Spring meh, almost bandits, protein cookiez

Spring is making me sad. I mean, don't get me wrong. Flowers and breezes and sundresses are great. But bouldering season ended way too quickly.

You may have noticed, O Dedicated Reader, that I haven't posted in a while. Well, that's because I was too sad to write after the weather ruh-UINED my spring break. I mean, not really. But kind of. You know? You don't, but you will, 'cause I'm going to tell you now.

Months ago, Caroline and I both took off all of spring break and an extra weekend so that we could have Super Awesome Rocktown Fun Times fo dayyyz. And we did. For two days. Ish. We tried lots of new projects and didn't send anything and drank gas station sangria that was surprisingly good. And then it rained, and kept raining for the rest of the week at every crag in the Southeast.

It did not, however, rain in Athens. And everybody freaked out. It was like, 65 degrees outside, and girls all over town emerged bikini-clad from their winter nests to tan on the still-dead grass, smiling and shivering in the breeze. And my non-climbing acquaintances kept saying things like, "Oh em GEEE, it is SO. NICE OUT." And I was just like:


But it ended up being an okay week. Seester and I actually spent a day hanging out in Chattanooga proper, which I hadn't really done before. It was wet, but Chatty wears rain well. We found a vegan restaurant (with donuts!) and a bakery for dogs and Jane Austen-inspired toddler books for our future progeny and...

Well, anyway. We didn't climb.

But guess when I did climb? Last weekend! And guess where I climbed? Boone!

It was my first time there, and it. was. awesome. I was apprehensive about climbing on granite (#boatrockh8rsclub), but the rock was wonderfully grippy and not too sharp.

I went up with Evan, John (the one who went to the Obed with us last summer!), and another John. (There are actually quite a few Johns. This one was one of the professors on my Costa Rica study abroad last year! He is super cool and has a greenhouse and roasts his own coffee beans.) We were only there for two days, and after a brief detour to the M1 (?) Boulders, we split our time between Grandmother Mountain and Blowing Rock.

It was beautiful, so lush and uncorrupted. It was hard to believe it had been snowing there a few weeks prior.

IMG_1565 All photo cred** (except the selfie) to PhD John and his iPhone skillz.IMG_1584Look at this tree!11080325_10203988476979658_5985551446123624659_oOur new album cover.

It was refreshing not to see any graffiti on the rock or trash on the ground. The area doesn't get as much foot traffic as many climbing spots. There's not a guidebook or even a topo for these boulder fields, and there's not much information on the internet. We learned some stuff from the Boone Boulders website and the rest from other humans at the crag.

I sent three ~V4s at Grandmother: Dynobot (which I did not dyno), Car Door (a sloper-juggy-sidepully feature climb with one big move in the middle), and a slopey traverse I don't remember the name of. I didn't get to try any fives, but there is allegedly a moderates mecca within the Grandmother Boulders called Valley of the Kings. I really want to find it and work Potato Chip, a V5 feature climb that looks super goofy in the best way.

IMG_1534 The slopey traverse.

Oh, hey, check out this climb. It is called Look Ma, No Hands and is supposedly a zero or a one or something. You are supposed to climb it with just your feet, but I think only Evan got up without using his knees or elbows. Super awkward to climb and fun to watch:


Super Strong Nick joined us Saturday evening, and our camp site was super sketch. We were actually camping on the side of the road. In this tiny clearing across from a death hill. Awaiting attack by bandits. In retrospect, I kind of doubt the legality of our setup... Caroline and I are planning a trip for April, and we will be opting for a more ~*legit*~ space.

Everyone complained the next day about how loud and windy and cold the night was, but I slept like a very sleepy rock in a fuzzy sleeping bag I borrowed from Evan's mom (Thanks a ton, Faye!). In the morning, we went to Blowing Rock so Evan could work a V10 called Squeeze Job and Nick could get on Flagyl, another 10. There weren't as many moderates here, at least not that we knew about. I got shut down quickly by The Finn, a V5 that Obed John sent at the start of the day.

IMG_1627 John on The Finn.

I was also denied by a supposed V3 called Center 45. Apparently it is ultra-classic. Meh. I never got the first move.

