fifas September 29, 2014
So after all that woe and drama over not doing my summer project at Way Lake, I gave up and went to the tramway where I was able to finish my other hard summer project on my first try of the day. So much for a doomed season. I’m taking it as a very good sign.
I noticed that there are no other female ascents of this thing in the 8a database. Not a ton of people or females go to the Tramway, and those who do or have recently haven’t gotten on this line, so I wonder if it’s not unreasonable to think that this is the first, or at least a very rare, female ascent. Brigit is the main gal who has done hard tram problems, and she says she hasn’t had luck on this one. Ashima came out one day, but I was there and we never went over this way. Lisa Rands trampaged one time, and we usually assume she did everything, but I found no evidence either way. Natasha Barnes? Seems likely but no tick noted. Jess Chen? I think there would be at least some mention of it. Anyway, there is always this sort of conflicted feeling when a possible ffa comes up for me. On the one hand, obviously I am not the only female in the world capable of doing this line, and doing it doesn’t break any longstanding barriers in climbing, so perhaps it shouldn’t matter and I am super cheesy for bringing it up or claiming. But I am proud anyway, because whether or not I am first-first-first-female, I was able to do a line that is not a typical girl problem. I schlepped up there enough days in a row to get it done. I made an opportunity for myself and showed up to the Steep Sharmarete, and that is more than half of the outdoor climbing game. And, even if it turns out Barnes or Rands or Chen have done it, my doing it too could open up the problem to other no-name whoeverettes like me, who paid for their shoes and climbed a mile in them on the same four moves. So that’s my thoughts on that.
shake n bake west September 25, 2014
I really thought and hoped I would be able to put Shake N Bake West (to define it from regular shake n bake in Hueco) together before the end of the summer, and I haven’t. I just need to talk about it. The first day I went to it was with Jill. I was able to do all the moves, but felt uncertain of this weird, kind of ‘catch the jug as you fall’ move in the dead center of the problem, before you go into the top out which is shared by a v6. Not an easy topout but half a dozen sessions later I never mess it up anymore.
I went back with Paula a few weeks later and felt very close to sending, overlapped the difficult moves and the weird falling catch move in the center. Then a random part in the beginning became really impossible and the session kind of died.
Went again a weeks after that, with the moves fresh in my mind, and that’s when I couldn’t find it. That sucked but it was a fun rainy hike with three pads on.
Gave up a little bit after that. If I can’t find the darn thing there’s no point getting all motivated.
Went again a month after that with Rebecca Taggart. We found it! (They found it I did not help) and I set about relearning all the moves, which happened pretty quickly, but it was very hot and I was not able to pull it together. Seemed close.
Went again two weeks after that to the day, alone, found it! Overlapped it in some new ways, figured some things out to make the bottom more consistent – weird flags and thigh scums abound. Kind of just lost that falling catch move at some point. Here’s a few shots from that session.
Went back the next day, total skin fail no surprise.
Went again yesterday, a week later, with Ryan, who is learning to use cameras. Did a new low point, finishing the problem from two moves in from the start, which was cool. Climbed really well felt strong for hours, lots of video and photos which is fun. Then I just kind of lost one of the low moves and couldn’t get it back. I let the day get to me, didn’t rest long enough between burns, and felt rushed. Wore my new Futuras on it, which are very comfortable and seem amazing. But I’m nervous that they will stretch out fast, as the Solutions did, and become useless except as toe hook shoes less effective than the Teams.
I felt so disappointed hiking down yesterday. I’m leaving next Tuesday for Europe and Way Lake closes for snow and stays pretty much under snow until late, late May/June. I ignored my other two California projects this month to focus on it, since they will be around all year. I got into that headspace of like, maybe it’s:
too hard for me
I’m not good enough at moving my body on steep rock
What is the point of these enormous arm muscles anyway if I can’t even put this line together?
I got in my head around Jill having done it quickly. That she is a real climber, a person people regard as ‘nails strong’ when she isn’t around. I’m just flailing and being a jock and talking.
What is all this training for? Is training not working? This WHOLE SEASON is going to be like this because no amount or strategery of training could possibly make ME strong enough to do Shake N Bake West because it is beyond my genetic potential, or maybe I’m just past my prime. \I have peaked in bouldering forever and I’m going to just do classic mods for the rest of my life and anything that takes longer than two days is just never going to happen, and then those won’t happen either, and I’ll just be fine with it because AT LEAST I HAVE MY HEALTH.
