Last weekend ushered in the inaugural Steve Edwards Memorial Hurt, aka. the Grandeur Ten. No expectation could have even partially resembled the reality of this day long scramble-athon. It was, in a word, Steve-ish. It was mad Steve-ish and it hurt all over, body and soul. My goal was to, A: not be (re)injured and, B: do it. I did do it – kinda – and am, as far as I can tell, not permanently hurt. All nervous function has not returned to my lower half so we’ll have to see but I’m confident enough to declare me not critically affected in the physical sense. In all other respects it was perfect. It was awesome to be with Steve’s closest friends as we honored Steve with our suffering. It was exactly as I imagine Steve would have wanted, organically disorganized and fraternally collaborative.
“I don’t want it if it’s that easy.”
— Tupac Shakur
Ostensibly we are to trace the Grandeur Fun Run while accessing 10 distinct cliffs. To say Steve sandbaggs us in this respect is a bit gracious. While the official Grandeur Fun Run covers ~10 miles we hike more like 14, sections of which are not “civilized” (as Steve would say). The hiking wrecks me.
Wherever the Fun Run proper is supposed to start, Steve’s vision digresses from this point. Our route starts and finishes in the Edwards backyard, technically in the hot tub but that’s been removed.
Grandeur Fun Run proper
Grandeur Fun Run elevation profile
We are challenged to climb one route at each of 10 crags along the main trail. No climb should be easier than 5.10a and no single grade should be climbed more than once, meaning we will climb one of each grade between 5.10a and 5.12b. This does not happen. For me, it looks like this:
departure, Steve’s backyard – 7:00AM Saturday, September 17, 2016
Feeling good. Ha. I pounded 6 liters of water the night before, two this morning and I’ve got four liters packed. There’s also a stash of water 2/3 in.
Grandeur Peak, Quarry, Roof Route 5.10
The diminutive Quarry crag is a short walk from Steve’s backyard, though not altogether easy to find. I flash the Roof Route through the ~4ft overhang on the right side of the cliff, after Hans put draws on. It is cold and early, the rock is fractured and unnerving, and I have no coffee. It feels about 5.13X.
Grandeur Peak, Reef, Leviathan 5.12a
I project this with Ben despite the ridicule of everyone questioning our decision to insert a 5.12 on route #2 of what would be a long day (The day would in fact be way longer than we could imagine and our plan is insane). It takes three tries to put a redpoint on it. It’s great. Ben is an animal and I’ll follow him to the loony bin any day.
Grandeur Peak, Rocket Reef, Riding the Rocket 5.9 PG13
This thing makes my feet hurt just looking at it. Actually climbing it is excruciating. I brought one pair of new Scarpa Boostics I just bought for overhanging Tor routes. Of course this rig is ~130ft of limestone slab. Micah puts draws on, I follow, on a 50m rope that is ~90ft too short, making for a crux descent. There’s like 30ft runouts here too. Brilliant limestone though, with a fantastic view of the Great Salt Lake basin.
Grandeur Peak, Upper Reef – [skip]
I think this crag is a triangular formation further up the same cliff band as the previous two crags. It’s way off the main trail, in gnarly bush, and we are running late so it gets skipped. It looks like really good limestone.
Grandeur Peak proper
Here we transfer Steve from Folgers can to the Heavens following a gorgeous ceremony by Steve’s wife Lisa. Corresponding with Steve’s unique and contagious brand of humor his ceremony mirrors The Dude and Walter’s tribute to Donny from The Big Lebowski. Let my friends know I want similar treatment.
The Grandeur is a surprisingly popular peak accessed by a ridegline path. Its popularity is a surprise because if you put a two mile trail in Santa Barbara, starting at 4,000ft and ending at 8,000ft, install heat lamps and outlaw switchbacks, people will pass the fugg out. Here, I’m passed by several dogs, children, a retired person, a guy with a bike on his shoulder, and a lady with an infant on her back – twice.
Millcreek Canyon, Code Blue Wall, Phil’s Rig 5.11c
This is the wall Steve suckered Phil and me into bolting a couple seasons ago. Over two full November days we each put ~18 bolts into two projects up the prominent prow of the Code Blue Wall. Those routes are not on the agenda today. On the far left is a 5.11c Phil put up, FA’d by Dale Goddard, last year. After three earlier crags and the hike from Hell I have to dig a bit to flash this one. At this point I’m fairly cooked so I want to rest before the next crag. Rather, I redpoint it a second time to get Micah’s stupid draws after he bails halfway up.
Millcreek Canyon, Church Fork Wall, The Dark Chrystal 5.12b
Now I’m super not refreshed. Spencer flashes this route on the far left and, being that I have a less than zero percent chance of doing the same, I also try to flash. Before reaching the left of the wall one walks past a few 5.10 routes – clearly too easy – so I bolt-to-bolt flail to chains at 30ft up Steve’s old project.
