rat maze December 30, 2011
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).
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.
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.
This is an ad for Rock/Creek:
fast train October 12, 2011
My first stop on the way from Leavenworth to Boone was in Missoula, to spend the night with Molly and Brandon. It was so good to see them, and I was bummed to be a few days late for their local climbing festival. Molly told me all about her new horse, Caper, and how stable and awesome he is. She had this very beautiful but very high maintenance horse when she was living in Austin. He had some kind of chronic pain condition that contributed to him being an almost constant jerk, and dangerous to ride. She finally sold him to a relatively inexperienced rider with a horse veterinarian in the family. The new owner seems to have the money and resources to take care of him, and doesn’t ask much of him in the ring. So it’s a reasonable, if unlikely match. Molly’s new horse is gorgeous and smart, and she’s been showing him around the region with great results. She said, “he’s the same horse every time I ride him.” Whereas the last one, she never knew who she was gonna get, and nothing she did helped him for any appreciable amount of time. But she can ride Caper anywhere. “I ride him next to the highway, trucks are going by, he’s fine. A train next to us, he’s fine. Now we’re gonna go faster. Now we’re gonna race the train! He’s perfect for me.” And it’s hard to imagine she spent so long feeling so bad over this sick horse who couldn’t keep up with her riding style and fancy horse ambitions. But it’s clear that the experience was traumatic and rattled her deeply, even though now things are quite perfect, and the old horse is doing well enough with his rich noob owner.
“Kind of sounds like men,” I said.
Then Molly asked me if I’d be down to do the 2 or 3 required USA Climbing local bouldering comps and go to Nationals in the winter with her. We could meet up! I said, “no way.”
The rest of my drive was full of amazing stormy skies from Wyoming to El Paso. I spent the night in Estes at Mama Bear Strong’s home for wayward climbers, and a fabulous morning on Pearl Street in Boulder having breakfast with Emilia, then coffee and shopping and a long talk with the Pigeon women. I pulled up to Shindaggar after midnight. It had been raining there too and the land was bursting green. I passed another great morning chatting with Andy, then had to drag myself away or risk staying for months.
And by the time I got to Austin I had decided Molly was right, it would be fun, and did an ABS comp in Houston before I headed east. I got to warm up with the Stone Moves team, and got some awesome coaching from Morgan and John from Team ARG. It was super fun, and I didn’t get beaten by any of the youth girls, so that was amazing. I’ve got another one in a couple weeks in Athens, and assuming she was serious, Molly and I will be meeting up at Nationals in February.
My predictions for Nationals:
I get second to last place in round 1
Molly goes to finals
Brandon and I get lost on a coffee run
no i won’t go to squamish any more more more there’s a big fat police man at the door door door July 17, 2011
There really is! He tried to not let me in because I didn’t have enough compelling reasons to go back to the states in 5 weeks. I wound up having to drop my dually citizenship on him. Bam. Actually, I can stay in MY stupid rainy, far from everything country as long as I feel like it. I got rights. And possibly some very affordable dental care.
The first time I came to Squamish was in 2007, and I had a horrible finger injury. I had paid in advance for a share of a van rental and my plane ticket, and I decided to just take the vacation. It sucked. This second time I’ve paid in advance for a rented room, and it’s raining every day of every forecast and every moment of forever and ever. This will be my last trip to Squamish, even if the sun comes out in two weeks and I have the best rock climbing month of my life.
But my place is nice, and I have ample internet for working, and it’s fun to be getting some mileage out of my recent crochet projects.
SPEAKING of which! I designed – my first ever design in yarn – this hat called a ‘mullet hat’, and it’s perfect for climbing in cold weather. It doesn’t come down too low on my forehead like most beanies I’ve worn, but it comes down snug around my ears the back of my neck. It’s perfect for keeping the ears and noggin warm without limiting my peripheral vision. Stoked. I made one for Andy, too. He wanted racing stripes, but I am just learning embroidery so they came out as these wavy, askew, skunk-looking stripes. Here he is wearing it on a warm up in Gold Bar. This was the last dry rock I saw all summer. This was yesterday. I’m being kind of fatalistic right now.
Are we gonna see each other in the next couple months? Want a mullet hat? It would bring me a lot of joy to make you one, just tell me what colors you like and if your head is really big or small. Emilia, you’re getting one anyway and you have to wear it every day of your life that is cold for a year.
I’m also about to get psyched on making these suhweet leg warmers for the Hueco season.
