Training and Traveling

Full psyche ahead is about putting your heart and your soul into a goal. I need a climbing goal to keep me going. Sometimes it is a small goal, one that I can do quickly — like climbing a few hard boulders in one evening a the gym. Sometimes it is a big one, like my first 8A boulder.

At the beginning of the year I chose to set 3 big goals:

Boulder 8A

Onsight 8a

Redpoint 8c

I was able to do my first 8A boulder in Felbertal after two sessions on Sunshowers.

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I’m proud to say that I was able to accomplish my second big goal while on my trip to Kalymnos. I onsighted Fun De Chichunne in the Grande Grotta. It was quite a journey, somewhere around an hour in a really steep roof, without a doubt one of my proudest climbing moments. It was great to be there with Roger Schaeli, he gave me a really patient, long belay and was the first one to shout out when I sent.

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Brian and Roger.PNGA quick selfie with Roger after the onsight of Fun de Chichunne

So, how did I find myself on Kalymnos onsighting a bunch of hard routes? I was motivated and psyched, I focused on power training and climbing a steep project. For a few sessions, I went to the Drachenwand with friends to work Hijacker Low Start, a 15m 8c that is really powerful with a lot of drop knees and a sneaky, core-intensive kneebar.

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Finding the sneaky kneebar on Highjacker Low Start (8c).

Highjacker in not exactly a 40m monster like Fun De Chichunne, but it is so much harder and taught me a great deal about core and body positioning for these types of routes. How else did I train for Kalymnos? Bouldering. Lots of bouldering.

 

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I focused on doing as many boulders in a day as possible, including hard problems

 

To some, this might be a little counterintuitive, but to me, this makes more sense than anything else. I’m essentially a weak climber, power is not my strength and I do not have that much power endurance. I know that Kalymnos is littered with tuffas and I know better than most how to use my knees. I LOVE KNEEBARS! Anyone who knows me can tell you this.

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The tuffas are so big in Grande Grotta! I felt like I was on another planet

The trip was long enough to have a lot of fun…

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The sunset from Aegean Travelers on our first evening

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Riding around on our scooter! Whoop whoop

And then, of course, there is all the time in the sun, on the beach!

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We even made some time to explore the caves… Claudia took some amazing pics!

 

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Making our way downwards — Photo by Claudia Ziegler

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In the heart of the cave — Photo by Claudia Ziegler

 

 

Claudia was a little unlucky, well, REALLY unlucky. She slipped on the second day we were there and hurt her shoulder. This put her out of action for most of the trip, not exactly what we were hoping for.

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Overall, it was the most successful trip I’ve ever had. I onsighted my first 7c+ and my first 8a. List of onsights harder than 7b+:

  • Fun De Chichunne (8a)
  • Kaly Diva (7c+)
  • Adam (7c+)
  • Zawinul Syndicate (7c+)
  • Sirene (7c)
  • Priapus (7c)
  • Aegialis (7c)
  • Diralanda (7b+)
  • Chin Juane (7b+)
  • L’insoutenable legerete de l’etre (7b+)

 

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Doing the climbing dance! Scoping out a route in Sikati Cave

 

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Getting ready for a long onsight attempt on Super Lolita at Sikati Cave. Unfortunately, the finish holds were completely sandy. I was devastated. Thank you DMM and La Sportiva for giving my the tools to have so much fun!

 

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What an amazing setting: hanging off the end of a tuffa, watching the sun go down behind Telendos

And of course, thank you to Roger Schaeli for the good company and long belays!

And finally, thank you Claudia Ziegler Photography, nothing would be as fun if you weren’t by my side!

A Brand New World

Change is hard. I’m usually pretty good at adapting to changes but sometimes I can be a bit resistant. When the change required quitting my job and moving from South Africa to Austria, I expected it to be challenging. I also knew that it would be an adventure that I would never regret.

I landed in Austria on the 13th of March and I have been adapting quite well. It was great to be able to keep on working for my old company in South Africa as a contractor, very helpful in relieving the stress of not having a job. It gave me plenty of time to acclimate to the new country, while giving me the flexibility to have fun at the same time.

The language has been a bit challenging at times but I’m definitely learning and enjoying speaking German, granted I speak mainly English at home. At the crags and while I’m travelling, it’s often a mix of the two languages but I’m feeling like I can at least express myself well enough to get by.

