All paths lead nowhere, choose with heart

rat maze December 30, 2011

Filed under: Climbing — sendann @ 5:45 pm
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An incredible end to part one of my Hueco season, 2011/12. The miracle of hannukah sending came through, after several days of rain and snow, frigid temps and icey top outs. On my last real day out, and the last day/night of the holiday, I finally finished Wheaties.

I was able to put Bush League together pretty quickly as well, and after that Melissa decided I might as well go out with a bang and send two things. So she and I broke off from our larger tour to head down to the maze and join up with the Exposure team from Dallas, who had just radioed into Wheaties. I felt intimidated by the dozen or so strong kids clustered under the problem, but Brian Anathwioeradksfjnne came up and said “back it up back it up give Ann Raber a turn to crush.” I managed to send it first go, using this amazing beta I discovered the day it bit my fingertip off and I fell on Sam Tinghy then bled all over my long johns. When I got to the last crimp on the face, which is quite good, both my feet cut because I was so freaking nervous and shakey. I heard Melissa gasp so loud,  I got myself right and said “I’m good.” Then finished, trembling like a dead leaf the whole way.

Here’s my story with Wheaties: I had tried that problem a lot two years ago, and the first move was kind of low percentage, and I couldn’t stick even the first few moves after that with any consistency. Last year I stayed 100% off of it. This year I tried it again, and the first move worked every time. I decided that, whether I make progress or not, I was not going to give up on Wheaties this year. Everytime I went to the maze, which was like twice a week because that is the nature of Hueco Tanks, I focused on it, falling a dozen times and making incrimental, theoretical, psychological progress (I feel closer). Finally I overheard Walker telling Veevers that he could only do it by using this intermediate I had never bothered to try before. That gave me one more move. Huge! After that I fell a lot doing a foot move where I see a lot of folks fall, and where Andy claims to have been falling for 17 years (but I think he is being hyperbolic).

this is andy on wheaties. i stole this off facebook.

Another time out, Melissa and Lori helped me refine my opening moves, enough so that I could think clearly at that foot crux and see a more static way to get established on the face. I’m sorry for all this inside baseball beta talk, but I figure most everyone has been on this problem and knows what I’m sayin, ya know? What I’m sayin? That left foot move? I found a perfect method for myself (step to the start hold and do some riverdance!). Anyway, I’m so happy that it all came together, and that I didn’t give up, and that Melissa had it in mind to encourage me to go down there, and that BA was there to make me laugh before I pulled on. Yay!!

I could’ve left after that, but I couldn’t get motivated to leave Hueco with intact skin and fire-less elbows, so I did an unprecedented second day on with the Team ARG kids and their coaches John Myrick and Morgan, whom I adore. We went, of course, to the maze, where I sat around eating, chatting, and almost pulled off that horrible little painful piece of atrociousness, Brain on Drugs. It took hours to figure out how I could even do one hand move, and then another hour to get from what I thought would be the end of “the business” to the top. I wound up having to put on one of John’s huge Madrocks with a flexible, plastic-y toe to do it. Since I didn’t send, I now have to get myself a pair of slightly loose madrocks with soft plastic toes. I’m cool with it. They’re cheap, and probably will be useful again.

Click for more shots by sam davis of my brain on droogz drama

I’m heading to Hawaii in just a few days now, and I plan on not thinking about beta or bouldering or anything really, other than uke chords and swell reports. Luckily Sam Davis was with us and made a beta memory video for me, so I can do that pile next time I’m at the maze. Which will probably be every week of the rest of my life, if this month is a precedent.

John Myrick spotting me on the Egg. I get so scared at that part! Also, new haircut! I don't love it, but I think it's for the best.

This is an ad for Rock/Creek:

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so fine December 22, 2011

Filed under: Climbing,The Future,Trips,Waves — sendann @ 12:12 am
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First the Good: Climbing is going awesome! My day on day off Hueco thing has continued to produce pain-free, misery-free, minimal-complainy Hueco days. And Hannukah has begun! Which is a very special bouldering time when I stop trying to send anything and just figure I’ve worked as hard as possible and some higher force of love and crimping is gonna have to come through for me. And it usually works, so let the miracle sending begin! But for real, I’m very happy with my time here so far. Best season yet, health and happiness and climbing wise, so/by far. And I finally did shroom, after not feeling even a little bit close on the hard move last year. Yay!



Then the Medium: I got kind of stoked on this cowboy themed trailer box in Truth or Consequences, and it took a while but I gathered the funds, locked in a place to put ‘er, and I’ve been super excited, but I think it’s not going to pan out after all. Renting a proper truck to haul it down here from there will cost like 300 dollars, and that was enough to send the project over my financial comfort level. Weird, where that line ends up being.  I’ll plant the cash in the sand, keep an eye out for a closer/cheaper option, and/or wait til i can put away a little more towards it. I’m also a little afraid of becoming a crazy hobo trailer person. Please let me know if that seems like it’s happening.