And at that point it’s like, wait. This does not make any sense, given previous experience, empirical evidence, and basic math. Then I calmed down. Abhyasa Variagya, consistent practice over a long period of time without attachment to a particular result. That’s my favorite thing I learned this summer in Yoga Teacher Training. I’m going to say it a few more times. Abhyasa Variagya. Practice over time without attachment to a certain result. That’s what bouldering is for me. I practice moving on rock, intimate experiences in infinitely magnificent settings, focusing and experiencing my body and mind and the natural world. Without attachment to outcomes or results. That.
So I am probably fine, I am just working it out. I do this on all my hard boulders, this is how it is for me. It takes a lot of sessions and I don’t need to get impatient or frustrated because it’s all there, just needs more finesse, which I only get through practicing the moves. I think it only feels so intense in the case of Shake N Bake West because I know that I won’t be on it again for so many months, and so there is this sort of imposed pressure. And much can happen by then. That I could forget how to find it among the least of them! It triggers worry about the future, which I’m usually free of, and I guess I had invested this line with setting the tone for the season. One of my goals this summer was to do one hard boulder a month, May through September. Something that took me a few days, or that I had been wanting to do and not put enough time into. I did a few,
May: Angry Beaver at the Tramway
June: Showtime at Black Mountain
July: Moonraker at the Buttermilks
August: Nothing I guess
Pretty sad stats actually, although Moonraker was kind of amazing in freaking July. But I have been in the gym like a monster. I don’t know. I hope I am able to enjoy myself and try really hard and find sends this fall.
watch what I’m thinking? don’t worry it’s about bouldering. September 24, 2014
Summer is over. I am awed by how much I was able to get through in terms of training, trips, family, surfing, homemaking, cooking, yoga and alllllll the rest, and by how much I had to let go of when it finally ended. I’m working on a longer post about the summer and its wonder. But my mind has turned, as it so often does just ahead of my writing, to the fall season. I am leaving the one week for a month in Switzerland, granite bouldering pre-season tradition continues! I’m sad that moses won’t be joining me, because I will miss him, but I also know that this trip will be good solo experience. It’s not a huge amount of time, and I want to really dig into Magic Wood, read, not be upset or stressed by bad weather or heinous exchange rates, and hang with some of my Euro girls and a few folks from here who will be there at the same time.
I’m also, of course again, thinking about Hueco and Bishop. I had a fun talk with Melissa today about Hueco plans and dreams for the season. I’ve made two videos of the Buttermilks, which seems to indicate that I am thinking about them. Here they are. No sending happens in either, but I apparently am so into video making now (which was a Jewish New Year’s goal of mine like 2 years ago so yay!) that it’s become my medium of choice for documenting whatever is in my mind and heart. And it’s things at the milks that I haven’t done yet. I hope you enjoy! Oh, these link to the vimeo page.
And here is my atmospheric Buttermilks rain date video, wherein I work on and do some of the moves of Center Direct, on my list this year but as I said, you never know.
Santa Barbarianism August 19, 2014
With Moses away in Colorado for a couple of weeks, I’ve been doing some of the things I love that he isn’t too interested in. Hari Krishna Temple, popcorn for dinner, alarm clock at 5am. Also, going to Santa Barbara. Maybe it’s the Houston girl talking, but I can’t get over the Santa Barbara views and vibe. Everyone has a dog, the beaches are small and feel local, the summer surfing is very mellow and the boulders go on for days. Mo grew up with this stuff and wrestling crumbling sandstone in the heat never seems quite the best option, and I totally respect that. But it’s new to me still and so I went. If you can imagine climbing out of a mud walled well in a rainstorm, that is trying to get from south of Los Angeles to north of Los Angeles anytime other than between the hours of 1-5 am. But I got to Santa Barbara. I stayed with R. Tyler and his housemates and their dogs, and hung out all with my Bros including R.Tyler, Sam Cody and Jackenz, now NoSend Nate (hopefully an up and coming bro). Check out Jackenz and Nate’s newest Rawk Tawk video.
