All paths lead nowhere, choose with heart

Tablelandia March 3, 2014

Some shots of Jill in the Sacreds last month the day she taught me how to work that roof on March of the Pigs.  Here’s my video of her full out assault of the line.

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 12.37.13 PM

I went back the next three weeks in a row to send myself, and it was a true joy to work on something that suited my style, finally, after many months on granite crimps. Lying under a roof, brushing stuff, trying, texting with friends in between tries and having all the daylight to myself was like being in my happiest of happy places, even though of course I was failing the whole time, until the one time I wasn’t. Working that line was on my list for the season, and I’m so thankful to Jill for putting her cleverness and wisdom to work to find some awesome, burly shorter person beta. And this post was suppose to be about Jill anyway, on with the pics!




all tangled up in the roof




tape talks


big girl bicycle


crosstown traffic (v6)


mimery for Andrea, her fa in the Sacreds, (v4)



1969 February 12, 2013

Filed under: Climbing — sendann @ 5:27 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Back in October Ana and I were talking about our lists for the year. Ana has been climbing at a very high level for a long time, and I think of us as being in different leagues, so I was stoked that we had a few projects in common this season. She had somehow never done 1969, a popular west mountain hard 2-hander that doesn’t see as much action as it would if it were anywhere else.  We had both had the experience of going there a few times over the years, learning the moves, feeling super close, leaving without the send and promising ourselves we’d get back, then it doesn’t happen. It would take a very particular tour and a commitment to get over to 1969, stay there for as long as it took, and possibly have to go back again. Luckily, Jackie is up for anything, anytime, and the three of us headed out one day when the office was overflowing and there were 25 cars at the gate.

The session went pretty badly, but we got some nice pictures.

groping the holds

groping the holds

ana feeling it up

ana feeling it up, jackie preppin the spot

weird hour where the sun shot right at your face

weird hour where the sun shot right at your face

All three of us felt like we had 1969 dialed, but the day wore on, our skin wore off, and I – for one – was not mentally strong enough to pull it out. Jackie lost interest. Ana and I committed to going back day after tomorrow.

Then Ana bailed. BUT she came back around and the day after the next day after the day we were suppose to go back, we went. We took Jud with us this time. She’d never tried 1969. Austrian whoracle did  the thing in 20 minutes or something after we showed her our respective betas. But Jud knew what she signed up for and commenced to chill in the hole with us for what turned into…4 hours.

I got through what had previously been the crux for me every go on this fresh day – a silly, one-foot cut then place a heel move. I started falling well into the “top”, my left hand just flying off a small slippery sidepull undercling. It was devestating. My pinky started bleeding.

Ana pitched off higher and higher pretty much every time. She’s a tiny thing so she had to make a difficult foot hike on a really bad hold near the end. She came off in a place that I didn’t think coming off would be a possibility. Twice. Her finger started bleeding too.

Both of us had scraped up right ankles from this critical heel hook situation. Mine was bleeding, I was wearing a leg warmer over it. Ana was just going bare ankled. We were brushing blood off the start holds every go. I fell again, same way, and sat on my knees on the pad, my eyes and forehead shuddering, completely crying in my voice. “I’m. having. a very. hard time.”. It passed, sort of.

Ana took another go, came off the last hold, flew off to the right where Jud caught her. I saw her face, she was about to burst too.

Crying is something I’m fine with in myself usually, but Ana and Jud are strong, chilled out climbers who seem to either do everything or know they will soon. For some reason I didn’t want to be crying over this problem in front of them. But when I saw that 1969  had gotten to Ana’s soul too, I moved on from my insecurity. We commiserated for a few minutes, then relaxed. Jud wandered around the corner to p. Ana turned to me. “WTF?”

“I know. I dunno. Maybe we’re just not good enough?”

We decided we could not do 1969 today, and swore to come back, no giving up!

Jud came back and wandered up the other way to the top of the boulder to sit in the sun.

“I’m taking another go, and I’m only going to focus on holding the heel,” I said, and pulled onto the start moves that I’d done probably 50 times all told. Jud was talking to us from above, asking about something or remarking on the weather. Then she started whistling. Just keep going, I thought. This is no big deal. I got through the original crux and stuck it, moving into the new crux thinking only about holding the heel. I adjusted the slippery left hand into position, and the strong attention on my heel kept me close enough to the wall to get it better than I had before. Well, I thought, this is an educational burn.

“COME ON ANN!” Ana said, to alert Jud that something was happening.

