Hello and welcome to my blog! My name is Justin Cucciare. I am a linux systems administrator, climbing enthuisiast, world traveler, and lover of all things cheese. I tried climbing for the first time back in 2011 at a local climbing gym and I've been hooked ever since. I am a native to the Bay Area however I currently reside in Sacramento, CA. On my blog you will find my general musings about gear, crags, gyms, travels, and much more. Feel free to stay a while. If you need to contact me I can be reached via email jcucciare@gmail.com, tweet @ justincucciare, or IG jcucciare. Thanks for reading and enjoy your stay!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Goals, Obstacles, & Perseverance: My First V6

At the start of 2014 I set fourth a goal to climb my first V6 boulder problem (indoors).  Last year I was able to climb up to V5 so it seemed completely plausible that I *could* get a V6 done this year.  Last night at Pipeworks my goal was realized and I took down my first V6!  I had been working on this problem for almost 4 weeks and I was in some what of a do or die situation with it because the route was getting old and I feared it was going to be taken down soon.  Also, the problem has a very thin foot chip that you need to spring off of for the finish.  The longer the problem was up the more 'greasy' the foot chip became making sending that much more difficult.  

I had almost given up on the problem to be honest.  I made a lot of progress on it in the first 2 weeks when it was fresh almost touching the top on multiple attempts.  But as time went on I actually started going backwards in terms of progress, unable to even touch the top let alone make a controlled shift towards it.  I had pretty much written the problem off as un-doable (at least for me) however last night I became inspired to give it another shot after watching someone else make the attempt.

The crazy thing about this boulder problem was that initially it seemed impossible.  Then as time went on I was able to figure out the sequence move by move.  Things started progressing...  I felt like it was a puzzle that was slowly unlocking before my eyes.  The final move was a small dynamic jump for the finish with minimal balance on unsteady footing and having only one side-pull for a hand hold.  It was all about trust and overcoming fear.  I kept thinking, how can I make a jump for the finish if I don't trust my footing?  The answer is, you cant.  The thing I realized last night is that sometimes while climbing things don't feel secure.  Things don't feel OK.  How do you deal with that unsettling feeling?  The answer is trust.  More specifically, trust yourself.  I kept thinking, I know the sequence, I know the move, I know what needs to be done.  I just need to DO IT.  Finally, I was able to put the fear aside, clear my head, and just focus on the movement.  Each move felt secure and I felt strong.  I made it to the final move and without hesitation jumped for the finish.  I made it!  

The look on my face must have been priceless.  A combination of surprise and joy.  It felt so good to finally make it to the top of a V6.  It felt even better to start something that initially felt impossible and see it all the way to completion.  Hopefully I can take out a few more V6 problems before the year is up.  


~ Justin

Monday, March 24, 2014

Touchstone Climber Series 2014

Shout out to my local climbing gym, Pipeworks Sacramento!  This is where I train, laugh, and sometimes cry..  Check out the video below for a peak at the Touchstone Climber Series 2014 Competition.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Evolv Nexxo Coming in April 2014

The Nexxo by Evolv drops in April.  I can't wait for these shoes to come out.  Partially because I'm excited to see how they perform against the shaman (which I love) but also because my current pair of evolvs smell like death's armpit.  As much as I love my shaman rock shoes they smell so horrid my girlfriend is threatening to burry them in the backyard if I don't do something quick!  

I'll have a full review up of the Nexxo once I can get my hands on a pair.. 

Check out the link below for a sneak peak.  

OutDoor 2013 - Evolv Nexxo from UKClimbing.com TV on Vimeo.



Monday, January 13, 2014

Rasta Shaman 2.0

After just over a year of steady use my Chris Sharma designed Rasta Shaman rock shoes by Evolv were finally starting to show some wear, but not where you would think.  The rubber on the midsole and the rand was completely in tact on both shoes.  Which, is surprising, given how often I have bouldered in them over the last year.  I've left a considerable amount of rubber on the walls of my local climbing gym and honestly the rubber on my shoes looks as if it's still brand new!  Pretty amazing.  The one place on my shoes that really took a beating was on the 3 hook and loop (Velcro) straps.  As you can see from the photo above the Velcro lining was literally separating from the straps themselves.  I tried super gluing the Velcro back onto the strap which provided a temporary fix however after a week or two of sinching them down they would start pulling apart again.  It was at this point that I decided it may be time to get a new pair of shoes.  

I prefer a really aggressive shoe for bouldering so the only other shoe in my opinion that fits the bill is the Solutions by LaSportiva.  I tried them on at my local REI and found out that the heal cup is really deep on the solutions.  So much so, that even with a really tight pair the heal still had about a 1/4 inch of dead space.  Not good, especially for heal hooks.  I looked at a few other brands but nothing looked / fit as good as my shaman's.  I thought about holding out for the Nexxo's which are the new Sharma designed shoes by Evolv however those haven't been released yet and I needed something to wear in the mean time.  This is where Evolv's stellar customer support came into play.  As a last ditch attempt I decided to contact Evolv to see if they could repair my shoes.  