My Travels in Europe

So far, so good. The people here are brilliant and the countries surrounding me are beautiful. Claudia and I have been climbing in Arco, Germany and Austria. We have been to Vienna for a walk around the parliament buildings and gardens, which are beautiful! I even managed to catch concert in München!

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Claudia having a little fun in Vienna

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Parkway Drive performing in München

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Catching up on rest in Verona

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A short hike ended up a 11km, 5 hour 1600 vertical meter journey. What an amazing day out with Claudia!

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It’s important to relax

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Catching a tan at the Taugl, a nearby river

Photo shoots with Claudia

I had the pleasure of assisting Claudia on some photo jobs this year. I helped build a training area in the barn for La Sportiva’s summer clothing. Was fantastic to meet Stefano Gisolfi and Sylvio Reffo, along with their two lovely ladies! Matteo Pavana was also on the shoot to make a training film for La Sportiva.

 

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Matteo, Stefano, Sara, Sylvio and Fransesca chilling on our couch. Photo by Claudia Ziegler

One such job took us to Gröden for a shoot with Leki where I even got to be in a few of the pictures. It really caught me off guard when I saw the photos on the wall at the Outdoor Trade Show in Friedrichshafen!

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Sunrise in the mountains… Big hike in the dark to start off the day

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Relaxing in the sunset

New Sponsors

One of the most important events that I’ve attended so far was the Outdoor Trade Show. It was there that I met with DMM and La Sportiva, which brings me to some great news. I have been offered a sponsorship deal for equipment from DMM and a clothing / shoe deal with La Sportiva for 2018. I am beyond excited to be able to continue to work with the two brands from Austria after having parted ways upon leaving South Africa.

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La Sportiva shared a great selection of clothing with me. Photo by Claudia Ziegler

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I’m so happy to be able to work with these two brands.

 

Training and Climbing

Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love to train! I have been keeping very fit since I’ve been here. Running, climbing, hangboarding, the works and I’m in pretty much the best shape of my life. I feel strong, I feel fit and I am healthy.

 

It’s been a godsend that I have a hangboard in my bedroom, though I have not had to use it that much this summer. Why hangboard when you can climb till 9:30 at night?

 

Arco has some fantastic climbing! That’s for sure. Admittedly, the ice cream is to die for!! Every day we were there we had to have ice cream!! and sometimes pizza too.

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The Koloseum at Maltatal! So much fun!

Without a doubt, my favourite area so far is the Barmstein. I have spent more time there than anywhere else, and for good reason! The routes are long and sustained, making them so much fun because it is really easy to progress on them.

I climbed the Elefant Trio (as I like to call them): an 8a+, 8b and 8b+. All are 45m long and completely amazing climbing! Here are two pics from Stenofant (8b) that Claudia took on a sunrise shoot.

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The author on Stenofant (8b) Photo by Claudia Ziegler

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Spot the climber… Sunrise at the Barmstein Photo by Claudia Ziegler

After I climbed Elefantenspatziergang (8b+) Claudia and I went back for a second photo shoot. What came out of it was really quite special. Thank you La Sportiva for the clothing for the shoot!

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Setting off in the dark

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Focused on the slopers

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Keeping the core

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Power through the crimps

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Hold the cut

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Take a deep breath

 

The Return of the Masochist

Today is the 1st of February. When I started writing this post about a month ago, I thought that it was going to be a bit funny at first. I had some photos of myself that are a bit embarrassing for me. I’m still feeling the effects of my knee surgery so things are still a bit harder than usual but I’ve spent the last month pushing myself harder than I ever have in the past, I have trained 27 of the last 31 days; of the 27 days I trained twice a day for 20 of those! I’ve also been seeing a dietician and have been going to bed early so that I can get up for my early morning hangboard session every morning. So what was it that actually brought about this radical change in my attitude and behaviour? What brought about this month of pure masochism? It was the time I spent overseas and then the month of December which certainly didn’t help. Before our trip, I was really good about not eating too much, even in Germany I didn’t gain weight. Unfortunately for me, we went to Austria and there were 6 course meals every night, massive buffets for lunch and for breakfast, plus I couldn’t exercise so it was all a big problem.

Yeah, no comment

Yeah, no comment. 76kgs

When we got back I didn’t think too much about the matter, I wasn’t training yet so wasn’t worried. The worries started towards the end of November and the middle of December when I started trying to do a bit of training again. At that stage I’d picked up a few kgs but it didn’t quite stop there… At my worst I was 76kgs, up from my normal 69. That’s a 10% increase in just a few weeks as I was 70 when I left for Germany.