After a few hours in the water at Emma Wood, where the waves come from all directions and it kind of feels like that Spinning Tea Cups ride, Tyler humored me with a trip to the Creamery – an area up Rattlesnake Canyon that I had heard about as having a few fun lines. Every time I’ve asked the bros about it in the past it’s gotten a response like “you should just go there and form your own opinion” (Read:”We hate it”). And yeah, it was a death march-y hike, and tops of the climbs were baking in the sun. But I was pretty excited and managed to top out I think 2 problems, and do lots of moves on a couple of others including the standout First Come First Served. While I worked on that one, Tyler and I got into a conversation about Austin and I got a wiff of my old Austin Anxiety feeling, which I had been altogether free from for the last couple of years. I feel flummoxed and confused and wildly misunderstood and unpopular. I’m not sure what brought it on, maybe too many different references at once. I managed to breath through it and do well on the problem. It’s great moves, reminds me a little bit of all the lines on the East Spur Mark of the Beast tour – Alf, UNcut Yogi, and That High Pro Glow. This line reminds me of all of those. Tension, sloper jugs, huge feet, weird swings that seem avoidable but take more imagination than I have, and mostly just really good fun on orange rock. Perhaps in the dead of winter I will go and try First Come First Served again.
It is really hot up in the hills right now, so we spent the middle part of the day in hammocks then headed to the Brickyard, where I was eager to give more attention to the notoriously difficult but seemingly simple line Grotesque Old Woman. Rumor is that the line used to be much more doable and has broken, which is easy to believe since this stone is basically dissolving before our eyes at a very, very slow pace. And not that slow at other times.
GOW is a hard move, some fun moves, then a pretty scary mantle. My goal was to stick the first move. This stone is so featured and bumpy, it’s hard to accept that there isn’t a perfect foot for you somewhere. And if you just stick your foot on the rock and brush it a bit, a foothold will likely erode into being. I played with the traditional backstep beta. The some weird high foot flag back tricks, all shorting me, and finally settled on this weird double high foot frog out the knees and stand up method. The top is quite daunting, one of those stand up on a bad foot and just keep standing and slapping, standing and slapping maneuvers. It took a while to have the vision of my perfect method, but I love it and I’m going to remember it. People much more capable than me have eaten it on both moves, and the line doesn’t see very many ascents especially considering how much attention it gets.
I rested and surfed and hit the thrift store the next day, determined to give GOW some send goes on Monday. We went back out in the morning, but were too late to get the early shade. Quick warm up and we ran back to the hammock and the beach.
Around 5 we went back for the unvarying perfect conditions that roll off the ocean and up to the Brickyard every day around then. I flogged the living hell out of Groteque Old Woman until it was too dark to really see the footholds, and retreated. Hopefully I will make it back soon and give it some more of what R. Tyler calls, ‘positive work’. I’m pretty happy to have figured out the moves in a way that works for me, and I know it’s going to go.
What a weird frame of bouldering mind I get into in Santa Barbara! The climbs are very hard for me but not in the ways that I’m used too, and it’s hard to find my focused grrrr try-hard on these problems. Probably because the feeling of the place is not very grrrr focus try hard for me. The bros have sworn off grades, I never see other climbers and certainly never strangers, and rather than dial in beta and executing it, I spend a lot of time experimenting with moves. Maybe it’s just inexperience on fragile sandy sandstone. I feel my fingertips moving a little bit and I just bail, I’m not sure what “bad but good enough” feels like on these holds. It’s also hard for me to just buy into the choreography, with so many little edges and bumps and options on the rock, I hesitate to settle on my beta and want to change my approach constantly.
I’m not sure when I will get back up there. It’s a full calendar for August and September, and I have a Tram project I’d like to get back to at least a couple of times, 5 weeks of Steve Maisch training, another trip or two to Bishop (waiting for a rainstorm :)), a quick trip to Texas and lots of planning to do for my 35th birthday celebratory month in Switzerland! More on that to come. I kind of want to live in Santa Barbara, but there are so many reasons to not. It is in the hopper. Going to have to see how life feels after the winter season. Thanks!!
