Stories written by derekfranz

The Making of a Leader

On a good day, my wife might lead a short pitch of 5.8 trad or a 5.10 sport climb. However, she almost never has to do anything she doesn’t want to when we go climbing, be it leading or even finishing a pitch to clean the anchors. That’s because I can almost always take care […]

The Most Useful Useless Thing

Hi, I’m a harness bag. You know – one of those thin, mesh bags with a zipper or Velcro that package new harnesses at the store. I realize I seem quite useless, and perhaps even a waste, but it’s exactly that sense of guilt over waste that has helped me change the scene at the […]

Learning New Tricks from an Old Dog

My dog taught me something this morning when I tried to teach her a new trick with a piece of fresh-fried bacon: it’s possible to want something too badly, to try too hard and miss a key opportunity. Take redpoint jitters, for example. Two weeks ago, I climbed through the main crux of a 5.13a […]

Muscles Are Still Weak: Mental Sending Tips, Part 2

Learning to climb a route that is at the edge of your abilities or beyond is a huge mental game. A lot of your potential success depends on how you approach the challenge. If you’re like me, a typical climbing season goes like this: I take a short rest at the end of the previous […]

Whirling into the Chaos

“Perhaps yearning for some imagined, glorious past is bound to an inability to see the future.” –Kelly Cordes, Alpinist 49, 2015. The night began like so many escapades in climbing lore – at a bar. It was getting late on a Wednesday night. There had been a slideshow about a great Alaskan FA, but the […]

Muscles are Weak Without the Mind

Stronger. I just need to get a little stronger. Bullshit. Why do so many climbers jump to this conclusion when they find their performance plateauing on a project? Probably because it’s easier and more straightforward to build bigger muscles than a stronger mind. Recovering from open-heart surgery in the last five months has opened my […]

A Day with Hayden Kennedy

I’ve known Hayden Kennedy since he was 15 at least, maybe longer. I was about 25 when I first met him, this psyched kid pal-ing around with the adults at Rifle Mountain Park. He was sending 5.13 well before he got his driver’s license. The world came to know him in 2012 when he made […]

An Eternal, Ephemeral Love of Ice

I almost quit ice climbing after a bad year in 2007. That season ended with a near-fatal fall on a routine free solo before dark, in which a tool popped out; I narrowly arrested myself by bridging a chimney with my outstretched body, just before taking the Big Ride. Then, on my first day out […]

Aging with Grace

Every year I set out to make this climbing season the best. Until now, there’s been no question that next season will be the best. At 32 years old, though, I’m quite aware that the steady upward trend I’ve enjoyed since I started climbing at age 11 is on borrowed time. There was a day […]

Cats at the Crag

I’d never heard of anyone bringing a cat to the cliff until I helped a couple in a van look for their lost kitty at the Superbowl camping area in Indian Creek one fall night in 2007. They’d been out for the weekend and it was time to leave, but the cat was nowhere to […]

An Aspiring Hardman

“Hardman” – what does it take to be one? That fabled term has been thrown around by climbers since before I was born, and ever since I started reading the history and lore at age 11, I knew I wanted to be a Hardman. At first it was my understanding that a hardman was among […]

Clinging to the Moment with an Open Heart

I have a heart condition. My aortic valve doesn’t close all the way, so blood flows back in the wrong direction between heartbeats. I’ve known about it for a few years, but open-heart surgery to replace the valve was said to be at least a decade off. However, the condition has worsened much faster than […]

Love: A Subtle Key for Sending

Let’s face it. Those of us who enjoy difficult redpoint campaigns are basically married to our projects at any given time. We put in regular hours, we think of the beta while we’re away, and the relationship often begins with a sense of giddy excitement that fades into dull familiarity by the time we finally […]

Mammut Neon Pro Pack Review

More than half of my climbing days are spent at a roadside crag called Rifle Mountain Park. Other days, I’m dropping into the Black Canyon or hiking into Rocky Mountain National Park for multi-pitch routes. The Mammut Neon Pro has been great for everything that I’ve put it through so far. Its vent V-frame suspension, […]

Climbing: The Art of Letting Go

Climbing: The Art of Letting Go

Climbing is more than it appears. It’s not just pulling myself up rock or ice. It is a reflection of everything I’m feeling – confidence, insecurity, distraction, focus, optimism – the hodgepodge I’m continually trying to balance every day in life. For me to climb well, I have to feel as though I’m living well. […]

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Locals Corner

Bulldog Creek Dog Walk (IV WI 4+)

Hayden Carpenter and Tom Bohanon recently repeated an obscure ice climb on the south side of Mt Sopris. Given a brief mention in Jack Robert’s ice guide, Bulldog Creek Walk is described as being 100 meters of WI 4. What they found was seven pitches of ice in a remote setting that makes for one […]

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