Thursday, February 26, 2015

Friction Labs Chalk Review (part 1 of 2)

Every once in a while we review/recommend a product.  Typically it's because we find value in that product.  This review is no different...if you haven't heard about Friction Labs and their specially formulated chalk, now is the time.



If you think all chalk is essentially the same you're in for a surprise. Depending on the ratio, what is actually in the chalk can widely vary.  The science behind it: Friction Labs' chalk uses a higher ratio of Magnesium Carbonate than any other company. Lesser brands cut their chalk with more Calcium Carbonate, making for a slipperier product when moisture becomes present.  Have you ever chalked up but instead of it drying your hands, they feel slimy? That's the Calcium Carbonate working against you.

I first experienced the Friction Labs chalk at this year's Butte Bouldering Bash; at which they graciously supplied all the competitors with samples of their chalk.  Folks were psyched, and I noticed that people were coming back around to see if they could get a second sample...we put some extras out during the raffle and unsurprisingly they went pretty quick.

BBB2014 fueled by Friction Labs 


After the Bash, we felt a critical look at the chalk would be ideal. With the winter months approaching we thought that testing may have to be limited to a science fair-esque approach, and experiences in the gym.  The winter proved to be much less threatening than imagined, and I found myself testing the chalk where it really matters to me.  Outside - exploring new stone.

Make every try count

My main type of climbing is bouldering, and more specifically, developing new problems and areas. Over the past 10 years while wandering the Boulder Batholith, my responsibilities have grown and my life changed and evolved. The time I can allot myself these days seems to be more and more limited, making each trip into the woods a time to strive to perform my very best.

Snow on the ground, dry hands on the winter stone

When you only have a couple days you can get out a month, and limited tries on your project; you take every step possible to make those attempts count.  Friction Labs is the chalk I'm reaching for - I can tell it works better…you wouldn't try your project in approach shoes, so why would you use a lesser chalk?

Every factor counts. Kevin prepping for a new highball arete project deep in the Benchlands.  Chalk of choice? Friction Labs



There are 3 blends available, Bam Bam(super chunky), Gorilla Grip (chunky) & Unicorn Dust (fine).  While preferences seemed to vary among our testers, I personally found the Bam Bam to be the blend I liked the most - mainly because I preferred block chalk prior to these tests.  Usually it was the Metolius block chalk...but you can literally feel the difference...and I'm not going back. I secretly switched Odenbeck's chalk out with another brand to see if he'd notice - one dip into my bag and he could tell something wasn't right...he gave me a look and went to find the Friction Labs chalk.

And while there is some fancy science stuff involved, what it translates to is that this chalk seems to cover my mitts better, and keeps them drier for longer.  Could this be the Boreal Firé of the chalk world? The new innovation that makes other chalk companies step back and reassess thier own product?  Also, let’s consider that for a moment…what other chalk companies?  This product is what Friction Labs does, it’s not just an accessory or an afterthought of a larger brand, it’s the lifeblood of their company.

I can feel the difference; and after a few months of testing I’m convinced it’s not a placebo...my hands stay drier and that’s that.  Friction Labs is for me.

Stay tuned for part 2 where we harness our 4th grade science fair skills and bring you some additional testing and thoughts.

Cheers!







Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Return to the Corestone


After sighting this beauty we had no idea what to even call it.  Presenting the now named Corestone in all of its awesomeness.  This weekend we were able to get back to the Corestone with some pretty excellent conditions.  Jeremy came along and was able to capture photos.  We setup on what we thought would be the gimmie line but it turned out to be a balancy, weird, gravity-fighting and super sharp problem.  Guess this project will have to wait for next time.

Tom sussing the moves
Photo: Jeremy Champion
Some things look so easy in theory...
Photo: Jeremy Champion
Another angle of the bottom
Photo: Jeremy Champion
After getting beat up on what we thought would be the easiest and most aesthetic problem we moved onto what looked like one of the more impossible ones.  I was somehow able to get the FA of Hookworm.   I attribute my success to the split tips that created little hooks that seemed to grab onto the crux pocket.  This is a sweet little number.

FA of Hookworm
Photo: Jeremy Champion

FA of Hookworm 
Photo: Jeremy Champion

FA of Hookworm
Photo: Jeremy Champion

Thanks for the mementos Corestone.
Photo: Jeremy Champion
We then moved on to a couple others.  We were able to get up a very nice little crimp problem Prickly Pear and try a couple more.  Our fingers were pretty thrashed at this point it was time to move on.

Tom working the bottom of Prickly Pear
Photo: Jeremy Champion

Another proj this one will surely go it just needs a touch more cleaning
Photo: Jeremy Champion
Awesome bomber features for feet on the proj pictured previously
Photo: Jeremy Champion

Wicked sloper mantle project
Photo: Jeremy Champion
After getting thoroughly thrashed we decided to have a go at The Breather.  Tom and myself were able to get the 3rd and 2nd Ascents respectively.  Yeah for horizontal slot tunneling!

The Breather
Photo: Jeremy Champion

The Breather
Photo: Jeremy Champion

Post Breather celebration
Photo: Jeremy Champion
 Success on The Breather brought us to another block that we had spied years ago but is always wet.  This sweet A-Frame yielded a great crack problem and a couple more projects.

FA of Under Pressure
Photo: Jeremy Champion

Another cool little project couldn't finish this one it was just too sharp
Photo: Jeremy Champion

Tom tried a sweet looking invert he will have to come back and get this one as well
Photo: Jeremy Champion

ahh the Batholith
Photo: Jeremy Champion
L8er,
podenbeck

Friday, January 30, 2015

Mid winter reflections

January seemed to move quickly...though planning on getting out for one more day this month...

Stepped out for a tour in the Northern Desert with Kevin, Sara, & Cole earlier in the month.  A decent day, though slightly challenging conditions. A couple new problems on a boulder midway up the hill heading to Big Slabby, though slightly north...best approached from the roadside Honzel Warmup Boulders. No pics at the moment, but a nice compression to deadpoint problem makes it worth the stop...

From there we hit up the smaller boulder out front of Big Slabby



We then headed north on the ridge over to a boulder Ari and I played on back in July.
A nice sit start was added, as well as a sds to left traverse to the arete.






From there we dropped down to Decompression Sickness and a tour of the back gullies...unfortunately, the rain started coming down and did not let up...we ended up walking out to the Fonzie Boulders and up to the 13/14s and back out for a decent loop. While it was a wet walk it was nice to get my bearings out there again, and fun to get out with some psyched people in the darkest days of the year.  That said, it's a good time of year to be anywhere in the Lower Forest. The Desert up through the Druthers seems pretty dry at the moment.

Hope you are enjoying your winter.

Cheers