Moments in Reflection – Life, It’s All About Change, Right?

Yes, stubborn me sent a project this year and this was that speechless, breathtaking view.  Thank you Climbing!

Yes, stubborn me sent a project this year and this was that speechless, breathtaking view. Thank you Climbing!

“Climbing has taught me to appreciate everything beautiful outside.” Quote by an amazing destination climber….ummm, wait a minute, oh yeah that’s me, haha!

My views, so emotional I cannot explain it.

My views, so emotional I cannot explain it.

Well, yes haha, but not really. This is something I posted today on my Instagram account. After a sluggish Tuesday climbing session, I bounced back today with a strong climbing workout.  Whilst leaving the gym, I noticed the amazing sunset, got an iPhone picture and shared it on Instagram and realized how much more I appreciate things in nature since I started climbing outside 4++ years ago. I was inspired to write this post today because my statement on Instagram actually dug deeper than the pretty picture and quote. On my ride home I started thinking, how has climbing really changed me? Good and bad?  This is a witty, funny but real thanks to the “Climbing Gods”.

The Good

  • Precious Climbing Angels – I met the most amazing friends I would have not otherwise met unless through climbing. I have so many precious friends I have met through climbing….“gotta get a credit curd” you know who y’all know who you are (haha). I am most grateful to the climbing Gods for all the beautiful friends you brought into my life.  I love the climbing community and the friends I have made through climbing.

    I never would see this as a great thing, but climbing taught me to appreciate everything outdoors even on my approach.

    I never would see this as a great thing, but climbing taught me to appreciate everything outdoors even on my approach.

  • PB&J – I have never made so many PB&Js since I started camping/climbing. Thank you climbing Gods for bringing this awesome “nutritious” item back into my life.
  • Mi Tierra – I never knew Spain was a hidden gem, that is for rock climbing. My blood, my soul, my genes is all over Spain, but climbing brought new meaning to this country. I have seen so many places I would have not seen my whole childhood thanks to the damn Climbing Gods. I have tasted so many amazing foods & wines and seen so many unique villages thanks to climbing. I have seen so many sheep and goats and heard cowbells while hearing my own breath in the quietness of climbing hundreds and thousands of feet up, thanks to climbing. Thank you Climbing Gods for allowing me to see another side of Mi Espana.

    The beauty of a country I would have never thought of exploring if it wasn't for climbing.

    The beauty of a country I would have never thought of exploring if it wasn’t for climbing.

  • The Views – Climbing has taken this to a new level. I am a seeker of “overlook views” as a hiker. But when I get to the overlook, I am like “awwww how beautiful”. The Climbing Gods said “oh hell no, we are gonna take this overlook obsession to the new level bitches”.  When I climb and go through an immense journey up a cliff and get to the top, anchor in and take the view, I have no words, no speech. No words can express the combined beauty of climbing up a rock, defying all odds, pushing through fears and challenges and reaching the top. The top summit vista from a climbing point of view is speechless, breathtaking and emotional all at the same time. I am forever grateful to those Climbing Gods for making me experience this unique yet so intimate encounter. I cannot explain it more other than “it is”. Only others that experience it can understand what I am saying here.
  • My Personal Growth – I was once an elite gymnast whom had great dreams and unfortunately became married in a not so great marriage for 12 years.   My dreams and self-esteem were crushed because I allowed it. When I got out of that situation, climbing came miraculously in my life. Those Climbing Gods must have been stalking me somehow (haha).   Climbing took me back to my gymnastics. It reminded me that when I set my mind to something and work hard for it, I could do it. It reminded me that the sky is the limit. It reminded me to love myself and believe in myself again. I truly am forever grateful for this.

 

I never knew this side of Bermuda until climbing showed me.

I never knew this side of Bermuda until climbing showed me.

