Blog

Rocklands Trip

I grew up watching “The Endless Summer” as a kid. The idea of being the first person to carve your mark on history in some exotic land captivated me.  The film has heavily influenced my passion for establishing first ascents and exploring new climbing areas.  Ever since first watching that film, I have dreamed of being able to see Africa,  however, the idea of going to the other side of the globe to climb seemed like nothing more than a pipe dream.

That is, until I summoned the courage to finally take the leap and click the “purchase tickets” link.  With cold sweats, the reality that I was finally going to be able to check Africa, specifically the Rocklands, off my bucket list began to sink in.  “The hardest part of the Rocklands, is just getting there,” I remember hearing from friends who had gone 4 years prior and who had helped to convince me that I should go with them on this trip.  The logistics of traveling that far by myself to meet friends in a place I had only seen in videos and photos was a bit daunting.  

In preparation for the trip, The Sierra Climbing Team, of which I am the Head Coach, held a gear drive for our sister climbing team in the De Pakhuys area of the Rocklands.  “The Rocklands Rangers,” as they are known, is a small team of local farm kids from the area who gather under the direction of a local land owner JP Du Plessis.  Thanks to the generosity of the local climbing community and a donation from the Whitney Peak Hotel, we were able to bring three huge duffel bags filled with climbing shoes, approach shoes, backpacks, shirts, and jackets to the Rangers.

With the gear in tow, I found myself on a landing approach to Cape Town International Airport.  After making my way through customs and a quick battle learning the intricacies of the choke on my right-hand drive manual VW Citi Golf rental car in the airport parking lot, I was rocketing down the freeway towards the Rocklands.  Palms sweaty with anticipation, or maybe it was from the terror of driving on the wrong side of the road while praying my car didn’t stall again on the highway.  Either way, I soon found myself in the breath takingly beautiful playground that is the Rocklands; with its gold and black streaked, griptape textured, overhanging, and heavily featured boulders as far as the eye can see.  

The scenery while driving around South Africa felt oddly reminiscent to the hills of Northern California, but then I would  pass a baboon or springbok on the side of the road, and become acutely aware that I  was  indeed on another continent across the globe.  It is such a vast area that in the month I spent climbing in the area, I was not even able to see half of the climbs I had on my “must see” list.  I could drone on about how great the scenery, food, wine, and climbing are, but it is one of those places  you need to see to believe.

Once settled into the pace of life in the Rocklands, we spent one Saturday with the Rangers.  We then gave them as much gear as they could take and spent the afternoon climbing and coaching them on the boulders surrounding the farm, known as The “Plateau” area, which has climbs ranging from 4a to 8a+ (V0-V13).  At most, the Ranges have about 15 kids at a time, so the amount of gear that we brought to donate was simply too much for them to handle.

JP, always thinking of ways to better his community, had the genius idea to donate the gear to the local primary school nearby called, Elizabethfontein.  This school, as we came to find out, was home to about 60 kids and is located near “Travelers Rest,” a spot which is rumored to be the lodging choice of “the pros.”  And indeed, you may just find yourself elbow to elbow with the likes of Dave Graham and Nalle Hukkataival while snacking on their delicious Chicken Curry and drinking a “Black Label” lager.  Climbers have to drive past the Primary School in order to access nearby areas such as “The Sassies,” which, is home to Fred Nicole’s “Shosholoza”.  These kids literally have world class rock climbing in their backyard.

With the help of our gear and climbing program knowledge, we helped them to start a climbing program at the school itself.   Elizabethfontein even went so far as to let us bolt a few chunks of rock on the side of the building to traverse (another one of JP’s ideas that he envisions eventually going all the way around the school).

