Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Starting a new blog

In the hotel in Ghent, Belgium, with my daughter Cecilia, after
having my right hip resurfaced by Koen De Smet, last February

About seven months ago I returned to Ghent, Belgium to have my right hip resurfaced by Koen De Smet. I recovered well from the surgery and am, once again, back to rock climbing (now with two artificial hips). In case anyone is interested, I have decided to start a new blog to continue recording my experiences, which can be found at:

Cheers to all hip patients, rock climbers or anyone else who may have stumbled on this site!

Tim Bratten

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A brief history of bouldering on La Barrosa, Part 2

The following blog post is the second part of the brief history of bouldering on La Barossa. For the first part see the previous post

Sebastián Montes climbing El Proa (V6)

German climber Martin Schupp sends Opere Doctor (V7)
Although I'm not exactly sure of the date, I think it was 2005, when La Morsa brought Facundo Lorenzo to La Barrosa. Facundo was one of the founding fathers of modern-day bouldering in Argentina and the first true aficionado of the sport to come to our sierra. His interest in the area brought a whole new level of difficulty. Diego "Sisi", Sergio "Narigon" Centeno, Horacio Gratton and other strong boulderes came to La Barrosa with Facundo over a several year period, climbing everything in sight: old, new, easy, hard. Their efforts left us with numerous new boulder problems, including Stepping Out (V5) and El Huevo Full (V8; FA: Facundo Lorenzo and Horacio Gratton) at El Huevo, El Techo Clásico Nuevo (V5) and El Proa (V6; FA Facundo Lorenzo) at El Boulder en El Bosque, Mariano Cortó El Arbol (V5) and El V6 de La Cueva at La Cueva, Opere Doctor (V7; FA Lorenzo) at La Media Tierra and Hombre Sin Pendulo (V8, FA: Facundo) at Coloso. Above all, it was Sisi who would give La Barrosa it's first true testpieces, putting up three crown jewels of La Barrosa: Aracnofobia (V9/V10) at Aracnofobia as well as The Thing (V9) and El Búlder de Sisi (V11) at La Cueva.

Facundo Lorenzo sends The Thing (V9)
The winter of 2009 gave Argentina the epidemic of Influenza A (H1N1), and the government decided to shut down the province for the entire month of July. Lucky for us in Balcarce, the weather turned out to be ideal for bouldering: cold, sunny and dry. Rumors that the border crossing to Brasil was restricted had motivated Andrés "La Renga" Puertas and Fernando Cicconi to check out the little-known boulders situated on La Barrosa. Cicconi and the sierra's almost untapped potential of difficult bouldering, turned out to be the perfect match. More than any other person before, Cicconi would climb everything and everywhere on La Barrosa. After his initial exploration in the winter of the Influenza A, he returned frequently to Balcarce, accompanied by Rogelio Amil, Federico Allami, Lucas Chiesay and other friends, to climb the boulders in the sierra. The long list of new difficult boulders put up during this period includes Ayayay (V8 unrepeated; FA: Cicconi) en La Media Tierra, Nahuel y Camila (V7; FA Ciccone) and Por La Birra de Anoche (V8, FA Fede Allami) at Coloso, Culito Reggaeton (V9; FA: Allami and Ciccone) at El Panel, The stout handcrack: El V3 del Fer (V9, FA: Ciccone) at the boulders near Las Vias del Bosque, Gordou (V8 unrepeated, FA Ciccone) at Aracnofobia, A Partir de Ahora (V8; FA: Roge Amil) and Los Tres Mosqueteros (V8; FA: Lucas Chiesay, Roge Amil and Ciccone) in the Matrix, and last but not least, the testpieces: Reanimator (V11, FA: Ciccone) and Morocho el 37 (V12; FA Ciccone). This last problem was an unfinished project of Sisi's from several years earlier and was certainly the hardest boulder on La Barrosa upon its completion. Unfortunately for Sisi, his attempts to climb the problem were complicated by a particularly wet winter. Every time he and Facundo came to Balcare it rained.