The Bad

  • The Obsession – Well this is good, but also bad. I was not planning on dreaming so much about climbing that I tighten up and apparently fist up at night while sleeping and my fingers go numb.  Yes, I am officially calling it “climberitis”. I was not planning on obsessing so much that when I see my local gym post “new routes ready for the weekend” I cannot concentrate and make sure my ass gets to the gym to get “mines” before a date. Yes, I was late to a date today because I had to get “mines” or else I would not be able to sleep sound tonight. Dear Climbing Gods, you did good on this obsession thing, you stalk us, reel us in and we cannot ever stop thinking about your ass.  I read guidebooks, drool over anything silver that jingles (aka, total gear whore), and cannot wait to climb anything. When I talk and joke, I use climbing as a frame of reference, and then realize only climbers get it, not real normal people. I learned to become skilled at turning off Climbing Doris to Social Normal Doris or else folks think I am a crazy, obsessed climbing chic. Wait, maybe I am….oh yeah cause I am obsessed and wake up with numbed fingers cause I dream about climbing cause…..well you get the drift. Anyone go through this? Yes I asked my male and female friends and have confirmed I am not alone in this.

    I hate this picture, it is not only gross but it is a reminder of something that happened just a few weeks ago.  A quick draw from far away was dropped and hit my head.  I am ok, but I realize I am reminded I am not invincible.

    I hate this picture, it is not only gross but it is a reminder of something that happened just a few weeks ago. A quick draw from far away was dropped and hit my head. I am ok, but I realize I am reminded I am not invincible.

  • The Love Life – Dear Climbing Gods, due to that “obsession” detailed above, it has become impossible to live the American dream and have 3.2786 kids with a white picket fence and me cook snacks while the boys watch the game and be home slaving all weekend cause I am “obsessed” about climbing, gotta get the hell outdoors, climb or hike or kayak or something. I cannot date just anyone, it is so hard to date just any guy. I tried. I even made out with a guy while on a Sushi date and realized after he told me that climbing thing was kind of something I needed to grow out of, I realized oh no, 3.2786 kids with white picket fence, no not me, no not happening. I need a guy who is content with the outdoors and the fact I don’t have cable television, I love tents, smores, camp fires and reading a guide book and planning our agenda, that is climbing agenda. I love each night around the fire sharing our personal and spectator highlights and bonding as a group of friends. I want someone who is agrees that any vacation in a non-climbing destination as a pure hell sin. At my age, the great climbing guys are taken or the cute single guys are afraid to commit and the single guys after me are too young. I know, by following this way of life, I narrowed my inventory of guys who might want to marry me or I might want to even marry. Someday, it will come, but no, as a “charm filled” Brooklyn girl who is used to having many guys at her beckon call was definitely not prepared for her love life to suffer. It’s ok, but I am not happy you threw this challenge at me, how about another big climbing crux instead? (haha)
  • The “Scaaaary” Part of Climbing – Whether we like it or not, climbing is dangerous. And the more you go outside and explore, as exciting as it sounds, the reality is that you increase the odds of injury, even if you are ultra safe. I have not experienced anything as some folks I know have been through and ain’t gonna claim it. But the few tiny things I have been exposed to have reminded me full force…..Doris, your ass is not invincible. Yes I know this is a fact, but sometimes, tiny things that happen like a random quick draw bounces from afar and hits your head reminds you to respect climbing. I love climbing but I also see that it is a hobby, I am not a professional climber and anytime I go out there and explore the world, I am putting my life at risk. No pessimism, just realism, it is what it is and I have committed to always be conservative and air the side of caution and always be as safe as possible. But I cannot guarantee anything and that is SCAAAARY sometimes to think about.

Bottom line, here is how it goes. Climbing has changed me in many ways, good and bad. I am forever grateful and cannot wait to continue growing as a person and as a climber. This post summarizes only an ounce of how climbing has affected me. Going into your weekend, think about how climbing has changed you. Appreciate, and hold it dear to your heart like I will.

This is the climbing me, heart happy indeed and grateful of the changes that have helped me grow.

