All paths lead nowhere, choose with heart

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.

When I miss the falling catch move, it looks like this

When I miss the falling catch move, it looks like this

Click to watch me stick the transition move. why is it so hard!?

Click to watch me stick the transition move (links you to Vine) why is it so hard!?

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.

snb1 snb2

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.

happy even though it's hard. cute booties, eh?

happy even though it’s hard. cute booties, eh?

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

Sept: ???????

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.


she’s been reading February 6, 2013

Filed under: Climbing,The Future — sendann @ 8:15 pm
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I decided I would never again listen to advice from any of my friends.

– from “Walls without Balls” by  Sibylle C. Hechtel



I’ve been reading a ton of mostly trashy historical novels. But somewhere in the mix I picked up Rock and Roses, a collection of essays on women’s climbing tackling the 1920s to the middle 90s (Lynn Hill’s Free the Nose story is included). It was mostly awesome, with a few duds. These kinds of essay compilations can seem contrived and precious sometimes, like Oooooo the women pioneers of mountaineeeeeeering how amazing yet boring, but once I got into this one it pretty much rocked. I get a lot out of reading first hand accounts of women pursuing their lives. It’s a thing, and it’s what reminds me to keep up this little blog and to try to keep it honest. Because it’s so helpful to me to read things like this. Anyway, I want to share a passage that I highlighted in the book, that has been tumbling in my mind the last couple of weeks as I’ve been sorting out the feelings that seem to come up inside me when faced with climbing industry people, pros and pro-hos, standard Hueco high season ish.

ripping off layers to jump on Michael Kenyon, my favorite north mnt stage 2 warm upper

ripping off layers in a rage to jump on Michael Kenyon, my favorite north mnt stage 2 warm upper



At times, feeling a need to accede to the expectations of a society I thought I had rejected, I have tried to use climbing as a means to gain recognition, to be considered a success. I have sometimes got caught up in the pursuit of summits, as a collector pursues butterflies, to capture them, and take the life from them, and display them to the amazement and approval of his colleagues. but these attempts to take the mountains for ambition and not for love have all failed. Because it is not what I have done that ultimately brings me a feeling of peace and belonging, it is doing it. And it is not even what I am doing, but how I am doing it, if it is honestly, joyfully, whole heartedly then surely I am living as I was meant to live.

– Julie Brugger, A Mountain Experience


hueco preview October 8, 2012

Filed under: Climbing,Picture Taking,The Future,Trips — sendann @ 10:56 pm
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Swung through Hueco on my way up to California last week, and took a serious look/feel at the Morgue. Ana came along, and we took pictures with my new, amazing D3100, which short circuited that night and is now dead. Here’s a bunch of awesome Morgue shots. I think I’m gonna get the hang of this crack thing this year!



Hey ana! I see you’re standing at the start of the Morgue!


Ana starting the Morgue. There’s a kind of hard move near the beginning that I didn’t do, but I’m not worried about it.



that’s my purple ‘trying’ face



so then the crack seems to get a bit wider. I am a little worried about this part.

this is actually how I spent most of the session :=o


figured something out. sorry for so many pics, I can’t seem to pic a favorite and ana is so dang talented with the nikonz, i feel like i shouldn’t have to.


I guess this is my favorite, actually.


I worked some weird off-width roof bs through this next part, then did what I think is the end and top-out, but I’m not sure.


Sooooo, have you done the morgue? Does it end on that other boulder, or up the face near where the two meet? Also, do you have any roof crack bouldering advice? Please don’t hesitate to leave it below. Thanks!










Other People July 21, 2012

Filed under: Climbing,Picture Taking,The Future,Trips — sendann @ 11:55 am
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I’ve been in the Rocklands for a month now, and I’ve gotten to see a few waves of people come and go. Here are some highlights from the new-friends front…

buchanan and sons bouldering and legal services

Dave and his dad Ian came to the Rocklands for their two weeks vacation from lawyering in England. Ian is a sport climber, but he hit the campus board for six weeks prior to their trip, and was on a mission to crush all the crimpy 6b’s in the park.

Ian (dave’s dad) with Moses at 8 Days Rain

They had hilarious conflicts over Ian’s insistance at clipping his jacket pouch to his belt in public. “I wish my dad was into climbing!” “I wish mine wasn’t.” Wryness abounds. They were a hit with everyone who met them, myself included. I put them on my list of touchstone people for my UK bouldering adventure (date not set).

team brazil!

