Matthew's Blog on 27 Crags

Matthew Tschippert has published 5 blog posts since he started blogging over 3 years ago.

Published about 3 years ago by Matthew Tschippert.

Its about to be that time of the year for me where it is comp after comp, week after week. This past weekend, I kicked things off with Climb Norths spring competition. They decided to move things up this year due to several kids headed to divisionals for the ABS and they wanted to give them another competition as practice.

Justin trying not to breakdown standing next to Brett Keisel

Justin trying not to cry next to Brett Keisel.

This was just a small competition with mostly local climbers however. Among the visitors were Aaron (from the other climbing wall in Pittsburgh) and Phil (visiting home from Hawaii). Then of course Joey and Hayley from Climb North were there and several other home gym climbers. Brett Keisel of the Pittsburgh Steelers (NFL Team for the international who I am pretending actually read this blog) also made an appearance and his beard alone would have won the competition if he were to have entered. Jackson, an up-and-coming kid from Ohio showed up too to kick some butt in his division.



During the actual competition, true to climb north style, the problems were hard and sandbagged as all hell. The hardest send of the comp was a V4? In the real world, it would have been a slopey problem somewhere around V7 with the beta ended up being used. The intended beta is still way harder. Many of the problems set will remain unsent for a while as well. The style of the gym is also atypical of most gyms these days. A lot more emphasis is placed on delicate power. If I got to Sport Rock, the harder problems usually have big moves with crazy core tension. Here it is make the dead point to crappy holds and hope you aren't sweating. There were two really hard problems, one pictured with Joey on the "V" wall and another on the 20 degree layback with black tape. I don't know which one is harder, but both were pretty crazy.


Joey on the really hard "V" wall problem.

Phil, Aaron and I pretty much stuck together for the competition and all worked the same problems. It was a fun time and I'm glad they both came out for the competition.

Phil from Hawaii

Phil who got agonizingly close on this problem several times but never sending.

In the end, Hayley took the women's 1997 youth football trophy home and I grabbed the 1999 one, both from Justin's closet for Top Male/Female climber awards.

Hayley and I

All photos courtesy of Tim and Justin's cameras. Brett Keisel's beard is property and trademark of Brett Keisel.

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Published about 3 years ago by Matthew Tschippert.

From September 5th:

Finals #3

The pain in my hands. The agony of my body being worked and torn. The pressure of hundreds of eyes weighing down on me. The cute girl watching who I am trying to impress. The fear of failure. All of this is racing through my head. 30 seconds left on the clock, enough for one more go. Pulling on to the wall, every thought disappears. Screaming and grunting with every move, it all comes down to this. One last jump with everything I have left and I am at the top. The crowd cheers and, for a second, I am above everyone. I let go. Now, it is on to problem number 2.

I have been looking forward to this competition for months, training to be at my peak when the time comes. I was climbing every single day in the gym, working my body to perfection, training on a 45 degree overhung wall grabbing the worst holds imaginable. To top things off, I am going with a cute girl who just got back from a 3 month stay in Colorado so, naturally, I need to be able to do as many one-arm pull-ups as possible. The time has finally come and we are off to Alexandria, Virginia for “Beat the Heat 7,” a climbing competition being hosted by the Sport Rock Climbing Center. I walk in and the gym is magnificent, three times the size of the dinky facility I train at, filled with hundreds of short climbing routes called boulder problems ranging in difficulty from that of a step ladder to something comparable to a spider trying to get out of a porcelain bathtub. The ones I am interested in are the ones hard enough to get me into finals.

For 3 hours, I climbed my hardest. I got to the point where it was conceivable to make finals. However, one thing stood out, a blemish on my scorecard, a mid-range problem that I used as a warm-up was still a part of my top-5 ranked climbs. I had to get rid of it. There are 30 minutes left and one climb I keep falling off the last move. This route will boost my score by 300 points and make finals a sure thing. Try after try, I throw myself at the white-tape marked holds. The crux revolved around a small jump to a horribly sloping hold that I had to control while my body wretched and twisted sideways. Every attempt I can feel my oblique strain and my shoulder flex and every time attempt I pop off the wall just when I thought I had held on. My body aches and time is running out. Another shot remains and… nothing. “Climbers, turn in your scorecard!” The waiting game begins.