This is the climbing me, heart happy indeed and grateful of the changes that have helped me grow.

Happy Weekend everyone!

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” -Andre Gide 

Moments of Reflection: My Journey of Transformation

With an 80 meter rope, I was able to get on this 200 foot climb at 5.9+/5.10a.  It was not sustained with brilliant cruxes here and there.  I was totally happy going up high and enjoying the most clever techy moves and incredible views.

With an 80 meter rope, I was able to get on this 200 foot climb at 5.9+/5.10a. It was not sustained with brilliant cruxes here and there. I was totally happy going up high and enjoying the most clever techy moves and incredible views.

Last year I had a finger injury that lasted way too long to heal, but served as a blessing. Prior to that, I was a bonified grade chaser, even though I thought I wasn’t, I really valued myself with what grade I was climbing. The injury forced me to climb those 5.fun birthday climbs and seriously project anything up to a 5.8. At first, I was always feeling so unaccomplished. And one time I went to Inner Peaks with a few friends and one of my friends said, “We just want to see you climb a 5.10 again”.   It was then I realized I did not care to show off my climbing and that all that time I had spent doing a bad job chasing grades, I forgot why I fell in love with climbing.  I decided I needed to (1) fall in love with climbing again no matter what grade, (2) learn how to appreciate the aesthetics of a climb, and (3) take everything back to basics and take my friend Jeremy’s advice, breakdown my technique, toe work, and work on improving my climbing, cause while I thought I was hot, I was not as good as I thought I was (hahahaha!).

With an 80 meter rope, I was able to get on this 200 foot climb at 5.9+/5.10a.  It was not sustained with brilliant cruxes here and there.  I was totally happy going up high and enjoying the most clever techy moves and incredible views.

With an 80 meter rope, I was able to get on this 200 foot climb at 5.9+/5.10a. It was not sustained with brilliant cruxes here and there. I was totally happy going up high and enjoying the most clever techy moves and incredible views.

After I started to heal, I made it a goal to be able to go anywhere around the world and climb anything from 5.10a to 5.11a. It didn’t mean that is all I climbed, but it meant I would hover a good amount of time in this range to establish some consistency, to improve my climbing and get mileage in to get stronger.  I even made it a goal to get on 5.8s and 5.9s in between 5.10s and found so many absolutely stunning climbs in this grade as well.

When I started my journey, I noted that I did not onsight very much, yet another weakness discovered! Now, I pretty much will warm up most climbs in this range, and start having issues in the 11s. Except a few months ago a crack 5.10c handed me my ass in Colorado, just saying, still need work. And most of all, in my style, I just linked a 12a/b called My Flesh for Lulu at Rumney (pure classic!). I got on this only because it was so beautiful and I could tell that I could at least do up to the first 5 bolts safely. So got my bail beaner together, got on it and got spit off at the crux up high for a good while and somehow little by little, thanks to a patient belayer I got to the top and clipped the anchors. I am not rushing to red point that climb yet because I got spit off due to my lacking finger strength and 5.12 training to be able to make it up smoothly.  I need more work in the 5.11s for sure. However, my technique was good enough to work it out with rests. As I get stronger, someday I will red point that pretty climb.  Even more important, get more 10s and 11s in over the next year.

This is a climb that was kicking my butt, it was above the 11a range so I expected some butt whipping.  I hate to top rope and stepped out of my comfort zone, here I am working the moves to figure out how to work the lead redpoint.  No red point, I fell trying to clip the anchors on my last lead go.  It was ok, getting up it was joyous enough for me.

This is a climb that was kicking my butt, it was above the 11a range so I expected some butt whipping. I hate to top rope and stepped out of my comfort zone, here I am working the moves to figure out how to work the lead redpoint. No red point, I fell trying to clip the anchors on my last lead go. It was ok, getting up it was joyous enough for me.

