All Things Climbing
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Welcome to Blister’s weekly climbing podcast. I’m Dave Alie, the climbing editor at Blister, and host of All Things Climbing. Like most climbers, I was immediately smitten by the sport when I first found it. But in the years since, the community and culture the surrounds climbing has proved itself to be as interesting and influential in shaping my life as the actual climbing itself. For so many of us, it’s the reason climbing makes the leap from fun hobby to all-consuming lifestyle obsession. This show is about that community and culture. We’ll cover major events, prominent trends in the sport, gear and equipment, and the individuals that make climbing’s community so colorful.
||CleanRhino Skin Solutions founder, Justin Brown||Justin Brown is a Bend, Oregon local who spends much of his free time climbing around the country and volunteering as a board member of the Smith Rock Group. Between campfires and trail-building, he’s even found himself clipping the chains on routes as hard as 5.14a. He recently ditched his career as a chef to start Rhino Skin Solutions, after elevating his own climbing by creating recipes for some extremely effective antiperspirant and skin-recovery products. We talk about what it has been like to start a business in the outdoor sports industry, why it’s important for us all to give back to the resources we depend on, and why belaying just might be the sport of the future. We also cover why skin care is so important and how it can change your climbing. TOPICS & TIMES Intro (0:00)Bivouac Coffee (1:50)How did Justin get into climbing? (3:00)Why did he end up living in Oregon? (5:25)How did Justin’s background as a chef influence his founding Rhino Skin Solutions? (9:20)How does Justin make his products? And what is the chemistry behind them? (12:40)What level of climber tends to discover the importance of skin care? (23:40)Why did Dave initially resist focusing on skin care? And what changed his opinion? (30:25)What are some of the best circumstances for using lotion? (34:25)What is some of the essential work Justin does with the Smith Rock Group? (37:38)How does Justin characterize the climbing at Smith? (42:40)Adam Ondra’s skin care. (47:38)How can Rhino Skin Solutions serve every type of skin and circumstance? (50:05)Will there ever be career belayers, like famous golf caddies? (52:40)Outro (55:55)||9/17/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanMatt Pincus of TrainingBeta||Matt Pincus is a climber’s climber, deeply committed to the sport and the community. He’s also the content manager and head coach / trainer at TrainingBeta, and a Blister alumn. Suffice it to say, when it comes to improving your climbing, the guy knows his stuff. Since the days back when he and I used to trade notes while reviewing gear, he has taken his life on the road, climbing as much as possible and sharing his wisdom and experience with others through coaching sessions and writing. We caught up recently to talk about what he’s learned along the way, how it’s shaped his climbing, and what his perspective is on the trendiness of “training.” TOPICS & TIMES Intro (0:00)Bivouac Coffee (1:50)How Matt transitioned to being a full-time climber (3:00)How do you stay psyched to train? (6:50)What's your motivation for climbing hard? (12:20)Has the trend in training over-emphasized hang boarding and under-emphasized technique? (15:45)What's Matt's own training approach? (24:00)What's fun about coaching other people? (29:10)Bouldering as movement distilled (36:00)Importance of skin maintenance (41:50)Quality training instead of over-training (45:30)How would you summarize your ideas about training? (48:01)What the biggest change happening in climbing? (57:00)Outro (59:50) Presented by Rhino Skin Solutions||9/3/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitAlex Honnold & Maury Birdwell on the Honnold Foundation and filming Free Solo||Alex Honnold “The Climber” needs absolutely no introduction. He is one of the most talented climbers of his generation, and he is without question the greatest free soloist of all time. And yet, Alex Honnold The Philanthropist” may be even more impressive. Roughly five years ago, Alex teamed up with Maury Birdwell (an extremely talented climber himself), to start the Honnold Foundation. Since then, they’ve donated countless hours and several hundred thousand dollars (most of it Alex’s money) to support energy access projects in various parts of the developing world. Few climbers have advanced our concept of the sport to the extent that Alex has, yet his more important legacy could be the lives changed by the work of the Honnold Foundation. In this episode