All paths lead nowhere, choose with heart

she’s been reading February 6, 2013

Filed under: Climbing,The Future — sendann @ 8:15 pm
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I decided I would never again listen to advice from any of my friends.

– from “Walls without Balls” by  Sibylle C. Hechtel



I’ve been reading a ton of mostly trashy historical novels. But somewhere in the mix I picked up Rock and Roses, a collection of essays on women’s climbing tackling the 1920s to the middle 90s (Lynn Hill’s Free the Nose story is included). It was mostly awesome, with a few duds. These kinds of essay compilations can seem contrived and precious sometimes, like Oooooo the women pioneers of mountaineeeeeeering how amazing yet boring, but once I got into this one it pretty much rocked. I get a lot out of reading first hand accounts of women pursuing their lives. It’s a thing, and it’s what reminds me to keep up this little blog and to try to keep it honest. Because it’s so helpful to me to read things like this. Anyway, I want to share a passage that I highlighted in the book, that has been tumbling in my mind the last couple of weeks as I’ve been sorting out the feelings that seem to come up inside me when faced with climbing industry people, pros and pro-hos, standard Hueco high season ish.

ripping off layers to jump on Michael Kenyon, my favorite north mnt stage 2 warm upper

ripping off layers in a rage to jump on Michael Kenyon, my favorite north mnt stage 2 warm upper



At times, feeling a need to accede to the expectations of a society I thought I had rejected, I have tried to use climbing as a means to gain recognition, to be considered a success. I have sometimes got caught up in the pursuit of summits, as a collector pursues butterflies, to capture them, and take the life from them, and display them to the amazement and approval of his colleagues. but these attempts to take the mountains for ambition and not for love have all failed. Because it is not what I have done that ultimately brings me a feeling of peace and belonging, it is doing it. And it is not even what I am doing, but how I am doing it, if it is honestly, joyfully, whole heartedly then surely I am living as I was meant to live.

– Julie Brugger, A Mountain Experience


it means non-violence ps i wanna be the swan next time October 8, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — sendann @ 11:12 pm
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OOOOO I forgot to tell you! I’m working with the young, lovely company Yama Climbing as a member of their athlete ambassador posse. I did an interview and a blog post about my long, boulderful drive from Houston to Tahoe for them, and will be regularly reporting and musing on their site and facebook page. Yama specializes in colorful soft goods and bouldering accoutrements – sports bags, hats, chalk buckets, and so on. They do some custom work and offer free shipping in the US. I’m really stoked to be a part of the company. I’m hoping that one tangible contribution I make this season will be inspiring a line of leg warmers.


vanessa and I decided that all female climbers secretly (or openly) long to be ballerinas. And all guys, pro skaters.

I was in a yoga class recently, and they said that the word “Yama” means self-control, discipline, and non-violence. I’m not sure if that’s what Jezryl and her team had in mind when they named their company, but I think the concept really speaks to what I’ve been working on in my climbing (and non-climbing) life. I feel like there must be a way to be dedicated to climbing and continuously pushing my limits without throwing tantrums, snapping at my companions, complaining, going on psychotic training tangents, or otherwise flailing from within. I’m searching for it now, and keeping the concept of Yama, and Yama Climbings beautiful things close to me as a reminder, is part of the mission.


So next time you’re shopping for things, consider clicking some Yama.




lambertsbaii restdaii July 12, 2012

Filed under: Picture Taking,Trips,Waves — sendann @ 1:08 pm
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Three weeks in South Africa without 2 consecutive rest days has made me insane. It was great the first two weeks when I was sending, had a ton of projects all over the place, the world a pile of possibilities. But a week without an inspiring new project, an influx of the worldwide federation of broin’out, added up to a meltdown day at the pass. Just so SO not psyched.

After a few hours of crying and listening to Beyonce in the car, Moses decided I needed a beach day. Yesterday we slept in, drank coffee for an hour and headed to Lamberts Bay, about 45 minutes and a universe away from the Rocklands. It was the perfect change of landscape for me, and I’m hoping after a another long rest day here at the Hen House, and maybe a slow morning, I’ll be excited to go try this line that I did the famous “all but one move” of last week.

It’s so hard to leave a climbing area, even if you know you have plenty of time and aren’t having any fun. What’s with that? Have you ever tried to leave Hueco during a 3 days snowstorm? Just to go to Marfa or T0C or something? Never happens. I’m trying to break that mental barrier, because it’s so good once I do it.