The Horrible: That whole, ‘toss caution to the breeze and step boldly into the opportunity for summer romance part 2, fall edition’ thing fell apart. I’m very very upset. One could truly hurt themselves doing this crap. Trying not to let it cast a shadow over my hope for a long and happy life, but ya know, it’s a crux and I feel like a total idiot.  All things Canadian, musical, and francophone now sting. I’ll be watching hugh grant movies in the rav if you need anything.




The Better: Nine more days in Hueco with a gorgeous forecast, a visiting ARG team, Molly, Emilia and lots of other fun friends are out, and I’m going to see the Nutcracker on Friday.


The even Better: Hawaii = sooner every day.


We always use the term ‘difficulty’ December 13, 2011

Filed under: Climbing — sendann @ 7:37 pm
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My system for reading the New Yorker has evolved into this:

It comes weekly to my sometimes-place in Austin where one of my lovely roommates piles them into a safe place. When I go through Austin, a once-every-4-months thing lately, I pick them up. It takes me as long, or longer, to read them than it did for them to pile up, and when I am back through ATX I pick up the new stack and put it on top of the remainder of  the previous stack. I always have a good 6 months worth on me.

So it’s not terribly surprising that last month I finally got to the issue from December 20 & 27, 2010, and read Nick Paumgarten’s profile of Shigery Miyamoto, the creative mind of Nintendo. A few things in the profile made me think about climbing. One issue it’s made me think about is how well/not well climbing, in my life, fits the definitions of “play.”

Paumgarten brings up this Dutch cultural historian named Johan Huisinga, and what he wrote in 1938 about the definining characteristics of play. He came up with five.

Play is voluntary – you can’t be forced to do it or it stops being play.

Play “takes place outside the realm of ordinary life and is unserious, in terms of its consequences”

This isn’t always true I suppose, since you could hurt yourself a million ways, or get into highballing, or something. I think my natural cowardice and aversion to dangerous things keeps me and climbing on the play side here. If I sense any even slightly serious consequences, I usually back off.

Play is unproductive. “nothing comes of it – norhting of material value, anyway. Plastic trophies, stuffed animals, and bragging rights cannot be monetized.

This is a real choicy thing for a lot of people I know, and myself. If you start thinking about selling photos or videos or winning money, things begin to leave the ‘play’ realm, just a little maybe.

Play “follows an established set of parameters and rules, and requires some articifial boundary of time and space.” 

So you start with this jug and this crimp, go right, and this is the top. Sometimes you top out sometimes not, this hold is off and no dabbing.

Play “is uncertain; the outcome is unknown, and uncertainty can create opportunities for discretion and improvisation.”

I might or might not make it up this thing this time, might as well just campus that part.

So that was interesting.

There’s also sections of the profile where Miyamoto talks about the difficulty of video games, and how you have to balance impossibly hard things with repetative easy things to keep players engaged and allow them to improve. I related to this a LOT. Nothing like an easy start or chill section to keep me motivated trying something very hard.

“Miyamoto recognizes that there is pleasure in difficulty but also in ease, in mastery, in performing a familiar act with aplomb…His games strike this magical balance between the excitement that comes from faving new problems and the swagger from facing down old ones. The conseruent sesation of confidence is useful, in dealing with a game’s more challenging stages, but also a worthy aim in itself.”

Then the man himself is quoted

“All the time, players are forced to do their utmost. If they are challenged to hte limit, is it really fun for them?”
 In his games, “You are constatnly provising the players with a new challenge, but at the same time providing them with some stages or some occasions where they can simply, repeatedly, do something again and again. And that itself can be a joy.”

“We always use the term ‘difficulty’ when we talk about gameplay…If the game is too difficult, people may not want to play it again. With the appropriate level of difficulty, people may feel like challenging it again and again. As they repeat it, the amount of information they can acquire naturally increases….I always try to be conscious about that kind of gradual improvement.”

So do I, Miyamoto San.

He describes the crux of a game or a skill as a kind of “bridge”, between being a beginner and coming into mastery and deeper joy found through performing the activity.

“a kind of a bridge between indifference and pleasure. ‘If the bridge is too easy to pass by, it’s called ‘entertainment.’ If it’s rather difficult, it can be called ‘hobby.’

Here’s the article online.


this is my third post today and that is like a record.

Filed under: Climbing,Trips — sendann @ 12:24 am
Tags: , , , ,

Mike, aka “Carl”, made a pretty awesome fall round-up video of Linville Gorge bouldering, and I’m in it TWICE!