During our visit we came to learn more about the struggles that these kids face everyday.   The economic and social ramifications of Apartheid are still ever present in South Africa, especially in such a rural farming area.  “Today, South Africa remains one of the most unequal countries in the world, a place where poverty breaks down largely along racial lines. 1  One of the most glaring issues that most visiting climbers don't realize, or choose to ignore, are the substance abuse issues that come along with such economic disparity.  Under Apartheid’s Dop system, “Farmers would pay their workers in the form of wine.”  “You got kids being born alcoholic … This system and culture of inebriation reproduces itself. 2  which has resulted in, not surprisingly, extreme Featal Alchohol Syndrom (FAS) rates.  “The rate of FAS found in (the) study (are) the highest yet reported in any overall community in the world, 65.2-74.2 per 1,000 children in the first grade population. These rates are 33-148 times greater than U.S. estimates. 3”  

A large majority of the kids in the area have FAS and come from dysfunctional alcoholic homes.  So, for these kids, simply having an option other than drinking as an after school activity is massive.  The Rangers, for example, have formed a little crew of climbing kids who look out for each other and have kicked trouble making kids off of the team.  They are a shining example of how a positive group of likeminded people can help improve a community by simply being stoked on climbing and wanting to focus on a healthy obsession, rather than drinking or other forms of substance abuse.

To have walking access to some of the best rock climbing in the world is a huge opportunity.  Unfortunately, the prospect of obtaining proper climbing gear to enable them to play on these climbs is entirely unrealistic when the median estimated income is $91 USD a month in the area 4".  So, having climbing shoes of all different sizes will enable the school and these kids to not only get out and enjoy the mecca in their backyards, but will give them all the social, mental, and physical benefits of rock climbing.

Eventually, our trip had to come to an end and we had to return home.  As of our leaving the Rocklands, a local South African climber by the name of, Unio Joubert is running the Elizabethfontein’s climbing program and has since built a “Gia ball” and is in the process of building another wall on the school grounds.

(photo courtesy of Unio)

(photo courtesy of Unio)

I am incredibly humbled to have had the opportunity to help these great kids in any way I could, let alone help set up a climbing program at the local school.  If you would like to see how you can help, please direct inquiries to the Principal of the school; Mrs. A. C Dames at Elizabethfonteinps@gmail.com.

Citations

1.       The Atlantic. 2016. Serino. 21 September 2016. <http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/09/south-africa-apartheid-mandela-born-free-university/500747/>

2.        News 24. 2014. Web. 27 January 2014. <http://www.news24.com/Archives/City-Press/Twisted-tale-of-alcohol-and-apartheid-20150429>

3.        J Stud Alcohol. 2005 Sep;66(5):593-604. <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16331845>

4.https://wazimap.co.za/profiles/municipality-WC012-cederberg/

 

Sierra Climbing Team Crag Clean Up

Rock Climbing is exploding in popularity and with this ever-expanding user group, comes the inherent problems of threatened access and educating new users in socially accepted behaviors. 

Black Diamond, in their partnership with the Access Fund, put it very nicely in describing their belief that "...in order to ensure the future of climbing access in America, we must inspire climbers to embrace responsible habits and behaviors that will keep climbing areas open and conserve the climbing environment."

As a community, we all recognize that the rapid expansion of our sport needs to be addressed in order to ensure the sustainability of our pursuit. You’d be hard pressed to find someone to argue otherwise.

The problem becomes a question of how to educate new climbers in these responsible habits and behaviors. Certainly, going out to the crag and yelling at everyone how to behave is not a successful strategy. So, how do we educate these new climbers effectively? Black Diamond and the Access Fund are doing it through "exclusive, multi-day events, including climbing clinics, presentations, stewardship projects and parties." But, as a normal person with a job(s), those methods of education are far outside of my means and scope. And, to be perfectly selfish, I am far more concerned with protecting access to local areas that I call home; than protecting some area I’ve only seen in magazines. So then, how do I, as a individual person, help to educate my local community of upcoming climbers?

As the Head Coach of the Sierra Climbing Team, I find myself thinking about that question a lot. After all, it is my responsibility to teach them not only how to climb, but how to be good stewards of our community. My worst fear is that these kids turn out to be that classic idiot that makes the "Unbelayvable" news feed. The method of education that I keep returning to is, as Gandhi so eloquently put it; "be the change you want to see in the world."

So, in that spirit, we rallied the climbing team kids and their parents to do our very own crag clean up day at a local boulder. This boulder has a long history as a local crag.

