Category Archives: Uncategorized

RJ Member Interview: Greg Twombly

We recently caught up with longtime RJ member Greg Twombly. Greg never ceases to impress us with his motivation, attitude, and strength. Here are his stats and some of his thoughts on climbing and training.

IMAG0898Age: 61
Years climbing: 46 (Started in 1968-69 in New Jersey)
Joined R&J: 6-14-97
Ape Index: +1.5 and increasing as I get shorter
Hardest Red Point: 12 something
Hardest Onsight: 11 something

R&J: Will you share a little about how you discovered climbing?
Whatever the reason we all start climbing, we all soon leave the initial reasons behind in favor of the challenge and pure kinetic fun of climbing. My dad, Vern Twombly, pioneered many routes in the Colorado Springs area (Boucher-Twombly and North Chimney on North Gateway; N Ridge Kindergarden in the Garden of the Gods) but wouldn’t teach me to climb. I learned by surviving.

R&J: What do you like or hate about climbing (in general)?
Climbing is always varied, changing, and fun at whatever level you climb. I don’t like leading hard trad, and I find ethical bickering annoying.

R&J: Do you primarily boulder, or climb on ropes? Which do you like more?
I like bouldering and lead climbing equally. Bouldering is social and stylized, leading is more spontaneous.

IMAG0901R&J: What is a typical training session like for you?
I’m still rehabing my last injury so I haven’t figured out what kind of training I can do. I’m currently doing weights, arm cycle, and hangboard now hoping to get back to pullups, lockoffs and campus board.

R&J: Do you have any climbing goals? What are they?
I’m working on 62 leads in a day outside as a birthday challenge. I did 61 in a day in the gym this year, but outside I’ve only managed 35 in a day (clean leads without hangs). I would really like to redpoint 12d or 13a but my last injury may prevent that.

R&J: You had a recent injury. What was the rehab like and what did you do to prevent further injuries?
I have about one injury a year, mostly the result of bad training or overtraining. The latest was a C6-7 disc rupture in April 5, 2014 that caused spinal inflammation, right hand and arm weakness. Prednisone controlled the initial inflammation cycle, then rehab starting with elastic bands, working to light weights and pull-ups. I have trouble locking off right handed but it seems to be improving. I don’t think I can completely avoid injury, but LISTENING to advice from a good trainer goes a long way.

R&J: What’s the best way to get better and avoid injury?
Good coaching. There is no substitute for the external eye. I’ve had great sessions with Corey, Jaime, and Trish and always learned a lot.

R&J: Do you have any climbing heroes? If so, who are they? The lunch session climbers at R&J South Gym, Joe, Frank, Steve, Marcel, Edrea, Al, Jim, Ken, Natalie, Aimee and anyone else that has joined in over the years. We’ve been climbing over 20 years together inside and out, through two gyms, and many injuries.

R&J: What’s changed about climbing?
Everything! I started with twisted three-strand nylon (Goldline), steel oval ‘biners and Euro soft iron pitons (Cassin), shifted to Chouinard chrome moly knifeblades, kernmantle ropes and aluminum biners; jumped to nuts (Pecks, Hexcentrics, Clogs, wedges) then the big transition to bolted sport climbs. Shoes went from tight hiking shoes to Robbins boots to EB’s to modern. The style changed from strictly ground up, no falls, focused on crack climbing techniques to bouldery, multiple falls to work out the sequence face climbing sport routes. Without guidebooks, climbing required a social investment at each new crag to meet the locals to find out the local style, ethical quirks and best climbs. Practices we considered safe at the time are entirely rejected now. Limestone, sandstone, and volcanic rock were considered to be too soft and chossy to be worth climbing on, then dominated as bolted face climbing became popular, but now the pendulum is moving back to granite.

Greg, thanks for sharing your thoughts and reminding us to have fun climbing.

RJ Youth Team Member Interview: Rachel Cohen

Rachel recently competed in SCS Divisional Championships at Sender One in Santa Ana, CA. She has been active in R&J Youth Programs for 10 years and is one of the leaders on the Varsity Team at RJ2.

rachel c profile

RJ Varsity Team climber: Rachel Cohen

Age: 16

Years climbing: 10

Joined Varsity Team: Fall of 2013

RJ: Will you share a little about how you discovered climbing?

 Rachel: When I was 6 years old, my mom heard about ROCK’n & JAM’n from a friend of hers. She decided to sign me and my older brother up for a week long summer camp. I fell in love with climbing instantly and never stopped!

RJ: What do you like about climbing?

 Rachel: I love the individuality of climbing. I was never very good at traditional team sports, so I was happy to find a sport that allowed me to be on my own, while still experiencing the support of a team. I also love that climbing is as much a mental sport as it is a physical sport. It exercises your entire body and your mind. 

RJ: What do you hate about climbing? What aspects of climbing are the most difficult for you?

 Rachel: The most difficult thing about climbing for me is the mental aspect. I often think too much about what I’m about to do while I’m climbing, instead of letting my body just do it. It’s easy to psych yourself out on something you think is going to be too challenging, and then not be able to do it. It’s hard to not let my mind get in the way of my physical abilities.

 rachel c practiceRJ: Do you primarily boulder, or climb on ropes? Which do you like more?

 Rachel: I primarily climb on ropes because I prefer it to bouldering. I think I’m better at climbing on ropes than I am at bouldering, and it’s usually more my style. However, I keep working to improve my bouldering – the powerful, dynamic aspects of bouldering help me with sport climbing.

RJ: Tell us a little about the Youth Team. Why did you join? What have you learned, and how has your climbing changed or improved since you joined?

 Rachel: I joined the Youth Team because I have always thought of ROCK’n & JAM’n as my second home and I knew that I would be comfortable there. I also knew it would help me to be a better climber. I have learned a lot about my climbing style and about myself in general, while I have mastered new technical skills. My climbing has improved because I have learned what I’m capable of and what I have the potential to do. Since I have joined the team, I have been working on being more fearless when I climb and it has improved my climbing greatly.

RJ: Do you participate (or have you in the past) in any other school or extracurricular activities besides climbing? If so, how does climbing compare?

 Rachel: I do not participate in any other activities besides climbing, but I am a member of the club climbing team at my school that competes in the Colorado High School Climbing League. Although it is still climbing, it is a lot different. It’s less serious and the people on the team are a lot less committed. The competitive atmosphere is different with my school team because most of them have a different primary sport that isn’t climbing, so they don’t care as much as I do, or the rest of the people on the RJ teams.

 RJ: Do kids at your school ever ask you about climbing? If so, what do you tell them?

Rachel: Most kids at school are shocked to find out that climbing is in fact a “real” sport and that it’s possible to be on a real climbing team that competes. Most of them assume that it’s just a hobby, and they ask me if climbing is the only thing I do. I tell them that climbing is my only sport and that I compete often. They don’t understand how a climbing competition works, and I have to be careful to explain it without using climbing lingo that they wouldn’t understand.

RJ: Do you have any climbing goals? What are they?

 Rachel: I have many climbing goals. One of them is to get in the habit of using what I know about climbing while I’m climbing. I often forget what I’m capable of mid-route, and don’t use the skills I know and have practiced. Another one of my goals is to have a better mindset while competing and climbing in general. My head often gets in the way of my climbing. In competitions, I want to be able to perform at higher and higher levels, and exceed my past performances.

RJ: You participated in several climbing competitions this year with the Youth Team. What is it like, climbing in a comp?

Rachel: Comps can be very stressful. It’s a chance to show everything you’re capable of and everything you’ve learned. Since I’ve joined the team, I find that it’s a bit easier when you have such a great team of people supporting you. It’s easy to let the stress of the comp deter your climbing, and it takes a lot to practice for climbing in comps, as it’s very different than climbing on your own. The team has helped me to realize my competitive nature and my love for competing.

RJ: Do you have any climbing heroes? If so, who are they?

 Rachel: I don’t pay attention too much to professional climbers, and I don’t know very many of them. I would say that my climbing heroes would be my coaches, Corey and Dustyn, because they’ve helped me realize my talents and they strengthen my love for climbing.

rachel c outsideRJ: Most climbers get amazingly hungry after a climbing session. We’ve heard of everything from chocolate milk, to chips and salsa. What is your favorite post-climbing food?

 Rachel: Usually after I climb I get really thirsty and I drink chocolate milk with extra protein in it. I never eat while I climb, so afterwards I get so hungry that I’ll eat anything! I also love all kinds of pasta.

 RJ: Thanks for sharing some of your thoughts about climbing with us Rachel! We hope all your hard training pays off with great success during your next semester on the Youth Team!


RJ Member Interview: Travis Lester

We interrupted ROCK’n & JAM’n member Travis Lester the other day while he was climbing. We wanted to get his thoughts on the subject, and also take a few unwanted photos. Travis has been a member at RJ since 2011, and it’s possible you’ll bump into him if you’re ever in the gym on a weekday afternoon. He’s a super nice guy, and he’ll most likely be happy to climb with you. Just don’t ask to take his photo.

