The International Climber’s Festival

This week’s article introduces a new author to our team; Mike’s wife, Janelle Anderson. Janelle has been climbing alongside Mike for 15 years now. She consistently climbs in the 5.12+ range, and occasionally 5.13-, despite often generously sacrificing her goals to give Mike the best chances on his projects. Janelle will be a regular contributor, so if any ladies out there have specific questions, send them her way….

Team Trango set off for Lander, WY last week to attend the International Climber’s Festival. This was the 21st annual festival and it has grown into something tremendous. This year’s lineup did not disappoint! I was overwhelmed with the prospects of meeting some of my heroes: Super strong women like Lynn Hill, Angie Payne, Paige Claassen and Sasha DiGiulian – all in one town – I was ready to be inspired!

Friday Sunrise at the Aspen Glades.

Friday Sunrise at the Aspen Glades.

In true Anderson fashion, we tried to find a nice balance between work and play. We had a busy schedule of Trango shoe demos, trade fair events, parties and climbing clinics so it was imperative to get out to the crag early. The alarm clock stings a little at 5:00am but the incredible sunrises and cool temps sure make for great limestone climbing. Not to mention, the hike to the crag was just gorgeous!

Approaching the Main Wall Friday morning...no rain yet!

Approaching the Main Wall Friday morning…no rain yet!

The wild flowers were stilly hanging on to the season.

The wild flowers were stilly hanging on to the season.

Normally, we would avoid climbing at a super-powerful crag like Wild Iris this late in our season (we’re about in our 6th or 7th week of our performance phase). In fact, we would normally have started our next training cycle by now. However, our Fall performance goals dictate starting our next cycle a bit later (early August), so we can stretch out our current cycle a little longer, and we plan to take some much-needed rest as well. As for Wild Iris, we were careful to avoid tweaky routes because this scenario (an extended performance phase) is when injuries are most likely. We stuck to routes we could redpoint in a couple goes, and avoided the monos. We had a great time climbing early Friday morning at the Main Wall before the biggest July rainstorm in memory hit around noon. We had a wet hike back, but otherwise climbed a lot. Mark and Kate were not so lucky, and were rained out at the Zorro Wall.

The "Rode Hard Wall" at Wild Iris - perfect Dolomite limestone.

The “Rode Hard Wall” at Wild Iris – perfect Dolomite limestone.

After climbing, it was time for business.

The crowd lined up to hear about the Rock Prodigy Training Center! j/k

The crowd lined up to hear about the Rock Prodigy Training Center! j/k

The rain didn’t stop any of the fun at the Trade Fair at the Lander City Park. The Trango tent was up and running right in the thick of things. The Rockprodigy Training Center was a huge draw and it was fun to talk with people who had never seen it before. It was definitely fondled by many…I mean, why not?! It’s a good looking piece of equipment! We really enjoyed meeting new people and sharing Trango products with them. Trango had prime real estate to witness all the fun; the crate stacking, tug-of-war, arm wrestling, table bouldering , dyno comp and everything in between.

The dyno wall, ready for the rain that poured all day.

The dyno wall, ready for the rain that poured all day.

Kate and Amelie enjoying the Trango tent.

Kate and Amelie enjoying the Trango tent.

Mike discussing training (what else?) with legendary climber and coach Steve "The Chosen One" Bechtel.

Mike discussing training (what else?) with legendary climber and coach Steve “The Chosen One” Bechtel.

The "Trango Tango" clinic at Wild Iris.

The “Trango Tango” clinic at Wild Iris.


The Trango Clinic was held Saturday at the OK Corral at Wild Iris. With four kids in tow, we set off with the clinic crew to get started. We had a great group, with a range of different abilities, and no one wasted any time getting started. We focused on basic techniques tips, as well as, long term goals and training advice. Listening to Mike and Mark with the people attending the clinic I was quickly reminded just how awesome the Rockprodigy Training Method is. It really can provide training for just about anyone willing to give it a try. Beginners to experts can learn smart and efficient ways to train in order to realize that continuous improvement throughout the climbing seasons. I sure wish I would have jumped on to the training bandwagon earlier in my climbing career. My mistake, I assumed training was only for the advanced climber. In my world, that was only for Mike, not me. That’s not the case, even people new to the sport can benefit from training.
Discussing the merits of training, especially for those with limited climbing time.

