Have you ever thought to yourself, “I sure could use a few watercolor maps of my favorite Southeast crags, beautiful enough to hang on my wall but durable enough to survive the approach?” Well, now you have. Introducing: Creative Crag.Read More
Dogs and babies flock to me. Their moms and dads have jerky and peanut butter, but they don’t even notice ‘cause we are busy playing What’s That Face and Where’s That Stick. I give a top roping cub scout beta, and he finishes his first 5.7. His joy is unparalleled.Read More
In retrospect, it seems awfully silly; when I started climbing, I was the weakest of the weak, and I had less bodily awareness than a 12 year old boy. I could barely unscrew a peanut butter lid. I opened “pull” doors by gripping the handle with both hands and leaning back on my heels with all my body weight. I lacked the hand-eye coordination to catch a basketball from 10 feet away, and I truly could not walk a straight line. Why I expected to be some kind of rock-spider prodigy is beyond me.Read More
How was your Valentine's Day? Mine was pretty good. I went to Little Rock City and bled on things. It was a great day of trying stuff, making friends, and practicing proper tape technique. But Sunday was even more exciting because I went to a new crag!
I say "new" mostly because it is new to me, but it really is a pretty new climbing spot. I'm talking about the Hospital Boulders in Gadsden, Alabama.
Located in the middle of a neighborhood and down the street from the eponymous Mountain View Hospital, the area became open to climbers in 2012 through negotiations between the Southeastern Climbers Coalition, the Access Fund, and the (now previous) landowners. It finally became SCC property last year after a lot of fundraising to pay off the AF loan used to secure the area. (Half the boulder field, however, is still on private property — so be careful where you walk!)
I had heard the name a few times, but the Athens climbing folk don't make their way to Gadsden very often. And I don't know why not! It's like a smaller, denser, less developed Rocktown. Admittedly the rock isn't quite as amazing at in Lafayette, but it is pretty darn awesome. It's just as close to Athens as any other good climbing, and it doesn't require a pass. After passing through a dummy-locked gate*, you just park next to a barn, walk 20 feet, and climb on rocks. YAY!
There isn't a guidebook yet, but there is a topo. Many of the routes are unnamed, and oodles are waiting to be FA'd. It was really fun just climbing on whatever and not worrying about grades.
The important stuff: we climbed lots of things, I am now psyched on roofs**, and Lucy made Evan a hat.
So that was cool. But something has been bothering me about climbing lately.
It started with little plastic corners at Little Rock City. You know what I'm talking about? When you open a Clif bar, or a Lara bar, or a Luna bar, or whatever bar you are eating (because you are probably eating a bar), you rip off the upper right corner (or maybe the left one), and then it disappears.
Well, actually, no, because matter doesn't do that. You actually just dropped it in the dirt and forgot about it. And now it is just sitting there, not disintegrating because it's made of film plastic, and film plastic doesn't do that.
So there are little corners sprinkled all over boulder fields, like malignant sparkles waiting to be picked up by an observant dirtbag or choked on by an animal. And whoever dropped them probably didn't even realize it. They probably don't know their trash has taken up residence in an ecosystem which has no use for it and, in fact, is negatively impacted by its presence.
I am not a scientifically minded person. At all. I've withdrawn from two logic classes in college, and as fascinating as my geology class was, I barely passed. But I was a Girl Scout for 12 years, and if I learned one thing from Brownies about caring for the earth, it was this: you should always leave a place better than you found it.
Now, that is easy to do when you are at LRC and can stuff somebody's litter into your pocket on the walk back to the car. But climbers as a group are not doing an excellent job of cleaning up after ourselves, and we are certainly not leaving our crags better than they were before we came along. The fact that we are even interacting with the earth in our bizarre way means we are going to change it. But at the very least, we need to try harder to leave no trace — or at least a smaller one.
I am pretty new to climbing, and really to outdoorsiness in general. Most of what I know about minimizing my impact I've learned from the Internet and fellow climbers. So I am definitely not an expert. But I remember how I was when I first started climbing outside a year and a half ago: totally clueless to the impact of my new passion on the environment, but not wanting to be a part of the problem. I know there are others like me out there, and I think it's a good idea to address some basics of keeping climbing an innocent sport that doesn't destroy the planet or anger anybody.
