Monday, November 29, 2010

RRG: Thanksgiving 2010

Day 1, Wednesday
Paradise Lost 5.13a – flash

After a 9-hour drive from Delaware to Kentucky and a nice sleep at one of the Lago Linda’s cabins, I was ready to jump-start my 4-day climbing trip (yet I was still somehow the last one to pack my bag).  Drive, park, walk up to some warm-ups, 5.12a warm-up, all check.  And here I go making the first mistake of the climbing trip: I got TOO psyched…  After barely enough warm up to get the blood flowing, I jumped on Southern Smoke (5.14c) and got a flash pump that seemed to last for the rest of the trip.  But I thought, oh well, and after a few tries on Southern Smoke, proceeded to attempt Lucifer (another 5.14c)… I don’t think I’ve sworn so much and with such passion before in my life, while instantaneously freaking out everyone around me and making them laugh.

Me getting pumped on the first moves of Southern Smoke.  Photo by Jesse Gagnon.

Jesse Gagnon demonstrating how cold it is.  Photo by Vasya Vorotnikov.

Day 2, Thursday 
The Castle has Fallen 5.13b – onsight
Dracula ‘04 5.13b – flash
Calm like a Bomb 5.13a – flash

The day started out with me feeling simply exhausted after 5 full-session tries on 5.14c’s, but everything seemed to change with Neil Mushaweh’s first ever 5.13a onsight and the temps climbing into the 60s.  He certainly got me psyched on Calm like a Bomb as he crushed it with style early in the morning.  The pressure was on, but with Neil’s perfect beta, I was able to flash it.  Later on in the day, I got some beta from Neil and sent Dracula ‘04, one of the best 13b’s I’ve ever been on!  Happy Turkey-day!

Neil Mushaweh on the flash attempt of Dracula ‘04.  Photo by Jesse Gagnon.

Day 3, Friday
Hellraiser 5.12b/c – onsight

The temps dropped from a high of 70 yesterday to a high of 37 today… wtf?  I figured I’d save this day for trying Lucifer, but disappointed myself with another poor performance and feeling exhausted after just a couple of days of climbing.  This day was more about Neil’s epic tries on Dracula ‘04.  As Neil got to the rest before the final boulder problem to the anchors, he looked down at me, gave out a scream, and said with no emotion “I just got the biggest flapper on my pinky… I bit the skin off… and spit it out”.  There was a long pause and I didn’t know what to say, but I finally managed to say “Just put some chalk on it”.  Needless to say, he did just that and ended up peeling off the last move as he slipped on his own blood…  The route lives up to its name.

Meanwhile, Matt McCormick was having a mental issue of whether to clip a draw or skip it and go straight to the top on Paradise Lost.  This seemingly simple call turned into a total mind game with an unfortunate “no send” for Matty.



Matt McCormick on Paradise Lost.  Photos by Vasya Vorotnikov.

Day 4, Saturday
Transworld Depravity 5.14a – 2nd try

The last day of my Thanksgiving trip was fruitful with an unexpected 2nd go send of Transworld Depravity, one of the best climbs I’ve tried and done here at Red River Gorge.  With the temps still down below 40F and this being my 4th day on of pulling hard, I don’t know what got me up there.  While we could have stayed here an extra day, I didn’t have anything left in me.  Always wishing I had more time…


Me on Transworld Depravity.  Photos by Jesse Gagnon.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Lost City, Gunks, NY

When deciding between spending the weekend at the New (13 hours of driving total by myself) and a Sunday at the Gunks (7 hours of driving with Jay and Drew), it really was a 50/50 in my mind simply because I’m in the sport climbing mood.  However, since I’m going to Red River Gorge over Thanksgiving, the Gunks won the overall vote.  I’ve never been anywhere there except the Carriage Road, so Lost City area was a new one for me with some pleasant and unexpected surprises.  With temperatures in the upper 30s/very low 40s, the dry conditions were ideal for sending, and I ended up with one of my best days bouldering outside yet:

Gutshut V10/11 – flash
Dose of Novocaine V10 – 3rd try
Ideas are Bulletproof V10 – flash
Harmonic Tremors V9 – flash
Alcoholocaust (left exit variation) V9 – flash
The Path V9 – flash
Air Jordan V8 – 2nd go

Drew Davis did Air Jordan the same day with the quickness, but later destroyed himself on the Path, practically finishing the problem at least 10 times, leaving little for Ideas and Harmonic…  Jason Temple wanted to do the Path, but occupied his mind with his upcoming trip to Chattanooga, and was unable to zone in on the present day…  Unfortunately, there are no pics or videos, but I’m kind of glad since Ideas are Bulletproof needed some serious spotting!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Top Out Comp: Elite 11/13/2010 + Green Lane Bouldering

The weather was in the 60s and sunny, dry after practically no rain for a whole week, but I took my chances and went to check out this comp in a nice little gym called “Elite Climbing Gym”.  It was either this short 1-hour drive to the comp or a 6.5-hour drive to the New, and I chose to compete…  I simply couldn’t resist competing against Rob D’Anastasio and Nick Picarella.

