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Kevin Parker

Article by Peter Sancianco

For as long as I’ve been climbing, I’ve used Black Diamond’s ATC-Guide as my go to belay device. The durable, tried and true design has been great from the day I learned how to belay. As an avid outdoor climber who is starting to get into multi-pitch climbs, I’m still discovering new uses for it as I’ve begun to belay seconding climbers. After 10 years of climbing and belaying, It has been a great investment and I thank the Rhode Island Rock Gym (Rock Spot Climbing’s original name) employee who told me that if I was thinking of climbing outdoors, the Black Diamond ATC-Guide was the belay device for me.

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There are no features on the ATC-Guide you won’t appreciate. The dual belay tubes are great for setting up a rappel and their large diameter easily accommodates everything you’ll be belaying on from thick, crusty gym ropes to lightweight sport ropes. This doesn’t reduce friction for braking as each belay tube is equipped with both a regular and high friction end. The high friction end in particular narrows significantly with ridged teeth to arrest the descent of the most ambitious climber taking the gnarliest of whips on lightweight, small diameter rope. The ATC-Guide differs from the ATC-XP with the addition of an anchor point and a release for belaying a second climber from the top of a pitch. The guide mode is important for multi-pitch climbs. Mastering the proper setup and technique for belaying from the top of a pitch will allow for some incredible and unique outdoor climbing experiences.

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In my experience, the ATC-Guide has been a great investment. While I’ve purchased other belay devices throughout the years, it is still my most trusted piece of equipment. It’s taken everything I’ve thrown at it and is by far the most useful tool in my entire climbing gear set. The newer models of the ATC-Guide are lighter than previous models and there are a great selection of colors to choose from. As a friendly employee once told me, “If you’re looking to purchase a belay device and are thinking of climbing outdoors, the Black Diamond ATC-Guide is the belay device for you.”

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Peter Sancianco is our Regional Marketing Assistant for Rhode Island

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Article by Kim Dallas

Have you ever wondered what it takes to be a route setter? In this edition of “Climbers of Rock Spot”, we sat down with Keith Nadeau, assistant head route setter and assistant coach at Rock Spot to learn a little more about what he does, how setting for B3 will be different than a normal reset, and why he eats sardines after climbing.

Don’t forget B3 is going down in South Boston on April 2nd! Registration is still open for competitors and spectators so get your tickets today. You won’t want to miss out! Check out the link below for more info:

 http://rockspotclimbing.com/b3/

Unless otherwise noted, all photos courtesy of Brian Lewis Photography: https://brianlewis.photo

https://www.facebook.com/Brianmatthewlewisphotography

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Q: What is your official title and what exactly do you do?

A: My title at Rock Spot is assistant head route setter/assistant coach. The work is interesting because every day is something different. I oversee all of the setting and wall maintenance in the two Boston locations. With so many walls, we have organized resets happening about every other week with a team of setters. It is a fun challenge to work as a team to try and produce the best quality climbs possible. When large resets aren’t happening, I set rope climbs and do maintenance projects to keep the gym healthy. I also help coach the gyms’ competitive youth team twice a week at practice and occasional outdoor climbing trips. My goal is to help them improve and achieve their goals while still making sure they enjoy the experience of climbing.

Q: How did you get into climbing and route setting?

A: I started climbing at Carabiners Indoor Climbing in 2009 and soon after started working there as floor staff. I was so interested in climbing that I was there all the time trying to improve. I started learning about setting by stripping routes on their walls. I spent 6 months just stripping routes and getting to know how to be efficient on the wall. Always inquiring about setting, they eventually were sick of me bugging them and gave in. Since then, I have been consistently setting at different gyms and climbing indoors/outdoors.

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Q: What are your favorite kind of routes to set?

A: If I had to pick, I would say climbs with dynamic movement. I personally really enjoy the coordination and strength needed for large moves. As a setter, I do think it is important to test yourself by setting all styles. I like the challenge of setting climbs that I know are my weakness because it can only make me a more versatile climber and setter.

Q: How long does it take to set a route? Can you walk us through the process?