Finals #2

There is about an hour before finals and those who qualified will be informed they made it about 30 minutes prior and have to go into isolation where they stay warmed up and out of sight of the 3 final problems. Jeremy, the head route-setter for the competition, jumps on the microphone and begins reading off names. “Taylor, David, Jeremy, Chris, Matt, Erin.” I did not quite hear my first name. My last name, however, and the inevitable stuttering trying to pronounce it, was unmistakable. I made finals. Unfortunately, my body was in shambles. I have to use the next 30 minutes or so to rest and recover. My bicep cramps when I go to take a drink from my Gatorade, my side is sore by just moving, and my fingers are missing at least two layers of skin which is enough to see blood near the surface. When we go out, we have five minutes for each route and we are not allowed to look at the problem before it is our turn. Simple enough. I qualified in 5th so I am second to go. Looking at the crowd I can see the movement in their eyes and I can hear the screams and the falls from behind me. It is my turn. I step up. I look the problem over. I shut my brain off. I suck up the pain. I go.

On the five hour car ride home, I reflect. Replaying the events of the day, I go through a checklist in my head: “Did I have fun?” Yes. “Did I push myself to my limit?” Undoubtedly. My result did not matter. I was able to learn about myself, make new friends, and achieve a kind of clairvoyance that cannot be written in words. Tonight I sleep; tomorrow brings school and another chapter in life.

*Photos by Brian Chu

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Published about 3 years ago by Matthew Tschippert.
Cleaning Bandersnatch

So if there was ever a problem that fit me perfectly, Bandersnatch in Johnstown was it.

I first saw this problem back in June, on my first trip out to Johnstown with Joel. Of the things we wanted to jump on were Minotaur V11 and Bandersnatch V11/12. After warming up and being slightly lost, we made our way to Minotaur first. Joel almost climbed this proud line, falling head first into me, his spotter, after getting into an awkward position at the top out.

We decided to go elsewhere and explored the area. Super concentrated, high quality, best rock in western Pennsylvania, rock everywhere. I think the average grade of the area is somewhere around V8. We walked over to Bandersnatch, which we coincidentally passed on our way in, and Joel decided to give it a try. It's on a 20 degree wall and it starts on a low left hand sharp crimp and a slightly higher right hand sloping edge. It then powers up right to a sharp crimp. From here, one has to get a left hand foot match on a sloper next to the starting crimp and then power off that foot and grab a two/three finger, half pad side-pull at full extension. This move looked hard and proved impossible for the day. After gaining the side-pull, you then have to toss out and right for a good pocket.

I didn't jump on the problem this day because I was already spent. However, it was on my to do list.

November 17th, I returned with a friend, Joseph Pannell, to show him the area. We warmed up and headed over to Bandersnatch. It looked more aesthetic to me than it did my previous visit. What's more is that after giving a few shots, the problem seemed doable. First attempt, I got up to the crux move. I worked it for about 20 minutes and then had Joe powerspot me to see what the hold felt like. It was difficult just to stay on the wall. I could feel every muscle in my back and arms squeeze to keep me from falling. I eyed up the dyno afterwards and jumped down. The last move dyno was the least of my worries and felt easy and tame. I tried the crux move a few more times and slapped the crimp but wasn't even close to holding on. But I did feel the edge of it and knew what had to be done for the move to go. So I walked around and rest for 5-10 minutes and talked with my friends and they tried the problem a bit.

I digress for a second and want to talk about a project of mine at Coopers. Right next to Qaid, a classic V2 on Moby's Dick Tier 1 is a blank face. It has approximately 1 slopey pocket, 1 side pull, and a right foot and a big move to a half good, flat, pocket/edge (the left side is good but the right side slopes out.) The set up move requires grabbing the slopey left and pocket with the quarter pad, 3 finger, right hand side pull, using a tiny, right facing foot, and dead pointing to the big pocket which sits about 8 feet off the ground. This move is hard. I've worked it for a few days and almost stuck the pocket once. However, the set up move is almost exactly the same as the dyno on bandersnatch at the end (if not a little harder) The only real difference is, the left hand on bandersnatch is better, but i have to move into the "setup" dynamically (which is the crux of bandersnatch.)

