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Top Climber Urges Patience as Italy Reopens Climbing

After eight weeks of lockdown, Italy has started phase-two of their reopening, which includes some outdoor activities. Top climber Stefano Ghisolfi has been popular on social media thanks to his indoor training routines and support of healthcare workers.

Today he posted on Instagram about the reopening and that he’ll be easing back into outdoor rock climbing because the pandemic isn’t over. “If the place where I’m going is already too crowded, I’ll just go home,” he said. “We stayed two months without outdoor climbing or climbing at all, we can resist few more days and start climbing again gradually. Climbing is my job but I’m still thinking it is not the priority now for me, it is to be safe and avoid risks. Let me know what do you think we can all do to be safer at the crags and climb reducing the risk, we can sum up some tips for everyone.”

Below are a number of his posts from the start of lockdown in Italy to the end. What a crazy spring it’s been. Stay safe and remember physical distancing guidelines when you head out. Covid-19 is still a serious issue in Canada.

Ghisolfi During Covid-19

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I chose some of the most iconic images I found to show what is happening here. If you live in Italy you see this everyday on TV from 2 weeks now, if you live somewhere else it is probably hard to realized what is going on, so I wanted to share some informations with you because I noticed some people didn’t fully realized it. Because of the virus, in Italy already died 4825 people (800 just yesterday in 24h), there are more than 50.000 people positive to the test. Italy has one of the best health system in the world, but the beds in intensive care units are almost full in the north, they are moving people to hospital with less cases. There are no more place in cemeteries for coffins, the army is using their trucks to move the deceased to other regions. Medics and nurses are working harder than ever, they are putting their lifes at risk and getting sick and dying too. They are real life super heroes, and they are asking us to help them. They are not asking to go to war, or to go to hospitals and help them on the field, they just asked us to stay home to reduce and delay the contagion. Please, it is a simple rule, even if you are in a country with no restrictions at all, try to stay home and help everyone to defeat this virus. Words in the last picture mean “everything will be fine”, we need to believe it. #andratuttubene #iorestoacasa #stayathome

A post shared by Stefano Ghisolfi (@steghiso) on Mar 22, 2020 at 4:43am PDT

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Yesterday I received a phone call and I figured out my last chance to go to Tokyo2020 just faded. Ifsc assigned the spot from the Tripartite commission and, in short words, I cannot qualify for the Olympics anymore. This decision was supposed to be made after European championships in March, so we would have a last fight there for the last spot, the competition then was postponed but not the assignment to this pass, who went to @michael.piccolruaz who was the next in the Combined world championship ranking and deserves this a lot, and who filled the quota for Italy. A weird story, it is sad not to fight one last time and being out of the game with a phone call, but I suppose we are living a bad historical moment (that was the cause of postponement of the comp) and I need to accept it, I mean, something much worse is happening to the world right now and I’m not going to cry for a competition, even if it is the most important one and it means losing more than a year of training and travels with the purpose to qualify. It’s not a big deal, think, even the Olympics are not in the Olympics this year, I can overcome this 😅😆. In any case, I strongly believe, competitions won’t unfortunately take place this year (personal thought, not official), so this decision would have just come now or later, and sooner is better. After few minutes of sadness after the call, I realized I still have 1000 projects and more time to work on them now, I like to see the positive side and I can say I’m happy I can do what I love most, you can see what I talking about in the second picture. • • I’m sorry for @fannygibert974 and @marci_bomb who lost their possibility too and deserved a chance to fight, but at the same time I’m happy for @michael.piccolruaz and Anouck Jaubert who deserve the spot for their amazing performances last year in Tokyo.

A post shared by Stefano Ghisolfi (@steghiso) on May 1, 2020 at 1:45am PDT

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The Power Cycle: Stay-At-Home Routine Day 21

Today will mark the end of our third week of training. As such, we are on the cusp of week four which will function as our deload week. Over the course of this next week we will maintain our intensity, but reduce the number of sessions to allow ourselves the rest that we require. We will have one more day of hangboard training before we reach Day 28. The remainder of our training will be defined by conditioning and calisthenics so that we can return to the crag, or enter our next training cycle, recruited and ready. Give your all today. Next week’s rest is coming.