RJ- How, and when were you introduced to climbing?

Travis- I got introduced to climbing 3 years ago by a friend who moved back to Colorado (from NY) specifically to climb.


RJ- Do you primarily climb on ropes, or spend most of your time bouldering?

Travis- I try to spend my time equally between climbing on ropes and bouldering. However, if I had to choose one over the other, I would choose bouldering because I love the simplicity of it.


RJ- On average, how many days a week do you climb?

Travis- I usually climb 3 days/week.

RJ- Do you mostly climb indoor, or outdoor?

Travis- The first couple times I climbed (bouldered) it was outside. I was TERRIBLE and it wasn’t fun. The next time we came into the gym because of bad weather, and I was hooked! I haven’t gone outside since, although I plan on going outside again, eventually.

RJ- What do you like about climbing?

Travis- I like so many things about climbing, but some of my favorites include the simplicity of it, the fact that it’s both physical and mental, and the way it makes me look and feel.


RJ- What aspect of climbing do you find the most difficult or challenging (e.g., slab climbing, overhung terrain, powerful movement, technical stuff, endurance, etc.)?

Travis- I try to climb on everything so that I don’t have any major weaknesses. Even though I’m not great at anything, I don’t find any particular movement or style to be the most difficult/challenging. The only thing I don’t like is awkward movements (like running starts).

Let us take a brief moment to point out that Travis is referring to NattyGray’s new advanced boulder problem at RJ1 which contains a jump start to a large, yellow Project feature, which may be seen here. While Travis enjoys NattyGray’s setting, he does not favor his jump starts.

RJ- How long have you been climbing at ROCK’n & JAM’n?

Travis- 3 years

RJ- What do you like about ROCK’n & JAM’n?

Travis- Again, I like so many things about RJ, but some of my favorite’s include the well rounded areas for training, the overall comfortable feel of the gym, and all the people that own (present and past), work, and climb there!

RJ- Have you met any other climbers at RJ? If so, do you climb with any of them regularly?

Travis- I’ve met so many climbers, and more importantly great friends, through RJ! I climb with a few of them on a regular basis.


RJ- What is your favorite sport or hobby outside of climbing?

Travis- Running/Reading

RJ- Have you ever tried running, while you were reading?

RJ- Most climbers get incredibly hungry after a climbing session. What is your favorite post-climbing food?

Travis- It depends. If it’s been a good session I usually head over to Chipotle, to get some quality nutrition. However, if it’s been a “rough” day, nothing makes me feel better than a Dairy Queen!

RJ- If you could be a famous/professional climber, who would you be?

Travis- Fred Nicole!

RJ- Thanks for sharing your thoughts about climbing with us Travis. Keep climbing hard, and we’ll see you in the gym this week!

Whips and Grips Results

First Name Last Name Team Total Place Falls
Adult Female
Jodie Dawson *None/Not listed 6075.00 1 0
Jeana Maynard *None/Not listed 5525.00 2 0
Katharine McKnight *None/Not listed 4975.00 3 3
Candice Hull *None/Not listed 4650.00 4 0
Junior Female
Kristiana Fox Team BRC 5900.00 1 0
Megan McCutcheon Team Pure 5225.00 2 0
Female Youth A
Maggie Boyer Team BRC 6100.00 1 0
Leah Bell-Johnson Team BRC 6100.00 2 2
Rachel Cohen Rock’n & Jam’n 5975.00 3 0
Sasha Rubenfeld Team BRC 5950.00 4 0
Casey Alee-Jumbo Pure Bouldering 5900.00 5 0
Lisa Kilmer Team BRC 5875.00 6 0
Maren Stubenvoll EarthTreks Golden 5825.00 7 0
Kate Stern Team Sik Bird 5700.00 8 0
Anna Pasnau Team BRC 5550.00 9 0
Camille Garcia Rock’n & Jam’n 5475.00 10 1
Katherine Austin Rock Lounge 5350.00 11 0
Female Youth B
Madeline D’Amato Team BRC 6100.00 1 0
Joni Stuart Team Mojo 6100.00 2 2
Gina Kelble Denver Bouldering Club 5975.00 3 0
Kate Soulliere Lakewood 5925.00 4 4
Dara Procell Team Mojo 5850.00 5 0
Abby Wilson Team BRC 5825.00 6 0
Janna Walls Team BRC 5775.00 7 0
Kamawela Leka Team BRC 5725.00 8 0
Alena Holbert Rock’n & Jam’n 5575.00 9 0
Mia Greene Rock’n & Jam’n 5475.00 10 0
Sara Denhoffer Rock’n & Jam’n 5450.00 11 0
Mackenzie Whitehead-Bust Rock’n & Jam’n 5350.00 12 4
Madeline Sturm Team Durango 5250.00 13 0
Lexie Rice Lakewood 5225.00 14 2
Sara Seagren Sport Climbing Center 5175.00 15 0
Tatum Schmidt Durango 5000.00 16 1
Zoe Hopkins Rock’n & Jam’n 4675.00 17 0
Allison Riley Rock’n & Jam’n 4675.00 18 0
Samantha Krell Rock’n & Jam’n 4650.00 19 0
alexis hull Sport Climbing Center 4575.00 20 0
Moriah Craddock *None/Not listed 4050.00 21 0
Sierra DesPlanques Rock Lounge 3950.00 22 0
Female Youth C
Brooke Raboutou Team ABC 6325.00 1 1
Stella Noble Team ABC 6175.00 2 5
Mia Manson Team ABC 5975.00 3 0
Corinne Otterness Team ABC 5900.00 4 0
Bella Weksler Team ABC 5800.00 5 0
Izabela Nowak Rock’n & Jam’n 5650.00 6 0
Tali Maximon Team BRC 5550.00 7 1
Ligaia Meyer Santa Fe Climbing Center 5500.00 8 0
Amanda MacDonald Rock’n & Jam’n 5500.00 9 0
Jasmine Mosberger Team ABC 5475.00 10 0
Sienna Kopf Team ABC 5375.00 11 1
Grace Ryan EarthTreks Golden 5250.00 12 0
Caroline Bechtel Team BRC 5225.00 13 0
Zoe Bray Team BRC 5225.00 13 0
Ali Poe Santa Fe Climbing Center 5225.00 13 0
Georgia Witchel Rock Lounge 5225.00 13 0
Soma Smith Team Durango 5200.00 17 1
Madi Cyr Rock’n & Jam’n 5150.00 18 1
Chloe Kim Rock’n & Jam’n 5050.00 19 0
Ella Perington Team BRC 4950.00 20 0
Taylor Berry Lifetime Fitness – Centennial, CO 4800.00 21 0
anna vertun Team BRC 4650.00 22 0
Margarite Ford Team BRC 4625.00 23 0
Jayden MacDonald Rock’n & Jam’n 4625.00 24 0
Cassidy Nicks Rock’n & Jam’n 4525.00 25 0
Nina Kemp Rock’n & Jam’n 4050.00 26 0
Phoebe Dolan Team ABC 3400.00 27 0
Rachel Junge Rock’n & Jam’n 2250.00 28 0
Olivia Day Team BRC 1725.00 29 0
Mya Ormsbee Team BRC 1450.00 30 0
Ariana O’Brien Team ABC 700.00 31 0
Female Youth D
Campbell Sarinopoulos Team ABC 5950.00 1 0
Kaelyn Harris Team ABC 5700.00 2 1
Ella Von Dungen Team ABC 5625.00 3 1
Katie Kelble Denver Bouldering Club 5600.00 4 0
Anna Von Dungen Team ABC 5575.00 5 0
Cadance Hurt Lifetime Fitness – Centennial, CO 5525.00 6 0
Layla Esrey Team BRC 5375.00 7 1
Sarah Smith Team ABC 5275.00 8 1
ceci davies Earth Treks 5175.00 9 0
Margaux D’Amato Team ABC 5175.00 9 1
Olivia Kosanovich Team ABC 5150.00 11 0
Guilia Luebben Rock’n & Jam’n 5075.00 12 0
Kiera Johnson Lifetime Fitness – Centennial, CO 4975.00 13 0
Ona Melvin Lifetime Fitness – Centennial, CO 4975.00 13 1
Mackenzie Bay EarthTreks Golden 4950.00 15 0
Kalia O’Brien Team Sik Bird 4900.00 16 0
Eliza Riordan Team Summit 4750.00 17 0
Eva Pacheco DBC 4550.00 18 0
Eleanor Malcolm Team ABC 4525.00 19 0
Eve Weksler Team ABC 4525.00 19 0
Emma Saunders Team ABC 4475.00 21 0
Caroline Blum Team ABC 4325.00 22 1
Roya Behbakht Rock’n & Jam’n 4250.00 23 1
anna auer Santa Fe Climbing Center 4100.00 24 0
Emma Barwich Team ABC 4000.00 25 0
Ceri Evans Earth Treks 4000.00 25 0
Lydia Dolan Team ABC 3425.00 27 1
Male Adult
Michael Hauck *None/Not listed 6575.00 1 0
Jeffrey Stroud *None/Not listed 6400.00 2 0
Alexander Raab *None/Not listed 6250.00 3 4
Dustin Scow *None/Not listed 6225.00 4 0
Dave Dangle *None/Not listed 5950.00 5 0
Brian Moore *None/Not listed 5925.00 6 0
Brent Fitzwalter *None/Not listed 5900.00 7 4
Manuel Valdez *None/Not listed 5800.00 8 0
Justin Miller *None/Not listed 5800.00 8 0
Chris Downs *None/Not listed 5450.00 10 0
Kian Behbakht *None/Not listed 5175.00 11 0
John Dine *None/Not listed 4775.00 12 0
Male Junior
Stefan Lavender Team ABC 6550.00 1 0
Jonah Weil *None/Not listed 6350.00 2 2
Remi Arata Team ABC 6250.00 3 0
Greg Ledingham Team BRC 5875.00 4 0
Silas Carter Team Pure 5750.00 5 0
Kai Meyer Durango 5525.00 6 0
Male Youth A
Ben Hanna Santa Fe Climbing Center 6675.00 1 0
Ben Lindfors Team BRC 6650.00 2 0
Shawn Raboutou Team ABC 6500.00 3 0
Jess Walker Rock’n & Jam’n 6275.00 4 0
Quinton Center Rock’n & Jam’n 6000.00 5 0
Brendan Boyd Rock’n & Jam’n 5925.00 6 0
Taren Hunter Pure Bouldering 5900.00 7 0
Ben Strine Pure Bouldering 5900.00 7 0
Tristen Mohn Santa Fe Climbing Center 5850.00 9 0
Charlie Malone Team Durango 5775.00 10 0
Malcolm Oliver Team ABC 5650.00 11 0
Parker Meer Team Sik Bird 5550.00 12 0
Rollin Poe Rock’n & Jam’n 5525.00 13 1
Quincy Conway Santa Fe Climbing Center 5500.00 14 0
Jacob Kibbee Rock’n & Jam’n 5475.00 15 0
Wesley While Rock’n & Jam’n 5475.00 15 0
Jake Granado Lifetime Fitness 5300.00 17 0
Brett Maytubby Team BRC 5025.00 18 0
Jasper Pont Team BRC 5025.00 18 0
Male Youth B
Skylar Smith Team Durango 6475.00 1 1
Will Sharp Team Texas 6175.00 2 0
Skyler Bol *None/Not listed 6050.00 3 0
Kaden weston Rock’n & Jam’n 6000.00 4 0
Ian Center Rock’n & Jam’n 5975.00 5 0
Jack Mason Team BRC 5900.00 6 0
Cole Myers Team BRC 5875.00 7 0
Cyrus Sprow Team BRC 5875.00 8 1
Mike Lowe Rock’n & Jam’n 5825.00 9 0
Zach Bain Earth Treks 5725.00 10 0
Aspen Sivey Rock’n & Jam’n 5700.00 11 0
Ray McVicker Team ABC 5475.00 12 0
Vinnie Smith Rock’n & Jam’n 5250.00 13 0
Bryce Roper Rock’n & Jam’n 4850.00 14 0
Evan Williams Rock’n & Jam’n 4175.00 15 0
Brenden Jennings Rock’n & Jam’n 3575.00 16 0
Timmy Dolan Team ABC 2550.00 17 0
Male Youth C
Joe Goodacre Team ABC 6325.00 1 0
Callum Caulson Team BRC 5575.00 2 1
Tommy Pasnau Team BRC 5450.00 3 0
Jordan Fishman Rock’n & Jam’n 5325.00 4 0
jack Esrey Team BRC 5275.00 5 0
Noah Morton Team BRC 5275.00 5 0
Jackson Wetherill Santa Fe Climbing Center 5225.00 7 2
Zach Arenberg Lifetime Fitness – Centennial, CO 5100.00 8 0
Ian Greene Team BRC 5000.00 9 0
Jonathan Malavasi Rock’n & Jam’n 4950.00 10 0
Mason Smith Rock’n & Jam’n 4350.00 11 1
bilal hannon Rock’n & Jam’n 4250.00 12 0
Marcus Smith Rock’n & Jam’n 2100.00 13 0
Devin Wong Team Sik Bird 1000.00 14 0
Male Youth D
Colin Duffy Team ABC 6175.00 1 1
Cody Stevenson Team ABC 6000.00 2 3
Tanner Bauer Team BRC 5725.00 3 0
Chris Dento Team BRC 5700.00 4 0
Benji Dantas Vail Athletic Club 5675.00 5 0
Brody Nielsen Vail Athletic Club 5675.00 6 2
Lukas Bergsten Vail Athletic Club 5475.00 7 0
Kaitek Johnston Team BRC 5400.00 8 0
Calvin Boasberg Team ABC 5350.00 9 1
rand noah Team BRC 5300.00 10 0
Tyg Guggenheim Team ABC 5200.00 11 0
lowe lukey Rock’n & Jam’n 5175.00 12 1
Shafer Helms Rock’n & Jam’n 5100.00 13 0
Samuel Kuepper Team ABC 5100.00 13 0
Solomon Fitzgerald Sport Climbing Center 5075.00 15 0
St. John Tsuno-Wayne Team BRC 5050.00 16 0
Alex Williams Team ABC 4975.00 17 0
Boone Schafer Santa Fe Climbing Center 4950.00 18 0
Sergio Delgato Rock’n & Jam’n 4775.00 19 1
Jackson Turner *None/Not listed 4550.00 20 0
Evan Kuepper Team ABC 4250.00 21 0

