All paths lead nowhere, choose with heart

sports action and ClimbTech June 19, 2012

Filed under: Climbing,Uncategorized — sendann @ 9:08 pm
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So last week I started praying for the motivation to commit more of my time and resources to sport climbing.


so ya idk wth bbq is up with my sport climbing but i have a few ideas


I think I have come upon a serious wall, so to speak, with de clippings, and I think I’ve been at it for a while. Here’s my story:

So way back when I was about 14 or 15, I was crushing some gymnastics, and then, in the middle of a strong training summer, I was so over it. And I had lots of lame reasons, and it felt like the right thing to do to quit at the time blah blah, but the truth was that I was terrified. I had come up fast in the sport, learned all kinds of awesome tricks, and swung bars as well as girls several levels beyond me. But by this point the next tricks on the list were really scary, and I spent a lot of time just half-trying them, not committing, bailing out, hurting myself worse in the process. I stopped loving bars and vault – the powerful, fast, upper-body-intensive events that drew me to the sport as a spindly 8 yr old. I started focusing on beam and floor, things that were closer to the ground and involved less aerial momentum.


With no new tricks, though, I got discouraged. My teammates learned the new vaults, did bar releases,  giants, complicated dismounts, and I just plateaued like wow, so bored right now.

Fast forward 17 years or so, and  I feel like I’m in a simliar place with sport climbing. I haven’t tried a sport climb that felt honestly limit in….a really long time (not counting the 11a warm up at jailhouse that I only saw the top of once). I’m pretty sure the last move I worked and couldn’t do in sequence within a few go’s was the move to the drilled pocket on that thing at Reimers…wtf is it called? Next to Lord of the Dance-Dance?  Classiqe,  lots of chipping and drilled pockets? Anyway, point is it was 2009 at the very latest. And it’s not that I try lines and can’t do them and quit. I don’t even get ON them. I just take a few goes (or in the case of Jailhouse, a few WEEKS) to put moves together with rests and kneebars in the right order, then go back to the boulders.

So I went to Rumney with Leo last weekend and did my fear game. It was amazing to hang out with him and I think we talked almost non-stop the entire time, and I loved the area, but stuck to easy terrain. I’ve been forcing myself to do at least one 12a/bb at every sport climbing spot, and I got through that easily enough there, but jeeze ann, let’s at least try to pretend to be trying to try hard.

And I can’t give up. Serious, effortfull sport climbing has to be a part of my life. My joints can’t boulder season after season, and my heart can’t handle not climbing at all, plus I love it, AND I’m completely decent at it. I need it in my life in order to be fully myself.

So all that, and reflecting on my gymnastics experience, has lead me to the conclude that my fear of heights has become unmanageable, and is negatively impacting my life.

I have a functional fear of heights that limits my ability to climb my best when there are ropes or exposure involved. My ability drops a grade every 12 feet I climb up, and as I get panicked about that, and tired from climbing so badly, my vision tunnels until I might as well be looking for holds through one of those shoe-box eclipse viewer things.



this is my hard sport climbing technique

What to do? I had no idea so I started praying about it, which is where I started this story. After that I got 2 exciting and unexpected phone calls.


The first one was from ClimbTech, the Austin-based climbing and industrial safety gear company that made my pretty red quickdraws, and also makes permadraws for gyms and crags and the original removable bolt,  and a new line of climbing accessories. They’re starting up an athlete ambassador program, and expanding their line of sport climbing gear, and asked ME to be a part of it!

“You know I’m kind of struggling with sport climbing, right?”

They did, but feel certain that my extensive travel and vast enthusiasm will keep me clippin, and they’re willing to invest a little in me. So WOw! I’m honored and excited, because I’ve also been praying for a set of matching new draws. I feel like it would inspire me and it IS!


The other call was about a sport climbing trip opportunity, but more on that later.