Squamish 2011, Summer of Crochet and Pilates. OH! But I’m competing in the Dyno Contest at the Squamish Mountain Festival tomorrow morning! I’ve been training in the gym for like 30 minutes for this, so come cheer for me! It’s a longshot, but I am hoping to beat Bigna’s record, because she’s not here to defend it.
heads off July 2, 2011
I can’t remember what initially inspired me to go into the forest alone with a few apples, a sleeping bag, a bottle of water and instructions to my friends to come look for me if I didn’t return in 50 hours. I think it was something I heard on the SoundsTrue podcast. I do a lot of these “personal growth” “spiritual development”-y kind of things. They are my favorite, I love trying to find mental discipline, praying, doing established sequences of yogic stretches, giving myself positive affirmation, lists, journals, books, all that stuff. Not that it’s necessarily helping me be a better, happier person, but I enjoy it, and if I stopped doing it at this point, who knows what would come out, so lets just keep at it ya? Ya. But given how into that stuff I am, I decided to make this project more challenging by doing nothing for the full two days. No yoga, no siting cross legged, no prescription to pray or think about a particular aspect of my life that I want to change. Just, whatever comes. Also, minimal to no eating, sleeping, or moving.
So at 5am a few Mondays ago, I got out of my tent, stuck two liters of water and some produce into my sleeping bag, and walked down a trail, over a hill, into another meadow, and sat in a little circle of trees. I dropped a gps pin, emailed it to Heather, shut the phone off, and sat down. The next two days was so, so horrible.
For the first 32 hours or so, I thought about everyone I knew who might not like me, and what I had done wrong to make that so. I thought about, say, the half a dozen people who have come into my life who I related to the least, and do not care to invest in with time or talk, and fantasized about the terrible things they might think about me. Stupid things I had said or done in the past were a strong sub-topic of thought. I spent almost the entire first 20 hours reaming myself over my marriage, my divorce, romantic experiences gone awry since and before. Reliving humiliations and mistakes. I couldn’t stop! I thought, wow, Ann, you are supremely preoccupied by what negative things people you don’t like that much think of you.
Which is normal, right? Of course it’s natural to mull over failures, because they’re fascinating. What did I do? What could have changed things? Was it something small? Is it something I can fix next time? I think this is standard, and we all do this. Ok? We all do this.
But wow, I did not expect it to be so hard out there. I thought, I’ve gone on 15 hour drives, camped out alone, spent days on end alone or basically alone, this is going to be relaxing! Jeebus, how far the radio, a text, the making of cereal, a chat in the trailer, go to occupy the mind and distract from this horror show. I thought I would love it, honestly. Meditate all day, think about my goals, forgive myself for stuff, forgive other people, feel newly stoked on all kinds of projects. Nope.
So I knew immediately I could not stop this terrorist thought train, and I was best to just watch. And be mad and sad and annoyed and embarrassed. And if I spent all 50 hours berating myself over things I did and thought as long as 6 years ago, well, that is just the pathetic truth of Ann Raber, dumb bitch.
At some point I became very hungry, and I ate like, a bell pepper. I looked around my tree circle and realized that I had lost track of which direction I came from. Doesn’t matter. Can’t even begin to wonder how to get back now. The tree circle was shadey all day, and I stared at the sun, willing it to move faster and put me out of my misery. I just kept letting the thinking happen. I cuddled up in my sleeping bag and waited to feel scared, alone in the meadow in the dark. I tried not to comfort myself by thinking about Andy and Ema relaxing in the trailer not 100 yards away, in some direction. I prayed kind of desperately, but all I came up with was “praying is so stupid. amen. whatever.” I fell in and out of sleep, maybe. No dreaming, it really didn’t feel any different to be awake or asleep.
Finally the morning came, Tuesday morning, and I was very thirsty. I drank a liter of water, just to see if I could do it all at once, and cried for a while about something nasty I’d said to someone once. At some point I rolled over and saw these little white desert flowers, and the way they were leaning and bobbing in the wind, they kinda looked like people having a conversation at a party, like how flowers do sometimes. So I stared at them and imagined their voices. Then their voices started talking smack about me, saying that I was a loser and a slut. So I reached out and snapped their heads off. I think at that point I started laughing.
By that afternoon, I had started to hallucinate a little bit, probably out of boredom and hunger more than anything. Everything had a weird dark band around it that expanded if I concentrated. So weird. I saw this very distinct whirlwind skip through the meadow for what seemed like 20 minutes, full of grass and dust. I got super hungry again and devoured an apple. I hid from a large black bird. Fasting is completely stupid, I decided. Then I gave up. I pulled out my chapstick, and I read the label. Bronner’s “All One”. All One what? Chapstick? What other functions does it serve? I was desperate to research something. I read every millimeter of the lable, but I think “All One” is just part of the Bronner’s brand name. I read it several more times just to be sure, just to be interacting with something. The chapstick.