RJ Youth Team Interview

Varsity Team Climber: Max Donovan


Age: 14

Years Climbing: 4

Joined ROCK’n & JAM’n Varsity Team: 2011

We sat down with Max Donovan to get an idea of what climbing on RJ’s Varsity Team is like, and also to ask him a few questions about climbing in general.

RJ: You have an interesting story about how your climbing career started. Will you share a little about how you discovered climbing?

MD: I first learned about climbing from a 4th grade teacher of mine who climbed avidly, after expressing my interest, she decided that, while on a field trip to Colorado Monument National Park, she would take me to do some easy climbing. I fell in love with the sport and started as soon as I moved to Denver.

RJ: What do you like about climbing, in general?

MD: To me, climbing encompasses everything I love in a sport, an outdoor experience, a physical and mental workout, an amazing community, and most of all, the feeling of freedom.

RJ: What do you hate about climbing? What aspects of climbing are the most difficult for you?

MD: To me, the most grueling aspect of climbing is the feeling the day after a strong climb, being ridiculously sore can really put a damper on your day.

RJ: Do you primarily boulder, or climb on ropes? Which do you like more?

MD: I like to think my climbing is pretty balanced between the two, but when it comes down to it, bouldering is my passion. The short bursts of power and strategy mixed with a variety of moves makes bouldering my favorite.


RJ: Tell us a little about the Youth Team. Why did you join? What have you learned, and how has your climbing changed or improved since you joined?

MD: The youth team at RJ is an amazing thing to be a part of, it is a great opportunity to climb with friends, while at the same time learning so much about climbing. Since I joined the youth team, I have felt my level of strength on the wall absolutely soar, my technique and confidence in my climbing have also been hugely improved by my experience in the youth team.

RJ: Do you participate in any other school or extracurricular activities besides climbing? If so, how does climbing compare to these?

MD: Every year, I compete in cross-country with the team at my school. I mostly do it as cross training to improve cardio and leg strength, but it is also a great way to get outside once and a while. While they both provide a great workout, running doesn’t provide the fun and excitement that comes with climbing.

RJ: Do kids at your school ever ask you about climbing? If so, what do you tell them?

MD: Kids at my school are always very intrigued when I tell them I climb. They mostly ask about grading scales and how competitions work, a few want to know about the kind of exercise it provides, but a couple always want to come try it for themselves. I tell them about climbing in the best way I can, but always give the advice to try it for themselves to get the full effect.

RJ: Do you have any climbing goals? What are they?

MD: In climbing, I’m always striving to climb harder, and for me that means breaking down mental limits and building up technique and strength. In climbing, being mentally strong is a huge part of the battle, and that’s the one I’m trying to win.

RJ: You participated in several competitions this year with the Youth Team. What is it like, climbing in a comp?

MD: Climbing at a competition is always a completely different experience depending on where it is and what format the comp has. The consistent changes from recreational to competition climbing are a more challenging atmosphere, a more aggressive approach, and a cheering crowd.

Max Teva Mnt Games

Max (pictured right) after his 2nd place finish at the 2013 Teva Mountain Games

RJ: Do you have any climbing heroes? Who are they?

MD: I don’t have any specific climbing heroes, but there are definitely people who I have climbed with who I respect for their skill and the advice that they give me. One of these people is definitely my coach, Tim Rice.


Max and coach “Timmy-Time” Rice

RJ: Most climbers get amazingly hungry after a climbing session. We’ve heard of everything from chocolate milk to chips and salsa. What is your favorite post-climbing food?

