Sunday, December 19, 2010

Albert Nugue: 10/26/75 - 12/19/2010

My old coach, Albert Nugue, passed away last month. This is dedicated to you, buddy.

You were one of the best people I've ever known. We all miss your laugh and great big smile you always seem to have. It seems unfair that you would be taken from your life so quickly, but only the good die young. You were the best. Always willing to encourage others, you always were able to create a bond within the people you were around with your commitment the group and especially the team. Your inspiration to us all to be a better person touched many lives, mine being one of them. I will always remember you as my other dad on team trips, and your breakfast burritos will go down in history. Thanks for being the greatest friend and mentor in climbing and in life. Your aspiration to live to the fullest and to make the most out of everything! You were the best coach, father, friend, and brother I've ever had. Miss you, bro.

One of Albert's favorite places, Shuteye Ridge

Albert's dog Baloo

Super Albert!

Good times

Winning the Regional Championships 2005

Tuolumne Meadows

Wherever I May Roam
Dedicated to Albert
by: Lindsay Fixmer

Friday, December 3, 2010

PG Sunnyvale Bloc Party 11/19/10

Quick post to get back up to date. A couple weeks ago I competed in the 3rd Planet Granite Bloc Party at PG Sunnyvale. It was great to get back into bouldering and have a great time climbing without stressing out over anything. The problems were great, there was tons of pizza, and the finals were amazing to watch. I ended up winning the redpoint comp, but since I didn't compete in the other three competitions I didn't have enough points to make finals. Thanks PG for putting on such a great show! Definitely looking forward to next year already. Here are a few pictures from the comp courtesy of Will Scharffenberger and Ivan Cua:

last move of problem #39
photo: Will Scharffenberger

working problem #40
photo: Will Scharffenberger

PG crew! Mike, Stephanie, Mitch, and Mike A.
photo: Ivan Cua

Eric Sanchez crushing problem #36
photo: Ivan Cua

Natasha Barnes dominating women's final #1
photo: Ivan Cua

topping out #37
photo: Will Scharffenberger

Friday, October 1, 2010

Update: Youth World Championships - Scotland 2010

... Where did the summer go? It seems like so long ago that I was training for nationals and worlds. That was way before I got back to school. 11th grade is killing me. After missing a week to go to Scotland for worlds and another week due to pneumonia, I got really far behind and ended up having to switch some of my classes just to have a workable schedule. Unfortunately, this put climbing on the sideline and I ended up making a really hard decision not to go to Ecuador in November for the Pan-American Championships in order to catch up in school. Anyways.... I finally found the time to update my blog. It's been a while. Bear with me.

A couple weeks ago, I competed in the IFSC Youth World Championships in Edinburgh, Scotland (pronounced edin-burah). This was my third time at worlds, and my expectations of myself were pretty high, considering my track record from the last two world championships. I ended up doing fairly well, but in hindsight I probably should've put a little less pressure on myself, taking into account that I moved up into Male Youth A this year (16-17) and the competition was a lot stiffer.

I headed out of SFO International to Scotland on saturday (9/5) with my friend Alex Fritz, who had flown down from Seattle earlier that morning. We definitely took full advantage of the in-flight tvs on the back of each seat. I watched The Departed (amazing movie btw) and ended up winning the British equivalent of Who Wants to be a Millionaire (my best achievement of the trip!!) while drifting off to sleep a couple times.

Alex Fritz. Good times. Miss ya buddy.

We connected in Paris, then had a short flight to Edinburgh which got us into the hotel at around 10pm. First of all, the hotel we were staying in was what looked like a 500 year old CASTLE. Or so we thought. According to a local, turns out the place was renovated in the 70's to attract more tourists to use the golf course on the hotel property. Lamee. Alex and I took some pictures while messing with the lighting of the grounds at night before we headed off to bed.

My dad and me chillin in Edinburgh.

Over the next couple days, we did some general sightseeing around St. Andrews, downtown Edinburgh, and Edinburgh Castle. The US team also had a training camp in a gym built inside an old church, which was kind of trippy when you looked up and saw the dusty old rafters looming out at you.

Gardens of St. Andrews

Graveyard in St. Andrews

Super old castle.

Finally, it was time for the comp. Everyone woke up early on thursday morning to take the US team bus over to the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena (EICA) for the first round of qualifiers. We weren't exactly ready for what we saw. The gym was HUGE. Built inside an abandoned quarry, the highest wall in the gym was over 100 feet tall, but the main comp wall dominated the gym and was the most imposing feature in there by far.

The Crew (left to right): Charlie Andrews, Alex Enright, Alex Johnson.

