All paths lead nowhere, choose with heart

pictures for my parents November 30, 2010

Filed under: Climbing,Family,Picture Taking,Trips — sendann @ 5:43 pm
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It’s easier to send my parents a link than a bunch of attachments, and last night my grandma told me she was starting to understand better what it is I’m doing, but pictures would help. She also said I was smart for not climbing alone unless it was on super easy stuff. So anyway, mom, dad, grandma,  here’s what’s goin on in El Paso…


this is inside the mastadon, the gigantic mobil home where I stay. It's kind of chaotic in this shot, but as you see, plenty of space and very comfortable - so i'm hardly roughing it.


this is the little trailer, which is awesome but I can't fix the walls myself. My friend vinny from austin says I only need a little help for an afternoon, but I'm pretty discouraged. If not this one, then someday I want one of these that's relatively air and mouse-tight. Even if it's just a back office in a yard in Austin.

inside the little trailer. super cute. I think the oven has never even been used. Sigh.


Here's me on a not so hard but kind of intimidating problem I'd never done before. My friend Andy took this one. Perfectly safe.

Next move of that one. Still totally safe.


I think I look ugly in this photo, but it’s still an interesting image. If I figure out the last move of this line it will be my hardest climb ever at Hueco. It’s like, par 5 and I’m trying for an eagle.
Me on this strange, fun problem with a couple of local girlfriends. Probably my favorite line here, because it’s so beautiful, with a big eyeball in the middle of it.
my french canadian friend chant and his daughter sierra. he and the family are on a 5 month climbing trip during their m/paternity leave. Don’t worry, I’m not thinking of doing that anytime soon, but it’s super fun to have a baby to play with between climbs.
another baby shot. with a rock!

Hey CheckIt0ut I’m in a book! November 27, 2010

Filed under: Climbing — sendann @ 8:36 pm
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There’s no classy way to explain this, so I’ll just reiterate that SendAnn is all about me. Ann. Last year Steffen Kern from Klettern was at Hueco. He just put out this big German book about bouldering in the southwestern US, and there’s  a picture of me in it!

It’s this shot from last year, across 2 whole pages!:

This shirt and shoes both blew out soon after this was taken, but the Prana shorts are still workin

So that’s something I can show my parents. I think I have to go send Dean’s Trip to make it honest. Andy is the book too, spotting this French Canadian guy who told me and Wallace that girls were inherently sucky at bouldering. We made that tour hell for him, and we’re still laughing.


he said ‘oil can’ November 24, 2010

Filed under: Cars — sendann @ 11:22 pm
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the trooper at wallace's. so dignified, it's leaking integrity onto the gravel

I asked my friend Chris, “Are you a man who could look at a puddle under my car and tell me if it’s oil or transmission fluid?” He said yes, and said it was oil. But the display drew the attention of other men hanging around Hueco Tanks headquarters,  and I got several confirmations. Oil. Brown. Transmission fluid = red. The trooper is leaking a little oil when it’s running, and for a second or two after it’s turned off. I’m almost due for a change anyway, so I went to some off-brand of Jiffy Lube on Geronimo. When I came back for it, the guy at McOilChangemart said something like this:

“I have to decline to service your vehicle. It’s leaking so much oil all over the place, it is a liability for me to service your vehicle. Please take your vehicle somewhere else to be serviced.”

“Wha? I know it has a little leak, but why can’t you change it?”

“Ma’am, your car is leaking oil everywhere and it is dangerous. I cannot be responsible for working on this vehicle. Maybe Firestone will service it.”

“But whaaa? If it’s dangerous then they probably shouldn’t right?

“Ma’am, I cannot service this vehicle.”

“Can I just top it the oil off myself? I mean can the leak just be fixed by a mechanic?”

“Ma’am, to fix an engine like that will be several grand, and with that milage (211,000 ftw thank you very much) and running it with full oil it will probably blow up.”

“Oh Jesus just go away.”

So I got back in the apparently exploding Trooper and drove to Hill Brothers Auto, over by Fort Bliss, which came highly recommended to me by Ranger Jane. “I was driving an 88 Buick, and they completely understood me.” She told me. “They won’t do things that don’t matter”. When I finally found Hill’s (thanks lilyguide!) I went into the office, and it smelled just like Yost. I told Dave Hill what they oil change man had said. “Where the heck were you? WalMart?”