Team Brazil is here. They move around fast, but I was able to count 14 Brazilian boulderers. They drive around in two rented pickup trucks, they each have a brand new Mondo-sized pad emblazoned with a Brazilian flag  “Rocklands” logo.

They’re exactly what you want to see when you come up to your project. Nothing but pads and spots and enthusiasm for whatever. Team Brazil is here for 3 weeks, and they’re trip was sponsored in part by a Brazilian chalk and soft goods brand called 4Climb. Obrigado!

know it/see it

Philip Ribiere, who I got to know in Hueco this year, arrived this week! We’re hoping he can screen his film, A Wild One, at the Hen House before I leave. I overheard someone ask him what the film is about, and he said,

“It is about me, about my childhood, my condition, and how to become a professional climber. But it is mainly about the love, and how the love, all the kinds of love, are the most important thing of everything.”

So I can’t wait to see it. And therefor, to know it.

hen housette sarah at the plateau

I’ve been spending rainy rest days posting up at the Hen House coffee shop, getting to know Sarah and the owner/operator Becky. We all went out climbing one day on this lovely moderate line called “Freckles Are Beautiful”, because we all have freckles :)

Of course there are many others, including the Belgians with their little hamburgler looking friend Nicola who crushes, and Owen from England with a matching purple hoodie, and more I haven’t taken pictures of yet. I have 2 weeks left, 2 hard projects I’m committed to not giving up on, and still 2 areas I haven’t been to. Shoot, 4 actually. Planning for next summer already!


ethan allen boulders June 7, 2012

Filed under: Climbing,The Future,Work — sendann @ 4:00 am
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I saw this tiny bit of info on mountainproject about some boulders in Ethan Allen Park, in north Burlington. I’m staying in Shelburne, just south of Burlington, working on farms and gardens until my flight to South Africa leaves, and since my weeding gig was postponed today, I decided to check ’em out.

Following the mproj directions, I found the boulders easily. There’s lots of HUGE scary tall crumbling stuff I stayed away from, and a few fun lines on the lower side of the trail. I brushed off a couple of obvious aretes and managed to get a good afternoon pump.

I’ve been playing with my new video camera, watching myself and trying to develop a more technical, graceful climbing style while documenting this strange little trip to New England. My camera (kodak playsport xiz3 or something, it’s white and waterproof) seems to make pretty low quality reels, but it’s neat to learn to work with clips. Hopefully I’ll get a handle on FCP basics soon and show you something that MOVES! For now, here are some stills from my Ethan Allen exploration.

made up some powerful eliminate variations on this teardrop-shaped arete. The rock is slick, shiny schist with angular, blocky crimps and slots.

taking the hand broom to the face of this lovely candy ball boulder.

and i think that is the most important quality for any woman. grace? yes, grace.

Real quick, since I know we haven’t talked in forever, I wanted to point out that I have a couple of affiliate ads up around here. This is how that works: If you click on something on sendann, for example this little rei thing:



Or that ad over there with the crashpadgirl, then they’ll know that you came from here, and if you buy anything that time (or anytime in the next few days I think) it gives me a few percent off the top, which I will funnel directly back into this blog in the way of candy, mastodon rent, and thrift store patagonia. Same thing for Aubrey Organics (the only things that touch my freaking hair), and ShindaggerGear, although actually not really in that particular instance.


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.


my epic super flail gossip project December 3, 2011

Filed under: Over-Shares,The Future,The Past — sendann @ 6:30 pm
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For example, you are about to tell someone the news of what happened. “Guess what? You don’t know yet? Let me tell you.” If you are alert enough, present enough, you may be able to detect a momentary sense of satisfaction within yourself just before imparting the news, even if it is bad news. It is due to the fact that for a brief moment there is, in the eyes of the ego, an imbalance in our favor between you and the other person. For that brief moment, you know more than the other…Many people are addicted to gossiping partly for this reason. In addition, gossiping often carries an element of malicious criticism and judgement of others, and so it also strengthens the ego through the implied but imagined moral superiority that is there whenever you apply a negative judgement to anyone. – Eckhart Tolle

I’ve been slowly eradicating my gossip habit for almost a year, and my progress feels pathetically incremental so far. I decided I was done with gossip after a 20+ career as a talker, listener, and “this is what the deal is with that person”-er. It’s still a problem for me, but I’d say I’ve gotten to “lazy contractor” status at this point. It’s the process that is the destination that is the journey or something, I guess.