I’ll start with the results:
1. Vasya Vorotnikov (me)
2. Rob D’Anastasio
3. Nick Picarella
1. Emma Chilton

2. Maddy Grupper
3. Anna Kavaoerchik

Side note:  Not too many people know this (I didn’t), but apparently Paul Robinson started climbing in this very gym.  While I didn’t exactly feel the presence of the legend himself during the competition, I could imagine a scrawny little kid with short haircut pulling down on those tiny crimps in the cave.

The qualifiers were typical: a whole bunch of problems with the hardest being in the V10-level.  After the this round, it was me in 1st, Rob in 2nd, and Nick in 3rd, followed by Pat, Connor, and Matt.  Mr. Jason Temple was excited to miss the finals by one, snagging a few slices of that free pizza.  For the women it was a no-brainer with practically no one there to give Emma Chilton a run for her money.

The finals were run very differently – elimination style.  While the finalists may not have agreed on the format to determine who is the best, it seemed to be satisfying enough to the crowd.  Here’s how it worked:
- The top person from the qualifiers would go first, given an onsight attempt with nobody watching.  Then, the rest of the guys would turn around, and the second person to qualify would try the problem, allowing everyone to watch as if it were a redpoint round.
- The catch: the first 5 to top out the problem would move on to the second boulder problem!  Say 5 guys did the first problem first try; then, the 6th person would automatically be eliminated despite him not even trying the problem. The time limit was 10 minutes and after those 10 minutes, whoever had the highpoints would move on.
- 2nd problem: 2 more guys were eliminated similarly with only 3 remaining for the last, third problem.  Whoever finishes the 3rd problem first wins the comp!

And so it happened: the first 5 guys, including me, flashed the first boulder problem, automatically moving on to the next problem, with no chance left for Matt regardless of how he climbed on #1.  #2 was a bit more difficult, with only Rob and I flashing the problem, but Nick making quick work of it and getting to the top 2nd try, not allowing anyone else into the finals.  The last problem was not as hard as expected, and I was able to flash that one as well, automatically getting 1st place.  It was now between Rob and Nick, and Rob was also able to flash the last problem.  Nick came really close, but it wouldn’t have mattered as he was automatically in 3rd after Rob’s flash.

Emma was simply at another level comparing to the rest of the girls as there were no Sashas, Sydneys or Mollys to compete against.

With skin as tender as filet mignon, after just 6 hours of sleep due to noisy upstairs neighbors, we (Jason, me, Rob D, and Nick) decided to check out Green Lane, a local PA bouldering area that has remained secretive due to its access issues and lack of parking…  We met up late in the morning and, after getting lost on local roads that we shouldn’t have gotten lost on, we got to the boulders.

My first thought was: cinnamon bun!  Rob D came up with rule 48, which allows him an after-the-comp 48 hours of abusing his body with carbohydrate-high substance called food before preparing for the next event or escapade. And, I enjoyed it!
Me with a cinnamon bun. Photo by me.

The next thought was coffee, which I drank as I took pictures of the gang tearing up the warm-ups.  Nick claimed that he onsighted the V0 on this boulder, but it is still under dispute.  An official complaint of lying to his peers about this V0 “onsight” may be filed shortly.  Stay tuned.
Rob D’Anastasio, sending the sendbag V0 on his 3rd go. Jason Temple awaits at the top.
Nick Picarella demonstrating his slab-scrimping powers as he tops out a V7 boulder problem.

It was truly impossible to focus on something called “sending” as we were not exactly in top form after competing the previous day.  Unexpectedly, however, the “San Diego” part of Green Lane brought us some sends, with Nick, Rob, and I all sending the “Redneck” V10 boulder problem!  While somewhat contrived, it was the obvious way to do this direct crimpy line up the middle of the 40-degree overhang.  The “San Diego” project, which skips the broken-off part of the boulder (the more obvious line), remains undone, likely in the V12-14 range.  There are plenty of promising lines just in the “San Diego” area, but they will have to wait till our skin grows back a little.
IMG_6344 IMG_6345 IMG_6347 IMG_6349
Me on a sequence of the “Redneck” (V10).