My first qualifier was on the far left side of the overhanging wall, with a killer crux in the roof section at the top. I warmed up pretty well, and ended up climbing pretty confidently, but as soon as I hit the first roof section I got unbelievably pumped and fell going for the last hold in the overhang. I felt pretty confident my effort was solid, but since so many kids topped the route or fell going for the final hold, it put me back into 29th place. Only the top 26 move on to semi-finals. Crapppp. I still had a shot, but that was only if I placed high enough on qualifier #2. Time to get psyched..

The next morning, I got to sleep in and headed over to the competition with my friend Charlie Andrews, who came to watch qualifiers and do speed climbing later that afternoon. My route was directly to the right of the day before, meaning straight up the most overhanging roof section in the gym. Pretty sweet. I scoped it out, and ended up pulling all the way to the lip a couple holds down from the finish before giving a last ditch effort to try to get the highest score possible. All to do was wait.

1st Qualifier
photo: Alex Fritz

photo: Alex Fritz

After carefully watching the rest of the kids in my category climb, I figured that any single climber could make or break my getting into semifinals by a single hold. Then the results were posted. I sprinted across the gym and.... I MADE IT! 26th place. Last spot in. Which would mean I would go first the next day. I didn't care. I was pumped.

That evening, I did my first two speed qualifier rounds, putting up a personal best of 10.37, which put me in 8th place for finals on sunday. Pretty solid, considering I was hitting around 16 seconds the year before.

The next morning I got up early to climb in semifinals. I was kind of nervous, but managed to get a good warm up and get mentally ready to get on the route. When everyone went out for preview, we weren't very surprised to find that our route was straight up the most overhanging part of the whole gym, straight into a roof and out to the top. It looked ridiculous. As soon as I got on the first couple moves, I knew it was one of the hardest comp routes I've done in a comp. I only got to about the 6th or 7th draw before cruxing out by missing a key heel hook. Oh well. Turns out a lot of other kids on the US team didn't do so great either. We only got two kids into finals, which I'm pretty sure is one of our worst turnouts ever. Huge props to Ben Hoberg and Sasha Digulian for making it though. You guys do us proud.

After watching difficulty finals that night and trading one of my US team jerseys for a Japanese one, I headed back to the hotel to sleep. I got up the next morning ready for speed finals, knowing that I would have to get on top of my game to advance on to finals. I ended up facing Guillaume Moro from France in the first round, but had a minor slip around the 10m mark which cost me the round. He ended up having to go against Russian Viacheslav Vendenchuk in the 2nd round, who ended up winning the whole comp anyways. I would've been killed. Kinda goes to show you how slim the margin of error there is at this level of competition as well.

That pretty much did it for Worlds 2010 edition. Fun comp, and I did pretty well for my age category (16-17 guys), placing 26th in difficulty and 13th in speed. I also had a ton of fun hanging out with everyone on the US team, can't wait for next year in Austria! peace outtt.

the golf course where we stayed. jealous?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

US Team Training Camp

Just got back from Atlanta. Again. This time, I was there for the US National Team Training camp set up by Claudiu Videscelu, the US Team coach. The camp was six days long at Stone Summit, and everyone there was climbing at a level that pushed everyone to try harder on every single climb.

I trained for both difficulty and speed climbing, since I am competing in both events at the Youth World Championships in two weeks in Scotland. Overall, the training wasn't as bad as a normal day of practice, but after climbing for 3 hours in the morning and another 5 or so in the afternoon, my skin started to become more like shredded food. The speed climbing training was the hardest by far, and by the end of camp, there were blood trails on every single hold.

work done.

However, the camp got me stronger than I've ever felt before worlds. My routes endurance is way up, and I had a blast hanging out with everyone there at camp. I was especially psyched to climb with Ashima Shirashi, the little 9 year old girl that you probably saw sending Power of Silence (v10) in Hueco on DPM. This girl crushed all my projects in the lead cave and boulder area, and she's ready for more. Get ready for the future, everybody.

Ashima crushing the 13a in the roof

Fun camp, getting stronger for worlds every day. Live footage of the competition will be online during September 8-12th. Check it out at and get psyched to see some of the best youth climbers in the world compete on the biggest stage there is! USA!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Mickey's Beach 7/28/10

Mickey's Beach: Some of the best North Bay bouldering the Bay Area has to offer. Last month I headed up with my friend Mitch Newman to check out the area yet again and see if we could hit up some of the harder problems in the area. Pretty good day overall.

photo: Mitch Newman

We started out at the Orange Buddha Boulder and warmed up. I love the area around this boulder as there are tons of decent warm ups, some of them right above the surf of the Pacific Ocean. My favorite is a sandy v1 that directly faces the ocean and requires you to time exactly when you run out to hop on to avoid the tide that coasts in immediately after you start climbing. The entire time while climbing the problem, the ocean cascades below you and the fresh ocean air swirls all around. It's not something to miss out on.