MD: I always find a cold Snickers cools me down, re-energizes me, and is delicious. Other than that, I like to drink yellow Gatorade while I climb.

RJ: Thanks for sharing some of your thoughts about climbing with us Max; and good luck climbing with the Varsity Team this semester!

To find out more about R&J youth programs, visit http://climbthebest.cominstruction.php#KidsPrograms

managing your expectations on a climbing trip (or how to cope with the fact that you’re not going to send the one climb that you were really psyched to try to send)

success and failure while on a climbing trip…the high point and the low point. if you have ever taken an extended trip to just climb (at least a week), you have stared this demon straight in the face. how much time do you devote to one climb, when you only have a limited window to actually climb? should you sample more climbs at a lower grade and get more volume in? these are, no doubt, the burning questions in your mind right now.

obviously, there is no easy answer. there rarely is. but the easiest answer, in my mind, depends on one factor: how familiar are you with the area, i.e. its rock type and/or the style of climbing? if you’re visiting a new area, it is probably wise to step down the grade difficulty and climb for volume. this allows you to get used to the subtleties of the area and gives you a good base of “knowledge” for moving on that specific rock. but if you go back to an area that you have previously spent some time, the answer isn’t quite as easy to arrive at.

projecting something at your local crag is one thing. you can put time in on the climb intermittently, and there isn’t really much pressure (all things considered) since you can typically get to it at your leisure. for all intents and purposes you have “all the time in the world.” but several things can work against you when you decide to project something while on a trip: there is a finite amount of time; the time invested versus the payout or reward of sending may not be worth it; climbing a bunch of routes below your limit might be boring; there may be other people working the same route and you have to play nice with others, etc. thus the conundrum.

one thing working in your favor is that while on a trip, you are usually just climbing. you aren’t bogged down with the minutiae of the daily grind. you can tune out all that other stuff and focus a bit more on remembering beta, sequences, and details of one particular climb. you can get the necessary fitness and strength with few distractions.

ultimately it comes down to your level of confidence in your ability to send the route. this is not something you will know right off the bat. i would recommend getting on your chosen project route early on in your trip, ideally within the first few days. this way, you know what you’re up against in terms of style and difficulty. after you have been on it a few times, that confidence level will kick in (or not…), and in your own head you start to know if your goal is actually reasonable and attainable.

i have personally had both ends of this spectrum, oddly enough at the same place, the red river gorge. bear with me for a little longer, it’s story time!

flashback to early october 2010. i had a 10 day trip planned for the red. i had just finished a sunday shift at the north gym (9a to 6p), and right after locking the door, i hopped in my car and started driving east. i made it as far as columbia, mo, before the proverbial wheels fell off the bus and i had to stop. driving solo for that many hours after a full day is rough! after sleeping for a bit, i continued east and arrived in slade, ky, by 6p. i met up with some friends, drank whiskey, beer and ale8, then went to bed.

that next morning, feeling really rusty and stiff from the drive, we headed down to the ‘motherlode’.

the madness cave at the motherlode

my intended project was ‘bohica‘ (13b), in the madness cave, a brilliantly steep route out a 45 deg angle wall with perfect 1- to 1.5-pad deep edges the whole way. it’s absolutely amazing.

so after warming up on a few classic routes (chainsaw massacre and ale-8-one) it was time to test the waters on bohica. the first burn was a junk show! the moves felt really hard, and i didn’t have the endurance to do more than 2 bolts at a time. i had my work cut out for me.

the next day, we went back to the ‘lode. it was time for me to get my endurance up in preparation of starting to link sections on bohica. so i decided that i was going to go for a no fall/no take day, and no pitch could be easier than 5.12a. so myself and my friend ‘little’ dan proceeded to knock out pitch after pitch of 12a and 12b for an entire day. i ended up doing 10 pitches, dan got in 12, and we thankfully had a no fall/no take day. completely worn out, but psyched with a good endurance day.

the next several days were spent working bohica, with a rest day tossed in there somewhere. each day i got on the route twice, and each day i was linking more sections, and getting high points. my confidence was building.

my final climbing day of the trip, i went out with my buddy nik. he also had a project at the ‘lode, so off we went. after warming up and giving nik a catch on his route, we walked over to bohica for the ‘hail mary’ attempt. first section of the route felt easy and robotic and with seemingly no effort, i found myself at the first rest, staring at the remaining 60 feet of that perfect 45 deg angle wall above me. after lowering my heart rate, i launched into the rest of the route. each move was executed with confidence and precision. there were no wasted movements, no second guessing. before i knew it, i was at the final rest looking at the last 15 feet and the anchors. i composed myself and fired. i made it to the anchor, clipped, yelled triumphantly, then lowered back down to the ground. i drove back to the house, packed up my stuff and started the drive home. success!

contrast that with my recent trip earlier this month. the first few days were spent getting used to the rock again, as it had been 3 years since my last trip. plus, my endurance these days feels fairly poor, compared to previous times and trips. everything felt hard. things that i had sent previously felt so much more difficult! i was up against a big challenge with extremely low confidence.

so third day, i got to check out my intended project: ‘swingline‘ (13d) at a crag called ‘the dark side‘. i did the moves first try on the route, and got incredibly psyched. it broke down as a 5.13a/b to a very poor rest to a legit v8 boulder problem. while i rested at the base of the route, i started thinking about what was actually necessary to send this thing. getting to the poor rest on link would have been a healthy goal, and probably doable. but to tack on a v8 boulder problem after that seemed daunting. after much internal debate, i decided that i lacked the necessary fitness to put it away in the amount of time left and ultimately had to walk away from it. i was bummed. this line is beautiful and inspiring, and a very sought after route. but it wasn’t to be. i found another fun line there, ‘tuskan raider‘ (12d) that i was able to send 3rd try. that ended up being my only real send for the trip.


while the trip as a whole was incredibly fun due to the good company of old and new friends, i consider the climbing side of it to be a bit of a failure. this was due to poor training before hand, leading to generally bad fitness, etc. i have to make sure that i am better prepared for the next go ’round.

so there you have it…both ends of the spectrum. success and failure. elation and frustration. in the end, you just have to look at the whole situation. sometimes you decide to throw your chips in, sometimes you throw the cards away instead and wait for the next round. someone famous once said ” you gotta know when to hold ’em, know…”. eh, never mind, you get the idea.

To Wobble or Not to Wobble?

Throw a wobbler (phrase):

To get really angry. Have a tantrum. See also screaming fit, berserk, rage.

Perhaps my favorite bit of slang I’ve picked up via the climbing community is the phrase “toss a wobbler.” I can’t remember the first time I heard it used, but I do remember the first time I witnessed a climber in the midst of wobbling. I was clawing my way up one of the few sub-5.12 climbs in Rifle Mountain Park when I heard a hoarse, primitive howl reverberate through the narrow canyon. At first I thought someone had sent their project, but the string of eloquent curse words that followed seemed to indicate otherwise. “That will never be me,” I thought.

Like baseball, skateboarding, and panning for gold, climbing involves a lot of failure and a healthy portion of pain and frustration; most of the time the bear eats you.

In order to succeed on a personal limit climb one must invest oneself in said climb. You gotta psych yourself up for those gnarly crimps, yo. You must put your pain in a box, lock the box and throw away the key. One does not simply earn victory by showing up. There are no half measures. Do or do not, there is no try. You get the idea.

The point is, I used to see someone toss a wobbler and think “get a grip, man.” Climbing is fun and I couldn’t understand how anyone could get so upset doing something so enjoyable. But as the years passed and I focused on climbing as hard as I could, I found that it is not always so fun, not always so enjoyable. Sometimes you rip a flapper, sometimes you pump out at the chains, sometimes you miss the pads, and failure is never fun.

So about investing oneself in a climb… Success at the highest level of your ability takes complete commitment to the end result; you gotta *go for it.* When you’re going for it and you fail, it is natural to be frustrated and, speaking for myself, the only way to commit entirely to another attempt at the rig is to vent that frustration. Enter the wobbler.

My go to is the chalk bag toss (though I’m always careful to close the bag first…leave no trace and whatnot) usually accompanied by a quiet-but-severe expletive or two. Ten seconds or so of venting and I’m good to go. By nature I am not an angry person, and I definitely understand the necessity of respecting other people’s space and enjoyment of nature. This is just my way of letting off steam so that I can pour myself back into the task at hand.

While I find Adam Ondra’s outbursts excessive to say the least, I now understand where those outbursts come from and can appreciate how hard he tries and how much of himself he puts into climbing at the absolute highest level.

Naturally, you are entitled to your own opinion on the matter. Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment and we can work it out.

Candyshop Reset

In case you haven’t noticed, the Candyshop and Moon Board at RJ1 have received some recent lovin’. New holds, new problems, new levels of strength. We are working on a catalog of all the problems and variations that have been done so that you can browse through them and pick out the climbs that will most help you train your weaknesses. In the meantime, here is a sample of a power-endurance circuit that I’ve run a couple times now. Disclaimer: all climbs are done on complete hold sets unless otherwise indicated.