So mid-day on Tuesday, after a good lunch of water, a good 33 or so hours in, I started thinking about climbing a little bit. Fantasizing about Hueco this year, remembering fun instances, funny people, stuff like that. Started to feel different. Laid there thinking about climbing until it was dark. I snuggled back into my sleeping bag, thinking about climbing. I was thinking about some problem, I don’t know what or where, maybe something at McKinney, and I was kind of, like, watching what a camera on my forehead would capture while I was climbing. I started staring at my hands matched on something, and — and this was the weird part — and I felt this huge wave of excitement just roll over my entire body, in my toes and my ribs, like I was up off the ground for a second, and my fingers were so tense. I thought, holy moses, I bet I have more of this. So I did that thing in that dream-movie Inception, and I dropped a pin for myself, this particular little image and sentence, thinking if I can call that up when I’m not 44 hours without much sleep or food or human interaction, I bet I can use it.
I was recovered physically by Friday. Andy was showing me a new boulder problem, and I couldn’t do this weird dynamic match move, and I was ok with it. Because I was way tired, and it’s a hard line, tricky move, fine with it being kinda unrealistic for now. But just for fun I remembered the pin and tried it. Crushed. And those horrible feelings and memories and awefulnesses of the recent and father past, I am not lying, I can’t find them. I even tried to make myself think about the worst of it, the most current, the most upsetting, and it was like, nothing. Like a scab that’s all bloddy and gross and bloddy and gross and bloddy and gross everytime you mess with it then one day, it’s a fleck of dry skin. Flick!
i don’t feel like blog-writing June 18, 2011
Flagstaff is really good. Found 2 glorious yoga teachers, a cute coffee shop, and I’m loving tent life. But I don’t feel like saying anything else about it at the moment.
what else have I done?
That’s been about it. Got some projects I’m psyched on, but some may require a return visit in September. ‘nother post to go into that. Still not missing Austin, but I like the idea of a Feb-April in Austin kinda thing, time to to go to all my favorite yoga and pilates classes, do feminine presence class again, go to the temple there, climb bloc party and el camino, ride my bike around, have lots of lunch dates. Trying to check in with that idea once in a while, “do i miss it? nope. wanna go back in september? nope. k good talk.” A wave of reading and crochet psych, a cuteness, and plans for the rest of the summer-fall-winter are holding most of my attention these days.
OH! I have a nephew!
sluddin it up March 14, 2011
I was feeling pretty apathetic about my spring break trip to Hueco. I figured it would be hot and boring with most people gone already, and a heinous spring break college hell crowd. But, as usually happens when I come out here, I pulled up to the Mastodon, saw the stars, felt the dusty breeze, and big surprise I’m still in love. A lot of my favorite seasonal folks are gone now, but I had forgotten that my very very favorite month here is November, before anyone arrives and when it’s quiet in the hood. The vibe is similar to that again, and I’m feeling quite comfortable and at home. Joey and Lisa from Boone are still here at the Shindaggar, Gustavo and some other Mallorca boys are around, and even Jordan Shackleford, a cool dude I met in Bishop who doesn’t know what Prana is (in the yogic or tank tops sense of the word) is out for the break! Everyone who’s still here seems happy to be, and the park is full of new climbs and old projects in cool, shady caves.
Yesterday I tagged along on West with Allen and Andy and Ashley for some projects new and old. We found a possibly new but perfectly valid warm up area at ground level, tucked in with the grass. This short dome had 3 nice juggy lines and not far away there was a fun sneaker slab. We went to a fun hard project of Allen’s, and I figured out some beta for a slightly lower start, which felt like, ya know, a contribution. He sent it too, which was glorious. I was telling Allen that, since we’ve both been on the road and kind of out of our minds for most of the year, I think of us as being on parallel journeys. He was not amused, but the fact that he’s looking so strong, physically and in the mental/emotional sense after a tough year, is inspiring to me.
After that we went to Shroom, which I had tried earlier in the year and loved, but for this one hard move I couldn’t do. Well yesterday I still couldn’t pull it off, but the rest of the problem is fun and chill, so I don’t mind having to go back a few more times. The move I can’t get yet feels like McKinney. Same angle, close to the ground, sharp, just like the first move on Power Sludt. Heinous.
Today I was going to rest but instead went rogue with Gustavo. I had a tragic fall at the top of the Long Haul, which I was very psyched to have figured out with no beta and nailed almost ALMOST ALMOST all the way through in a couple hours. (video featuring some difficult to remember beta coming soon)
Next time. Then we went to a new problem he put up last week, and I got a nice little v3 ffa, “Beautiful Weirdo”.
I’m hoping to make it back to Austin by Wednesday or Thursday, to catch some friends who are in town and do some sxsw-ing with Rebecca and the neighborhood kids. But I’m having so much fun, I don’t know if I’ll be able to make myself go before I absolutely have to. OH, also, I did another totally valid v8 the other day, which makes, like, 5 or 6 of them! I think it’s my new 5.12. Ok that’s all. Andy’s about to boot me from the bathhouse!