Monday, November 8, 2010

Dark Horse Series 2010/2011: Stop #1

The first of the three Dark Horse comps is complete.  The promised show was delivered to Metro-north, also known as Newburyport.  Similar format as usual:  4 hours of redpoint competition, followed by Nationals-style finals for top 6 men and women.  Except, there were 5 problems to be climbed!  Here are the results for the open categories:

1. Vasya Vorotnikov (me)
2. Max Zolotukhin
3. Andy Lamb
4. Rob D’Anastasio
5. Nick Picarella

1. Francesca Metcalf
2. Melissa Godowski
3. Sydney McNair
4. Amelia Metcalf
5. Zoe Leivovitch

Unlike just a week ago, when I was able to finish the necessary 5 problems to make it to finals in just 1.5 hours, this comp felt like a major test of endurance.  Falling off multiple times on all of my top 5 climbs and 3 hours later, my skin and muscles were ready for a 2-day break.  Instead, we got just a few hours before the start of the finals.

With oh-so-needed 2 cups of coffee that Neil Mushaweh prepared especially for me (and Lauren), I went into the finals.  Feeling good after flashing the first 2 of 5 problems, I relaxed a bit too much, falling just short of finishing #3 that remained undone by the competitors.  #4 decided to be a real pain in the but.  After falling off the last move twice and flailing somewhere in the middle, I finally managed to get up to the top in the final seconds. #5 was another one that no one topped out, but I was just a move away…
Overall in our finals:  lots of pinches, slopers, some deep juggy crimps, one small crimp, and no pockets… I’m not complaining, but this really showed the setters’ style.

Me on finals #3, trying the wrong beta.  It didn’t work, hands started sweating pretty badly...  Luckily, Josh Larson was there to offer some chalk before my desperate attempt and failure.  Photo by Pat Bagley.

And David Wetmore has posted the video... Rated "M" for mature.

Dark Horse Series: November 6th, 2010 from David Wetmore on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

It’s been a while…

Hey again. I haven’t posted here in a while, a while being like 2+ years. It’s actually too bad, considering a whole bunch has happened in my life since then and I’m horrible at writing stuff about myself or keeping a journal in a leather-bound notebook… And yeah, my memory ain’t that great, either, so I probably forgot half the things I’ve done, am doing, or plan to do… According to my mother, who is a biologist-climber, we start losing brain cells after we turn 18. While it doesn’t mean you can no longer smarten up with age, it may be responsible for our memory loss…
Anyway, I’d like to construct a short summary of what the heck I’ve been up to, mainly focusing on the now, but paying some attention to the past and even the future…

Part 1. A little while back…
I’m done with UNH. Got by BS in chemical engineering and a minor in physics, it’s been about 1.5 years.
Told ya it’d be a short summary.

This one should be interesting since I started writing this on some Thursday night around 10 PM (clearly not so thirsty). I felt like it’s been a very training-unproductive day. Instead of those push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, and whatever ups you can think of, I was sitting at my computer, trying to find out what was wrong with my phase diagram. NO, not my face diagram, – a phase diagram. For those who don’t know what the heck that is, don’t bother; keep doing those ups instead (they are better for your face diagram, anyway).
But yes, Delaware. I’m in Delaware, going to school here: University of Delaware, go figure. What am I doing here? Well, it’s a competitive chemical engineering program that I’m proud to be a part of, hence the phase diagram talk. I’ve been here for a bit over a year, took some required classes, passed my qualifiers, doing research now… It’s better than classes, like work with less pay, but I get to pick my schedule, which obviously allows me to climb and spend time with my girl, Jesse. Although, honestly, I’m not supposed to tell anyone this, because as a graduate student you’re not supposed to have any time off, at all…
Me, looking good before kicking a$$ at Ph.D. qualifiers, hehe.
Right, I did title this section “Climbing in Delaware”. It’s kind of an oxymoron because there is none (you can laugh). But I’ve met some of the nicest and coolest people down here who climb and love climbing. And, we actually do have indoor climbing. Here’s what we got here in the DE: Matt, the owner of Delaware Rock Gym (DRG) keeps the place open noon till 10pm (wish it was midnight), and does a pretty good job running the place. People who are obsessive about climbing, like me, are willing to drive 3.5+ hours out of DE even for a day or a weekend trip! (Holla to Jason, Dustin, Derek, Drew, TJ, and other J’s and D’s we’ve got here) Now that’s dedication! Or maybe desperation… I don’t know, I did very poorly on my English SATs and GREs.
Me, sitting on top of Boxcar Arete at the Gunks, NY on one of those escape trips from DE. (Oct. 2009, photo by Dustin Briggs)