I emailed services@evolvesports.com and explained my situation to them.  I received a response from a very helpful gentleman by the name of Jeff Kenyon who instructed me to put them in the mail and send them back to Evolv.  So, I did just that.  Within a week and a half they had my shoes fully repaired and back to me!  Not only did they replace all of the Velcro on both shoes but they also gave my shoes a full cleaning.  My shoes were returned to me looking almost brand new.  And the best part... It was all free minus the cost of shipping!  Now that's what I call good customer service!  It is so rare these days to find a company such as Evolv that stands by their products and provides top notch customer support.  They easily could have told me that this was standard wear on the shoes and that it wasn't covered under warranty. And honestly, if they did, I wouldn't have argued that point because after all, they have been heavily used.  But instead, they brought my shoes back to life and in doing so, have made me a faithful customer for life.  They have extended the life of my shoes at least by another year or so.  And, if the rubber holds up as good as it has, maybe I can get them serviced again at some point in the future so I can keep using them.  Below is a picture of my shoes after they were serviced by Evolv.

I love my Shaman rock shoes so much that I decided to purchase a second pair in case they stop making them at some point.  I was unable to find the 'Rasta' limited edition shoes so I opted for the standard pair.

I can't say enough good things about Evolv.  They put out stellar products and provide amazing customer support.  They are truly a model company.  You can tell that they are passionate about the products they put out and genuinely care about their customers.  As I said before they have made me a faithful customer for life.  So, if you haven't already, go out and get yourself a pair of Shaman's before they are all gone!!


~ Justin

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Chris Sharma Evolv Nexxo Rock Shoe

Next in line for the Chris Sharma signature series from Evolv is the Nexxo rock shoe.  I'm a big fan of my rasta shaman rock shoes.  They've pretty much become my de facto standard aggressive bouldering shoe.  I've sent some of my hardest boulder problems in them so I've got somewhat of a sentimental attachment to them as well.  After about a year of constant use they have held up nicely but are getting a little tired.  Just in time for me to pick up a new pair of the Nexxo's when they show up in 2014!  I will post a full review in a few months once I've had a chance to pick up a pair and take them for a proper test drive.



Monday, October 14, 2013

Adventures in Bishop

I recently had the pleasure of visiting one of California's true bouldering gems, Bishop Ca.  Bishop is located in central California a few hundred miles shy of the Nevada / California border. Bishop stands as one of the premier Bouldering destinations in the state (if not the country).  It's landscape is high desert and is located in a valley area flanked with mountains on all sides.  The terrain in Bishop is dry, rugged, and beautiful.  

Prior to visiting Bishop I'd been making some huge gains in the gym.  I had completed 2 long standing projects.  An overhung V4 problem that was sustained and pumpy.  The other project was a V5 with multiple stemmy moves with a massively powerful 3 move sequence towards the end.  Completing these projects the week before my trip filled me with a sense of confidence that I would be primed and ready for anything Bishop had to throw at me.  I was sadly mistaken.  Bouldering in Bishop is hard.  Very hard.  I'd like to consider myself a solid V3 climber in the gym.  I've been known to even take down some harder V4-V5 problems from time to time.  In Bishop I couldn't send anything over a V0.  V1 problems consisted of mono holds, small side crimps, and non existent footholds.  Hard! V2 and V3 problems we're completely out of my league.  

My trip to Bishop has taught me that gym climbing is totally different than outdoor climbing.  So much so that my girlfriend, whom is a long standing climber (over 14 years exp) and ex competitive climber and I agreed that gyms should be using their own rating scale separate from the 'Hueco' scale.  With outdoor bouldering a climber has to contend with sharp rock that literally wants to cheese-grade your skin off, barely there holds, and deal with the fear of not topping out and possibly falling and sustaining serious injury.  In the gym, even on harder problems, the holds are usually all there to make a sequence, the holds are soft (compared to rock), and there is foam padding all around you so the fear of falling and getting injured is not as prevalent.  Bouldering outdoors is a completely different animal. 

Overall the trip was amazing and I'm looking forward to going back next year.  I have a lot of work to do between now and then If I want to start sending some harder problems out there.  I definitely need to boulder outdoors more frequently.  I need to get used to climbing on sharp rock and also become more comfortable topping out on higher routes.  Bishop climbing has set the bar really high and I look forward to the challenge.  It's beautiful landscape has humbled me and taught me a lot about myself.  I can't wait to go back! 

Below are some pictures of my trip.


~ Justin