About doristheexploris

I am a travel and outdoor enthusiast who is known for chasing adventure everywhere and anywhere!

Moments of Reflection: Chasing Sunsets!

DSC_0112I recently did a fun/climbing combo road trip to California and with me recuperating from a finger injury one thing that was important to us was chasing sunsets.  We would get in the car, and let it take us to our next adventure with no real plans, but there was one thing that was set on the calendar every day, and that was watching the sunset, especially with the ocean.

DSC_0355The first time we did it I was anxious to get moving, and was thinking about climbing, or what’s next, etc.  But after a few days, it became my moment of truths for the day, the trip, me, and just a time to enjoy nature.  The hype and stress of ‘oh my, the sun will set soon, oh my lets find the right spot!’ became so important to us.

I have to say, that trip changed me a little, for the good. I went to the gym with one of my good ole climbing buddies who just had twins, she has a toddler plus a house to take care of. She and her awesome hubby are finding their way with their growing family and getting DSC_0158their climbing workout. She was just so happy to climb with a human belayer vs. jumping on auto belay in between feeding or changing or playing with the boys.  And I was totally fine with going in the gym and getting in a climbing session that was not about leading or bouldering hard stuff, we were happy to get on anything or everything and focus on getting stronger, refining our technique, and footwork.  This time last year I would have measured my success on how hard I climbed and did I lead strong and so on. Now, it is more of am I happy with my pDSC_0083erformance?  What are my objectives?  Did I meet them?  Talking about spectator (partner) and personal highlights after our climbing session.  It is more of an all encompassing journey for me now.  In fact, I just chatted with my Spain mentor and normally I am like “I want to climb the whole time, hard, ok?”  This time I was like, I need a day of coaching, a day of sending, a day for you to have your project and I will belay you and a day where I will help you with your clients and be a rope gun and so on.  I think she was shocked I am not proposing Doris send fests but rather a trip that will make me stronger inside and out as a climber.

DSC_0183Even though I am determined to get back where I was or even better, its not to be picked up by a company to be sponsored or write in a major magazine, but just so I can have plenty of climbing options and continue climbing around the world and chasing those sunsets.  Yes, when I send some of my projects, it will be a happy moment, but what I experienced in California was beyond happy, it balanced me out and made me more grounded of a climber.

SDSC_0094o the point to all this other that seeing these nice sunset pictures?  I realized climbing is a very important part of my life partly because of the challenge it presents and the feeling I get reminds me sometimes when I was an athlete growing up. But more important is the journey and places it takes me.  I had some pretty darn big goals last year, but it was wiped out from a finger injury….and I am still here, climbing. I realize that as years pass I will set all kinds of climbing goals, but I should never forget to ‘chase those sunsets’, I want to continue growing in my journey as a climber.  Where do I want to be in 10 years as a climber?  Not a pro-climber, not a 5.20 climber, but a happy and strong climber who has climbed and is climbing in pretty cool spots all over the world…and if in that journey I accomplish a hard grade or boulder problem, kudos to me, but if not, kudos to me, because I am still climbing strong!

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Moments of Reflection: Getting my Game Back On!

the consequences of working hard on the Asheboro rock

the consequences of working hard on the Asheboro rock

I got 2012 started with a bang with lots of really cool goals and climbing trips.  A few finger injuries later, I would heal just enough to get psyched training again and then another injury.  I never had enough time in-between injuries to get all the trips and climbs I wanted to journey through in 2012.   Rather, I have spent the last 6 months climbing more moderates than I ever have before.

yeay got her done

yeay got her done

Why?  Because I could technically still climb (just not very hard), a really sweet and resourceful climber and mentor told me to work on the below while I let my finger heal and get stronger:

  • Get that fancy footwork (specifically climbing using toe frame of reference, soft and intentional placements, etc.).
  • Overemphasize climbing moves and engage that core, even with moderates (in every easy climb, rather than walk up straight up, use every technical move you normally need in advance climbs).
  • Get lots of mileage in, any climbing is better than no climbing (if you risk injuring yourself at a higher grade, climb lots and lots of easier grades while your finger heals).
  • Start cross-training to just stay healthy and strong (for me, I chose training hikes, running, yoga & light weights/higher reps exercises)
  • what do you see funny in this pic....look by the tree, to the right....

    what do you see funny in this pic….look by the tree, to the right….

    Boulder easy problems (V0-V2) over and over again.  Make bouldering 50% of my climbing workout, by default, it should help enhance my footwork and help maintain some of my strength while I take a step back from harder climbing.

  • When you are healed up, start hang boarding. Meanwhile, for the time being, go to the hang board and hang on the top part with jugs.  If you can, do a pull up or two.

I have done just that even though I sometimes feel frustrated I am not being challenged enough.  I am sure everyone going through or having gone through some sort of injury can totally relate to this scenario.

Well, I am slowly but surely getting better and that finger is healing.  And even though I have been working hard, I have noticed I am stronger, footwork is better, I can make all kinds of climbing moves with confidence.  I have noticed my fingers are weaker and have a harder time keeping up especially if I try to get on a harder, longer top rope or lead route.

