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Pinto Video Posted on 05.13.2012 by greg.kuchyt

We are working on short video talking about the bouldering in the Glenmeal State Forest in Pierrepont. Here is some raw footage of Pinto climbing one of the lines on the Offwidth Boulder.

Lucky in Kentucky Part 2 Posted on 04.12.2012 by greg.kuchyt

I remember my first trip to the Red River Gorge a few years ago. Even though I still consider myself to be pretty green in the world of climbing compared to those I admire, I was even greener then. I think I was in my first full season of leading trad and you might say I thought I had a thing or two figured out. In short, the Red sent me packing with a pretty good ego-check, even if I didn’t realize it at the time. The steep over-hanging routes exploited my very controlled and slow style of climbing. Simply, I was not a sport climber and didn’t know the first thing about how to be one. The concept of “no-hands” rests and the knee-bar escaped me like discrete mathematics on a grade school algebra student. I remember thinking that the knee-bar rest was lame and a testament to the “soft” nature of sport climbers. Once I proceeded to hang-dog my way up “easy” climbs with a whimper due to the burning in my forearms from the lactic acid pump, I think I surrendered any ground to be casting judgement.

Fast-forward a few years, and I’ve learned quite a few lessons on how to climb the modern style of climbing thanks in part to bouldering a lot more. While I no longer discount the “no-hands” rest as silly, I still suck at finding them. Generally I watch in shame as others find great resting spots where I was feeling the pump clock starting to kick-in to over time. I also think a big thing that changed is that my mental kung-fu is stronger. I am no longer scared to fall when there are few consequences like in the overhanging terrain of modern sport climbing. Rather, my fear has focused on the terrain that produces bad accidents, something I unfortunately know a bit about.

Coming out of the recovery from my accident, I came into this trip to the Red with a renewed outlook on my motivations to climb. On this trip I was really looking to just get back to a place where I could be comfortable climbing again and not be paralyzed by irrational fears/memories. I have to credit my recent flirtation with Yoga as a big influence here. My Yoga instructor has said many times to open up and allow things to happen, rather than forcing them to happen. It’s a sentiment I am trying to embrace and integrate into my life more.

For my partner Zach, this was his first trip to the Red River Gorge. In fact, this was his first real climbing trip in general! Awesome! I tried my best to paint an accurate picture of what to expect, and hopefully I didn’t tarnish it too much with my own personal biases. We discussed a lot on the 14 hour drive down, and in general I think we had very open expectations for the trip. I think this helped alleviate my fears that I might be a walking shit-show post-accident.

Mat on Plate Tectonics (5.10b)

So after looking at the guide book we kind of decided to check out Global Village on our first day (Sat). It seemed like there was a good amount of mellow climbing to get back in the groove after the winter season lull. We had also arranged to meet our friend Mat who we knew from our times at Potsdam. Mat has been at Indian University doing grad work lately, so it was a pretty short hop for him. Mat brought along a couple of friends who were pretty new to climbing, so Global Village seemed a good fit overall. I was pretty impressed with the climbing there, there were a couple of good moderate trad lines with my favorite being Casual Viewing a brilliant 5.7 stemming/layback crack. I was pleased to find that I could at least still lead moderate trad without falling completely apart.

Sport climbing was a different story. I was cursed with the same kind of lock-ups I had experience on my first trip. Any time I moved above a bolt I started to get uncomfortable and any time I wasn’t on a bomber jug, I started to shutdown and would back down and hang on a bolt. It was frustrating to say the least! This pattern continued for the next couple days at the Chica Bonita Wall (Sun) and Johnny’s/Tectonic Walls (Mon). Finally on Monday I got my mental game back. It was really odd, it was like someone flipped a switch in my brain to turn off the “paralyzing anxiety” pump or something. I wasn’t going to argue though! I was also able to shoot some photos of Mat and Zach on Monday, so it was good to get some more practice with the camera and such.