John Bachar soloing the off-width on the Truckee Boulder

John Bachar soloing the off-width on the Truckee Boulder

Unfortunately, due to its proximity to the town, this once pristine circuit has become a party spot for wannabe taggers and people who apparently really enjoy breaking beer bottles.

But, thanks to the help of Sierra Climbing Team climbers, their selfless parents, a few hauling skills, and some serious trickery with generators, pumps, and a pressure washer; we staged a full force crag clean up and graffiti removal.

To remove the paint we used and amazing product to remove the paint called "Elephant Snot," which is biodegradable and as non-caustic a product as we could find. In case you were wondering, it looks exactly like one might imagine elephant snot to look. We simply scrubbed it on and sprayed it off. I can’t explain the addictive satisfaction of watching the paint wash off to reveal the stone below and yet still leave the lichen.

All and all the boulder took 3 passes to get everything off and the difference is staggering. Along with the graffiti removal, we also picked up a bunch of trash and about 5lbs of broken glass.

Before and After

Before and After

After we finished the clean up there was only one thing left to do; CLIMB! After all, what better way to instill a love for an activity than to do it. And as you can see from the photos, everyone gets so much joy out of off-width climbing...

Everyone had such a good time and felt so much satisfaction from cleaning up this one little crag, that the question begged: "What’s next?" The kids were visibly excited to have taken responsibility over an area and make a positive impact.

I am convinced that through modeling behavior and taking the time to educate others, we can greatly impact our local community. We all are capable of making a positive impact in our communities. You don’t have to rely on an organization or big event to do something. Responsible habits and the simple act of picking up someone else’s trash is enough to positively impact our areas and community.

Squamish List

I like lists. To-do lists. Book lists. Shopping Lists. Bucket Lists. Check lists. Wish lists.  You could say that being list-less would make me listless. Recently, a friend asked me to recommend my favourite Squamish boulder problems from a variety of grades. Sounds to me like she wants a LIST! Now, I’m not normally one to get hung up on grades.  Everyone knows they are completely subjective and what feels like a v2 to you might feel much harder to me and vice versa.  In fact, I’ve recently been petitioning to change all the grades in Squamish to v4 -  we could call it the Fourrest! This has yet to catch on, so if I must make a grade based list…well here goes!

V0 – 28th Place

Climber: Michelle Yalowega. Photo by Scot Ellis

Climber: Michelle Yalowega. Photo by Scot Ellis

                Disclaimer: this one may have jumped the queue because I only recently discovered it.  Everyone’s favourite problem is the one they just did.  It’s got comfy holds and feet right where ya want ‘em.  It also features a nice flat landing – a real rarity in Squamish.

V1 – Bob Barker Cut My Dog’s Nuts Off

Climber: Michelle Yalowega. Photo by Scot Ellis

Climber: Michelle Yalowega. Photo by Scot Ellis

                As Squamish Local Andrea Smith once said to me “V1 in Squamish is a total bullshit grade”.  I’ve travelled for climbing a lot and have thoroughly enjoyed the V0s and V1s I’ve encountered in places like Hueco, Joes Valley, and Stone Fort.  V1 outside in those areas feels like V1 does in the gym. V1 = VFun! That’s not the case in Squamish. More often than not when I venture up a new V1 in Squamish I find myself cruxing out on an awkward mantle or frantically looking down into a death trap landing as I yell for anyone to please bring over a pad. Bob Barker is just like that, but at least it’s fun.  This one comes with the added bonus of having jugs like a milkman and feet like a clown. It’s my favourite of many gems on the Black Dyke boulder.

V2 – Slingshot

Climber: Scot Ellis. Photo by Michelle Yalowega

Climber: Scot Ellis. Photo by Michelle Yalowega

                Overhanging with actual holds and an easy top out? Not your typical Squamish boulder! This rock lies close to the main trail, so it’s easy to swing by for a quick lap.

