All paths lead nowhere, choose with heart

this is the last word on Ceuse, and we shall nevAr speak of it again September 19, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — sendann @ 8:51 am
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So now that I’ve had some time to reflect, and climb at Rodellar which is such a soul-nourishing experience, I’m getting some perspective on the Ceuse thing. It was horrible. I didn’t mention this while it was happening on account of I was embarassed, but I think I cried every day that I was there, except my two rest days, where I did cry once out of joy. I cried while climbing, I cried while trying to sleep in the freezing cold, I cried when facing the hike, I was just sad. It wasn’t even my normal frustrated crying because I can’t send big scores and I’m disappointed in myself thing. I’m kind of getting over that, and content to live in v4++ land forever. At Ceuse I was crying because I truly believed that if I fell I would die or permanently injure myself. And I can’t climb through that kind of feeling. And I don’t think I ever want to be able to. On my last day there I was mulling over the possibility of staying for a few more weeks, to see if I could get better and more comfortable, maybe send, dare I imagine, a 7a. But then as I was crying on Berlin wall over a move I had just made without a problem, I decided no. This was not even close to fun.

I was explaining this to some Australian’s last night, and one asked “so would you go back?”

“Hell no!!”

But ok I would. If I was with a partner who was super psyched, and who I trusted, and who is more experienced and comfortable than I am at that vertical angle and style, and who could handle some crying, and we stayed for a full month or something, I would go back.  Otherwise, I’m over it. Viva Espana!


Tazmania September 13, 2010

Filed under: Climbing,Trips — sendann @ 9:35 am
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It’s considered a worthwhile thing to learn about other cultures, right? So here goes:

When I hear “Tazmania” I think first of Transylvania, but the image that comes to mind is this:

Then I think no no no, Tanzania, and something like this pops into my head:

Then I realize, oh, Australian island state. Right. Sea stacks, etc.

Tazmanians are, like Australians, into hitch hiking, being miserly, and sleeping in the woods and calling it their “house.”

I’m riding to Spain with Dan the American and Grug from Tazmania, tomorrow. Grug  is nicknamed for some Tazmanian comic book character akin, on some level, to Jughead. Dan is a badass, like John Myrick kinda. Crushes hard lines with pure will.

In Tazmania, school children are taught tarp construction as part of the basic skills curriculum. When I expressed surprise and amusement about this, Grug said well, it rains quite a lot there. And what? I thought. You don’t have houses? I suppose I’ll find out more and report back later.

Grug with a two-tiered stick tool.


All the stuff I’m climbing and scared of climbing

Filed under: Climbing,Trips — sendann @ 9:17 am
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This is the hardest rock climbing I’ve ever tried to do. It’s so hard, that I’m not even embarassed about leaving draws on 6c+s and 7a’s, because they are my projects and they are so, so scary. But frankly, I perform about the same on 6cs as I do on 7cs. They all feel like good moves, then I get scared or tired, or I see that I’m still 20 meters from finished, and I either fall or stop.

After my long rest I went back to Medicin Douce, a 6c+, which is kind of like an 11b, which had exhuasted me after like 4 moves on two separate occasions. This time I sent it as my warm up and it was all super easy. I have no idea what’s going on. I guess I was drunk or tired or freezing or some combination of those the last few times I tried it. Anyway, I was happy to get it and that it was not, after all, hard. Of course I finished the day by freaking out over rope issues on a famous 7a called Petite Illusion, and left my draws on it. Going to head up in a few hours and, hopefully, warm up by sending that.

The thing that I’m scared about in general while sport climbing on vertical stuff like this, is getting the rope in the wrong place relative to my leg, falling unexpectedly and turning upsidedown then smacking my back and head against the wall with dire/fatal/semi-permanent consequences. This fear kept me off of Las Animas wall in El Salto, is constantly in my mind in Potrero, and has backed me off of half a dozen routes here in the last ten days.