Here’s some pics from “Lambertsbaii”

this is him :)

this whole trip is about my amazing pink hoodie (goodwill via old navy, who knew?)

hoodie love


princess of power! June 14, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — sendann @ 2:23 am
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Since I first saw this picture of Cedar bouldering in a ballgown last summer, I’ve thought about it at least twice a week. Her dress, and her concentration, are basically what I strive for every day in the boulders. And her expression is pretty much how I feel.

cedar getting some in CO summer 2012, Tscholl spotting, pic by thomo

On the same subject, I wanted to highlight what I think of as a glorious underground (so far) trend of shouting “I’m doing it! See?! See!?!” while sending. This also originated with Cedar…

click through for the video….




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We always use the term ‘difficulty’ December 13, 2011

Filed under: Climbing — sendann @ 7:37 pm
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My system for reading the New Yorker has evolved into this:

It comes weekly to my sometimes-place in Austin where one of my lovely roommates piles them into a safe place. When I go through Austin, a once-every-4-months thing lately, I pick them up. It takes me as long, or longer, to read them than it did for them to pile up, and when I am back through ATX I pick up the new stack and put it on top of the remainder of  the previous stack. I always have a good 6 months worth on me.

So it’s not terribly surprising that last month I finally got to the issue from December 20 & 27, 2010, and read Nick Paumgarten’s profile of Shigery Miyamoto, the creative mind of Nintendo. A few things in the profile made me think about climbing. One issue it’s made me think about is how well/not well climbing, in my life, fits the definitions of “play.”

Paumgarten brings up this Dutch cultural historian named Johan Huisinga, and what he wrote in 1938 about the definining characteristics of play. He came up with five.

Play is voluntary – you can’t be forced to do it or it stops being play.

Play “takes place outside the realm of ordinary life and is unserious, in terms of its consequences”

This isn’t always true I suppose, since you could hurt yourself a million ways, or get into highballing, or something. I think my natural cowardice and aversion to dangerous things keeps me and climbing on the play side here. If I sense any even slightly serious consequences, I usually back off.

Play is unproductive. “nothing comes of it – norhting of material value, anyway. Plastic trophies, stuffed animals, and bragging rights cannot be monetized.

This is a real choicy thing for a lot of people I know, and myself. If you start thinking about selling photos or videos or winning money, things begin to leave the ‘play’ realm, just a little maybe.

Play “follows an established set of parameters and rules, and requires some articifial boundary of time and space.” 

So you start with this jug and this crimp, go right, and this is the top. Sometimes you top out sometimes not, this hold is off and no dabbing.

Play “is uncertain; the outcome is unknown, and uncertainty can create opportunities for discretion and improvisation.”

I might or might not make it up this thing this time, might as well just campus that part.

So that was interesting.

There’s also sections of the profile where Miyamoto talks about the difficulty of video games, and how you have to balance impossibly hard things with repetative easy things to keep players engaged and allow them to improve. I related to this a LOT. Nothing like an easy start or chill section to keep me motivated trying something very hard.

“Miyamoto recognizes that there is pleasure in difficulty but also in ease, in mastery, in performing a familiar act with aplomb…His games strike this magical balance between the excitement that comes from faving new problems and the swagger from facing down old ones. The conseruent sesation of confidence is useful, in dealing with a game’s more challenging stages, but also a worthy aim in itself.”

Then the man himself is quoted

“All the time, players are forced to do their utmost. If they are challenged to hte limit, is it really fun for them?”
 In his games, “You are constatnly provising the players with a new challenge, but at the same time providing them with some stages or some occasions where they can simply, repeatedly, do something again and again. And that itself can be a joy.”

“We always use the term ‘difficulty’ when we talk about gameplay…If the game is too difficult, people may not want to play it again. With the appropriate level of difficulty, people may feel like challenging it again and again. As they repeat it, the amount of information they can acquire naturally increases….I always try to be conscious about that kind of gradual improvement.”

So do I, Miyamoto San.

He describes the crux of a game or a skill as a kind of “bridge”, between being a beginner and coming into mastery and deeper joy found through performing the activity.

“a kind of a bridge between indifference and pleasure. ‘If the bridge is too easy to pass by, it’s called ‘entertainment.’ If it’s rather difficult, it can be called ‘hobby.’

Here’s the article online.


September 30, 2011

Filed under: Family,Trips — sendann @ 3:10 pm

Mom scrambling on seaside choss in Portugal. Love what she's wearing AND doing!


heads off July 2, 2011

Filed under: Climbing,Over-Shares,The Future,The Past,Trips — sendann @ 10:13 pm
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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!