All paths lead nowhere, choose with heart

Moses, Waves March 5, 2013

Filed under: Climbing,Picture Taking,The Past,Waves — sendann @ 9:21 pm
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Dug into my old Bennington College photography class lessons and made some black and whites of a big swell in Hawaii, and a swell day on East Spur. Not exactly the poetics of light and contrast that I remember fumbling with in the darkroom, but making these made me excited about making more.







Island times February 14, 2013

Filed under: Family,Picture Taking,Trips,Waves — sendann @ 4:47 am


good day in the waves (pic by my mom)

good day in the waves (thanks for the pic mom!)





I’ve got a few more days left in Kauai. Been surfing and eating and internetting (you might’ve noticed) to my heart’s content. Feeling very lucky and thankful for the time out here with my parents, and in the water.


hot spots January 18, 2013

Filed under: Climbing,Family,Picture Taking,Waves,Work — sendann @ 8:48 pm
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Hi! I’ve been in Hueco since November 3 or 4 and nevermind the blog neglect, I do it every year. It’s been a good season so far, but 10 weeks in and I’m dreaming of Hawaii every night now. As Rayna and I walked around East Mnt yesterday to our different projects, I fantasized that we were paddling through the sea chasing the swell instead of huffing pads up the slabs chasing the shade. But the season has been good, I’ve done lots of boulder problems and will likely do more. I’ll feel kind of proud and kind of excited for a day or so, then all the sudden it won’t seem like enough, I’ll feel weird and jealous of other people’s progress, then I’ll send something else and the cycle repeats. I’ve just been rolling with the emotional turmoil, and watching musicals.

me and Rayna, team purple

me and Rayna, far from the ocean

Soon I’ll head off for my kind of annual at this point retreat to Kauai, where my parents and my aunt and I engage with the island  in our own personal ways (painting, surfing, staring) and recharge our spirits on top of this sacred volcanic hot spot. I should mention, my magnificent grandmother Lila passed away last month, on the first night of Hannukah. I had just arrived in Houston to look after her when it happened, and I spent that week doing the most adult things I’ve ever done in my life, cleaning her place, making phone calls to medical services and funeral homes, organizing the end of life domestic details. I don’t know what else to say about it, but it felt like the perfect opportunity for me to honor Lila and her pragmatic spirit. I did what needed doing, carried on, and that’s, as she would say. just what you do.


me & lila back in september

I’ve been a guide at Hueco this year, and I had no idea what a difference it would make in my experience in the most obvious and some surprising ways. Of course it’s wonderful to be able to go out on my terms, rather than always tagging along on other folks’ tours. Some of my backcountry projects have gotten more attention than previous seasons, and that’s been glorious. I love taking friends to their projects also, and spending my rest days leading tours, just watching and hanging out. It actually gives me a lot of energy to get out with a group of strangers or aquaintences and take them around all day. Moses cannot understand, and this is the profound difference between introverts and extroverts. I’m embracing it big time.


Took John Myrick and team ARG out on my first ever commercial tour. GOod times...

Took John Myrick and team ARG out on my first ever commercial tour. GOod times…


One odd thing that guiding has done is further bring into focus the powerful feelings I have about this place. One day in guide training Wanda gave us a flora/fauna tour, and the theme she laid out was, basically, Hueco Tanks contains within its boundaries everything a human being needs to survive and thrive. All the talk about the tribes and mail carriers and animals and soldiers and others who came through Hueco during desperate times made me consider my own contemporary situation, and how desperate and lost I was in my life the first time I came out here in November of 2009, and how I actually did find everything I needed. Hector, another ranger, somehow tricked me into taking out a small hiking tour on New Years Day, and I was rambling along to these poor people, pointing out Javalinas and talking about Silverleaf Nightshade. We passed by several climbing tours on the way, and I would wave or chat with whoever I knew as we passed. It was kind of a revelation, thinking of all the friends I have here, and every year we all follow our hearts to the desert and get something we need. I realize how prosaic that sounds, but I feel it strongly now. Then I started thinking about Hawaii, and how Kauaii, the first island to appear out of the sea from that hot spot, and the oldest volcano, is considered by some people to be a focal point of earthly energy, and a site of great healing. And you know, Hueco is nothing but a volcanic hot spot that got stymied midway by some sturdy-ish limestone. So I think it’s similar thing that’s going on.