The SCC has a nice little "crag minimal impact" flier that you can view here. A lot of it seems pretty intuitive, but there are definitely items climbers tend to overlook. Some problematic behavior I often witness (and some of which I am guilty) on bouldering trips:
1. Not staying on trails. Two words: unnecessary erosion. Another word: bad.
2. Leaving toilet paper everywhere. I know a lot of people have different opinions about what to do with toilet paper, and many folks just bury it. But considering how many people you see at the crag, and incidentally how many people do their business at the crag, the amount of toilet paper we are putting into the ground no longer seems negligible. And honestly, it doesn't seem like everyone is doing a good job of burying theirs; the fact that it is so easy to find a chossy rock with a bunch of TP wads strewn behind it is a good indicator that we should probably just pack it all away with our bar wrappers and their corners.
3. Leaving cans and bottles in fire pits. I don't know why this is a thing. A lot of people think that this is an OK thing. Maybe they are trying to make a fuel gift to future campers? But aside from the fact that aluminum and glass need some mega hot flames to burn, and the fact that cans and bottles are recyclable, and the fact that you are probably risking a fine just by bringing glass into a camp site, it seems obvious that glass and metal do not belong sitting out in nature after you have left, getting rained on/rusted/blown away/whatever. Like, they weren't there before you got there. They shouldn't be there when you leave. Right? Correct me if I am wrong and this really is a benign practice.
4. Throwing food scraps on the ground. I do this ALL THE TIME. But I recently learned that it really is important to pack everything out; even though things like apple cores are biodegradable, they take a while to break down, so much so that it's kind of a problem to just leave them in the dirt. According to Leave No Trace Dude, banana peels need a month to disintegrate, and "those bits of orange peel left behind might still be there a few years from now." Yikes.
Additionally, when lots of people leave food scraps behind, animals become habituated to it. This is a problem — I think — because they can then become dependent on humans' scraps, and/or they start eating whatever we leave behind instead of getting the nutrients they need from the food they would naturally be eating. So the reasoning here is similar to why you're not supposed to feed bread to ducks.
5. Not scrubbing off tick marks. This is more of an etiquette issue; it is pretty rude to chalk up a rock with a million lines and then just leave it like that for the next climber. For one thing, they might not want your beta. Also, tick marks are ugly. And again, that chalk wasn't there before you showed up; at least rub it out a little before you leave. I am definitely guilty of forgetting to clean my projects, but it's something I think a lot of us could work on.
6. Being obnoxious. Another etiquette issue, but an important one. When an area opens up for climbing, especially an area near civilization like Hospital Boulders or LRC, we want to be good neighbors. We don't want to have a reputation as the scruffy new kids on the block — leaving trash in the forest, letting our dogs run wild, and playing bad dubstep out of crappy iPod speakers. 'Cause climbing anywhere is a privilege, and if we are awful neighbors, it will be that much harder to open up new areas. And besides, we're better than that. Right?
So. Am I on point? Way off point? Did I forget anything super common and terrible? Am I wrong about the cans? Speak up in the comments!
*The gate was dummy-locked on Sunday. In the future, the SCC may implement a code, so make sure to check the website any time you're planning to go.
**UPDATE 1/4/2016: Just got back from my second trip to Hospital, and it turns out those mega-cool roofs are not on SCC property. Super tragic, but we steepthusiasts must stay away. :(
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.
This majestic beast is named Bananas. All photo cred to Sista Fran.
I like to think that New Year's at Rocktown is now a thing. We went last year, and yesterday, we went again — although we rolled in pretty late post-NYE-ing. January 1st is probably the only day I will ever be OK with leaving at 7 a.m. for a climbing trip. Until I move somewhere with climbing less than three hours away, I guess. Which hopefully will be soonish but you know.
Anyway, this time, Sista Fran got to come! Taylor has been climbing for longer than I have, but she had to take a bunch of time off and stays so busy she had never made it outside. It was really exciting getting to show her around Rocktown, which I think is a pretty epic first taste of outdoor bouldering.
In the weeks leading up to this particular trip (during which every day I had off was a day when it rained >:[ ), I for some reason imagined our crew as the only one in the park. I dunno, I guess I thought the rest of the South's climbers would be sleeping off hangovers? Well, I was wrong, and there were tons of people at the crag. Fortunately, they all turned out to be lovely folks full of friendly beta and encouragement, and they had dogs. So that was great.