Anyway, I’m headed to the Rocklands right now, like I”m at the airport, and need to go pretty much now. Let’s talk more when I arrive there and get settled, on Saturday. It’s Tuesday. Yeah.


planning my plans, and the red report November 20, 2011

Because when it comes to your climbing trip plans, you’ll encounter your share of naysayers. Have you ever noticed this? Wherever you’re headed, you’re going at the wrong time, the weather/crowds/star alignments are not optimum. I field a lot of ish from folks when I describe whatever my latest plan is, and if there’s nothing to naysay about my actual locations and timing, it’s the pure fact of having a plan that’s wrongheaded. Maybe it’s just annoying to hear someone else’s plans, and it’s like spray to share them. Maybe I’ll start answering the question “where to next?” with “Houston”. Because there’s nothing like “Houston” to throw a wrench in a rock climbing conversation’s flow. Except maybe “Jacksonville.”

I’m thinking about this because I’m in the Red during prime time, and I still got naysayage over a potential freeze out. Turns out it’s the rain that’s been hard to cope with. It seems to keep to a 4-on, 3-off schedule, and with my (less than) trusty tent proving no match for the mud pit that is rural Kentucky, I may take off a few days ahead of shcdule and hit Horseshoe Canyon Ranch over the Thanksgiving holiday. On the way to Houston.

warming up at HRC a couple years ago. I wore that same warm top yesterday, but those awesome pants bit the dust this summer :-(

But my sport climbing session in the Red has been a blast, despite the rain. I did another of my hardest sport climbs, this time shaving a full day off the time, sending after 2 days and about 8 goes. This one is called Stunning the Hog at Left Flank, and is a perfect route for me. Steeper than a lot of lines at the Red, a bit shorter, with big moves and lots of heel-toe cams. Cletus told me that the line doesn’t see very many female ascents, and that gave the accomplishment an added bit of sweetness/rationalization for the excessive eating of ice cream. The second day on it I was out with Eric from Ohio, Elodie from France and Andy, who works at Miguel’s. We put some serious time into determining our climbing spirit animals. Turns out I’m a bat.

milking the rest

I haven’t fallen as hard (so to speak) for another line here yet. I tried one called American Dream about three times, and was psyched to send as the light was fading, but then Cedar accidentally pulled my rope down. The route starts up on a death slab and it was a total debacle to get the rope hung through the first, and just couldn’t muster the time/will to reset it. No big deal though. I can’t imagine a better reason to not be able to get on a route one last time.

Yesterday I took two goes to do this amazing, perfect slabby crimp line called There Goes the Neighborhood. It felt just like the terrorist face climbing of Ceuse, but with twice as many bolts. I’m super proud to have done it, and I think my limit for face climbing is still pretty moderate. I was eager(ish) to try its bigger, longer, harder brother, Orange Juice, but the weekend crowds at the Red are insane and I didn’t get a turn.

Which reminds me of how I bailed on the whole project last weekend and went to the OBed with Dan Dan and his friend Spiral. I’ll make that a separate post.

In conclusion, my sport climbing trip the Red has been a climbing success. I did another hardest sport line, and climbed fearlessly on faces and slabs, and took big falls. My body feels great, and most of my bouldering tweaks (left forearm weakness, elbow fire, hamstring death) have begun to heal. I’ve also made a few amazing new friends, and had a long and awesome catch-up with John Garcia, Bentley and GMFB when I randomly put my stuff down next to them. What a nice shock that was! I got to spend some quality time with the Pigeons, further streamline my car camping setup, and met my major Red River Gorge goal of not getting a Miguel’s shirt, even though there are these awesome thermal ones that taunt me daily.

Look at them all, just hanging there....

Today I’m gonna take a 2-token shower, and do a few more of these captivating blog posts, a little internet moneywork, and tarot cards with Thomo. That is my plan!


glamping at horne lake August 1, 2011

Took a 3 day camping trip to Horne Lake on Vancouver Island for some limestone sports action. A delicious break from granite sloper training and brushing off holds all day. Climbed 3 days and no elbow fire! I think the relatively relaxed climbing was a good break, and I also think I’m trying harder than I think I am at bouldering around here. The rules at Horne Lake seem to be something like, ‘no chipping, sandbag everything’. But it was pure pleasure to move on that kind of rock again, workin knee bars, grabbin’ jugs, gettin’ pumped, taking looooong falls in a roof. I did some twelves (omg!) and took some pictures:

berries galore

that's a camping milk steamer there on the right. i know. no, i know.


the titular lake

aggressive canadians graffitied my car at the trailhead

Back to the Squamish forest boulders today! I have a few projects in the talus, tons of classics to try and mellow circuiting to experience. Why is the sherpa taking so long with the coffee?


you can totally stop my shine, actually March 3, 2011

Filed under: Climbing — sendann @ 7:59 pm
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I’m going through kind of a klutzy phase, and it came to some kind of apex on Tuesday when I took my first ever horrible ground fall. Typical headstrong stupid rock climber behavior, I was circuiting at McKinney by myself listening to Jason Derulo.

