Why “Coffee. Tape. Climb.”?

You may have been wondering why I named this blog “Coffee. Tape. Climb.” The last word is self-explanatory, but the other two may appear a bit random. They are not. They are the added ingredients that allow one to climb longer, harder, and for many days in a row.


The idea was originally born out of a weeklong Maine climbing trip. The first day Tommy summed up, in four words, what he wanted out of the trip: Donuts; swimming; ice cream; beer.  All this was in addition to climbing every day of course, but it set the tone for and much of the calorie intake of the rest of the trip. It also got us thinking in four word combinations. What other three words fit with “climb” for me?

We rarely feel perfect when we climb. We’re often tired from camping, getting up early to beat the crowds, and projecting late into the night after work. We are sore from previous days’ workouts and sleeping on the ground. Our tendons aren’t always happy, our fingers lose their skin, and our bodies become battered from taking falls and hiking approaches. Sometimes we need that little something extra to get us through the day, to keep us psyched, awake, and climbing. For me, those things are coffee, tape, and ibuprofen.

Coffee is a must. I’ve climbed for a full day after getting two hours of sleep in the back of a car then got little sleep again the next night before projecting and sending my hardest sport route at the time. Thank you coffee. After getting less than ten hours of sleep in 48 hours and hiking the Presi Traverse—24 miles over the tallest peaks in New Hampshire—coffee got me psyched to climb at Rumney the next day. I struggled to hike the approach, but I still gave my project a few tries—granted the worse burns I’ve ever put into that route, but I did try it. So no matter how little sleep I’ve gotten or how sore I am, I remind myself I can still attempt to climb because I did it then; so why not now? Coffee is mostly for the placebo effect, but caffeine is also quite effective at preventing between-burn naps.

Tape is my best friend. I somehow have never manage to built up callouses on my fingertips. The guys I climb with begin to complain that their fingertips “are gone” when they start to get a little pink. For me, pink is great; that means I still have at least one layer of skin left. I say my fingertips are gone when they’re actively bleeding; unfortunately this usually happens at the same time that the guys’ fingers are barely pink. This is where tape comes in. Sometimes you’re on a weeklong trip and your skin is gone by day two (or in my case the day before you leave for the trip). There is no way you are going to not climb for the rest of the trip just cause grabbing the rock causes great pain and minor blood loss, so you mummify your fingers in tape, sweat the tape off on the first half of the climb, throw it off your fingers, try to climb without tape, immediately tape back up due to pain, finish the route, and repeat. It makes for lots more climbing, lots more fun, and buying Metolius tape in bulk. I hear hockey tape works quite well too. Having finger tendon and/or pulley issues? Tape is great for that too. 

Now for ibuprofen: It’s a miracle drug. Biceps tendonitis flaring up again when you need to send? Take ibuprofen. Incredibly sore from hiking the day before and need to send? Take ibuprofen.  Possibly break your hand falling and need to send? You guessed it: Ibuprofen. Doctors have told me to take it for the “anti-inflammatory” benefits, which supposedly speeds healing, though there is debate on this issue).
However, you’ll notice ibuprofen didn’t make it into the final blog name (though it did in the original blogspot.com blog); this is because it’s hard to say, and three-word titles are snappier.

We do what we have to to climb, whether it’s living off of half-eaten slices of pizza in Yosemite or getting that caffeine kick before the first pitch. If it helps you climb without causing more bodily harm than good in the process, I’d say go for it. More climbing = more better. For me, the recipe is coffee, some tape, and maybe 200 mg of ibuprofen.

Originally published December 5, 2014, on coffeetapeibuprofenclimb.blogspot.com. 

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