V3 – Tyler’s Dihedral

Climber: Michelle Yalowega. Photo by Gerry Chow

Climber: Michelle Yalowega. Photo by Gerry Chow

                This one is found in the North walls slightly off the beaten path, but is worth seeking out.  I think it’s pretty rare to find a boulder problem that people of all heights will love, but Tyler’s is a total crowd pleaser.  Added bonus for the  5’2” and under crowd: double clutch dyno for the win.  What’s not to love about that?

V4 – Skin Graft

Climber: Michelle Yalowega. Photo by Mike Chapman

Climber: Michelle Yalowega. Photo by Mike Chapman

                Techy, subtle, and smooth – it has everything I like in a boulder (also, everything I like in my peanut butter, but that’s for another list).  It’s often said that there is nothing harder than Squamish V4. Skin Graft will show you why.

V5 – Space Monkey

Climber: Derrick Vnuk. Photo by Eli Dusenbury

Climber: Derrick Vnuk. Photo by Eli Dusenbury

                Good holds, fun movement, and just the right amount of thuggy.  This was the hardest one for me to choose – Squamish has a lot of really good fives!  Ultimately, Space Monkey won out for the double heel hook.  Ya gotta full body bear hug that boulder! (Just like a monkey would if it were on the outside of a spaceship without a suit.)

V6 – Minor Threat

Climber: Michelle Yalowega. Photo by Thomas Burden

Climber: Michelle Yalowega. Photo by Thomas Burden

                Maybe the only v6 is Squamish that isn’t sand bagged? I think there isn’t a single move on this harder than v4, but also not a single one that’s easier. Sustained climbing and located right next to my favourite warm up circuit -  It’s my go-to next level warm up.

V7 – Ramen Raw.

Climber: Michelle Yalowega. Photo by Nika Michalak

Climber: Michelle Yalowega. Photo by Nika Michalak

                That pinch, tho! In the land of lip traverses Ramen Raw is a real stand out. What can I say? I like fat pinches and I cannot lie.

V8 – Tatonka

Climber: Michelle Yalowega. Photo by Scot Ellis

Climber: Michelle Yalowega. Photo by Scot Ellis

                Pre break this was a great problem. Post break it’s fucking fantastic.  You aren’t gonna thug your way through this one anymore – it’s got technique for days. Toe hooks, knee-bars, and drop knees, oh my!

V9 – Resurrection

Climber: Michelle Yalowega. Photo by David Horn

Climber: Michelle Yalowega. Photo by David Horn

                Great movement, good landing , and just tall enough to be exciting. The victory jugs at the top are also a welcome change of scenery from the usual pant-pooping mantle Squamish is known for. This is my absolute favourite on the list.

V10 – No Troublems

Climber: Michelle Yalowega. Photo by Selena Wong

Climber: Michelle Yalowega. Photo by Selena Wong

                I used to call this My Never Ending Troublems. Climbing like a gym problem it is my anti-style, but is sooooo much fun.  Plus, I got to learn how to fist-jam.

That’s it for my list. If you are in Squamish this summer I’ll join you on any one of these. Now I wanna see your list!

Pan Ams

Hi Everyone,

It's been a while since I last posted…I wanted to save my newest post for after the Pan American championships in Mexico City so here we go! I’m sorry this is quite lengthy, so I separated the paragraphs into the different days of competition if you guys only are interested in a specific part.

First of all, I would like to say how incredible the Canadian team is, not just as climbers but also as people. I had such a great time the whole week in Mexico getting to know everyone even better; we shared so many laughs and had tons of fun competing. On top of that, our team brought home a total of nine medals including three gold, one silver, and four bronze and had 19 Canadians make finals in a combination of Lead and Bouldering. That is 17 more people then we've ever had! Such an amazing job team :)

 

It’s a bird it’s a plane…its superman Creds: Shane Murdoch

It’s a bird it’s a plane…its superman Creds: Shane Murdoch

Where do I begin? For me, Pan Ams is always a very interesting competition given the fact that it only happens every two years. If you are reading this as a competitive climber you probably know how much everyone improves over one season let alone two, so for me one of the most enjoyable parts of Pan Ams is being able to see how much other teams improve as well as how much I personally improved since the last Pan Ams in Chile. Going into the competition this year I really didn’t know how I would fair against all of the other youth competitors in my category. With the exception of the bouldering World Cup in Hamilton, I hadn’t competed in any international competition since Pan Ams in 2012 since I decided not to go to the World Youth Championships in Noumea this year. So I must admit I was a little bit nervous but nevertheless always excited to get the opportunity to represent Canada in Mexico City.