My current “alone at Mk” circuit is this: Traverse high, traverse low, traverse wherever with no feet, then do the lunge, the two worth doing, and the monopop from as low down as I can pull on, do all of those twice. Then the prow with sloppy big shoes on, then power slide minus the last move. Then I move down and go into a ‘single moves and systems’ thing on harder problems I don’t want to do without a spot. I figure it’s a good use to my time to dial the insecure low moves so I don’t waste time when I do have a cohort. I practice starting and hardest moves on el camino left, qg, seige tactics from low, trap freak and geek. I try each move like 5-10 times each, hopefully hitting it 40%, then I go home.

But I guess Jason Derulo gave me some false swaggar or something, because when I was doing the first little part of seige tactics, which is not super hard but kind of painful and inconsistent, I thought ‘why don’t I just stick my foot up here by my hand and see if I can balance — NOPE.’ I fell on my right hip onto a rock, missing the stupid pad. It hurt so bad, and it took forever to get my headphones off which made it worse. Once I realized I wasn’t paralyzed or broken, I started ranting out loud about how lucky I am, and dragged myself out of there.

I think I’m fine, psychologically. It was just such pure idiocy and ego, and I don’t feel hesitant to get back on. My butt hurts and I have a huge gnarly bruise, but it feels a little better every day, so hopefully I’ll be in gear again by Sunday. It’s only a little worse than the time I fell off of the boat onto the slab/water at Amistad, banging my knee and scraping my thigh to high hell.


behold the ugliness, inside and out on this one

It’s bad enough that I blew off climbing at Reimers with Mike Personick et al today. It’s so pricey to get into that place, I can’t fork over 10$ for the pleasure of hobbling around and not being able to flex my right leg. OH! I went out with Hannah on Monday and finally did Raindance, so that gave me a nice five-twelve feeling. Everything else is fine. I hate looking at this picture, actually. It was a low moment on a rough trip. But then again, remembering lousy times also makes me happy, because they’re over.  Told me get my ish together, well now I’ve got my ish together. I’m jumpin in my ride and wearing shades etc.


127 seconds February 27, 2011

Filed under: Climbing — sendann @ 6:41 am
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Last week coco hung draws on a random Reimers 12a for me. I know it’s so noob nerdy but I still feel like a total baller when I do a new 12. I have this fear that on any given day I’m gonna lose my ability to rock climb so there’s really never any time to waste, and I didn’t want to futz with draws. Hang the long ones, coco! And yay! I did it first go, then coco followed it up to clean (servicy!). So I’m lowering him, and we’re yammering on about nothing, and a huge hunk of my hair gets caught in the ATC. Everytime I moved it gets pulled in further, following the rope through the metal, then curling around  and up the other side oh my god oh my god oh my god coco my hair is stuck in the ATC shit it just went in further oh no.

He was still pretty high up,  dangling in empty space, no easy trees to reach or anything. I felt him swing the rope a bit but nothing. There was no one at Reimers. We’d seen a hiker down by the river earlier, but the place was dead (on a cloudy 67 degree afternoon because people in Austin have no idea). I looked at our stuff, out of immediate reach but, eh, maybe.

“Do you have a knife?” I asked.

“Uhh, I do, but it’s in my bag, way over by the other wall.”

We stood/hung there saying “Ummm” and kinda laughing. The day had started with Vinny’s dog….well nevermind that’s another epic. Ummm. I grabbed my hair and tugged it just to see how it might feel to, ya know, lose it by force. It was a lot of hair. I broke a few strands. It was a lot of hair.

I looked at the dogs, and pondered how they might help. Nothing came to me. The ATC was getting closer to my scalp.

I pinched the lock off at my head, then coco grabbed the rope and did a weird rope pull up, and I got it out. I lost some length, but no blood. So Aaron Ralston right now. OMG, he has my same initials!! It was MEANT TO BE.