Lanisha taking Darth Vader on

Lanisha taking Darth Vader on

With still much work ahead of me, I felt like it was time to get out again.  I started with a California road trip and bouldered at Joshua Tree in December.  I got in my first high balls ever, did various lower boulders up to V4s.  That is all my finger could handle, but all were on sights, which felt awesome.

Next, I decided to accompany some super awesome friends to the Asheboro, NC boulder fields, no guidebook, just a cool place to boulder under 2 hours drive.  Contrary to California, the bouldering at Asheboro is stiff, rock is solid, problems are super committing and top outs sometimes can be a little quivery.

I have bouldered in Asheboro before, but had little climbing experience and no bouldering confidence.  My goal on this trip was to go for anything V0 to V4, work on getting my head game back and see what my finger could handle.

A happy sender

A happy sender

Here is the positive low down on the trip:

  • I accomplished everything I had planned to get done and most of all, I feel like I got a good start towards getting my game back on.
  • I started quivery and not so confident, but was able to find my way through.  Overall I felt very good about my performance.
  • Nothing felt hard, so that means that my biggest obstacles was my head game and getting my finger back on track.
  • Everyone crushed, and one of our partners who had very few outdoor climbing experiences sent almost every problem she tried.
  • The day was full of super positive and encouraging energy.
  • Our skin was raw at the end of the day, which is a sign we worked it hard at Asheboro boulders!
  • I have a return trip to get clean Darth Vader.  Also, I did not get a chance to get on Jonny Quest, Alien Head, and Lighting Bolt Crack, so want to get on these.  And who knows, there might be more to get on!
After a handful of quivery boulder problems, I finally got my head on when I sent The Seam...here I am a happy camper!

After a handful of quivery boulder problems, I finally got my head on when I sent The Seam…here I am a happy camper!

Now that I have this trip said and done with, I have a few more bouldering trips in North Carolina (including Asheboro!), a session in Bishop in the spring and at Hueco in the winter.

In between I have lots of sport trips planned and a few trad-climbing adventures.

As I achieve goals and meet challenges, I will share pictures and even more important, lessons learned for all of us to draw from.

Happy 2013 and join me in getting your game on, start planning your adventures, know matter where or the grade, go get it!

hard working crew ready to go get sushi!

hard working crew ready to go get sushi!

Organic Climbing – Get Yours!

Just a quick note, I give my custom made full and suitcase Organic Climbing pad a Perfect 10.  Get yours with a matching chalk bag too!

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Moments of Reflection: Road Trippin’ Part I

road trip partners

road trip partners

I just recently posted how climbing isn’t everything.  I hate to say this, but its true.  If I could climb 150% of the time, I would, but in reality, there are so many beautiful things we really need to fit in our lives.  If we plan to climb a long time on through retirement…when we are  contemplating dentures, we want to be planning climbing instead!  To do this, we need to expand that long-lived beautiful climbing journey.

What do I mean?  Is Climbingjourney crazy? Well of course Climbingjourney is crazy, I travel everywhere to chase climbs no matter what the grade!  But I also learn along the way and want to share that all encompassing journey.

don't do what I do

don’t do what I do

Once upon a time, DorisTheExploris planned a bad ass climbing 100% of the time trip to El Potrero Chico, Mexico.  Then one day I was so excited, ran to answer my phone, and ran into the doorframe and my finger did a gymnastic split.  With that split came a yucky finger injury and that bad ass-climbing trip got cancelled and replaced with a road trip going from Southern California to San Francisco.

I initially planned some climbing and well….it rained just around where I wanted to rope up and lead and my partner bailed last minute due to a minor accident.  I did get to do some bouldering and to note I got in my very first high balls and got on a much harder boulder problem for the first time since like 6 months right at Joshua Tree, and that was before we ran into a ginormous coyote, no mountain lions so I am grateful baby!  So…..20% of the trip ended up being climbing and the rest was everything you can imagine….well that two gals would run into a true road trip.

ready to boulder!

ready to boulder!

I will be doing a couple pieces on shared learning’s from my trip rather than do an official trip report.    We all climb and we all send, but who all road trips with a funny photographer just because? Do you want to hear how and what I sent or what I did and how you can live vicariously through it AND plan your very own road trip?  I choose the latter because it’s not about all I send, but what we all send!

some of my random folks

some of my random folks

Here are 15 things you need to do when YOU take the California road trip!