Getting back to Bandersnatch, not having even done the crux move I decide to go from the start again. I told myself to just not let go. I sat down and felt up the crimp with my left for the start. When I was ready, I pulled up and made the first move. Easy. I brought my left foot up to the sloper next to my left hand and, after a short moment of doubt, went for it. I grabbed the sidepull and my entire body started to pull away from the wall. I rarely yell when I climb and I think the entire forest heard me. I held on and with my eyes shut I squeezed. This move was at my limit and with everything I had, I held on. The next move was right there. The pocket, an "easy" toss right and it would all be over. I felt weak as I threw for it but I still managed to get my hand on the jug and let out another yell.

I topped out the problem. I walked down the boulder and said "I think I just broke the double digit barrier." It took the rest of the day and a few beers for the accomplishment to hit me. I just want to get back outside and climb more. First V11, check.

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Published about 3 years ago by Matthew Tschippert.
Matthew Tschippert on Razor Arete

Cooper's Rock is a quiet area nestled in the mountains outside of Morgantown. It is just a small sample of the rock waiting to be discovered but it's quality is still excellent. Development started decades ago with old school climbers going at it trying to out do each other. This battle led to downgrade after downgrade and eventually left the area with a reputation of being notoriously hard. (Whether the grades are sandbagged or not is for you to decide.) About 10 years ago, a group of climbers went through and established some of the forests harder lines. One of these lines, Razor Arete, is a problem of pronounced beauty and excellence.

When walking around Tilted Tree, this line stands out. The boulder is jutting out of the hillside; it is tall and proud.

For 2 Years I worked this line, always falling on the same move, a low percentage move to gain a two finger crimp. My foot would slip. I wouldn't be able to reach. I would be too low. Several times I would be able to grab it but I wouldn't have the strength left to get my heel up for the next, and last, hard move. The one time I did get my heel up, I dry fired off a V2 move at the top while trying to get a high smear.

It got to the point where I just didn't care about the problem. I tended to avoid it. The only times I would attempt it were to show other people the beta.

When I was at Cooper's September, I was with a person named Issac who was new to the Pittsburgh area. I dragged him down to Cooper's to show him some of the boulders. When we got to Razor Arete, I was completely against trying it. I didn't want to waste my energy and we just got done working another problem in a different area of the forest. He was able to convince me to give it a try.

From the sit, I moved effortlessly through the intro moves as they had been wired in my head after 50+ attempts on this problem. I came to the move that always kicked me off and I was able to grab the crimp first try. From here, I knew the problem would be over if I just kept it together. I brought my heel up and did the next toss to the side pull. I got my foot smear. I grabbed on to the next sharp hold. My hands were now frozen and I reached for the top on the non-existent foot. The problem was over and I climbed my first "V9" and I almost want to downgrade it.

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Published over 3 years ago by Matthew Tschippert.

Today I made my first trip out to Coll's Cove with Joel, Pete, Mike, and two people I met there. I originally contemplated going because it had rained the night before and there was no way of knowing if it was dry or not. However, sending temps came in this weekend putting an end to constant 90 degree temperatures and it was definitely worth crawling out of bed to go there.

It was a mellow drive. I missed two turns. Didn't really take too much time correcting that and I arrived shortly after everyone else. Our first objective was finding the main area with the "hot-off the computer printer" guide books. 20 pages of Guidebook v0.3. The actual guidebook is still in development and is anywhere from 3 months to 3 years away. On our hike in, we ended up missing the first main turn in due to tall grass covering it and ended up bushwhacking 100 yards later to meet up with the same trail. We found some tree markers and were well on our way.

About 5 minutes of walking later, we came to the start of the Main Area and it is promising. We immediately went for a decent warm up boulder and on our way scoped out the area classic Stingray. Definitely put that on our agenda. We reach the YouTube boulder and immediately started climbing everything and anything. We knocked off all of the "established" problems, ie in the guidebook, and then started doing link-ups and eliminates, and contrivances. There was also one project listed that started on two terrible slopey edges and moved into an undercling feature you had to catch with your thumb. Not my cup of tea. Joel ended up firing that one off and point out a dyno in the middle of the face. It was a huge move from good edges, okay feet, to a sloper over the slight bulge. I ended up using low feet and pogo to nail the sloper. FA of Call Me Maybe (it is the Youtube boulder afterall) and the grade is similar to that of Sloper Dyno at Cooper's. Harder to hit, but easier to stick. V4+/V5 seems about right.

