SendAnn

All paths lead nowhere, choose with heart

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.

 

so fine December 22, 2011

Filed under: Climbing,The Future,Trips,Waves — sendann @ 12:12 am
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First the Good: Climbing is going awesome! My day on day off Hueco thing has continued to produce pain-free, misery-free, minimal-complainy Hueco days. And Hannukah has begun! Which is a very special bouldering time when I stop trying to send anything and just figure I’ve worked as hard as possible and some higher force of love and crimping is gonna have to come through for me. And it usually works, so let the miracle sending begin! But for real, I’m very happy with my time here so far. Best season yet, health and happiness and climbing wise, so/by far. And I finally did shroom, after not feeling even a little bit close on the hard move last year. Yay!

 

 

Then the Medium: I got kind of stoked on this cowboy themed trailer box in Truth or Consequences, and it took a while but I gathered the funds, locked in a place to put ‘er, and I’ve been super excited, but I think it’s not going to pan out after all. Renting a proper truck to haul it down here from there will cost like 300 dollars, and that was enough to send the project over my financial comfort level. Weird, where that line ends up being.  I’ll plant the cash in the sand, keep an eye out for a closer/cheaper option, and/or wait til i can put away a little more towards it. I’m also a little afraid of becoming a crazy hobo trailer person. Please let me know if that seems like it’s happening.

 

 

The Horrible: That whole, ‘toss caution to the breeze and step boldly into the opportunity for summer romance part 2, fall edition’ thing fell apart. I’m very very upset. One could truly hurt themselves doing this crap. Trying not to let it cast a shadow over my hope for a long and happy life, but ya know, it’s a crux and I feel like a total idiot.  All things Canadian, musical, and francophone now sting. I’ll be watching hugh grant movies in the rav if you need anything.

 

 

 

The Better: Nine more days in Hueco with a gorgeous forecast, a visiting ARG team, Molly, Emilia and lots of other fun friends are out, and I’m going to see the Nutcracker on Friday.

 

The even Better: Hawaii = sooner every day.

 

like sandstone in the hourglass…. November 9, 2011

Filed under: Climbing,Over-Shares — sendann @ 5:43 pm
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Heather says my life is a soap opera. It’s not really, but I think by the time I tell her about things, I’m so worked up over whatever it is that my dramatic emphasis has lent operatic overtones to the tale. Here goes:

Ok so remember how I was all not sure about entering the Triple Crown in the advanced division, because I’ve climbed a bundle of problems that have higher numbers than the range for advanced, which is 5-6? I talked to a bunch of folks about it. Everyone who had done a Triple Crown before was like, yeah no, go advanced for sure. Open is super hardcore and you’ll be in your own league one division down. Other folks were like, eh, you’re on the line, but there’s no way you can do more than 1 or 2 problems above that range in a day, so yeah. Advanced. So I entered Advanced, and got second place twice, trying super hard to put as many 6s and 7s on the board as possible. I lost to this girl Kati, and this other girl Jill, and figured that meant I was in the right spot. But oh man I wanted to win!!

So then I went to Horse Pens, which is suppose to be the hardest comp of the tournament with the lowest scores. Brutality. Four hours in I only had 2 climbs on my card and had fallen off of 4 top outs. Dan was coaching me. Poor Dan. Things were getting worse, I was getting tired and discouraged. So Dan takes me over to this area with what he insists will be some doable 5s. At this point, I cannot imagine it. But he stepped up and demo’d the betas, and I was able to flash a few problems. Yay, momentum! But this event was packed with strong girls. Those ATL chicks from the Athens comp were there, I had already seen Jill crushing, and every problem I managed to finish I saw another female competitor do. So much for winning, I figured. At this point I just wanted to finish the card.

Then this weird thing happened. After I did those easier problems, this stranger person came up to me, knowing an inordinent amount of detail about my climbing, kinda going off about how easy these problems are for me. Freaky. I got a very bad, psyched out vibe from the situation, and ran away as fast as possible. Because that’s just whack-whack, and I still have 6 problems to do and it’s freaking 1:45!

The rest of the day was ok. Most of my fingertips started bleeding. I met this funny dude named Doug. I climbed with Kai, the youth strongman who’s mom Connie is the trooperiest trooper of the triple crown. I did more problems, lots of falls, lots of punts. Got a heel-toe cam stuck and almost broke my femur, the usual. Finally finished my card, blood and tears all the way up a terribly hard 4 called Slush Puppy that took 5 tries. Then I ran, RAN, to turn in my card on time. My score was medium-low, and I was resigned to not place. Went and ate my feelings via smores at the Pretzl tent. Learned this joke for when you’re eating smores that goes like this:

You’re killin’ me, Smalls

So finally they post scores, AND I WON!!!!