One time is a time-lapse of a day that I spent 3 hours in my (amazing new Marmot4Ladies) sleeping bag (that I won at an ABS comp) rolling around while everyone got up and got motivated.

The other time I’m ignoring Mike while he does a totally amazing FA that starts on my project and goes into another problem. Out in the west, they’ll tell you to move the hell out of the frame. In the cordial southland, however, they just let you sit there and play with leaves, and add some ken burns effect in editing.

Great work, Mike! Also, it would behouve anyone to go stalk Mike’s vimeo and check out his Linville Gorge Lisa Hummel video, and his ropes course building work.

And peep this awesome picture I got him to send me of a pile of rocks he piled up one day.

the guy can stack rocks, right?


georgia gold December 12, 2011

Filed under: Climbing,Trips — sendann @ 10:13 pm
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Thanksgiving day at Rocktown with Gustavo, Valerie, Amyot, and Nurse Mike SprinterVan, who thank god remembered his xgfs betas for this gorgeous problem.


another hueco pun!

Filed under: Climbing,Trips — sendann @ 9:57 pm
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Couple things: Blame the horrible ranch barn wifi, but I managed to delete a bunch of comments the other day. They all appeared to have duplicated themselves multiple times, and when I tried to correct that, well, comments go boom. Sorry bout that.

SendAnn is an official media link of the 2012 HuecoRock Rodeo! Thanks baby. If this one thing works out, and this other thing that I hope works out doesn’t happen, I’ll definitely be there!

Hueco so far has been wonderful. For the first time I’ve accepted the “day on-day off” schedule that is the favorite among my most prolific and experienced Hueco climbing friends, and (go figure) it’s working brilliantly. It always seemed like such a relatively small amount of climbing time, I couldn’t justify it. I’ve just gone for two on-one off from the getgo. On that system a typical day goes like this: I warm up, eat, complain about my skin and muscles, sleep through the last half of a tour, and only ever have strong days after two days of rest. But so far on the one-on-one-off system, I’ve impressed myself with my day-stamina. I’m giving “one last go’s” at every stop, and working hard at limit problems all day.  So it’s probably an as if not more efficient use of my climbing time to just take every other day off and shut up.

My hopes and dreams list for Hueco is getting worked out too. I’m sending old and new stuff, getting over other stuff, and adding new things I hadn’t heard of. Here’s an update:

Did: troglodyte, bloody flapper (!!!!!!!!!), apres mort

Punted: Egg, Loaded, Alf

Over: new religion sit, because after revisiting the stand for review ema convinced me that the sit-start degrades the quality of the problem. Good enough, moving on!

Reshuffled: turns out “that tall thing by julio” and “The tall cool one” are actually the same problem.

Added: Bush League


southeast bouldrin’ woundup December 5, 2011

I really want to write about Hueco! And how cold it is! And so slippery! And I have the standard enormous list for this season, and they’re already going down! But I feel like I need to do a southeast round-up first. Here’s where all I went, and how it was:

Little Rock City/StoneFort: This whole, go climbing on a golf course thing is very unusual. It feels like you’re going to a petting zoo or a resort of something, whereas usually going bouldering feels like going on a hike in the woods. It isn’t a bad feeling, and I think we’re suppose to be super grateful because access is a gift, and then donate our first born to the access fund or something. Climbing-wise I found this place well worth its hype. It’s crowded usually, but it’s a super nice, friendly local crowd. I think the trick here is to hike all the way (along the golf cart trail) to the back, then move forward. Everytime I went I never got to where I’d wanted to go because there was so much else to see before I got there.

Good: Easy navigation, super nice people everywhere

Less Good: Whining children who, sorry mom and dad, just aren’t that into climbing.

Lousy: Camping is far away, sketchy and/or pricey

fore! with tommy merriweather

Rocktown: Local word is that the rock here is less awesome than at LRC. I thought it was awesome. Kinda different, more jugs, which to me means better but whatever. Takes all kinds. The climbs here are perfect, and the landings are good for solo or limited-pad situations. This might be my favorite place. Very small, easy enough to see it all in a couple days as long as you don’t get too caught up in the front area. The real pull here for me is the camping, which is free, beautiful, and very close. And aside from the occasional benevolent redneck huntin’ coon in the next hollar over, it’s quiet. Rocktown has its own google location page, which is nice.

Amazing:  Camping, boulder problems, setting

Not amazing: Unreliable beta, hard to find or ID newer climbs without local help

Hound Ears: This is the super restricted access area that’s only open for the Triple Crown every year. I think this, and having Fucyo gives Hound Ears a reputation for being super amazing, but I didn’t find it to be the best of Boone by any stretch. The bouldering is kind of mixed. Wildly mixed, actually. Some walls are just perfect – Flash or Trash area at the front, the Heretic boulder, for example. And some are just garbage, and some are in between, like the Blade. Probably the best view in the southeast. I feel kinda down on Hound Ears, just because of it’s weirdly inflated rep. There’s pricey camping really close, so that’s kinda nice I guess. For someone. Else.

