Two Months for Training: Overview

We’re spending the month of September near Rumney, NH, so we’ve been building out a periodized climbing training schedule that should optimize our performance while there.

A little background. We are both aspiring good sport climbers.  We’re not aiming to climb 5.14 or anything like.  Comfortably leading 5.11s thru mid 12s sport, anywhere in the world is the general goal. Key in on the word comfortably.

Here’s the overview:

Endurance training is the period that we are in right now. It involves high quantities of easier routes (at the gym.) Details

Outdoor climbing days are freeform.  It’s too hard to control what the day is going to contain- and the reality is, often those days are more about dealing with leading, head, weather, gear, and hiking than anything else.

Strength & power days are bouldering training at the gym. More details to come.

Power endurance is gym leading of powerful routes- overhanging and pumpy is the goal.

Body comp optimization:  this is something I am going to tentatively implement. It would basically mean a two week period without dessert, and maybe some more vegetables.

Periodization Training Ep.1 :: Endurance

We’re spending the month of September near Rumney, and Tino, the very cool head-route-setter and trainer at Salt Pump recommended that the two months prior could be an easy experiment in periodized training, optimizing for peak when we arrive at Rumney.

Part one of a periodized training regimen is endurance. We’re tackling this by fitting as many toprope (TR) routes into a two hour session at the gym as possible (goal is 20.)

I’m combining this with my new 85% success strategy of training and learning. The idea is: warm-up (about 6 routes); then climb at a level of difficulty that will lead to falls about 1x per route, for the remaining 14 routes of the day.

My first session (7-16-17)  looked like this:

  • All routes are climbed in pairs: 2 in a row, same rope, no untying
  • 30 second rest at most between route pairs for water and fiddling with shoes.
  • The first 8 routes were climbed on autobelay which allows for downclimbing.
  • Then there is a longer rest between every pair as I belay Daniel.

5.7 repeat/ downclimb
5.9 repeat /downclimb
5.6 repeat /downclimb
5.6 repeat/ downclimb
5.11a (fell 3x)
5.10a (fell 1x)
5.10b repeat, fell 1x
5.10b (fell 3x)

That is 20 pitches of an average of 42 feet in 2 hours (840 feet). Typically I can onsight 5.10b or easier while toproping at Salt Pump, so falling multiple times on a 10b by the end of the routine indicated a decent fatigue level.

However, when I look at that list of 20 pitches/grades, I’m thinking about how to optimize for 85% input next time we run this program. The program that I ran is too easy; the falls should be happening at a rate of 1-2x per route after warmup.

My Second Session (7-18-17) Looked Like This:

5.7 repeat /downclimb
5.8 repeat/ downclimb
5.6 repeat/ downclimb
5.10b repeat
5.10a repeat
5.10c (fall3x)
5.10c (not a repeat route, 0x falls)
5.10b repeat, fall 3x
5.7 repeat/ downclimb
5.9 repeat, fall 1x

Generally, this session went better, but was still a little too easy.  The time was compressed, so we only got to 19 routes apiece.

Third Session 7-21-17:

  • We switched to doing 3 routes in a row, for the most part
  • Rests between 3-up routes around 30 seconds
  • Rests between 3-up sets are long enough for partner to climb a 3-up: typically 10 minutes.
  • The consistency of the climbing grade is harder, but the falls are less.  I need to bump-up the difficulty again

5.6 repeat/ downclimb
5.8 repeat/ downclimb
5.7 downclimb
10a repeat
10d (fall 1x)
10d repeat
10a repeat
10c repeat
10c repeat

Will continue to update this piece for the remainder of endurance.

Reducing Complication

It’s a valuable objective for any endeavor.

We started out with an image in our mind of the extreme overland rig: roof tent, jerry cans, big wheels and big tires, interior cubbies, etc (Spreadsheet V1) : Total added cost $11k, total added weight 1767#.

And then we read this article.

And then we went car camping. Which, as it turns out, is not half bad, and when you couple it with my bearphobia, probably the best way for us to do things.

So now we are working on V2 of the spreadsheet. We call this iterative development. Or is it agile?