Don't you love that girl's hat? She has strong fingers and a little dog named Rumi.
Since the Orb area was packed when we arrived, we headed to some apparently classic other climbs to warm up. One was called El Clásico, but I don't recall which one it was or what the other thing we climbed was called. They were both kinda highbally for my tastes, but Taylor was pretty fearless on them. Still, I was excited when I finally got to show her my favorite zeros and ones in the Orb area at the end of the day.
More joy. And Sam. And Sam's hat.
Since we really only had about seven hours of good climbing time, we didn't go all over the place like we otherwise might have. The guys worked on Golden Harvest (V10) and The Orb (V8), and Lucy and I projected The Hobbit (V5), Golden Showers (V5), and Soap on a Rope (V4) — all of which I think we can send in another session or two. I worked on them with Elaine a couple of weeks ago, and I am more psyched on these three problems than on anything else I've tried, ever. I < 3 slopers!
I found myself feeling unreasonably relieved at the end of the day (which by the way was perfect and ended with vegan pizza at Mellow Mushroom) when I realized that with the exception of a single bloody pinky, I had not injured myself. You see, a year ago yesterday I fell while attempting what would become my first V3, Super Mario, and sprained my ankle. It wasn't really that bad, but that was when I first developed a teensy fear of falling. (It reached the ludicrous proportions we now know after my first bad lead fall, but we can talk about that later.) My ankle is still swollen... maybe I should be worried about that? Anyway. I didn't get hurt, and I'm happy about that, because maybe it means I broke some kind of curse under which the climbing gods would otherwise have me dwell.
I really think my pull-up obsession (I'm up to eight!) is starting to pay off. Not in the ways I thought it would — lock offs are still just ugh — but my abs are definitely stronger, and static-but-strengthy movement is way more possible than it was a few months ago. I so recommend pull-ups to any girl (or, I guess, person) trying to get stronger fast.
Do you have new year's resolutions? I am very pro-resolution, any time of year. I have a bunch, but they don't have anything to do with climbing. I'll tell them to you anyway, though, because this seems like a good spot for a list:
1. Be more of an adult. This means wear "real clothes," budget better, spend my time wisely, and wear makeup when I feel like it.
2. Make more music, see more music. It's always been a huge part of my life, except recently, and I miss it a lot.
3. Don't say "no" without a reason. I'm in the terrible habit of turning people down when they ask me to do something simply because it wasn't part of how I originally envisioned my evening. Or saying that I'll go to a show or something and then not because my bed is so cozy or it's cold outside or I don't wanna put on pants or whatever. And I just need to start going.
I don't want to make resolutions about climbing. I'd rather see what happens. I know I'm working hard and that's how you progress. But I'm also realizing climbing can't be my number one priority right now; I've got to make money and study and apply for jobs and graduate and all that.
But I'm not worried : ) 2015 is off to a great start — I climbed at my favorite place with some of my favorite people yesterday, and today Taylor and I started Yoga with Adriene's 30 Days of Yoga. Tomorrow, I'll finish up an article for Flagpole, and I might paint my nails post-gym!
Oh, and did I mention I cleaned my room? It was an ankle-trapping minefield before, but now it is yoga-ready and smells like macaroons. < 3
Oh my gosh it's been so long I'm sorry. I had midterms and tests and essays and a cold and work and articles and birthdays and then I got another cold and then I hurt my finger and then I got sick again.
I've been overwhelmed. I haven't been able to climb as much as I've wanted, although I have been out a few times since October 3rd (I'm sorryyy). And I've been stressing out about the prospect of recounting my recent climbing adventures because - There have been a few. - I keep leaving my camera places and not getting photos. - I haven't opened that Dave MacLeod book in a month. - I haven't been climbing (or eating or sleeping or studying) particularly well.
So, just to check in with my readers (I love all seven of you <3), here are some lists.
Recent sends: - Trouble (V3, Rocktown) - The Thespian (V3, HP40) - Green Machine (V4, LRC) <-- my first outdoor 4. - Seven pullups! #yes
Recent frustrations: - working during gym hours - being too sick to climb - my first tendon injury(/ies)
Season goals: - Super Mario (V4, LRC) - Croc Bloc (V5, Rocktown) - The Hobbit (V5, Rocktown)
RAPID FIRE THOUGHTS
I bought new shoes on closeout. They are Evolv Predator G2s. They are stiff and hurt a lot. I need to get my Hornets resoled but I don't know how much that costs and also I've never mailed anything that you have to put in a box. Actually I have only mailed like four things ever and they were cards.
