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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Forever War (Part 1 of 2)


                 Two years ago Pamela Pack an Jay Anderson dragged me out to an offwidth route in Vedauwoo called The Forever War 5.13+R.  Pamela had established the route just six months prior, and was keen on filling Jay and I with horror stories of; head first falls, emergency room visits, a severely battered kidney, and large rodent nests.
Filled with fear, we hung a top rope and Jay went first, unable to link the inverted climbing and pivot, he jugged to the overhanging armbar section and started making progress. still to this day I've never met someone with nearly the same armbar power as Jay, and to watch him give everything he had, on a post crux section of a climb, filled me with doubt.
I went next, and it was quite pathetic. Fresh off a recent ascent of Trench Warfare 5.13, I was feeling confident in my abilities to climb offwidths. Yet I didn't make a single move on any section of the climb,  It was a completely different level of climbing.
Pamela hopped on the TR to clean the route, and made short work of it, almost making it look effortless. I remember thinking "maybe someday I could climb this, but probably not."

Vedauwoo 2015, Ashley Cracroft and I went to attempt another route established by Pamela called Spatial Relations 5.13. Ashley got on first and just cruised through the roof, only stopping to perfect her beta for a later redpoint attempt. I was blown away, and filled with confidence that we would quickly tick this route, until I attempted it.
Vedauwoo, has this characteristic flare to it's cracks that can lend it impossible to jam with your hands, and on inverted climbs like Spatial Relations, you're left hanging off of your feet, with nothing to pull on.
What do the pro's do in these kind of scenarios? They pull with their feet, something Ashley was incredibly good at, and something I flat out couldn't do.

We had one month before our return to Vedauwoo,Which we were planning on attempting Spatial. I trained with Ashley the entire time, learning her techniques, and training routines.
Below is a time lapse of her inverted walking routine, which is a technique used heavily on Spatial Relations.

Upon our return to Vedauwoo, we didn't head straight out to Spatial Relations, but somehow found ourselves sitting underneath The Forever War instead.
I tried the route half heartedly, and just couldn't feel the movement coming together. Ashley got on the route and just like with Spatial, made easy work of the climbing. Watching her climb the route I had a huge realization, it was the exact same movement I had been learning from Ashley in her training routine, I suddenly felt confident about my abilities, and got right back on the route, top roping it clean!

We put Spatial Relations on the back burner, took a rest day to recover, and went out to The Forever War to get the send.
Ashley went first, cruised through the inverted walking, made the over the foot sit up, went to place the first of two number six cams and slid out.
Being slightly bigger than Pamela, we can't get a solid enough chicken wing to stop and place gear,
It was heart breaking to realize this.
Ashley had spent all of her energy on her first attempt, and wouldn't be able to give it another 100% effort, which for an R rated climb plus skipping two crux pieces of gear, meant she would have to attempt the route next time we returned.

Ashley enticed me to tie in, I grabbed the gear but left the sixes on the ground, got on the route and sent it.

I remember feeling overwhelmingly happy about finishing the route, Vedauwoo's hardest offwidth, yet..... still incomplete, this story will not be complete until Ashley sends the route too. In no way could I have climbed this route without her direction and inspiration.
to be continued.......


Thanks for reading this post! 
Here is a video of Pamela's fist ascent of The Forever War 
and the article she wrote on her website regarding The Forever War

Interested in doing a little offwidth climbing of your own? Here's a link for the best offwidth shoes on the market! http://www.evolvsports.com/shop/technical-all-around/astroman/

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Boulders That Touch (Updated again!)

Boulders That Touch
           An offwidth bouldering guide to Little Cottonwood Canyon

Secret Garden Offwidth

An 18 foot, less than vertical offwidth that starts flared and cuts to a right leaning grovel.

Park at the Little Cottonwood park and ride and start at the climbers trail in the north east corner of the parking lot (north of the bathrooms.) Follow the trail to the east, the boulder can easily be seen on the north side of the trail.

A number 6 cam will fit in the top if you would like to put up a top rope. It can be climbed right or left side in.

After becoming comfortable on this boulder, it would be a good idea to try Firestarter 5.9+, Burner 5.10 and Certain Death 5.8+

'Round the Sun

A ten foot flared, leaning roof crack formed by a quarried boulder that fell onto another boulder.

Park on the south side of the road across from the LDS vault entrance (0.7 miles from the Wasatch Range sign.) Locate a trail just to the east of the vault road. Follow the trail north for 200ft. It is the first set of boulders you come to.