The  basic framework is:

  • Car camping (sleeping in vehicle, so mosquito netting and foam pads are key. Working on customizing both to fit and install precisely)
  • Roof rack
  • Two sturdy crates, one for food and cookware; the other for clothing and sleep gear.
  • Climbing gear lives in the two backpacks that we  also use while hiking in (rope backpack for rope and draws; Mystery Ranch backpack for harnesses, shoes, water, food.)
  • New tires and wheels
  • Black out badges and grill (got to have some aesthetic improvements!)


Vehicle Camping : Episode 1 Packing List

First off, I have this fear of bears. Mountain lions too, but in New Hampshire or the White Mountains it’s usually bears. This manifests as a state of hyper-vigilance every time I try to go to sleep outdoors.  In my imagination, of course, bears must be noisy.  They are lumbering beasts of a few hundred pounds, and they can’t move through the forest quietly.  A chipmunk can’t even move through the forest quietly, so how could a bear?

We took our first car camping experience together (and first camping experience in years and years) this past weekend in the White Mountain National Forest. There are these beautiful camping spots down an isolated dirt road, right next to a river.

The idea was last minute, and haphazardly planned (6pm Saturday night, roll up to EMS and buy a campstove for the next day, ask around about camping spots, get some local knowledge directions…)

7pm, pull into a spot and start setting up camp.  The plan was to sleep with back of the 4Runner open, and netted for bugs.  It was comfortable enough, but after tossing and turning for three hours and going in and out of bear-hyper-alert state, I had to revise the plan. We turned on our headlamps and transformed the vehicle into a doors closed and locked, windows open and netted little safari camper.

Day two we bought some foam mattress toppers to make the sleeping experience a little more comfortable.

Everything we brought with us actually got used on the trip (minus some food stuffs, but it’s always good to have a little extra of those.) This is my objective in packing- never to overpack.  Just to pack exactly the right amount.

This was the packing list for B&D Camping Adventures, Episode 1:



  • Jetboil flash stove (all we cared about is coffee in the morning, and this was the simplest option available at 6pm Saturday night. The igniter stopped working on the second use, but luckily there were plenty of sticks lying around, and we had brought lighters.)
  • coffee pourover (porcelain), filters, + coffee (this is how we make coffee at home and I can’t understand why anyone would use anything more complicated
  • 2 stainless coffee cups
  • paper towels (these were really handy.)
  • 3 bug candles
  • 2 camp chairs (Helinox Chair 1) Probably one of the best purchases we made. These things are light, easy to put together, and super comfortable. Worth spending extra since they get used so much. We also carried them around as like, stands or something, to help with any project – such as washing in the river.)
  • Foodstuffs: ground coffee, vegan cookies, donuts, peanut butter, jelly, sliced bread, chocolate. (Like, exactly the opposite of a paleo diet.)
  • Sturdy big case (stores kitchen stuff and doubles as table)
  • Sea to Summit Stuff Sack   (holds the breakfast kit)


  • InReach, charger (we had no cell service at all in the woods)
  • Iphone chargers
  • notebook and pens (always)
  • binoculars – these did not get used but are going to live in the car.
  • 2 bic lighters
  • 2 head lamps
  • first aid kit, extra batteries, tape, lotion, bug spray


  • flip flops, slide-on shoes, and Guide Tennies – I think it’s important to have all three.  Flip flops are good for bathing, but get dirty quickly in uneven ground. Slide on shoes are camp shoes, for getting in and out of bed, and hanging around. Guide Tennies are for hiking and climbing (I did a 5.4 and a 5.7 in them with ease, because it was hot and I didn’t feel like putting on my climbing shoes again.)
  • Visor hats
  • Shorts, pants, tees, and long sleeves
  • Undies, bras, swimsuit
  • All of our clothing lives in Eagle Creek Packing Cubes. He uses blue, I use orange, and dirties go into the white cubes.


  • Pillows + cases (from home, we use tempurpedic)
  • Sleeping bags- we go super low-tech here, just two LL Bean basic camp 40 degree + bags, spread out like comforters
  • yoga mats (for sleeping on)
  • foam mattress pads (for sleeping on)
  • mosquito netting + cording (in the future I will be sewing in magnets to cut-up pieces of netting, and then attaching them to the windows exactly.


