9" soon became the aspiration of all would-be tough campus boarders.

The first board that I trained on had rungs spaced at 8 inches apart.  After a while I achieved 1-5-9, to much screaming and excitement.  It was at this time when I became interested in the specifics of the campus board design in hopes of measuring exactly how valuable my accomplishments were.

The original campus board was built in 1988 by Wolfgang Gullich.  Although I've never officially heard first hand, this board is believed to have had rungs spaced at 8 inch distances and is the reason why a number of boards worldwide have this spacing.

The original campus board

After training on that original board with Wolfgang, Jerry Moffat built his own campus board at the famous "School Room" in Sheffield, England.  This board was built with rungs spaced at 22cm (except the last one) and this spacing has slowly become the standard spacing for an official campus board.

The board in the "School Room"

After researching online and speaking to climbers in Sheffield, Altitude Climbing Gym built a beautiful campus board completely to specifications:

- Approximately 20 degrees overhanging - Rungs spaced at 22cm - Columns of large, medium, and small rungs.

I have been on the campus board once a week for a about a month and I've recently repeated my personal best achieved in March 2009. I completed 1-5-8.5 on 22cm spaced medium-sized rungs!  This is a big deal for me and it’s equal to Ben Moon’s accomplishment in The Real Thing. I’m really excited. Here is a video snapped with my mobile phone:

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While symbolic of a great accomplishment for myself, it's also a pretty good achievement in the climbing community and certainly not a usual occurrence.  However, keep in mind that Malcolm Smith and Daniel Woods have done 1-5-8.5 STATIC.  Alternatively, there's only a handful of people who are rumoured to have done 1-5-9 at 22cm, a feat which has been discussed to be around the V14 level of effort. I can't wait to get back at it and keep reaching for that last half rung.

If this got you psyched here's some other fun stuff:

In this video Nalle Hukkataival does 1-5-9 on a board with 20cm spacing.

In this video fellow Flashed climber Yves Gravelle does a number of impressive feats on a board with 20cm spacing.  1-6-10 is truly impressive.

For even more reading on the topic Jamie Emerson wrote an interesting article in 2010 with some good comments.

100 V10+ and Bishop Video

For a while now I’ve been really excited to achieve a small personal climbing goal – climbing one hundred boulder problems that are V10 or harder. I noticed in Hueco that I was relatively close. I haven’t been chasing V10 to achieve it but I’ve been excited every time I do another V10+. Before taking a week off I had a great climbing day with fellow Flashed athlete Max Moore in Las Vegas. He showed me a bunch of the new boulders he has been climbing and I repeated all of them and managed to get my 100th V10+. I can't wait to get my next 100.

I recently made a new video featuring only a small collection of the climbs that were done during our 3 weeks in Bishop California.

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Here’s some spray about some of the climbs I did recently:

The Aquarium V12 – Amazing cool boulder problem. You start climbing up this soft V10 and then traverse a long ways out this roof. The Crux is a hard drop-down move. 17+ hand moves. Lately I’ve been psyched on these long power endurance routes. Such as…

Bubba Lobotomy V12 – This is a traverse into Toxic Avenger (one of the best problems ever). The traverse isn’t very long but it makes the crux dyno at the end of Toxic Avenger really hard. I fell like 25 times at the last move. The pockets rip up your skin so much. I had so much fun working this one.

Cholos – V9 (featured in the video below) – One of the hardest V9 I’ve done. It’s certainly V10 difficulty if you ask me. It has the smallest pocket I’ve ever pulled on – a half-pad first two finger open pocket. Ends with a crazy slow-motion dyno (see the video).

Mandance V11 (featured in the video below) – This one is super hard in my opinion. You don’t see a lot of people doing this one. Super painful first hold and then just hard moves. My feet cut and I swung around 5 times before being able to put them back on. Crazy.

Hueco 2012

Our time in Hueco Tanks has come and gone and we're now in Las Vegas.  We hope to stay here for 3+ weeks to climb on the cool rocks of Southern Nevada and Southern Utah. I had a fantastic time in Hueco Tanks.  I didn't climb anything extremely difficult for me but I feel very satisfied.  It seemed that there were two distinct levels of boulders for me - those I could do and those I couldn't.  Usually I can project something and it will turn from impossible to possible but not this trip.  The impossible remained impossible.  I was ready to leave but truly I could have stayed there forever.