Fernando Cicconi on one of the early repeats of Aracnofobia (V9/V10)
No history of bouldering on La Barrosa would be complete without mentioning the Platenses. On various occasions climbers who train at El Rocodromo, including David Saikin, Nahuel Spinedi and Marcelo Chiaradía have visited La Barrosa, repeating many of the hardest test pieces as well as establishing one of La Barossa's proudest boulders: the unrepeated endurance highball: Asperix + Govelix (V9; FA David Saikin) at Techo Grande. Saikin also cracked the code in La Terraza, putting up the elegant Climbing Nerd (V7). Three other recent boulders worth mentioning are the long standing and seldom-repeated face problem Hanuman (V7; FA: Ramon Trachsel, Bob Bartl and Martin Schupp) put up by three visiting Europeans as well as the highball problems Asperix + Rosquelix (V8) at Techo Grande and En el Proximo Sale (V8) at La Terazza, these last two put up by Balcarceño Mariano Maceri.

David Saikan gets the third ascent of Morocho el 37 (V12)
The current dai-sensei of boulder at La Barrosa is Nicolas Pacheco, who has recently put up about a half-a-dozen new double digit problems. including Huevo Frito (V10), a beautiful extension of El Huevo Full, Techo Electrico (V11) and Doctor Cachetes (V11) in La Cabezona, as well as the long-standing problem Pensamientos Marcianos (V11/V12) alongside Aracnofobia. Nicholas has several extremely difficult unclimbed problems waiting in the wings and we wish him the best of luck in bringing ever-greater difficulty to the world-class bouldering that we already have on La Barrosa.

Nicolas Pacheco putting up Doctor Cachetes (V11), one of his many difficult problems.

To date there are more than 400 established boulder problems on La Barrosa. The diverse variety of problems and the wide range of difficulty includes something for just about every level of climber. Although many problems are roofs, there are also execellent faces, aretes, bulges and even some cracks. There is also a massive untapped potential for the adventurous boulderer who is willing to head out into the unknown to look for something new. For the novice, outdoor bouldering may not be the best way to begin the sport of climbing, but it can be a fun, adventurous and social way to pursue the sport, if an individual has already developed some basic climbing skills. Climbing in a group with several crash pads makes the activity considerably safer. Until you are familiar with the bouldering areas on La Barrosa, it's a bit tricky to find your way around, so it helps to go with someone who already knows where things are at. The Bosque is a labyrinth, and the boulders are hidden way on steep hillsides in dense green. The more open areas, for example near the big cross on the north summit, have expansive views, looking out beyond to the surrounding sierras and countryside, but even in these areas it's nice to know where the established bouldering is. La Barrosa has a gentle, yet remarkable type of beauty, characteristic to the sierras of Balcarce. The stone is first rate. It's been waiting here since long before man walked the face of the earth, so if you're lucky enough to be out on one of those cool, sunny days when a dry breeze blows in from the southwest, take your time and you´ll have a chance to experience bouldering as good as it gets.

Swiss climber Ramon Trachsel sends El Hombre Sin Pendulo (V8)
At this point, access to the sierra is not big problem, but please treat the area and its owners with the utmost respect. Do not leave trash (including wads of toilet paper or cigarette butts), do not light fires and don't damage fences. When parking behind the sierra to access the south end of the sierra, do not block the gate that gives acces to the farmlands. Instead, park on the side of the road under the trees, leavening room so that farm machinery and trucks can pass. Similar consideration if you are accessing the Bosque from Calle 79. There is no camping allowed in the sierra proper, although camping is available at Club Teléfono's on Calle 32, just past Calle 71.

Nahuel Spinedi  working Reanimator (V11)
After so many years with just Gaby and me, there is now a small group of regular climbers in Balcarce. We are an informal conglomeration called CELB (Centro Escalada La Barrosa). Regular members include Mariano Maceri, Cristian "Segu" Segura, Luciana Cordoba, Juan "Jam Ming" Aleto, Marian Vago, Matías Jacobo Mollano Di Marco, Federico Aguilá, Guido Pienovi, Clara Toledo Rios, Diego "Tower" de la Torre. Martín "El Loco" Chiaradía, Analía Ardanaz, Rafael Chiaradía and Cecilia Jane Bratten. Mariano maintains an informative web page at www.celb.com.ar with lots of information about bouldering in the sierra and the exploits of the group.

Federico Aguilá finishing up the difficult opening moves of El Huevo Full (V8).

