SLO OP Competition


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Climbing Culture in SLO

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What’s Your Climbing Style?

Quick Points:

-My focus
-Style: power, technique, traverse, campus
-Room for Improvement


Every climber adapts to a new problem.

There are two types of climbers: those who focus on completing routes and those that focus on what they can take away from doing a route. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to do this sport. What matters is that you enjoy doing what you’re doing. Save the competition for the day you compete against others.

I used to focus more on completing the problems. It didn’t leave me satisfied with myself though. I kept pushing myself, ignoring my body (my determination is stronger than what my body can handle), even if my hands were bleeding and my body was bruised.


A climber may sometimes adopt several styles of climbing to tackle a challenging move.

Climbing Styles
Which one are you?

A. Power

The climber focuses more on strength to power through the route. Sometimes they want to accomplish a personal time record –speed climbing – or finish the route so they can move onto the next project. This type of climber usually relies on their upper body strength to get through each hold, and it is more of a goal for working out.

B. Technique

The climber focuses on the journey rather than the destination. Every problem is different. There are different moves that require one to be familiar with their own body movement. The climber also focuses on saving their energy for technical moves, when they need to commit to a ‘tough’ move. Patience is key, and each route can be attempted with different betas. There is room for improvement.

C. Traverse (climbing sideways)

The climber focuses on endurance. The route is usually long, sometimes progressing from ‘easy’ to ‘hard and challenging’. This focus helps with top roping and traditional climbing such as those that climb outdoors in Yosemite. If you are interested in climbing Yosemite’s granite walls, check out SuperTropo for more information.

D. Campus (climbing with only your hands)

The climber focuses on only using upper body strength. This strengthens your hands and arms. It is similar to doing pull-ups. No feet is involved.

When I climb, the thing I think about the most is how fast I can do this. Then I try to map it out and go for it. The biggest thing I think about is how fit I am because I know that if I’m out of shape then there’s no way I can climb as fast as I should.

–Nha Ha, photographer for the Mustang Daily.






I am still working on trying to figure out a technique that works for me, but what I’ve found is I progress better when I am able to understand how to balance my body on the wall (ex. flagging out feet).

  1. I make sure I feel comfortable and stable with each hold.

  2. I use my arms a lot for power moves (make up for height). There is definitely a combination of strength and technique.

  3. Also, being really flexible is key (stretching before hand) helps loosen my body when climbing. Being short may seem like a disadvantage, but I’m learning how to lengthen my body – thinking tall, but also retracting when I can.

    –Gabbi Sun, Architect student at Cal Poly.

If I had to sum up my style of climbing with one word it would be “power”. The only thing that keeps me on the wall half the time is my shear will not to fall. Most of the time when I climb I feel that the moves I make are more act of desperation than anything else. But every once in a while I might make a smooth and majestic throw, or a graceful movement with my feet.

“You can’t help but feel good when that happens. That’s what climbing is all about.”

Campusing is always fun. I haven’t done it in a while, but I remember that it just makes you feel cool knowing you climbed a ridiculous route without using your feet once.I think my favorite aspect of Slo Op is definitely the traverse. It’s always a challenge, and it’s a great way to work on your technique as a climber.

–Ryan Satcher, Engineering student at Cal Poly.

Anyone can train and do pullups until they can campus any route. There is just something about a route that requires you to be precise, to know how your body moves. Everything is about balance, and knowing how your body actually works. Technique can lead the way up routes that strength alone cannot. Technique and finnesse requires skill, not just strength. BREATHE AND FLOW!

–Trevor Seck, Forestry and Natural Resources student at Cal Poly.

Categories: San Luis Obispo | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Finding Your New Pair of Climbing Shoes

Quick Points:

-My experience
-How to Find the Right Shoe for You
-Scarpa, Evolv, Boreal

I told myself that I had to finish my first v3 before I purchased my first pair of climbing shoes. Shoes can be expensive (they usually go for $90 – $140), but they are worth it. They’re an important investment for any climber. So, what’s ‘special’ about the climbing shoe?