  • 3 Gallons of Spring Water
  • Dr. Bronners
  • trowel, toilet paper, plastic baggies, wipes
  • Sea to Summit Towels  – These were really useful, plus they come in nifty carrying cases that double as ditty bags during river cleaning


  • rope, draws, slings
  • harnesses, shoes, chalkbags, belay devices
  • insulated water bottles
  • rope bag
  • backpack




Choosing a Vehicle For Overlanding

Which vehicle base to start from is the first consideration one needs to undertake in any overland buildout project. Our basic decision tree went like this. There are other options, but these were the ones we considered.


Sprinter or Other Van


  • Spacious
  • Possible Longterm Domicile
  • Solar Panel Possibility on Roof
  • No set-up/ break-down. Camp is always ready.
  • Possible toilet, pets, etc.
  • Definite kitchen.


  • Big. Brook doesn’t want to drive it.
  • Neither of us want to trade living in a small condo to living in a van.
  • Complicated. Electrical systems, plumbing systems- all are customized and require more commitment to build out well.
  • Less suitable for true off-road driving.

Land Cruiser


  • Classic vehicle for this purpose
  • Awesome style


  • Expensive
  • Feels like slightly too much vehicle for us
  • Older models look cooler, but we aren’t pros at vehicle maintenance


So that really narrows our decision down to Taco v. 4Runner. Interestingly, they both are built on the same truck base and all models have the same engines. The difference between SR5, TRD, and Limited is in the fit-out- moon roof, tires, wheels, interiors, etc.

Toyota Tacoma


  • Truck bed allows us to keep dirty/stinky stuff separate from cab
  • Truck bed is slightly larger than back of 4 Runner
  • Can add a cab so that the interior space is larger than 4Runner


  • Objects in truck bed are more vulnerable to theft.
  • Objects in truck bed can get wet in rain.


Toyota 4Runner


  • Everything stays dry inside the vehicle
  • If we get someplace and its really wet out, we *can* sleep inside the vehicle.
  • Less vulnerability to theft, in theory.


  • Stinky stuff stays in the cab.


Anyway, when all was said and done we chose the 4Runner.


The Plan

  • Buy a slightly used Toyota 4Runner
  • Kit it out with lift kit, new wheels, roof tent, drawers, and other niceties
  • Go on adventures

A little background:

Daniel and I ( Brook writing) are married, climbers, and (mostly) have been city folk. (Small-city, but city nonetheless.) We live in Portland, Maine. We work for ourselves, and often we can work location independent, as long as we stay in the continental US.

Portland is a really cool city but it has gotten a little too hip for my taste in the past several years. Popularity brings good coffeeshops but some annoyances.

There’s been this building momentum towards some sort of lifestyle change for a while- but we haven’t been quite sure what it was- a new house? a new city? do we just need a sauna and an entertaining kitchen and a second bathroom?

At the same time, we’ve been theorizing about ways to spend more time away from home and on the road- specifically climbing- for the past year or so.

We have friends who live to climb- total dirtbags- and I always feel a little bit envious for their perceived freedoms.  On the other hand, we love our work and other projects passionately, and don’t want to give them up.  Portland is a great city to have as a base of operations, so we intend to keep our footprint here light but permanent.

The picture started to shift into focus a couple of weeks ago when we got to see a Sprinter van buildout by a charming couple who have been living in it- with their cat- and climbing full time- for almost two years.

Then I just had to do some soft convincing. See, Daniel *thinks* that he really prefers to live in a house with a shower and flush toilet. So I just casually mentioned, several times, how much I’d like to have a lifestyle that involved being able to drive off into the wilderness. That got Daniel thinking about investing in timberlands.

A few days later we happened to be at a Walmart at the same time as a fully-kitted out 4-Runner (roof tent, lift kit, knobby tires, extra jerry cans.) That vehicle made the image crystalize.

By the next day, Daniel had done hours of research into overland vehicles and was fully convinced of the possibilities.