Warm Up:

  • Warming up will likely differ between people, but these are a few good warm ups.
    • Shoulder rolls
    • Rotations: hold arms out perpendicular to the length of your body. Your arms should be parallel to the floor. Begin by rotating your wrists clockwise while your arms are straight. Then increase the rotation from the shoulders, maintain g your straight arms. Steadily increase the radius of rotation until your arms are wind milling, then reverse the direction.
    • Hang on a bar and retract and relax your shoulders
      • Complete a number of pull ups that would warm you up but not tire you out

Agonist muscles:

Once your biceps and shoulders are fully warm, or so warm that you could pull as hard as you would want, begin off-set pull ups.

Weighted Pull-ups:

Weighted pull-ups are fairly easy to execute and, though they may not feel fatiguing over the course of the exercise, exceptionally taxing on the body. As such, it is important that they are executed with proper pull-up form. If you do not have weights, try to fill a backpack with water bottles. Each litre of water is equal to a kilogram.

  • First, pick a weight that is below your limit and complete four pull-ups with that weight. If it feels like you can increase the weight, do so for the next set of four pull ups. Continue this process until you find the maximum weight with which you are able to execute good form. This will be your training weight.
    • Complete three sets of three repetitions at that weight. We are completing three reps as opposed to one because climbing is made up of more than one hard move, most of the time, and it is difficult to build strength when completing a single repetition per set. Instead, use your one-rep maximum, if you are interested in finding it, as a test instead of as training.

Rest for five to ten minutes, then:

  • Beginner: complete ten sets of five pull ups
  • Moderate: complete five sets of ten pull ups
  • Expert: complete ten sets of ten pull ups

Complete these pull-ups if your arms are not too tired to handle them. Watch your elbows for tendonitis and be sure to pull up faster than you let yourself down.

Core:

For Day 21 we will maintain a fairly high level of repetitions in our core exercises. We will reduce this number slightly in an effort to perfect our form. On the leg-lifts especially, strive for perfect form. Remember, perfect form means no swing and straight legs.

Hanging leg-lifts:

Beginner: 10 sets of 5 repetitions: bring the legs up so that your body makes a 90-degree angle

Moderate: 10 sets of 5 repetitions: bring your feet to the bar

Expert: 10 sets of 10 repetitions: feet to bar

The 5-minute Core Destroyer:

  • One minute each of the following exercises:
    • Plank
    • big kicks
    • swimmer kicks
    •  V-Sit
    • big kicks
      • There is no rest between each exercise, instead rest at the conclusion of all five exercises. Then rest for five minutes and repeat the series twice more.

Antagonist Muscles:

Push-ups: High Intensity

Complete 5, 7, or 10 repetitions depending on your skill level per exercise on Day 21. Once that is established…

Complete the following exercises three times in a row for a total of nine sets. Your total push-up count for the day will be either 45, 63, or 90 repetitions.

  • elbows-back push-ups: complete 5-10 then rest 30 seconds
  • diamond push-ups: complete 5-10 then rest 30 seconds
  • archer push-ups: complete 5-10 then rest 30 seconds

Flexibility:

Hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds:

  • Straddle Splits: This stretch is important to climbing as it increases a climber’s lateral flexibility for moves like stemming in a corner.
  • Hamstring: keep your legs straight and bend down to your feet. Keep your back flat for an alternate version of this stretch.
  • Hip-flexor: Flexible hip-flexors allow a climber to high-step.
  • Quadricep: preventative against injury
  • Triceps stretch: preventative against injury
  • Shoulder stretch: increases mobility
  • Calf stretch: increased heel-hooking mobility

Featured photo by Robbie Phillips

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The Origins, Motivations and Future of Allison Vest

Last month, we sat down to talk with team Canada’s Allison Vest. The two-time national champion has had an exceptional year, securing her second Open Bouldering National title.

Vest also became the first Canadian woman to climb V13 with her ascent of Terminator at the end of August. Over the course of the interview, we discussed Vest’s origins in Canmore, her approach to training during the pandemic and what her future goals might look like both in competition and out on the rock.

Gripped: Climbing aside, what was it like growing up in Canmore? What did you most appreciate about the area?