Warmup: 100 easy moves on Adjustable Wall set to 15 degree angle.

Set One:

Blue Tape (open feet)

Blue Tape (tracking)

Blue Tape (yellow feet)

Five minute rest

Black e-Grips Fingerbuckets (tracking)

Black e-Grips Fingerbuckers (yellow feet)

Five minute rest

Blue Teknik Clippers (tracking)

Blue Teknik Clippers (yellow feet)

Five minute rest

Yellow Teknik Jugs (tracking)

Yellow Teknik Jugs (yellow feet

Ten minute rest

Set Two:

Red e-Grips Pure Edges (start on Project double hueco, tracking only)

e-Grips Pockets (with double hueco, tracking only)

Orange e-Grips Buttons (start on tan Dillo jug, yellow feet to start then tracking)

Ten minute rest

Set Three:

Blue e-Grips Buttons (tracking)

Black ETCH ‘power ladder’ (tracking)

Red e-Grips with Tufa (tracking)

Ten minute rest

Set Four:

Green ETCH (tracking)

Green e-Grips Comfy Crimps (tracking)

Tan e-Grips Dillo Jug (campus)

Ten minute rest

Set Five: Sandwiches

Think of the primary climb as the bread and the secondary climb as the meat. No resting between bread and meat!

Yellow Teknik/Blue Tape/Yellow Teknik

Five minute rest

Blue Teknik/Blue Tape/Blue Teknik

Five minute rest

Black e-Grips/Blue Tape/Black e-Grips

Notes: all climbs start on any of the three blue jugs at the bottom of the wall with two (only two!) yellow feet. Yellow feet = ETCH footholds, not the nice Teknik crimps.

Next up: Adjustable Wall circuits. Stay tuned for more training updates…

Beast Mode

As someone who resides in Colorado and lives to boulder, summer is my time of year. My favorite climbing areas in Rocky Mountain National Park (henceforth RMNP) and Mt. Evans shed their snowy winter blankets and reveal the splendid granite and gneiss boulders I adore so much.

To capitalize on the short alpine window, I need to make sure I am in the best shape possible before the season begins. This means doin’ work on the campus board, lifting weights, riding bicycles, and the dreaded core routine. All of these exercises and techniques I’ve picked up from various sources and are linked below, for your training pleasure (or suffering, depending on how you look at it).

Campus: I’ve tried various routines over the years but my favorite comes from the legendary School Room and the folks at Moon Climbing. RJ now has Moon-standard rung spacing and wall angle on our campus boards, which helps a lot. I try to campus every Monday and Thursday but if my week is too busy or I feel run down I’ll campus on Wednesday instead. On campus days I climb for twenty minutes to warm up, doing one or two harder problems but no more.

Core: there’s an app for this. Seriously, it’s free and it kicks your ass (or abs, whatever) hard. Do this three times a week, usually after lifting weights.

Conditioning: alpine climbing zones have alpine approaches, and it is important to get the legs and lungs up to speed so the hikes don’t sap too much energy. My method is simple: bike + hill + maximum effort. I came up with a loop around my neighborhood that is roughly a mile long and features a long straightaway and an intense hill. I cruise downhill to the straightaway, sprint the straightaway, cruise a gentle incline to recover then mash up the hill as hard as I can. Rinse and repeat four to six times three or four times a week. Granny gears are cheating…

A Message from Anna and Adrian


Like Deb and John, we shared a common dream, to own an indoor climbing gym. Our
dream began about 6 years ago. That dream was forged here in Colorado. We were
introduced to climbing in Clear Creek Canyon, Rifle, Shelf Road, and the gyms of
ROCK’n & JAM’n. We loved everything about this wonderful sport, and we loved
the culture and community we found among other climbers who shared our passion.
ROCK’n & JAM’n played a pivotal role in the development of this dream. Because of
this, these two wonderful gyms will always hold a special place in our hearts.

When Deb and John agreed to pass this torch, we viewed it as not only a fantastic
opportunity, but as an enormous responsibility. Deb and John have created something
special with ROCK’n & JAM’n. Our goal therefore is simple, to make Deb and John
proud in the years to come. We would like to begin this journey with a commitment to
honor John and Deb’s mission statement.

Our goal is to provide an innovative, high-quality facility that meets the needs of
the area’s indoor rock climbers.

Our commitment is to continuously improve our facility and services in order to
keep pace with our customers’ expectations well into the future.

Our pledge is that our actions will be characterized by fairness and integrity.

ROCK’n & JAM’n has established itself as the premier indoor climbing gyms in the
Denver Metro Area and we want to ensure that they retain this well-earned position at the
top of the industry.

We look forward to getting to know all of you who share our love for these gyms and this
sport. We, along with our two sons, Holden and Aiden, will be the new faces walking
around, so please do not hesitate to stop and say hello. If you love climbing, we are
already friends.

We thank Deb and John for this opportunity and we thank you in advance for welcoming
us into the ROCK’n & JAM’n family.


Anna and Adrian Parker

The Change Up

Tim Lincecum (baseball player) has a great change up. He throws it from the same arm slot and with the same delivery as his fastball, and he can throw it for strikes. Opposing batters have a hard time picking it up because it looks like a fastball, except it’s almost ten MPH slower and has a nasty break as if crosses the plate. Timmy uses his fastball to set up batters, then finishes them off with the change. He throws other pitches, too, but it is the way he supports his terrific fastball with a filthy change up that makes him one of the best.

What does this have to do with rock climbing? Not a lot, really, but I like the idea of the climbing change up, of using one discipline of climbing to support another.

Case in point: yesterday I bought a new harness. One of those ultra-light, ultra-thin sport climbing rigs that doesn’t seem like it could hold my body weight, let alone catch a whipper. I have not purchased a harness in some time, and the one I have only sees use routesetting and occasionally rappelling down boulders, which is to say I don’t sport climb.

For the last six years I’ve been exclusively focused on bouldering, and while I have accomplished many things that I am proud of, my motivation has waned some in the last year. I thought that maybe I was done with climbing, that the fire had died and I was merely feeling residual heat.

Then, a moment of clarity. I have been dedicated to climbing for eight years and have traveled across the country to sample the finest boulders in the land, but I haven’t done a multipitch route in Eldo. I’ve bouldered V13 but haven’t led a trad route harder than 5.5. The strategic concept and tactics of sport climbing remain elusive, a foreign language that I do not comprehend. This imbalance frustrates me to no end.

To return to the baseball metaphor: I’ve been pounding the strike zone with heaters and the batter expects more of the same. Time to throw the change up…

So I bought this new sporty harness and booked a trip to Kentucky’s Red River Gorge in the spring of 2013. I still need to acquire a rope (suggestions welcomed…) and this thing called ‘endurance,’ but I am psyched. The fire has returned. There is much for me to learn within the realm of sport climbing, which means progression, which means happy times. From there is trad climbing or big wall climbing or ice climbing or mountaineering (but definitely not aid climbing) or whatever. That is the gift of climbing: there is always a new experience, a new adventure. You just have to change it up every now and then.

behind the wrenches: lexicon

This installment of BTW will focus on the lexicon of the setting world. While the climbing lifestyle has a deep pool of jargon and slang, routesetting has is its own sub-genere of unique terminology and archaic vocabulary. It would be impossible to catalog the entire lexicon of RJ routesetting in one post, but here is a brief introductory course to get you up to speed.


noun: 1) Lucas ‘LaMarcus‘ Arnold

verb: 1) to remove a cross threaded hold from the wall with great vengeance and furious anger. “Hey, Chris, can you get a hammer and lamarcus that spinner off the wall?” 2) to vanish like a ghost at the end of the day. “Man, Jamie sure lamarcused out of there yesterday. I never saw him leave!”


noun: 1) a route or boulder problem. “Check out this rig. Purple holds and orange tape. So dank.”


noun: 1) a loose hold that is stuck on the wall. Happens most frequently when a bolt is cross-threaded and the t-nut rips out of the plywood. “So, who wants to go behind the wall and help me with this spinner?” 2) the misunderstood art of routesetting. “Bro, do you spin?” “Yeah, I spin.”

be*hind the wall

noun: 1) a dark, dangerous, dusty place no one should ever have to see; like that cave in Empire Strikes Back where Luke battles Darth Vader only to discover he was battling his own internal darkness. “I went behind the wall to tighten a bolt hanger today…” “Do you want to talk about it?” “No. No, I don’t.”

dirt/dirty/the dirt

noun: 1) the best route in the gym. “That yellow 5.10 is the dirt, homie!”

verb: 1) to set a route of extremely high quality. “What it do, Corey? You setting dirt today?”

adjective: 1) when a route or move or sequence (or anything, really) is particularly engaging. “Listen to these dirty beats, bro. Skrillix is the best.”