Luke and Dave Alie talk to Alex and Maury about how, exactly, the Foundation works; how they choose their projects; how they gauge whether they’ve been successful; their hopes for the future of the Foundation; and how working in development has changed their perspectives on climbing. And finally, Alex also details what it was like to film the upcoming documentary Free Solo, a film by Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, about his astounding, ropeless ascent of The Freerider on El Cap. TOPICS & TIMES: Intro (00:00)Presenting Sponsor: Rhino Skin Solutions (01:50)How Alex first got into philanthropy (03:45)"Better World Shopping Guide" and conscious consumption (07:30)How Maury got involved in the Foundation (13:25)Why the Honnold Foundation supports solar projects, specifically (17:30)Why form a foundation rather than donate money directly? (20:05)Have there been any mistakes in projects? (25:25)How they select projects and assess their success (29:20)Where do they see the foundation going? (34:40)Has their perspective changed on how to best promote renewable energy? (37:45)How can people support the foundation? (49:45)Does philanthropy make climbing feel small? (51:45)What was it like making the film Free Solo? (54:00)Did making the film add pressure to complete the climb? (59:10)What comes after free soloing El Cap? (1:01:30)How is the growth of indoor climbing affecting the sport? (1:05:05)What's it like passing people on routes? (1:11:00)What's it like being so recognizable? (1:13:25)Outro (1:14:25)Presented by Rhino Skin Solutions||8/13/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitBolt Restrictions, Hardware Committees, & Threatened Access, Oh My!||As the number of people that are climbing outside continues to explode, there is increasing pressure on land managers and advocacy groups. This often leads either to “active management” (e.g., restrictions on bolts or route development, etc.) or to complete closure. Does this stuff work? Why do we need these types of interventions? How are the ethics and culture of climbing altered or preserved through rules implemented by non-climbers? Furthermore, this trend is picking up steam all across the US. As just one recent example, a handful of Blister Climbing Editor Dave Alie’s local crags in Golden, Colorado have seen dramatic increases in the number of visitors in recent years, causing the County to step in and take a more active management role. So in this episode, we take a close look at how this practice has impacted climbers through the lens of some high profile Front Range crags. We hear from both Eric Kraus, who oversees outdoor recreation for Jefferson County, and Dave Montgomery, who sits on the Fixed Hardware Review Committee that advises the county on climbing related actions. TOPICS & TIMES: Part I - Eric Kraus What does Eric do with Jefferson County, and what are their goals? (5:50)Which places were instructive to JeffCo when deciding how to manage climbing? (9:30)What is the fixed hardware review committee? (11:50)Why is it important to have the public sector involved in managing climbing? (13:45)What is the process for developing new routes / crags? (15:20)Is there oversight for installing / replacing hardware? (21:15)Is the useful criticism from the climbing community? (24:35)Are we generally headed towards proactive management? (27:00)What message would he give to JeffCo land users? (28:40) Part II - Dave Montgomery Dave and Luke’s Introduction. (30:45)Why does DM have mixed feelings about the fixed hardware committee? (32:50)Do they take into account the different climbing ethics for each crag? (39:20)What was Dave's introduction to developing? (42:30)What are the advantages of recording who's putting up routes? (45:05)What falls under the fixed hardware committee besides climbing? (46:30)What would DM personally like to shift in the fixed hardware committee? (53:40)What is it like standing between the county and the climbing community? (54:50)What can climbers do about raptor closures? (57:40)Presented by Rhino Skin Solutions Climbing is complex and performing at your limit means bringing many variables together at the right moment. Rhino Skin Solutions makes the best skin care products for keeping your skin dry, healthy, and resilient, which brings one of the most crucial elements of performance under your control. Keeping your skin in good condition not just before a redpoint attempt but throughout the season means more effective training and climbing harder on the wall, it's as simple as that. On top of all that, Rhino Skin Founder Justin Brown sits on the board of the Smith Rock Group, which helps plan and fund-raise for various maintenance projects at Smith Rock State Park. We're donating all our proceeds from the show, after production costs, to the American Safe Climbing Associate and the Access Fund. Rhino Skin is fully behind this effort and has offered to knock 10% off your order and kick an additional 10% over to the Access Fund when you use the promo code “Blister” at checkout. Head over to Rhino Skin Solutions to check out their offerings.