  1. When you land, go to the dollar tree, and decorate your car with a theme and have a mascot.  Ours was Pokie and Chillax Santa.
  2. Make it a priority to chase sunsets, every single freaking day of the road trip likes it’s the highest paying job in the world.
  3. Hike one of those forests with big big ass trees.
  4. Climb up a big ass sand dune, sit at the top, and watch the sun set.
  5. Go at night and sit at one of the lifeguard stands, drink bubbles and reflect and meditate.
  6. Find a friendly animal farm of some sort and enjoy them and give them love, we went to the miniature horse farm in Solvang.

    find a state park of some sort and get these views, boulder and climb

    find a state park of some sort and get these views, boulder and climb

  7. Make sure the trip is mostly on the coast, and if inland any, chase beautiful windy roads with rolling hills, or anything scenic, avoid anything that will not inspire your road trippin’ (yes I am highly educated but I keep misspelling that on purpose)!
  8. Use Yelp and eat at every healthy hole in the wall place that is unique and has good reviews, make sure to try at least one thing outside of your comfort zone (in other words, avoid chains, yes even Starbucks).
  9. oh my, a big ass tree

    oh my, a big ass tree

    Get a picture of a each sunset, a unique tree, a surfer, an elephant seal, a bird, a random person, a random thing (mine was Lobsta Truck!), and so on….get pics that help you reflect back to appreciate all the memories of the trip, from the simplest to the most memorable moments.

  10. Make it a point to meet 5 strangers along the way, that does not mean pick up 5 strangers, or exchange personal information, that is 5 people you went out of your way to exchange conversation with in passing just because. Write each exchange down for you to later reflect on.  On my next piece, I will share with you my 5 people.
  11. Climb at least two things that are not climbable (I climbed a tree and a window with no spotters, hahaha!), because whether we like it or not, we are climbers and we need to let people know who we are.
  12. Buy one cool item you will leave in the rental car for the rental car agent that takes your car, something that is worth leaving like a souvenir or gift as a random act of kindness.

    chasing yet more sunsets

    chasing yet more sunsets

  13. Make sure every morning you are kind to your body and do 3 yoga stretches.
  14. Don’t go to bed at night without sharing highlights of the day with your road trip partner.  Make them share their highlights too!
  15. Drive Big Sur in the damn day, it is too beautiful to miss if you drive at night and gas your car up way before, its too expensive at those little towns along the way.

And this story is to be continued….as Sophia’s and Doris’ Californication Excursion turns (get it As the World Turns soap opera?)…..now you should laugh out loud (LOL), just to show I know APA. Meanwhile, enjoy the slide show below of just a couple of many photos I will share over the next week or so with each post.  

meditation is healing

meditation is healing

Hope you enjoy and are planning your very own combination climbing/fun road trip, and if you do, I would love to highlight it in my blog!

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Moments of Reflection: Looking Back, That B’Ding Thing Addiction!

me getting some first time experience doing that B'Ding thing

me getting some first time experience doing that B’Ding thing

Addictions are usually tied in with something negative. However, the climbing Gods support climbing addictions, so its true, we are not crazy, just everyone else is!

the B'Ding thing's most important gear

the B’Ding thing’s most important gear

So about 3 years ago I became addicted to rock climbing at Triangle Rock Club in Morrisville, NC and at that moment my goal was to do just like the folks did in the movie ‘Cliffhanger’, I wanted nothing less. Well, when one starts climbing, slowly but surely our brain has stored ‘smart’ climbing brain cells, they activate, and develop over time (for at least most of us) and then we realize things like ‘Cliffhanger’ is actually something we would never do. It’s like surgeons watching Greys Anatomy and saying ‘ummm we never do that!’.

Anyhow, I would always see these boulderers running around doing what they call ‘problems’, and at first I thought, if it is such a big problem, I want nothing to do with that! Then I would see people spraining their ankles from falling in awkward positions or rolling their ankle off the side of the mat when they land. So I thought, yeah….I would rather go 1000 feet up high with a rope. So then one of my closest climbing friends went to what we called ‘the dark side’ and then I saw him running around the boulder area, talking the boulder ‘jive’, high fiving and topping out or falling down. I kept threatening to take his bi-color pattern rope that he found on Steep and Cheap since it has been collecting dust, but he refuses because he will pull it out once in a very blue moon.

on a quick trip to go to Antigua, no shoes, no pads, thats ok, Doris is bouldering in Central Park anyway!

on a quick trip to go to Antigua, no shoes, no pads, thats ok, Doris is bouldering in Central Park anyway!

I found that part of the sport a mystery. Then one day my friend Sandy talked me into bouldering. I ENJOYED it more than words can describe. In fact, my rope-climbing friends were looking over and whispering ‘is that Doris bouldering?’. So I would secretly whisper to Sandy, ‘guess what, I like that b’ding thing’. Which now you know how that made up Doris’ized word came about, I wanted to keep from saying the big real word so no one would faint hearing it! Along the way so many folks thought it was so cool and joined me. Others tried and decided, it was not for them. Which is totally fine. But I liked that word ‘b’ding’ so much, Sandy and I joke about it all the time.

In my journey this year, I found bouldering 40-50% of the time has helped sharpen my climbing skills. But also I found that those folks running around spotting, high fiving, jiving around with crash pads, is such a cool climbing community just like everyone else. They are not a secret society and welcome everyone, even me, crazy Doris (haha). In fact, as I write this piece I am thinking of a few problems I need to finish when I get back. See how strong my b’ding addiction is!

The beany'itis situation in my house!

The beany’itis situation in my house!