Sunday, May 26, 2013

A brief history of bouldering on La Barrosa, Part 1

Andrés "La Renga" Puertas starting out El V3 de La Morsa (V5)

My next two blog posts are an English version of an article I wrote for the magazine Vertical Argentina, about bouldering on La Barrosa. I decided to split the article into two blog posts because I wanted to include a lot of pictures and this makes loading the post heavy going. This also means there´s nothing to be found about the exploits of an old, fat guy climbing with a revised hip surgery, at least for now. However, in case anyone's interested, I will say that, one year and three months post-op, my revision surgery is working just fine and my climbing continues to advance. More on that latter. For now here's Part 1 of A Brief History of Bouldering in Balcarce.

Visiting German climber Bob Bartl sends El V6 de La Media Tierra (V6)
The Tandil system is a low range of hills in the Argentine Pampa that begins near the town of Olavaría, in the center of Buenos Aires Province, and follows the National Route 226 south-easterly for about 200 kilometers to the sea. These hills are ancient. They are believed to have been formed about 450 million years ago, long before an enormous land mass, known as Gondwana, split into the modern day continents of South America, Africa and Antarctica. Rocks found here have been dated at more than 2 billion years old, reaching back towards the origins of the earth.
    The sierras of Balcarce form the southeastern-most arch of the Tandil system. Generally speaking, this part of the Tandil system consists of steep-sided, flat-topped, table-like formations, rising up maybe 200 meters above the surrounding farmlands. The rock is typically quartz arenite and although the cliffs are not tall, the stone presents excellent possibilities for short climbing routes and bouldering.
    The town of Balcarce has a population of about 45,000 and lies in the heart of the Sierras of Balcarce. When my wife Gaby Cendoya and I came to live here in 1996, I wasn't sure how good the climbing would be. We were lucky I guess. Bordering the town on the southern corner is a sierra called La Barrosa and it wouldn't take long for me to realize that hidden away on this small sierra was the best bouldering I've ever seen.

Juan Aleto and Cristian "Segu" Segura bouldering in the Matrix.

In 1996, the sport of bouldering was, for all practical purposes, almost non-existent in Argentina. Gaby and I found almost no evidence of previous climbing on La Barrosa and, on the weekends, when we went out to the sierra, we rarely saw any other people at all. Our approach to bouldering was old fashioned. When I began climbing, in 1979, in the USA, the local area where I practiced had some pretty good, moderate bouldering. At that time there were no bolted sport routes, no climbing gyms, and many of the local leads were quite dangerous, so bouldering was a way to train for lead climbing that, for me, was funner and more adventurous than top-roping. There were no crash pads, no sticky rubber and I didn't grade difficulty. Fun, adventure, training and not getting hurt were more important than the pure pursuit of difficulty. I would typically climb circuits of boulders without much difficulty (up to about V4), trying to do as many different boulders as I could in a day. It was this eye that Gaby and I began to develop the untouched bouldering on La Barrosa. I could see the potential for harder problems, but it be a few years before stronger Argentine climbers, with a more futuristic vision, would bring modern day difficulty to the area and make it truly world class.

Federico Allami and Fernando Cicconi working Proyecto Mañana. If this unsent project could be
linked up with an already completed highball finish, it would produce one of La Barrosa's proudest boulders.

La Barrosa is shaped like an inverted Y and runs almost straight north-south. Gaby and I began to climb the most easily accessible boulders and the developed areas grew up around our initial efforts .The bouldering sectors near the cross on the northern summit can be easily accessed from the base of the sierra above the corner of Calle 55 and Calle 40. These sectors include El Huevo, Los Boulders de Siempre, Techos de Mierda, Techo Grande, Media Tierra, Coloso and El Panel. The sectors in the wooded area (known as the Bosque) on the southern half of the west flank of the sierra can be accessed from the gate at the entrance of the property of the Fangio Foundation. These sectors include Aracnofobia, La Terraza, El Boulder en el Bosque, La Cabezona and the boulders near Las Vias del Bosque. Finally, the sectors near the southern end of the west flank can be accessed from a dirt road that passes around the south end of the sierra. These sectors include La Cueva, La Zona de Hanuman, La Costa Mosquito and La Matrix.

Gaby climbing on La Costa Mosquito
All and all Gaby and I put up about 150 boulder problems in the early years of development. Some of my favorites include Pinch Overhang (V2) and Golem Arete (V3) in the Media Tierra, Techo Traverse (V3) at Techo Grande, Scrunch Girl (V4) and Not for My Body (V3) in Los Boulders de Siempre, Go Left (V3) and Hook Roof (V2) at Techos de Mierda, El Huevo (V4) and Knee Bar Crack (V2) at EL Huevo, Bat Undercling (V2) at Aracnofobia. Techo Clásico (V3/V4) at Boulder en El Bosque and Dengue Sit-start (V3) at Costa Mosquito.