That type of thing has happened to me once, when I first started climbing, in Mexico.  I had a helmet on and was fine, and I can’t even remember the route it was on. It happens here at Ceuse, it seems, somewhat regularly. At least, people talk about it all the time. “Arse over tits” the Australians say, in that vulgar Australian way they say most everything.

The other day climbing with German Eva, I was almost done with Javanaise, a long thin 7a. It was very cold, kind of raining, getting dark, the few good pockets were full of very cold water, and I had to do a high heel hook and move off a shitty greasy sidepull to another big rail a good five feet above me. It was not a hard move at all, to picture or do, or do half-way and back out of. The rope was attached about twelve feet below my feet and way off to the right. I had no idea how to put the rope. I did it both ways, both looked wrong, so I down climbed and bailed. This, or some version of it, has been my MO at Ceuse. It doesn’t matter the grade, I do it on hard stuff and warm ups, and I don’t fall, I downclimb on shitty holds and bail.

Eva, fearless German

Eva on Javanaise, 7a, tall and scary and it was off and on freezing rain. This is just how they do it in Germany.

I have been telling myself to just get over it and sack up and not think about these unlikely rope scenarios, until I hung out with Maddy and Tashe, the British girls. Tashe had, on thier second day in Ceuse a few weeks ago, had a bad upside down fall on a pretty easy route. She hit her hand, shoulder, and head, had to go to the hospital, had a concussion, now has a tweaking shoulder and her hand is numb most of the time. To be fair, she also electrocuted herself on one of the live cow/horse fences that are all over the place here, which contributed to the hand thing, but still.

Maddie and Tashe describe bad falls here at Ceuse, and onto miniature pieces of gear at their favorite chossy British seaside limestone trad crag, Pembroke (google image it, omg).

I’ve been thinking of my rope fear as kind of irrational or at least exaggerated, but after talking to Tashe I’m kind of embracing it. I might be content to just do my downclimb thing for now and hope that I’m learning something, however incrementally. And of course, it will keep me from concussing, which is probably more important since I’m getting the hell out of this vertical, alpine scene tomorrow morning and heading to Rodellar with Grug not Greg the Tazmanian. Should be a good time. This badass Swiss woman, and an American couple named Andrew and Susie are all heading there as well, so by next weekend it should be a healthy posse. The guidebook shows a ton of steep  7b tufa lines between 10 and 20 meters  long, and at 3000 feet below Ceuse with an approach of less than 20 minutes, I am ready. Until then, I’ll try as many of these vertical lines as I can, and chalk it all up to education.

George the German, who is having a lousy trip as he’s coming back from almost a year off of climbing, says that’s valid. “You won’t forget,” he said. It all adds up and you improve over time.

Here’s hoping. Ceuse is amazing, and I know I’ll climb here again someday, but I am happy to be leaving.



Filed under: Climbing — sendann @ 8:41 am
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God help me if I ever get out of a foreign country without buying a new pair of comfortable and slightly oversized orange Anasazi velcos. I always leave mine behind thinking NO, I am only travelling to perform, so I will only bring performance shoes. Then I over do it, my toes start to cry, and yeah. Ninety Euros from the French version of Academy, which of course stocks Anasazis in every size.

After 9 days in France and only 1 full day of rest, I couldn’t even do a warm up. My British friend Maddy keeps saying things like, “you look positively knackered” or “you seem simply exhausted” and  “wow! you look famished!” I took the hint, finally, and took two full days and three nights off. I shopped, ate, stretched and read Stieg Larsson.

The reason I’m so unrested is that I’m not tweaking at all. Three days on anywhere else and my elbows are on fire and my fingers are barely bending, so I have to stop. But here I don’t get any of those tell-tail signs. I just suddenly can’t climb very well. My skin even feels ok, just a bit thin and one pesky hole that keeps bleeding all over the holds.

I have decided to devote the next 2 to yoga, food, laundry, sleep, and reading Carlos Casteneda on my Kindle. I shopped today in Gap, got a nice cushy yoga/sleeping mat, those Anasazis, and an amazing bouldering skort that I will photograph and post shortly.