Below see some of the transformation I have seen in my climbing this year, but also my biggest transformation is I am going on my first flying climbing journey with a bunch of crash pads. Normally its all about roping all over the world, but guess what? That desire has expanded to also bouldering. Instead of roping up at J-Tree, I will be figuring out problems and falling on my Organic Crash pad (and others) and wearing my beanie.

traverse then up in Bermuda

traverse then up in Bermuda

  • Sequencing – Most boulder problems can be compared to cruxes of a climb and so you know a good problem when you have some serious sequencing from ground to the top. I felt once I started bouldering, I was sequencing so much more, putting pieces of the puzzle together constantly, and now I know how those B’Dingers draw folks in. It is amazing and addicting to work on figuring something out. Once you do, you gotta get the next and the next and the next and so on and so on. Before you know it, you are hooked.
  • Focus – I notice I really climb so much better on lead. Leading is like mini-boulder problems, from bolt to bolt you really are climbing free, except for bouldering there is no rope obviously. I found myself not just sharper in my sequencing skills; I found that bouldering sharpened my ability to focus better. One because I am trying so damn hard to piece moves together so I can get to the top, but also I sure as hell don’t want to fall!
  • even with shoes on, we gotta scope out the next best thing

    even with shoes on, we gotta scope out the next best thing

    Delicate Power – I was a crimpy, techy climber and liked nothing else really, I would always say, ‘Oh that climb is not my style.’ Bouldering taught me to climb anything, overhung, sloapers, jugs, laybacks, and more. In fact, I am most pleased how much I LOVE slopers. This summer I was at Rumney and I remember there was a climb where the crux was a tiny bit run out and you had to hang on a nice round sloper and one good foot. I went first, and thought that was the best part of the climb. Everyone else hung there just because of fear of clipping and not being able to hang on. 2 years ago, I would have just heard about it and avoided it! Also I am way stronger and more powerful with my moves since bouldering.

  • Fancy Prancy Feet – I had been really working on my footwork and well, bouldering pushed me to that next step. Back when I started, I did not like those round or not so positive jibs for feet, now I can stand like if I was on a ledge.
  • Beany’itis – I always love beanies, but I am not sure why, when I boulder, I need them even more. Can someone please explain this phenomenon to me? This is an observation I have made and cannot figure it out other than its just plain cool.
Bermuda has sharp, but fun bouldering

Bermuda has sharp, but fun bouldering

So next time you are in the gym, try out that B’Ding thing!

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Moments of Reflection: End of Year Inspiration

CIMG0760I just wrapped up an interview with Beaver T from prAna and I get chills every time read through my notes (post under review and once approved I will post soon!).  The interview forced me to dig deep and within beyond climbing.

CIMG0839It has been over a month of having this finger injury and to tie it back to my visit with prAna, as I journey along with my climbing, I am surprised that when I first started I cared more about grades and the physical (or face value) aspect of climbing.   While you read this article, yet again I am posting pictures from an inspiring (and training) hike I did recently in California, just because!

Now I care more about the overall experience and how it helps me grow from within.  I think that that sort of inspiration will ultimately help my climbing.

CIMG0875From the beginning of starting this blog I have always said to enjoy your climbing no matter what the grade.  I mean that.  At the moment, with my finger injury, I have to take it easy.  I have used every session at the gym to work on foot work, endurance, slowly challenge myself, but most of all, the injuries this year has forced me to explore the need to transform into a climber that is balanced and healthy in what they say “mind, body and soul”.

For instance, the other day I went to the gym and I climbed only 5.6, 5.7 and 5.8s consecutively to see how many I could do without pain.  I reached about 11 climbs.  I then a few days later bouldered the 5.10s in the lead cave, and although physically in body movement the climbs did not feel super challenging, the pain and weakness in my right fingers did dictate I was not ready yet to push myself.

CIMG0810I cancelled a trip to El Potrero over Christmas, a family trip fell through, and I thought what will fall on my lap, what am I meant to do? Somehow in just a couple days a miraculous trip came together.  My friend Sophia and I will start from the south of California and tour all the way to Northern California (aka, San Fran).  We will boulder, hike, climb and sight see.  So this trip is not about Doris climbing 24/7, but rather it is more of a true journey.

CIMG0799My goal out of the trip is not to produce a trip report of all my hard sends, but rather I hope this trip helps me meditate on 2012, the good and the lessons learned.  I hope this trip helps me sulk in the beautiful Sierras and draw inspiration when forming my New Years Resolutions as well as making climbing and personal goals for the next year.

This time last year I would have been devastated in cancelling a full fledge climbing trip.  This year I lovingly and soulfully embraced the opportunity to explore and sulk in nature. I am happy to have some climbing and hiking as part of the trip, and also happy I have a non-climbing friend with me on this adventure.  I never realized this, but it is forcing me to experience the other pretty and precious things of life in addition to climbing.  CIMG0876

Together, we hope to experience an adventure to remember!

Meanwhile Sophia and I plan out (kind of, sort of, haha) our Californication adventures, enjoy the slide show of my recent hike in Crystal Cove, CA and….. 

(1) Meditate on 2012, list out the good and the lessons learned (rather than the bad),

(2) Think about a few New Years Resolutions, and

(3) Set at least one climbing and person goal to achieve next year.