Start deep under the crack. You can choose to climb it vertically or inverted.

This would be a great boulder to practice for inverts like, Trench Warfare, On the Waterfront, and it's variation Jaws of Flesh.


 Big Mouth

Large split boulder starting at fists and widens into a squeeze chimney.

Park roughly a mile from the Wasatch Range sign, look for the green 5 mile sign. The boulder is on the north side of the canyon and can be seen from the road. If your familiar with LCC bouldering, this is the split boulder at .5 mile.

This boulder offers everything, knee locks, fist Stacks, chicken wings, and even that mysterious sidewinding technique, if you so dare.
Enjoy the Chimney? Try squeezing through the roof on Cloister crack, or the chimney to the east of On the Waterfront.

 A Little Razz-Ma-Tazz and All That Jazz

A large boulder that starts out in a flared chimney with deep fists that cuts out a roof. Turn the lip and for 20ft of easy less than vertical climbing. FA: Merrill Bitter. Graded at 5.11d.

Approach as for Plumbline Gully, just prior to entering the gully follow a drainage south, down the canyon. This large boulder will be on the west side. The crack is on the south face.

This problem starts in an overhanging flare, and continues out a short four inch wide roof crack, after pulling the lip continue up the low angle easy climbing to the top. TR chains are available on this climb.

This problem is great for working on big steep fists, and tricky lip encounters.

 Jonathans Crack (A.K.A Twister)

This problem is literally the space between two boulders that rest against each other.

J.C. Is located in the Hidden Forest bouldering area, Park at the green roofed hydroelectric plant, cross the river and locate the access trail on the south side of the canyon, continue east on the trail (crossing a small bridge), a large fallen tree has been cut to clear the trail, the problems are immediately south of the fallen tree.

Start this problem in the back, using a fist and a chickenwing, Invert and pivot your way around the flared lip.

This problem has a very Vedauwoo like flare to it, it would be a great problem to practice prior to any inverted offwidths.

Cliff Soup

This is a slightly overhanging crack thats about nine feet tall.

This problem is up in the Allen's ridge area, just above Trench Warfare.
Latitude  40°34’4.44"N    Longitude 111°46’5.17"W

Cliff Soup can be climbed vertically or inverted, bring a pad, and be prepared to down climb the problem to get back down.

This problem is great for practicing steep movement, hand/fist stacks, elbow locks and inverting.

We hope you enjoy this short guide, offwidth bouldering is often the best way to hone your wide skills prior to thrashing it out on the walls. 

I Chew Chew Chews You

This is a 5inch slightly overhung crack with a wicked bite to it.
Park at the gate parking and take the north east trail head from the parking area, locate the cluster of boulders known as the round room and head directly north. the problem is less than 30 meters from the boulders and should be easily visable.
I Chew Chew Chews You is a great invert problem, it can be climbed both right and left foot leading, and offers a great practice grounds for "inverted walking" and pivots.
A huge thanks to Ryan Thavaradhara for cleaning and preparing a great landing area on this.


This is why we named this short guide boulders that touch, this problem is a long flake that rests against a large boulder up near Snowbird resort. Acracknaphobia varies from tips crack to squeeze chimney.

I've heard this location called north white pine, the easiest way to explain how to get there is to simply drive up Little Cottonwood Canyon to Snowbird, turn around and head back down canyon for about a quarter mile or less. look for a boulder on the north side of the road with an access trail just east of it. Parking is nice on the south side of the road, just under the curved road sign.
Hike east up the access trail to a very large boulder, from there continue on the trail west, this should take you straight to Acracknaphobia. (3 min approach)

Several options are available for this problem, it can we climbed north to south or reverse south to north, feet are available near the ground if you are looking for an easier option (maybe V4?) or avoid the feet at climb the crack only (maybe V6?).

We spent many hours digging out this problem and moving large boulders, this problem and 'Round the sun go to show what potential may still lie just a few feet under the ground. ;)

Looking for more?
Joe’s Valley has a decent selection of offwidths, that aren’t too far away.

Needles District in Canyonlands has a handful of incredible roofs, mostly in the 5.12 range.

Vedauwoo has a ton of offwidth boulders, you can find anything from V0 to V9. 

This guide was put together by Daniel Parker and Ashley Cracoft.