While climbing at the Youtube boulder, the rest of our party arrived and we decided to head up to the boulder we passed on our way in which containted Stringray, the Croc Hunter boulder. We set up our pads and dove into the hole for the start of the problem. A few weeks I realized how inflexible my IT-bands are. This boulder problem did not help much. It required a far left heel hook and a far right toe. Not something I do everyday. After a few tries I had to give up on the start. I tried it from 2 moves in and everything went nicely. I decided to do the stand start (which was two moves further in), which I flashed, and try my hand at the right arete, Croc Hunter. On my first burn, I move slowly and cautiously through the first pocket and slopers. There wasn't much to get my heel and but I forced myself to trust it. Sure enough, my feet were. I ended up campusing the crux move of the problem. However, moving as slowly as I did caught up to me and I could not hit the jug on the next move. Took a small rest and fired the route second go, this time with my feet on (it makes a difference.)

Shortly after I did Croc Hunter, I was looking at the problem again and thought about manteling over the arete and finishing up the slabby face. Fun fun problem. Short and requires a lot of leg strength. Alligator V2. I jump down from that and around the same time, Joel starts walking up Stingray from the sit. Likely the 3rd or 4th ascent of that classic. (Not too sure)

We all decided to move on and Mike and Pete gave us a tour of the area. First stop was the Sharma Stats Project and Bloody Hatchet. The project is hard. I've seen some hard climbs and this is harder. Whats nice is there are actually holds though so it isn't just a blank face. It's hard. We threw ourselves at that for a bit and Joel and Mike were able to do one move. Sort of. It gets kind of fuzzy after that point. After about 20 minutes, we move the pads for Bloody Hatchet, a feature that juts off the top of the nearby slab. Mike ran up it first. I followed suit. Joel flew up last. It was originally given a V7. I think that might change. The down climb was sketchier than the climb and probably about as hard when you are trying not to step in mud with your climbing shoes.

After our escapades on the project, we ran around while Pete and Mike just showed up climbs in the main area. We saw some ridiculously aesthetic lines that eventually led to a decision where Joel and I stayed behind while Mike, Pete, and the rest of the group went to develop across the ridge. When we split, our first stop was Like the Dickens, a roof climb that follows a seem out to a lip encounter. I was not too keen on starting all the way in the back so I just worked on the original start. I ended up getting all the moves and am saving it for another day. On the same boulder, there was a lip traverse. On my first go, I made it to the end and fell on the last move. On my second go, I got pumped out 3/4's of the way through.

Next up was a problem Nathan Walker put up at a V10 hidden in a corridor. My gymrat hands started to disagree with me about here. Joel worked it from the start. Meanwhile, I climbed the V1 slab behind us. For about 30 minutes, we stayed in this corridor discussing beta for the V10 and attempting various things before moving on to Sir Mantlelot and Rattle Battle. Like the name suggests, Sir Mantlelot is a mantle. It goes at a V8 and has an obvious sit project that is probably in the neighborhood of the difficulty of the sharma status boulder. Conceivable but not in the ballpark of what I can climb. I tried the mantle several times but to no avail. Just scraped up arms. We had better luck on Rattle Battle and were able to do all of the moves. It is an overhanging V7 with slots all angled the wrong way. It is a pretty cool climb and I will definitely be back to tick this one off.

Somewhere in between going from Sir Mantlelot and Rattle Battle, we bushwhacked up to the cliff line and started walking around. Despite only being 50-70 foot climbs, they are all on pristine and clean rock. It is all dead vertical or slightly overhanging and very contrary to most of the climbing in the region where you get blocky overhanging cliffs such as at parts of the New River Gorge or Ohiopyle or the several other places in the immediate region. The cliff line stretches on for a couple hundred yards and it is all just solid rock hosting hundreds of potential lines. It just makes you want to rappel down with a drill and go at it. Although, theres a problem with that which I will not get into details in this blog. On top of the immaculate walls, the top of the cliff line is maybe 30-40 feet above the tree tops and offers a spectacular view of the endless forest and mountains (more like hills) of South Western Pennsylvania.

When we got done exploring, we went to warm down on some easier problems around the thumb-wrestling boulder. I did Thumb-wrestling, Joel ran laps of moderate variations on another boulder, and we headed out.

I shall return in about two weeks weather permitting as I have a competition next weekend at Sport Rock in Alexandria. We will see about photos and more.

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