So I just kept climbing, daydreaming, and attempting to absorb the powers of the greats through YouTube binges and Crux Crush interviews. I slowly progressed past the V5 mark and toward V6, strengthening my shoulders and bettering my head game by climbing a lot of routes in styles I enjoyed. When the lady climbers I most admired talked about their own training plans, I shrugged some more: Sure, they train, but I’m not on that level yet. Well, I think I really am. I don’t even think there is a level. Climbing with purpose and cross training are probably beneficial no matter how long you’ve been scurrying up walls.Read More
Grunting also seems akin to swearing, and (occasional) swearing has been proved by SCIENCE* to increase pain tolerance! Climbers can always use more of that. In fact, in Taekwondo there is even a special term for the force that leads practitioners to shout during their practice: kihap. Evan told me about it just now, and I found a little info on the Taekwondo Wiki:Read More
Let me tell you about last weekend. I woke up Friday after spending Thursday in bed with a cough. I had made plans with Elaine and Joe to climb, and when I wasn't positively dying that morning, I decided that a "little cough" was not gonna keep me out of the mountains. Sure, I sounded like a frog who'd swallowed a broken battery and found myself occasionally collapsing in a hot hacking mess, but I was fiiine. FIIINE.
(No, I wasn't.)
But we met Evan and Chris at Little Rock City, and it was a good day, and I almost sent Sternum (V5), and I FINALLY SENT PANCAKE MANTLE!!!! (Click here for an introduction to my personal Pancake Mantle saga.)
Elaine sent The Big Much (V4) and Latin for Dagger (V5), and Evan and Chris worked on Biggie Shorty (V10). And other things happened. But by 5 p.m., I was dooone. Donedonedone. Done. I walked/hacked/slowly crept like a decrepit sea hag back to the clubhouse alone, ready to trade my soul for a cup of tea. The clubhouse man was locking the door when I arrived, but he took pity on me and let me fill a styrofoam cup with hot water inside. Bless him. Then I sat crouched on the steps using my crashpad as a blanket, wearing three hats and covering my face with my gloved hands, prompting inquiries from concerned passersby who probably thought I was crying or possessed.
Eventually everybody else showed up, and I went with Evan and Elaine to this neat brewery, which I didn't appreciate because I was dying, and then we stayed in her friend's actual log cabin, which I didn't Instagram because I was dying, and when I woke up I was pretty much dead. But that wasn't gonna stop me.
I was in much worse shape physically this day, but I planned better than I had for LRC, and I sent my first V5 at Rocktown! It is called Slapper, and I owe it all to Traditional Medicinals.
I could tell you some more stuff about the trip (we met up with a bunch of Athens folks, and Nick flashed a seven and a six, and then he sprained his ankle, and I got to tape someone else up for once), but instead I leave you this gift:
A Packing List for the Sick Boulderer
Let's be honest: if you are sick, you should not be climbing. You are just gonna make yourself sicker (I was in bed for two days after Rocktown), and you're not going to climb your best. But if you are stubborn and your body has bad timing, there are a few items that will help you out.
1. A Thermos: I have been wanting to get a thermos for a while. I spent a lot of time last week researching Hydro Flasks, Stanley thermoses, and Zojirushi vacuum bottles. I didn't want to rush such an important decision! But after I finished Friday's climbing session with such a desperate need for warm liquid, I knew a thermos had become a necessity. And the most convenient option that night was whatever Walmart had to offer — which happened to be a 32 oz Stanley monster. Saturday morning, I filled it with tea and lemon and a jalapeño. All day, it was like a magical elixir of hot nourishment and sending power. OK, so I only sent the one problem, and I didn't actually climb that much. But it really improved my day! I think without it I would have been a very cranky frog.
2. Throat Coat tea by Traditional Medicinals: This is THE BEST thing for a sore throat. Honestly, I think it works best without anything added (although the lemon and jalapeño were revitalizing for me, I think my throat would have fared best without them). It also just tastes really good. And if something else is ailing you, this company has a lot of other great teas. I recommend the PMS Tea and the Breathe Easy. And the Ginger Aid. And everything else.
3. A blanket: I didn't actually have one of these, but I wished I did. Because even if you think you are going to climb as hard and as often as you do at your best, you aren't. And while you are sitting around watching your friends climb and trying to convince yourself that you feel FINE, ALRIGHT?, you are going to get cold. I had to make do with the extra fleece I had thought to bring, but there was definitely room in my pack for a rolled-up car blanket.
4. Extra TP: Really. I didn't think about this beforehand, but when you are drinking extra fluids because you are sick and dying and all, you are going to have to pee more than usual. So bring twice as much toilet paper as you usually need, because you don't want to have to ration it as the day wears on.