I am in Oregon with Evan and his family. We are climbing at Smith Rock on Saturday. It will be my first time climbing not in the Southeast. Yesterday I saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time.
A tendon in my finger is hurt. I am not climbing on crimps.
I wish I could climb more but am trying to be a grownup about it. Hypothetical hierarchy: school-work-relationships-climbing. Food is in there somewhere. Unfortunately cleaning is not.
My room is really messy that is why I said that.
I wrote a thing for my creative writing class about my mental experience when I think I might take a lead fall. Maybe I will share it with you post-workshop. I want to take lead falls at Smith. Or I think I should. The prospect actually makes me slightly nauseous.
Oh and I climbed in my first competition. It was called Boulder Bash and happened at UGA. Active climbers got first in advanced (Nick!), first in men's (Jamie! He's 14) and women's (Elaine!) intermediate, and third in women's intermediate (me!). I climbed poorly (I've been doing that lately), but it was really fun and not as stressful as I feared.
I realize the food aspect of this blog is very lacking. I will work on that. Evan and I made sushi. Here is a photo:
It was pretty good.
See you soon! Follow me on Instagram! Eat vegan and recycle!
This seems to be the norm for approaches at Little River Canyon: Class 4?
This weekend, I learned about hiking classes. I'd heard of them before, but as a budding adventurer I was unfamiliar with how hardcore hikers graded their routes. According to my seasoned outdoorsman friend Charles, the basic breakdown is this:
Class 1: You're walking. Class 2: You're still walking, but it's a little scarier and you have to be careful. Class 3: You're on your hands and feet. Class 4: You're on your hands and feet, and if you fall you might die. Class 5: You're climbing, and you probably need a rope, because it you fall without one you will probably die.
And that's why sport grades start with a 5!
This Alabama crag is worth the scary death-hike. It's hard to find anything below a 5.11, but the climbing is great, and the canyon itself is beautiful. Best of all, you can climb there in the rain.
Just follow me on Instagram, already.
Friday, I went to Lizard Wall with Evan and Charles. I was pretty sore from a workout a few days prior, and I couldn't stick two moves toproping Lemonade (5.11a) or Bon Voyage (5.11b) without getting pumped. But I had fun anyway and learned things! For instance: you can use a Grigri as secondary protection when you're cleaning a route and lowering off one anchor. Who knew? (A guy on Mountain Project did.) I recommend learning how before you're at the anchor.
So Friday was fun, and the guys worked on things and probably sent some, and I remember the name Robyn's Route (5.12b) but not much else besides pumpy forearms and these delicious lil cocoatmeal nuggets:
Nugget recipe coming soon!
But Sunday was when the real try-hards happened. I'd been psyched all week for the girls' trip Caroline, Lucy and I were planning to take to Rocktown (alluded to here), and Evan + 3 were planning to hit up Lost Wall for some trad. But then the forecast crushed our dreams. So Sunday morning, we all rode up to the Canyon.
We goofed off a bit on the damp Mushroom Boulders, waiting for Beckett to eat her breakfast.
It was frustrating to see such beautiful sandstone defaced with people's terrible handwriting. Beatles quotes, declarations of love, pleas for Instagram followers (really) — we keep running into this. Remember the Shaking Rock graffiti? Sand Rock has tons of it too. And last Sunday at Rocktown, someone had written "cum" on the Orb boulder.
Fortunately (I guess), I think it was done with charcoal and not paint. But still. Just why? Why?? Whyyyy???
Anyway. After bouldering a bit at the 'shrooms, we made our perilous way to the Toomsuba wall. Everybody was awesome! Our new friend Thomas onsighted a 5.11a called Combat Zone, and Evan onsighted Courtesy (5.12a). Elaine, Lucy, Caroline, and I warmed up on Cheesecake (5.9). Elaine onsighted it, first-time outdoor-leader Lucy flashed it, and I…didn't.
Caroline and I are kindred, height-fearing, helmet-wearing spirits.
I took a pretty scary lead fall on the Sand Rock classic Misty (5.10b/c) in April, and since then I've developed an unfortunate fear of heights. But Sunday, I decided it was time to conquer my lead-fear. I knew I was ready to flash this 9, but I wigged out near the top and took my first lead fall since that one. It was for the best, though; I needed to fall again, this time correctly. And it wasn't that bad.