“Basically yeah, I was at WalMart. Is my car going to blow up?”

“No those guys are grease monkeys. Your blah blah blah is just blah blah blahd, I seen it a million times, they have to refuse to work on them because they’ll make a huge mess. You’re fine it’ll take 5 minutes. But I can’t possibly do it now, so come back on Saturday.”

“He said I’m leaking all over the place. But I only see a little oil on the driveway.”

“A little oil can look like a lot on the pavement. Let’s take a quick look.”

So we go out and he checks the oil stick. “Honey, you aren’t even at the low line. And this oil looks great, are you sure he didn’t sneak an oil change in there anyway?” Then he told me my engine was a Chevy, same as on the Trailblazers of the same era. “Izuzu and Chevy got in bed together for a while. These are great engines, come back on Saturday.”

So, HA. The Trooper is NOT about to blow up. This story was funnier in my mind.



praying, and some pictures of Hueco November 13, 2010

Filed under: Family — sendann @ 7:22 pm
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When I was a seriously troubled teenager, my mom went to Catholic mass (even though she converted 30 years ago) every week to pray for me. Since I got through that trying time, prayer and consciousness of some godly force have been a constant part of my life. My friends who are into it too call it the “God Club.” And generally speaking, pretty much all the things I pray for happen. I don’t know how that works, but I don’t think it’s magic or that some real live manforce in the sky is intervening in my pathetic life.

these hugies are all over the place right now

I have to pray in the super traditional, childhood “hey there god it’s me ann you’re the best thanks for the mastadon and keeping me healthy at hueco i promise I’ll try to be nicer to douchbags in the future. ok listen I have a problem and here it is can you help?” way. I think that hearing myself state the problem to someone I believe can make miracles happen, the miracle I want becomes a lot more clear, and then it doesn’t seem like such a miracle after all, and I find a satisfying solution pretty quickly.

Andy's bath house and the shoots, moments before he bulldozed his land into oblivian to make room for a car port. It's still awesome.

But before I pray about a problem, it’s like I’m standing at Home Depot, with only the foggiest notion of what it is I want to make. I don’t know what aisle anything is on, or even what category it would fall under. I don’t understand the store layout, and I’m paralyzed. I start to get mad. Goons I don’t trust keep approaching and asking me if I need help. I keep saying no, and wandering around looking at shower stalls and washing machines and grills and boxes of screws until I’m delirious, playing with the Ralph Lauren paint-color-matching machine, trying to make my outfit into a paint scheme for the exterior of a bungalow that I don’t even have anymore/yet. But after I pray, it’s like some patient Home Depot guy with nothing pressing listened to my jumbled explanation of my project and said, “I don’t know if that product exists, but you might try aluminum water-proofing tape. Let me show you my favorite brand.”

this isn't hueco at all of couse, but it was on my camera from capt. bastard's expedition to flat creek last month. It's a sweet shot of a beautiful place. And so freakishly well hydrated!


Anyway, I started thinking about this when I was reading about the Mi She’berach, the Jewish healing prayer. I read this interesting essay about just what the hell it is rational people are doing when we start asking for direct godly intervention in human lives.

On a somewhat more abstract level, this prayer seems to function less as a request for literal fulfillment of a petition but rather a means of setting one’s heart in the right direction.

I thought that was nice.


I did the first move of Power of Silence and thank you, Arnold Palmer November 4, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — sendann @ 10:18 pm
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And I did it campus-style, after wasting 20 minutes trying to be all footy-wooty like Andy and Lisa. Nope. Pull on, pop to the crimp, clamp my heel under the wall, and — ok at this point I fall tapping out the stupid plate thingy, but whatever. I’m not sure I could ever do the whole problem, or that I am going to fall in love with it enough to try, but it felt like a total coup to find a way to make that first move work for me. Like when I got asked on a date recently. I passed, because what if he wanted to, like, hold my hand or something. I mean, yeah no. Plus he’d probably think it was weird that I don’t drink. Plus he was way too young/ blond/European/etc. for me. All the same, It felt good to be asked. So I might not get into a ‘thing’ with Power of Silence, but having some minor success totally stoked my psyche on being here and on bouldering.


