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Wall geezers, please spray!
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By Shawn Mitchell
From Broomfield
Mar 27, 2013
Splitter Jams on the Israel/Palestine Security Wall.

I climbed 4 Yosemite walls in my teens (and bailed from 3).

A couple years ago, I made a half-hearted attempt on a Zion wall and bailed after a bivy on pitch 4 of 9 (or 10?)

I'm 50 and find myself getting the itch. Are there any geriatric wall dudes out there?

Can you still get it up...I mean get up it? How old? How often? What's your wisdom for a wannabe wall climber again?


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By "Pass the Pitons" Pete Zabrok
From Oakville, Ontario
Mar 27, 2013
Left to right - me, Sam Adams, Thomas Huber, Alex Huber

Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!!! There are PLENTY of us old farts around here!

I would begin the beguine, but I think I shall have to defer to the oldest and most shrivelled up old wall fart here.

Paging Mark Huge-dong? Are you there?


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By Mark Hudon
Mar 27, 2013
On the North America Wall in 1977.

Get in Aligator wrestling shape (pm me), read my tips, read Pete's tips, set a date and go do it.

Simple as that!


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By Greg G
From SLC, UT
Mar 27, 2013
The route in it's entirety.

Immediate responses from 2 living legends!

Do it Shawn you won't regret it man!


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By Mark Hudon
Mar 27, 2013
On the North America Wall in 1977.

Be careful, Pete and I will flood your email inbox with tips and techniques!


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By Paul Gagner
Mar 28, 2013

Pete and Mark will tell you everything you need to know and then some....

There are a few of us over 50 dinosaurs climbing walls. Why? Because we love the location and setting. Walls are like real estate - it's all about location, location, location....

Aid climbing on walls takes in my opinion more mental fortitude than physical fortitude. Don't get me wrong, being in shape is important. But having a positive mental attitude, and being able to be focused and in the moment - and committed - is what's important.

Enjoy - have fun!!!

Paul


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By Kirk B.
From Boise, ID
Mar 28, 2013
belay slaving on some route I forgot the name of way right of Bloody Fingers.

Paul is wise.


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By Fat Dad
From Los Angeles, CA
Mar 29, 2013

Shawn, I'm 49, and if I can ever get a break from the job and family, I'd be so all over it. My wife just rolls her eyes, but the fire is totally there.


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By Mark Hudon
Mar 29, 2013
On the North America Wall in 1977.

Paul nails it.

Strength and Technique are important for climbing but Desire supersedes them. If you have the Desire, the rest follow.


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By Shawn Mitchell
From Broomfield
Mar 29, 2013
Splitter Jams on the Israel/Palestine Security Wall.

Thanks for tips, leads, and encouragement. Didn't mean to neglect the thread; been busy on some work and family stuff.

All right, I'll start working on the "get in shape" part, (usually a strength, but a lazy, soft spot of late) then I'll chase friends and legends for more tips.


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By Shawn Mitchell
From Broomfield
Mar 29, 2013
Splitter Jams on the Israel/Palestine Security Wall.

And re: "legends," I do have to say what a cool community climbing is, where the mortals get to rub shoulders with the immortals.

Thanks for sounding in Mark Hudon. Before I climbed those walls in high school, I'd been inspired in other ways by the article in Climbing Magazine(?) about you and Max Jones pioneering the ridiculous grade of 5.12. It was titled "A different sport," as I recall.

Anyone who climbs around for more than a few years has some encounters with the gods of the sport. Not many ballers get to shoot hoops with Lebron, Jordan, or Jerry West. Another reason climbing is special.


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By S Denny
From Carbondale, CO
Mar 29, 2013

Shawn Mitchell wrote:
Anyone who climbs around for more than a few years has some encounters with the gods of the sport. Not many ballers get to shoot hoops with Lebron, Jordan, or Jerry West. Another reason climbing is special.


whole heartily agreed


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By gary ohm
From Paso Robles
Mar 29, 2013

Mark Hudon wrote:
Get in Aligator wrestling shape

That is an awesome visual... How long did it take you to get there??


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By "Pass the Pitons" Pete Zabrok
From Oakville, Ontario
Mar 29, 2013
Left to right - me, Sam Adams, Thomas Huber, Alex Huber

Hmmmmm. I'm not sure I necessarily agree with the alligator wrestling bit.

I have pretty much made a wall career out of climbing off the couch. Because I have the experience, and mostly because I have my systems dialled - remember that the Better Way is not the only way, it is merely whatever works best for you - I am pretty much able to walk up to the base of the wall in the spring, and knock it off. But it's wall climbing, and I seem to be able to get away with being a Wall Geezer.

