Sunday, November 8, 2015

First Ascent vs Brooklyn Boulders Chicago

First Ascent is convenient in many ways: it is right off the Addison highway exit, has a parking lot and sells a good array of merch including shoes, harness and various snacks and drinks. It is well staffed with safety conscious people who know about climbing.

The facilities are top notch. Top rope and lead walls reach about 60 feet and are textured. While this is great for smearing, I noticed that I did quite a bit of scuffing to the toes of my new shoes. Bouldering area upstairs has several top out sections and a very difficult cave.

The rating system is a bit of a conundrum for me. While I feel that 5.8 and 5.9 is more difficult at First Ascent than at Brooklyn Boulders Chicago, once you get into 5.10 - 5.11, First Ascent seems to scale on the soft side. Why is that? Over the weekend, I completed a 5.10 D and got about 4/5ths up a 5.11 C at First Ascent. Normally, I am happy with 5.10 A and 5.10 B.

But... maybe I'm just getting better. Today, at BKB, I completed a 5.10 C. While, I did not finish it cleanly, I felt accomplished that I was able to get through some tough parts after many tries and many falls. It's the only way to get better.

Bouldering at First Ascent kicks my ass. I can barely finish V1-V2, while at BKB, I am generally in the V3-V4 range. Just have to work harder to move up.

All in all, I really enjoy First Ascent. I do not plan on becoming a member, but I will be buying some passes. Having BKB across the street is entirely too convenient to pass up.

Polar M400

My Garmin FR60 running watch all but died a few years ago. The wrist strap broke and the battery had to be replaced about twice a year. While I loved the comfort of the heart rate monitor chest strap, I did not love the buttons on the watch. I had been scouring the market for a new watch and was considering Suunto. However, their watches are humongous. 

After comparing reviews, I thought the Polar M400 seemed like a good fit. I finally bought one tonight. The watch and heart rate monitor cost about $250 after tax. So, I'm hoping this watch performs a lot better than my previous Garmin. It's comfortable and sleek. The face is pretty readable. I have just customized my settings and will be testing it out tomorrow. 

Polar M400

Squeezing in the Ultimate Reset before Thanksgiving

My shipment has finally arrived.

I have done the Reset twice before and was happy with the results. Both times, I refrained from exercise as recommended. I found this difficult to do because by week 2, I had lots of energy that I wanted to expend.

This time, I do not want to take a full 3 weeks off from climbing. So, the plan is to follow the Reset as closely as possible but add some calories to my diet on days when I intend to climb. In order to do so safely, I will be monitoring my heart rate and calories burned during physical activity and appropriately supplementing those calories.

I hope to update with photos and logged data soon. Very excited to start the Reset one more time.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Brooklyn Boulders

Brooklyn Boulders has become my second home. Since its opening, I've been climbing there 3-4 times a week (one time, I went 5 days in a row - NOT RECOMMENDED!).

Bouldering - Climbing without ropes. The way up to the top is called a "problem" which is about the right term for it. They are graded from V0, V1, V2 and up, the higher the number, the greater the difficulty. BKB has padding completely surrounding the problems, which is nice. Out in the real world, people use crash pads, which are not all that very big and must be placed strategically to break your fall safely.

Fighting a barn door on a V3
Mike trying out his Testarossas for the first time
Top Rope - Climbing with a harness that is attached to a rope that is set at the top of a route. I just realized I don't have any pictures of me top roping at BKB because Mike can't really belay and take photos at the same time.

Friend climbing top rope with Mike belaying
What makes BKB fun is the artwork on the walls and the many events they hold (most are free). Below are a few examples:

Art by Caleb Freese

Mucca Pazza

Breakfast Club