A: The time it takes to set a climb depends on many factors. The length of the climb determines how many grips you will need. A 10 foot climb will of course take less time than a 40 foot climb. Trying to force interesting movement can take time because it requires extra thought and making constant small changes. Also, setters with little experience will usually set slower than an experienced setter. For me, a boulder problems takes between 10 – 40 minutes to set and a rope climb takes 30 – 45 minutes. There are many different ways to approach setting a climb; finding the location and an idea of grade/style is agood starting point and then you can select which grips to use. I like the grips to all have something in common. To set the climb, I like to think first about the movement I want to force, and where the holds should go on the wall. It is the setter’s job to create a fun/safe climb and also make the wall look nice by not leaving blank spaces on the wall.

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Photo: Rock Spot Climbing

Q: Will setting for B3 be any different than setting for a regular reset?

A: Setting for competition is always different than a regular reset. We will be setting the entire gym instead of just one third of it. Also, the finals round needs to be set with specific grades for each division. It is very important that the climbs follow a master plan for the competition to run smoothly. The climbs need to be fun to watch but not unreasonable to be climbed by competitors.

Q: What advice do you have for someone who wants to get into route setting?

A: To get into route setting you need to be prepared to work hard and be motivated to improve. Stripping routes is the best way to get started and learn about the tools and work environment. Most gyms have a team of setters already, so it may take a while to get a spot. Once you have setting experience you become much more valuable to gyms as a setter. It is important to work on efficiency and consistently setting climbs the gym members enjoy. It is better for the gym to have routes the customers like and can climb than to set yourself a project that only you are interested in. Lastly, be open to harsh criticism. It can be surprising what some people will say about climbs they don’t like. Try to stay positive and listen to complaints.

Q: Where is your favorite place to climb?

A: I love experiencing different climbing areas but my favorite is Pawtuckaway State Park in southern New Hampshire. I have been climbing there consistently for the last four years and I still feel lucky to be there every time I go. The park is very large and has many unique areas to discover. The climbing ranges from easier than V0 up to V13 with classics at all grades. There is more than I could climb in a lifetime so I know I will challenge myself there for a long time to come.  

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Q: What’s your biggest accomplishment in climbing and/or route setting?

A: The aspect I like most about climbing is that it is endless. The second I get down from finishing a project my thoughts turn to the next climb. Reading through the New England Bouldering guide book quickly became a challenge to see how many climbs I could check off. This means somedays I’ll go out and climb the best problems and other days I’ll be bush whacking to some obscure 6 foot tall pebble to check it off. It makes for fun adventures and I get to do climbs seldom done. I’d say my biggest accomplishment is browsing my guide book and reminiscing over all the time spent doing what I love. For setting I got a chance to go to a setting clinic at the Rock Spot Peace Dale location. It was a two day clinic that taught us different techniques and ideas about route setting. The clinic opened my eyes to how much there is to learn and progress as a setter which felt like an accomplishment in itself.

Q: What’s your favorite post-climb meal?

A: My favorite meal after climbing is unfortunately sardines. I know the smell is not ideal, but they are good for recovering after a workout. Usually I have them in a salad with avocado and other veggies.

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Q: Do you have any projects you’re working on?

A: I always seem to have projects I am working on. This year in particular I tried an amazing problem called Stand and Deliver V11 [in Pawtuckaway]. I tried the climb for 9 days and felt like I learned a lot about myself. It requires very subtle balance and technique using pancake style slopers on a perfect arête. I also projected the climbs Halcyon V11 and Confident Man V11 [in Pawtuckaway] which are beautiful classics I am determined to do this fall.

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Kim Dallas is our Regional Marketing Assistant for Massachusetts

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Article by Kim Dallas

In this edition of Climbers of Rock Spot, we caught up with Kevin Parker, one of the B3 finalists in the Pro division and a recent Harvard graduate, to find out more about his climbing background and how he juggled training and being a full time student.

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Q:  Great job at B3! What was it like to compete in the finals?

A:  It was a lot of fun! I haven’t been to that many comps that have an actual finals (or really that many competitions at all, for that matter), so it’s a little nerve-wracking having to climb in front of everyone. But I had a great time climbing in finals and the comp as a whole!