||8/6/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitNik Berry: Trad Climbing's Cutting Edge||Nik Berry has propelled himself onto the national climbing scene with a seemingly unending series of hard sends on long routes all over the country. With a taste for big walls and an aptitude for committing routes, Nik has racked up an impressive list of hard, gear-protected test-pieces including the Salathe Wall (ledge-to-ledge variation) and El Corazon, The Hallucinogen Wall (5.13 R), and El Sendero Luminoso in Wyoming, and the first free ascent of Lunar Ecstasy (5.13 R) in Zion. He has also cultivated a career in nursing and remains one of the most enthusiastic climbers I’ve ever spoken with. In this episode, Nik discusses how he balances a career with the training required to climb at an elite level; what sort of climbs he aspires to for the rest of his career; and what goes into finding big-wall routes that have potential for free climbing. TOPICS & TIMES: Sending Wet Lycra Nightmare (1:20)Dyno into a chicken wing?! Is that actually fun?? (3:36)Freeing Lunar Ecstasy (8:33)Is there a group-think approach to discovering free-able lines on big walls? (13:55)Why aren't there more 5.14 climbs in Zion? (17:50)What is it like balancing nursing and climbing? (21:50)How do you stay in shape when not climbing? (27:20)What about maintaining skin care while not climbing? (29:20)What advice would you offer to all beginner climbers? (40:45)Would you rather...? (41:55)Outro (43:05)Presented by Rhino Skin Solutions||6/25/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitBouldering Legend John "Verm" Sherman||Prior to John Sherman’s arrival on the climbing scene back in the time of the Stonemasters, bouldering wasn’t really taken seriously. There was no meaningful, open-ended grading system to compare problems, and Hueco Tanks was just some place in West Texas. John changed all that, and did so before bouldering pads existed. In the years since casting his long shadow over the sport, John has dedicated himself to wildlife photography, with a particular focus on working to protect the California Condor. He filled me in on how photography and bouldering are linked, what has been lost in climbing since his heyday, and why he thinks there are more impressive feats than Alex Honnold’s free solo of El Cap. TOPICS & TIMES: “Are you chopping lines in the background?” (1:52)Episode Introduction (2:05)What will you be remembered for most as a climber? (4:40)What are you most afraid of being remembered for? (6:30)How do you sandbag masterfully? (8:20)Do you resent crowding at the crags you developed? (11:05)What’s the biggest problem in the sport today? (14:05)Is there anything you wish remained with the sport from your heyday? (21:24)Does Honnold rehearsing his free solo of The Nose change the accomplishment? (27:15)When did you get into photography? (34:21)How does wildlife photography compare to bouldering? (36:45)Why Condors? (40:30)Does your irreverent bent carry over to the photography world? (51:15)Is “Old Man Lightning” still going forward? (59:40)How can people contribute to Condor recovery? (1:03:05)Outro (1:03:52)Presented by Rhino Skin Solutions Rhino Skin Solutions makes high-end skin care products for climbers, by climbers. No matter where you climb or how hard, sandstone, granite, limestone, and plastic are all brutal on your skin, and there’s no sense missing a day on the wall because of blisters or splits. And there’s no reason to grease off your project when there are better solutions out there then chalking up every 4 moves. On top of all that, Rhino Skin Founder Justin Brown sits on the board of the Smith Rock Group, which helps plan and fundraise for various maintenance projects at Smith Rock State Park. We’re donating all our proceeds from the show, after production costs, to the American Safe Climbing Associate and the Access Fund. Rhino Skin is fully behind this effort and has offered to knock 10% off your order and kick an additional 10% over to the Access Fund when you use the promo code “Blister” at checkout.