A Day of Bouldering in Cody, Wyoming

Yesterday, Kevin and I had to drive over to Cody, Wyoming to meet with our tax professional (it's that time of year). To make the day completely worth our while, we of course set up a bouldering date with a bunch of friends, some (Mike, Meg and Clint) who call Cody home, plus a couple, Christine and David, who will be calling our house in Ten Sleep home for the next few months. I realized before we left that it'd been two years (!) since I last touched the fine sandstone that Cody has to offer -- two years too many, actually. Despite the colder turn of the weather (it had dropped about 20 degrees from the day before) and the classic nasty-Cody-cold wind, we enjoyed a fine day down at the wind-sheltered Carcass crags. Mike sent an eight-year V8 project of his, which was awesome to see, and despite my continued jet lag and lack of full energy/try-hard (I just got back from a two-month climbing trip to Spain), I sent a Cody classic that I've never had the guts to top out before called Learn to Swim (V4).

Training, Travel and Anticipation

Unlike my past few winters, this winter I feel kind of pressed for time, in terms of training and just generally relaxing into what’s usually a lengthy off-season here in Ten Sleep, Wyoming. Part of this change is likely to be somewhat permanent, given the addition of a steep, chossy, south-facing sport climbing area to our local cragging options in the past year. Alas, having this option for sunny days (which we are having an abundance of so far) pulls my attention away from training. However, I’m mostly okay with that, since the climbing style not only contrasts sharply with our summer crag ( which is a vert-tech playground) but also, works my biggest weakness in climbing – climbing like an ape. Good enough reason for me to spend as much time as possible learning from this teaching playground that I can. It’s because the climbing works my weaknesses that I favor it over straight-up training; the climbing itself provides a holistic training approach to cultivating a greater comfort and ability level on severely steep angles.

The other half of the equation this year is that our travel plans ended up leaving us very little time for any lengthy chunk of winter training. We climbed in the Red River Gorge until the end of November, had two weeks at home, spent the holidays vacation climbing for a week and just chilling for a week on Cayman Brac in the Caribbean, and now have a scant month left here at home before we depart for a two-month sport-climbing trip to Spain. No complaints about any of that, either, of course. The Red and the Brac were awesome, and now I can’t wait for the European trip. I’ve never been to Spain before, and I am eagerly anticipating the world of overhanging limestone wonder that awaits me.

I try not to get too attached to routines in my life, instead remaining open to change and new adventures as much as possible, from day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month and even year-to-year. This attitude keeps me from being unwilling to seize opportunities, whether climbing or otherwise, when they arise, instead of doggedly sticking to a plan. The trip to Spain wasn’t even on the radar until late last summer, but it just felt like the right time to go, given that we could coordinate travel and housing with friends pretty easily. Giving up some time I’d planned for training for this trip just makes sense, because what’s the point of all the training if not to go climbing, right? There’s always time to train; there isn’t always a time when a bunch of friends’ schedules and finances will mesh for a trip abroad.

So instead of being a month of unwinding and finding a solid training rhythm, this January feels like a rush to the finish line, getting everything possible done in advance that I can before we depart, from building up my route-climbing fitness to getting a whole bunch of new coaching clients started. I have a new coaching software interface to learn and then pass on to my clientele (, writing projects to complete, and a trip to Outdoor Retailer in Salt Lake City, too – not to mention climbing outside at every opportunity that presents itself. It’s going to be a busy rest of the month, but I’m psyched for it, eagerly anticipating the upcoming international journey as well as my main chunk of training, which will have to come later on in the year.

Weekly Climbing Feasts

Hello again from Ten Sleep! After spending an alternately hot ‘n’ soggy or cold ‘n’ soggy spring in Kentucky’s Red River Gorge, we’ve been back here in Wyoming for almost a month now. The summer season started out not-so-promising, with cold temps leaving my numb fingers torn apart. Dry, cold air means zero friction; you need a little bit of moisture to help keep hands tacky enough to stay on small holds, not to mention being able to feel them. Anyhow, the cold days left me with chunks of flesh ripped from my fingertips for a couple weeks, until the true arrival of summer more recently.