Two weeks in

Two weeks in

As a New Year resolution thing, I decided to take on some serious training. I also decided to focus on my nutrition because all the training in the world won’t help if you eat crappy food. Drinking lots of wine doesn’t help either so I’m definitely going to take it easy on that too, even though we have some one the Cape’s best one the rack! I’ve been focusing on eating every hour or two. For breakfast around 6:45 I’ll frequently have two pieces of fruit before training. Immediately after training a 50g serving of Future Life High Protein, or muesli with yogurt and cottage cheese. I’ll train till around 8:15 / 8:45 depending on the intensity of my session. Then at 11:30 a carrot or an apple. Around 1 o’clock I’ll have a meal: a serving of protein, a cup of steamed veggies and 1/3 a cup of rice, or 3 Provita crackers.

Good breakfast!

Good breakfast!

During the afternoon I’ll munch on another 2 carrots, apples, plums or whatever I have available. Somewhere in the mix will be a handful of almonds and cashews. By 5 or 6 o’clock I’m usually at the gym. 7:30 I cook dinner. Usually I’ll steam veggies and either chicken or fish, sometimes a pork fillet, and 2/3 a cup of rice or sweet potatoes. Yep, that’s a pretty typical day for me. I came across an article on climbhealthy.com indicating that in a study conducted in the USA, it was determined that athletes recovered 26% more effectively during the night if they ingested protein 30 minutes before bed time. So sometimes I’ll have a protein shake right before bed if I’m worried I’ll be really stiff the next morning.

Healthy lunch time meal

Healthy lunch time meal

10 January:

73.5 kgs on the 11th of Jan

73.5 kgs on the 11th of Jan, looking better.

I started writing this about a week into my mixed gym and hangboarding sessions. My hangboard sessions are in the morning, usually before work, so they have to be quite short. Kris Hampton has the solution for this in his Bare Naked Hangboarding. From start to finish in 30 minutes. But this wasn’t enough for me seeing as it was doing the same exercise daily, so I have added a variation to it by alternating it with the Chris Webb Parsons program that I spoke about previously. Here’s an instruction vid for the twelve week program: http://www.vimeo.com/61430224 The advantage of alternating these is that I can focus a significant amount of effort on finger strength one day (Hampton) and a significant amount of effort on one arm strength the next day (Webb Parsons). I’ve been doing High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). It was suggested to me by a personal trainer that I follow on Twitter. His name is Alexander Pawels, he’s based in Belgium and he’s got some good ideas for heavy fitness training. There are a few different exercises but each of them revolve around Giant Sets, which is essentially four complimentary exercises back-to-back consisting of 15-20 reps each. After you complete your 80 reps you take a 45 second break and then start again until you’ve done 5 sets. There are two Giant Sets per workout and for me it takes about 45 minutes to complete. The weights are pretty heavy, the goal is that you can easily complete 15 but struggle to reach 20.

HIIT Workout 1

HIIT Workout 1

HIIT Workout 2

HIIT Workout 3

HIIT Workout 3

HIIT Workout 2

I usually start a HIIT session after 25-30 minutes of cardio, either rowing or cycling or both, that way I feel warmed up and my heart is racing. I tend to keep my heart rate above 150 for the whole session, it’s not easy, on the contrary it’s actually outright exhausting.