And later, when I sent the route, Charles told me to pull up a bunch of slack and then jump from the anchors. It's the second-scariest thing I've ever done, and I took a minute to work up the courage. The moment before my feet left the rock filled my entire body with fear, but the thirty feet down were exhilarating. Trusting the gear and my belayer was weirdly empowering in the way it freed me from "what-if" thoughts. Qué será, será, you know? You're already flying through the air, you have no control — might as well enjoy gravity. It took my body like, ten minutes to stop shaking, but I couldn't stop smiling either. I highly recommend this technique for anyone trying to get over a fear of falling. (Thanks, Chuck!)
After that, we did a 10a called Vogue that really felt easier than the 9 (but whatever, burly route-setters). Lucy, Elaine, and I worked an 11c on toprope after Chuck and Thomas put it up. Lucy was the only one to make it up, but I think we should all work this one again when we're fresh and a little bit stronger.
Now that I've reined in The Fear a little, I can't wait to get back to the Canyon (specifically Grey Wall, where the 5.11s Obsession and Easy Out are awaiting my send). I'm psyched for bouldering season to begin, but I'm starting to get the hang of this sport thing. I think even when "The Season" is here, I'll keep climbing higher…and occasionally jumping down.
Remember how in my last post, I declared Little Rock City “my second-favorite bouldering spot?” Well, my first-favorite is Rocktown*. And after shredding my fingertips and ego bouldering at LRC, I was aching to get back to Lafayette**.
So on Thursday, I posted this Facebook status:
I didn’t expect it to work; most people seem to prefer air-conditioned gym climbing to summer bouldering. But I just had to go, and I hoped against hope to entice a carful of others dying to slide on slimy slopers in the Georgia heat.
And I did! Five folks wanted in on the foolishness, and although two of them backed out to nurse injuries (:(), at 5 a.m. on Sunday, my workweek dreams came true.
And this time, I wasn’t the only girl! Sitting with me in the backseat of Elliot’s car, listening to NPR’s Radiolab and also enduring the poorly prepared coffee struggle, was Lucy, Active Climbing’s favorite 13-year-old. It was her second outdoor trip ever, and I was psyched for her to try out some of the South’s finest sandstone.
Read Lucy’s take on the trip here!
After my Pancake Mantle meltdown at LRC, I went into this trip knowing it wasn’t a day to throw myself at anything. Psych was high, but expectations were low — the right balance of attitudes for a humid day of sloper-slipping.
Still, I couldn’t just walk past my projects! So we got on Trouble (V3), Isle of Beautiful Women (V4), Screaming Church Girls (V4), and Golden Showers (V5). Lucy made quick work of Trouble, and I alllmost topped it out like, nine times, but nothing else was gonna go. So we goofed off on 1s and 2s (some of which were still not gonna go) until our tips were raw. And it was so fun! Supastrong Chris even lead the way, finding easy climbs in my (brand new!) guidebook and seeking them out.
Chris worked a V7 for a while too. That's probably kind of like us working 2s?
It was weird seeing Rocktown so empty. We ran into just two other climbing groups, and only one dog, a sweet golden retriever named Veda. I took Lucy over to the Super Mario boulder, wanting to get her on its eponymous V3 (and try out Luigi and Yoshi myself), but the area had turned into fire ant territory, and there were cobwebs all up in dem holds.
Real life desertion.
So we played on jugs some more, destroyed our tips, and left for Athens. Now Lucy and I have a girls’ trip in the works with Caroline & co., and I can’t wait to use my newly purchased group pass when the friction gets good.
Oh, and also — my hair looked awesome on Monday. Remember how I gave up shampoo in July? Well, I think my hair is finally pulling through the adjustment period. I’m active enough that I have to do the baking soda and vinegar thing pretty often, but Sunday night, I didn’t even do that because a.) my fingers hurt too much and b.) it looked...fine. And even the following night, after only a rinse in 36 very active hours and a five-hour deli shift at work, it was shiny and voluminous and not gross at all. No 'poo for the win!
*First-favorite of the places I’ve been, that is; I’ve been told Horsepens 40 is magical, and I can’t wait to see it this fall.
**Pronounced “Luh-FAY-it;” #southernswag