I sure can't say the same thing about free climbing! I have done almost none in the last decade, and I'm really not very good at it any more. When I was good at it, I really was in alligator wrestling shape, and it was pretty much a full-time obsession, with regular training and so on.

The last few years I haven't really done any training at all, except that I will do 24-hour caving trips about once a month down in Kentucky where we're exploring and surveying. So I would maintain a general level of fitness, but nothing climbing or wall specific.

But I have to realize that I am far from immortal - and you need merely examine my ankle to see that - and that I probably can't keep getting away with it for ever. So this New Year's, I decided that I ought to start off right, so I have cut down on the beers and junk food, and I've started running.

I don't like running. At least, I didn't used to. I would run too far and too fast, and I would be sore and tired the next day. This year, I started out gradually, with short runs but almost every day. Guess what? It doesn't hurt. Today I just ran 6.1 km [about 4 miles], and that is my fourth four-mile run in five days. Guess what? It doesn't hurt. Because I've worked my way up. My best time this week was 30:59, so not really fast, but not dragging my lard ass either.

Speaking of which, my dad and I and friend are getting ready for our annual ten-day canoeing and fishing trip in Algonquin Park in northern Ontario - great lake trout and speckled trout fishing. I was looking at photos of me this time last year, and I was looking rather, ahem, portly around the middle. That is certainly gone this year, so that's one good thing.

But what is really annoying is, why is it so motherfucking hard to lose weight??? I mean, frig! I'm out running four motherfucking miles, but do you think I'm more than like six pounds lighter than I was at New Year's?? What's with that? I don't get it. Of course the last time I really bothered watching my weight I was in my 30's, and it seemed to drop off pretty quickly and easily. But now that I'm in my 50's, why won't it go away? Like, I'm actually trying and stuff. I'm not eating that much, I'm watching what I eat.

Anyway, the good news is that in two months I go on the El Cap Diet, and by the time I finish I'll be fit, and it'll be time to go home. Certainly, though, it will feel easier schlepping the pigs to the base this year after all the running. Or at least I hope it will!

And whatever Mark Hudon has to say about the words above will carry absolutely no weight nor have any credibility in my book, because he is the skinniest little bugger I have ever seen, and I am always jealous of him for that!


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By Mark Hudon
Mar 29, 2013
On the North America Wall in 1977.

Shawn, thanks but don't make too much of it. I'm your average, everyday, weenie in more ways than one!

PM me about getting into Alligator Wrestling shape. Generally though, Big Wall climbing take a lot of all body strength. You have to twist and pull and push in awkward positions and have to do it for multiple days. It's not that big of a deal but you'll hurt less and enjoy it more along the way if you're in good shape.


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By logan johnson
From West Copper, Co
Mar 29, 2013
Flakey Pull Roof v5

Put geezer in the topic and all of the ST guys come out of the woodwork, that's kinda funny.
I have to admit that all of the wall guys I look up to seem to be over 40.


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By "Pass the Pitons" Pete Zabrok
From Oakville, Ontario
Mar 30, 2013
Left to right - me, Sam Adams, Thomas Huber, Alex Huber

Hmmm, interesting thought about the full body workout. That's exactly what you get in caving. When you are pushing your body through miles of passage, much of it awkward or crawly or really really small, you use muscles you forgot you had. Same with wall climbing - things hurt, things you never knew existed. Maybe the two are good cross-training.

Another thought I had was I remember my free climbing partner John Kaandorp from back in the day, he was a great runner. Could run a marathon off the couch pretty much. Maybe still can. He used to say that when you do a long run, your legs and your lungs should both give out about the same time.

Now when I go for a run, because I've worked my way up, NEITHER gives out. I feel just fine afterwards. Isn't that a novel concept? But I still need a week of recovery time between walls. I usually come down feeling pretty trashed.


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By Jeremy Aslaksen
From Albuquerque, NM
Apr 8, 2013

Psyche and MOTIVATION are KEY.

The rest falls into place.

Also helps if you don't bail.

Then again...Paul is still 20 years older than I am...same with Mark.

;-)

JA


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By Arlo F Niederer
From Fort Collins, CO
Apr 15, 2013

Hi Shawn:

I seem to get the big wall bug every 5-7 years, starting in 1975.

My last trip was in 2010. Found a partner of similar "vintage" on Mountain Project and agreed to do an extended trip to the valley.

I'm always "up" for a wall and stay in shape all the time now...much harder to get back in shape now than just stay that way. Climbed almost 50 days last year...

So if you're looking for a potential partner, drop me a line. I'm retired so I have time on my hands...


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