Tim on the opening moves of Hook Roof  (V2) in 2005
In 2001, just about the time the Argentina was hit by a severe economic crisis, my wife Gaby became pregnant with our daughter and I was kind of desperate to find someone to climb with. There were still, basically, no climbers in Balcarce, but our neighbor's 18 year-old son, Mariano Maceri seemed pretty athletic, so I thought I'd take him out and see if I could get him hooked on the sport. His first time out top-roping I could see he had the necessary drive and determination, even if he lacked the skills. Later we would spend countless weekends together in the sierra, bouldering the old-school way: topping out the boulders without crash pads. Now that a dozen years have passed, I'm happy to say that, not only have we gotten hold of a bunch of crash pads, but more importantly Mariano has become an important figure on the local climbing scene. He has far surpassed my bouldering abilities in both strength and skill and recently sent his first V9.

Mariano Maceri climbing in La Cabezona
By the year 2003 the younger climbers from Mar del Plata had learned to boulder with a vengeance and they were ready to come to Balcarce and climb some of the vast, untapped potential of problems on La Barrosa. Mar del Platense Esteban "La Morsa" Degregori organized the initial outings. A host of strong local climbers including La Morsa, Rubén "Michi" Molina, Juancho Torres and Charly Contartese came to La Barrosa on various occasions to enjoy the sierra and put up new boulder problems. Besides opening up an array of interesting new moderate boulder problems they also brought a whole new level of difficulty to the sierra. Some of their stronger efforts include El V6 de La Media Tierra (V6; FA: La Morsa) and Golem (V4) in the Media Tierra, Asperix (V6; FA Michi) followed by Aspirix Sit- start (V7, FA Charly Contartese) at Techo Grande, Dos Huevos (V5) a longer version of El Huevo, El V3 de La Morsa (V5; flashed by La Morsa and Michi)) at La Cueva, and the Right-Hand Arete at La Costa Mosquito (originally V6, now harder because of a broken hold, FA: Juancho Torres).

Ruben "Michi" Molina flashing El Huevo (V4) in 2004

End of Part 1

Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Boulder in the Bosque

Tim climbing Techo Clásico (soft V4) in the late 90's
If you don't know how to get there, the Boulder in the Bosque is not the easiest place to find. In spite of that, it was one of the first areas on La Barrosa where I began to climb. Somehow I discovered it early on, prowling around in the woods, back in 1996, only days after my arrival in Balcarce. Right away I wanted to climb there. To me there's still something magical about this beautiful block, tucked away in a hidden flat, on the densely forested flanks of the sierra. It seems to represent all the unknown possibilities of climbing that I discovered in Balcarce. A place that had remained hidden away from sight, until I had the luck to stumble upon it. I even have a recurring dream about this, where I discover new and remarkable boulders, close by, yet hidden away.

Not counting all variations, the Boulder in the Bosque is now home to about fifteen boulder problems,  ranging from V0 to V6 (there are also a couple more V3/V4 problems on a small block behind), which makes it home, I guess, to what might be called "moderate" bouldering. But I am happy to see that just now, one of the strongest  boulderers in Argentina, a kid named Nico, is working a diifcult section of the rock, trying to produce what could be La Barrosa's hardest boulder problem. I think it would be fitting if this boulder wound up with a new generation test-piece and kudos to Nico for having the vision to find yet another hidden gem.

On Friday, March 29th, with almost perfect weather, Martín and I headed out for an afternoon of climbing on the Boulder in the Bosque. The hike in is a short, 15 minute jaunt through the woods. Just enough to get warmed up. However, If you don't know how to get there, finding the boulder in the dense forest growth can be a problem.

Martín hiking in to the Boulder in the Bosque 
Two sides of the boulder provide excellent, moderate level problems. The easier side has a V0, a V1. a V2, four V3's and a (soft) V4 endurance traverse (which can be done in either direction).  Since we're old, fat guys, we spent most of the day climbing here.

Martín warms up on the V0.
The start of the V1 has a big move.