See also: sick, the gnar.

add a foot

verb: while forerunning, an admission of defeat. “Take here, Jamie, I need to add a foot.”


verb: 1) to approach a hold or section of a route from an awkward position. “Ugh, I was all undercrunked up in that dihedral. It was the worst.” 2) to grab the bottom or underside of a hold. “Undercrunk your right hand, step through, then fire to the lip.”

fresh shapes

noun: 1) brand new holds. “Did you see that box of fresh shapes in the hold closet? I’m gonna set the dirt today, fellas!”

set*ting tu*nic

noun: 1) a stylish blazer worn to and from morning setting sessions during the colder months. “Did you see LaMarcus’s setting tunic? The one with the embroidered crest? He’s so baller!”

rai*ning de*struc*tion

verb: 1) the act of dropping many large holds or features from high on the wall. “Yo, check yourself, I’m raining destruction here.”


noun: 1) old busted jug; the opposite of fresh shapes. “I’m setting the 5.5 today, where’s the bucket of O.B.J.s?

drop my lad*der

verb: 1) to retract an extension ladder when the setter using it transitions to setting on a rope. “Hey, Keith, be a dear and drop my ladder for me, yeah? I’m roping up now.”

the pro*gram

noun: 1) two up, two over; the time tested method for setting easy routes. “Nah, I’ll be done quick. I’m using the program on this 5.7.”

go*ing an*a*log

verb: 1) to set without the use of an impact driver. “Crap, I left my impact at the south gym. Guess I’m going analog today.”


adverb: when a move is too hard for the climber. “Rylan, that all-points-off dyno is too reachy. You should add a foot.”

Injured Reserve

Over the course of my climbing career, I’ve discovered a plethora of ways to injure myself. Off the top of my head, I’ve sprained an ankle, ruptured the A2 and A3 pulleys in my middle finger, dealt with elbow tendonitis on several occasions, injured my wrist twice, developed bursitis in my heel twice, crushed my foot under a boulder, screwed a foot jib into my thumb, caught my hair in a grigri, and tweaked every finger on both hands more times than I can count. I consider myself extremely fortunate that I’ve not been seriously injured.

Currently I am dealing with the second round of bursitis in my heel, which has kept me from wearing a climbing shoe on my left foot for the last month. At the very least, the weather hasn’t been the greatest and I don’t think I’m missing too much time at the boulders, but not being able to climb to the degree I’m accustomed to is frustrating. If we were to take the optimistic view, time away from climbing means more time for other activities. Yes, there are other things besides climbing that I like to do. Weird.

74(if my optometrist is reading this, I don’t usually sit so close to the screen…)

My Madden ’11 franchise is in its sixth year now with two Super Bowl titles under its belt. I’ve been taking my dogs on longer walks and preparing my fantasy baseball team for the upcoming season. I watched the entire run of Futurama episodes and movies. Even though I can’t climb, I’ve been utilizing the campus board, rings, and fingerboard at RJ1 to maintain a baseline of fitness. Jamie (aka JG, aka nomadinrifle) and I have worked up quite the training regime so that, when the time comes, we can ‘send the proj, bro.’

The point is, I’m not climbing and the world hasn’t ended. I think it’s important to take vacations, even if the thing you are taking a vacation from would be considered by most people to be a vacation. And while it’s not the greatest being injured, I appreciate the opportunity to invest time in other things, and in the end I’m only reminded how much I enjoy climbing.

So if you can’t climb, for whatever reason, despair not. The day will come. In the mean time, do something else! I’ll take all comers in a Madden playoff…

Behind the Wrenches Vol. I

Welcome to Behind the Wrenches, a series that aims to shed light on the routesetting lifestyle at ROCK’n & JAM’n. In this, the inaugural installment of BtW, we will look at some cold, hard facts about routesetting. Let’s begin.

There are seven full-time routesetters at RJ. You may know them as NG, JG, CP, CC, LA, KHN, and RA (even though it is obviously RM…). You may also know them as Natty Gray, Jameson, Chrispy, C-Note, LaMarcus, ‘KEITH!’ and Two Bills. Probably you just know them as Nathan, Jamie, Chris, Corey, Lucas, Keith, and Rylan.

These fine gentlemen begin their work day at 8am every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. While you may be surprised that any of them are able to leave bed before noon, let alone conquer mental and physical challenges at such hours, you should know that they are a cheery, good-natured bunch (coffee helps) of hard-working go-getters.

Between the hours of 8 and 11:30am, a setter will bring out buckets of holds from the hold closet, select holds for their new route, strip (or drop, in the parlance of our times) the old route, load dirty holds in the dishwasher, set the new route, cleanup, and forerun.

In a month, the boys will set roughly 85 routes and 100 boulder problems between the two gyms. That’s a lot. Somewhere near 4,500 vertical feet of climbing or so. No other gym in the state can match that productivity. They will also use over a mile of tape to mark the routes and problems.

The average lifespan of a route is just under two months, while boulder problems stick around for 3-4 weeks. It can be daunting to watch your creations exist for so short a time, but the lads handle the constant turnover admirably.

That does it for this episode of Behind the Wrenches. Tune in next time for an exclusive look at the tools of the routesetting trade.

Bouldering in a Winter Wonderland

The first snow of the season has come and (almost) gone. Trees across Colorado have shed their leafy burdens and bears and other hibernating species are busy stockpiling calories for their annual slumber. Winter is bearing down on us like a frosty locomotive, and the holidays are right around the corner.

And what better way to prepare for the holiday season than with a festive, cider-and-cookie-laden bouldering extravaganza? Enter the Winter Wonderland Comp:


Come climb on expertly set problems from V0 to V11, enjoy the aforementioned cookies and cider, partake in the supplementary dyno competition, and unwrap presents from Sharp End Publishing, eGrips, Trango, Camp, Hummingbird Mountaineering, Evolv and more. Also, Santa Claus. Seriously.

Stay tuned for more details…

A Word from Brendan Aiken

To the Climbers of ROCK’n & JAM’n,

ROCK’n & JAM’n was my first employer and has continued to employ me in one way or another for the last thirteen years. As a kid I was a gym climber and member of the ROCK’n & JAM’n Youth School. By volunteering with the route setting crew for a Junior National Championship in Thornton I earned a position on the staff. You might recall the early days of the gym and the precise procedures and organizational discipline one had to utilize to be considered a good employee. As many can attest, young teenaged males are not necessarily inclined to be adept at such requirements and it’s a miraculous extension of generosity that I remained employed to this day.

I have had numerous other employers during my years with the gym and have not always been as involved as I am now. I am thankful that the opportunity to work for John and Deb has always been an element of my life. It is their belief in my abilities, however, that I am most thankful, and perhaps the two are one in the same. There were times in the past that it would have been easy to relieve me of my duties and I wouldn’t have protested. I was given room to grow and thus matured into the role that I have performed for the last couple of years.

Many of the aspects of the job are enjoyable, but none more than the people I was able to interact with every day. The community of climbers that frequents the two facilities is full of warm, friendly, and thoughtful people. Since I have never worked at any other gym I can’t speak on the qualities of gym climbers in general, but I would be surprised if ROCK’n & JAM’n isn’t near the top. Thanks for welcoming me into your lives, if only for an hour or two a couple nights a week.

The future of ROCK’n & JAM’n will continue to be bright. I have worked with Rylan Marshall and Nathan Gray for many years and can assure you that they are good setters and great people. They share the same vision of a better climbing environment for our customers that pushed me to work hard for your benefit. Please welcome them into their new roles and let them know when you really like something about a route or problem. Positive feedback is essential. It is far easier for route setters to repeat something that went well than to guess what you like to climb. Don’t forget that there is a partnership between the climber and the setter and you are as important to their success as hard work.

I have not had the chance to personally tell everyone what my future holds, and perhaps you are curious. My wife, Estee, was hired by the University of Western Montana to teach in their education department. It is a small school in a slightly larger town, Dillon, settled into the ranches of a western sage brush valley. The opportunities for exploration are as big as the sky, as exemplified by the journey Lewis and Clark took through the same valley years ago. While the climbing in the immediate area is limited, we’ll be only four hours away from the Tetons as well as City of Rocks. The nearest gym is two hours away in Bozeman, so I won’t be seeking a position on their setting staff. I’ll have some time to enjoy the country and raise our daughter, Kestrel, before I look for a job, if I get around to it.

I couldn’t be more excited, while saddened about moving on, for the adventure to begin! Thank you for being such a positive part of my life. I will come back to the gym every once in a while to reconnect with the greatest part of being a climber, the community.


Brendan Aiken


Fear. What is it? Why does it affect us? How can we conquer it and free ourselves from its insidious grip? I don’t know. But Arno Ilgner does, and he’s written a few books that explore the effect of fear on climbing and whatnot. He’s even teaching clinics at RJ that cover all sorts of techniques for maximizing your climbing through mental preparation. All that jazz. Meanwhile, I’ve put together a haphazard list of everything I can think of about fear and how it relates to climbing:

1) Phobos is the Greek term for fear. Phobos is also a pretty sweet boulder problem at Lincoln Lake.

