All paths lead nowhere, choose with heart

fifas September 29, 2014

Filed under: Climbing — sendann @ 4:16 pm
Tags: , , , ,

So after all that woe and drama over not doing my summer project at Way Lake, I gave up and went to the tramway where I was able to finish my other hard summer project on my first try of the day. So much for a doomed season. I’m taking it as a very good sign.


I noticed that there are no other female ascents of this thing in the 8a database. Not a ton of people or females go to the Tramway, and those who do or have recently haven’t gotten on this line, so I wonder if it’s not unreasonable to think that this is the first, or at least a very rare, female ascent. Brigit is the main gal who has done hard tram problems, and she says she hasn’t had luck on this one. Ashima came out one day, but I was there and we never went over this way. Lisa Rands trampaged one time, and we usually assume she did everything, but I found no evidence either way. Natasha Barnes? Seems likely but no tick noted. Jess Chen? I think there would be at least some mention of it. Anyway, there is always this sort of conflicted feeling when a possible ffa comes up for me. On the one hand, obviously I am not the only female in the world capable of doing this line, and doing it doesn’t break any longstanding barriers in climbing, so perhaps it shouldn’t matter and I am super cheesy for bringing it up or claiming. But I am proud anyway, because whether or not I am first-first-first-female, I was able to do a line that is not a typical girl problem. I schlepped up there enough days in a row to get it done. I made an opportunity for myself and showed up to the Steep Sharmarete, and that is more than half of the outdoor climbing game. And, even if it turns out Barnes or Rands or Chen have done it, my doing it too could open up the problem to other no-name whoeverettes like me, who paid for their shoes and climbed a mile in them on the same four moves. So that’s my thoughts on that.


shake n bake west September 25, 2014

I really thought and hoped I would be able to put Shake N Bake West (to define it from regular shake n bake in Hueco) together before the end of the summer, and I haven’t. I just need to talk about it.  The first day I went to it was with Jill. I was able to do all the moves, but felt uncertain of this weird, kind of ‘catch the jug as you fall’ move in the dead center of the problem, before you go into the top out which is shared by a v6. Not an easy topout but half a dozen sessions later I never mess it up anymore.

When I miss the falling catch move, it looks like this

When I miss the falling catch move, it looks like this

Click to watch me stick the transition move. why is it so hard!?

Click to watch me stick the transition move (links you to Vine) why is it so hard!?

I went back with Paula a few weeks later and felt very close to sending, overlapped the difficult moves and the weird falling catch move in the center. Then a random part in the beginning became really impossible and the session kind of died.

Went again a weeks after that, with the moves fresh in my mind, and that’s when I couldn’t find it. That sucked but it was a fun rainy hike with three pads on.

Gave up a little bit after that. If I can’t find the darn thing there’s no point getting all motivated.

Went again a month after that with Rebecca Taggart. We found it! (They found it I did not help) and I set about relearning all the moves, which happened pretty quickly, but it was very hot and I was not able to pull it together. Seemed close.

Went again two weeks after that to the day, alone, found it! Overlapped it in some new ways, figured some things out to make the bottom more consistent – weird flags and thigh scums abound. Kind of just lost that falling catch move at some point. Here’s a few shots from that session.

snb1 snb2

Went back the next day, total skin fail no surprise.

Went again yesterday, a week later, with Ryan, who is learning to use cameras. Did a new low point, finishing the problem from two moves in from the start, which was cool. Climbed really well felt strong for hours, lots of video and photos which is fun. Then I just kind of lost one of the low moves and couldn’t get it back. I let the day get to me, didn’t rest long enough between burns, and felt rushed. Wore my new Futuras on it, which are very comfortable and seem amazing. But I’m nervous that they will stretch out fast, as the Solutions did, and become useless except as toe hook shoes less effective than the Teams.

happy even though it's hard. cute booties, eh?

happy even though it’s hard. cute booties, eh?

I felt so disappointed hiking down yesterday. I’m leaving next Tuesday for Europe and Way Lake closes for snow and stays pretty much under snow until late, late May/June. I ignored my other two California projects this month to focus on it, since they will be around all year. I got into that headspace of like, maybe it’s:

too hard for me

I’m not good enough at moving my body on steep rock

What is the point of these enormous arm muscles anyway if I can’t even put this line together?

I got in my head around Jill having done it quickly. That she is a real climber, a person people regard as ‘nails strong’ when she isn’t around. I’m just flailing and being a jock and talking.

What is all this training for? Is training not working? This WHOLE SEASON is going to be like this because no amount or strategery of training could possibly make ME strong enough to do Shake N Bake West because it is beyond my genetic potential, or maybe I’m just past my prime. \I have peaked in bouldering forever and I’m going to just do classic mods for the rest of my life and anything that takes longer than two days is just never going to happen, and then those won’t happen either, and I’ll just be fine with it because  AT LEAST I HAVE MY HEALTH.

And at that point it’s like, wait. This does not make any sense, given previous experience, empirical evidence, and basic math. Then I calmed down. Abhyasa Variagya, consistent practice over a long period of time without attachment to a particular result. That’s my favorite thing I learned this summer in Yoga Teacher Training. I’m going to say it a few more times. Abhyasa Variagya. Practice over time without attachment to a certain result. That’s what bouldering is for me. I practice moving on rock, intimate experiences in infinitely magnificent settings, focusing and experiencing my body and mind and the natural world. Without attachment to outcomes or results. That.

