Bum luck!

Well, I arrived in Smith Rocks safe and sound.  The plane from Seattle was not happy (got some fluid in the wrong places) and they cancelled the flight, then ten minutes later (and halfway through my large pint of Stella) they announced that all Redmond passangers could in fact board the Eugene flight and arrive on time.  It's a good thing I didn't just get up and leave the airport.  I pounded the rest of my ale and wobbled on board. My buddy 'Alaska Bruce' plucked me from the baggage claim.  Nothing much has changed, we talk about work, climbing and girls. 

The next day was a teaser, snow for fifteen minutes, rain for thirty, sun for an hour and then fog for an hour, repeat-repeat.  Eventually the sun won the battle, but it was still cold, we climbed around 3pm and I managed to get in 5 pictches, most of them 5.11.  The Chiro appointments in Canmore have helped, but barely, my back is in ill shape right now, ILL.  I'm not sure it's ever healed from last winter and now it seems to be getting worse,  I am so good at ignoring important things in my life, that it just wasn't a big deal.  Well now it IS a big deal, especially when I try to highstep with my right leg.  My feet will fall asleep if I sit for more than five minutes.  Not good.

The next day, which was yesterday, I managed to feel a little better (note: a little) I got on a few 5.13's, sent one of them and toproped a 5.13c/d at sunset, so my fitness is coming back, yahooo – but I'd rather be playing on 5.14c's, not 5.13c's.  I suppose this is what it takes when you take some time off of climbing and then you get "The Malaria".   Still in recovery mode, I hope to feel better every day and I eventually want to run some laps on these 5.13's just to say I can, or can't, depending.  In the meantime I'm starting to think about finger strength, so we played on a home made woody today, which is very well built, thanks to Mr.Postle.  The wall has the best angles, a 45 a 30 and a 20 degree.  After a warm up, I was in running shoes and hucked for a sloper, I came down on the edge of the pad and rolled an ankle. Shit.  It's been four or five years since I rolled an ankle,  it hurts a lot, this one isn't a bad one, but I am usually more pissed off about a rolled ankle than I am concerned about the pain.  A rolled ankle is like bulding a massive tanker of a ship and then a tiny little chunk of ice comes along and sinks it.  It's like, what the __k?  

So now here I am, sitting on a big window sil with ice on my ankle, a pillow under my back, a fever that comes and goes, and snow and rain flying through the air.  Life has been better, but it has been a whole lot worse.  I am still in Oregon and it is beautiful, in fact the sunset was a dream, my girlfriend is coming to visit in 7 days and the forecast is supposed to clear up on Thurs.  I also have a Chiro appointment tomorrow, so I shall put on my happy face.

On this topic of woody climbing, I am starting to think about finger strength, I get a stack of emails from people asking me how I train and I try to give them an honest repsonse, depending on what I am doing, where my goals lay and what sort of experience they have as climbers.  I don't want to tell a newbie to huck one finger pull ups.  Or do I?  I try to tell people to get lot's of milage before thinking about hard core training.  But some people could care less about milage, they just want to get stronger.  I supose I can understand that.  

Not that it's important, but the strongest that I've EVER been was the winter of 2002.  Let me re-word that, the strongest my fingers have ever been (meaning grip strength or contact strength) was during the winter of 2002 and the power lasted until the end of 2003. I lived in Burnaby, B.C. and my friend Chris, Sam and I built a woody in the garage.  It was pretty ghetto, simple and quite frankly the most effective tool I have used since then.  6-7 feet high, 10 feet long and we bolted the worst holds I could dream of to its surface.  After four months, I felt like I could hang off anything, the next yeear I climbed over a dozen 5.14b's, one 5.14c and a 5.14d.  Like I said, not that it's important, by todays standards kids are doing all this during their recess break.  I've never really used hangboards, but I know they work.  I know they do.  It is a f#*$ing fact.  But I can't decide which one is the best.  I have been looking into them lately and can't decide.  I think I just need to go to the hardware store and buy a few strips of wood and bolt them onto a bigger peice of wood.  It would probably cost me 25 bucks and work just as well, if not better.  But it would look like someone forgot to finish the house.

I've been thinking of three different models, but they all have FLAWS (or to me they do anyway).  Here is one I like by Ben Moon, also, Boone Speed made a very nice hangboard for Pusher (oval shaped with smooth texture) but I think they discontinued it when Pusher closed its doors.  I don't even think revolution is making a hangboard rght now? Stone Age had a nice little simple unit, but they sold to Touchstone and decided there is more money to make in construction than climbing gear.  I'd like to ask anyone out there who uses hangboards, to let us in on the ones they like the best.  It seems Metolius sells the most, as I see them EVERYWHERE but I'm not into it as much as these other rigs.  Here is a jpeg of the mooner.  It's a beautiful board, with good nice looking surface, but I don't like the fact that they are rounded on the side, like pocket style, I assume the side walls grab the skin making it easier to hold onto and the point is that it's supposed to be HARD.  Also, the fixed position of each divot, makes it hard for different size climbers to grab in similar positions, I.E. shoulder width apart.  Any thoughts???