DAY 1-Lead Qualifiers

The first day of competition was on Wednesday and this consisted of two lead qualifying climbs, with the top 8 advancing to the final round. Our first climb was up the right side of the wall, a somewhat vertical/slightly overhung technical climb. Earlier that day I had watched the youth C climb an easier version of our route so I already had a pretty good idea of the crux. From what I could tell looking at the route there were two cruxes; one about halfway up on some side pull crimps with small feet and the other being near the top, consisting of large moves in between features and finally a stand up to an undercling.  For the majority of the route I felt solid; it wasn’t until I got past the first crux that I started to feel a bit pumped. About ¾ of the way up just at the end of the second crux is where things started to get interesting. After I stuck a small side pull I swung my left foot over a small roof and leaned over to reach a small undercling, I stuck that hold with my pinky finger and used all the strength I had to pull up and get the rest of my hand on the hold. After being very close to falling I hung on as tight as I could for the rest of the climb and managed to top the route a few moves later. After completing the first climb I knew most of the Americans would top so I had a feeling it would all come down to how well I could climb on the second route. 

On my way to sending route #1 Creds: Shane Murdoch

On my way to sending route #1 Creds: Shane Murdoch

The second route was the steepest roof I have ever climbed in my entire life. The holds weren’t bad for ¾ of the roof until the footholds became sparse and I had to resort to double toe hooking or heel hooking.  Just as I was nearing the lip of the massive overhang I stopped to take a rest and evaluate my next moves. The next move was a one arm throw over the lip to a hold that looked like a jug from the ground but ended up being a sort of round and greasy ball. As I jumped over the lip I latched onto the hold and screamed as loud as I could; I swung my foot over to the feature on the opposing wall only to have my foot not be able to reach the hold. After two great climbs I qualified in fifth for lead finals

Route #2-Creds: Shane Murdoch

Route #2-Creds: Shane Murdoch

Route #2-Creds: Shane Murdoch

DAY 2-Bouldering Qualifiers

Day two was bouldering qualifiers. After a great showing of strong climbers on the previous day it was evident the problems were going to be really difficult. I stepped out onto the mat mid morning ready to pull hard. I flashed the first slab problem and topped the second problem on my second try. I tried incredibly hard on the third slab problem but I didn’t end up being able to get the last few moves. The fourth problem was a big overhang, more my style but so powerful. After a good qualifying round, I was tied for 6th with fellow Canadian Beth Vince going into the semi final.

Getting my slab on-Qualifier #3 Creds: Shane Murdoch

Getting my slab on-Qualifier #3 Creds: Shane Murdoch

DAY 4 Lead Finals

After a well deserved rest day watching speed it was finally time for lead finals. I woke up that morning feeling a bit off; maybe it was my nerves kicking in or the mystery meat I ate the night before but either way I accepted it and got prepared to give it my all. About an hour after we got into iso it was our category’s turn to preview. We walked out to the wall, facing the crowd - a moment later we got our first glance at the wall. My first thought was wow, what a perfect route. Slightly overhanging, crimpy and powerful - this is going to be so much fun. Fourth to climb, I stepped to the wall, closed my eyes, took a deep breath and smiled beginning my journey upwards. I moved confidently through the first three draws then moved right to a gaston before going over the lip and up onto the headwall. I grabbed the gaston with my right hand shifting my weight over to match then bang, just like that my left foot popped and with that I was flying through the air. What just happened? When my feet touched the ground it hit me. My dream of making the podium at a continental event was gone and a rush of anger and frustration washed over me. It should've been my perfect route. I had climbed so well in qualifiers and I knew I was capable of getting so far on this route but unfortunately things don’t always work out. As much as I was really upset with my performance I realized I had to forget about finals so I could perform well in bouldering semis the next day.