  • sticky rubber
  • cushioned soles
  • synthetic leather
  • anti-fungal treatments

    My pair of Evolvs waiting for me to use them.cushioned solessynthetic leatheranti-fungal treatments

My first pair were the Elektra shoes by Evolv. (They are currently retired and hanging on my wall at home.) I chose that pair because it was the most accurate fitting shoe for my feet. I knew they were going to be painful at first, but over time they stretched and I could climb comfortably.

“After buying my first pair of climbing shoes, I knew it was the start of something fun and great,” said Alyssa Reyes. Reyes has been climbing for six months. “But, I never thought they’d take me on a journey as amazing as this.”

(This post will focus more on shoes for bouldering. Bouldering is more popular in the SLO area compared to trad and sport climbing.)

How to Find the Right Shoe for You:

  1. Try on at least three different brands of shoes. (Every manufacturer is different.)
  2. There are a few options: lace-up or Velcro/elastic.
  3. Your feet should feel snug, but not too tight or too loose. You don’t want to have ‘dead space’, like you can walk around comfortably in them all day. (Your shoes will stretch over time.)
  4. Check your heels. Make sure there’s no space for movement. (This is important for heel hooks.)
  5. Listen to the sales person.
  6. Be patient. Take your time.

“I looked at the reviews for durability, price and comfort,”

says Jaclyn Lim. Lim just started climbing last month and is already hooked on the sport. “They’re a little too tight right now, but they’re supposed to stretch a full size.”

After wearing out my Elektras, I began to search for my next pair. I highly recommend going to a store where you can try on different shoes and then price shop around other stores and online. You will save more money doing so.

Scarpa Techno

  • $140
  • Style: lace-ups (I didn’t have any dead space, but my feet felt like they were being bound.)
  • The dye came off and turned my feet blue.

Evolv Pontas

  • $80 – $130
  • They are ‘great’ for those who are starting to climb.
  • Style: Velcro (Can take them off faster compared to lace-ups.)
  • They stretched over time.
  • They also smelled from climbing in them every day. (Febreeze can only do so much.)

Boreal Joker

  • $80
  • Style: Velcro
  • They fit like a glove to my feet. (Comfortably and not too tight.)
  • No space in the heel.

Different brands of shoes for all types of feet.

I ended up purchasing the Boreal Joker. I have been climbing in them for two to three months now, and I can do more effective heel hooks than when I wore my pair of Evolvs. Plus, it is always a bonus when the shoes don’t smell. I purchased my shoes at Sports Basement for a bargaining price of $50.

“New shoes are a new partnership. One you know will literally be slipery at first but worth putting in the time for,” said Phil Vallejo. Vallejo incorporates yoga and bouldering into his weekly work out.

Check out these stores and online sites for your first pair:

REI, Sports Basement, GearExpress, MountainGear, GearX

Categories: bouldering, San Luis Obispo | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Hanna Navarro’s Climbing Experience

Hanna Navarro, a new climber to the community, briefly speaks on her climbing experience with Poly Escapes.

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Places in SLO for Climbing Gear

A lot of new climbers are asking me where they can get a new pair of climbing shoes. SLO offers a couple of places, but other outdoor shops carry products that can be useful too. Take a look!

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Break a Leg! (Not literally)

Quick Points:
-Emily Vernizzi injured her right knee
-Mark Tinkle rolled his ankle
-Johnny Miller  injured his shoulder

I’ll be honest, I have never broken a bone before. I wouldn’t know how it feels, but I can imagine that it is painful. Well, I have hurt my tailbone from snowboarding and getting random ‘flappers’ on my hands from over-climbing, but I doubt that comes anywhere close to breaking a bone.

After ripping my skin open, I taped it up and continued climbing in Arizona. I probably should have stopped.

Climbing presents a lot of risks and injuries involved. The typical answer I get from people who don’t want to climb is that they are afraid of heights. Before I top roped, I was deathly afraid of heights when I was told to repel down. “I just climbed this whole way to repel down? You’re kidding…” is what I said to myself. I made myself climb to get over my fear. I faced my fear every day and now that I’m into bouldering, I don’t have that fear as much as I did before.

Here are 10 tips for safer climbing.

Courtesy of Emily Vernizzi

Emily Vernizzi

Injury: a torn MCL, ACL, meniscus, and a dislocated kneecap.