I tried the five to its right, the name of which I have forgotten, and was quickly shut down uh-gain. Then Greenhouse John and I found a wall of jugs with Nick's guidance. We repeated a few zeros with increasingly harder/sillier beta, then got pumped on some contrived traverses before checking out another four called Harvester of Sorrows. I really liked the first part of this problem: slightly reachy moves on kind-of-terrible slopers, then a WHOOSH-y heel hook and some hand matching. But the topout is some awkward slapping around and then a giant mantle I just couldn't do yet. (Have I mentioned how mantle-weak I am?) I'll get it next time, though; I've been upping my pushup game.

Nick and Evan didn't send their problems, but they still climbed well. Nick got every move on Flagyl out of sequence before splitting his tip and heading home, and Evan was sooo close on Squeeze Job. But most importantly, at the end of the day, we got pizza.





These are the cookies I made for the trip.IMG_20150320_224746

They are vegan and full of protein. Here is the recipe, kind of. ("scoop" = ice cream scoop)

Recipe, Kind Of*

1 can of chickpeas 1.5ish scoops of almond butter 1.5ish scoops of shelled hemp seeds 1 tsp. baking powder a little salt

Put all of that in a food processor and mixed it all up 'til it's dough. Then ball it up into little cookie nuggets, press 'em down with a fork, and press the following tidbits into the top:

some craisins some chocolate chips some coconut flakes

Then bake 'em at 350 degrees. I think mine were in the oven for about 12 minutes. They should be soft and taste like health. You can obviously forego the chocolate chips to make them #sugarfree or whatever, but I would also opt for a sweeter nut butter because the chocolate is what made these taste not-legume-y.

*I can't take total credit for this concoction. It is based on a recipe I found on Instagram a while back, from @herbivorous_rex.

**Full disclosure: I edited the colors in three photos and cropped two of them. Not John's doing!

Cookies & Currahee

IMG_1481Nathan on the Belay couch. Belay loveseat? Beloveseat.

Mt. Currahee is probably the closest sport climbing to Athens. I don't know, maybe Yonah is closer, but we didn't go there this weekend. We went to Currahee.

Evan, Lucy, Beckett, Nathan, and I drove up there on Friday for a half day, and since it's only about 90 minutes from Athens, we didn't have to leave until 6 a.m.! #whoo

Since Evan has a sports car, Nathan has a bike, and Lucy is 13, the task of driving fell to me. Actually, I think one of the guys would have driven my car, but I am trying to improve at driving and stop hating it because it's a necessary skill if you want to be an adventurer. I just traded in (err, kind of) my white '89 Lincoln Town Car for a 2004 Ford Taurus a few weeks ago, and this was my second time driving folks to a climbing spot (the first was our Little River Canyon expedition a few Sundays ago). And maybe my fifth time driving outside of Athens, like, ever. #scary

The drive to the crag went preeetty well, except I learned quite suddenly that you always have to stop for school buses, even if they are across the yellow lines and three lanes away from you, which is good to know because I don't think I've had to stop for a school bus ever (did I mention I don't drive much?), and apparently it's a really big ticket if you don't. But I also think it's pretty not-okay for these bus drivers to let kids out on a four lane road with no crosswalk and expect them to cross it and... well, anyway. Once we reached the mountain, it took me about three years to get us up its potholey gravel road, but I think I did a pretty okay job considering.

IMG_1489 Quickdraw segue.

It was a frustrating day for me at Brick Wall. I was sore from a few days of gym climbing, so everything felt harder than it "should" have. And although I thought I'd gotten past my fear of heights with my post-send-slack-pulling at the aforementioned Canyon trip and my 10-lead-flashing last weekend, I had a serious freakout leading this 5.10a called Pigs on the Wing. As in, a grab the last quickdraw, sob to the top, don't stop shaking for thirty minutes freakout. It was bad and embarrassing and I was really mad at myself, but the thought of falling filled me with more terror than ever. I think the fact that I was feeling weaker than usual combined with latent fear demons in my head to make the worst of a potentially okay situation. But I got over it, and it was still a great day. I toproped a 5.10b/c called Power Flyer, and I agreed with Lucy and Evan that is was way easier than the 10a, but since the fear aspect was (mostly) removed, I don't really know.