Tim climbs V1  

We both sent the V2, which is sort of a classic for the grade, and counts as yet problem I've climbed recently, that I haven't done for years. Here is a series of photos of the V2 taken in the late 90's, before crash pads were used on La Barrosa. . 

The boulder starts with a cool sit-start move
Then there's a big move to jugs.
After fighting a bit to get your feet over the bulge, there's another big move.

The crux reach after the roof is also a big move
After the V2, Martin and I both sent V3's which we had never before done. Actually, it seems this maybe the first V3 Martín has ever sent. 

Martín climbs his first ever V3
The big opening moves on this V3 had always thwarted me until today.
Tim sends another post revision V3
The back side of the boulder is a beautiful roofy section that hosts a V2, a V3, a V4, a couple of V5s and a V6 (not counting the much harder project that Nico is working on). I didn't get any good pictures, but here are a couple of videos to see how it is.  The first one (a big production) shows Mariano on the remarkable Techo Clásico (soft V4) and the other video shows Mariano sending the stout V6 problem put up by Facundo Lorenzo. 

Mariano climbs Techo Clásico

Mariano climbs the V6

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Get serious about training

My wife, Gaby, is serious about rehabilitation, six weeks after her shoulder surgery
OK then, it's time to get serious about training. The last time I experienced a marked improvement in my climbing ability occurred around nine months after surgery, at about the time I went to the Matrix. Since then I've pretty much hit a plateau. I'm climbing better than I have in three years and I'm still adding new boulders and routes to my repertoire, but I haven't had any significant gains for the past three months. Part of the problem is my weight loss totally halted with the plentiful food available during the holiday season and I still haven´t gotten back on track in this area (did I mention I'm pretty weak-willed when it comes to weight loss?). So I guess it's time to get serious about training.

Until now my training has basically consisted of climbing a few days a week and occasionaly going for hikes.  Even though I don't plan on changing my basic training strategy I think it might me a good idea to take a more analytical look at my activity level. So I've decided I to keep some kind of record of what I do. I imagine this will be boring to most people, but I will be using this blog post to make a log of my activities for an undetermined period of time. Later, in future blog posts I will continue with the travelogue of climbing outings and other topics related to hip replacement and climbing, but I will return here to build an ongoing record of my activities. Hopefully this log will help me better oversee my training. So here goes.

Me and the dogs, about to head out for some boulderting

February 19: Outdoor bouldering at El Huevo. When I boulder alone (like this day) I lash two crash pads together and stuff my basic necesities (rock shoes, chalk, water, etc.) inside one of the pads. Then I hike the steep terrain (using trekking poles) to the bouldering area. I did 10 boulders in the V0 to V2 range. Maybe this was my best day since surgery at El Huevo, but not by much and I still couldn't do the complete version of a test-piece V2 called Knee Bar Crack.

February 20: Outdoor bouldering at The Media Tierra. I was pretty tired  from the day before, but I managed a few problems which I haven't done in years, including a V0, a couple of V1s  and all the moves (unlinked) on a very compressed V2 traverse.

Almost ready to boulder
February 22: A short five mile hike after work. Except for the approaches to climbing, where I'm carrying weight on steep terrain,  I´m hiking without the trekking poles now. I'm also hiking a bit faster, but on this evening after work, I felt kind of tired.

February 23: Training in the climbing gym. Among other things, I managed six tracking problems which I haven't done since before Christmas. Not an awesome performance but not bad either.

February 24. A tough six mile hike including the steep summit pass over the top of La Barrosa (no more trekking poles).

The town of Balcarce and sierra La Bachicha from the top of La Barrosa
February 25: Training in the gym. I was pretty fried and couldn't do much. A weak day, but I managed a few problems.

February 27: Training in the gym. Not a great day, but I had more succes than on Monday (February 25). A highlight was sending a pumpy, difficult traverse I hadn't done since before Christmas. I also did 5 km on the stationary bike.

March 1: Training in the gym. What is it about some days, when the climbing goes well and I feel strong? These last few times in the gym I felt weak, my feet felt slippery and I had to fight to send anything. Today was a complete turn around and I had what could have been my strongest day ever climbing in the gym (it isn't very long that I've had my home gym and I've only been using it regularly since I had hip surgery). After completing with relative ease the seven problems I did my last session, I went on to do eight more problems, including four of the six tracking problems I did on February 25th. I sure hope this represents some kind of sustained improvement. I guess we´ll see next time.