What now? I am still trying to hover a lot of climbing my favorite range because in this journey… 

  • I discovered 5.10a to 5.11a is an absolutely beautiful grade that can be maintained with only climbing a couple days a week and minimal cross training.  Done, SOLD!  ;-)
  • I discovered I have way more weaknesses in my climbing than I cared to admit or identify. Every time I walk up to a wall, I go to one end and climb everything I can to the other end, whether it is “my style” or not. Some times I am delightfully cruising, and others I am cursing (ahem, in particular cracks, lay backs, corner/stemmy shit). Nevertheless, the diversity of climbing I have exposed myself to is reason enough to continue this effort.
  • I realized by doing this I am doing myself a favor. I travel everywhere to climb and being able to just walk up to any style and not bail any climb means I haven’t wasted a trip somewhere. I need to get a bang for my buck on climbing because I am traveling to get there. And…well, it just opens up many more options.
  • I discovered my personal and climbing inner and outer growth that has occurred by just stepping out of my comfort zone.
  • My eyes were open to enjoy the outdoors and aesthetics of climbing.
  • Last…I love climbing everything and I value the fact that I can work through a climb and get to the top, no matter the grade. I find my inspiration from a climb’s clever or brilliant moves, or aesthetic look, or brutal look (telling me I need to get on it to get better kind of brutal look). In fact my most favorite climb of all times is a 5.8+ at Rumney, NH called Metamorphosis.  Every moment to the top is brilliant! Transformation of my attitude and ego is the best part of this journey!

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. ~CS Lewis

Moments of Reflection: Honey, I’m Home!

Moments of Reflection: Honey I’m Home!

Well…..guess I am back, so sorry for the “blog hibernation”, but I needed it. While I shifted my focus on a few key areas of my life last year, I kept putting this blog on my ‘to do’ list literally every week and well, it just burned me out. With my advanced masters done (oooooh yeah!), major milestones achieved with work, and revamp in my climbing training and philosophy; it was time to get back at this blog.

Me, this Spring in North East Spain, setting my sights on harder projects, finally!

Me, this Spring in North East Spain, setting my sights on harder projects, finally!

Since my last post, a lot of transformation has occurred, lots of lessons learned, lots of amazing climbing trips were had, lots of amazing new friends made, I joined the Instagram and Twitter insanity, and well…..just so much to share and my brain was too tired to write about it.

I guess this is me talking like Ricky Ricardo and declaring “Honey, I’m Home!”

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time. ~Thomas A. Edison

Moments of Reflection: It’s Just the Simple Things…..

Me sulking nature, views...post an amazing & hard climbing day in Spain over 1.5 years ago.

Me sulking nature, views…post an amazing & hard climbing day in Spain over 1.5 years ago.

I have sucked in my attempts for tiny tid-bits moments of reflection week to week.  I am a scientific, picky, technical writer by trade, but fully expressive and fun at blogging.  I sometimes miss sight of this, and procrastinate so I can sit down and write that super long story about something super inspiring. But the truth of the matter is, something truly inspirational comes from within, there is no need for research, or thousands of words later, just tiny thoughts and lessons learned later can just be enough to write a solid inspirational piece.

Me, pre-injury, no fear, and no climbing unless its pushing beyond my limits.

Me, pre-injury, no fear, and no climbing unless its pushing beyond my limits.

So….I sat down and jotted a few (or more!) topics that have really inspired or impacted me this year.  And each week I will again, attempt to write my life, my journey, and reflect.  I will continue to interview, review and write longer articles, but the cover will continue to be reflective and short and not twice a year, but rather more!

I often talk about my finger injury I was challenged with for some time now, because I have learned so much as a result from it this year. Thus, I will continue to add a few reflection lessons learned kind of entries based on this.  One important lesson has taken me back to a simple question I have asked myself recently: What do I value in my climbing?

Prior to injury – That I finally could send some awesome, harder graded climbs.

Post injury – I am happy to climb on beautiful rock, with beautiful views, while building precious moments with heartfelt climbing friends. 

