Friday, July 27, 2007

Review: The New Five.Ten Anasazi V2

Of course Five.Ten’s Anasazi isn’t a new shoe, but they did make improvements to the heel and slap their new Stealth Onyxx rubber on it for a V2 release. Five.Ten claims the new Onyxx rubber is “25percent more friction and twice the durability of other rubbers.” And, after trying them out for a few weeks, I have no doubts about that. I will chime back in later about the durability claim. My last two Anasazi’s blew out fast.

The heel improvements were supposed to make it more comfortable, but I never had an issue with the original heel from the V1. The new heel also has texture holes on the outside, which has come in handy more than once.

Before switching over to the new Anasazi I went through five pairs of the La Sportiva Cobra (R.I.P.). The rubber on those was just as sticky as the Anasazi only the toe was so precise. If I were to have one complaint about the Anasazi it would be the toe. Although I haven’t had much of an issue, the toe doesn’t seem to be as precise as it was with the Cobra. Also, I think a slight curve at the toe would help with precision. Nothing too severe, but just enough to give you that edge when you’re toeing in on a horizontal foothold and rocking over.

Overall I would give it an 8 out of 10. Here’s the breakdown:

Rubber: 10
Toe: 6
Heel: 9
Comfort: 8
Shape: 7

Price: High at $135

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Big Bear Lake: Holcomb Valley Pinnacles

After about two hours of commuting through the smoggy urban sprawl that is the Los Angeles metropolitan area we started our ascent into the San Bernardino Mountains . The drive up until this point is mind numbing with repetitive strip malls, In & Outs, condemned looking buildings, warehouses and what appear to be dumps. Los Angeles can sometimes seem to be a paradise that has been abused for way too long.

Once we get close enough the mountains start to appear through the haze. Next thing you know we're at over 7,000 feet elevation and what appears to be 100s of miles from LA. The Holcomb Valley Pinnacles are hidden in the San Bernardino Mountains outside of Big Bear Lake. The free camping, remote location and amazing climbing make for an excellent escape from the local sweltering crags and bustling city. Although still quite hot during the day in the sun, you can still find plenty of shade and sticky granite to cling to.

To get to the crag you end up driving for about 30-45 minutes down a 4x4 trail that seems to be made only for dirt bikes or horses. But, once you arrive, you are parked within 10 meters of the nearest climbs and can set up camp wherever you please. As my friend Hong likes to put it: You could literally roll out of your tent and grab the first hold on the route.

The climbing is excellent with ratings ranging from to 5.12c(ish). Although mostly bolted, there are also many opportunities to whip out the gear and make your way up cracks or chimneys. The routes offer slab, flakes, roofs, mantles, jugs and just about anything else you could imagine. And, not only is the area aesthetic, but the routes often feel exposed (well, exposed for single pitch routes) yet are well protected. Most of the routes are 5.10, but there are plenty harder ones to keep you busy for a weekend.

Justin rapping in fine form. SoCal Ladies: If you're impressed with this stud call 281-300-8392 for rapp lessons.

After two days of hand numbing cranking we begrudgingly made our descent back down under the cloud of haze and eight lane highways leading to five days of commuting to work before getting back out to do it all over again. Who knows, maybe I'll finally get up to Yosemite this weekend…if it's not too hot.


Friday, July 13, 2007

Roasting in SoCal

Although primarily arid, it’s starting to get quite hot here in SoCal. Most of the climbing areas either have long approaches with no shade or no relief at the crag ­– in the LA area at least. Most people are heading for high altitude areas around Big Bear and Idyllwild. In a sense it’s good because it forces you to venture away from the local crags. I was really hoping it would give me an excuse to get out to Yosemite or Bishop, but it appears to be just as brutal up there.

On the east coast it seemed to be the other way around. It was impossible to climb during the winter and the best times to get out were all throughout the summer months. I guess some folks would venture up into the Adirondacks to get a break from the sun exposed Gunks routes, but coming from Texas I was more than content with sticking to a full summer at the Gunks.

I was in central Texas climbing this past week and not only was it unbearably hot and humid, but it was slimy as hell from the unrelenting rain they’ve been getting. I had nearly forgotten about the mosquitoes there too.

I hate to make it sound like I am complaining…I mainly wanted to point out this change in seasons which forces us to venture to new or at least different crags. It naturally influences us to change up our climbing routine and keeps us from developing a comfort zone and resorting to the same ol’ same ol’. Use it as an excuse and get another road trip under your belt.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Crankin' so I don't get cranky

Climbing sometimes seems like medicine to me. If I don't take it, I get sick. I am sharpest at work, best in my relationships and happiest in life when I am getting a fair share of climbing. If I get too busy or things come up and I go a week or so without climbing, I definitely feel the repercussions. I get cranky. I fee irritable. And, can become unhappy in general.

I have to catch myself and make it happen sometimes before I go completely insane. I find that if I have had a hard day at work or if other things are getting me down, climbing will always bring back to a good balance and put a smile on my face. It's sometimes hard to explain to people, not everyone gets it unless they have an obsession as well.

Climbing isn't the easiest passion to have. It often takes your entire day to get out to the parking spot, hike to the crag and get a few routes in. It also can often wear you out for the night ­– killing your social life. Also, to keep from getting bored you need to change it up on occasion by taking a road trip or if you're lucky going to some climbing spot overseas. It's not as easy as picking up a guitar for a few hours or taking paint to a canvas in your garage (not to discount any of those passions).

Climbing can be high maintenance, but it worth every minute and ounce of energy...we just need to convince our significant others of that.