So I am probably fine, I am just working it out. I do this on all my hard boulders, this is how it is for me. It takes a lot of sessions and I don’t need to get impatient or frustrated because it’s all there, just needs more finesse, which I only get through practicing the moves. I think it only feels so intense in the case of Shake N Bake West because I know that I won’t be on it again for so many months, and so there is this sort of imposed pressure. And much can happen by then. That I could forget how to find it among the least of them! It triggers worry about the future, which I’m usually free of, and I guess I had invested this line with setting the tone for the season. One of my goals this summer was to do one hard boulder a month, May through September. Something that took me a few days, or that I had been wanting to do and not put enough time into. I did a few,

May: Angry Beaver at the Tramway

June: Showtime at Black Mountain

July: Moonraker at the Buttermilks

August: Nothing I guess

Sept: ???????

Pretty sad stats actually, although Moonraker was kind of amazing in freaking July. But I have been in the gym like a monster. I don’t know. I hope I am able to enjoy myself and try really hard and find sends this fall.


Rain Dates August 13, 2014

Filed under: Climbing,Picture Taking — sendann @ 5:47 pm
Tags: , , , ,



It has been raining in the east Sierra for a month. Why do we say ‘East Sierra’? I don’t know anyone or anything about the regular Sierra. Either way, it has been raining a lot. I’ve been getting up there usually late Friday night or sometimes Sunday night depending on Moses’ Black Mountain Schedule/Yoga Teacher Training. I sleep up on Scenic Loop somewhere because I want to sleep high to acclimate, and what was the point of reading all these mountaineering stories if I don’t at least learn something applicable to bouldering? I get up Monday or Saturday morning early, before any of my friends are willing to rally because, as I said, it is raining and they’re over it, and hoof it.

For a while I was working on this great fun line at Way Lake called Shake and Bake. I was able to get some amazing choreography worked out, and even managed to desensitize myself to the really scary topout. But the last few times I went up there I couldnt’ find the darn boulder. Or even anything recognizable. It sucked so bad, wandering around in the rain with three crash pads, alone, trails everywhere and no idea where the freaking boulder is. I have shelved the project until someone can escort me out to it again.

So it is pouring rain and I’m not drinking coffee these days (5 weeks strong, saved $40!) so there was nothing to do in Bishop, so I decided to go look at some Buttermilks projects I have in mind for this winter, or leftovers from last winter. I get up there that first day and realize it is 66 freaking degrees!  I packed my kit and went to the Buttermilker cave to circuit the moderates and maybe try Moonraker a little bit. It was gorgeous in there. Rain coming down outside but dry inside, super, super humid but kind of cold. The rock felt gooey and sharp at the same time, typical Buttermilks hell. I was able to reteach myself the moves for Moonraker, which was a really disappointing fail last winter. The cave is typically so crowded, it feels like some horrible club night at an LA rock gym, lots of onlookers, heinous teenagers, just no fun. But all alone in there, then with a strange group of people on a road trip from central Washington, I got the dance back and totally unexpectedly sent Moonraker! It was a real boost to the confidence for the summer, which has been slow in the sending and heavy on the training, and for the Buttermilks, which is always just a psychologically cruxy place to try hard climbs. Later I discovered that the new guidebooks call Moonraker v9, which was like a surprise cherry on top. 

And therefor I have decided that my strategy for this rainy late summer is to go to the Buttermilks in the rain and try all my wintertime projects. Atmospheric video coming soon, but here are a few grabs from a very productive session on Center Direct, a longtime dream project that I’m inexplicably confident that I will do this September. 


I find most of Center D’s 6 moves to be quite hard, but this is the one I fall on, and I think is the crux for most folks. My toe hook totally stays in, but I have to really accept a complete backfall, or it jumps out and kickstands me.


I was close to full acceptance of backfall here.



 Now if you are still with me I have a concern about Center Direct I’d like to chat about. The other cruxy bit is the end. It’s a huge jump to a gastony jug with a pretty bad crimp for the right hand. I can make the jump and get my hand into the jug, but I have never reeled in the swing. Taller people (and, frankly, bros from California mostly) have been known to surf out far left to a big sloper, step through, swing up and grab the jug with the right hand. This beta is considered pretty lame, as the whole idea is that it goes up the center. Directly. It’s also considered off limits to small folks. BUT I CAN DO IT!!! And using that method, I’ve done the climb smooth but for the crux move in the center. Moses is like, if you feel good about it then you do it that way. And I don’t feel all that good about it. But I still think it is a radical line and can’t conceivably call it easier that way because you still have to do the crux-crux. So my hope is to send it that way, using the sloper jug, refer to it as ‘center indirect” same grade, then try really hard to send it the real way too. 

For reference, this is the real-ish way (mute sound trust me) : 

This is the other-ish way, and I am SO SORRY to Mr. Z Bouldering for using this video as an example of somewhat questionable beta. You look super strong back in 2010, and I’m totally doing it that way too. You are fine, so am I. 


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!










rat maze December 30, 2011

Filed under: Climbing — sendann @ 5:45 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

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).

this is andy on wheaties. i stole this off facebook.

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.

Click for more shots by sam davis of my brain on droogz drama

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.

John Myrick spotting me on the Egg. I get so scared at that part! Also, new haircut! I don't love it, but I think it's for the best.

This is an ad for Rock/Creek:

Rock/Creek Patagonia Sale! Up to 50% off past-season colors, while they last. Cute Capeline and flirty blue tanks for cheap!

Plus free shipping over $49.