Vest: Growing up in Canmore was really good for my development both as an athlete and as a human being. The community is full of kind, driven, and outdoor focused people and there are vast amounts of  inspiration coming from all kinds of directions. I felt like I was able to be pushed and motivated in all aspects of my life: climbing, academics, art, music, whatever I was motivated by. During this period of lockdown I am actually stationed at my parents house in Canmore. I’ve been here for over a month now and I really haven’t been back here for a couple years. In a weird way, it’s nice to connect back with this community after so long, although the situation makes it less than ideal.

Gripped: Climbing included, how did Canmore influence your development?

Vest: One thing that I really appreciate (and sometimes honestly find frustrating) about climbing is that there is never really a cap or a limit to what an athlete is capable of. There is always going to be a harder project or another discipline or another way to experience and relate to the sport. In Canmore, climbing thrives in an abundance of varieties. I always felt like no matter where I looked there was someone doing something bigger, or scarier, or unique. Feeling constantly humbled by athletes around me kept me motivated, driven and curious about climbing. Even today, I feel like my interactions with climbing have just scratched the surface of what is possible.

Gripped: These past twelve months have been substantial in your climbing career. You are the first Canadian woman to climb V13, and have owned the National title for the last three years as well. What does development look like for you at this point? Where are you looking to go?

Vest: I’m really excited about my progression thus far in my climbing career and, something that is even more exciting for me, is I still feel like I have a long way to go and that I am improving all the time both in terms of mental and physical abilities. I definitely want to log more days on rock and have more consistent performances at the World Cup level. It’s hard to have concrete goals for the near future at the moment but I am genuinely hopeful that the drive that I come out of this quarantine with will only help me to accomplish what I want to in climbing. Working with my coaches Jeff Thomson and Christian Core has been amazing for me these past three years, and with the improvements that I feel, I am convinced they are doing something right. Stoked and beyond motivated for whatever comes next.

Gripped: For many climbers, quarantine is giving people an opportunity to work on their weaknesses. What weaknesses are you hoping to work on?

Vest: This is a tough one for me. In a lot of ways mental toughness is one of the biggest roadblocks for me when it comes to competition. I am taking this time in quarantine to work on that side of things. I think I’m just trying to focus on staying strong and not getting too overwhelmed with that chaos and unpredictability of life right now.

Gripped: How do you manage a training schedule when you are unsure of the time frame of isolation?

Vest: It seems simple but my biggest thing is just to write it down. At the beginning of the week I write down my plan for each day and what I want to accomplish. That said, it has also been important for me to stay flexible and pay attention to how I feel in terms of stress, fatigue, and mood and to adapt the “plan” as is required. Writing things down allows me to have mini goals for a day and also allows me to be sure I’m not over-training.

Gripped: What are you doing to stay motivated?

Vest: I’ve always been really intrinsically motivated for the most part. Travelling, competing and climbing on rock are all things that motivate me, but I am also extremely passionate about the training grind. Spending hours conditioning or working on weaknesses is something that I really love. Honestly, if I’m not motivated to do it on a given day it is a pretty big sign that I am overtraining and need to back off. I know everyone gets motivation from different places but I think loving the more gritty, relentless training side of climbing is something that has boded well for me over the years.

Gripped: Competition climbing is frequently a coordinated style of climbing. As it will be difficult for many international athletes to train coordination moves from home, what do you think will happen when everyone returns to competition? Is it at all possible that the setting style could change to reflect the type of training most athletes will be able to do from home?

Vest: I think coordination moves will do their job even better. I think the notion of moving towards this style of climbing in competition isn’t just about boulders being flashy for the audience, it’s also about creating separation in terms of ranking and results. Coordination moves tend to be a lot lower percentage so it is really easy for athletes to rack up attempts relatively quickly. I think setters will continue to use this style of movement as a tool in that sense.

That said, I actually like to think about competition after lock down in the opposite way. A lot of people only have heinous home walls or hangboard setups in their living rooms so climbers are gonna come out of this situation with the strongest fingers of all time. I think setters are going to need coordination moves more than ever in order to separate athletes. Bad holds are just not gonna cut it after quarantine.