March 3: I really wanted to do some outdoor bouldering on the weekend to gauge myself, but it rained hard all day Saturday (March 2nd) and then the weather was unstable on Sunday, with wind, cold and occasional drizzle. I decided to take the dogs for a walk (it's been exactly a week since my last hike on Sunday February 24) and hit the gym afterwards. The result was a short five mile hike followed by a session in the gym that was hard to gauge in terms of improvement, because I spent the whole time working on new problems. I didn´t feel particularly strong, but the good news is I weighed in at 83.5 kilograms after the the gym workout. This is the lightest I've been since before Christmas.

March 5: A short five mile hike after work. I clocked in walking this in about an hour and half.

March 6: Once again the weather was not cooperating and I wound up doing indoor bouldering. Like March 3rd, I mostly worked on new problems  Although I sent two new tracking problems I couldn't complete on March 3rd, I didn't feel very strong today. My repertoire in the gym now includes nine tracking problems, four hard traverses and various (mostly old) non-tracking problems. The bad news is the weekend weather looks shaky but the good news is the weather looks great to go on Friday and it looks like I can find the time to get our. Hopefully I can do my first outdoor climbing in more than 15 days.

Looking towrds the Media Tierra on top of La Barrosa
March 8: It was a beautiful afternoon and I went outdoor bouldering at the Media Tierra. A good day, maybe my strongest outdoor bouldering since the hip surgeries, but I didn't experience that quantum leap sensation I was hoping for. I managed 11 boulders V0-V2 including the compressed traverse I mentioned on February 20th (first time in around three years) and a high V2 face problem (struggling) that I had done only once in recent hyistory. I also worked the reverse compressed traverse and managed it with one rest in the middle. When I got back down to my house afterwards, I weighed in at 83 kilograms.

The Media Tierra on March 8th
March 9: A six mile hike.

March 10: I've been hiking and climbing alone for the past few weeks (not counting the three dogs), but today I finally got out and climbed in a social setting. Martín, Hugo and I went to climb at the routes in the Bosque. Even though I didn't throw myself at anything new, I managed eight routes including a stout 11c (redpoint on the second go) and a tricky 11b (sent first go on top rope). Without a doubt my strongest day in the Bosque since surgery.

Ceci sent the 5.8 crack on lead, March 10th.

March 13: First time I've taken two days off since I started this log. I feel like today was that leap-in-improvement day I've been hoping for, even if the numbers don't actually show it. I went outdoor bouldering at Arachnophobia, in the Bosque, sending 10 boulders V0 to V2. The real thrill was sending one particular V2 that requires a very compressed stand-up move over the left (operated) hip. This is a problem I was far from doing just a month or so ago and I'd kind of given up hope on ever doing it (again). But when I sent it today, it actually went quite well. In fact, I've done a number of things recently, with my operated hip, that  seemed impossible not long ago and I'm quite happy with this new found strength and flexibility (it's been about a year and a month since the surgery). I finished up the day working on a stout V4 endurance problem.

March 16: I wanted to get out and hike yesterday, but after a short distance walking, it started to rain. Then I got soaking wet and decided to head back home. After that, I couldn´t get back out again, because of family obligations. So I guess this last week has been a little weak on the training aspect. But now I'm coming back strong. Today I went bouldering alone to El Huevo (same as on February 19th) and did a total of 12 problems, adding on two new boulders to the ones I did last time. One of these two new boulders was a V2 which I haven't been able to do in years because of a required high step over the left (operated) hip and the other problem was a high ball V1 which also requires stepping up high with the left leg. However I still didn't complete the Knee Bar Crack. Not an awesome day, but at least I keep adding on new boulder problems I haven't done for awhile.

March 17: Roped climbing in the Matrix with my friend Martín. The Morsa and Adrian were climbing there as well. Martín and I completed five routes: two short 10a's and a bouldery 10d followed by two routes I haven't done in years. The first of these last two routes (a 10d) is one of the longest on La Barrosa and I got it first try, putting in the draws on the way. The second one is a soft 11a that took me two tries to redpoint. Not a bad day, considering I was following up a hard day of boulders.

March 18:  A short five mile hike with the dogs.

March 20: Gym climbing. In spite of the humidity (it was a damp, drizzly day outside) I had an OK session, completing twelve boulder problems.