Me sulking nature, views...post injury, after a day where every climb beat me up with endless Bruce Lee karate chops.

Me sulking nature, views…post injury, after a day where every climb beat me up with endless Bruce Lee karate chops.

Even though I have never been a climbing snob, I did at some point get carried away with grade chasing and put more value in that than I really needed to.  After my injury, I started to lap 5.5 birthday laps and had to be happy with it or I could just sit it out for ½ a year and not climb at all.  Kind of like a kid who is crawling….then when they start walking, they see the same world, yet in a totally different way.  That happened to me with climbing those 5.5 birthday laps.   Having been taken back  what seems like 100 steps backwards allowed me to re-discover what I value in climbing again.

In no way am I saying there is no value in achieving a huge goal that happens to be a harder grade. But I have learned in my personal climbing journey the importance to take that 100 mental and psychological steps back and reflect on the simples things. One of the many important things I now like to reflect on is how to continuously figure out along my journey finding the perfect balance between what is really important to value while also trying to challenge myself.

Me sulking nature, views...post a stronger and new climbing me.

Me sulking nature, views…post a stronger and new climbing me.

I am committed to trying my best to take that ‘100 steps back’ from time to time, to keep grounded, keep humble and keep climbing happy. 

Moments of Reflection: Live Life In Every Moment

Live life to the fullest, enjoy every waking moment!

Live life to the fullest, enjoy every waking moment!

I am at the flybe lounge in Manchester, UK after a very precious journey to England.  I spent the weekend with John Ellison from CAC Climbers Against Cancer.   I find it very difficult at the moment to find the right words that match my emotions other than it was the most moving, fun, and touching trip I have had in a very long time.   This is a trip that I will hold dear to my heart forever.

DSC_0185Soon I will be posting on my blog an interview with John, but in the meantime, I feel like I needed to post something from my heart expressing my sincerest gratitude to John for being the ‘hostest with the mostest’ (heehee) as he accommodated having me for a weekend, following him around, asking him questions, taking random pictures at any moment, and so on.  I just want to help raise awareness like many others do as well, but I realize that having someone around in your face experiencing life with you can drain someone’s energy, but John so passionate about his life and CAC and would have it no other way, that is just who he is, an amazing person all around.

John, the most awesome friend anyone can have!

John, the most awesome friend anyone can have!

How did I find CAC?  Like everyone else, I saw all these folks on Facebook wearing colorful t-shirts and then a pro-climber messaged me to check it out, like the page and get a t-shirt.  I had to find out more about this organization.  Let me tell you why.  Years ago, when I was married, my late mother-in-law was diagnosed with advanced non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  With 6 months to live or less, I deferred 2 semesters of college to help take care of her.  Now mind me, my precious sister-in-law moved back home and made the full sacrifice of taking care of her mom 24/7.  The last time I saw my late mom-in-law she asked me to take her to the beach.  We did. By that time I knew I would be working in research and she asked me if I could do anything, even if it only touched a dent in the progress of technology, how would it sound if I dedicated my life to cancer research.  At the moment I knew exactly my calling, and I agreed that that is exactly what I would do.  15 years later, my heart is in my work, not a moment goes by I do not think about the patients in my clinical trials.  It is what moves me to do my job and travel like crazy.  Anyhow, a few years after I divorced, I found this cool thing called CLIMBING!  Then a few years later I run into CAC.  Now with that background….

Fun Moments = Roman fountains closed....but not for climbers like us!

Fun Moments = Roman fountains closed….but not for climbers like us!