this picture is by  Sam Davis

I’m adding a Wagon Wheel link to my sidebar, you can book tours there, and I can guide them, if you want to go bouldering and listen to me rant sometime :=)

Good to be back. Love,



annie…. is an artist – says mom January 17, 2012

Filed under: Climbing,Picture Taking,Trips,Waves — sendann @ 12:28 am
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I’m not, but my mom also seems to think that global warming means something like more polar bears in bikinis so there ya go. My camera and I are at an impasse, so I made this collage out of google images, to represent my best day ever in the Hawaiian ocean, which was yesterday. Reelin’ rights on glass for hours and hours under thick purple clouds with old dudes and sea turtles and a big bunch of flowers bobbing around out there with us.

I’ve been in the water every day, getting significantly less of a facial beating than I got here last year. That’s all.

Oh, no not all! Look at this beautiful picture of coco and v7!

They’re getting hitched next week, and I’m so excited! Cody and Vanessa have been major friends to me since I first moved to Austin. Major friends, aside from this one time where I thought coco hated me for like a month (he didn’t), and this other time where I thought I hated him for ten minutes because he told me I would do fine in life without a man (I won’t, end of convo). When my darling Ned died a few years ago, I went directly to cody’s work and ate cookies. When I had to move my entire book collection out of my ex’s house, he came and lifted boxes for me. I’ve sat with coco and vanessa at countless dinners, getting perspective over enchiladas, and Cody always hooks me up with a ticket to the Texas Observer Molly Awards Dinner, which is like the best democrat hotel party in town. There have been no fewer than a dozen instances when I’ve made following phone call:


“whatup raber.”

“cody i’m crying.”

“oh no. (it’s ann she’s crying…no i don’t know why yet) vanessa says hi. what’s wrong?”

I also have this amazing illustration of a climber that cody did, but he’ll hate me for a month if I post it. Just visualize….

Is that all? Almost.

Climbing news!!

-Me and molly are all registered up for ABS nationals, which, fyi family, is not a contest where we oil our stomachs and flex, it’s an indoor bouldering match. I’m super, SUPER hoping to qualify for semi finals. No idea how that’s gonna go. Amped!

-I booked my ticket for South Africa this summer!! Here’s the ticket buying beta: Use the American Express Travel search tool. It only works if you have an American Express card, but even if you have a stupid tiny card with like a 200$ limit it still works. Freaking lower fares by HALF than I’ve seen anywhere else. It uses all your “points” or whatever to make it even cheaper, and you get “double points” for the charge. I’m super excited, and there are some amazing folks already set to be there too, like Val Ski!! And Jeremy, and hopefully Sarah Clark, and hopefully even more! Which reminds me, I want to do a post about Jeremy soon. Need to think about that.

So good things on the horizon. I hope the waves get smaller tonight because I want another day like yesterday.


so like September 24, 2011

A few shots by Heather from back in June. Looking through her trip pics, man,  I just love climbing in Flagstaff. It’s on my list of places to be this spring. Of course, I hate to plan anything post-Hawaii, because I want to reserve the possibility of not coming back from Hawaii. I was talking to dad last night about it, and I was saying, “I always thought that if I were a bird, I’d fly to Hawaii and stay.” And he goes, “Well, now you’re a bird.”

Here’s Flag…Thanks Heather!!!!

Kelly Canyon

I think this is "BadAss" at Priest Draw. That's Bolder in the corner.


seven thousand words for ‘oof’ February 6, 2011

Filed under: Family,Picture Taking,Trips,Uncategorized,Waves — sendann @ 3:00 am

Ok a few more pictures from Kauai, then I’ll let it go for a while. It’s been nice to be home and get down to busy/i-ness, but I mainly wander around thinking about Hawaii.


paddling out in Hanalei bay, pic by mom

pretty blue roxy styled board

mom y papa!

so intense

marty on the shore (and wow)

in my natural state


calming down, with wallace February 4, 2011

Filed under: Climbing,Trips,Waves — sendann @ 5:42 am
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One thing about Hawaii is this: it marks you up. I’ve come home from trips there and between the tan and bruises and weird light hair and nagging feeling that just out of view, behind a building or just down a hill is uninterrupted blue ocean forever, it’s hard to shake the Hawaii feeling. I have an ugly, perfect purple triangle bruise on my trunk from a collision, and darker, denser freckles than I’ve ever seen, even on my eyelids. Pretty much a marked woman, and hopefully it will last a while longer. I’m not ready to let go.