18 January:

72kgs on the 18th of Jan

72kgs on the 18th of Jan

After getting the Moon Hangboard, at first I couldn’t even hang the micros for a second, three weeks later I’m up to 5 seconds! I love seeing progression as I improve. I would say that my absolute benchmark is Paul Brouard’s program C which involves 3 minutes of non-stop repeaters (6 grips per minute, straight arms 1st minute, 1/2 lock second minute, full lock 3rd minute, followed by 10 pull-ups on a small edge in the first 30 seconds of the forth minute. Rest 10 minutes, repeat for 5 sets). I’m really looking forward to moving into my power-endurance phase when I can work with that one!! But for now, I’ve been working on lock-off strength and on pure finger strength to prepare me for what lies ahead. I did a little experiment yesterday and did a 30 minute hangboard program with an exercise every minute on the minute. I was really surprised when I annihilated it! There were some momentS of definite pump, but I got through it just fine and continued to do a lot more than just that. Here is my training log in case anyone is interested, it’s quite rough.The past three weeks have really been tough and I’m loving it, I even met with a dietitian on Thursday the 15th to help with the designing of an eating plan that can match my goals. My strength is going up and my weight is coming down slowly, the way it should. It’s always a rewarding feeling to do exercises that were your benchmark in the past, I’m sure we all have a route or exercise that when we can do it well we know we’re fit. During my strength training session, I’ve noticed my ability to hold smaller holds for longer periods. It’s been really reassuring knowing that I’m doing something right. It feels great to hang a crimp with 35kgs extra weight for 10 seconds at a time and not fail. It also feels great to be able to hang on some of the small edges on the Moon Climbing Finger Board I got for Christmas. The 18th was 2.5 hours of hangboarding and 2 hours of cycling and HIIT training at the gym, basically till the point of exhaustion. Probably will need a rest day after this weekend. Three weeks of training is a good place to start… My goal is to train on my board till I’m cleared to climb outdoors again. After I finish my strength phase (8 weeks), then I’ll move to my power endurance phase (6 weeks) and follow it all up with a month of pure endurance training. Once it’s all done I’ll start over and build on my pyramid! Hopefully my body will be ready for a good winter climbing season at Chosspile and Boven! Wish me luck .

1 February

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70 kgs and feeling strong!

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Smiling during a training session, something must be up… Maybe it’s the photographer, I bet she’s doing something funny!

Well, we’re back to where we started: today is the 1st of Feb. During the last two weeks, I’ve been pushing really hard trying to isolate my fingers and push my body even further than ever before. I started to plateau a little with the Kris Hampton program, I think it’s because I don’t have small enough holds on my boards other than the micros and tiny slopers on the Moon Hangboard. So what I did was listen to my friends and start focusing on a single hand (still with 10kgs) while the other hands assists as either a F2 or B3 on the smallest edge available. It’s also slightly offset, rather than being on the same height. So in a way, I’m doubling up on my exercise. I’m also able to hang both the Micros and sloping crimps on the Moon Hangboard for over 10 seconds now. Big progress there in just a month.

F2 Left Half Crimp Right

F2 Left Half Crimp Right

F2 on the Beastmaker with B3 on the small edge of the Metolius

F2 on the Beastmaker with B3 on the small edge of the Metolius

Mono Right with M2 Left

Mono Right with M2 Left

What also happened, which was a first for me, was I had to change to a different hold for the Chris Webb Parsons program. I moved away from the outer slots on the Beastmaker and now I’m using the center incut (as in the below pics). My finger strength has moved forward significantly and my lock-off strength is catching up I’m getting closer to the elusive one arm. As of today, I can go from straight arm to eyes in line with my hand (not quite 100% there but close).

Use the rope for some assistance

Use the rope for some assistance

Improvements on that lock-off and finger strength!

Improvements on that lock-off and finger strength!

Last week I also started seeing a biokineticist, so I’ve been doing a lot of exercises daily to strengthen my leg and my glutes. I can see that it’s going to be a long road ahead in terms of the recovery process but by the time my knee is ready to come to the party I’ll be fit enough and strong enough to jump back in! All in all, I’ve been splitting my time between my boards at home and training in the gym. Over the last month I’ve bouldered 5 times, done 25 hangboard session, 16 gym sessions and had no alcohol. I’ve eaten 1.75 pizzas and had sushi twice, other than that I’ve controlled what I eat. I haven’t been to bed after 12 this month.  Anyone want to challenge my dedication? Here’s the training program again in case you missed the link. I call it Brian’s Training Program for Strength and Power. I would like to thank Paul Brouard, Steven Bradshaw, Kris Peters, Kris Hampton and Chris Webb Parsons for the psych that was produced as well as the programs that I used to build my workout. It’ll keep expanding as I progress and I’ll update the link from month to month.

Sends and New Arrivals

I’ve had a really exciting weekend, again! Andrew and I headed off to Boven with the intention of doing Boa Rodeo, an 8a+ trad line. Both of us tried it for three days but had no sends. We discovered how hard it is actually is to place the gear! Wow. We ended up finding a good nut placement backed up by a Wild Country Z3 cam to protect the crux… Basically, for anyone who isn’t familiar with WC Zeros, this is a black Alien cam — it’s small and we’re falling on to this gear with from a pretty descent run out above it.

All pics are by Jahne Theron — Thanks bud!

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The gear is all great but I think that both of our heads weren’t quite in the head space they needed to be in.