Climbers of Rock Spot: Kevin Parker

Q:  How long have you been climbing and how did you first get into the sport?

A:  I’ve been climbing for 5 years or so. Technically, I first got into rock climbing when I was in elementary school through an after-school program at a local climbing gym (I’m from Seattle). When I was a kid, we used to go to these beaches on the coast of Washington that had a lot of huge pieces of driftwood that I loved to climb on. Soon after, my parents signed me up for a climbing program. I only did it for a year and didn’t really climb again until the end of high school when a few friends and I would go climbing every so often after school. When I got to college, I made a few friends freshman year that were really strong climbers. They got me psyched to start to take climbing more seriously and I’ve been climbing regularly since then!

Climbers of Rock Spot: Kevin Parker

 

Q:  When you’re not climbing, where can you be found?

A:  Aside from classes, I end up spending a lot of time in lab.  I’ve worked in a research laboratory in the department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology at Harvard for the past few years.  Our lab studies neurological disorders, and I’ve been involved with a project looking at the neurons involved in narcolepsy (which is a disease that causes excessive sleepiness).

Q: If you could spend the day bouldering with anyone, who would it be?

A:  Hmm. That’s a tough one…non-climber, maybe Bill Gates? Try to do a little fundraising for the Harvard climbing team, you know. And his foundation is doing a lot of interesting work. Otherwise, I think climbing with Jimmy Chin would be really cool – he’s done a lot of crazy stuff, not only in climbing and mountaineering but also skiing.  And I would love to get tips on climbing photography, which I’ve been getting into the past couple of years.

Q:  Do you prefer to boulder or do you enjoy other styles of climbing?

A:  I feel like I would enjoy sport climbing a lot, except I’m pretty bad at it…I’m not good at being disciplined enough to sport climb regularly, so I’m almost never in good enough shape to really feel like I’m sport climbing as well as I could. I love the Red River Gorge though. And I’ve never done any alpine or trad climbing. I’m into ski mountaineering though, not really sure if that counts as climbing.

Climbers of Rock Spot: Kevin Parker

 

Q:  What has been your biggest accomplishment in climbing? How about your biggest challenge?

A:  I think the thing that I’m most proud of in climbing is helping to start the climbing team at Harvard. A friend and I started the climbing team our sophomore year in college, and it’s been an amazing experience to be able to see the team grow over the past couple of years. We’ve been able to introduce people to climbing who might not have climbed otherwise, and it’s exciting to see people come together and become really good friends (and to now see the team continue on after us initial members are graduating)! In terms of challenges, I’m kind of bad at just mentally trying hard on climbs – really gritting down and holding on during hard moves. I’m also bad at top outs…I complain a lot about scary top outs. Also down climbs. I do get a little freaked out by heights/lack of protection every so often when bouldering.

Q: Besides the obvious, like staying in shape, how do you feel climbing has helped you?

A:  Climbing has been a great stress release for me. Even if I’m stressed or in a bad mood, I’m always able to relax when climbing – there’s something about being on the wall that makes it really easy to just focus on just climbing and nothing else. Climbing provides a good balance to everything else that’s going on, like classes or papers or problem sets. I think it’s important to have the time to get away from classes or work, or whatever it is, and just climb.

Q: What is your go-to climbing snack?

A:  Definitely granola. I love granola. Pretty sure I’ve tried every type of granola there is at Whole Foods; I’ve been accused of being a granola snob. (Bola Granola is pretty fantastic!)

Climbers of Rock Spot: Kevin Parker

 

Q: Congrats on graduating from Harvard! What are your plans for after college?       

A:  Thank you! I’ll be at Stanford next year, joining the Biosciences PhD program in the department of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine (and will also be climbing a lot!).

Q: What advice do you have for someone who wants to climb in college?       