Local favorite Ale8 and Jambalaya

After a rest day on Tuesday, sampling some of the awesome thingsin the Lexington area, we spent our remaining days just kind of having a mellow time and exploring cliffs I hadn’t been to yet. Zach had a great trip that he should be really proud of. With a very short career in hand he proved himself adaptable and learned how to climb this new style and was climbing solid in the 5.10 range, with a flash of Creep Show as his “high point” in terms of grades. I ate my own words when I made the statement to Mat that I would prefer to get mileage instead of working one or two routes. On our second-to-last day, I got enticed by the cool looking line called Infectious. I went into it expecting to not get very far, but I just wanted to see if I could do the opening boulder problem as I thought I could see the moves. Honestly, my plan was to just pull the draw on the first bolt after I got to it, just as an exercise to boost my confidence. Well, on the 7th try from the ground up, I was at the chains after a one-hang burn. It was totally possible to red-point the climb and I got greedy and wanted to get it done. I did the 7 burns in about 30 minutes though and I think I put it all out too soon. I wasn’t able to get the red-point that day. The plan was to return early the morning we were to drive back and just hike up with the 6 draws needed and try to fire it off.

Zach on Creature Feature (5.9)

Unfortunately, it ended up pouring the morning we left for 7 hours overnight. I sat awake in my tent for a few hours around 2 in the morning, wishing/hoping the rain would stop. I was pretty certain that with that much rain, the top of the climb would be wet and I psyched myself out of it. So we just made the long drive back, but oddly I wasn’t too disappointed. Really, the trip was more of a success than I had hoped. I regained my confidence in climbing, pushed the limit on the difficulty I was consistently climbing, and managed to have fun every day. How can you be disappointed with that? Now we are back in the NE, which seems like it is straddling the Winter/Spring mark a little more than I would like. To be sure though, rock season is here and we are starting to get after it.

Lucky in Kentucky Part 1 Posted on 03.25.2012 by greg.kuchyt

Hiding in the hills of Eastern Kentucky lies the Red River Gorge, home to one of the world’s first-class climbing destinations. Sport climbers from around the world come to test themselves on the infamous overhanging sandstone cliffs that define Kentucky climbing. In fact some of the hardest climbing in the country is still going on there.

Many have come to refer to the Red River Gorge as simply “The Red”. I really don’t like this name and try to use the full name at all times, but for the sake of brevity I will sell out my values.

Climbing in the Red is a nice logistical change from climbing in the Adirondacks. The overhanging nature of the rock means that many of the climbing areas are completely sheltered from the rain, meaning you can climb even in a downpour. As conditions would have it, this was something that we took advantage of on a couple of rainy days. Additionally, many of the approaches are very short, as in 5-15 mins short. After a season of a lot of backcountry climbing last year, I was used to hiking miles to get to a cliff, so this “roadside” climbing was a welcome change of pace.

Since the Red is a world-famous climbing location, the area has grown to somewhat embrace and cater to the climbers. The local climbing scene centers around Miguel’s Pizza, an eclectic mix of campground, pizza restaurant, climbing shop, and hangout. Miguel has staked his claim as the preferred hangout of climbers by offering fields for tents ($2/person/night), a coin-operated bathhouse and laundry, and delicious food. The only thing missing from the equation is the universal constant of beer. Interestingly, the Red River Gorge is comprised of a jigsaw puzzle of counties, many of which are dry. As Miguel’s is in a dry county they stock a strategic reserve of the local favorite soft drink Ale 8₁, known as an “Ale 8” or “A late one”. My personal after climbing treat at Miguel’s is a 4-slice pizza (you can order 2,4, or full 8 slice pizzas) topped with chicken, spinach, green peppers or pesto and a couple Ale 8s.

On my previous trips I have stayed in either a cabin or a hotel (when you know someone with a plane your life changes). On this trip we were looking to go as cheap as possible but we wanted to avoid the chaos that is the Miguel’s camping environment. One of my climbing partners had spoken many good words about the Lago Linda Hideaway. So we chose to follow the praise and stay there. At $5/night/person with included water, covered cooking areas with a kitchen sink, showers, wireless internet, and a peaceful, secluded setting it is jokingly referred to as the “climber’s retirement campground”. In other words, for a campground it is palatial. I was really impressed with the facilities and the sense of shared responsibility from the patrons to keep the place in good order. I would emphatically recommend Lago Linda to friends and will stay there exclusively whenever I am climbing in the Red River Gorge.