How: It happened during a break while backpacking on a beach in Washington. I decided to climb a beautiful boulder, like hardly even a V1, just for the sake of seeing if i could make it to the top. I made it like a champ. Then I climbed back down and jumped the last few feet or so and landed funny.

“Three loud sounds like rocks being banged together (hmm, that was my kneecap dislocating, hitting another bone then slamming back in).”

Then i couldnt walk for hours! I eventually managed to devise a method of tip toe walking to make the hike back to the car though.

Has your climbing changed since? I can’t climb anymore! My knee and leg are terribly weak and the slightest wrong move can slip the kneecap again. Also, I’d either have to top-out or climb all the way back down every route because jumping won’t happen anymore.Too much risk at the moment and it just wouldn’t be worth the pain and idleness again.

Courtesy of Mark Tinkle

Mark Tinkle

Injury: I twisted my ankle.

How: I was trying the old brown route, trying to top out, failed to, again. I jumped down, reasonably controlled, but out farther than expected. I think I hit the edge of the pad I had set out (too close in) with my right foot.That twisted it so when I hit the floor my foot was already sideways. That was a bad plan. It was immediately obvious I had damaged it badly. Lily instantly (seriously, INSTANTLY) demanded to wrap it.

“It was still screaming in pain, so I held her off for 30 seconds or so.”

Has your climbing changed ever since? Still swollen, I can walk but not run. Slowly getting better. Not really. I’m afraid to jump down on it from higher than 2 feet or so. So I just hang around, work on my grip, do low traverses, pullups, hang in the cave. Still having fun, at least.

Courtesy of Johnny Miller

Johnny Miller

Injury: I had was a small, then larger, tear in the rotator cuff of my right shoulder.

How: I failed to properly stretch prior to climbing (or stretch at all for that matter), and then climbed a route that had a very dynamic overhanging move that put a lot of strain on the rotator cuff. Despite feeling discomfort in the shoulder, I kept doing the move over and over, inadvertently making the injury worse. Over the next several weeks I kept climbing on the bad shoulder, making the situation worse by not letting it rest and by my style of climbing.( i.e. big dynamic moves, letting the feet cut, and muscling through moves instead of using technique). For awhile the shoulder felt fine while it was being actively used, but would wake me up with pain during the night and would be unusable during the first few hours of each day.

“But of course I kept climbing (because who doesn’t love climbing) until the pain got so bad that I went to see a doctor.”

Has your climbing changed ever since? The doc said that I would probably need surgery to fix it. So being a young college graduate with a “sucky” job and no health insurance, I decided to stop climbing for awhile, and pray that the arm would heal without the need for surgery. Thankfully it did heal, but not without altering my climbing in several ways.

  1. I am reminded that I am getting older and no longer invincible, so my risk taking in climbing and other areas of life have been greatly reduced.
  2. I stretch a lot more than I ever did before, making sure that I am ready to climb before climbing.
  3. I have altered my climbing style to focus more on technique and use of the feet, and less on just powering through the moves.
  4. I am much more cautious of big moves that put a large amount of strain on the body, preferring to work my way through the problem instead or not do it at all.
  5. I listen to my body’s aches instead of ignoring them. If the body doesn’t feel right, take the time to figure out what it is trying to tell you.
  6. Just because I can do a move, does not mean I should.

If you injure yourself on Bishops Peak, Sierra Vista Medical Center is the closest place to get that checked out.

If you have a climbing injury and want to learn more about it, check out

Categories: San Luis Obispo | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment


Quick Points:
-A sponsored climber
-His inspiration
-The perfect problem – dynamic, overhang, “bad” pinches, “terrible” slopers
-The most memorable climbing experience

Courtesy of Alex Biale

I remember the day when I saw Alex Biale climb at SLO OP. He was pulling dynos left and right, and he committed himself to many routes that I couldn’t do. I thought to myself, “who is this guy?!”

Not long after meeting him, I heard that him and his friend – Drew LaPlante – went on a climbing tour over the Summer. I was able to keep updated with their adventures through, where the two posted pictures and told their stories. It wasn’t enough for me though. I wanted to talk to Alex about his passion for climbing and what he experienced on the road. Not very many people get the chance to be sponsored or take a climbing trip around the country.