After warming up, Mitch and I got on Orange Buddha Arete (v8) and I was able to fire it off in about 5 or 6 goes. Mitch sent it quickly after, sending again for the camera. Proud, dude! ...Especially since it's his hardest of the grade by far. We were both pretty psyched! I also sent the super long and pumpy Hammerhead Traverse (v7) after falling off the last hard move on my flash attempt. The problem traverses half the Orange Buddha Boulder and finishes up the warm-up crack at the end. The whole thing took me more than a couple goes to suss out the beta and figure out the finish. Cool problem though.

Hammerhead Traverse v7
photo: Mitch Newman

At the end of the day, Mitch and I headed just up the road to Stinson Beach and worked the area classics Manitou and Little Wing (v11 and v9, respectively) and got some cool shots while working some unknown beach problems on the High Tide Boulder. After almost sticking the crux move on the problems, we decided to call it a day and headed home. Can't wait to get back out there again.

looking to stick a move on Little Wing v9
photo: Mitch Newman

Mitch on Little Wing

Me on Little Wing
photo: Mitch Newman

Ice cream at the local cafe. Don't miss out.

Stinson Beach

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

2010 SCS Nationals / Training

Atlanta in mid-July is HOT. That was my first thought as I stepped off the plane last month to get ready for the 2010 SCS Nationals at Stone Summit, the largest climbing gym in the country. I got to Atlanta two weeks early to train at the gym with the US Team coach, Claudiu Videscelu, and a bunch of my friends from all over the US.

When everyone first walked into the gym, the first impression was to stand back and look in awe at the sheer size of the walls. The highest wall is over 60 feet tall, with many roofs and overhangs in between. However, the most impressive part is a 50 foot long roof section that connects all the way through to the lead area above. Sickkk.

Over the next two weeks, I trained with everyone else at the gym and outdoors at Foster Falls, preparing myself for Nationals. We spent most of the day in the gym either projecting or doing laps with speed training at the end, then would go back to the clubhouse we were staying in to relax and have dinner. We had some fun times playing Jungle Speed, pool, doing magic tricks, bro talk, etc. We all had a great time with everyone there.

Working the dyno on Ethnic Cleansing 12b
all photos: Chaz Crawford

Then, all of the sudden, it was time for Nationals. On the first day, walking back into the same gym where we had done endless hours of training and suddenly feeling the pressure of the competition was huge. But I was able to calm myself down, and easily sent my first qualifier route going straight up the headwall in the middle of the gym. Speed climbing later that night went pretty smoothly, and I was able to hit both my times in the 6 second range, the same times as in practice. First place after qualifiers in speed and difficulty!

Day 2 of qualifiers was pretty much a repeat of day 1, but the routes were a lot harder. Our climb started at the far back end of the gym and worked its way onto the huge roof, with lots of campusing and power moves before cutting up onto the slab the last few moves with some small crimps. After watching around 10 or so people fall towards the end of the overhang and on the slab, (flash format) I went into iso to warm up and get ready. When it was my turn, I tried to climb the beginning part as quickly as I could to conserve energy for the last sequence. the roof moves pumped me out a fair amount, but I was able to power through them and cruise the upper crux to top it out, along with Julian Bautista and Andrew Kim.

Qualifier #2
photos: Aja Neahring

Speed semifinals were that afternoon, and I was pretty nervous before my turn to climb. In this format, the qualifier times determined who you would be climbing against; 1st vs 2nd, 3rd vs 4th... down to 15th vs 16th. I was paired up with my friend Addison Kim from Dallas in semifinals, and we were both really psyched to race each other after having the two fastest times from the day before. Unfortunately, Addison's hand slipped on the first run, and as he reached down to stop himself from falling, the rope caught him and he was pulled off the wall, disqualifying him from the comp. I still got to climb, but it wasn't the race we were both hoping for. Oh well.

The next morning we got to wake up a little later due to split schedule and onsight format that day. Being used to flash format from the last two days, I was a little nervous walking into isolation and having a huge tarp covering our view of the wall. When we went out for preview, our route turned out to be around the same place where our first qualifier was, a little to the left. It looked like pretty sustained hard moves, up to a huge sideways dyno about 2/3rds of the way up, and an impossible looking finish. Cool. Being tied for first from qualifiers, I went last after Andrew Kim. I found my pace after the first few moves, and fired it up to the rest before the dyno. I rested there for a couple minutes, then hit the dyno and tried to fire the last boulder problem. Thinking too quickly, I tried to reach a hold around the arete without letting go of my heelhook first, and it pulled me down, stopping my movement and forcing me off the wall. I felt like I could still keep going, but that's what happens in comps sometimes, and you just have to live with it and focus on the next route ahead. I still ended up tied for third that day, which put me in striking range for finals the next day.