||6/6/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanAmerican Alpine Club CEO, Phil Powers||The American Alpine Club is one of the oldest climbing institutions in the US. Yet despite its deep past, the AAC takes a forward-looking approach to improving the climbing experience for all on issues like safety, access, and education. This makes the AAC one of the modern climber’s biggest allies. American Alpine Club CEO, Phil Powers, has climbed for decades all over the world, and has brought the lessons from his experiences to the helm of the AAC. In our conversation, he introduces the American Alpine Club to climbers who might not know why the AAC’s mission is so important. We also talk about his vision for the AAC’s role in shaping climbing as we move forward, as well as the decision to give their prestigious Underhill award to Alex Honnold for free soloing The Freerider, even as they work to encourage safe climbing practices. This episode is presented by Rhino Skin Solutions, makers of high end skin care products for climbers. Climbing days are the best days, make sure your skin is healthy and ready so you can take full advantage. Check out their solutions to everything from blisters to splits to greasing off holds at www.rhinoskinsolutions.com TOPICS & TIMES: Episode Intro (2:23)Phil’s personal favorite style of climbing (4:00)What was it like to summit K2? (5:00)How do you handle risky scenarios? (6:50)Phil’s role at the AAC, and the mission of the AAC (7:54)What is the AAC? 8:30Will the Olympics grow the sport, or is climbing experiencing a bubble? (10:45)What is the role of climbing organizations in welcoming new climbers? 12:43How does the AAC operate in conjunction with other climbing organizations? (18:45)Why is it so important that the AAC is a nonprofit? (26:00)How does the AAC's rescue benefit work? (29:10)If I get injured in Clear Creek, what do I do? 32:15What are the AAC's publications? 35:15Are there trends in climbing accidents? Can they be prevented? 39:50Dissonance in awarding Alex Honnold the Underhill Award? (44:00)Outro (47:10)||5/21/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanTension Climbing’s Will Anglin & Ben Spannuth, Part 2||Will Anglin and Ben Spannuth, founders of Tension Climbing, are two of climbing’s most dedicated technicians. Not only have they spent years studying the physiological components of “training,” Will and Ben have also devoted themselves to scrutinizing climbing’s more nebulous aspects: movement, personal weaknesses, and so forth. They are famous for their belief that no detail is too small to be examined closely, and their skill on the rock is testament to the value of this approach. In this episode, we talk about the culture and discipline of setting routes, what sort of fine-tooth considerations go into shaping holds out of wood, and their thoughts on which Olympic sport should be brought back from the dead. TOPICS & TIMES: How Will got injured making a hold (1:00)Is route setting an art form? (5:15)What makes someone a great routesetter? (8:15)How do you handle criticism? (11:55)What olympic sport would you bring back? (16:58)Outtake (23:48)||5/7/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanTension Climbing’s Will Anglin & Ben Spannuth, Part 1||Will Anglin and Ben Spannuth have spent a lot of time thinking about how climbing works — why this foot and not that one? What precisely makes this move hard? They are extremely accomplished climbers themselves, but seem to enjoy the tinkering with and dissecting of climbing’s finer points as much as they enjoy actually climbing. Tension Climbing, where Will and Ben design, shape, and manufacture wooden holds and training tools, is their effort to bring what they’ve learned to the rest of us. Recently they gave me and Luke a tour of their shop, then sat down with us to talk about some of the things they’ve learned about climbing mastery through years of training, coaching, and setting routes. Will and Ben had a lot of insightful stuff to say, so this episode is part 1 of 2. TOPICS & TIMES: What is your production process? (2:03)Why do you use so many different types of wood? (3:59)How did you meet and decide to start Tension? (5:00)What is the Tension Board all about? (7:10)Why is wood better than plastic? (13:25)What Will and Ben learned from CATS gym in Boulder (18:30)What do you learn from route setting? (22:30)What is the most common mistake you see climbers making? (28:45)What would you be doing if you hadn’t found climbing? (34:00)||4/30/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitReviewing Portraits of Climbing Legends in "The Climbers"||Photographer Jim Herrington's new photo book "The Climbers" is an undeniably compelling portrait collection of many of the most influential climbers of the 20th century, including Fred Beckey, Yvon Chouinard, John Gill, Cesare Maestri, John Long, Jeff Lowe, and many more. Grand Prize Winner at the Banff Book Awards, "The Climbers" serves as an important tribute to those