A:  I think there’s two things that have helped me climb well in college.  First, having a great group of friends to climb with – at the end of the day, we all help push each other to climb harder and reach our goals, and climbing is way more fun with other people! If I hadn’t started climbing with other people that were significantly better than me back when I started climbing (and stealing their beta!), I don’t think I would have been able to improve much over the past few years. Second, for me at least, committing the time to climb regularly, even when I’m busy, is somehow less stressful than just trying to fit it in around other things. I generally like having a somewhat regular schedule, but it’s been really helpful to more or less go climbing at the same times each week, just because those times are already blocked off and I know that I don’t need to worry about whatever things are due or coming up. And when there’s a really bad week, I’ll take the week off, but generally try to stick to a pretty regular climbing schedule aside from that.

Climbers of Rock Spot: Kevin Parker

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Big thanks to Kevin for taking the time to chat with us! To see more content from B3, check out the links below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CfiFzpAmYZw

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10154204231553678.1073741861.45126043677&type=3

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Article by Peter Sancianco

Imagine being both a teacher and a student while nurturing a young daughter and starting a climbing salve company while still finding time to push yourself and other female climbers to have the confidence to elevate their climbing game. This is the life of Kristin Re, one of our most ambitious climbing community leaders.

In this edition of “Climbers of Rock Spot,” we sat down with the young co-founder of “The Jam” climbing salves to find a little more about what it’s like to be in her climbing shoes.

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Kristin Re with Team Rock Spot - RI Head Coach Sean Hannon at the 2016 Boston Boulder Brawl (B3)

Q: Congratulations on starting a climbing salve company! We’re so excited to be carrying the Jam at our locations. What is your most memorable experience throughout the process of starting your own company?

A: Thanks! How it began was really cool - We had always made cookies for our friends for Christmas, and I suggested we do something different that year. We landed on trying to make salves for everyone, since all of our friends are climbers. As we began doing so, we thought we could do something more with them, and we ended up making two different formulas and having our friends test them and provide us with feedback. 

Q: What do you feel is the most challenging aspect of starting your own company?

A: Getting your brand out there. It’s been difficult to break into new, unfamiliar communities with the salves; but, you don’t get anywhere without persistence, so I am focusing on that right now. 

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Kristin Re on ‘Pond Cave Traverse’ in Lincoln Woods State Park, RI (The Woods)

Q: How did you get into climbing?

A: My friend, Pete, had begun climbing with an acquaintance of mine, who is now my husband. Pete kept telling me how much I would love it, and when I finished my Master’s program, I finally went and absolutely fell in love. I mostly climbed top ropes in the gym, but then began bouldering outside. I would climb 5 or 6 days a week for hours at a time.

Q: Do you feel that climbing has helped you in other aspects of your life besides being active and physically fit? If so, do you have any examples?

A: Absolutely. I think climbing has changed my life. Before climbing, I had interests, but most of them revolved around Education and learning. Climbing provided me with new meaning; it enabled me to discover and tap into a new part of myself. Climbing has also introduced me to my best friends - a group of people who are like-minded, fun, and incredibly caring and generous. The community that I am lucky enough to be a part of is one of optimism and support. In addition, climbing has shown me that I really can accomplish new feats, despite how difficult they may seem. 

Q: Kristin, as a mother, an entrepreneur, a student and a teacher, it must be difficult to find time for yourself. When you do find time, how do you spend it?

A: My husband recently told me that I’m stuck in a cycle of overachievement. I don’t often know how to slow down. Generally, when I have time, I go climbing, preferably outside. Having Lincoln Woods so close is wonderful because I can pop out there for a super quick session almost as easily as if I went to the gym. I love traveling to climb - I’ve climbed at almost all the major bouldering destinations in the US, and a couple abroad. I just got back from Bishop, where I spent a week with two of my favorite ladies. I am also very passionate about education and social justice. I’m working toward a doctorate in Education, focusing on social justice, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to combine all of my passions to teach climbing to women. 

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Kristin Re on top of ‘The Hunk’ in Bishop, CA

Q: What advice do you have for female climbers who have just started to climb and want to be strong climbers?

A: Keep climbing!!! Every time you climb, you will get stronger. In addition to that, getting beta and climbing with more experienced climbers will help improve your technique. When I started climbing, Jamie would constantly tell me what to do, and over time, muscle memory developed and I gained a sense of movement for climbing. Watch other people and try not to get discouraged. It’s a process, and a hard one at that. It will be worth it in the end. 