Semifinal Route
photos: Aja Neahring

sticking the massive dyno

I went back to my friend Charlie Andrew's hotel after I had finished climbing to rest and get ready for speed finals that night. I tried to relax and not focus on the comp, but I still found it hard not to think about having to compete in a couple hours time. I had never lost a speed competition at nationals before, and I needed to be focused in order to pull it off again. When we finally headed over to the gym, I felt ready for whatever would happen. Turns out, I hadn't expected one thing: they had dimmed the lights in the whole gym and put spotlights on the speed wall, creating a huge show for spectators! This surprised me, but it got me excited to climb even more. I ended up pulling off a time of 6.36, which was the record for the comp so far! Even better, Charlie and I had another 1-2 finish from last year in speed, meaning we would both be going to worlds for sure! Very psyched with the results, but I had to get to bed to get ready for sport finals the next day.

US 10m Speed Record: 6.36 seconds

Before finals, I wasn't as nervous as I had been the day before. It might've been that I got more sleep, or the fact that I had already been through one round of onsight, but I felt way more confident than the day before. Our route turned out to be a long traverse with a bunch of jugs and huge rests the whole way. YESSSS. It was probably one of the coolest routes I've ever been on in a competition. I went after my friend Alex Fritz, who had come close to making US team the year before, but really wanted to make it even more this year. I pulled through the juggy lower section pretty easily, and made it up to the very last crux, where I rested for a while before pulling the last few moves and dynoing for the finish, which I barely missed.

Finals Route
photos: Faith Sullivan

I ended up in 2nd place overall after Julian Bautista, with the score between me and Owen Graham being decided on the 2nd qualifier route. Alex made the national team as well, coming in 5th place for the entire comp. Proud, dude! Overall, I placed much better than I was expecting, and now I can look forward to climbing in both speed and difficulty at worlds in Edinburgh this September. Scotland, here I come!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Smith Rocks 2010

It’s been about three years since I’ve been to Smith Rocks. I’d forgotten how beautiful it is. Located in central Oregon, it takes a fair amount of driving from any direction to get there. We drove in from Portland after divisionals, meaning we drove past Mount Hood, the largest mountain in Oregon. It just got better from there.
I decided to go back to Smith with my friend Charlie Andrews so we could climb together and hang out for our first week of no-school summer. Pretty awesome. After driving for about three hours, we arrived at Smith to meet up with team Rocksport from Reno and we all went out for dinner in town after setting up tent.
After dinner, we decided to make a spur of the moment run back into the park to grab some huckleberry ice cream from the small family-owned climbing shop just outside the campground. Just saying right now… best. ice cream. EVER. If I was going to quit climbing right now, I would still make it all the way back out there just for that ice cream. It’s that good. Anyways… I had a double.
The next morning, we headed out a little later than we were hoping, mostly due to the fact Charlie and I had watched Superbad in my tent the night before with Lucas Larson, one of our friends from Reno. We lathered on the sunscreen, took off our shirts, and hiked down into the Smith Rocks River gorge.
Charlie and I decided to warm up on Heresy (11c). This four-bolt mini route is on the far right side of the Christian Brothers Wall, and it’s probably one of the shortest fun routes I’ve done. I did this climb when I was 11, and until then, it was by far my hardest send at Smith. Charlie hopped on it first, onsighting it and putting up the draws for me. I sent it first go as well, but it was still a little harder than I remember.
Charlie looking up climbs in the guide

Our next challenge turned out to be the most classic climb at Smith that you can get, Chain Reaction (12c). According to many different [questionable] sources, this is the most photographed climb in America. Apparently, it also made the cover of Newsweek in the mid 90’s. I’ll have to look into that.
I started working it first, making the sketch first clip at about 20 feet with a great deal of nerves almost getting the best of me. The crux for me was at the 3rd clip, where you have to make a couple moves up the arĂȘte while keeping your balance on really bad left crimp. I was able to get up it first try, but it took me 3 more goes to actually send it, not including one where I pulled on only to have my foot pop off and almost deck. Charlie sent the route on his second go, then did it again for the cameras. Proud, dude!
Charlie sending twice
finally sticking the crux moves

(all photos: Eric Wang)
After our double send of the route, we decided to go work Churning in the Wake (13a), recommended by Alex Fritz, who sent it on his last trip here. It’s a seven-bolt crimp route starting off with some powerful monos with the crux at the very last move, coming off of bad holds to a dyno to the finish. I got to the last bolt on my first try, but I think I might need to work it a bit more to figure out all the beta. Charlie had a one-hang on his second go, so I think he can do it pretty soon. We headed out after that, promising to ourselves we’d come back the next day.
hard day's work.

The next morning we woke up to… rain. Lots of it. This meant no climbing, and a very wet and muddy packing out of the whole park. As we left the park, I managed to catch one last glimpse back at Smith, taking in all of its natural beauty. I want to come back to this place, I thought to myself. I’m pretty sure I will.
bouldering at Lava Beds National Monument, CA
on the long drive home