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Moments of Reflection: Enjoying Nature’s Gift While Getting Your Climbing Fitness On!

Today I went for a training hike and realized how much I miss hiking and how I need to do it more.  Why? I love all the lovely gifts nature has to give.  This piece is really more about fitness and climbing, but I cannot help but share the loveliness I found today hiking nearby my house.  While you read on my insane thoughts on climbing fitness, let the pictures remind us all of how we can enjoy getting fit for climbing while sulking up the beauty of outdoors.

Just a few years ago, I learned this thing called rock climbing and can I say I truly have become addicted.   However, a recent finger injury has forced me to see that in order to improve my climbing and hopefully prevent injuries, I need to cross train.  Duh!  Well I have known this all along, but I rode the climbing gravy train as long as I could.  This year I have suffered more than one finger injury than I ever have wanted to experience, and ironically both were unavoidable.  One injury was when I was in an easy warm-up, my foot cut off while I was holding onto a pocket and my finger got literally stuck in a pocket.  I was so lucky I did not break my finger.  And just as I was getting over that 4 or so weeks later, I ran my hand into the side of the door and my middle and index finger performed a gymnastic split (plus earlier that day I stressed it on an overhung climb while training hard).  X-rays showed my tendon was overstretched, funny how we turn everything into climbing, but I visited a hand surgeon I interned with over 10 years ago and I told him….”oh my, my tendon has slack in its system!”  He looked at me and said, “I don’t understand that language, but I gather you know exactly what’s going on here!”

That being said, I am very busy traveling around, earning my PhD and doing that thang called a J-O-B and I seriously am just pooped.  So I have been trying to engage in activities I loved before I became a climber.  Running, yoga, surfing, hiking, kayaking and mountain biking were some of my favorite activities.    But, to be realistic, I just cannot do them all at once.  So, I started alternating running and hiking week by week only over the past couple weeks and so far, things are good.

I used to be an elite gymnast and most of my life on through adulthood; I have been quite the skinny chick.  After my divorce, I gained weight, and then I learned about rock climbing.  I know that if I want to really up my game, I need a better weight to strength ratio.  However, I love myself and no longer want to stress and obsess all day striving for a 10% body fat kind of body.   I do however, need to get into better shape and want to avoid building a buff, too muscly type body.  I love the more gymnast/dancer softer look.  So, by default, I almost always like to do callisthenic type of exercises or do higher reps/lower weights.  I know some will disagree, but as a gymnast, I got strong and pushed the limit when I had longer, lean muscles and when I could carry my body weight, rather than have tons of manly muscles.  If you notice gymnasts, they swing and flip, bounce around and execute moves with good form.  As a gymnast, I hardly ever touched weights, had less than 10% body fat and could do over 100 proper push-ups or pull-ups in any sitting.  Gymnasts need the proper body to weight ratio just like climbers.  I am 5’4” and well over 150 lbs., yet I can climb all over the world.

That being said, I attribute my ability to climb so well despite my weight and lack of exercise because of my sheer determination, but 99% due to my ability to understand my body and movement from doing gymnastics so long. Most think I am quite a unique climber, but really, I am always looking for the best technique to get through a move or sequence.  I even think about torque, and physics type crap while I climb!

So I figured, even though I am no fitness expert, I did spend most of my life as an elite athlete and ironically in the kind of sport that I think parallels climbing a lot.  As a gymnast how did I avoid injuries?  I WAS FLEXIBLE and STRONG in the tiny muscle groups, not just large muscle groups.  I also could hold my weight in all kinds of body positions and execute tricks and all kinds of arm locking moves. Sound familiar?  Sounds like the kind of things we do in climbing, right?!?!



Here are my goals for the next 4-6 weeks:

  • Heal that finger! – While my finger heals, I want to climb fairly easy, and emphasize on technique, focus on soft and precise footwork, transition those D-Money cirque de soleil body movements from gratuitous to intuitive (almost to the point to where it is natural), and work on climbing endurance.
  • Enjoy Nature’s Gifts – I love the outdoors and used to only really enjoy hiking on my climbing approaches.  But now, I realize how much I miss hiking and getting lost in nature.  So I will hike, hike, hike and alternate with trail running.
  • Cross train – As much as I love indulging in fun and fatty foods, I do need to do some cross training and get into better shape. I like to do callisthenic type exercises and lower weight/high reps because, even though I am no expert, I really feel if you simulate exercises that rely on building strength off your body, that can improve one’s climbing. Why?  Climbers agree good strength to weight ratio is money for performance, and I guess if one is strong with his or her body weight, that should not make one’s climbing worse but actually better.

Here is what my last two weeks have looked like.  I plan to do the same the next two weeks, except I will boulder one day and rope climb (easy, endurance) one day vs. boulder every time I go into the gym.  At my 4-6 week point, I will change it up a little and start trying to ease into hang boarding and so on.