Q: Where is your favorite outdoor location to climb and why is it so special to you?

A: Bishop, CA. It is basically a playground of boulders with endless possibilities. The boulders in the Buttermilks are stunning pieces of granite surrounded by snowcapped mountains and desert flowers. They simultaneously make you feel small and one with the world. The scenery really is the best, but the climbing there is world-class. It is also where my husband proposed to me, as I topped out on a climb in the Buttermilks. 

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Kristin Re on ‘Buttermilk Stem’ in Bishop, CA

Q: What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment in climbing?

A: I remember going to Lincoln Woods in July one year, about 3 months after I began climbing, watching Jamie working Loadies Zen, a V6/7 on the Try Again boulder. I vividly recall thinking that I would never be able to climb such a difficult, crazy looking problem. He made it look graceful, but the crimps were tiny, and it was overhung. I remember even trying the first move later that year and even the next, and not being able to do it. This past fall, I sent that climb, and last week, I repeated it on my first try. It took me years, but knowing that I was able to climb what seemed like a White Whale to me is pretty incredible. I think it demonstrates climbing’s unique ability to inspire, surprise, and utterly amazing me. 

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Kristin Re on ‘Loadies Zen’ at the Woods

Q: Do you have any projects you’re working on?

A: I just sent New Dimension last week, which had been my project during this past season. I have my sights set on Diesel next, but am having difficulty reaching the block, so I think I may have to match a tiny crimp, which is hard because I have huge hands. I’m excited to work it now that the rain has stopped! 

Q: Finally, do you see climbing as a major part of your life in the future?

A: I can’t imagine my life without it. Jamie and I fantasize about opportunities to travel the world, climbing. Now, more than ever, I have ideas about promoting climbing for women and engaging in courses and retreats to promote female empowerment through climbing. I hope to be able to do more work with that in the future. 

We hope you enjoyed the interview. If you haven’t already signed up for Kristin’s Ladies Technique Clinic at our Lincoln location, follow this link before the class fills up:

https://app.rockgympro.com/b/widget/?a=offering&offering_guid=40bec2e9a8ea4a11abb6f6a9fd5f8af9&random=5732085a06063&iframeid=&mode=p

This is a great opportunity to meet other lady climbers and get technique and training tips from Kristin!

For more info on the Jam Salves, visit their Facebook profile and pick some up at your local Rock Spot Climbing location!

https://www.facebook.com/thejamsalves/

To learn more about Kristin, check out this essay she wrote for the climbing blog, Bouldering Babes:

https://boulderingbabes.com/2016/04/09/babies-and-boulders-a-personal-essay-by-kristin-re/#more-2014

Finally, please follow Kris’ Instagram profile here:

https://www.instagram.com/kclimbs/

Peter Sancianco is our Regional Marketing Assistant for Rhode Island

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Article by Peter Sancianco

We’re constantly amazed with all of the talented climbers that make up our incredible climbing community. In this edition of “Climbers of Rock Spot,” we sat down with Organic and FiveTen sponsored climber Lucy Humphreys, winner of this year’s female pro division of the Boston Boulder Brawl (B3).

After taking home $1,000 in cash, we thought we’d ask Lucy what it’s like to be a graduating student from the Rhode Island School of Design while being one of the strongest female climbers in the North East.

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Lucy Humphreys at the 2016 Boston Boulder Brawl (B3)

Q: Congratulations on your big win at the 2016 Boston Boulder Brawl! What is it like to win a bouldering competition like the B3?

Thank you! I had a blast at the Boulder Brawl this year! I loved the outdoor-style climbs in this one, which suited my strengths well! One of the great things about competing in the Northeast is that many women climb around the same level, so competitions can really be anybody’s game.

Q: How did you get into climbing?

A: I started climbing when I was six years old, on Twisters Climbing team in the San Francisco Bay Area! (I vaguely remember crying and being bumped up to the advanced team, but we won’t talk about that.) I mostly competed in the Youth USA Climbing competitions and took trips to Castle Rock, Yosemite, and Bishop with my family and team several times per year. Though I’ve always loved it, it really took the frequency at which I was climbing in New England for my outdoor ability to match up with my indoor.