Let us chat tomorrow, same bag of ice, same pillow.

Sonnie Jason Trotter 

  • sam

    Sonnie – how’s it going????? I have been reading your blog for a while and lively vicariously through you (and Mike Doyle via his blog)

    Damn its been a long time since we built that woody and i recall some really bad holds…..but so much fun

    anyway, to keep it short, i went back to law school and now am working at a mega firm in New York (www.orrick.com)

    i’m still climbing (but am weak and fat) mostly at the gunks but have made it up to Rumney as well

    Please say hi to Mark and Sierra for me – their life still represents a dream to me

    if you are ever out in NY, make sure to give me a call

    anyway, glad to hear your are well – take care

  • pete

    *i* have a pusher, oval hangboard, from the warehouse in Utah, so does Knut. many years ago, at the end of a weekend trip to climb at AF, K and searched out the pusher warehouse, we knocked on the door, it was answered, we were given the whirlwind 7 minute tour, loaded up with stickers, tees and hats, and then on our way out the door, hangboards, one each, all for free, just cause. those were the days.

    2002.. that was the year you send Existence, non?

  • Brian

    i love the pusher board (ebay). others love the moon board. the Manta from Stone Age is great but huge. it is difficult to do one arm training with.

  • tim m

    Bummer about the ankle and back. Sorry I don’t know much about hangboards. But I do know quite a bit about combating boo boos. I’ve found for any connective tissue joint injury like a rolled ankle or popped pully etc.. After the first day of lotsa ice , do sessions of soaking in a ginger /comfrey brew switching back and forth with ice. To prepare the soak cut up and boil 2-3 ijnches of ginger in a pot of water for 10 mins. Then add 2-3 tbs. of comfrey root or leaf( available at a good health food market) simmer for another ten mins. then let cool till you can barely stand to put the injured appendage in it. then ice it until you dare to put it back in the soak. go back and forthtill you can handle the hot for as long as you want then allways end on ice. If you can manage to do this twice a day. it’ll heal twice as fast.

    As for the back , If it persists, do yourself a big favor and look into Dr. Milne Ongley At ongleyonline.com. He uses injections to help joints heal themselves. He helped me tremendously with a severely osteoarthritic ankle. Very different thing from a back, but he happens to specialise in back pain, and there is no shortage of very prominent people who have seen him for their back issues.If it gets worse, I can’t recommend him enough .

    All the best

  • kt

    Based on what I%u2019ve seen in the E11 dvd and in blog posts and interviews, I can imagine you walked right under the most straightforward (and famous?) fingerboard ever when you stayed at Dave MacLeod’s apt. in Scotland: http://www.lahaye.ws/interviewmacleod.php –I believe he said it’s a single S7 campus board rung.

    Back here on the far more average end of the scale, I use a Nicros Warrior board. It lacks on slopers but otherwise has an okay variety of grips including some wide pinch combinations, plus it%u2019s kind to the skin.

    The type of workout one does is worth mentioning. I use variations of Eric Horst%u2019s %u201CHangboard Repeaters%u201D described in his books. But while he suggests 5 sets of 3- to 10-second hangs with a 5 second rest between hangs, I modified to reflect something I read at MacLeod%u2019s online training coach site in which he cites a study showing the average time off a hold per hand during lead competitions is 3 seconds (i.e. 3 seconds of rest between holds). Changing the hangboard workout to 7-second hangs with a 3 second rest seems to produce a more realistic pump. Add weight (or take weight off) to reach failure or near failure at 7 seconds per hang. This is for power-endurance training.

    I%u2019ve intoduced several friends to this workout and the first thing everyone comments on are gains in contact strength.

  • Sonnie

    Hey Guys and girls,

    Thanks for the great comments.
    Sam it’s so good to hear from you, you’ll have to update me with your email address when you get a chance. Burnaby, those were the days eh?

    Pete, yah, pusher makes a nice board, we have one here at Mark’s place, I’ve been fondling it vigorously and I am liking it a lot, but I think it could be a little better, more variety.

    Tim, I heard about these injections, I’m scared of needles, ha. I am icing a boat load, I am seeing the chiro three times a week and it’s starting to move around. Thanks for all that information, I tried the ginger, worked out swimmingly. Fell on it again today with only a little pain.

    Kt. I did hang on Dumby’s board, it’s simple and very effective. He can do some impressive things on that edge. Like a one arm chin up. Whoa. I can barely do a one arm pull-up on a jug, let alone an edge. I like the fact that the Nicro’s board has multiple pinches. I am more interested in pure contact strength though and have started to do hangs. 5-7 seconds is all I can do, need 30 seconds rest after. hoping to cut that down to 10 seconds rest, and eventually 5, maybe. Thanks for those tips, I’m going to look into it a lot more. Your comments have got me thinking. Do you add weight? I used to, not there right now, but hope to be again soon.