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Two much cooler things happened this weekend… I finally made time to climb with Andrew on his Shear Force Project down in the Right Wing and holy 5h!tb@lls, it’s amazing! We are guessing it will weigh in around 8c/+. On the first day on it Andrew and I managed to piece together a sequence that seems to work; on the second day we both did some great links on it. The route is sick! It overhangs by about 8m, it’s 28m long, but it zigzags so get ready for about 35m of climbing all-in-all. The best part: the holds are not too bad on the skin and the rock will never polish. Photos and video are going to be shot when Jono from Outward Ventures makes his way up here early July for an awesome chance to take some pics and vid of La Sportiva Ambassadors Paige Claassen and Jon Glassberg. I met them at the airport today and they are psyched to be here! Enjoy your trip you two! See you in Boven!

Andrew demonstrating how he is going to kung fu Boa Rodeo

I had the opportunity, or stubbornness, to get back on Frazzle this trip. Now admittedly, I’ve been working this in (not so) secret by building a simulator problem at the gym and making the holds worse and worse. On Saturday by the time I got on the climb I was tired and couldn’t even hold on to the holds to start the crux. Not a good sign, but at least I had a chance to put the draws up and climb to the anchors (VERY LUCKILY).

Monday afternoon came around, Andrew put in a massive effort on Shear Force and I was totally psyched to climb it, but I really wanted a good shot at Frazzle, although I felt like I was miles from the send. I set off from the ground and had forgotten that I removed the first bolt so I needed to do some funny business to safely get to the second bolt before coming back down to remove the biner I used on the first. Not a smooth start, hmmm, maybe I’ll go to the shake and just sit there for a few minutes, brush holds etc. Well, I got to the rest, not in a particularly efficient manner but I’m here. May as well try the crux before I brush the holds.

I reach up to the sloping crimp and it feels amazing; my skin is just locked on to the hold. I mantle to get my foot high and then lock off to the horrid intermediate….I stabilize for a split second, and snatch to the crux crimp! WTF?!? I’m still on! FOCUS BRIAN! Hold it! I reach my right hand up to a good hold and scream! Andrew is cheering at the bottom! Now I’m starting to panic! I have only been to the chains once or twice and there is a bunch of tough climbing ahead, nothing hard but definitely tricky enough that I could blow it… I compose myself, chatting with Andrew for some psyche, and then set off. I almost come off at the next bolt but refuse to let go. I do a few more moves and I’m on a monster jug. I think I shook out for about 5 or 6 minutes, could have been longer, it felt like forever to be honest. But I was pretty confident from this point that I could get to the chains.

The rest of the route went down smoothly enough. I climbed to the last bolt before I started screaming again. I was psyched. Frazzle 8b+, second ascent. I know that Paul opened it at 8a+ more than a decade ago but it is the hardest thing I’ve climbed by far. I guess that’s where a personal grade has to come in. I know a bunch of strong guys who have tried this line and none have had success on it.  Whatever grade it is, it’s hard, fingery and a hell of a bouldery crux!

The only pair of shoes I used all weekend were my Pythons. Now, this was a big surprise to me. I did not expect them to work on a vertical wall. I figured they’d work in the cracks on Boa Rodeo and the steepness at Choss, and therefore the Shear Force line too, but on Frazzle?? That was confusing. Maybe they’ll surprise me on Rodan too (doubtful).

Now…. Off on a completely different tangent, I did the weirdest thing last week. I joined a gym. I’ve decided that bouldering just isn’t enough anymore, so I’ve started a training regime at the gym.

Yesterday was pretty tough:

  1. 20 min run @ 11 km / h at 3% gradient on the treadmill to start
  2. 12 min rowing
  3. About 10 one arms L & R
  4. 5 x 6 pull ups with 20kgs load
  5. 1 lap of the “super circuit” –> weight training with stepping intervals. Generally 30 reps of moderate weight.

The whole point of the exercise is to push my comfort zone a little further than what I’m currently used to. I feel like I can climb 6 days a week and not be making massive progress. So maybe I need to climb indoors 2-3 days a week, gym 2-3 days a week and climb on rock 2 days a week on a set program. Currently I’m busy with a 4 week power cycle at the wall; I’ve been working shorter, powerful routes at Chosspile and even in Boven. The idea is to raise the bar so that when my power-endurance cycle starts Rodan will go down. I have a date with Rodan from 6-14 July! Can’t wait. Hope to share the experience with a bunch of my buds!

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