I emailed John just to get a little feel of what the organization was about and asking him how I could help.  Then after messages back and forth, I did the inevitable.  I asked him how he would feel if I flew all the way from the US to interview him and get to know more about him and CAC?  I think he was taken by surprised but immediately responded yes ma’am.  In chatting back and forth I got the sense of how wonderful of a guy he is, in fact I expected a really awesome weekend.  Well…..it exceeded my already high expectations. See John is quite an angel, I cannot explain it, but he really is a gem, so precious, yet so beautiful.  John has terminal cancer and he wants to spend every possible moment raising awareness and giving back by raising funds to help further cancer research.  I literally felt his passion over the internet, but in person, it is beyond radiating and his energy is so positive.  Every moment was a precious moment; I cannot explain it any other way other than precious.  You know when you climb to the top of a beautiful line and the view is breathtaking that you have no words that best express the beauty of it all because it just is breathtaking….that is how I felt the whole weekend.

Anyhow, I just needed to reflect on a few things I learned this weekend from John.  But one major tune John made sure I knew was….enjoy every waking moment of your life, and appreciate everything, the big and the small details.  And that I promised myself I would do my best to do from now on.

Friendships like these are precious!

Friendships like these are precious!

While I write up the interview, please take the time to:

  • ‘Like’ CAC Climbers Against Cancer Facebook page
  • Spread the word to your friends and family
  • Buy a T-shirt and wear it with pride (www.climbersagainstcancer.org)

Now off to Spain to Train, if I can secure a dongle (internet), then I will make sure to make several posts next week on my progress of getting back out to my Spain and after my finger injury.

Moments of Reflection – My Personal Journey, A New Perspective

Despite my frustration the past 6 months, one of many reasons the journey is worth it.

Despite my frustration the past 6 months, one of many reasons the journey is worth it.

Growing up I was an elite gymnast and was accustomed to pushing myself, working out long hours and luckily, I was a natural. I performed well and won a lot.  Climbing on the other hand, is a sport I learned much later in life. In my journey, I am finding out I have limitations and I am not ‘immortal’.

Me struggling on a climb I have sent easily in the past.

Me struggling on a climb I have sent easily in the past.

As of recent, these past 6 months, I was challenged with my finger injury and just as I am now beginning to take it to the next level, I woke up Thursday in a funky position and my knee is hurt.  Not sure how it happened, but the reality is, after cragging Saturday, I had to without choice stay home Sunday and rest it.

It definitely has been a frustrating journey these past 6 months.   The first climb I got on yesterday was an 11a, b or c (honestly can’t remember!), but in no way did I get it clean. And the toughest sequence, I was able to prove to myself I could lead into it, but backed down and went right to pass it.  The whole climb up I was focused on proving to myself how much of it could I piece together and how little could I struggle, and boy it was a struggle.   When I came down, my dear friend whom I love so very much basically told me she really did not care how well I climbed, but only cared that I was happy and that I too should just be happy I was out climbing and stop being so hard on myself.  I realized at that moment that she was right.

My rope on the climb my precious friend sent, watching her achieve her goals gave me a new perspective.

My rope on the climb my precious friend sent, watching her achieve her goals gave me a positive, and new perspective.

6 months ago I got on my first real projects at Rumney and yesterday, I battled and struggled.  That is something so hard to swallow that I am not as strong as I was 6 months ago and it is going to be a really slow process back.  This is just the harsh reality of my journey, but I came out yesterday with a fresh, new perspective.

Despite my frustration the past 6 months, one of many reasons the journey is worth it.

Despite my frustration the past 6 months, one of many reasons the journey is worth it.

Here is what aligned my perspective in the right place.  My best friend went through a super challenging year and half, so hard that my heart hurts every time I think about what she has had to battle.  Climbing is something so dear to her heart and is something that when she engages in it, it helps her heart and soul. Kind of like what climbing does for a lot of us.  She could not engage in much climbing and had to go face-to-face with some serious challenges.  She finally has been able get to a better place and started climbing again and training smart.

My bestie leading something she has had her eye on for a while.  Watching her achieve this touched my heart.

My bestie leading something she has had her eye on for a while. Watching her achieve this touched my heart.