We met so many nice people on the trip and that is what made it really great.  I know everyone always says that when they blog about a trip but it's true.

At the start of the trip I really wasn't recording any ascents at all.  I find that I am always under motivated to take video at Hueco - maybe it's because I'm so focused on the climbing?  Not sure.  After two weeks or so I started putting the camera on record.

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The first video features some really cool climbs. I think the video turned out well.  I found that if I add a little extra sharpness in post-processing it really improves the video quality by a lot.  Do you notice any difference in picture quality compared to my previous videos?  

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This second video was some extra footage that we recorded on the last day we were there.  My friend Jesse took us up to a cool climb called Theater of the Absurd and I had a lot of fun climbing with him.

Hueco was full of Canadians and fellow Flashed Athletes. I climbed a lot with the famous Max Moore who is crushing it all. Also Ben and Krissy Blakney were there having tons of success. Go Team Flashed.

Little Rock City & Rocktown

Well we've finally managed to pull away from Chattanooga. I think that the bouldering in the Southern US is some of the best around. In particular I really enjoyed Little Rock City. I doubt it's just my opinion, but the lines there just attract me more than anywhere else. I want to climb them all, easy and hard ones. We stayed for about one month. I had a tough time climbing anything really hard. I would do the V9s in a few tries but anything harder was quite an ordeal for the most part. I got stronger as the weeks went by however. I think it was because of the southern BBQ! This is probably the best reason to go bouldering in the south - pork sandwich with 'slaw. Mmmmmm.

Below are the two videos that I've made documenting our time down there. I'm really happy with the way they turned out - especially the second one.

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We're spending the Christmas Holidays up in Northwestern Ontario before hitting the road again for Hueco after new years. I can't wait for the warm sun, burritos, and soft grades!

Fontainebleau Video Volume 2

As promised, our second video of climbing in Fontainebleau. I've mainly been projecting hard boulders so I haven't been sending much. I've been challenging myself a lot and it's been frustrating at times, but that's what it takes. [vimeo video_id="31730159" width="580" height="326" title="Yes" byline="Yes" portrait="Yes" autoplay="No" loop="No" color="00adef"]

Leanna has been climbing well. She recently had two solid days where she completed two of her projects. The weather has been quite damp. The forest certainly does not want to dry after the rain and many of the holds stay damp-ish. Relative humidity is high, usually around 60-70%.

All of our friends (Seely, Pallek, Moher) have returned home so we're flying solo until we depart.

This video features Atmosphère assis, Hypothèse, and Le Mandarin Droite. Atmosphère assis is an amazing line that was recommended to us by our neighbour Bruno from Switzerland. Moher was psyched to find it so we went one day. The first move is likely the crux and it's unfortunately more difficult for short people. The direction of the line and the movement on this boulder is top notch. It is very pretty to see too with the sloping rail and the sharp arete. I'm surprised this boulder is not more popular.

Hypothèse is a classic hard problem at Cuvier. I think Jerry Moffat may climb it in "The Real Thing" but I can't be sure because I don't have the DVD here. The first hold is a small crimp. After that you float up the boulder on virtually non-existent feet. You can't "try the top" moves or anything (this is typical in Fontainebleau because of the style of the boulders) so you must start from the bottom each time. It took me 4 or 5 sessions to complete. Some of those sessions were in bad conditions or while tired. The start crimp has broken a few times since it received the original grade, so many believe it could be more difficult now. They have not adjusted the grade to reflect the new difficulty.

Le Madarin Droite is another beautiful boulder. Maybe not the most beautiful in appearance but it has some really wonderful movements. You may see in the video when Adam reaches for the lip of the top of the boulder that he has a left toe hooked underneath. These floaty / drifty moves are so much fun and sometimes you wonder how you're able to move from these positions at all. The humidity during that video was insane. Once the sun goes down the conditions get worse instead of better. The humidity skyrockets and the rock gets really moist. You'll see me brushing the wet chalk off as he's climbing.

Hope you like the video. Please comment.