Steve on The Dark Chrystal for his Birthday Challenge:
It’s about to get dark. Bob says we’re ~8 miles in. No way there’s 2 miles remaining (there’s much more than that). The group splits up. I’m with Ben, Micah and Natalie.
Millcreek Canyon, The Stitches Wall – [skip]
Meltdown. It’s been dark a couple hours. Lisa left arrows marking the final few miles of trail back to the house. We’ve found a couple.
There’s No Trespassing signs next to water towers, people (Police?) approach with flashlights, we take off. Probably not the trail. Gnarly cliffs on the left. Ben took off down the trail. Hopefully he’s not dead.
My knees are pissed. Good, my surgeon was worried about ankles. The left knee, formerly the good one, started hurting before the peak. That was ~10 miles ago. We hear Ben yelling something. Not dead.
Crawl down a slope to a random neighborhood.
arrival, Steve’s backyard – 10:00PM Saturday, September 17, 2016
My body is crazy wrecked. I eat like half a pizza and go to sleep. It should be noted I do not drink a single beer. I’m sure I’ve never been THIS tired before.
Steve was clear – he wished to be received by Folgers can before transfer to someplace rugged and beautiful.
The Grandeur Ten is Steve’s challenge for us. Truth be told, Steve Edwards has left me enough challenges to fill the remainder of my life. Since cancer took him away this year the vacuum he left is filling with inspired feats to honor his legacy. For those of us he affected the objective is personal, endless and simple: do rad stuff. Something like that. Steve left us one specific challenge that is communal, the Grandeur Ten. It’s something to do with hiking and climbing and it is guaranteed to wipe me out. Those are the available details. So to train for the climbing bits, I’m doing this on the Beastmaker 2000:
As of last Thursday I was going through this routine at body weight. It is pumpy, milking the small crimps and 35° slopers exclusively.
There is hiking involved in the G10 proper. That’s going to be tough. I went over my options with the surgeon a few days ago, considering I’m ~1 week officially out of the boot (may it burn in hell), and we agreed it will be interesting. I’ll be in Salt Lake City next week to give it a go.
Routes with monos require a specific kind of conditioning. The 1-finger kind (duh). Hangboards were made for this. The projects I’ve been working on for what seems like eternity each have monos. Here’s my latest mono programming:
Sets of Standard Mono No. 001 every four to five days like this: session #1: 1 set @ -75lbs (weight off with pulley) 2-3 sets @ -50lbs session #2: 1 set @ -75lbs 1 set @ -50lbs 2 sets @ -40lbs session #3: 1 set @ -75lbs 1 set @ -55lbs 1 set @ -45lbs 1 set @ -35lbs session #4: 1 set @ -75lbs 1 set @ -50lbs 1 set @ -35lbs 1 set @ -25lbs Session #5+ still thinking about it…
Lately I’ve been all about variety on mono days. After a few months of bi-weekly maximum mono pull tests I predictably hit a hopeless plateau. Mindless pulling made my monos sore and sore monos cannot pull hard. Recently I’ve mixed in slopers, two-fingers, ring and middle finger pockets all throughout the sets. Most sets I’m already fairly tired before the mono pulls even start, by which point I’m working with weights well below my maximum. Only once every several sessions I’ll actually go for a couple maximum effort pulls and not before I’m plenty confident.
People get injured training monos. Many wallow in mediocrity before developing a productive formula. Intuition is important here. If it’s not feeling good I need to make myself make a change.
At best, I can go through it a couple times taking ~50lbs off with the pulley. For variation I’ll either alternate arms when I switch holds are just hammer on one side for the duration of the set then go through it again on the other side. The first few reps are easier so I might hit those closer to body-weight then put some more on the pulley for the last few reps.
Given how much regular pull-ups suck it is a bit surprising how good one-arm pull-ups feel. Babes dig ’em, they’re super fun, everybody wins. My friend Andre, who is both into babes and a babe herself, is all about one-arms. Coincidence?
One-arms and babes are a natural segue into barbells and boobs. On the complete opposite end of the awesome spectrum is cancer. I found out about BarbellsForBoobs.org shortly after my friend Steve (Stainless) Edwards was cut down in his prime. If you’re talking barbells, boobs, and punching cancer in the face, you are definitely speaking my language.