Well yesterday she made it a goal to accomplish two things: (1) red point on TR a serious, burly 10c and (2) lead clean a 9+ that she has yearned to do for a few years.  She achieved her goals with so much grace and finesse.  It touched my heart to be there, support her, and witness it. In fact, it touched my heart so much that I forgot all about me and my performance, and so on.  Somehow, all that disappeared and my heart was filled with pure joy for my dear friend.   I realized at that moment that my perspective had to change.  I have to take 10 steps back and re-align my thinking to where my climbing is today, in order to healthily get back to where I was 6 months ago.  The rock is always there waiting for me, why rush to get there at any cost?  I realized I need to throw my ego out the window, and take my time not to send hard again, but to build a climbing journey with grace, finesse and a healthy mind, body and soul.  This is a truly big challenge for a former elite athlete who is highly competitive with herself but totally worth taking on.

The hike to this crag is steep and long, I struggled with my messed up knee, but thankful to see that I am not immortal & have limits too.

The hike to this crag is steep and long, I struggled with my messed up knee, but thankful to realize that I am not immortal & have limits too.

So there you go, a busted finger and knee and having the privilege of watching someone special transform in their journey so gracefully inspired me get a new, healthy perspective.

And here is my journey with many more journals to come along the way!

Hueco Rockin Fun

The Ranch!

The Ranch!

I just wrapped up a quick trip to Hueco Tanks and had quite a magical time.  My purpose of this trip was to compete, test my finger out, no projecting, get mileage on moderates, and just have plain fun. Compared to Joshua Tree bouldering, Hueco is much stiffer for the grade, but offers a variety of climbing from vertical, crimpy, big Huecos, slopers, over hung, high balls, and more.

Fun stuff at New Meadow area

Fun stuff at New Meadow area

At the Hueco Rock Ranch, there were a handful of booths set up. New Belgium Brewery supplied unlimited beer, and the following had booths with products: prAna, Marmot, Osprey, La Sportiva, Adidas, Five Ten, Access Fund, American Alpine Club, and Trango.  Companies like Organic Climbing, Arc’teryx, Asana, and more, sponsored prizes and more for the event.  Overall, great representation!  Daniel Woods did not make it to the Rodeo, but Paul Robinson, Paige Claassen, Angie Payne, and more awesome climbers made up for it.

Beefy Reef

Beefy Reef

It turns out I connected with one of my readers, Amy and her daughter Victoria.  We were in the recreational category so we decided to stick together.  The night prior I strategized with a guy named Al, we decided one warm up, knock off high pointers first and then the easier ones rest of day.  Not knowing the area, the 3 money high pointers were scattered and all of the problems in the score sheet were not necessarily everything I wanted to do.  After frustration of crowds and lines, we decided to put aside the scorecards and just go and climb whatever and wherever we wanted.  This was nice because I would have passed up Beefy Reef if I was chasing the scorecard, and that was my favorite problems of the weekend.

While folks had bloody hands and cuts, me....its all about X-Chalk by Zen Lizard

While folks had bloody hands and cuts, me….its all about X-Chalk by Zen Lizard

Before I get into my experience, for those that have not been to Hueco, here are some simple tips:

  • Getting There – Fly into El Paso, Hueco Tanks is a straight forward shot 30-40 minutes from there.
  • Where to Stay – No brainer, stay at the Hueco Rock Ranch (http://americanalpineclub.org/p/hueco_rock_ranch).
  • Best climbing partner ever

    Best climbing partner ever

    Food and Goods – There is a Wal-Mart on the way to the Ranch, you can stop there to stock up on goods.   There is also a Target close to the airport.

  • Guidebooks – I have the guidebook by Matt Wilder and it is well laid out.  I heard there was a new book coming out, a rumor or true?
  • At Warm Up Boulders for some cooling down

    At Warm Up Boulders for some cooling down

    Recommended Problems Under V5 – Here are some problems that are very doable for those coming out of an injury and just easing back in.  There are way more, for instance, the Gymnasium, I hear they are high, but juggy and good. I like high, but not all folks do, so just something to keep in mind.  We started at the Potato Boulders and worked our way down to the Warm Up Boulders.  So basically, we were all over the mountain. You will need a guidebook or map, as these are all scattered.