Gripped: Are there any lifetime accomplishments that you are looking to achieve in climbing?

Vest: Well, I’ve checked off V13 so, let’s knock it up to V14 I guess… and then V15?

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Rocklands Bouldering at Risk Due to Covid-19

The covid-19 pandemic in South Africa has put the farms in Rocklands under great financial pressure and the very real possibility of the farmers and farm workers losing their land and their jobs. This will lead to the end of Rocklands bouldering.

Climbers traveling to Rocklands is a major economic boost for the area and many international climbers have been forced to cancel their trips for the 2020 season. This has put the farms in a very difficult financial position.

Through donating, you will be able to contribute to the survival of Rocklands as well as the livelihood of the many farmworkers and their families that these farms employ. Save Rocklands is striving for the survival of these farms and continued access to the bouldering areas. “We are humbly asking you for your generosity to ensure that the climbing paradise so many people around the world call home, will be accessible so that future climbers can experience this beloved place.” Visit here to learn more and to donate.

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I know we’re all reeling financially and otherwise under the current circumstances. But, let’s not let that allow us to turn a blind eye to our friends in Rocklands that are treading water without the life jackets and buoys that many of us in Europe and North America have at least been afforded. With so few of us traveling this year, they don’t have a beacon in sight. The Cedarberg locals over the years have opened up their land and businesses to serve climbing, and they’ve always advocated on climbers’ behalf and made climbing more accessible and enjoyable. If you’ve visited Rocklands and you think you gave it more than it gave you, please call me out. I first ventured there in 2006, and every further trip I made there, it left me feeling better than I felt before and left me with more than I deserved. Which is I why, even if this hasn’t been my best year, I’ll still give a little to this cause that young up and coming SA climber, David Naude, @davidnaude123 has started. If you’ve been to Rocklands or if you dream one day of going, please consider giving something, link in my bio. 🙏

A post shared by Cody Roth (@cody_roth) on May 6, 2020 at 10:53am PDT

Rocklands Climbing

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Wild 10-Pitch 5.11 on EEOR Near Canmore is The Alt-Left

Steve Holeczi and Marc Piche have been establishing routes in the Canadian Rockies for over 20 years. Both IFMGA mountain guides, they are two of the more knowledgeable rock climbers based in Alberta.

Piche has published information on their new route called The Alt-Left, a 335-metre 5.11b that climbs EEOR, the popular wall on Mount Rundle above Canmore.

The first ascent was in August, but they waited until the route had a few ascent before releasing the beta. The Alt-Left is climbed in 10 pitches at: 5.9, 5.10c. 5.10d, 5.9, 5.9, 5.10d, 5.11a/b, 5.10d/A0, 5.11b and 5.8.

It should be considered a serious line. Climbers who attempt it should be proficient at climbing 5.11 on limestone while placing gear. There is an A0 section that might require you to place a cam between two bolts depending on your reach.

It has been repeated a handful of times. You can see more information on their Facebook post here. New routing on EEOR is a big undertaking and their hasn’t been much development over the past 15 years. A decade ago, a major rockfall from a buttress left of the MacKay Route (one of the obvious ramp features) destroyed a long-term project called The Bird.

The Alt-Left starts near the popular route True Grit 5.10. Nearly 20 years ago, Sean Isaac was working on a steep project above True Grit, but bailed due to the position above the lower pitches. Any rockfall from cleaning would have landed on climbers below.

The Alt-Left is the first new route to climb this section of the wall since Brian Greenwood and team made the first ascent of Reprobate in 1971. In 2007, Jeff Relph and Brett Lawrence established the 500-metre 5.11b/c called Hand in the Honey Pot, which has had a number of repeats. It climbs a steep section of rock farther north on the wall.

10 Must-Do EEOR Routes

True Grit: 5.10b 6p Bolted
Geriatric: 5.9 7p
Generosity: 5.9 13p
EEOR’s Tail: 5.9+ 10p
Reprobate: 5.10c 11P
Hand in the Honey Pot: 5.11
Guides Route: 5.6 16p
Drop Out 5.10 13p
Raptor: 5.10d 9p Bolted
Girls Lie: 5.11 14p

Approximate line of The Alt-Left 5.11 on EEOR
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Watch First Ascent of a 5.15b Slab in Switzerland

On Jan. 11, Italian climber Alessandro Zeni made the first ascent of Cryptography, a slab at Saint Loop, Switzerland. He graded it 5.15b, making it one of the hardest slab routes in the world.