Good: Fun problems, high psych, view

Meh: Not worth getting all desperate to get in over, no published beta

Grandmother: I wish I’d given myself more time here. Grandmother is huge with a thousand amazing problems and varied angles and styles. Take a local guide along, and be sure to park “at the top.” I love that problem ToxicBox.

Good: ToxicBox, the hugeness

Argh: Not enough time in life for all this place has got, no published beta.

Blowing Rock: Probably my favorite of Boone, this place has two zones, colloquially speaking: The Mushroom Boulder, and The Rest of Blowing Rock. The Mushroom Bouldering is, Rachel Scheffe told me, probably the most popular boulder in Boone, and I think that’s because it is the best. Something of every hardness and angle on that thing. The rock is mostly perfect brownish yellow sandstone, but a few zones at Blowing are that black and white blocky stuff. I think if you only got to go to one place in Boone, it should be here.

Awesome: The bouldering, the access, the approach

Lesser Awesome: no published beta, lots of bro-bra-age, comparatively.

Julian workin his project, LowBoy, on the mushroom boulder, demoing my Anasazi's

stellar top out

Lost Cove: This is a tiny, two-zone area in Boone with a dense concentration of amazing problems with hard top-outs. I love this place. I wish I’d gone here another time or two, because I never got to visit the uphill side. Oh well. Pictures!

Glorious: easy approach, intimate setting, incredible rock

Whatever: nowhere to run ;0)

Rachel warming up at Lost Cove

the titular hold of "heinous crimper" at lost cove - what an excellent problem!! srsly!

Linville Gorge: I already wrote about the Gorge, but here’s a picture of my project that I didn’t get to return to.

Yay: Camping, downhill approach, setting, bouldering, swimming

Nay: Arduous hike out, raging rapids

the garden. what a sweet boulder/place/line. I dropped a pin there. Hoping to return

Horse Pens-40: I was told to look out for the owner of this place, as he can agitate the hippie masses. I found him quite pleasant, however. But dude, this place has the vibe of a bouldering concentration camp post-redneck apocolypse. The bouldering is lovely, a style all its own, like wrestling with those giant novely beach balls. I’d like to have tried the Litz Pocket Problem, but I think I can live without it if it means I don’t have to go back here. Too expensive, too many rules, weird vibe.

Good: That man with the guns is nice

Not so much good: pretty much everything. And it’s in Alabama

Rumbling Bald: This place’s name is hard to remember when you have to remember the name “Blowing Rock” also. Not sure why. Rumbling Bald is the metro-Ashville mixed/trad/sport area with a huge boulder field. Apparently it was developed largely by this guy who’s married to this woman Anna Sharret, who is the sister of this guy Anders who I hung out with a bit when I lived in Chicago because he was a music writer and my boyfriend at the time was a musician. So it’s an interesting little small world connection there. Rumbling Bald is pretty awesome. I think it’s…. granite? Super hard sandstone? It’s hard to tell. There are some gorgeous problems there and I will definitely go back because Ashville is SO COOL.


SO COOL: Ashville, sticky rock

whatever: Trad climbers everywhere, rough on the skin and body so second day on was impossible

Lilly Boulders, Obed: This place is a mess, but I like it. It’s a hot mess. There are tons of moss covered boulders around that look every bit as potentially good as the ones with problems on them, but the foliage here is relentless. Moss, mud, tree roots, choss, maybe it reminds me of home? The warm ups are amazing and fun, and the hard-hard problems are wonderful and, natch, hard. As for the in-between it seemed all over the place. Some super easy and soft stuff with slopey pockets and sneak kneebars, some cryptic and difficult lines with very high, chossy, scary top outs or jug-drop offs. Overall kinda strange, but I’d go back and try hard things again. Camping is fun and lovely, but a little pricey at $5 for a parking spot.

Good: Access, warm ups, testify, navigation, wildland

Medium: jug drop-offs, questionable rock stability

lucious warm ups at the lilly boulders

eric trying hard at lilly boulders. peep that mystical forest setting!

I think that’s all. I couldn’t be happier about my trip, unless it had lasted longer and I’d returned to more places more times to climb on more boulders. I didn’t get to go to Little River Canyon in Chattanooga, or the 221 circuit zones in Boone. I can’t tell if I want to go back soon or not. I can say for sure that I’ve been spoiled stupid by frictive climbing, and the last two days climbing at Hueco have been hilarious. My feet just don’t stay on anything, and all my new open palm, sloper skills are completely useless. So I’m campussing. Campusing. Campus ing. Hm. Spell check does not approve of this gerund.