New Things Posted on 01.12.2012 by greg.kuchyt

Famed coaching icon Dan John wrote that injury is an opportunity. So in that spirit I have been trying some new things.

Building a workbench

Building a workbench

Loosening the juice!

Loosening the juice!



Baking failure

Baking failure

Baby steps Posted on 12.18.2011 by greg.kuchyt

It’s been 9 weeks since my accident. I am walking without any aides, albeit with a fair share of discomfort at times. The recent appearance of winter has not helped the discomfort either. It seems that the cold makes everything incredibly sore at this point. I would say I am probably 75% of normal at my worst points and 90% at my best times. I am cleared to do weight training as tolerated and simple things like hiking, though dynamic impact activities (skiing, running, etc) are off limits till February. So a long road still awaits, but seemingly things are getting better.

As friends are having proper adventures in the mountains, I was able to go on my own version of an adventure today as well. I was able to set foot on a trail for the first time in 9 weeks. My adventure consisted of about 2 miles and 450′ of gain…and I was happy with every minute of it. It is hard to explain how the simple pleasure of moving self-propelled through nature can become such an integral component of your identity. Perhaps there is no way to explain it, it simply needs to be felt. Regardless, it is sufficient to say that a small part of me has been non-existent these past 9 weeks. To be sure, the climber within me still lies in hibernation, waiting for the winter of recovery to recede and the warmth of spring rock faces to coax it from its den. I can’t help but think of the movie “What About Bob?” and “baby steps”. Baby steps to walking normally, baby steps to being able to do unrestricted activities, and baby steps to re-train and be back to “normal”.


Purpose Posted on 12.09.2011 by greg.kuchyt

I am a strong proponent of the notion that modern society has messed up our inner “human animal”, to borrow a phrase from Harrer. We were not meant to sit for extended periods of time only to get in a vehicle and sit some more, to get home and sit some more in front of a TV. Pair that with the toxic stuff we call “food” these days and we are asking for a problem.
I have been struggling lately with my current situation due to my injury/recovery. I am now able to bear body weight on my leg and have worked to using one crutch, to walking on the orthopedic boot. I am aiming to be off the orthopedic boot by the weekend’s end. Good news abound; yet I still find myself fighting depression and discontent at times. This experience has been eye-opening to say the least. Foremost it makes me thankful for modern medical knowledge and technology. Back in the caveman days, this injury surely would have been the end of this guy, but I digress. I would say the most frustrating and introspective aspect of this process has been when I catch myself being the person I don’t want to be. I have found myself being jealous and petty at times over others who are unrestricted in their mobility. Why so then am I feeling this way when, as others urge me to consider, things are going well?
I have been thinking about this for the past few days and I didn’t understand it until I read the following:

“Exercise is not a thing we do to fix a problem — it is a thing we must do anyway, a thing without which there will always be problems. Exercise is the thing we must do to replicate the conditions under which our physiology was — and still is — adapted, the conditions under which we are physically normal. In other words, exercise is substitute cave-man activity, the thing we need to make our bodies, and in fact our minds, normal in the 21st century.”