2) The best climbers I know are not timid when it comes to doing a move. Commitment to success is the most important mental element of climbing well, and those who are able to really ‘go for it’ (air quote dab) without thinking about taking a big fall are the ones who succeed the most. One needs only to watch the Dosage series to get a feel for how little Dave Graham is afraid of taking a fall, as nearly every segment features him eating it in spectacular fashion. Yet his resume is one of the most impressive in rock climbing. Why? Because he’s thinking about sending, not falling. Or maybe he has microscopic spider hairs on his hands, I dunno.

3) It is pretty lame to automatically include Chris Sharma in a discussion about rock climbing, but in this case he fits. In King Lines (I’m in no way affiliated with Big Up Productions…) Chris is seen hucking his meat for holds 60+ feet over the ocean in Mallorca, smiling, laughing, enjoying the whole experience. Later, he backs off a high ball in Bishop because “it’s scary up there.” He can commit to wild deep water soloing not because he isn’t scared, but because he has more fun than fear, while on the high ball it’s the other way around. There is no reason to force yourself to climb something that isn’t fun; if you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it.

That’s what I’ve got. Arno though, he’s got much, much more. All kinds of ways of improving your climbing and making you a calculated, focused warrior of the rock. Maybe you’ve already read the fliers posted around the gyms, but in case you haven’t, here is an abbreviated list of topics Arno will be covering:

* awareness of your mind’s limiting tendencies

* effective risk-assessment

* distinguishing between no-fall and yes-fall zones

* making appropriate risk decisions

* practicing falling in small increments

* cushioned belay techniques

* developing flow and momentum

* problem solving skills and strategies

* fear reduction

There’s more, too, but that’s what the clinics and his books are for. The clinic at RJ1 is Monday August 8th from 6-10pm and will cover everything mentioned above and more. Arno’s RJ2 clinic is Wednesday August 10th from 6-9pm and will only cover how to fall and techniques to conquer your fear of falling. The RJ1 clinic is $79 for members and $89 for non-members while the RJ2 clinic is $69 for members and $79 for non-members. Unfortunately, there is a limit to the number of participants, so be sure to call either RJ location to reserve your spot as soon as you can. If you can’t make the clinic, RJ carries both The Rock Warrior’s Way and Espresso Lessons (15% off if you’re a member).

Belay-bor Pains Part 2

Moving right along.

Why can’t I stand 20 feet away from the wall while belaying?

One reason is that it creates more slack in the climber/belayer system which can have dire consequences for both top roping and leading. If you are top roping at RJ1, you will be climbing on walls that are 37 feet tall with ropes that are about 80 feet long, allowing for about 6 feet of slack to be lying on the mats. If you lower your climber while standing 20 feet away from the wall, you run the risk of running the end of the rope through the belay device, thereby dropping your partner on the ground. One way to avoid this would be to tie a knot on the end of the belay side of the rope. The other way is, obviously, stand no more than a few feet away from the wall.

Belaying from a distance has undesirable effects when it comes to lead climbing as well. First of all, like our top roping scenario, it creates extra slack in the system. Imagine someone that weighs 120 lbs lead belaying their partner that weighs 150 lbs. The belayer is 20 feet away from the wall and the climber has extra slack out because he is attempting to clip the third clip. The climber pumps out and misses the clip. The belayer, being outweighed by 30 lbs, can’t arrest the fall and gets yanked into the wall while the climber splats on the ground because of the extra slack in the system.

Now, let’s reverse the situation. We have a 120 lb climber and a 150 lb belayer standing 20 feet away from the wall. We have the same scenario with the climber taking a bunch of slack out to clip the third clip but falls before he can make it. This time, the unlucky climber gets slammed crotch first onto a taut rope. I’m sure many of you know what I’m talking about. Still not a pleasant situation.

Another major problem with standing too far away from the wall on a lead belay is the wear it causes on the first biner. By standing far away from the wall, the rope bends around the biner with a more acute angle, causing serious friction between the metal and the usually dirty sheath. A nice notch will eventually be worn into the biner, usually with some nice sharp edges. Please go here to see a great post from Black Diamond on what can happen when climbing on a biner with rope wear.

The most common reason people give in our gym about why they want to stand so far away from the wall on a lead belay is that they can’t see the climber otherwise. There’s a simple solution to this. If you can’t see your climber, simply turn around and face out from the wall. See below.

37I love everything about this picture. Kathryn is facing out to see her climber, her stance shows that she’s ready for anything, she has a moderate amount of slack out and she is giving her undivided attention to her climber. Which brings us to our last question.

Why can’t I sit on the mat while I belay?

Several reasons. You can’t lock off as well. You can’t move quickly if you need to. You can not give any semblance of a dynamic lead belay while sitting down. And most importantly to me, sitting down conveys a sense of complacency. Unless you are flying the space shuttle, most people sit down to relax. Belaying is absolutely not a passive activity. Compare the picture below to the one of Kathryn. Who would you want belaying you? (Disclaimer: Katie never belays sitting down, I made her pose for the picture)

38Some further reading on the subject of sitting down while belaying can be found at (caution, there’s some foul language in this one) and has a post that spells out some great belaying tips in general.

There was a thread on Facebook recently in which someone was discussing the fact that he just saw another person get decked in a gym. The guy got away with just a broken ankle. One of my friends made a comment which sums this whole post nicely: “Belaying is a job and should be taken seriously. Focus.”

Climbing is obviously an inherently risky activity to engage in. Even though you can never erase all risk from climbing, we want you to know that every rule we have in this gym is designed to minimize the risk of climbing as much as we possibly can. If you ever have any questions, please come up and ask one of our staff members, it’s what we are here for.

Nate’s a Slacker

Nate works at the counter at both RJ1 & 2. And for those of you who don’t know, Nate has a really cool talent – slacklining. He comes from a background of diving, and has turned that coordination and strength towards doing amazing stunts on a taut piece of 1″webbing. Following is a description by Nate of the sport he loves as well as some sweet videos of him in action.

Slacklining: a sport of balance, strength, focus, coordination, and often utter and complete frustration. For most, myself included, slacklining starts out as a sport of failure. I relate it closely to my first golfing experience; three hours fifty-nine minutes and 149 strokes of pure agony and miserable shots, yet, sixty seconds and one amazing stroke will bring you back again. The first day of slacklining might include 10 seconds of standing on the line, hardly balanced, for an hour of work.

For those who are not aware of exactly what slacklining is, let me break it down for you. It’s fairly simple really, take a long piece of 1 inch webbing, pull it REALLY tight between two points, and walk on it from one end to the other. In its basic form, it sounds quite easy really, but add the fact that the line will sway from side-to-side and bounce up and down and you’ll realize it’s not as casual as it sounds. Us ‘slackers’ also complicate it further by splitting the sport into four styles. A trickline is a slackline that is usually set up no longer than 30 feet and pulled extremely tight. The ‘trick’ part refers to the different actions that can be performed on the line. An advanced slacker can do jumps, spins, line tricks (sitting down, laying down, drop knees, levers, etc) as well as flips. These lines are the easiest to learn the basics on. A Gibbon line is a type of trickline, but has a 2 inch width. A long line is a slackline more than 60 feet in length and is much harder to walk. The longer the line, the more sway and bounce it has. The current longest line walked on record is more than 650 feet! A highline is a slackline that doesn’t have a set amount of length, but rather height. Highlines can be anywhere from 20 feet high to more than 3000 feet. One of the most popular US highlines is at the Lost Arrow Spire in Yosemite National Park.

Most of my slackline training was done at RJ2, where they have a permanent 20 foot line set up. It took me nearly 3 months to walk across once and another three to walk one direction, turn around and walk back to the starting point. I started slacklining about four years ago, practicing for about 30 minutes at the end of my climbing session. Over the years I’ve managed to get my balance under control and am doing my best to help the sport evolve. You’ll often see me in the gym working on tricks that I never thought possible when I first started. To date, my favorite tricks are back-to-back 360’s, one-arm levers and backflips. Currently I’m working on a backflip 360 and a wallplant to 360.

People often ask me one of two questions about my slacklining: am I training for Cirque du Soleil or do I feel that slacklining has improved my climbing. To answer the first, no. Though I’m not sure I would turn down an offer to be in their show. To the second I answer possibly. Slacklining is directly related to balance and core strength, both important in climbing as well. I assume, that over time as my balance and core strength have increased, my climbing has improved. However, I did not and have not noticed a direct relation to slacklining and climbing.

Another topic that is often discussed with new slackers is, “How do you do it?”. The main part of slacklining is practice, practice, practice. As far as technique goes, try to keep your core tight. Really flex your abs as you walk, keep your body upright, and maintain a tight yet flexible tension throughout your body. The last point is one that is hard to really explain and understand. You want to keep your muscles tight so they don’t shake (especially in the legs), yet you still need to be able to walk normally and counter the effects of the moving line. The goal is to keep your center of gravity directly over the line. This means you’ll need to move your arms, legs and waist to keep balanced. If you feel your torso start to fall off to the right, for example, thrust your hips out left, and even kick your left foot out to pull the weight of your torso back over the line. This is a complicated and difficult skill to learn, but with enough practice you’ll soon be walking the line like second nature. After you get the balance down, the first thing you’ll want to learn is how to turn around once you get to the end. After that, just let your personal style and skill decide where to go to next.

