The climbing gym, then the boulder recon…

“Chris, you have so much raw climbing talent.  You really do.  You just have so much raw talent.  You just know how to move.  I’m a good copycat.  I’ve really had to work hard on it, but it’s something you’ve got internally.  It’s something inside you.  You have what it takes to be a really elite athlete.  And you’re strong.  You’re really strong.”  That meant so much coming from Lou Renner.  Lou, Leon, and I had just finished a session at the climbing gym in Bozeman and were getting ready to launch our Bozeman Six reconnaissance mission.  We ended our gym session on a high note – stemming a dihedral with minimal holds that were far apart.  “Anything goes.”  I loved the four no-hands rests I got in on that route!!!  I even did some crack climbing with my stemming!!! Lou and Leon are so much fun!!!  They couldn’t be here at a better time!!!

I met Lou and Leon at their hotel at 0930 hrs and we went to IHOP for breakfast.  Lou and I had almost identical plates, while Leon had an omelette.  Leon picked up my tab for me, gentleman that he is.  I told Lou and Leon about my week and we talked it out over breakfast.  I felt better for a bit, then when we were warming up in the fitness area on the mezzanine of the climbing gym, the shock started to wear off a little and I talked to Lou a bit. Lou and Leon went ahead and climbed while I got my fingers taped up and I went downstairs to find Leon at the ready.  “Want a belay?”  Sure!  Thank you!!!  “Very precise feet, Chris.  Good footwork!” Lou said.  Leon and I both had to practice light hands, meaning the lower hand, or the hand that’s going to be letting go, should be shaken out and completely relaxed before taking it up to grip the next hold.  “Focus on your body position,” said Lou.  “Don’t focus on the top, don’t focus on the next hold.  Focus on your body position and the movement.”  I did that, and miraculous things happened.  I learned from Lou not to reach much beyond about a 90º bend in my elbows while climbing, either, in order to keep my body positions efficient and not overreach, which takes too much power and is less efficient.  Shaking out, resting, chalking up, not overreaching, and pacing ourselves were the exercises of the day.  I felt much better after I got on the wall.  Climbing with Lou and Leon is amazing!!!  Leon had heart surgery in March of this year and is climbing for the first time since that surgery.  He’s climbing great!!!  Leon is an amazing man.  I really look up to him.  He’s got an unmatched determination about him.  He’s also one of the nicest fellows I’ve ever met.  He’s a thoroughly enjoyable companion to climb with!  Very inspiring individual!  Lou is a great coach, and he’s learned the physics of climbing motion firsthand by climbing at least 250 days a year for 45 years or so.  He’s had a lot of practice, to say the least!  Such a great mentor, and so kind in his willingness to give quality feedback.

After our climbing gym session, Lou, Leon, and I went on our Bozeman Six recon mission using the map I’d prepared for them.  Leon was the navigator and Lou was the pilot.  Funny as all get out, hahaha!!!  We went to each boulder and photographed them so that we got some idea of what they each looked like and could plan the order we’re going to tackle them in.  We decided that we’re going to plan on beating our record of 164 problems in one day on Friday.  That gives us Sunday to possibly redeem ourselves if something goes amiss on Friday (which it shouldn’t).  We haven’t actually come up with a goal, but that sounds like a good one until we do.  This year, Leon’s thumb isn’t in a splint, so we have 30 fingers to work with instead of 29 – that’s got to make some kind of difference, right? Hahaha!!!  We stopped at Subway to get some chow – Lou paid for my sandwich and chocolate milk (another gentleman) – before we checked out the last boulder, which was on the university campus.  By the time we got back to Lou and Leon’s hotel, it was 1847 hrs.  I got back to my hotel at a few minutes past 1900 hrs.

Here’s a partial summary run-down of our recon mission:

Bozeman Pond/Ace Boulder – Yosemite Granite reproduction

Gallatin Regional (Fire Dept.) Boulder – Young Granite reproduction

East Gallatin Rec. Area Boulder – Limestone reproduction

Depot Boulder – Volcanic reproduction

Langhor Park Boulder – Sandstone reproduction

University Boulder – Limestone reproduction

We’re going to rank these as to their difficulty and the order in which we’re going to work them on Friday (the big day) as to have the proper sequence of warm-up problems, peak/hard problems, and cool-down/make-up-for-lost-time problems.

It was a great day with Lou and Leon!!!  I’m meeting them at their hotel at 0930 hrs in the morning and we’re going to go trad climbing after we have breakfast together.  This’ll be a new experience for me.  Can’t wait!!!


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