The Interview

Q. Who sponsors you and how did you become sponsored?
Rockzilla, Clif Bar, Mad Rock, Sanuk, Patagonia, and Robert Biale Vineyards sponsored me and some of them continue to do so today. This might seem silly, but I simply asked these companies to sponsor me… and they did. I feel like an obvious state of fitness is required to be at a point in the climbing realm to ask such a question but ever since I started competing last year, I have been trying to get my name out there so climbing companies might come across it more often. The whole being sponsored thing is great because it gives you a chance to represent climbing to the community, and I love that aspect of it. Climbing has opened up so many doors in my life and I am simply grateful to be able to be apart of it.

Q. Who and what inspires you to climb?
Beautiful and hard movement inspire me to climb at my personal/temporary limit. I am at a point in my climbing where I want to climb HARD. Even if the boulder problem or route is not the most beautiful thing out there, if the movement is challenging to me, I’m psyched on it! Climbing is a learning process and right now I am at the stage in that learning process where climbing difficult boulder problems with high numbers associated with them is important to me. This may change over the course of the next few years but for now, I am happy. There are a ton of people who inspire me to climb, but to name a few, my parents and sister Michela, friends, D-Wayne, and of course…. Daniel Woods.

Courtesy of Alex Biale

Q. If you had to describe the perfect problem, what would it consist of?
The perfect problem… Well, if you know me you know that I like being explosive and dynamic with my climbing.
– dynamic movement
– tall overhang with an arete face
– bad pinchers
– terrible slopers

If I could find a problem with bad pinches, hard movement, dynamic throws, and a world-class mantel top-out, I would be in heaven.

Steve Rosenfield said,

“I used to train Alex and he’s a person that exudes love for everything he touches. Whether it for his family, friends or the sport of climbing. He pushes himself beyond limits and is always psyched to help a fellow climber. He is definitely an inspiration in my eyes and I’m honored to know such an amazing person.”

Q. What did you do on your Summer climbing tour?
This summer, my friend Drew LaPlante and I were hired by a European-based company called to travel the U.S. in search of some of its best climbing. On our travels, we helped the climbing community by creating free online topos of the different climbing areas we visited. But this was just the “job” part. The real summer took place on the rocks, in the coffee shops, under the stars, and on the road. This summer with Drew proved to be a turning point in my life, and not just as a climber. I learned so much about climbing, people, love, community, and this cosmic chaos we call life. You can read their travels here.

Drew LaPlante said,

“Alex was the best guy to embark on an adventure with, and after only knowing each other for three months, we found ourselves traveling over 4000 miles together, getting to know one another, and the world around us. I watched as Alex grew as a person, and as a climber, pushing the limits to gain strength in both. Alex’s love of life and positive attitude will continue to spread love like violence, and I hope the world is there to embrace it.”

Courtesty of Alex Biale on

Q. Describe what your most memorable moment was over the Summer.
Out of the millions of moments, thousands of interactions, and hundreds of climbs, the one moment that seems to stand out in my mind at this current time would have to be a moment in Oregon.

Green Plow Coffee is a place where people can come and feel welcomed by a friendly staff who is always more than willing to spend that extra minute or two to make you smile. After about two weeks of spending multiple hours a day in this local’s hotspot, Drew and I began to really get to know the owners and staff. We would share stories with them, have dinner at their houses, and laugh at silly customers. One night, Drew and I checked out Green Plow Coffee’s Blog and they wrote a blog about us! It was titled, Coffee. Community. Climbers. This blog described how Drew and I affected the staff and owners of this little coffee shop by simply being outgoing and helpful when needed. We really tried to create this sense of community there, and it worked! The theme of our trip was to Spread Love Like Violence to anyone we met and everyone we didn’t get a chance to meet. The moment we read Green Plow’s Blog on their understanding and interpretation of community, I knew that our slogan for the trip was no longer a catchy phrase, it was becoming a reality. I truly believe that world peace, cosmic love, and this sense of unity that all of mankind SHOULD share are all things that can actually be attainable if we all become a little more open to giving and receiving the possibility of love.