who paved the way for the sport as we know it today. Dave and Luke take a close look at the pictures and review clips from Luke’s interview with Jim. TheClimbersBook.com JimHerrington.com TOPICS & TIMES: Dave and Luke discussing the style in the photographs (1:20)Luke's interviewing incompetence (3:51)The origin of "The Climbers" (4:50)The Fred Beckey portrait (7:05)Are these photos about decay? (9:30)Jim's response to theme of morbidity (10:00)Dave's response to theme of morbidity (12:15)Luke's response to theme of morbidity (14:50)The role of the book in the climbing community (17:05)Outro (19:00)Outtake (19:36)||4/5/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanA Close Look at "Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey"||If you’ve climbed in the mountains of North America, there’s a good chance you’ve climbed one of Fred Beckey’s routes. Beckey, known for his tremendous number of classic first ascents and his eccentric personality, continued climbing well into his nineties before passing away late last year. DIRTBAG: THE LEGEND OF FRED BECKEY is Dave O'Leske's documentary of one of the most influential climbers of all time. O'Leske followed Fred for a decade toward the end of Fred's life, and that story — combined with volumes of archival materials — makes for a universally compelling film. O'Leske shares with us what it was like to tell the story of such a complex and controversial figure, as well as some of the material that was ultimately left out of the film. DIRTBAG is still on tour — check out the dates at dirtbagmovie.com/tour.html. TOPICS & TIMES: How did the project start? (3:20)How Fred reacted to the idea of a having a documentary made about him. (6:60)Fred's extensive personal archives. (7:30)How Fred, despite being famously untidy, was actually sharply organized. (9:30)What motivated Fred? (15:50)Fred's struggle to find climbing partners later in life. (19:40)Making a 'climbing' documentary that appeals to a general audience (26:00)Dave O'Leske's favorite scenes that were cut from the final film. (28:00)||3/22/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanFixing Dangerous Bolts: Greg Barnes and the ASCA||How safe are the bolts we encounter in the wild? Can we really trust them? Who maintains them? And what makes a bolt fail, anyway? Greg Barnes, the Director of the American Safe Climbing Association, answers all our questions about bolts and more. The ASCA is a small non-profit with a not-so-small mission: to replace old and dangerous bolts across the country. Greg has personally installed and replaced thousands of bolts, and now spearheads the effort to get new hardware into the hands of local climbing coalitions so we can all stay safe. We talked about how exactly the ASCA (with its limited resources) decides what hardware needs to be replaced; how bolts fail and what the warning signs might be; and what climbers should know before the leave the safety of the gym. TOPICS & TIMES: How do outdoor bolts get damaged? (1:00)How did Greg start rebolting? (5:50)Tour of the "warehouse." (6:35)What's the difference between mechanical and adhesive bolts? (7:50)...and drilled angles? (14:40)How did Greg become the director of the ASCA? (16:55)Who is doing the actual rebolting? And how do we know they're qualified? (18:45)Which crags are in the greatest need of replacement hardware? (19:15)Is there any oversight to ensure bolts are installed correctly? (21:25)Are lower-off anchors coddling climbers? (26:15)When should climbers repel instead of lower-off? (28:05)Greg's vision for the ASCA (30:15)||3/6/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanJonathan Siegrist, Part 2||This week we’re picking up where we left off with Jonathan Siegrist, who’s been at the top of American rock climbing for over a decade. Over that time, he has watched the sport change and grow dramatically, and he’s spent a lot of time reflecting on those changes and his own relationship with the sport. In this episode, we get a little deeper into his thoughts on the up-and-coming generation; his time on the Dawn Wall with Tommy Caldwell; what role “adventure” plays in climbing; and how we can shape the future of the sport in a positive way. Topics: Changes in the new generation of climbers (1:00)Climbing and adventurism (6:00)Why Jonathan is primarily known as a sport climber (10:40)Jonathan’s time with Tommy Caldwell on the Dawn Wall (13:00)Adam Ondra’s fast repeat of the Dawn Wall (16:20)What separates Adam from other climbers (21:00)How the climbing community can improve (25:30)||2/21/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanJonathan Siegrist, Part I||This is the first half of our conversation with professional rock climber Jonathan