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.


  1. nice post - out of interest, how'd you develop the one-arm power? campusing? weights?

    inspiring blog by the way, keep it up!

  2. The basic framework for my one arm strength actually came from awhile ago where I would campus a very long, very steep V3 back at Earth Treks six times a session. Since then, I have done campusboarding, with and without weights. But I think a good, more fun, varied way to develop one arm strength is the campusing of steep juggy climbs in a controlled manner.