Discussing the merits of training, especially for those with limited climbing time.

Everyone at the clinic had a positive attitude and giving them the reassurance that they can become better was fun to watch. It was also a great opportunity to explain the importance of good gear and sticky Tenaya shoes!

Here Mike is explaining how certain grips (especially small, shallow pockets) MUST be held with a crimp grip, which is why it is essential to train for it.

Here Mike is explaining how certain grips (especially small, shallow pockets) MUST be held with a crimp grip, which is why it is essential to train it.

I decided to get the kiddos involved too and set up a top rope for them to get their climb on. With Timmy O’Neill and his Paradox Sports clinic nearby, there was plenty of motivation for these boys to get on the rope

Logan getting some "expert feedback" from his Dad, Mark.

Logan getting some “expert feedback” from his Dad, Mark.

Lucas roping up to show off his skills to Timmy.

Lucas roping up to show off his skills to Timmy.

Notice how Axel watches his foot as he places it on the hold...something many of us could improve on.

Notice how Axel watches his foot as he places it on the hold…something many of us could improve on.

The highlight of the trip for me was hearing the speakers on Saturday night. Lynn Hill recapped her incredible climbing career paving the way for women in the climbing world. Her strength and experiences are mind blowing. Angie Payne Wowed the crowd with her very thought out, insightful and hilarious journey of discovery. It focused on the battle of what she thought her future should be versus what it has become, and balancing all of that with external expectations – something I’m sure we can all relate to. In the end, I believe life is much easier and more enjoyable if you’re passionate about your lifestyle. For some, that means travelling the world to climb full time, but for many of us (especially the Anderson crew), we’re passionate about raising a family as well, so we create that balance in our lives.

Sasha DiGiulian shared a recent tragedy and brought forth some wonderful ways for dealing with a loss. She described coming to terms with this new void in her life and learning how to fill that void in a positive manner. Truly inspiring around the house! The other speakers were just as tremendous and it was an event not to be missed. I walked out of the auditorium with a new sense of purpose and tons of excitement for the next training cycle and climbing season! Those projects lingering out there better watch out! This temporary Florida girl is back and will emerge next season as a stronger than ever Colorado Climbing Mama!

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6 thoughts on “The International Climber’s Festival

  1. Hey Mark, Just curious what route or routes you have the kids climbing in these photos, I’m headed to the Iris for the first time next week and would like to know what some good routes for the kids are (ages 5, and 3).

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      • Awesome, thanks for the quick reply, Cowboys are my only weakness looks like it would be great, my kids usually don’t go to the top of routes anyway, so they’d have a blast on the slabby, juggy lower section.

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  2. Mike (or Mark), Can you expound on the bit about having to use a crimp on shallow pockets (as mentioned in the photo caption above)? How would you recommend training this? Love my RPTC, by the way and I’ve really become a believer in the training logs; don’t know how I would train without them (I’d probably just keep forgetting what I did last time 🙂 ). Thanks.

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  3. Todd, Here’s my attempt to expound…it’s much easier to explain in person, but I’ll try 🙂 Two types of pockets are usually crimped: Very shallow pockets (just like a shallow edge) and pockets that have a short opening. On a typical one-pad pocket with plenty of clearance (a “tall” pocket), you would lay your finger pad on the lip of the pocket (the edge) and roll it into an open crimp grip, or hold it as an open grip. “Short” pockets don’t allow you to lay your finger pad on them because there isn’t sufficient clearance above the pocket, so you have to enter it at a steep angle (with your finger bone horizontal, or comign in at a steeper angle — such as how they would be in a crimp grip.

    You get some training for this just by training open and closed crimp edges, because in these grips, your middle and ring finger are typically in a crimp position. You can also specifically train a two-finger crimp grip, but this is very strenuous, so start wtih a lot of weight removed and progress very slowly. Good luck!
    -Mike

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  4. Awesome, thanks for the quick reply (and clear explanation), Mike. I always thought you weren’t supposed to train crimps on a hangboard, but it sounds like if you do it slowly and progressively then it should be doable.

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