This passage from Mark Rippetoe’s seminal text Starting Strength resonated with exactly how I have been feeling lately. To condense it down into a talking point; I feel like I lack purpose.
I spent years building myself to be an athlete that pushes his technical, mental, and physical limits. All of a sudden I am at a dramatically decreased level of physical output, mobility/personal freedom, and overall “normalcy”. I am less of a cave-man.
So hopefully I can find a resolution to these feelings in redefining a new purpose while I recover (which unfortunately is still a couple months out). I have a number of things I can try to focus on while on the mend, so I should take this opportunity while it is here rather than wasting it on feeling sorry for myself.
I am trying to remember that injuries are the “slow down” signs on the road of life. I feel like that should be on a greeting card or something…cliche, but true. For sure, while I can’t be as physically strong right now there are things to learn and ways to still be a stronger athlete/friend/man-person-thing. To that end I am trying to focus on recovering and coming back with new found clarity, knowledge and skills. For example, I have been looking at a lot of photography trying to expand my knowledge/idea base and helping others train for up and coming trips. As well, I am still able to train the undamaged parts of my body and have been seeing good progress in that area. So while I won’t be able to get to the goals I had set for this winter (see here), in the end I feel I will come out of this a stronger athlete/person. Perhaps physically “weaker”, but only temporarily. In this, hopefully I can find enough purpose to sate the human animal within me until I can regain my normalcy.

34 days Posted on 11.18.2011 by greg.kuchyt

34 days; though it sounds like the name of the next horror movie hit of the year, it is actually the number of days I have been on crutches.


By now, mostly everyone has seen me on crutches and the general story has circulated amongst the climbing community. I’ve learned a lot through this experience and I would like to share those things in writing, but I feel you have to walk before you talk so I will cover it briefly for posterity.

A month ago, I took a 30′ fall on the route Shitface at The Near Trapps in the Gunks. Without getting too deeply into the quagmire of an analysis, I  will say this much. I had completed the crux and was transitioning from an awkward section of PG/R terrain into a secure stance below a moderate section of R climbing. Making a weird off-balance move I cam off, and in the process my right-side barn-doored away from the wall and when I came onto the rope and came into the wall, only my left heel hit. So all the force remaining in the fall went into my heel, resulting in a fracture of the medial posterior calcaneus. There is nothing extraordinary about the fracture and it is supposed to heal fine with no complications.

Needless to say I have been doing a lot of thinking about the whole situation. However, that thought process isn’t really appropriate for public consumption though for a bunch of reasons. Mainly I just don’t want to relive the experience. I spent the first week agonizingly going over every detail leading up to the fall trying to find answers or…something. It won’t help anything, so it’s wasted energy. Instead, I’ve been keeping my head down low, taking my medicine, and trying to take care of myself as much as possible in order to bounce back as quickly as possible. Along the way, I’ve learned some things…but more on that later.

Packing Posted on 09.22.2011 by greg.kuchyt

“Grrrrrrrit, Grrrrrrrrit, Grrrrrrrrit”, I pause for a second and consider how odd it seems to be sitting on the floor in my gear room wearing shorts, with the ceiling fan on, sharpening my front points and the pick of my ice axe. Usually this is an activity reserved for the months between Dec and March. Yet, it’s August right now. I remind myself that the next couple weeks are going to be filled with things I’m not necessarily used to and finish sharpening things.

Packing is a necessary evil. It’s both enjoyable and downright miserable…sometimes at the same time.

What I’ve learned over the past couple of years though, is that packing is a learned art. The more I pack for trips, the better I get, the quicker it goes, and the less painful it becomes. It seems almost as if I am developing a template packing list that gets refined for the trip’s objectives, climate, and the season. Desert climbing in the fall? The essentials become down hoody for the mornings, the 20 deg. sleeping bag,  and lots of athletic tape to protect your hands from jamming. Sport climbing in the Southeast in the spring? Sunscreen, cut-off t-shirt, and shorts. Wait, maybe I should start writing this down and start a business as a packing consultant for adventure travelers…


About 3/4 of *my* gear for two weeks in Wyoming

Regardless, the process of preparing for a trip is all encompassing. Packing everything you need to live self-sufficiently for a few weeks ends up being a lot of stuff, even when you cut it down to the bare essentials. Inevitably you always forget things or remember things at the last minute. The day of departure is always a roller coaster ride of “oh shit, I almost forgot that” and “damn it! I forgot…” after you’re a couple hours into the travelling. For better or for worse, this is all part of the experience.