That happening prompted some quick sends of early-season projects on my part, allowing me to delve right into my long-term relationship with this summer’s biggest challenge. I’d actually tried this route out last year at the end of the season, and given it some good flails, with not too much success – some of the moves were just at the edge of my power limit, meaning I maybe did a couple of the moves only one time, total. This year, though, I’ve found that regardless of the outcome of the route (Send? No send? I don’t know…), at least I’m stronger, since I can do a bunch of the moves in ways I couldn’t last September (i.e., the right and realistic way a climber would who could actually have a hope of sending the route), and I can do many more moves in sequence already. Psyched about this!

But the real news for this year so far has been this season’s incarnation of après-climbing training days. Quick history: three seasons ago (2008), I tried to maintain training through the summer, failed because I got greedy about sending, and then regretted not training. Two seasons ago (2009), I trained on my own through the summer. Last year (2010), I almost always had company in training, but we stuck to the stuff for training inside the house – exercise bands, pull-up bar, hangboard, and body weight. Not so much for this summer…

This summer, the routine that’s established itself goes something like this: climb all day until everyone’s skin is thrashed (along with some muscles). Return to the casa, where I run off to do my hour/hour-and-a-half of weight training on the Bowflex while everyone else heads into the bouldering gym. After I’m done, I go out to the gym, where people are starting to get tired, and that’s when the real fun begins – CAMPUS TIME.

We spend an hour or two campusing around the gym like little kids in a playground, making up all sorts of footless challenges for one another as we monkey about. The falls are dramatic, the moves are ridiculous, and the fun factor is out of hand. It’s a hilarious time, totally captures what rock climbing and bouldering should pretty much always be about, in an ideal world – just pushing your own machine to do things you’re not sure it can do, and having an absolute and light-hearted blast while doing it.

It’s the start of a new week here in Ten Sleep, Wyoming, and I’m already looking forward to the end of the week’s campusing craziness, wondering who will show up this time to play. In the meantime, though, I’ve got days of good climbing on real rock ahead of me – and that’s pretty exciting, too. 

Adventure Inspired, Winter Training, Etc.

Check out my recent interview posted on Adventure Inspired. I've been wondering what to say here for awhile, but it turns out I just needed someone else to ask some questions and direct my focus and get me started. I've been busy in Ten Sleep this winter what with training both using weights and by bouldering in the gym, complete with its high-jumping mats rescued from the town dump last summer that make falling that much easier:

Along with training myself, my schedule has been packed with coaching other climbers, taking a personal trainer certification course, writing (my favorite article I researched and wrote this winter is probably the one on NSAIDs (or "vitamin I") as they relate to climbing performance. On top of all this, Kevin (my husband) has gone and started developing a new outdoor climbing area that's like bouldering on a rope for 80 feet or more...and that can be climbable on warm winter days. What's a girl to do?

What I mean by "bouldering on a rope" here isn't that the routes are short, but rather, that they're long, but feature bouldery hucks and throws, over and over and over again, especially if you're not a tall guy (or gal, I suppose). No complaints here; this is exactly what I need, and now I have it right in my backyard. And, as a bonus, I finally have a practical sport-climbing application for all of my bouldering training in the gym, which often seems to just focus on dynos -- I really do need to just let 'er fly on these routes. It's nothing like the more measured pace and controlled movement of Ten Sleep Canyon climbing.

I don't really have any climbing pictures of this stuff yet (sorry, but it's hard when the days are short and the temps are cold and there's only two of you out there to get any climbing photos), but I will eventually. In any case, I'm supposed to be training right now since the cold temps today and not-quite-sunny conditions scared me away from heading out to the crags. Some friends from Canada were here earlier this week when the conditions were similar, and I battled through the day with numbed, wooden hands...meanwhile, my Canadian friend declared the conditions "perfect" and proved that they were for him by climbing well and then sharing his warm, sweaty palms with everyone else's freezing ones. Amazing stuff, that. Not for me, though...that day sent me into my familiar scared-of-cold visage, so I'm choosing indoor training today with the hopes of the warmer climes promised in the next week actually happening. That's it for now...adios from Ten Sleep.