5. Low Expectations: You are probably not going to have much energy today. Saturday, I sent Slapper after about an hour, tried Rescue 911 (V5) twice, and then only had four burns left in me for Golden Showers (V5). But it was still a really fun day because I got to watch my friends crush, drink yummy tea, and experiment with my monster voice!
I hope these tips are helpful for any other foolhardy climbers. If you have any advice I didn't think of, leave it in the comments! <3
You know how in my last post, I waxed poetic about subverting the climbing gods by not hurting myself on the one-year anniversary of my tragic Rocktown ankle sprain? Jinxed it.
Elaine, Caroline, and I rode to Rocktown on Saturday with one of the Chrises in spite of the fact that like, eight people had bailed on the trip on account of a cold, cold forecast. (I believe the high was going to be 34? 35? I keep trying to check Facebook and then forgetting what I am doing there and getting lost in engagement photos and something about Nancy Grace.)
It was indeed very cold. Like, 19 degrees when we arrived around 9. NINETEEN DEGREES. But we persevered because we love rocks, and we drove three hours to reach them, and we were probably too prideful to accept that everyone else had been wiser and we should've stayed home. At least, that's kinda how I felt. Also, I was a little afraid that if we began really voicing our misery we might start feeding off each other and collapse into a sobbing puddle of suffering.
On the bright side, we ran into a lot of friends! Including Atlas, our favorite climbing toddler. Apparently a bunch of groups from Athens (and not-Athens) had decided to forge through the cold. One group had even camped, which sounds just ugh, but good for them and their dedication...
I had really been wanting to get Caroline on Soap On A Rope (V4), so after numbing/burning our fingers a bit on the warmup Orb boulders, the three of us ladies got right to it (this was around the time when Chris found a supa strong bro squad to project with. Bye, Chris!). But we really couldn't feign enthusiasm in that cold, and soon we kinda gave up on seriously projecting it. It was a bit discouraging, but soon the sun came out and the temps rapidly rose.
So we went to Golden Showers (V5)! This is going to be my first five, I just know it. This time around, I finally stuck the sloper that had been SO HARD the previous weekend. Everyone humored me on it for a while, but once I started digressing, we packed up for The Hobbit (V5, aka Diamond in the Rough). This is a really cool problem with a slight incline and sloper jugs and fun beta you can make as swingy or as static as you want. Elaine is about to finish this guy, I progressed a few moves, and Caroline got farther on her first burn than I did during my first session. But eventually we all started to tucker out, so we decided to rest for a bit and move on.
We ended up at Screaming Church Girls (V4), Caroline's long-term project and the bane of my climbing experience. Seriously, this problem incorporates all of my least-favorite things about climbing: a high-feet sit-start, scrunchy static movement, and crimps that hurt — right before a long move to topout jugs that would ordinarily be no problem for me. This problem makes me feel like a giant frog with a giant frog butt and unusually long frog legs. It's one of those climbs I'll try twice on every trip and then scoff at.
But Caroline has been working on it for a year and a half, and she was determined to send. And between my grumbling, half-hearted attempts at the horrid thing, SHE DID!!!
So then I tried a little harder and discovered some start beta with lower feet that worked for me. And I didn't send, but I got through all the scrunchy moves that had been so hard for me before tiring out at the big move, which was also exciting but still frustrating, so now I feel like I haaave to try it again... *grumble grumble*
So go Caroline!! After that success, we checked out a V4 none of us had tried before called Serendipity. It is weird-looking with a curved crack and — well, the beginning looks like this:
It goes up and left to this ball-y thing and is pretty high. Elaine eventually sent it (yay Elaine!), but I was still daydreaming about Golden Showers and didn't even get on this one. Instead, I headed back to that beautiful boulder, knowing somebody would have pads under it.
Actually, a lot of somebodies did. There was a crew working the adjacent V10, Golden Harvest, and another on my proj. So I hopped on, and lo and behold — I stuck the sloper and the undercling! Now I was getting excited — I just had to throw for the big slopers and top the thing out.
In retrospect, I definitely should have rested longer between burns. But I didn't, and I got tired, then sloppy, and then I fell going for the undercling — not even the slopers — and then I rolled my ankle.
It hurt. I swore. I took deep breaths and had a mental freakout waiting for shock symptoms to wash over me like last time, but they never did — my first good sign. Then I could kinda-sorta put a teensy bit of weight on it at just the right angle, another good sign. It still needed tape, though, and I was fumbling. This guy who had been working Harvest came up to me and was like, "Have you ever taped an ankle before?" "Um, not really," I admitted. "Me neither, but I'm really drunk right now," he said. I think he was kidding? The tape job looked pretty bad but served its purpose well. Thanks, possibly drunk ankle-taping man!