I don’t know if everyone’s Beastmaker 2000 shipped with ridiculous 45-degree slopers, whether just us Yankees received wood jokes, or if mine is uniquely fugg’d or what. I like to think I just suck at slopers. As such, I am commencing Operation Stop Sucking on the Beastmaker Slopers, starting with this:
This routine takes place all on the 35-degree slopers. That’s the level I’m working at now. I’m not sure when I’ll start incorporating the 45-degree holds except that I know it will not be today. Sadly, the 35’s delivered plenty of training stimulus. I slipped off and landed on my back with one second to go on the last set. If only all sessions could end so perfectly.
Starting a few weeks ago, as I integrated indoor bouldering back into my life, I stopped hitting the hangboard so hard. But I want to keep up some semblance of Beastmaker 2000 prowess in the form of a weekly session focused on monos and one-arms. For monos, something like this:
Starting on open-hand slopers, into 2-finger finger pockets, this routine progresses through a dozen warm up reps before a half-dozen proper mono hangs. I tried it out on Monday. Though feeling awesome would not be an option I at least wanted to feel confident, so I took off 50 lbs and went through it 3 times. I’ll try to get that down to 25 lbs and, eventually/hopefully, less.
Sometimes I hate warming up. Even if I’m not totally blasted from sitting at my desk all day I really don’t love the boring bits I have to go through before the good stuff. If there was a quick, visual brief of what I should do before cranking begins it would look like this:
Get things stretched out
Roll out those pissed off back and shoulder muscles on a foam roller. Sit up and hit those rotator cuff muscles above the lat and under the posterior shoulder – that one’s always good for a sweet pain face.
Do some full body twists and bends. For extra credit stick that foam roller under your scapula to really stretch out the front shoulder.
I might have invented this one: back bend over a Swiss ball while pulling apart the chest and front shoulders.
Grab a hanging rope/webbing and stretch that lat all over the place. Kick a leg out and behind to get the whole side.
Say it: I will not be that guy. I will stretch my chest and shoulders so that I stand up straight like a human, not folded over like a walking taco (see: the local gym).
Start with low intensity movement
After or during the mobility work, simulate a mild version of the upcoming workout. If this is a pocket training day, hang a few big, deep pockets and slopers to get ready. If small crimps are on the agenda, start on false and half crimp buckets. One arm pull-up workouts could be preceded by pulls on the hangboard taking weight off with a pulley. This is the time to think about form, how the full value sets should feel once the intensity is bumped up.
Monday before last year’s Labor Day I broke my leg shredding gnarly knee-high widow maker’s (surfing my SUP like a gaper) at Ledbetter Beach. This gave me time to pursue other interests. In addition to Bourbon I rediscovered the hangboard. I actually knew it was down in my garage the whole time, only now I would experience its subtleties without distraction.
Not a difficult diagnosis.
Surgery, Round 1: titanium bits go in.
This couch and I would get to know each other well.
This was not all bad. I tried to see this as an opportunity to buckle down on the type of training that could put to rest my remaining climbing goals. Definitely my fingers would benefit from the concentrated effort and hopefully I would be a touch lighter with a titanium rod instead of right tibia innards. Weight loss turned out to be super easy – 15 lbs came off right away. Mom and Grandma tried to feed me but I knew projects would crumble if I could maintain the heroin chic look.
To beef up finger strength I replicated on my Beastmaker 2000 two Santa Maria routes I had projected the previous season. The subsequent year of downtime also provided me an opportunity to write a training app for just this purpose, thus: Stricly Ballroom and Bodyguard from Beijing.
Months ticked by. It wasn’t that I was crawling out of my skin to get back outside but certainly an unfulfilling monotony had taken hold. Regardless, full on climbing in this condition would not be safe (which I proved).
I tried but the boot would not crank.
The garage would provide.
For a few weeks in March I was walking around a bit, even got over to Kauai for a few days where I realized the TSA would flag me for inspection for the rest of my life. No longer would I be able to show up to the airport just in time for flights.
After about 6 months and easily (easily) 100 sessions on the hangboard I was ready to get back onto a rock. Instead, back to Cottage Hospital. Apparently things were infected. Now that makes sense. It was odd to be sweating all night during the winter and the appearance of colorful lump friends had me suspicious. In Latin they are called abscesses.
I love you, Cottage Hospital, but your coffee sucks.
Old hardware out, new hardware in, and back to the garage.
An impromptu surgery to remove the titanium gear, four more days in the klink, indefinite IV antibiotic treatments and I would be good as new. And one year older. It was unclear to everyone I asked at the hospital whether one could do pull-ups with a PICC line. Your mileage may vary but give it a shot if you find yourself here. I had no problems. In fact I thought it was so cool watching the tubes while I tried one-arms that now my left is stronger than my right arm.
Fast forward 10 months, I’m hobbling around with a sweet cane and my fingers have never been happier (at least since the previous hospital stint). I’m certainly over 200 sessions with the hangboard and, I gotta say, it was great. I never want to do it again but it was great.