The route is linkup of Bain de Sang 5.14d, established in 1993 by Fred Nicole, and Bimbaluna 5.14d/15a, climbed by Fred’s brother François Nicole in 2004. In 2017, Zeni sent Bimbaluna and realized the two could be combined.

Zeni, 28, spent a number of days travelling to the popular crag to send the technical line. The other 5.15b slab is Disbelief at Upper Acephale in the Canadian Rockies, first climbed by Adam Ondra in 2018. Zeni has also established Cosmic Energy, a 5.15a slab in the Dolomites.

Cryptography

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Black Diamond: “We’ll See You Out There” Video

Black Diamond has released a new short film that blends clips of pre-covid-19 videos with post-outbreak ones. The shorts are mixed with music and a poem called “We’ll See You Out There.” Watch below.

We’ll See You Out There

To those who have been cold, wet and scared.
To the unplanned bivies.
To those who have taken the fall,
over and over again.
To the nurses and doctors.
To the mask-makers.
To the freelancers.
The photographers.
To the waiters and restaurants.
Coffee shops and small business hustlers.
To the mountain guides and park rangers.
To the athletes with hopes and dreams.
To the climbers.
The runners.
The skiers and the riders.
To the lifers.
To our community that has come together
by staying apart.
To the mothers.
The fathers.
The families.
To those of us who know that suffering
will only make us stronger.
We’ll See You Out There.

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Climbing Poll: 25% Would Travel to U.S. if Border Opened

The border between the U.S. and Canada closed on March 21 due to the covid-19 outbreak, and while it doesn’t look like it will open anytime soon, some climbers said they would travel south if it did. That’s despite the exploding number of cases south of the border. There are now over 1.2 million cases and over 70,000 deaths as of May 5 in the U.S., follow the numbers here.

On May 4, we posted a Twitter poll that asked: “If the U.S.-Canada border opened before summer, would you travel south to go rock climbing?” Out of the 81 people who answered, 25 per cent of climbers said they would travel to the U.S. and 75 per cent said they wouldn’t.

When Will it Open?

Ontario Municipal Affairs Minister and Leeds-Grenville MPP Steve Clark said this week: “I’ve been pretty firm that I don’t want the border opened up for non-essential travel. Goods and services is one thing but non-essential travel I still have very big concerns.” The municipal affairs minister says he won’t be comfortable until we see coronavirus case numbers flatten in Ontario but, more importantly, the numbers flatten in New York State.

As of Monday, New York had 316,000 positive cases and over 19,000 deaths. “We certainly don’t want spread from New York State or Pennsylvania coming in our communities,” Clark said. The federal government will decide when the U.S.-Canada border will reopen. A conversation took place about the border opening and climbing in the U.S. in the Facebook comments, which you can view below along with the original story.

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The Power Cycle: Stay-At-Home Routine Day 20

With another rest day behind us, we begin to look to our fourth week of training just as we conclude our third. Though yesterday’s rest was surely welcome, today we will likely feel weak and creaky. As such, approach the fingerboard with extreme caution. Though it is important to push ourselves, it is a poor idea to “push past our limits” on the board. Fingers are delicate and, at this point in the training, exceptionally fatigued. If you have reservations about hangboarding today, take the rest and move past the exercise to those other isometric exercises.

Tomorrow we will lay on a heavy dose of power training, so strive for efficiency today. Your body is most likely fatigued, and treating today lightly will surely benefit your climbing in the future. After Day 21, we will have a rest day, and then alternate between one day of training and one day of resting until we reach Day 28. This will be our deload week. In this week, our body will heal, and we will be ready for the next round of training, or climbing, depending on the nature of our future situations.

