Monday, February 22, 2016

Media Part 2 - Climbing Podcasts

It's a great time for audio content on the Internet. Several high quality climbing podcasts have appeared over the last four years. Combined with others that fit well with an outdoor mindset, and you have the potential for hours of engaging listening each month. We've placed so many podcasts on our favorites list, in fact, that we've divided them into two separate posts. In this one we feature four five that are climbing specific, with the general ones covered next time.

Here are the climbing podcasts:


Host: Chris Kalous. Launched: Dec 2011

The climbing podcast by which all others shall be measured. In December, 2015 the Enormocast celebrated its four-year anniversary. Host Chris Kalous has done a remarkable job of producing high quality, entertaining episodes, two per month, with only one missed in the entire run since first airing in December of 2011.

Kalous is a lifer, a climber rooted in the "Bro-muda Triangle" of Indian Creek, Rifle and Black Canyon of the Gunnison. He's traveled the world through 4 decades devoted to the climbing lifestyle, along the way amassing a who's who list of friends from the climbing scene, many of whom are featured in one or more Enormocast episodes.

Topics range from the comedic (anything with Kelly Cordes), to the serious (back-to-back episodes featuring Hayden Kennedy and the chopping of the Compressor Route on Cerro Torre), to the poignant and inspiring (Kevin Landolt's battle with leukemia). Kalous brings a light, easy, conversational style to his podcasts, reminiscent of Charlie Rose. The listener can often hear the snap-hiss of a PBR tallboy opening during an episode as Kalous guides his guests through engaging stories from lives lived fully. Above all, Kalous demonstrates the most important skill an interviewer can have: he knows when to stay quiet and let his guests hit their stride.


Chalk Talk

Host: John Blomquist. Launched: May 2014

Billed as a "climbing industry podcast," Chalk Talk is the creation of Reno-based climber John Blomquist. According to his bio, Blomquist has only been climbing since 2008. He must have hit the ground running, because in that short time he's managed a climbing gym, worked in various capacities in the climbing industry, met a bunch of significant people, set for national comps, and fired up a high quality podcast averaging more than two episodes a month since its inception in May of 2014.

Based on this evidence, we can picture Blomquist as a guy who discovered climbing and got so psyched that he wanted to know everything about it. But instead of just wondering aloud from his crashpad between project burns, Blomquist rounded up climbing industry leaders, pro athletes and other dedicated climbers, and brought them onto the airwaves for the rest of us to benefit from and enjoy.

Blomquist is a great host, displaying a quality, professional interview style. He stays true to the "industry podcast" tag by ensuring that each episode contains at least a dash, if not an entire serving, of the inner workings of the climbing scene. This might be what went into the development of hundreds of new boulder problems in the Tahoe area, or how and why the founders of Friction Labs started a brand new chalk company.

Chalk Talk has emerged as a reliable source for insight into the world of modern climbing. Let's hope John Blomquist keeps the fire burning for a long time to come. Significant changes are taking place in our sport, and Chalk Talk is well positioned to explore and investigate the trends that will help define the future.



Host: Neely Quinn. Launched: February 2014

Look anywhere in the context of bouldering, gym or sport climbing these days and you'll quickly encounter the topic of Training. For those who subscribe to "climbing as a lifestyle," this can be anathema. But the reality is, as athletes push the boundaries of human capacity ever further into the grades, as competition climbing moves closer to becoming an Olympic event, as the sport matures (or if you prefer, as rock climbing becomes a sport), advancements in difficulty will depend on training.

Avid climber and professional nutritionist Neely Quinn must have recognized this trend two years ago when she launched the TrainingBeta Podcast. TrainingBeta's release was bracketed by the appearance of two important books: Gimme Kraft (Aug 2013) from the German camp that trains Alex Megos, and the Anderson Brothers' excellent The Rock Climber's Training Manual (March 2014). Each serves as evidence of recent developments and increased interest in serious training, and Quinn's prescience in starting her podcast.

Quinn approaches her guests not as an authority, but as a climber herself who is trying to understand the complexity of training concepts and programs. In that way, she represents every climber and the questions, doubts and desires we all share when it comes to improving performance. Her disarming approach must be working quite well, for Quinn's guests include many of the biggest and most accomplished individuals in modern climbing: Ben Moon, Adam Ondra, Alex Puccio, Dave MacLeod, Kevin Jorgeson, Paige Claasen and Jonathan Siegrist to name a few.

Some of the best content in the TrainingBeta series is the block of episodes featuring leading trainers and coaches. The episodes are grouped on the Coach, Trainer and Inteviews summary page here: Our favorite episodes include Steve Bechtel (parts 1 and 2), the Anderson brothers, Steve Maisch, Kris Hampton and (not listed) Adam Macke (Episode 29).

TrainingBeta is an indispensable resource in the quest to understand the emerging techniques and principles of training for climbing. We encourage you to join Neely Quinn twice a month and, to use her words, discover "how we can get a little better at our favorite sport."

Jam Crack

Host: Nial Grimes. Launched: December 2015

Sheffield, England based climber and writer Niall Grimes is the creator of the fourth climbing-specific podcast, the brand new Jam Crack, introduced December 2015. Jam Crack looks to be of general-interest content along the lines of the Enormocast, with an equally well-traveled and entertaining host.

Part of the enjoyment of listening to a podcast from its early episodes is following the host as their style and skillset evolve. Grimes, however, already seems comfortable in his podcast host's skin. Or maybe it's just his pleasant UK accent that, to an American listener, makes him sound brimming with wit and authority. Regardless, he seems to lack neither confidence nor connections as he was able to obtain Tommy Caldwell as only his second guest. During the conversation Grimes suddenly bursts into a 50's-era commercial jingle for his "sponsor" (seamless guttering), makes another plug for a neighborhood Polish butcher, matches Caldwell's Kyrgyzstan abduction epic with one of his own, and tells how a traffic violation encounter with a disco dancing traffic cop almost made him late for the interview. Whatever portions of wit and authenticity are mixed into each (you of course can never tell with those accents), Caldwell obviously enjoys himself and can be heard saying in the background as he leaves, "That was probably the most fun podcast I've done for sure."

Grimes promises to further distinguish the podcast by alternating interview episodes with readings of climbing literature and essays presented at times by guest readers. Though we were initially skeptical about the non-interview episode concept, it only took listening to Chris Schulte's intimate baritone-voiced reading of Chuck Pratt's "View from Deadhorse Point," to be sold. If nothing else, the quality of Pratt's writing from 1970 will leave you thinking, They just don't make 'em like that anymore.

Niall Grimes and his new podcast are off to a great start. We can't wait to see where the Jam Crack leads.
Literally minutes after first publishing this blog entry, a Facebook post appeared referencing another new climbing podcast. Here it is...

Power Company

Host: Kris Hampton. Launched: December 2015

Just released on the scene at the first of the year, the Power Company Podcast comes from Kris Hampton, a climber, trainer and musician who runs Power Company Climbing. Power Company is a rich source of climbing training information as well as training programs you can purchase. 5.14 crusher Inge Perkins and two-time ABS Nationals semi-finalist Molly Rennie are among a growing list of Montana climbers who are working with the Power Company.

As stated above, Kris Hampton is featured on one of our favorite TrainingBeta podcasts. He is also the guest on a memorable Enormocast episode. Though he has emerged as one of the top trainers in the country, we have personal experience with Hampton being approachable via email and Facebook comments. All of this bodes well for an excellent podcast series. We'll be subscribing and listening ASAP!
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