Climbing Activities – 1-2 times per week

  • Boulder – My finger hurts on V2s, so I have bouldered all the V0s and V1s & focused on my footwork and technique.  Also rather than ladder up, I take every opportunity to find other ways to get up the problem other than climb up like a ladder…use heel hooks, in steps, back flags, lock offs, and so on.  I then go to the lead cave and on the areas that are slightly overhung to vertical, I boulder 10s and 11s up to about 15 or 20 feet. I do each one about 3-5 times and move on.  I try to not exceed 5 climbs.  Stretch, particularly your fingers, wrists, shoulder, back and legs….oooops, as much as your body you can think of!
  • Endurance Boulder – I up and down climb 3 times without touching the ground up on about 3-5 V0s and 3-5 V1s. I then go to the gym and alternate stretch then some form of opposing muscle exercise with either light weights/high reps or my body weight (e.g., planks).  Stretch, particularly your fingers, wrists, shoulder, back and legs….oooops, as much as your body you can think of!

Non-Climbing Activities – 4 times per week

  • Week 1 – Run 3-5 miles (fairly flat terrain with a couple small hills) 3 days of the week and cross train (arms, legs, then both).  Again, I generally like to do light weights/high reps or use my own body weight (e.g., planks, push ups, etc.). Stretch, particularly your fingers, wrists, shoulder, back and legs….oooops, as much as your body you can think of!
  • Week 2 – Hike about 1-2 hours, medium to fast pace and do some form of yoga that same week. While hiking, every 2-3 songs, stop and drop and do push ups, or lunges, squats, and so on.  I like the number 25 x 2 because it works for me to keep it simple and repetitive.  So after 2-3 songs I drop and do 25 push ups, rest/stretch that area for about 10 seconds, do it again.  Drink water and hike on. Stretch, particularly your fingers, wrists, shoulder, back and legs….oooops, as much as your body you can think of!

Again, I am no expert and have read a ton of everything.  And I keep defaulting back to what I know best, my gymnastic background and what my body likes.

Also, I found this link the other day and not sure yet how, but I think I will incorporate some of these tips in my fitness goals.  Since sharing is for caring….and I am a girl, here you go, for the girlie readers: http://girlbeta.com/category/other-training/.

In the meantime, while I hiked my butt off, I managed to get great pictures, enjoy what gifts nature has to give us!

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Moments of Reflection: Live Life Beautifully

Recently I have injured a tendon in my middle finger and it is one of those injuries that does not have a quick fix, over time I need to give it time to heal.  I can still climb, but I have to take it easy, which is driving me insane.

Tonight, I started to look at my recent Utah pictures and came to the conclusion that climbing to me has truly been an amazing sport.


Despite development of calluses on my feet, no more french pedicures, sort of not so pretty toe nails, rough hands, short finger nails and so on and so on….climbing has taken me so many beautiful places I would have never seen as a general tourist somewhere.


I have always had an adventurous spirit and love to travel, but climbing has taught me that I really live life beautifully.

So this blog post is to encourage everyone this week to live life beautifully!

Be sure to check out the pictures in the slide show below.  They are a collection of pictures I recently took a few weeks ago in Salt Lake City, Utah.  They are so simple, yet each picture gives us all a feeling of what we see when we climb.

I know you all can find one picture this week to capture the moment of you living life beautifully.

Whether you capture the moment from a hike, from watching your kids laugh with joy, from a fun bike ride, from watching a beautiful sun set, from seeing a rainbow after a storm, and so on and so on.

Whatever it may be, let us all document one picture this week, post it on your Facebook and title it Live Life Beautifully!  

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Moments of Reflection: Live Life Strong!

It is time to embark the weekend journey.  What to do, what to do?

Having a finger injury is not fun for rock climbers because climbing with one arm is not impossible, but super hard.

I tried climbing in Utah last weekend and let me tell you trying to climb making my left hand the primary source of force (haha my lame rhymes!) is….lets say my left arm got pumped out!

So if I cannot climb today in order to slowly help heal that finger, I decided to would play a little this weekend.


Today after working a long day, I decided to take a 4-mile speed walk beside the SoCal ocean and began to reflect….and I kept thinking Live Life Strong, Live Life Strong….Live Life Strong…here is what my brain spit out after 4-miles of ocean in motion…..



Live life reflecting and learning from the past, enjoying life in the current moment, and planning a soulful and peaceful you in the future.


Take life as it comes at you and make the best with what you have to work with.


The best you make of your past, present and future will always help build a stronger you!

Enjoy the slides below, find the picture or pictures that inspire you and reflect on how you will embark a weekend to remember, enjoying the simple things in life whether hiking, rock climbing, swimming, running, or just plain chillax’ing….

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Moments in Reflection: Climb today for tomorrow!

Fresh off the press, attention everyone…I got a knuckle/middle finger injury, no fun!  How did this happen?  I started training to get revved up for November/December adventures overseas so I visited with a dear friend Peak Experiences near Richmond, VA.  Why?  They have walls double the height that of my home gym and typically set stellar routes that trigger good moves, which for me meant solid training.  My friend and I really climbed so well, but I just got too greedy. Towards the end of our workout, I eyed an overhung climb (my weakness).  I started it with what I think is smooth, fancy foot technique, but encountered a reachy section, which required grabbing a pincher with the right hand.  It was a far reach right, but I surely hit it right on, only my left foot cut right off.  And what did I do?  Hold on to that damn pincher.  Not very smart, but in reality it was an instinctive thing to do.