Warm Up:

  • Warming up will likely differ between people, but these are a few good warm ups.
    • Shoulder rolls
    • Rotations: hold arms out perpendicular to the length of your body. Your arms should be parallel to the floor. Begin by rotating your wrists clockwise while your arms are straight. Then increase the rotation from the shoulders, maintain g your straight arms. Steadily increase the radius of rotation until your arms are wind milling, then reverse the direction.
    • Hang on a bar and retract and relax your shoulders
      • Complete a number of pull ups that would warm you up but not tire you out

Hangboard:

These hangboard exercises listed below are simple and easy to follow. The training is still exceptionally difficult, and that thought should remain present at all times. When pulling onto a board, you should constantly consider the safety of your fingers.

Step 1:

Know the hand positions.

  • Open-hand is defined by a straightened pointer finger, a 90 degree bend in the middle two, and a relatively straight pinky finger.
  • Half-crimp is defined by the pointer, middle and ring fingers bent to 90 degrees, with a semi-straight pinky finger
  • Full-crimp: we will not train.
  • Watch Dave MacLeod’s video on hangboarding for alternative hand-positions for more advanced climbers and general tips and tricks

Step 2:

Warm up the fingers.

  • Warm up your fingers by hanging on progressively smaller holds for increasing amounts of time.
  • Pull on various edge sizes while retaining contact with the ground. This is known as the “French Traverse”.
  • After your fingers are warm, a process which should take at least as long as it takes to warm your fingers up on easy climbs in the gym (10-30 minutes), begin training.

Step 3:

Training

  • For those doing two handed hangs:
    • 3 sets of four-finger open-hand for 7-10 seconds
    • 6 sets of four-finger half-crimp for 7-10 seconds
    • Rest for 2-5 minutes between each hang.
  • For those completing one handed hangs:
    • Place on hand on edge, on hand on a static rope to the side of the edge
    • Hang on the edge with one hand, and pull on the rope to counterbalance the weight that your edge-hanging hand cannot sustain.
      • Hold the rope as low as possible and aim to lower that hand between sessions so that you can increase the weight on the engaged hand.
    • Complete 9 sets of 7-10 second hangs on a large edge (15mm-35mm) on both sides.
      • If you fall part way through the hang, move your hand higher up the rope so to ensure that you complete the set on the set.

Agonist muscles:

Once your biceps and shoulders are fully warm, or so warm that you could pull as hard as you would want, begin offset pull-ups.

Lock-Offs:

Once your offsets are complete, rest for five-minutes and begin your lock-offs.

Try and hold a lock-off with one arm bent at 90-degrees. If this is too challenging, complete the exercise in a full lock-off on one arm. If this is too difficult, complete ten negatives.

  • Negatives: Hold a full lock-off with two arms at the top of the bar. Let one arm go and try and resist gravity with the other arm. You will either hold the lock-off or slowly descend to a straight arm position. The goal of a negative is to increase the time it takes to descend.
    • Complete ten one-arm negatives on each side
  • Lock Offs:
    • If you are able to complete the lock-off, then…
    • Aim to hold lock for 10 seconds. 3 sets a side.

Rest for ten minutes, warm into pull ups, then move into offsets.

Offset pull ups:

Offsets are designed to help you build one-arm power. Though we completed a few of these over the course of our conditioning period, we will adjust them for maximum output. For Day 20, hang a rope from your pull-up bar. Place your hand as low as you can on that rope. Either knot it or tape the rope so that you know your maximum offset distance between days.

  • Complete 4 sets of 3 repetitions on each arm
    • Rest for two to five minutes between each set, even between arms
      • Be careful of your wrists during this period.
    • If you are already capable of completing a one-arm pull up, then strive to complete between 6 and 10 one-arm pull ups, a side, separated by two-minutes rest.

Core:

Front Levers:

To complete this exercise, hang from a bar and strive to pull into a front-lever-like position. A front lever is primarily defined by straight arms, a straight body, and the plane of that body as parallel to the floor. Remaining parallel to the floor is the most difficult part of the lever, so to train it we will pull into as “high” a lever as we are capable, and then we will hold it as hard as we can.