My foot is still on the wall right?! Creds: Shane Murdoch

My foot is still on the wall right?! Creds: Shane Murdoch

DAY 5-Bouldering Semis

Bouldering semis and finals were a bit different at Pan Ams this year. The format was still five on five off, however instead of four boulders there were only three each round which leaves little room for mistakes or for that matter falling at all. Semis problem number 1 was a technical route with a mix of slopers, small finer rails and non existent feet - a theme common at the competition. I managed to flash problem number one, which gave me the confidence boost I needed to tackle problem number two.  The second problem was a 40-degree roof, which I was beyond excited about. Looking at the problem to me it seemed like there were two possible ways to get to the bonus hold. Either a big move from the second hold or a few extra moves left on some flat looking holds. I was torn between which way I should get there but in the end I went with my gut instinct and took the long way around, as it looked like the way the route setters intended it to be climbed. I got to the bonus my first try and jumped and screamed my way up the rest of the wall (literally) securing a flash on the second problem as well. The third and final problem was a balancey slab problem with the smallest flattest crimps I’ve ever held onto. I secured the third and fourth hold rocking onto my left foot in an attempt to reach the bonus but every time I moved my foot slipped off the hold. I didn’t end up getting that move but later learnt that many people had trouble with this move as well. After my semis performance I moved into finals in fourth place from count back to qualifiers.

Semis problem #2 Creds: Shane Murdoch

Semis problem #2 Creds: Shane Murdoch

Bouldering Finals

Bouldering finals was that same night. After three stellar climbs that morning I knew I had to climb just as well or better in order to keep my position or move up in finals. The finals problems were on the opposite side of the wall from semis…the more vertical section. Problem one consisted of a split start on two pinches for the hand and two features for the feet. After the start move to a small edge there were four more precise moves on large slopers before a rock-over to the finish hold. I took my time to look at the problem and figure out the sequence to make sure I didn’t make any dumb mistakes. I hopped on the wall and made my way to the top reaching the finish hold with my arms in full extension. Problem two was a 9 move awkward problem that moved out of a corner and traversed left on some big flat holds then one move upwards to a feature with a foothold for the finish. It took me two tries to get the first move but once I did, I made it to the last move. I set up for the final move and just missed the seemingly non-existent finish hold. After that attempt I was sure I could do it, however with about 1:30 left on the clock I had no time to rest. When I attempted it again, I couldn’t get the last move. I ended up with only the bonus hold on this problem. As I was sitting waiting for my attempt on the third problem I couldn’t help but notice the continual and familiar thumping noise of feet hitting the mat. I chuckled to myself the last problem is a dyno…nice! In the months leading up to the competition I had been working on dynos so I was ready to give it my all. After what seemed like only seconds it was my turn to climb the final problem. I turned around and realized I was right…the first move a double hand dyno from two pinches to two round slopers over a lip. I got on the wall, glared with anger at the two holds looming above me and geared up to jump with all my might. My fist attempt was not great but the move felt possible. On the attempts following I would grab the holds with both hands sticking them for a second but I wasn’t able to hold on long enough to stop my swing. Unfortunately I had to walk away from this problem empty handed, although my scorecard was full with 13 attempts.

My try hard face Creds: Carlos Cardona

My try hard face Creds: Carlos Cardona

I ended up placing 8th in Lead and 5th in Bouldering. Initially I was frustrated as I didn’t achieve my goal of a top three finish, but I was half a move away from making the podium in bouldering. With the exception of one climb I can honestly say that I climbed the best I ever have at any competition which is a feeling that in my opinion no result can top.  

I would like to say a HUGE thank you to the event organizers, route setters, judges, my incredible parents, teammates, my super amazing coaches and my sponsor Flashed. Without you guys none of this would be possible. Also a shout out to Delaney Miller’s parents - you guys are wonderful - thank you so much for your support!

Full results of the competition

http://www.ifsc-climbing.org/index.php/world-competition/calendar

Next up is a TDB at my home gym Jan 10th - can't wait! 