Anyhow, I thought about what were some potential causes to this injury and was it preventable?   I came up with lots of thoughts, but here is my analogy in summary.

  • Strength to weight ratio – I trained earlier this year for a Spain adventure and reached a seriously great climbing place.  I was strong, confident in my climbing, and finally felt like I opened up a lot of climbing options.  But after that trip I have been traveling like an insane chica.  So I have been climbing outdoors, but not much cross training or indoor gym training.  Naturally, slowly but surely my level of strength has declined over the summer, but my technique has improved quite a bit. I have been able to climb most of the summer without injury because of my continuously improving technique plus I have not pushed my limits like I did in Spain.
  • Tired self and muscles – We climbed at Peak Experience like fierce warriors.  We climbed everything we could get on; we pushed our limits within reason.   When I decided to climb that overhung climb I was exhausted and my limbs were too.  I essentially set my self up for that injury in a way.  I grabbed a pincher in the most overhung part of the climb and my body weight pulled right on it when my foot cut off, causing stress to my finger.  I also usually have super strong lock offs, but that has weakened too over the summer. So I had weak fingers, weak lock off and all of sudden rapid weight to take on.   This is an easy formula to figure out.
  • Over eager and greedy – It seemed every climb we hit, our climbing just got better and better.  Oh and so did my ego.  See with my recent decline in strength I have been frustrated climbing at my home gym the past month.  And all of sudden, my body had its ‘a-ha’ moment, yes I finally found that hidden Spain climber from April of this year, or at least I saw the potential coming right back.  I even dreamed of my fun climbing I would do this winter.  I got over eager and greedy.  I pushed my limit and not that I should settle, but I kept pushing it, like gambling.  And I knew inside where I reached my limit, but that last overhung climb was not a smart choice. In April, I would have sent it clean blindfolded. But a few weeks ago, nope, it was going to be a struggle and I was iffy about it.  I knew deep down it should have not gone down, but my excitement and over eagerness and memories of my strong climbing self a few months earlier said ‘what the heck, just do it!’  And now I have a hurty knuckle/middle finger!  I essentially got greedy; the perfect workout was not enough.  This was my first train hard get serious session, why go for the gold all in one sitting?  Cause I got greedy!

Coming to Jesus Moral of the Story -I studied Occupational Therapy and right before graduation (oh my, yes I did do that) I switched to health sciences and pre-medicine.  I interned quite a bit at the Raleigh Hand Center and did not follow any of the advice I shared with my patients.  One of my biggest advice to patients was “learn your body’s language and listen to it!”  I had a great workout and that overhung climb was more of an ego thing, my body was saying ‘what? What? Oh hell no this sucker ain’t going down today’, but my ego was like ‘yeah girl, get her done, put a postage stamp on it, send it!’

Lessons Learned – Ways to prevent injuries like this and build stronger and happy you and me!

  • Learn your body language and LISTEN to it – If you struggle on a grade on a given day, stay at that grade or lower.  Some may disagree, but if one day you are struggling on a 5.9 lets say and your goal is to get through 10 climbs mix it up like try to do all the nines in the gym and every 2 climbs do a 5.8 and mix that up (1 over hung 8, 1 vertical 8, 1 slabby 8, and so on).  Why?  You are going to get old some day and you will have hurty joints and bones, or that thing called arthritis.  Build a climbing journey over time not just in the moment.

  • Cross train & build strength – Ok, seriously, foot work fancy chic like me who used to be a gymnast, I can get away with climbing higher grades given my strength to weight ratio.  But it will catch up to you and also building some strength will actually improve performance.  Make sure on off climbing days to work out those muscles (including opposing ones).  Those lock off move come handy, but require a level of strength too.   Build those muscles to push through the moves that require strength and will not go down easy just on fancy footwork.
  • Stretch, stretch, and stretch – Well I used to be able to do all my splits (can still do some), bend every which way.  It was not only for pretty dance, but primarily to avoid injury.  A-ha!  How does a former elite gymnast not remember this?  Flexibility will not only help you hit that cool high hand-foot match move, but overall, it will help prevent injury.  Make sure if anything to stretch before and after climbing sessions such as your fingers, wrist, shoulder, legs, and calves (yup, Elvis legs is proof that your calf is getting worked!).   Build a flexible body for maximum performance and to prevent injuries. 
  • Go for a pyramid-climbing workout – I have a friend who is an insane climber and I climbed with him earlier this year thinking he would send some crazy 5.14s, but rather he did a bunch of 10s and 11s.  He builds his climbs week to week in anticipation of when he wants to peak. Then he hits that 5.14 trip, hits sick sends and then tapers back down all over again. I was surprised at this and asked how in the world does he do it.  He said he has been climbing all his life and wants to climb until he is an old man.  So when he pyramids back down, he ups the cross training.  When he is on the weeks closer to his peak, he tapers down the cross training to encourage muscle recovery and avoid over stressing his tendons, and so on. He also at his peaks does more relaxing yoga than usual.  Build less of an ego that involves less hard sending 100% of the time, but more climbing over the span of your life.
  • Add variability to your climbing – Slap them slopers, grab those jugs, hook that heel, lay back baby, jam that crack and more.  We all have styles and moves we prefer.  But if you climb everything and anything you can get on you build a wider variety of skill sets.  Each type of hold has its art, like slopers and ledges are best from below, under clings are strongest once you go above it, and so on.  Build an open mind that will open your climbing options over time and give you a well-rounded climbing journey.