Aha! My favorite part, after schoolwork, of course! So, from Newark, Delaware, we can get to the following destinations:
Haycock local bouldering place 1.5 hours
Birdsboro quarry a bit chossy sport climbing spot 1.5 hours
The Gunks, NY trad, bouldering 3.5 hours
New River Gorge trad, sport, bouldering – WORLD class, guys! 6.5-7.5 hours (traffic dependent)
Red River Gorge trad, sport – everyone knows about this one 9 hours give or take
The south (NC, AL, TN) trad, sport, bouldering longer…
I’ve been to Birdsboro once, but don’t think I’m eager to come back, just not enough to lure me in. Haycock, on the other hand pleasantly surprised me with its rock quality, – I finally decided to give it a try after setting for 3 days straight for the DRG ABS comp on 10/23/2010. The conditions were definitely warmer than expected, especially since all of our (Drew and me) skin was spent trying all the problems. Regardless, I ended up doing “Of Mice and Men” (V7) on my 3rd go, flashing “Iron Lion” (V7) with the help from Drew and Matt, and also doing a couple of V4s on my 2nd go… I regret trying “Black Angus” as it’s completely not my style and I tore a layer of skin off my fingers that I didn’t know I had…
Drew Davis trying to repeat “Of Mice and Men” (V7) on a warm October day at Haycock. Thanks for showing me around!
Me on “Fluffy Clouds” (V5), which seems like a legit and safe introduction to outdoor bouldering. Get on this one!
Next on the list is the Gunks, but we’ve all seen and heard enough about it to know what that’s like… I’d rather talk about the New River Gorge!
I love Mike Williams’ new guidebook to that place. Ticking climbs off in there is just too much fun and it’s so addicting. I’ve been lucky with the weather every time I’ve come here, since it’s still climbable in the rain (that’s when I sent a couple of climbs at the Cirque, Endless Wall). This place has so many established 5.12s and harder for me to repeat, not to mention all the futuristic potential that this place has! And it’s impossible to talk to the locals because they’ll tell you to do 5 new climbs for every one that you have already climbed. But yeah, the rock quality is surprisingly amazing even though the cliffs almost look chossy from the distance. Once you start climbing, you just need more, more, more!
I had the luck of several great weekends over the past year, sending the already established hard lines: “Still Life” (5.14b), “Trebuchet” (5.14b), “Proper Soul” (5.14a), flashing “Freedom Tree” (5.13d), “Travisty” (5.13c), “Deep Throat” (5.13c), “In the Flat Field” (5.13b/c), as well as one of the hardest 5.13b/8a’s I’ve ever done in my life: “The Racist”. I also couldn’t resist trying Stephen Meinhold’s project from back when he was still around the East coast, called “The Prow Project”. I was able to do it in just 5 tries over a weekend trip, and called it “Vympel” (5.14a/b). This project was bolted by Doug Reed about 20 years ago, and hasn’t gone till I did it the weekend of 10/03. You can look up “vympel” on wikipedia, and figure out why I called it that, haha. The full description is on I didn’t really expect to finish it so quickly, so unfortunately I don’t have any video footage or pictures of it yet.
And, aside from my love to tick things off in Mike Williams’ guide, I’m also all about projecting some of ‘em open projects and repeating more hard lines. My “Christmas” list of routes I want to do/project is gradually increasing, but here are a few I’d like to get on soon:
The Hoax of Clocks Project (5.14b/c)
The Dihedral Project (5.14c/d?)
Super Pod Project (5.14c/d+)
Full Metal Brisket (5.14d+)
The Chris Linder Project (5.14c/d)
Mango Tango (5.14a)
Mono Loco (5.14a)
McCrayfish and Chips (5.13d)
The Crouch (5.13d)
Jazz Rock Confusion (5.13d)
Satanic Verses (5.13c)
Considering that the hardest line there today is just 5.14b, there’s clearly room for putting the New River Gorge on the world map with hard 5.14c/d, and possibly even 5.15a… and that’s just the open projects that have been bolted! That’s why I’m so psyched here…
A sequence of moves on Hoax of Clocks project, ending up in me falling off the crux moves at the top. At least I’m falling off in style.
And here are a couple more on the Hoax of Clocks project (5.14c?) All of these photos taken by Dustin Briggs.

Part 4. COMPS
Competitions are also a huge part of my life, and it’s easy to do since most of them are on weekends. Last year, they took up many weekends, and this season doesn’t seem different. Something about these makes me climb harder than I would normally climb inside, and I love it! Mammut/UBC/Jason Danforth & Pete Ward comps, the Dark Horse Series, the Heart of Steel, and the ABS Nationals bring the best US (as well as Norway, hehe) climbers together to compete for some cash. Next weekend, 11/6/2010, should be pretty awesome as I expect to battle it out with Rob D’Anastasio, whom I developed a sort of friendly rivalry with. It’s sometimes me, it’s sometimes him, and every time I have no idea who is gonna beat who, and that makes it the more exciting and the more reason to push it in the finals.
Meanwhile, check out this video by David Wetmore of the last comp, Midnight Burn... I can't complain, the setting was right on, relatively small lines for climbing, and kick-ass finals. I don't remember last time I flashed all of the finals problems at a comp!

Midnight Burn 2010: Philadelphia Rock Gym from David Wetmore on Vimeo.