I thought about it later, when I was reading more of Arnold Palmer’s “Going for Broke”, which is about his strategy for winning golf tournaments throughout the 1960s. It’s totally relevant. Bear with me. I underlined this:


…Golf is not only a game of touch and feel, it is a game of heightened sensitivity. It must respond to the inner needs and character of the golfer. Every man must measure his skills against his goals and his purpose. The integrity with which he puts them together is his own best measure of success. A man must respond to what is within him.


With all those short declarative phrases, he’s pretty much the Hemingway of golf books. Anyway, Arnold Palmer says that you play your best golf game when you play in a way that suits your style, and your style has to be developed according to your personal tastes, tendencies, and preferences. You can’t just change your style to suit the hole at hand, or against a certain competitor or a particular situation, or because you saw someone else’s style and it looked so effective. I found that totally profound when I applied it to climbing. One time, this total idiot who knew me for like five minutes suggested, apropos of nothing at all, that my style was balancy, crimpy face climbing. I think he was just saying things he’d read about female climbers, and was mad because I flashed something with a crimp on it. Gawd what a tool. Anyway, nevermind. Now I’m all mad thinking about that idiot and can’t remember where I was going with this. Rock climbing rules!!


the wood brothers

Filed under: Music — sendann @ 4:46 pm

I think Pandora got me into the Wood Brothers, and I’m ok with that. Grateful, even. I love listening to music out here, and their album Loaded has just crept into my life and set up shop. This is the first song on the album, and something about how the new version of iTunes works makes it pop on as soon as whatever podcast I’m half-ignoring is over.



leaving austin November 3, 2010

Filed under: Climbing — sendann @ 4:04 pm

After an awesome Halloween weekend and some time at the lake with feraaahking Mike Personick (!!!) I headed, as planned, to Hueco on Monday. It was sad and hard to leave, but good to bail on an up-note. I’m so ambivalent about my Austin life these days. I’m either in love love love with it, or I feel lonely and stagnant. Also, I made such miniscuel progress on Murder Boat Suicide, I resigned myself that it was probably not gonna go anywhere for me until the lake is a bit higher so I can feel the holds and practice those moves off the boat. Possibly while lying down on the bow. In February. In a shorty.

Still, I’m not entirely comfortable with leaving when everything, climbing and friend-wise, is so good in Austin. On my way out of town I passed by Pedernales Falls State Park, which I’ve always wanted to go bouldering at and I think the weather is perfect for it. And I even had a small coup at Reimers with Merrick last week, finally finishing a random Insect Wall route I’d never quite pulled off before. It wasn’t a project, but I had tried it a few times over the years and always came close but no cigar. Sport climbing felt so good – I had none of my old rope anxiety or clipping fear, I could pace myself, it just felt so comfortable.  I hope that comfort sticks. I’m trying to get a gang together for a trip to Sitting Bull Falls before it gets too cold. Whenever I am back home, I’m gonna go through a big Insect Wall phase and get obsessed with a few of those lines. They’re all variations on the same theme: Annoying chossy approach, underclings then a long roof move, then a big rock up onto a face, cruiser easy section of glorious, interesting face climbing, then a sort of pumpy crimpy bulge at the top. It’s short, and super fun, and the hard bottom moves are worth it for the awesome mid-section. Anyway, I have left Austin for now and it’s the right thing.

Hueco is, as ever, a weird desert scene. It’s empty during the week, and even Andy, who’s land is just down the road from where I stay at Wallace’s, isn’t around. (UPDATE: ANDY IS BACK!) My best climbing girlfriend Emilia Rafaela Barrows Brown is here, though, and it’s so special to be able to spend time with her and climb. I’m taking a few days to just warm up. Do lots of easy problems and get my top out head and my Hueco skin all in order. I did 30 v0-2s on the front side of North yesterday, and it was awesome. I climbed until my inner elbow started frowning. I was all alone, I don’t even think anyone else was in the park, and I just went up and down of these iron rock crimp faces. Some I remember doing last year, and I am definitely more confident this time around.

I started reading “Go for Broke; My philosophy of winning golf” by Arnold Palmer, which is basically Arnold Palmer talking in great depth about how he decides which beta to use on critical holes in golf tournaments. It’s amazing. There was this thing in it where he was saying that, even though he has this reputation for making bold, reckless shots, he’s actually very careful and never takes shots he doesn’t know he can make. He might not make them the first go, but he’s been playing so long that he knows what’s a stupid risk, and what will go. I found that kind of inspiring.