If you have any information that you think we should add, or have any questions feel free to send us an email.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Century Crack

It's hard to set a goal and not meet it.
Six months ago my girlfriend Ashley and I made an audacious goal, to climb the worlds hardest offwidth, the Century Crack. We spent several days a week, training on our wooden version of the climb, making huge improvements over time and becoming almost machine like climbers, and yet when it came down to it, we didn't send.
I've been asking myself the same question for the last couple of days, simply, "why?"
In the final days of our training, we were both climbing the equivalent of back to back Century Cracks without a rest, our feet never got pumped out, our fist stacks were strong, and our sit ups came with ease, had we not set ourselves up perfectly?
The answer, no.
Several factors lead to our demise, we were both still very tired from a big climb we had done four days earlier, we were both still fighting off a nagging head cold, but the final conclusion I've come to, makes the most sense. Climbing an eight foot wooden crack, is not the same as real rock, real rock has character, it flares and constricts, offsets, and breaks apart, real rock will get in the way of your butt, cut your shins open, and rain sand into your eyes.
I had developed tunnel vision, I focused so much on how the brits (Tom Randall and Pete Whittaker) had trained prior their ascent of Century Crack, I had forgotten about the two months prior to their ascent they spent climbing a massive list of some of the hardest offwidths in the United States, not only were they in perfect conditioning to climb the Century Crack, but they were also ready for any unknown factors the route could've thrown at them.
But now we know what we're up against, and instead of a big failure, I'm seeing our Century attempt as more of a learning curve. We need to prepare ourselves to climb not just a five inch crack, inverted for one hundred feet, but everything in-between.
Maybe I'll set our wooden crack between four to seven inches, invite some friends over and have them kick me, and throw sand in my eyes, while I practice inverted shuffling, or maybe I'll get out and climb all of those other routes leading up to Century Crack, and learn how to handle every possible variable I may face whether it be on Century, or maybe even the next big line.
                  (Photo: Ashley Cracroft stares up at the monstrous end section of Century Crack)

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Training for Century Crack

I still feel a little hesitant to even say "Century Crack", but it's always been the goal, and you can never know until you try.
Ashley and I are training to attempt to climb the Century Crack, a massive offwidth roof in Canyonlands.  I'll leave it to that so I don't get too ahead of myself, and regret talking it up when I throw up halfway through the route and fail miserably.
However I would like to explain a little bit of our training process, Since it seems to be of interest to some people.
We have two locations for training, our first is at the Sandy Momentum climbing gym, it has a "5.12
+" offwidth invert crack. Our second location is a 8 foot crack machine that resides in our garage.
(Army member Kevin Lockwood on the Momentum Crack)

(Ashley Cracroft on the Garage offwidth)

We try to climb the momentum crack at least once a week, and usually add in a series of inverted sit-ups, and pivot moves along with the climb. 
Twice a week we try to get out to the garage and really try to crush ourselves. Our recent routine has consisted of; held inverted sit-ups (which we time), Shuffling back and forth (distance), inverted squats (squopposites), and inverted sit ups. A few rounds of that, and your abs will be jello.
With one day of climbing Cardio, that leaves just enough time to recover and get right back after it. 

The Momentum Crack has been a great tool, that I've been using forever now. If you ever get the opportunity to climb there make sure to give it a go, climbing it in an inverted style tends to be the easiest, however it can be done vertically too if your feeling up to the challenge.

Most peoples interest with our training is the crack machine. A good friend Nathan Williamson actually built it for his personal training and ended up giving it to us. He did an incredible job building the expansion able crack, all we had to do was add textured paint!

If your considering building your own, do it! It really has taken my climbing to a completely different level in almost no time, my only suggestion would be to make sure the crack has enough depth. to successfully stack we have to sit up to our ankles (difficult). I'm sure this will pay off, but it was a real pain in the ass until we developed the flexibility and core strength. 

Any way, for those who were wondering I hope this was enough. If you ever find yourself in the Salt Lake area, come join us for a training session!


Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Army

What is an Offwidth Army?  
Offwidth Army started out as just a bunch of local Salt Lake climbers who became interested in offwidth climbing.
We would struggle and bleed, then learn from each other,  we were competitive, but also supportive.
I hope this blog can continue our passion, and be a resource for all others interested in the world of offwidths. All are encouraged to participate, and join the army. We have no leader, and look forward to hearing from you.
Here's a couple photos to get it started.
More coming soon!