And of course, if you see me in the gym I would be more than happy to help you on anything slackline related.

If you would be interested in a slacklining clinic, just let us know and we’ll put it together. Just contact us at

The Artwork of Jesse Crock


Any visitor to RJ2 can’t help but notice the striking artwork on display. The master behind the paintbrush is Jesse Crock. If you don’t know him already, following is a little insight into him and his artwork:

I am a native Coloradoan and love the outdoors. Through climbing and biking I have passionately explored and captured the world around me with strong, bold lines and bright, vibrant colors.


I am an art teacher and find that I often connect my work with the playfulness of my students. They inspire me with the energy they bring to the classroom. As a climber and cyclist I love to bring the viewer’s eye to places that are not often painted. I attempt to abstract the subject and background so that they become interwoven together. Please visit my website at


All of Jesse’s hanging paintings at RJ2 plus smaller prints of his work are for sale, just ask our counter staff for assistance. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

Photography Display at RJ1

We’ve begun showing different work from local artists at RJ1, and our first artist is Susan Winn. Following is a short bio and description of the work we have up right now.

I began studying photography in 1999 and received my B.F.A from the
University of Colorado at Denver in 2004 and my M.A in 2008 from Adams
State College. I am currently doing freelance photography as a wedding
and portrait photographer and I am studying for the PLACE test, to teach art.

I work at Starbucks Coffee Company as a Shift Supervisor and I am the Art Coordinator for our store. I am active in the art community and earlier this year had a successful show at Flash Gallery in Lakewood called Pin-Up’s. I have received many art awards such as the Teaching Assistantship and have received an Art Grant from ASC.

This particular group of flower portraits are part of the series called “Capturing a Smaller World.” These photographs are to demonstrate the beauty of the world around us. Often we are too busy to notice the smaller things in life. If we do notice them we are unable to have time to enjoy these wonders of the world and are left we a mild feeling of their beauty.

These images we are able to look at the flower closer and see what they
really are. We are able to absorb the flowers and get a sense of what we
are missing. The feeling will never be the same at that moment we first
encounter the flowers of our life, but possible having captured these
images of them, we are able to recreate some of that beauty and feelings
we would have felt encountering the flowers for the first time. I believe
Georgia O’Keefe, who is a strong influence in this art work said it best
when she said: “Everyone has many associations with a flower-the idea of
flowers. Still-in a way-nobody sees a flower-really-it is so small-we
haven’t the time-and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.”

All of Susan’s photos are for sale, just ask our counter staff if you would like to purchase one. You can also contact Susan through her website We hope you enjoy them!

Survey Responses

A few months ago, we posted a survey on Facebook that several of y’all were awesome enough to take the time to fill out for us. Since you took your time to give us your feedback, we thought we’d address some of the ideas and questions that we received.

Route/problem quality

Boulder problems are tweaky and uninteresting.

RJ Response: What type of moves would you like to see in the boulder?

Always seem to have a lot of good variety of difficulty. I would like to see more numbered boulder routes though.

RJ Response: I’m not exactly sure what this means, but if it is referring to how we number the holds for our Bouldering League point system, we will be starting another League in the fall. I will post it as an event on Facebook when we start it back up.

Many routes don’t feel like they have a real crux. Just sort of sustained for the grade. A fun crux can really make a route great.

RJ Response: Our setting philosophy includes setting routes that improve fitness and climbing skills to make you better prepared to climb outdoors. We set routes of sustained difficulty to enhance endurance so that when you reach a rest outdoors it is a bonus and not a practiced requirement.

I personally miss Paradise Rock Gym.

RJ Response: Lots of people do. Try climbing LA’s routes. He used to set at Paradise, it’s as close to home as we can get you.

Have only climbed boulder problems at RnJ1 – I found the difficulty on intermediate and below problems to primarily come from high feet / big moves. More incorporation of clever footwork – drop knees, flagging, etc would be greatly appreciated.

RJ Response: Great feedback, we will strive to keep setting diverse styles in the boulder.

Route turnover

It’s between entertained and bored. Especially in the 5.10-5.11 range. A few more in that range on the TR routes would be nice.

RJ Response: The top of our bell curve of route distribution is already the 5.10-5.11 range. To add more would be unfair to the rest of our customers. Visiting both gyms during the month may help a bit with this.

The boulder routes used to get a little stale after a while but looks like you’ve ramped up the change dates there.

RJ Response: We actually have increased the turnover rate in the boulder in the past year. Thanks for noticing!

Routes seem to all change at once, can they be spread out? The choose your own rating has been fun, but staff is usually right with their own ratings anyway.

RJ Response: We set routes at each gym about twice a week and boulders once every two weeks on average. We try to replace a mix of the oldest routes with a wide variety of grades. We’re glad you think our setters usually get the grade right, not everyone would concur.

General comments

Love you guys… just wish we could get the auto belays back.

RJ Response: We have put a deposit down on some Auto Belays that aren’t available to ship yet. No guarantee on when they’ll be here, but a solution to your auto belay woes are on the horizon.

Change the routes in the lead cave more frequently and add more moderates in that area.

RJ Response: We set the lead cave on the same schedule as the other walls in order to be fair to all our customers. Due to the angle of the lead cave, it is difficult to set many moderates which is why the mean grade is 5.11 on the cave.

I’m still not in love with the bouldering grading scheme – I understand that grades don’t mean much, but the scheme at, for example, the spot, is much more helpful. At the very least, adding a +/- to each category would help to differentiate the grades somewhat.

RJ: We went with this grading system because it is what the ABS uses in their competitions and we felt our bouldering community would already be familiar with it. It’s a good idea, but we’ll just stick with how we’re doing it for now.

Allowing occasional member setting of boulder problems would be nice. Setting boulder problems is a great way for climbers to think more about movement and body position, so letting people set their own problems occasionally can make them into better climbers.

RJ Response: Great idea, we’ll try to put together a route setting clinic in the fall & see if there’s any other interest in it.

One thing I would suggest is to spruce up the Men’s locker room a bit – fresh carpet or even freshen up the lockers somehow. The larger bench at #1 is nice.

RJ Response: We are always striving to improve our gym in every way we can. We will definitely look into this.

Renovate RJ1: Put the office upstairs somewhere and expand the bouldering area! Need more bouldering! It’s what RJ really lacks to make it an even better gym.

RJ Response: Awesome idea, but unfortunately not feasible. We would also have to move the lockers rooms as well and those should stay on the first floor. Expansion is a topic we constantly mull around in our heads, we’ll keep you posted with what we can come up with.

I love the new assisted pull up machine at RJ2. Thanks for adding it!

RJ Response: Thanks for noticing, glad you’re getting good use out of it!

Seems to me that the routes are becoming more awkward and reachy and that the grades are less consistent.

RJ Response: With the wide range of individuals who climb at our gyms it is impossible to address everyone’s wants and needs at the same time. Because of this, every route may not appeal to every climber. It is our sincere desire that everyone who climbs at our gyms finds a route that they enjoy at every difficulty.

I would like to see the routes take advantage more of the features of the wall

RJ Response: Use of gym features is at the discretion of the setter and we will take note of the interest in climbing routes with features and set more of these in the future.

Could you make all 5.7’s one color, all 5.8’s another color, etc. For example all 5.7’s are pink, all 5.8’s are blue, all 5.9’s are white, etc. so they are easily identifiable? I think it would make it easier to identify the routes.

RJ Response: It’s a good idea, but since we would have to use a different color for every + or – in each grade we have more route grades than we have tape colors.

More fundraising or “just for fun” competitions. They seem to get a lot of people involved

RJ Response: So glad you’ve enjoyed our comps, we will work on doing more community activities.

The music could use some improving.

RJ Response: In order to play music in a public forum, you have to pay ASCAP fees. We use Sirius Business for our music which includes ASCAP fees in our subscription price. Since we don’t pay ASCAP directly, we are not legally allowed to play ipods, CD’s or the radio. You are always more than welcome to select which channel you want to listen to as long as is doesn’t offend anyone else.

Some of the routes are up there for a long time (several months). Maybe consider changing them more often.

RJ Response: We balance the need for new routes and problems with the desire to red point those currently in gym. For routes this means a period of about 2.5 months. Boulder problems are usually left up for 4 to 6 weeks. We feel this time period best suits the demand of our diverse customer base.

A lot of the intermediate/easier routes are pretty much ‘straight up’ the wall without involving much thinking or clever route shifts.

RJ Response: We have a handful of wandering routes in each gym, but they are limited because they can be dangerous when the gym is crowded and don’t always allow was maximum efficiency of wall space. We will set more traversing and wandering routes during the summer when it is less crowded.

Thanks for all your help! And always, if you ever have a question or idea, please don’t hesitate to contact to us!