Hope you all had a fabulous Christmas and have an awesome New Year!

Becca 

Rehabbing a broken thumb

Summer 2014 has been a great summer. I was surprised at how quickly my thumb healed and how soon I was able to get back to climbing.  As you may or may not recall, I broke that long bone at the base of your thumb, the 1st metacarpal…right through. My case was on for what seemed an eternity. Once it came off, my rehab started, and once the surgeon found out I was an OT, he basically left me to it, which surprised me a little. Anyway, I did what I learned during my hand therapy school work placement…I massaged it A LOT; worked on strength and mobility by using my weak hand to do as much as possible (a favourite was picking out my favourite Jelly Belly’s from a bowl); and I consulted with my awesome physio/climber friend Lea whom also threw in a few needles here and there.

Workin' on that mobility and dexterity

Workin' on that mobility and dexterity

My cast came off in early May and I started belaying my hubby outside right away, and carefully climbing inside three weeks later.  

A little Flashed tape job for support and to remind me to take it easy.

A little Flashed tape job for support and to remind me to take it easy.

A little achy pain was okay for me, but I was careful not to over-do it.  I forced myself to stop early some days and kept reassuring myself that it’s okay to take it easy.  By end of May I was climbing outside.

Healing progressed really fast, which surprised me. Our bodies are amazing at healing!

I went on vacation to Maple Canyon in June, the perfect place to go to get back into climbing shape. I was shocked at how quickly my strength, endurance and confidence improved. I wasn’t projecting 5.9’s and 5.10’s like I thought would be. Rather, I was onsighting 5.11’s and working 5.12-5.13s. I ended up making very short work of Orgasmo 5.12c.

Sending Orgazmo, 5.12c. Photo cred: Bonar McCallum

Sending Orgazmo, 5.12c. Photo cred: Bonar McCallum

Upon our return home I was re-energized and psyched to start working some hard projects.

Spicy Elephant full, a 5.13b was one of them and I had one hung it. I should have climbed it this summer, but it was a climb that scared the crap out of me: huge whippers; really hard clips and moves; plus it was so long I was tired (physically and mentally) by the time the crux came on the extension. So I only sorta worked it for the majority of the summer. I wasn’t fully committed…until the last 3 weeks of summer.

Me on Spicy Elephant, working through the crux sequence. Photo Cred: Roger Fage

Me on Spicy Elephant, working through the crux sequence. Photo Cred: Roger Fage

My one hang was several weeks ago, but snow and freezing temps made that my last attempt…at least until a Chinook arrives. My endurance is probably long gone, but I do feel as though I’m physically getting stronger.  I credit my friends at the Chinook Climbing Centre for supporting me as I struggle with the crazy exercises and keeping me motivated. I will for sure send it quickly next summer.

I’ve learned a lot while working it. The main lesson I’ve learned is that full on commitment is worth it. Once I committed to it, and gave it my all (even when I felt tired or scared), major improvements came fast. I was disappointed that I didn’t get it last summer…but it was entirely my fault. I wasted a lot of time playing around on other climbs and avoided really working my proj. I felt great one-hanging it but just wished that I had a couple more days to send….2 days was all I needed.  Oh well.

Another highlight of my summer was taking some good friends outside to climb on a rope for their first time!   

Another highlight of my summer was taking some good friends outside to climb on a rope for their first time!   

Allison Eisner, and Lani Rabinovitch TR’d their first 5.6 and 5.7!

Allison Eisner, and Lani Rabinovitch TR’d their first 5.6 and 5.7!

Next up, Vegas baby. We’re back there for our annual Christmas bouldering holiday! Our plan is to drive down December 19th and return for January 4th. So if any other team members are around, give us a shout!

Did I mention that we have a new addition to our climbing family…Meet Bella. She is the best! If you are considering getting a dog, do it! A little extra work but so worth the joy that he/she would bring. Or even speak to someone at your local shelter to see if they allow folks to take shelter dogs out for hikes on weekends! 

K & Bella

K & Bella

Bella looking out from the Lookout.

Bella looking out from the Lookout.