We also toproped a couple of 5.9 trad climbs, No Name Crack and OffwidthOffwidth was my first experience with crack climbing, which is strange and hard and super fun. I definitely want to climb more cracks, although the idea of hand jamming still confounds me. Really jamming anything except a pant-covered knee confounds me. Like, ow. But I am definitely a fan of the knee jam.

IMG_1491 Hey, look, gear on gear!

Evan practiced placing trad gear on this 5.11c called Dreams while on toprope, and of course he'll send it on actual trad (on trad? while tradding? as a trad daddy? what is the phrasing???) next time. Lucy was baller enough to toprope it too. You can read about her experience here!

Since we were even in number, I was usually belaying or climbing and didn't get a lot of photos. But here are some vultures:

IMG_1503 Not a good omen in my 5.10 distress.

We left around 4, and I drove us back to Athens without event. Beckett rested her head on my arm from the backseat, which was heavy and made steering a little awkward, but it was so friggin' adorable and I just got used to it. It was nice pulling up to the apartment at 5:30 instead of midnight, and it was definitely a productive day.

I'm a little disappointed that my fear of heights is still hanging out in my brain. But climbing is a process in every aspect, I suppose. I can't go out this weekend because of work (sigh), but if I can get anyone to climb on Labor Day I'll make sure my mind and body are ready.

Okay, so that was the Currahee portion of this blog post. This is the cookie portion!IMG_1471 Crag cookies, crag cookies

Friday was Nathan's first time coming out with us. He'd allllmost come a few times before, and I was really excited to climb with him, and I was determined he would make it this time. So Thursday night at the gym, trying to convince him that it was worth the hot temps and all, I was like, "I'LL MAKE COOKIES, MAYBE." I included the "maybe" because it's important to have an out, but once I'd said it, I had to do it. I don't know if Nathan even remembers that conversation, but...

After a 10:00 trip to Academy Sports to pick up some overpriced gymnastics chalk (I procrastinated), I commenced the baking process. And this time, I wrote down measurements!

This was my first time using carob powder in a recipe. I'm not sure how I feel about it. People like to use it instead of cocoa powder because it is also brown and starts with a "C," but it does not taste like chocolate. I really lack the culinary vocabulary to describe the taste of carob. But it's not bad, necessarily, depending on who you are. Just strange, and you feel kind of virtuous and trendy eating it. And it doesn't contain caffeine, so that's nice, or lame, or whatever, depending on what you seek from your cookies.

Anyway, here's the *~*recipe*~* :


1 c whole wheat flour

1/4 c coconut sugar

1/4 c carob powder

t tsp baking powder

1 tbsp chia seeds

handful of coconut flakes

2 tbsp flax seed meal + 4 tbsp warm water

1/2 c coconut oil

1/4 c agave nectar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Mix the flax seed meal and warm water and set aside.

3. Combine the dry stuff, except for the coconut flakes.

IMG_1456 Carobcano!

4. Add in the wet stuff and then the coconut flakes.


5. Make lil balls, and put 'em onto an ungreased cookie sheet. You should have about 16.


I didn't flatten them down, and after 8 minutes, they were still little nuggets:


So I flattened 'em out with a fork and baked 'em for two more minutes. So you should probably skip that part and just flatten them to start with and then bake them for 10 minutes.

IMG_1469 And then they'll look kind of like this! Soft and chewy and full of nutrition.

Now. The important question: How do they taste? Well, not sweet. Like, they're brown, but they are not chocolate. And coconut sugar isn't actually all that sweet, as sugars go. And whole wheat flour, while less evil than white flour, tends to make things bitter-er. I honestly wasn't sure about them, but the guys liked them. In Nathan's words: "they taste like energy cookies." Which apparently are a real thing because I just googled them and found like a kajillion recipes so maybe I will just call them that. Like, coco-carob energy cookies. The coco is for coconut, NOT COCOA. Because THESE BEAUTIFUL COOKIES DO NOT TASTE LIKE CHOCOLATE. 

Well, you've been warned. I'mma go to the gym now and climb on some plastic.

Any other climbers out there struggle with The Fear? How do you manage it? And what in the world do you think of carob powder? Speak in the comments, or on the Contact page!