After an thoroughly embarrassing couple of years in the personal realm where the things I heard about myself were so terribly painful, even if they weren’t content-ually vicious, I had to change something. I can’t stop anyone from saying what they want to say, but I can make it my mission to never again be the source of that feeling of betrayal and shame for someone else.

And maybe eventually I’ll meet my karmatic gossiping debt and not be a subject, or I’ll grow as a person through a program of prayer, meditation and focus and become impervious to the harmful words of others. Neither of those has happened yet. I still hear “news” of myself via the proverbial and pathetic “birdie” and it still feels like burning. If I had to give Lily a dollar every time she has to quote her brother Luke’s song, ‘Let ’em Talk, let em talk, even if they’re talking about you’ , she’d have paid cash for her dream house six months ago.

potential lily dream house 1

The main goal of my quitting gossip project is:

Don’t discuss people’s personal misfortunes and business when they aren’t around.

Simple enough, you’d think. Even if it’s just to say that I feel bad for them, or to allay someone else’s concerns or curiosity. Just, no. My moderate success has come mainly from unhooking from friendships that were largely based on news sharing and hate speech. But when I do reconnect with people, it’s very hard to not fall into the old pattern. It might even be impossible, possibly.

When I’m caught up in a conversation and a gossip situation is eminent, my first method is to refuse eye contact and say, repeatedly,

“I really don’t know. I really don’t know. I have no idea. I’m sure they’ll figure it out for themselves. I really don’t know.”

Usually the hint is gotten and we move on. Sometimes not, however, and that’s when I tend to do this really stupid thing. I frantically change the subject to myself and start sharing my own private business. Smart, I know. Which is a nice way to introduce part two of the project:

Don’t share personal information with folks who do partake in the gossip scene.

Because some folks can totally handle it, and that’s cool, I kind of wish I could. But my newly hightened sensitivity and hair-trigger despair are counting me out. If I really like someone, though, or if I think they’re going to reject me or find me boring, I try to hang onto their interest by over-sharing about my personal life. So no gossiping means no gossiping about myself either. This part is probably the crux.

you look so cool and nice!

But sometimes neither of those tactics is effective, so I think I’m going to have to introduce a new, somewhat more blunt, method. I’m playing with the idea of a “I feel too weird talking about that without her around” kind of statement. I think I’m liable to get punched if I start saying that, though. So maybe not.

Of course, we all live in the world together and some situations do require some discrete discussion. If my friend feel’s like hell because some jerklesauce is oppressing his swagger with wickedry, he should be able to express that to me, and I can listen without it being a malicious gossip situation. But it’s tricky to know where to draw the line. So far as I figure, it’s this:

Keep the focus on myself.

Which should be super, super easy. If I’m discussing my business, and someone else is involved, it’s fine to express it or tell the story to a trusted friend. (“I can’t believe he said/did that to me. I feel so sad/stabby.”) But no character assassination (“s/he’s like that because s/he had this experience in the past, but really it’s because his/her father abandoned them and they just need to just gtf over it”), or judgement (“she is a bitch”). And no pretending like it’s my business because I have feelings about it. (“I just feel so angry on her behalf because he is such a jerk to her. And here are the ways in which he has been a jerk over the years”). But of course, if I feel angry on my own behalf because you were such a jerk to me, I’m gonna tell Lily and Emilia. And if you messed with my friend, he’s gonna tell me about it, and I’m gonna tell him to ignore you because you are not worth his mental efforts. K?

mess with my crew at your peril

Non-bad gossip is also off limits, I think, at least for me. Because I have this way of turning it into a kind of carbon-trading market sort of conversation. If I say this mean thing about him, and pass on news of their break up, and assess then assassinate the character of his new girlfriend, I can make up for it by talking about how proud I am of someone or something else. Nah. But I will tell you that Emilia has secured epic sponsors for the Rock Rodeo, and Thomo is crushing at the Red, and Allen did a really hard boulder problem.

As for theoretical underpinning,  I’m realizing that gossiping and “having the scoop” or even sharing about someone else’s situation and my feelings about it, is a form of being controlling. Like if I know what’s up, and I control what someone else knows, and I tack my judgement onto the news, well, I kinda control the message and therefor…the WORLD? Realizing that you’ve been discussed and assessed in your absence is, for me at least, the most powerless feeling I’ve ever experienced. I try not to hold it against myself that I feel so strongly upset by something so common. Just because there’s nothing I can do about it doesn’t mean it won’t feel horrible. And it does.

That’s all I have about that for now. Also, I’m sorry for gossiping about you. I promise I won’t do it again.