While so many aspects of packing and travelling are bitter-sweet, there is one truism. The worst thing you can do to a trip to complicate the packing and travel process is involve air travel. For the modern climber (or adventure traveller in general), nothing quite complicates the packing process like modern airline baggage policies. The packing process becomes a delicate ballet of dividing all the necessary pieces of gear between all the travellers and then splitting it up amongst the carry-on (usually the climbing pack) and a checked bag. As a climber it seems it’s always a super close call as to whether you will make it under the 50 pound bag limit.

Even with the added frustration of air travel, once you make it to your destination and manage to touch some real rock or get the first views of mountains, all the stress and frustration melts away and it all feels worth it. If you’re lucky you avoid any complications travelling (less likely if you’re unfortunate enough to have to fly) and maybe you’ll even figure out how to refine your packing system a little bit too. Inevitably, your time in the mountains will go by too quickly and you’ll find yourself packing once again, but this time with a lot less energy or aim. Although, you’ll probably be considering how you’ll pack differently for the next trip.

The Book of Faces Posted on 08.08.2011 by greg.kuchyt

So I attempted to take a hiatus from Facebook. It was short lived and now I’m back, but I feel like I had some clarity in the eye of the storm. There really wasn’t any real reason for my chosen exile other than just to see how it felt. Ok, that’s not entirely true.

Lately, I’ve been battling with a certain truth that has made me uneasy. The “FaceSpace” is a tool of good and evil. It’s great to be able to keep in contact with friends and share the full panoply of media with them at nearly the speed of light. In our increasingly fragmented and busy lives, being able to still keep in contact keeps a certain degree of humanity alive and well. However, Facebook is also a tool of great evil in that we commit social taboos with almost total impunity. Example: Normally you wouldn’t stalk someone in real life, yet everyone does it on The Facebook. It’s second nature at this point to “Facebook” someone you don’t know but are “hearing” about. Don’t even get me started on the app that watches your would-be paramore and alerts you when their status changes; but I digress…

The issue I was struggling with was where is the line between sharing and spraying? For those of you who aren’t up on the lingo, spraying is generally talking yourself and your accomplishments up and letting everyone know how rad you are…whether they care or not (generally when they don’t). Recently I’ve become reticent to really talk about anything that I do or am planning for fear of spraying. I like to think I do the things I do for myself, and not so others will think better of me. At the same time though, the things I do are part of me and the people who I am close to benefit from seeing who I am and what I do.

I struggled with the fact that my interest in photography, story telling, etc is all ultimately for an audience. After all, pictures that no one sees are kind of pointless, right? So are all photographers and story tellers narcissists? Probably not. Sharing my experiences with climbing is exactly that. My goal is to entertain, inspire, and educate, in other words have people walk away with something positive. Hopefully that isn’t selfish, at least not in the royal douche kind of way.

So, here we go. I’m back with some clarity and focus. Now I just need the time and patience to work on accomplishing these goals. In a few days I’m off to Wyoming for a climbing trip. Hopefully I can bring back something worth while to share with everyone from that…something aside from how rad Scott and I.

PS, by the way, I’m not sure if you knew this, but we are kind of a big deal… 🙂

Patience Posted on 05.17.2011 by greg.kuchyt

The whole East Coast has been generally cold and wet this spring. It’s not been a stellar season for climbing. We’ve been lucky to have a few solid weather windows, but my own personal misfortune has prevented me from taking part in some of them. I’ve had a string of health issues lately and I sliced open my finger with a bread knife (let’s just bypass that story). I had to miss out on the only splitter weekend weather window we’ve had to let that finger heal.

In a way the rain has been good though. It’s allowed me to focus on some things in my life that needed to be taken care of, such as finding a better apartment. These crappy weather windows also serve as a reminder of the virtue of patience. In the meantime, I’m just trying to train hard in the gym and be prepared to smash and grab my ticklist items when the good weather comes. As well, I’ve been exploring new climbing areas, working on developing new routes, and working on my photography portfolio.

The whole week’s forecast is rain, hopefully as the week draws on things will get better for the weekend. It would be nice to be able to get some climbing in at some point…