All paths lead nowhere, choose with heart

I’m in a thing! October 24, 2012

One reason that I suspect bouldering is super popular is that it’s sooooo much easier to get awesome bouldering pictures than it is other kinds of climbing pictures. And awesome pictures inspire people to do whatever is in the picture, so we’re all bouldering.

see? easy as crack

I was kind of whining to Vinny a few months ago that it was awkward and hard to get good sport climbing pictures, and that was my excuse for not sending him and ClimbTech more stuff faster. He was like, Ann, just tell a photographer that you work with a company called ClimbTech and they’ll be psyched to take pictures of you. But I was too insecure. What if they turned out to be a shitty photographer or it just didn’t work out and CT hated the shots and it came to nothing? And the person didn’t want to be friends with me anymore because they jugged up and sat in a harness for hours while I flailed away in a tank top for nothing? How…totally awful, to lose a friend that way. So I haven’t done it.

Anyway, I’ve been intimidated to ask anyone to do sport climbing pics, until I got to Tahoe and asked Lauren Lindley to do it. Cause she’s an Austin person and I felt like I could totally ask Erik or Merrick to do it, and she’s in that club. And of course she was like, YES, before I was even done asking! Lauren is pretty much ready to throw all her enthusiasm behind whatever adventure or task catches her interest. She’s like the productive/creative version of one of those guys who are super intense about whatever they’re into, and if you get even five minutes of their glorious attention and focus on YOU you’re like, in love with them for a year and a half even though it’s never gonna happen because, please, that guy is in love with himself and his bullshit freedom, and eventually a chunky blonde. Like that, but Lauren’s attention is useful and genuine. Man, that brought up a very annoying memory from like ’02. Ew!!

So Lauren and her amazing friend Damion and I went out to tackle some powerful, tricky granite sport lines over Emerald Bay. So wow. I even tried something super hard for me! Finally! And ya know what, it felt totally possible! Her shots have been amazing so far, and I’m psyched to share them with you as they come out! A few were featured TODAY on the Tahoe South website, along with a very cool article Lauren wrote about our days up at Mayhem.

Click through for the article. Thanks so much Lauren!! Ps my dad wants to see more soon! :-)




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sports action and ClimbTech June 19, 2012

Filed under: Climbing,Uncategorized — sendann @ 9:08 pm
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So last week I started praying for the motivation to commit more of my time and resources to sport climbing.


so ya idk wth bbq is up with my sport climbing but i have a few ideas


I think I have come upon a serious wall, so to speak, with de clippings, and I think I’ve been at it for a while. Here’s my story:

So way back when I was about 14 or 15, I was crushing some gymnastics, and then, in the middle of a strong training summer, I was so over it. And I had lots of lame reasons, and it felt like the right thing to do to quit at the time blah blah, but the truth was that I was terrified. I had come up fast in the sport, learned all kinds of awesome tricks, and swung bars as well as girls several levels beyond me. But by this point the next tricks on the list were really scary, and I spent a lot of time just half-trying them, not committing, bailing out, hurting myself worse in the process. I stopped loving bars and vault – the powerful, fast, upper-body-intensive events that drew me to the sport as a spindly 8 yr old. I started focusing on beam and floor, things that were closer to the ground and involved less aerial momentum.


With no new tricks, though, I got discouraged. My teammates learned the new vaults, did bar releases,  giants, complicated dismounts, and I just plateaued like wow, so bored right now.

Fast forward 17 years or so, and  I feel like I’m in a simliar place with sport climbing. I haven’t tried a sport climb that felt honestly limit in….a really long time (not counting the 11a warm up at jailhouse that I only saw the top of once). I’m pretty sure the last move I worked and couldn’t do in sequence within a few go’s was the move to the drilled pocket on that thing at Reimers…wtf is it called? Next to Lord of the Dance-Dance?  Classiqe,  lots of chipping and drilled pockets? Anyway, point is it was 2009 at the very latest. And it’s not that I try lines and can’t do them and quit. I don’t even get ON them. I just take a few goes (or in the case of Jailhouse, a few WEEKS) to put moves together with rests and kneebars in the right order, then go back to the boulders.

So I went to Rumney with Leo last weekend and did my fear game. It was amazing to hang out with him and I think we talked almost non-stop the entire time, and I loved the area, but stuck to easy terrain. I’ve been forcing myself to do at least one 12a/bb at every sport climbing spot, and I got through that easily enough there, but jeeze ann, let’s at least try to pretend to be trying to try hard.