Q. What would you like to improve on?
I would like to improve my crimp and lock-off strength. I am definitely lacking in the finger strength and wellness that some of my other climbing partners seem to have an abundance of. I would also like to be able to consistently climb double digit boulder problems and 5.13 sport routes. But like all things, these goals will change and come in time.

Check out this video of Alex’s climbing:

Categories: Profiles, San Luis Obispo | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

SLO Climber: Katie Lovelace

This video project was for my other journalism class, Journalism 410. It is separate from the weekly blog post assignments for Journalism 285.

THANK YOU, Katie, for letting me feature you on my blog.

I enjoyed talking to her about her travels and how she became a sponsored climber with Asana. Look for Katie when she competes with CCS SLO OPERS this year.

Categories: San Luis Obispo | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Walk the Line: Highlining at Madonna Mountain

Quick Points:
– 9:30 a.m. hike

-Three hours to set up the line.

-It’s not as easy as it looks.

-To look at more photos, go to my facebook.

9:30 a.m.

The view of SLO from Madonna Mountain.

Highliners Chan, Klonwski and Moacanin enjoy the view.

The sound of my alarm woke me up at 9 a.m. I got out of bed after realizing I was about  to go highlining at Madonna Mountain. I had three hours of sleep and was still getting over last night’s party. I got a call from Casey Chan at 9:30 a.m. He picked me up and we headed over to Charlie Klonowski’s place. We drove over to the trailhead at Madonna Mountain and started on our adventure.

The hike was a workout. It was about a two mile hike up with a couple of stops to look at the view. The clouds in the sky casted shadows on SLO that made me feel so lucky to be living here.

We reached the top and climbed a couple rocks to get to the spot. (If you know how to climb, it is helpful for situations like these.)

The Setup

The spot was placed and named by Jerry Miszewski. Klonowski has owned his highline kit for three months and has never walked across his own line before.

“My first highline was last saturday, but I’ve been learning the techniques for rigging safely for about a month,” said Klonowski.

It was Chan’s first time to try out this daring sport. He took first place at a CCS Climbing competition last year for the slackline section. As Klonowski began to set up, anticipation filled the air and more people stopped by to join. Throughout the three hours of setting up, Klonowski faced some challenges. Safety was a first priority, especially when you’re trusting your life with a leash clipped to one inch of webbing.

“I had to thread a 5/8 inch bolt through the anchoring shackle and a line loop while holding the line as taught as I could, while hanging on the side of the cliff,” said Klonowski.

  • Setting the first anchor point went well.
  • During the set up for the second anchor point, the webbing was twisted.
  • Klonowski dropped a 5/8 inch bolt and the line locking ring that attaches the line to the shackle.

For a condensed explanation of how to set up a highline, go here.

Klonowski sets up the second anchor point. Each time a part was dropped, someone had to search through the trees down below to retrieve it.

Chan, Moacanin and Klonowski pull on the rope to create more tension right before walking.

60 Feet Above the Ground

Walking on the line is different from slacklining at a park or being indoors at a gym. Vertigo kicks in, your heart starts pumping faster, and your hands start to sweat. If you look down, you realize the possibility of falling to your death.

“The line is pretty gnarly,” said Chan. “I just want to stand up on it, but it is so much harder than what I’m used to because there’s no floor below you.”


Chan on the line, hanging 60 ft. above the ground.


Klonowski walks the line and makes it to the other side.


The boys tighten the rope and check anchor point.

In some cases, highlining is more rewarding than slacklining. You’re out in nature where you get  an eagle eye’s view of the town that you don’t get when you’re on the ground. I think the reason why people take to these types of extreme sports is because it gets your adrenaline going. It is different from playing basketball or baseball. There are so many risks, which sets it apart from other sports.

TIP: If you’re going to fall, don’t catch yourself. You could hurt yourself doing so.


Chan hurt his hand when he caught himself falling.

Slackline Express LLC, a company that manufactures slackline kits, reminds people that,

“Learning to highline is always a humbling experience – regardless of how good you are on lowlines, do not assume that you can approach the line and be walking the gap completely your first day, much less your first try.”

Before you go out and try to highline, think safety first.

Here is a highlining video that I made from that day. Enjoy!

Categories: Madonna Moutain, San Luis Obispo | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

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