Slap slam slam, I got my fingers into the final hold, held on with jus the gnarly texture of the rock, and toped out. “Nice!” Jud said. “That was not from the bottom, ya?”

“No, it was!”

Then Ana pulled on for one more, and asked us to whistle since it seemed to work for me. We spontaneously chose a song from the Nutcracker. It worked. So relieved and so psyched. WTF.


hueco preview October 8, 2012

Filed under: Climbing,Picture Taking,The Future,Trips — sendann @ 10:56 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

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
Tags: ,

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!


my epic super flail gossip project December 3, 2011

Filed under: Over-Shares,The Future,The Past — sendann @ 6:30 pm
Tags: , ,

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.




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!


blargtown October 25, 2011

Filed under: Climbing,Trips — sendann @ 4:24 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

In the last week, I have come up against some kind of less-than-stoked wall. I think one reason is over-exposure to plastic. On some spiritual, biological level, I am allergic to indoor climbing. It gives me stabbing pains in my fingers and a watering in my eyes and an over-all malaise in my life when I do it more than a few times a year. Which has been great the last two and a half years that I haven’t been doing it. But this ABS thing had me crimping neon three times in the last 6 weeks, and it’s caught up with me something awful. My hand hurts, and I’m having these rogue thoughts that rock climbing is not that awesome after all.

Which is odd, because I swear I had a genuinely awesome time at the Athens comp at Active Climbing, the coolest gym ever with the silliest name. The owner is super low key, non-ego guy named Adrian, psyched on having a gym that serves the folks of Athens. He reminds me a little of Luis from La Posada. The setters and workers all seemed happy and talk about how awesome their gym is even when they’re outside. And the lines I did that day were some of the funnest, hardest gym lines I’ve played on before (special props to the brown dihydral (O-3 I think), and the pale blue overhang in the kiddy room (O-17, which I could not do sogood!!!). So it was an awesome day on fun routes. I got creamed, like, creamed corn in a blender, by a couple of high school girls from Atlanta. What’s with me always getting beaten by enormous German women? Remember the dyno comp? I’m sayin! God bless them they were fun to climb with all day. They live for plastic and don’t know anything about the world of outdoor climbing or, apparently, their approximate geographical location. So the day was decent. But with no swag and only one modest cash prize, I was annoyed to have gone all the way down there for one expensive day on plywood. I told my mother about it and she said,

“Well my dear, this is only the beginning. You shall suffer many more defeats at the hands of the young.”

Another awesome thing, however, was that I got to climb with this amazing girl in the Youth D division named Helen. Helen is – I’m callin it right now – the future of climbing. We met when I complimented her outfit. She had on argyle tights and a sparkly skirt with her team t-shirt, and a Chimp Crimps owl chalk bag.  She was quick to tell me she has an endorsement deal with Chimp Crimps and touted the value of their stuffed animal chalk bags. At the end of the comp, Alex pulled down his circus silk and trapeze, and showed his skills to the chilluns. Helen, it turns out, is also a skilled circus acrobat, and did some pretty radical, terrifying tricks while we waiting for awards time.

alex watching, helen on the trapeze

That’s one thing that’s been a real blessing from the ABS comps – getting to spend time around kids. I miss teaching gymnastics, and having that energy around me of young folks crushing at some athletic something. Also, always at these comps, kids and parents approach me with the most amazing compliments: that they were super inspired or enjoyed watching me or were pulling for me in the finals and stuff like that, which is so SO nice to hear and definitely stokes the climbing fire. ABS has been overall a very encouraging, fun and validating experience. But I’m glad to be done with the plastic game for a looooong while.

for her style, psych & skill, Helen is easily one of my top climbing heros

I’m not sure why else I might be feeling the blargs. A few visits to Blowing Rock this week and, hopefully, some project fun, will probably snap me out of it. Oh! Alex and I went to LRC on Sunday and I got to finish a couple things I’d ignored on Triple Crown day in favor of high volume. I also found a project that I am in love with. It’s called Grimace, and it’s a  series of sloper rails, like a slightly longer Gibbs Cave. I did all but the last move to a jug, and I hope I get back there soon to finish it up. It’s in this lovely, tiny cave and hang on I’ll look for a picture of it to show you….

I can’t find one, but it’s a very popular line. I’ll take a picture next time I go.
Alright I feel a little better now. Mom and I, whenever we talk lately, have been consoling ourselves through trials by remembering that sooner than later, we shall be in Hawaii.

bye bye plastic and tweakage!