March 22: Outdoor bouldering at the Media Tierra. I sent a total of 14 boulders. Compared to March 8th, I completed the reverse compressed traverse (stout V2) for the first time in years, but only did the other version in two parts, with a rest in the middle. The other three additional problems were yet another V2 traverse, a troublesome roofy V2 with a heel hook start and a highball V1.

March 23: A full day of yardwork (yes, this does count as training!). Mowing, edging with a hand clipper (gives a nice forearm pump), sawing branches off trees, etc.

March 24: I went to the boulder in the Bosque with Martín. I wanted to do a special blog post about this place, but my camera didn't work (the problem was, the battery was dead, but I do need to get myself a new camera). I didn't complete many boulders, but I worked some harder moves and sent a V3 problem which I haven't been able to do in years. This is the third V3 I've completed since hip surgery.

March 27: I clocked in at exactly two hours on a solid six mile hike.

March 28: Today is the start of a six day vacation. Late in the afternoon I went to El Huevo with plans to try some new stuff and save some energy to boulder with Martín tomorrow. I did four new problems: two V1's and a V2 on a roof above the main bouldering wall and then I finally sent Knee Bar Crack (test-piece V2 or soft V3). These are some roofy, hip intensive problems and my operated hip is not causing me any difficulties.

March 29: Bouldering at the Boulder in the Bosque with Martín (see next blog post). I sent my first new V3 in maybe five years or so (i.e. I sent a V3 that I had never done before and it's been an awfully long time since I've done that).

The start of Techo Clásico on th Boulder in the Bosque

March 30: A four mile hike with the dogs.

March 31: Climbing in the gym. I sent 10 tracking problems (including two new ones) and did the full warm-up  traverse.

April 1: A hard five mile hike over the top of La Barrosa.

April 3: I sent 17 boulder problems in the climbing gym. No new problems but probably my most complete day in the gym.

April 4: A twelve kilometer hike with the dogs.

April 6: My hip was actually a bit sore after my recent splurge of activity. So I decided to take yesterday off,  even though it was a beautiful day and a perfect opportunity to go outside and boulder. Today was nastier: cold and windy and Martín didn't come, because of responsibilities at home, so I decided to climb inside and take it easy. I did eight boulder problems, including two new problems, so not that bad. Plus my hip seems to be done bothering me.

April 7: Bouldering at Arachnophobia (see March 13th). This time I climbed with the group of young Balcarce climbers (known as CELB, for Centro Escalada La Barrosa) and my daughter, Cecilia. I usually don't climb with the kids in CELB because they mostly do stuff that's too hard for for me, but today worked out well. I basically did the same stuff I did March 13th, trying one additional boulder with some success but no send.

Climbing with Cecilia on the boulders near Arachnophobia.
April 9: Work out in the climbing gym after work with Matías and Mariano Maceri (from CELB).

April 10: Six mile hike.

So I've decided to shut down this log for now, although I'll certainly try to make other blog posts in the future. At any rate, I think this post has given a pretty clear idea what my activity level was like a little more than one year after revision surgery.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Summer in La Ola

The swimming hole in front of the campground at La Ola
My job at the University gives me roughly six weeks of summer vacation. I suppose this sounds ridiculously long to some people. So how come my summer vacation always seems so short? For the past 16 years  summer plans have involved heading to Córdoba for Christmas.with the Cendoyas. This year would be no different, except that Gaby was planning to have shoulder surgery on the 27th of December in the city of Córdoba. Apparently her injury was a bicep tendon tear at the shoulder. Because this had been bothering her for an entire year as well as completely impairing her climbing ability, we had been consideing the possibilty of surgery for some time. Then it turned out that one of Gaby's nephews, Martín, after a similar injury playing Rugby, had had surgery with a doctor in Córdoba. Since the surgery had worked out well for Martín, Gaby decided to try the same operation with the same doctor. But this would mean Gaby's arm would have to be immobilized for weeks, Not only would she be unable to belay me, she would also be unable to drive, so if I wanted to climb in Córdoba, I would need another partner. Luckily, one of the local kids from Balcarce, Juan "Jam Ming" Aleto, agreed to climb with me for a couple of weeks.