Finally!

Won by about 100 points.  Oh my god, so excited to have finally won. AND I was sure I had a shot at being the over-all champ of the tournament for the advanced division.

So then Chad comes over and is like, ‘we need to talk’. He and Jim, the Triple Crown organizers and both super glorious dudes, are like, ‘someone came up here and told us that you did a v9 two weeks ago.’ Flummuxed, I was like, yeap! Two weeks ago, in Boone. My first one ever! It was so hard and awesome! Why do you ask? Well it turns out that one of the rules of the triple crown is that if they hear that someone did a climb at some point that’s rated way higher than the climbs in their division they get bumped.

Now, I don’t mind getting bumped from a prize-getting perspecitve, I don’t have room for another crash pad or  jacket – I’m in this for the glory. But are they saying that I cheated? That I sandbagged myself by entering advanced and could have climbed harder than I did, posting a ton of 7s and 8s or something? Because, wow, no. At least I don’t think – no.  I tried a bunch of harder-numbered problems during the event, and the two I managed were on my cards. And I kept getting second! If I were so out of place, wouldn’t I have been doing better? Oh, mercy the injustice!

No but really, I’m horrified to think that Jim and Chad thought I cheater sandbagged myself. Or worse, that I WAS being a cheater! And two, that someone stalked my 8a spraycard then cared enough to try and knock me off. Because that is creepy. And kind of mean, right? Granted, I stalked Jill’s after her LRC crushing and soothed myself by noting that she had some pocket problems out there. But I wasn’t about to go remembering that or telling anyone.

Anyway, I went back to Chad and Jim and told them I was over it and fine with a bumping, but that this whole thing was rather subjective and slip-shod. They said they hate divisions anyway and want to have no divisions among adults at all but give prizes for the top 15 placers. Then they said that when they bumped me into open, I ended up getting 3rd for the tournament.

that'd make me the one in glasses!

Wow. How did that happen? I think it was the psychotic consistency. Because I was never close to the open scores at an event, but going to all three comps and posting reasonable scores, then being a little ahead at Horse Pens, I managed to eek in there. So it ended up basically rocking. I won a pile of gas money, and got to see myself ranked with actual, very very strong boulderer women. I decided that it all meant that there was a hidden cost to spraying on the internet. Dan decided it meant that I had arrived. So hey, I’ve arrived. Hi.

 

blargtown October 25, 2011

Filed under: Climbing,Trips — sendann @ 4:24 pm
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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.
x
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!

 

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!

 

but we’re all gonna die anyway April 13, 2011

Filed under: Climbing — sendann @ 8:03 pm
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Kinda thinking the lake isn’t going to go for me this abbreviated summer season. I just can’t seem to land a ride. There is no classy way around asking someone if you can go out with them, at least not one that I’m smooth enough to pull off, and I haven’t gotten a shut down yet that didn’t lead to me feeling like a looozr.

I wonder if there is something wrong with me. Not wrong like I’m not a reasonable person or I should change my ways to be more appealing or something. But wrong like, maybe I’m just not someone you’d want to tool around on the lake with. Lifestyle-wise or perhaps something inherent in my personality. Totally possible, I am not everyone’s cup-o-tea and I’m content with that. Maybe I’m just not that in with those folks like I thought I was. Like on land we’re good because there is infinite space, but when it comes to picking your crew I don’t so much pull rank. That is kind of depressing.

I guess this is a situation that comes up anytime there’s a secret or private or obscure crag. A few folks have the key, and their immediate friends are in it too, and yeah. Then there’s, uh, you. I hate to sound so down on myself and pity-party over it, but whatever. It feels terrible and you came here to hear about my feelings so there ’tis. So after a month of no go’s, I’m thinking it’s not worth the sting. I’d be better off to just accept it and stay dry, rather than try and get so low when it doesn’t happen.

It does get me looking forward to a summer trip, though! I’ll be in places where climbing is legal and it’s all new enough to me so that the cutting edge doesn’t hold much appeal.

Yesterday I swam at the lake and land-bouldered at the el Duende, a spooky, dusty cave that’s exposed and fun when the lake is low but entirely submerged in higher water. Oh, this is my new bathing suit:

it looks lovely on me also

I did two easier problems that had been impossible last time I went there (in 2008), and that gave me a nice feeling. I’ve definitely practiced climbing a lot since then and it was really cool to see so much contrast two years later. The titular line, however, is stiff cruxin roof of impossible. I made maybe an inch of progress on the first (real) move. Here’s a very silly video from Duende ’08, staring me as “the girl who can’t do warm up 2.” But I got on same that problem last night, and it is SO EASY.