The whole thing was pretty embarrassing, but at least it was toward the end of the day. Chris found Elaine and Caroline, and we had a leisurely walk (hobble) back via the main trail. I was super bummed at first because this is the first weekend I've had off in a long time, and Evan and I had been planning a camping trip. But I've been icing it all week, so I'm hoping I can climb on it a *little* tomorrow. It is still a little swollen and kind of painful at times, and I will definitely wear a brace, but I've been walking almost normally the last few days without one. I've been calling it a "minor sprain" and drinking lots of turmeric. I'm just gonna take it *mostly* easy tomorrow.
In other news, Taylor and I have already failed on the 30-day yoga front. We decided we will start over in February. So maybe it will be 28 days of yoga? I dunno. Still better than no days of yoga!
And I am taking weight training! It's one of my PE classes this semester, and I am learning a lot. My deltoids and triceps have been sore this week, so I hope that means I will be stronger tomorrow. Because I am definitely going to Rocktown, and I am getting on Golden Showers, and it might be a bad idea, but this time I will bring my first-aid kit and an ice pack.
So Labor Day weekend happened, and I didn't climb at all. Friday through Monday, my Facebook feed filled up with photos of mountains, boulders, rocks and ropes while I...worked. I didn't even have time to climb plastic! I know I was bound to go some weekend without climbing, and bills gotta get paid, but I was pretty disappointed to miss out on all the fun.
And going four days off made me nervous — would I reenter the gym a weakened ghost of my formerly burly (ha) self? Would I forget all my beta? Would I get lost in the cavernous S Wall???
Nope. I finally got to Active again last night, and it was fiiine. I knew as soon as I arrived that I didn't feel like projecting anything; it's already been an exhausting week. But I still wanted to use my few hours of gym time wisely. So I worked on stuff that was easy enough to attempt but hard enough that I wouldn't feel bad about not sending. I was able to try hard without any pressure, and I felt like I got a good workout.
Then Lucy and I went into the kids' gym and (sort of) campused the giant.
And then guess what I did.
(You already know 'cause it's in the title.)
My first pullup! And then my first set of two pullups! And then my first set of two and a half pullups!
<3 hangboard sloper jugs.
You don't understand what a big deal this is.
My least favorite beta is, "It's just a pullup!" (My second-least favorite is, "It's just a lockoff!") In my pullup attempts a few months ago, I couldn't bend my arms past like, 20 degrees without feeling hella shoulder pain and dropping. And upper-body weakness has been a defining factor in my climbing. Sure, my footwork might be better than that of the brawny dudes who clumsily throw themselves up my projects, barrelling to the finish with cringeworthy foot placement. Sure, my climbing might be better balanced and (slightly) prettier. But historically, when a problem has contained a shameless pullup or lockoff to which there is no alternate pretty-foot beta, I've just been shut down completely. Which is why although I sent my first gym 5 last week, there are still plenty of 4s that I've long considered out of my league.
BUT NOW I CAN DO A PULLUP! ALL THE THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!
So I'm going to keep doing them, because the Internet says pullups are the second-best training for climbing (next to, you know, climbing). My goal is to be able to do five, you know, soon (let's keep going with this no pressure thing). I really think this is a turning point. Who knows what my future holds? Today, two pullups. Tomorrow, eight pullups. Next week, sponsorship.
Anyway, that was probably the best thing about my gym session last night, but the SECOND-best thing was that Ted, keeper of waivers and bolter of holds, made me a vegan hand salve!
He's been selling beeswax salves for a while, but I had whined for an insect-friendly one. So he actually made one! The vegan version is from candelilla wax, which I know nothing about except what I learned from Ted last night: that it is plant-derived and Mexican and softer than carnuba wax, which I also know nothing about.
I also don't know much about balms, since I don't buy things that aren't gas and food. But the stuff Ted made definitely felt good on my skin, and it smelled like eucalyptus, mint, and something else that is fragrant. Mmmm.
He didn't want to sell me a pot yet since he hasn't perfected the recipe, but he let me take a chunk home to keep testing it out. And I really needed it after all that jug-surfing on the giant! What a great end to the day.
Now it's time for a pre-gym nap — let's see if I can do more pullups tonight. I'll keep you posted!
What training challenges have you overcome? What are your thoughts on hand salves? Do you hate the word "salves" as much as I do? Share in the comments or through the Contact page!