  • Ideally, another person will hold the timer for you so that you can close your eyes and try super-hard. With an exercises like this, trying hard is essential.
    • If you are unable to come anywhere close to maintain a lever, strive to do this exercise with a leg retracted
  • Complete 6 front levers at 10 seconds a lever.
    • Rest 3 minutes between each lever

Antagonist Muscles:

Push-ups: High Intensity

Complete 5, 7, or 10 repetitions depending on your skill level per exercise on Day 20. Once that is established…

Complete the following exercises three times in a row for a total of nine sets. Your total push-up count for the day will be either 45, 63, or 90 repetitions.

  • elbows-back push-ups: complete 5-10 then rest 30 seconds
  • diamond push-ups: complete 5-10 then rest 30 seconds
  • archer push-ups: complete 5-10 then rest 30 seconds

Flexibility:

Day 20: Hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds:

  • Straddle Splits: This stretch is important to climbing as it increases a climber’s lateral flexibility for moves like stemming in a corner.
  • Hamstring: keep your legs straight and bend down to your feet. Keep your back flat for an alternate version of this stretch.
  • Hip-flexor: Flexible hip-flexors allow a climber to high-step.
  • Quadricep: preventative against injury
  • Triceps stretch: preventative against injury
  • Shoulder stretch: increases mobility
  • Calf stretch: increased heel-hooking mobility

Featured photo by Leon Baptista.

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El Potrero Chico Pioneer Ed Wright Was a Legend

Ed Wright, who was often referred to as “Magic” Ed, passed away on August 5, 2015. The long-time Potrero new-router and familiar face of the northern Mexico climbing destination died of a heart attack at the age of 66. Ed was married to Tami, who once owned a cafe at the entrance of El Potrero Chico called Tami’s Cafe.

Ed was a humble climber who began in the late 1960s. On his website, he reported establishing 83 of the then-500 routes in Potrero for a total of 232 pitches.

Magic Ed during the winter of 2015 looking up at his route Time Wave Zero during an interview in Spanish. To watch the interview, visit here.
Magic Ed during the winter of 2015 looking up at his route Time Wave Zero during an interview. To watch the Spanish interview, visit here.

He suffered from a number of health issues, but continued establishing difficult routes throughout his climbing life. There are a number of routes that Wright developed, which have gone on to become some of the most popular multi-pitch sport climbs in the world, but perhaps the grandest was Time Wave Zero, a 23-pitch 5.12.

Ed had climbing partners from around the world, many from Mexico and the States and a number from Canada including Dave Benton, who helped him establish a handful of new routes. Ed will be deeply missed by many climbers and friends.

The last post Ed wrote on his blog was a quote from J. Campbell, which read, “Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world. We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can chose to live in joy.”

American climber Jeff Jackson knew Ed well and wrote about him for Rock & Ice here: Magic Ed really did have a seemingly paranormal constitution and a legendary toughness. The most obvious example was the time he had a heart attack while climbing El Sendero Diablo, a six-pitch 5.11c at the Potrero. Midway up the route, Ed experienced a full-on acute myocardial infarction. Somehow he kept it together despite intense pain and loss of strength, and with the help of his partner, rappelled down the route.

Ed Wright was a fixture at Potrero Chico. When I talked to Tami today, she said it was a day of mourning in Hidalgo. Humble, respectful and tough as nails, Ed had many friends, both Mexicans and Americans, who will miss him and his unique brand of hospitality, enthusiasm and optimism in the face of adversity.

After his death, top Canadian climber Steve “Manboy” Townsend, who spent a lot of time at El Potrero, said: “The El Potrero Chico Family lost a legend yesterday. He was like a father to me, I went climbing in Mexico since i was 17, and year after year for over 10 years, and Ed was one of the kindest, most inspiring, motivated, bad-ass dude’s I’ve ever met in all my years.

“I just found out he had a heart attack yesterday (Aug. 5, 2015) while in Wisconsin. The climbing community, and the world lost a great man. R.I.P. my friend, I’m going to miss you.”

On May 5, 2020, climbers will not be gathering at a pub or campground because of the covid-19, but everyone should raise a drink (tequila if you care to) in memory of legendary Magic Ed.

Magic Ed and Dave Benton relax post-climb on a ledge above the valley in Potrero. Photo Magic Ed Collection
Magic Ed and Dave Benton relax post-climb on a ledge above the valley in Potrero