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Q: Congratulations on graduating! That’s such an amazing accomplishment. Where did you attend classes and what was your major?

A: Thank you! I am just finishing up the last of my Degree Project work and couldn’t be more excited! I went to Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island where I studied Furniture and Object Design. The Class of 2016 Senior Show is on May 19th in case anyone wants to check it out!

Q: Do you feel that climbing has helped you in other aspects of your life besides being active and physically fit? If so, do you have any examples?

A: Absolutely! Climbing gave me a lot of confidence growing up, and continues to do so! I have never found a more supportive group of people than the climbing community, wherever I am. It’s such a great way to meet people and discover beautiful places! There are many amazing places I never would have had the pleasure of experiencing if not for climbing!

Q: When you’re not having a good climbing day, how do you divert your attention and unwind?

A: If I’m really not feeling a projecting day, I usually try to get in as many easy – moderate climbs as possible, or just get a training day in.

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Lucy Humphreys talking to fellow competitor, Bimini Horstmann in between climbs at the 2016 Boston Boulder Brawl (B3)

Q: What advice do you have for female climbers who have just started to climb and want to live up to or even surpass the example you have set?

A: Just climb! I am a firm believer in getting in as much millage as possible, inside and out. Though it’s important to cross train to avoid injury and keep muscle groups balanced, I think that for most people, a lot of progress can be made through just climbing. It’s also important to get out of your comfort zone, try things that aren’t your style, and give things a shot that are above your current grade range. It helps to try hard as much as possible, even it’s on something that’s easy for someone else.

Q: Where is your favorite outdoor location to climb and why is it so special to you?

A: Bishop, CA. This is where I first truly fell in love with outdoor climbing, and really learned to try hard outside. It was like a switch flipped, and I realized that for the previous 9 years, I had only been kind of trying hard! An amazing thing to finally catch on to. I even bought my first pair of downturned shoes in Bishop for the Ice Caves!

Q: What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment in climbing?

A: Though comps are fun, I am always most proud of my outdoor accomplishments. I recently sent Halcyon, a gorgeous V11 in Pawtuckaway. I am especially proud of this one because it’s a little out of my comfort zone, and not exactly my style. I never expected to send a V11 compression line, but I was able to do it after only two days of projecting which felt pretty good! I’m excited to expand my skill-set a little in climbing this upcoming season and get after some harder projects away from my typical style!

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Lucy Humphreys on ‘Halcyon’ (V11) in Pawtuckaway, NH

Q: Do you have any projects you’re working on?

A: I have my eye on some climbs on Speed Boulder in Great Barrington J

Q: Do you see climbing as a major part of your life in the future?

A: Absolutely! Expect to see me kicking around Bishop when I’m an old lady.

We hope you enjoyed the interview. We have an amazing Ladies Technique Clinic at Rock Spot Climbing - Lincoln on Monday, May 23 at 7pm for any female climber looking to elevate their game and connect with other climbers:

https://app.rockgympro.com/b/widget/?a=offering&offering_guid=40bec2e9a8ea4a11abb6f6a9fd5f8af9&random=573269d106bfa&iframeid&mode=p

Watch Lucy crush the Pro Finals Problems at the 2016 Boston Boulder Brawl along with all the pros here:
https://youtu.be/HJ6ZbXbT4zc

Check out Lucy’s amazing furniture at the free RISD Funiture Senior Exhibition Opening Reception on Thursday, May 19 from 6pm to 7:30pm or simply visit the Woods-Gerry Gallery at 62 Prospect Street in Providence, RI as the all the exhibits will remain displayed through the weekend:
https://events.risd.edu/event/furniture_senior_exhibition_opening_reception_854#.VzS9VBUrJqs

See Lucy take down Hueco Nightmares (V11) at Lincoln Woods, RI in this video from Height Films from 2014:
https://vimeo.com/91609571

Peter Sancianco is our Regional Marketing Assistant for Rhode Island

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