Rain Dates August 13, 2014
It has been raining in the east Sierra for a month. Why do we say ‘East Sierra’? I don’t know anyone or anything about the regular Sierra. Either way, it has been raining a lot. I’ve been getting up there usually late Friday night or sometimes Sunday night depending on Moses’ Black Mountain Schedule/Yoga Teacher Training. I sleep up on Scenic Loop somewhere because I want to sleep high to acclimate, and what was the point of reading all these mountaineering stories if I don’t at least learn something applicable to bouldering? I get up Monday or Saturday morning early, before any of my friends are willing to rally because, as I said, it is raining and they’re over it, and hoof it.
For a while I was working on this great fun line at Way Lake called Shake and Bake. I was able to get some amazing choreography worked out, and even managed to desensitize myself to the really scary topout. But the last few times I went up there I couldnt’ find the darn boulder. Or even anything recognizable. It sucked so bad, wandering around in the rain with three crash pads, alone, trails everywhere and no idea where the freaking boulder is. I have shelved the project until someone can escort me out to it again.
So it is pouring rain and I’m not drinking coffee these days (5 weeks strong, saved $40!) so there was nothing to do in Bishop, so I decided to go look at some Buttermilks projects I have in mind for this winter, or leftovers from last winter. I get up there that first day and realize it is 66 freaking degrees! I packed my kit and went to the Buttermilker cave to circuit the moderates and maybe try Moonraker a little bit. It was gorgeous in there. Rain coming down outside but dry inside, super, super humid but kind of cold. The rock felt gooey and sharp at the same time, typical Buttermilks hell. I was able to reteach myself the moves for Moonraker, which was a really disappointing fail last winter. The cave is typically so crowded, it feels like some horrible club night at an LA rock gym, lots of onlookers, heinous teenagers, just no fun. But all alone in there, then with a strange group of people on a road trip from central Washington, I got the dance back and totally unexpectedly sent Moonraker! It was a real boost to the confidence for the summer, which has been slow in the sending and heavy on the training, and for the Buttermilks, which is always just a psychologically cruxy place to try hard climbs. Later I discovered that the new guidebooks call Moonraker v9, which was like a surprise cherry on top.
And therefor I have decided that my strategy for this rainy late summer is to go to the Buttermilks in the rain and try all my wintertime projects. Atmospheric video coming soon, but here are a few grabs from a very productive session on Center Direct, a longtime dream project that I’m inexplicably confident that I will do this September.
Now if you are still with me I have a concern about Center Direct I’d like to chat about. The other cruxy bit is the end. It’s a huge jump to a gastony jug with a pretty bad crimp for the right hand. I can make the jump and get my hand into the jug, but I have never reeled in the swing. Taller people (and, frankly, bros from California mostly) have been known to surf out far left to a big sloper, step through, swing up and grab the jug with the right hand. This beta is considered pretty lame, as the whole idea is that it goes up the center. Directly. It’s also considered off limits to small folks. BUT I CAN DO IT!!! And using that method, I’ve done the climb smooth but for the crux move in the center. Moses is like, if you feel good about it then you do it that way. And I don’t feel all that good about it. But I still think it is a radical line and can’t conceivably call it easier that way because you still have to do the crux-crux. So my hope is to send it that way, using the sloper jug, refer to it as ‘center indirect” same grade, then try really hard to send it the real way too.
For reference, this is the real-ish way (mute sound trust me) :
This is the other-ish way, and I am SO SORRY to Mr. Z Bouldering for using this video as an example of somewhat questionable beta. You look super strong back in 2010, and I’m totally doing it that way too. You are fine, so am I.
Regarding that time I went to Lego Land in Tahoe May 6, 2014
Tablelandia March 3, 2014
Some shots of Jill in the Sacreds last month the day she taught me how to work that roof on March of the Pigs. Here’s my video of her full out assault of the line.
I went back the next three weeks in a row to send myself, and it was a true joy to work on something that suited my style, finally, after many months on granite crimps. Lying under a roof, brushing stuff, trying, texting with friends in between tries and having all the daylight to myself was like being in my happiest of happy places, even though of course I was failing the whole time, until the one time I wasn’t. Working that line was on my list for the season, and I’m so thankful to Jill for putting her cleverness and wisdom to work to find some awesome, burly shorter person beta. And this post was suppose to be about Jill anyway, on with the pics!