Keen Extension

I finished up my 3rd project of the season with the first ascent of the extension to the Clear Blue Skies simulator Keen. Keen extension adds maybe a CATS V11 ontop of Keen, very very small holds and a big lock-off. Keen Extension will still get V13, as Keen is pretty low in the grade, the extension is high in the grade. In comparison to Clear Blue Skies, Keen Extension is a problem harder than CBS into a problem as hard as CBS. This is probably the crimpiest climb I have done in CATS based on the ammount of finger death I felt when I was done with it. I will add it into the guide when I have video of the send and I also do not have a good picture because it uses new holds I put up just for this climb. Still is looking for a second ascent!

In site news, I have added a steep V9 and V12 and a super classic campus problem.

The Doable Climb

A very good powerful and tensiony pinch climb out of the steep on fantastic pinches. I was trying to make climbs in the steep and was having trouble making climbs that could actually be done. But then I saw this amazing line which actually worked out to be V9, so I named it the Doable climb because unlike most stuff I was trying that day, it was actually doable. A really amazingly obvious line of pinches, strange I had not seen it before, here is the video: for the finish you are supposed to do a fun little come in to the Bubble Wrap Tufa Pinch, and then match, slipped in the video, oh well. I will give one picture of the start to be clear but then it is pretty easy to follow from orange E-Grips mini jug, to blue Water Tufa, to pink Water Tufa, to Bubble Wrap Tufa Pinch, into Epic Taped ETCH pinch to the black ringer jug far out right.

The Small Holds Climb

Another steep crimping testpiece, most of the difficulty of this climb is due to the size of the holds. The movement between them though is also not trivial or just tick tacking up small holds, a very hard jump in the bottom to a very small hold to a pretty long cross through off meager feet near the end. Here is the video: I actually tweak my finger a little bit in the video. The second move, I grab a crimp and start to close it, and if you watch closely it snaps closed strangely, which hurts my pinky and ring finger, strange. Here are pictures as though as it is hard to see exactly how the climb goes just by video. The pictures do not show the start; Start Organic/Petzl with a small blue jib down and left then go to first crimp shown etc.

First Ascent: James O'Connor

Other Ascents: Daniel Woods, Paul Robinson

Sloper Campus

Slightly separate from Campus Numbers 1-5, this climbs up the main wall. The line was visualized by Jamie Emerson shortly after we got a bunch of cool new holds including two sick Teknik holds. Maybe the most tension oriented campus problem, the moves are only difficult because of the holds, not too much power involved. I actually flashed the line this summer which is why I feel I cannot call it V12, so far it has seen two other ascents but no flashes. Big hands could be a serious advantage if it allows you to pinch the holds, therefore eliminating the need for tension. Here is the video: Should be a very obvious line with the video's help. 5.10 Taped Circle sloper, Big Blue, yellow teknik, purple Teknik edge, Egg, Jug. Quiet a fun testpiece.

First Blog post, Epic video, Organic.

Not too much news. I now have video of Paul sending Epic up, and I have added the classic steep testpiece Organic into the V13 section, along with footage and my first actual blog style post in the Blog section of the site. Sorry I did not get video of left wall Keen up, but I have been fighting sickness. One thing of note is that there has been a strangely epic move linking all the lower Bubble Wrap holds, with a very awkward heel hook that had only been done by the heel hook master Alex Puccio. This move had been unrepeated for maybe a year until this Thursday when Andre De Felice stuck the move for its second ascent. The problem remains unclimbed.


This last week I sent what has probably been my longest indoor project. And it reveals one of the most unique aspects of CATS which I think many have a hard time as seeing as being a positive feature, but I think is perfect for training and the way climbing in CATS works.

I set Organic only a few months after moving out to Colorado. I was psyched to set something hard, really hard, in the steep that I could work for years and that would make me stronger. When I was finished setting I was sure I had just set a V15 and there were numerous moves I simply could not do, the 4th move, the 6th move, the 8th move and the last move. As one of my favorite things in climbing is hard moves, right after I set it I worked it for a few weeks with Seth Allred, mainly trying the 6th move, off of the wood and to the pinch. We would hit the pinch and just swing off the climb. Eventually we learned how to hold a crazy circular swing for the move, and I did the other moves in a very low percentage manner. The especially frustrating one was the quite easy 4th move, everyone except me could easily do that move, it was just some non-square tension sort of move I really did not understand. Now that the moves had gone, and linking was still way out of my league, I gave the climb a rest for awhile. At some point or another Daniel returned from somewhere amazing and on his flash burn stuck the pinch with his feet staying. I was pretty mind blown, I had not even considered having your feet not cut. In another half an hour Daniel had the first ascent, and I realized the climb was probably not 8C and that I was very weak. At this point I think it is Spring 09, and I tried the pinch move again after a few months not trying. The holds feel good, I feel in ok shape, but for some reason I come off the problem completely differently and cannot repeat the move. Summer temps are setting in and I give the climb a rest again. Now that school is over and alpine season is prime, I spend 5 days a week in CATS and just climb climb climb. Late summer, the temps are not prime yet but I am curious and pull back onto Organic. All the moves feel easy, you just grab the pinch and tighten up, and somehow the mysterious bottom hard move is inconsequential, as it should be. After another month or so, as soon as the temps are out of the upper 70s low 80s, I hop on and narrowly fall on the second crux from the bottom and am soon falling post crux. This last Monday, I warmed up very briefly and pulled on. Every move just went perfectly, hitting all the holds perfectly with a new level of control. After 8 hard moves out of a 70degree(?) overhang I come to the last hold. This hold is complete shit, it would literally be a very very miserable crimp on a face that no one would use, even in CATS it would be one of the absolute worst holds on the main wall. You have to pinch it because if you crimped it you would just dry fire off because there is nothing to crimp on. None the less I simply pulled up to it, and with surprising lack of desperation stuck the flat brick Teknik finish hold. For me this was the end of an era. A little over a year ago I had set this climb thinking years of work and V15. Now it is done.