    • The New Meadow – Gumby Direct (V0), Gumby Traverse (V1), Everybody Wins (V3), Lobster Claw (V5)
    • The Grenade – Nobody Gets Out of Here Alive (V2)
    • Ghetto Simulator – Ghetto Simulator (V2)
    • Mushroom Boulder – Twisted (V3), Local Flakes (V2), Left of Les (V2)
    • Sign of the Cross – Skimmer (V3), Sign of the Cross (V3)
    • Victoria Won!

      Victoria Won!

      Warm Up Boulders – do everything on Warm Up Wall and Warm Up Boulders, all fun, some sketchy top outs

    • The Big Time – Eye Gouger (V0), Spud Boy (V1), Woman of Leisure (V1)
    • Icarus – Hot Wax (V2), Hebro Sausage Variation (V4)
    • Small Potatoes – Do everything here, from V-easy to V5, all doable and good. Around the corner make sure to get on Beefy Reef (V3)

 

 

Overall my experience was magical.  The scenery was beautiful, the weather was perfect, and my climbing partners were precious, amazing, and fun.  I am very happy with my performance even though my finger did hurt some.

Organic Pads, Get Yours!

Organic Pads, Get Yours!

I learned a few things on this trip:

  • Victoria on And the Bucket of Parts

    Victoria on And the Bucket of Parts

    Never underestimate the 8-year-old dynamite – Victoria started climbing when she was 7 years old and at 8 years of age, she demonstrates great technique and sheer will to climb.  At the end of the trip, I gave her a pink journal with all kinds of cool stuff so that she can journal all of her climbing journeys, comps, trips and so forth.  She won kids division in the intermediate category and ended up in a small interview in the local news!

  • Company is Money – My trip would have been different if my finger was not hurt.  I would likely have been in a different category and not in the same area as Amy and Victoria.  Frankly, they made my trip.  For me, the memories of this trip will not be my tick list, but all of the fun memories spent with the girls!
  • Free Butterfly vs. Restriction – I obviously do not respond well to restriction.  The night prior, I had my problems planned out.  The next morning, when we got to the boulder fields, I was like a child let loose at Toys-R-Us.  There was no way in hell I was going to follow a strict list and pass up anything we passed by that we wanted to try out. The rock in Hueco is just so beautiful!  Amy and Victoria felt the same way and were ready to take off and be free. I was so relieved and happy.  We roamed North Mountain, got lost, got sends, and got lots of laughs in.  So I learned, my character and too much structure do not go well together!
  • Slabby approaches abound Hueco

    Slabby approaches abound Hueco

    Jugs Aren’t Always Best – I found that some of the huge Huecos hurt my finger when I transitioned out of them from my right hand and some crimpers I could bear so as long as I was transitioning off of them quickly.   I made it a point to get on different stuff with different holds to give me a good perspective of what I need to do to train for Spain.  I used slopers for top out handholds than some blocky jugs, weird, but that open handgrip was money this weekend.

  • My Good Ole Smelly Ketanas Rocked – Because most of what we got on was moderate with decent feet, I did not pull out my pythons.  Rather I wore my smelly, falling apart Ketanas.   I realized my footwork has improved quite a bit, and with all efforts to protect my finger, I was ultra sensitive and intentional with my toe work.  Not relying on shoes that are aggressive made me put a lot of conscious effort on my toe work.

I learned a lot and my #1 goal is to keep healing my finger and start working in getting my grip/finger strength in line with my climbing so that I can get good leads in Spain in late March.  Wish me luck!

Where climbing takes us, beautiful views

Where climbing takes us, beautiful views

What is up next?  Late March, as mentioned, is all about Southern Spain.  Up until that point, I will likely hit local crags, get in indoor gym training, and get my finger in better shape.

When are you and your family going to Hueco??!!??

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