In Bozeman, Montana, there are currently six artificial boulders in six different park locations around the city…and no map. Lou and Leon found all six of these boulders during their two-week stay in Bozeman, and since yesterday was their last day in Bozeman, we decided (smoke and weather permitting) that the three of us would hit all six boulders in one day and, between the three of us in attempts and completed climbs, try to break the 100-climb mark. I met them at their hotel at 1000 hrs and we were off to the races by 1030 hrs. This was going to be fun!!!
Lou taught me that, when climbing, especially traversing, that you lead with your feet, and that your heels should face the direction you are climbing, which turns your hip into the rock and facilitates both reach and movement. This way, you can reach and pull across your body as well, which is a much safer anatomical position to work from concerning your shoulders. Lou taught me a better way to tape my fingers, too. Due to the most common injuries being the A2 and A4 pulleys, you need to tape the first, second, and third fingers of each hand in a somewhat curved position so that you protect them by not allowing them to fully extend. You start the 1/2″ tape on the top of your middle phalanx, just below the distal joint, then wrap it one full time around. From there, you bend your finger a bit and bring the tape down on the palmar side of your hand across the joint and then make two full wraps around the base of your proximal phalanx near the knuckle that it shares with your metacarpal (hand). Now this is important: in order to make sure your fingers stay at slightly less than full extension, bend your finger in a claw-like fashion so that, when you bring the tape up and across the joint again to the original wrapping point (middle phalanx), it comes across a bent joint. Make another full wrap around the middle phalanx and cut the tape off so that the end is on the top-side of the finger. Once this tape job is done, test it and make sure that you cannot fully extend your finger. If you can’t, congratulations! One down, five to go! I tried this and it works great! As far as injury recovery and prevention goes, this is a must!!! Another thing Lou showed me was using tincture of benzoin compound on your fingertips and letting it dry before you chalk up. It makes a huge difference in your grip and keeping the chalk on your fingers!!!
So…the boulders. Absolutely the best bouldering outing I’ve ever had! Lou was keeping track, but not tallying, our respective attempts and completions all day. My personal favorite was this dihedral – a stemming problem – and after attempting it once and down-climbing from halfway up, I attempted it a second time and sent it! That was an awesome problem!!! I believe it was on the Bozeman Pond Boulder. Any way you look at it, it was awesome! It combined all of the movement and technique that I had been learning from Lou and it all paid off!!! There was a very bold, committing move to it, and I didn’t flinch. Lou had worked with me earlier in the day on climbing a few moves up, and then down-climbing several times until I was confident that I could get that far with no problems. After that point, I would just keep adding a move and down-climbing until I was sending the problem! It really helped with confidence because I knew I could down-climb from any point that I had reached, and that took the fear out of it. Cure to my hesitation problems!
We had a great day bouldering! Leon pulled some powerful moves all day long and sent a V3 toward the end of the day!!! He never ceased to amaze me! Lou had gotten us ahead of the game by going out early before I got there and doing 38 problems before we had even started! Climbing with these two was so much fun! The positive, encouraging, coaching atmosphere with a lot of laughs, bloopers, and great sends mixed in was the perfect day. Speaking of the perfect day, the wind had blown the smoke out of the area as a front came in and the weather was a beautiful mid-70-degree day with breathable fresh air!!! By the time we had done a few routes on the sixth boulder, at around 1930 hrs, we were beat! Lou taught me two Qigong movements – a stance and movement for clearing the liver and a movement exercise for increasing physical balance and creativity of the mind – before we headed off to have dinner.
We had dinner at the Outback Steakhouse. Before we got there, we made our bets as to how many attempts and completions combined between the three of us we had made that day. Lou guessed 130. Leon guessed 163. I guessed 160. The deal was that the one who came the closest without going over the actual tally got their dessert paid for by the other two. As we were working on a Blooming Onion, a bit of bread, and some salad, Lou tallied each person’s attempts and completions, then calculated the final number. It was 164. In one day, between the three of us, we sent and/or attempted 164 boulder problems!!! No wonder we were so tired, haha!!! My own personal stats were 17 completed routes and 15 attempts, for a total of 32. My climbing grade overall was a V1+, which translates into 5.10d. Wow! I had really improved!!! Leon’s total was 55! Lou paid for Leon’s dessert after we enjoyed parts of our respective meals. As hungry as we all were, Leon and I ate only a third, at most, of our meals. Lou was smart and ate light. We wanted that dessert!!! As we sat there, we enjoyed each others’ company and shared stories. Lou and Leon have such great stories!!!
When we got back to the hotel, Leon gave me a hug and bade me good night. He said he had enjoyed climbing with me. I told him that he has my eternal respect. “I look forward to crossing paths with you again.” Me, too. Lou went up to their room and got some gear that he had brought for me. He walked me to my truck and I gave him the three “Just Dyno” stickers that I had brought for them. Lou went through the bag of gear that he had brought me. It was sport climbing gear and he had graciously gifted me with some of his own tried and true gear that was older and more reliable that what is produced now. I was honored. We gave each other two big hugs and bade each other farewell. “We’ll climb again.” Yes, we will!!! We had talked about the Flat Irons in Colorado outside Boulder and he said he’d need at least three days with me to teach me the basics of trad climbing. I’m so looking forward to that in the spring!!!
The drive home was a satisfied one. Though I longed for more time with Lou and Leon, our limited time together was what made it all the more special. I got home at midnight and was dead to the world until about 1500 hrs this afternoon. Lou warned me to rest for at least two days and let my body heal, especially my shoulders, which he said would be tight (and they are). Lou had told me several times, “You have strong shoulders. That’s good!” To my readers, I apologize for missing a blog post, but I do not regret it, for the time spent with my newfound climbing friends was worth so much more than every minute of time that I would’ve spent on a post yesterday!