Thursday, February 25, 2016

Truck Gloves

Truck Gloves is an outdoor gear company that's recently hit the marketplace. Thanks to mutual friend EP, we had the chance to meet and share a whiskey a few nights ago at Montgomery Distillery with two Truck representatives. Brett Keyes and Evan Bouchier are currently on the road in the official Truck Sprinter van, visiting ski areas in the Rockies and Cascades to introduce their product to ski patrol, mountain rescue, and anyone else interested in warm hands. Both Keyes and Bouchier have extensive experience in the outdoor industry, including working for Black Diamond in Asia. Keyes, one of Truck's company founders, served as a senior BD project developer. Besides the sweet styling, there are two reasons to consider Truck gloves. First is the construction and design. You can tell the gloves were created by people who play outdoors and demand gear that works well, fits well, and stands up to serious use. This includes sizing options that chuck the usual S-M-LG in favor of more choices from Size 6 to 11. Second is the price. Truck skips brick-and-mortar retail for consumer-direct sales via their web site. Eliminating the middleman means Truck gloves cost about half that of comparable brands. The two models sell for $29.95 and $64.95, compared to $100 or more for comparable Black Diamond gloves. Our group wound up buying several pairs out of the Sprinter in the Caras parking lot. The company's slogan, "Distinctive Gear / Disruptive Prices," definitely applies.
June with "Mom's" new M1's.
Truck currently offers two glove models, the M1 (pictured) and M2, both targeted at the ski market. But their leather construction and soft fleece lining make them suitable for many winter applications --think ice climbing, mountain biking, approach hikes, snowmobiling, horses, chores. The company has plans to introduce cycling gloves this spring, and, with luck, belay gloves sometime in the future.

We love meeting people who are taking chances and making things happen in their lives. This is the kind of company worth supporting, and a product you'll be psyched to own.

Facebook: Footnote: Truck's Evan Bouchier is also a high-end paraglider pilot. Check out some rad footage on Black Diamond's Vimeo channel here:

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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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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Media Part 1 - News

For those of us who daily troll the Internet in search of a climbing fix, it was a dark time in April, 2015 when Brian Runnells, the Climbing Narc, announced he no longer felt the "rhythm" and was abandoning his site. Voted top climbing blog by Outside Magazine in 2011, Climbing Narc provided just the right frequency of relevant posts displayed with a clean and modern layout. Now you can almost hear the wind blowing through the bullet-ridden sign of his last post as tumbleweeds roll down the streets of that once thriving news and video source.

It took some adjustment, but it turns out there is life after the Climbing Narc. In fact, there's no shortage of climbing media on the Internet.

In this series of posts, we'll list some of our favorites. We've divided the content into three categories: Climbing News, Podcasts and Videos. News sites are listed here, with podcasts and videos to follow later.

Climbing News

Acknowledging the major magazine sites like Rock & Ice and Climbing remain mainstays, here are four sites we prefer for fresh content and perspective:

Deadpoint Magazine

The News tab at Deadpoint Magazine (DPM) does what the Climbing Narc used to by providing a curated, quality feed of news from across the climbing world. DPM's content is not limited to U.S. climbers, but draws equally from the international scene. Following its tagline, "Media for the Young and Unruly," the emphasis is on modern trends in bouldering, sport and comps. The posts are well-written and typically appear before the other major magazine sites release their coverage of the same event.

You can find a link to DPM's News feed in the "Links" section of the right sidebar of this blog. Full issues of DPM's print magazine are available here:


Desnivel is a Spanish language media site representing several adventure-sport magazines. The site's rock climbing page features in-depth coverage of major events in the world of modern climbing. If you see brief mention of the latest Ondra or Sharma send from one source, chances are you can read about it in detail at Desnivel, especially if it occurred in Spain. Content is in Spanish, so you have to either be able to read that language, or use something like Google translate (if in Chrome, right click on the page and click "Translate to English").

The latter approach produces a somewhat bumpy reading experience. But wouldn't you rather expand your horizons than stay all comfy in your fat American life? Of course you would!

Planet Mountain

The stunning images on Planet Mountain's splash page should make a Bing background image content provider jealous. From there, click into "English" and you'll see multiple links to predominantly European climbing news. Planet Mountain stays true to the "mountain" in its name and focuses much of its attention on alpine and big wall climbing.

The site originates from Italy, so watch out when the subject is Italian; while the national bias of any media site can usually be spotted, the Italians really let their hometown vibrato sing.

More cluttered and confusing than a Göteborg, Sweden curio shop, is the climbing spray site we love to hate. Watch for Jimmy Webb's latest V14 flash in the cramped grid on the left. Try to guess what the numbers and letters in parentheses mean. Take a poll about your "Dream male climbing partner" (seriously, we didn't make that up). Right-click videos and "Open In New Window" to escape the site's microscopic view frames. Or just check in to see if the "Webmaster" has finally replaced the funky 1980s Compuserve look for a design from the current century.

A daily visit to 8a will bring you up to speed on what's what in the world climbing scene. And if you choose to drill into its well of climbing area profiles, articles and scorecards, we may not see you again for days.

Next time: Podcasts.

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