Siegrist. Jonathan is one of America's most psyched climbers. After years spent climbing full time, he has an impressive resume of hard ticks, both on bolts and gear. He also has a deep enthusiasm for the sport, its history, and his fellow climbers. We covered a lot of ground, so we broke the conversation into two parts. Topics: Jonathan's entrance into the climbing (6:45)Origin of his nickname JSTAR (8:50)Life in Vegas (12:50)Red Rocks, Smith Rock, The Gunks and other crags (25:10)How Jonathan’s goals have changed over time (29:50)Why Jonathan was obsessed with climbing “old” routes (32:05)Impact of gyms and technology on climbing (39:50)Differences in the new generation of hard climbers (45:07)||2/12/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanMajor Trends in Climbing Shoes||Dave and Luke Alie headed to Outdoor Retailer's first trade show in Denver to get the details on the biggest news in and updates to rock shoes for 2018. We talk to Black Diamond product designer, Kasey Jarvis, about all the decisions and details that went into their brand new line of climbing shoes. Then we have an in-depth discussion about shoe technology and how it’s being put to use in SCARPA’s newest shoes with Mark Busby, the climbing manager for SCARPA North America. Topics and Times: Black Diamond Why get into the climbing shoe game? (1:25)What was the internal conversation like at BD about a guiding philosophy for the shoe line? (4:50)What are each of these shoes about and what sort of design elements have they incorporated? (7:25)SCARPA What does SCARPA have coming out in the second half of 2018? (10:45)Shaping and tensioning that distinguishes different families of shoes (15:12)How should we choose between SCARPA's most aggressive shoes? (17:05)What's the deal with the new Instinct VSR? Some notes on sticky rubber (20:44)||2/3/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanBarbara Zangerl||We talk to Barbara Zangerl about her recent send of Magic Mushroom on El Cap with Jacopo Larcher — the first repeat of the route since it was freed by Tommy Caldwell and Justen Sjong. We also discuss how climbing culture is different in Europe, and how she found herself free climbing grade VI big walls after initially being focused exclusively on bouldering.||1/24/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanHazel Findlay (Ep.1)||UK-based climber Hazel Findlay kicks off the show with a conversation about her recent (and impressive) send of the Salathe wall on El Cap, managing the demands of being filmed/photographed on the wall, and an insightful article she authored this past summer on big-brand sponsorship finally finding the climbing community.||1/16/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanIntroducing: All Things Climbing||My name is Dave Alie, I'm the climbing editor at Blister, and I'm here to let you know that we are launching a new weekly podcast called "All Things Climbing." Many of us were drawn to climbing because of the sport itself, only to find the community surrounding the sport to be at least as interesting, weird, and fun as the actual climbing. So we'll be keeping you up to date on the most interesting news, issues, and events coming out of the climbing world, from rock to ice to indoor climbing, on everything from boulders to big walls. from its early days on the counter-cultural fringe, climbing has absolutely exploded, and is currently undergoing profound and sweeping changes. This is a fascinating evolution that demands a closer look. We'll also be talking to designers and manufacturers about the gear we depend on, and we'll hear from the climbers and organizations that give the community its flavor.||12/19/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
Great start for this new podcast!
Alie's creative questioning with Findlay covers a range of interesting aspects of the climbing world.
Great Show with Diverse Content
Alie is a great, charismatic interviewer who isn’t afraid to ask hard questions. I really enjoy the diverse content of the show. It’s not just about Joe Climbers most recent 5.15. This show provides a much needed outlet for some of the unsung heroes in the climbing community as well as an intimate venue for professionals to talk about their stories. Check it out!
Even as a climber myself, I typically steer clear of climbing-centric podcasts. This one is different. Dave is well spoken and thoughtful, and has the ability to direct an interview based on both pre-meditated questions/research and conversational improvisation. While his interviewees are obviously interesting, with their stacked resumes and passion/involvement in the sport, in my personal opinion, Alie is what makes a first time listener, a subscriber.