I am guessing that this is probably what it is like to send a project outside. A sign of progression, the end of a chapter, the next step.

This is something that is unique to CATS as far as gyms go, this cannot happen at the Spot or Movement. The purpose of this post is not to rag on other gyms, there is definitely an appeal to new set problems every few weeks or whatever. But CATS is about getting stronger, training, becoming a better climber. Being able to have actual hard projects is great way of measuring this progression and a great reward when you do get stronger. It is a great feeling when things are out of your league completely and then before you know it, the moves just aren't that hard anymore.

So I encourage you all to have projects and be dedicated. You won't get stronger doing climbs that are not hard for you.


An older taped steep crimp testpiece. This was I think the first or second climb I taped in CATS along with the Bear Problem. Much less powerful than the more recent Petzl, but of a similar difficulty I would say. Organic is much more tension and staying on the wall through crimp strength than much else. Even the moves that feel powerful are not all that large, they are just off of small holds and bad feet. Here is the video:
The video does not really do many of the holds justice, the most miserable is the very last hold before the finish, it is literally smaller than the majority of foot holds at the Spot, but somehow you can move off of it.

First Ascent: Daniel Woods
Other Ascents: Paul Robinson, James O'Connor

The Season is Beginning

First, sorry for the lack of updates recently. The winter CATS season is beginning! In the last month or so CATS temps have dropped around 15 degrees and grease levels are decreasing! I personally think this means the time for crimping is at hand, and have already dispatched two of my winter projects, left wall Keen and Organic in the steep. I will hopefully get video's of both of these up this weekend. The time of year also means CATS is starting to get a little more traffic. We do not have a ton of space, so please try to be considerate and tuck your things away as neatly as possible, and do not put all your stuff on the chairs, they are for people, not for your excess clothing.

In climbing news Paul has started to come in once a week or so and is dispatching some of my unrepeated problems, and putting away a few of my projects. Gabor has just returned and is remembering how much better CATS is than anything else and had some impressive V11 flashes last night. I am also very psyched for my friend Matt who just moved here from California, and is systematically putting away all the problems I show him. I appreciate this type of climbing and find it is much more productive than the ADD, no focus, stop-trying-things-if-they-are-hard approach.

Not a lot of new problems added to the site recently, sorry again, I am not running low, but am having trouble filming. The newish ones that I have added though are a good grade range including a V4, V8, and V12 campus. I will try to get some more up this week. But as always if you need or want new problems, just come in and ask!

La Sportiva Campus

If you want to get stronger on crimps I would have to say that this is THE thing to climb on. And no I have not said that about any other problem. This is how to get finger strength. As a warning La Sportiva with feet should be a warm-up and you probably should have flashed it for this to be an option, but of course do what you want. This is where grading gets very tricky for me. Maybe not quite flash but I did this problem first try or so, and for me it is probably as difficult as CATS V10. However I am not sure who would do this problem besides those who have climbed V14 outside. . . .
But I could also be miserably wrong.
But then again maybe I am not, as there are climbers who have done V12 who have difficulty doing La Sportiva WITH feet.
How hard is this? I have no idea. So it gets V12.
Here is the video:

First Ascent: James O'Connor

The New Warm-Up

I decided it would be good to have a cool warm up problem. Something that was actually like a boulder problem and less just a ladder of crimps or jugs, something I would make up for myself if I was a bit weaker. I think it actually turned out pretty good, maybe has reachy feet for short people, but they have figured out a different sequence. Also no complaining about the 5th move just push with your foot and get to the hold, it's not that bad. But varied movement on amazing holds. Highly recommended. Here is the video: And a couple pictures.

Danielson's Return

A very good unique bloc set by professional route setter Chris Danielson. Chris was out of climbing consistently for awhile but now has finally started coming into CATS regularly again. This was the first real boulder problem he made up for himself since his return. Interesting climbing on small slopers leads to a bump crux near the end. Here is the video: and a picture