Blog posts soon to come, share in my journey in recovering that hurty middle finger and knuckle!

Moments of Reflection: Sharing is for Caring!

happy climbing hands!

The last few months have been insane, I have traveled more days for work than days resting at home.  I think for once being on a plane and running research projects while mobile depleted my energy and brain cells to write (haha).  But in all this time, a lot has happened so more posts to come!

Imagine….I walked in a climbing gym, got the rental shoes, funky rental harness and looked around, observed, and thought what the hell, can I really do this?  And then there I was, learning to tie a figure eight and getting belay certified.  I had never been so nervous in my life.  Then I proceeded to work hard all night trying to get above a small bulge (then to me a massive roof) on a super easy climb.  How was your first time climbing?  That was mine, and I am sure everyone has had that moment of being a newbie.

practicing stick clipping

And aren’t we all so gracious to have had mentors teach us all those simple things that are easy to us, like my friend taught me to ‘tap the wall with my feet, up up up” which was really smear that damn wall!   I will never forget when I heard the word ‘crux’, I thought it was maybe a drug or something.  And ‘gaston’ sounded so French and fancy, ‘pincher’ sounded like a something you did to a kid with chubby cheeks, ‘sloaper’ sounded like a fighting word, ‘back step’ and ‘in step’ sounded like a dance move, ‘crag’ sounded like a inner street slang we would use back in the day in Brooklyn, ‘overhung’ sounded like….well you get my drift….it was a new language to me and I had no earthling idea how I was going to go from the gym to the real mountains and be like the movie Cliffhanger (yes I actually thought Cliffhanger was real and cool until I got some climbing sense).

first sport outdoor leads

Almost 3 years later, I feel like I still have a long way to go, but been so fortunate to climb all over the world and also learn from so many safe, conservative, and experienced climbers.  I made it a promise to achieve in mentoring and coaching friends as much as I did in climbing.

Just recently (during my blog hiatus, writers block, not really block but just too stressed with work), I accompanied two friends to share in their first real outdoor overnight climbing trip.




On our checklist:

  1. Teach them how to plan a fun yet safe climbing trip (pick a crag, reserve campground, packing, figure out what gear is needed, what to expect, and so on)
  2. Get in a 1st sport lead
  3. Clean an anchor
  4. Have lots of fun!

cleaning an anchor not on the fly, but after it was well practiced prior to the crag

We accomplished that and then some.  However, part of any mentoring can be dangerous.  You are teaching someone to be independent in their climbing and help contribute to their climbing journey.  Why can it be dangerous? I have been destination climbing everywhere and I see so many decisions that are not ideal and practicing unsafe techniques.  When we get ‘good’, we take the simplest things for granted.  For instance, do you check and thoroughly inspect your partner’s figure eight every time before they climb?  I do, and make sure anyone I climb with gets into that habit.  Do you communicate plans before leaving the ground?  I do and make sure anyone I climb with gets into that habit.  And the reason I treat many of these simple routines with caution and attention is because my mentors over and over emphasized it with me.  If you plan on giving back by mentoring folks it is vital to emphasize the safest, most conservative habits.

first outdoor sport leads

For example, the two friends I took out, I climbed with them indoors for a bit so we could get used to each other’s styles, confirm belay techniques are strong and frankly to teach ground school.  Yup not at the crag, but at the gym as we train together.  About 4-6 weeks prior to our trip, I went to my friend’s house and I showed them some basic gear that are must haves and some that are really nice to haves.   We rehearsed how to clean an anchor and I reviewed how to set up various basic anchor systems and knots (example, eight on a bite).  By the time we made our trip, the couple had cleaning an anchor down and understood really well the why’s and the what’s. The couple understood how to approach a climb and determine if they could set it up or if it was not within their ability.  They were able to examine their environment, figure out the best spot for the rope, flake the rope and so on.  They learned how to use a stick clip and learned how to study a crag prior to a trip, pick out climbs, figure out approaches and so on.

first lead done beautifully

The couple had an amazing day getting leads and climbs in, cleaning anchors, and moreover, making good, safe and smart choices.

Giving back is the best thing we can do, but how we give back is vital.  Just like if we use foul language around a kid, they are likely to repeat it.  If we use bad habits and teach others, they are starting with a not so great foundation.  A solid foundation from the beginning ensures we are sharing for some serious caring of our newbie climbing friends.  My two friends have been carefully planning a trip to Colorado and I am confident they are on track to planning an amazing climbing trip and are embarking a safe, yet fun climbing journey!

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