Juan kept us hydrated between climbs with many mates
Juan and Ceci  looking happy after a big storm
We ended up climbing in the area known as La Ola, named after the 100 foot high, wave-shaped climbing wall the rises up next to the highway. This area makes an excellent summer climbing destintation, offering several hundred routes ranging from easy 5th class to hard 5.13 and reasonably conducive summer climbing weather. Although La Ola proper is right alongside the road, there are also a variety of other small crags, situated in more remote settings, that allow for some respite from the constant dim of cars.
Cecilia sends 5.9 on toprope at a small crag by a pond in La Ola
We spent a total of 11 nights camped in La Ola. First Juan and I went for four nights, alone. After that, we returned to Villa del Dique, where Gaby was staying with her parents, so that I could drive her to a post-op doctor's appointment in Córdoba. Then we returned to La Ola for three nights, accompanied by my daughter Cecilia. In our last four night stay-over, Juan and I were met for one night by Gaby, her brother Dionisio, his wife, their three kids and Cecilia for a full day of family climbing.

The camping area in La Ola
Cecilia and Dionisio's kids on family climbing day

All and all I climbed 37 different routes (not counting repeats), flashing or red-pointing 35 of these This counts as a significant improvement over my performance in Capilla del Monte in July and it's clear that 10 and-a-half months post-op is what mede the difference. Here's the direct comparison:

Capilla de Monte - 5 months post-op - 6 days climbing.
Total number of routes climbed: 15 (3 were topropes) . Total number of routes flashed or redpointed: 10. Most difficult redpoint 10b. Most difficult flash: two 5.9 trad routes.
Number of routes 5.10a or harder, successfully climbed (including topropes): 4.

La Ola - 10.5 months post-op - 10 days climbing
Total number of routes climbed: 37 (no topropes). Total number of routes flashed or redpointed: 35.
Most difficult redpoint: 5.11a (2 of them). Most difficult flash: several 5.10c/d routes.
Number of routes 5.10a or harder, succesfully climbed: 12

Chalking up on a 5.9 route
In spite of several attempts, I could not redpoint this bouldery 5.11

The first afternoon we arrived with Cecilia. we climbed all the routes in La Escuela.

Ceci climbing in La Escuela

The second day with Ceci there was a big storm, and we only climbed one route (a repeat). 

Getting out of the tent after the big storm. 

On the third day with Ceci, I managed to redpoint my first ot two 11a's, although I didn't get a photo. 

Ceci toproping a windy 5.8 slab, on her third day climbing with us. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Back to the boulders: 10 months post surgery

Bouldering at the Usual Boulders, 10 months post-op.
The past month has been bouldering month. After a slow start on the boulders, I feel like I'm starting to pick up steam. I've done my first V3s in almost three years and I've been able to send a number of problems that I couldn't do with the botched resurfacing. I'm still not at the level I was five years ago, but the possibility is starting to look within reach.

One of the areas I've most frequented is known as the "Usual Boulders" (I've also visited the "Middle Earth", the "Mosquito Coast", the "Egg" and the "Boulders in the Bosque"). The Usual Boulders is one of the closest areas to my house: a steep half-hour walk, straight up the hill from my front gate. It has shade after 2:00 PM and tends to be cool and breezy even on hot afternoons, so it's nice for summer. And it sports a number of moderate boulder problems, most of which I hadn't done in about three years. All in all, there are almost 30 established problems, of which one is V6, two are V5 and everything else is easier. Just right for a guy trying to get back into bouldering after a couple of years of hip problems. So far I've managed to send 16 of those problems, so I guess that's good.

This traverse is one of the first boulder problems I did in the sierra, more than 16 years ago:

The old, fat guy sends a stout V2 traverse that's still good after 16 years

This V2 roof problem that has two, distinct variations. Here is variation number one:

Twist in the right toe, to make this first reach
This part is hip intensive.
I never got here with the botched resurfacing.

Variation number two of the V2 roof problem:

My revised left hip is working pretty good here

A crimpy V2 problem that often gave me a bit of trouble even before hip surgery:

Big reach

This problem is rated V1, but it´s no give-me:

The next move would be pretty hard if it wasn't for the knee lock below
The happy sender gets a V1

My 10 year old daughter has had a pretty good year bouldering outdoors, sending a variety of problems including three V2s. Here she is cruising a long, pumpy V0 traverse at the Usual Boulders: 

Ceci hanngs out on jugs, half way through a V0 traverse
Cecilia finishing up the V0 traverse with ease