I got back to LA and drove to El Paso, stopping on the way for a night in Flagstaff, where Carrie’s father in law gave me some delicious chicken pot pie and showed me a video he made with a friend in Hanalei a few years ago.

click to watch and listen

But it was too soon for me, and I got a bit emotional. The video is cute, and features all the little sites around town, most of which I haven’t been to because, as my parents said, you can’t DO anything in Hawaii until you’ve spent ten days in a row at the beach.

But eventually I made it to El Paso and collapsed at Wallace’s house. We climbed for an afternoon then I headed on to Austin. Wallace is just coming back from a year long rest, and I was exhausted, so we were a good match. The day was odd. Like, twilight zone odd. For one, we walked onto North Mountain on a Sunday in January, after reading on facebook all about the lineup and the epics.

Climbing felt awkward and hard. It took a long warm up to remember what I was even doing, and the rest of the time to remember that I even like it.

We went to MopBoys, a long-as-get-out jug traverse with pump and dab issues. I love this problem, I worked hard on it in November and didn’t send. It was the perfect thing to go to, as we could both work hard, get spanked, not get scared or have to do any dramatic spotting. Aside from a few people at the office and some off-in-the-distance hiker kids, we didn’t see a soul. I made what I decided to call “progress” and Wallace decided that he’s too weak to manhandle the problem like he used to and learned my heel-dragging girlie beta. It was a good time, and I started to love climbing again.

I wanted to go to Wiccacalapedia Cave, which is nearby Mopboys. I’ve never been there, but Melissa mentioned it a couple months ago and I’m curious. The rest of what I’m gonna say here would only make sense to a Hueco-wonk.

Earlier in the day when I mentioned the Wikipediacalla Cave Wallace was like, “It’s horrible, it’s low ball, it’s nothing, let’s not.” I was like, but that’s what I’m into. I asked him, “Ya know that problem ‘Squirm?'”

He did not know it offhand. I mentioned it because it’s a lowball cave and I love it, so there’s a good chance I’ll like the wikicavapedia thing too.

So after Mopboys had properly spanked us, we wandered over. “This is Squirm” I said, pointing at the cave where, ya know, Squirm is.

Wallace goes, “This is the Wicacala Caveapedia.”

“No no. This is called Squirm. It’s a v4. The Wicacala thing is down over there somewhere.”

“No. This is the wicacala cave, and that is wicacala cave, v5. There’s a picture of (someone I can’t remember girl) in the new guidebook on it. Wicacala Cave.”

“Are you being serious right now?”

“Are YOU? Over 15 years I’ve been climbing out here. I have every guidebook, my mind is a steel trap for Hueco Tanks minutiae. This is the Wicacala Cave. I’ve done it! Why are you doubting me? How can you doubt me?!”

“I must maybe be crazy then. Because I’ve done this problem, and it’s called Squirm, and I’ve never seen the Wicicala Cave. But then again, if I actually did do Wicacala cave last year and didn’t know it, then that’s kinda cool.”

“You did. This is the Wicacala cave. Who are you climbing with who called this Squirm??”


“Andy. ANDY has been here how long?

“I dunno like five or–

“THREE years! I can’t BELIEVE you would take his word over mine on this.”

“I think I saw it in the guidebook too –”

“CALM DOWN RABER!! No need to get hostile. Maybe I’m thinking of an earlier guidebook. Let’s go to Daily Duck Dose and find out. There’ll be guidebooks there.”

So we did. And at DDD we ran into Val, the only solo traveling Australian woman climber on the planet. And I asked her if Squirm was the Wicacala Cave.


“Is Squirm the Wicacala Cave?”

“Uh, no. The Wicacala Cave is off all by itself. Squirm is, like, by Big Nose Millie.”

“So they’re separate problems.”

“What is wrong with you?”

Then Wallace and I consulted the guidebook, and spent the next hour looking for the Wicacala Cave, which is invisible.