And I can’t give up. Serious, effortfull sport climbing has to be a part of my life. My joints can’t boulder season after season, and my heart can’t handle not climbing at all, plus I love it, AND I’m completely decent at it. I need it in my life in order to be fully myself.

So all that, and reflecting on my gymnastics experience, has lead me to the conclude that my fear of heights has become unmanageable, and is negatively impacting my life.

I have a functional fear of heights that limits my ability to climb my best when there are ropes or exposure involved. My ability drops a grade every 12 feet I climb up, and as I get panicked about that, and tired from climbing so badly, my vision tunnels until I might as well be looking for holds through one of those shoe-box eclipse viewer things.



this is my hard sport climbing technique

What to do? I had no idea so I started praying about it, which is where I started this story. After that I got 2 exciting and unexpected phone calls.


The first one was from ClimbTech, the Austin-based climbing and industrial safety gear company that made my pretty red quickdraws, and also makes permadraws for gyms and crags and the original removable bolt,  and a new line of climbing accessories. They’re starting up an athlete ambassador program, and expanding their line of sport climbing gear, and asked ME to be a part of it!

“You know I’m kind of struggling with sport climbing, right?”

They did, but feel certain that my extensive travel and vast enthusiasm will keep me clippin, and they’re willing to invest a little in me. So WOw! I’m honored and excited, because I’ve also been praying for a set of matching new draws. I feel like it would inspire me and it IS!


The other call was about a sport climbing trip opportunity, but more on that later.


Anyway, I’m headed to the Rocklands right now, like I”m at the airport, and need to go pretty much now. Let’s talk more when I arrive there and get settled, on Saturday. It’s Tuesday. Yeah.


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!


high-ness September 8, 2011

Filed under: Climbing,Trips — sendann @ 7:31 pm
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My whole quick stop at Horne Lake then spend ten days in Washington plan changed, and I stayed 6 days in Horne Lake. It was just too good! I got the project I’d been hoping for, Subdivisions. It was my first true power endurance route, and I think I took….I don’t know, like 6 tries total over 3 days. The day I did it I gave it one burn in the morning and fell at the anchor, which is the same anchor as a route I have already done, Moonraker. It’s a few moves on jugs into a slopey hole, a few underclings to clip from, and a very awkward body position. I had forgotten how specific the moves were up there, and didn’t rehearse that section ahead of time because I am lazy. After the fall I almost started to cry, because the sun was killer hot and I was kind of nauseous from climbing in it. But I collected myself and figured out the moves, brushed everything, made some ticks and top roped the end 5 times, then twice more just in case. Then I came down and hid in the shade for 4 hours til the sun went behind the wall.

this is the first rest right before a cruxy part of Subdivision. The pic is from that German guy Axel's blog, which you'll get to if you click on it. I have no idea who the climber is or who took it, just wanted to show you kinda what the route looks like.

In the meantime I tried a few burns on Plastic Jesus, the first “pitch” of a badass endurance route called Jesus Saves the Pusher. I didn’t do more than a few moves of it, because again, I’m lazy but also because I was saving myself for proj. But next time I’m here I’m going to work hard on that line and see what’s possible. I finally got through Subdivision by climbing fast and letting this awkward, sharp holds on a weird face section be a rest. So yay! Basked in that one for a day or so.

I also managed to do this short, pumpy line called Code of Honor, which had been very painful and annoying on my last trip, with close-together bolts at the start and some tufas that were easy to bang the shit out of your knees on. I don’t know why people get so excited about tufas, they’re almost always just bad sloper pinches. I mean I like sloper pinches too, I guess, especially these because they’re covered with limestone warts and are super sticky, but still. I think what I like would be more accurately called “roofas.” But anyway, I used a long draw and the downgrader and got through Code, long moves between huge holds and some pump.

But then it was Tuesday, and I’d been thinking to be back and gone to Washington by Sunday so…yeah, here I am, still in Squamish where there’s a hot spell and it’s in the high 80s until the sun dunks down. I may go back to the boulders this evening, but eh, I’m enjoying the chill time, organizing my car and hammering out my fall plans, working and reprogramming my body with pilates and yoga.  Here are some shots with/by Lotti and Martin, gettin yogic in the park. Lotti’s been introducing me to her specialty, therapeutic acro-yoga. It feels as good as it looks, but I don’t like doing it with strangers.

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things i did, quit, or that hurt me, squamish edition September 1, 2011

Filed under: Climbing,Trips — sendann @ 2:10 am
Tags: , , ,

Shoot, I hate to post twice because I know I then won’t post at all for a while. But this video by starring scottish major Tom pretty much captures the Squamish experience. He (in the green) falls off a lot of the same stuff I did, and it’s beautiful. And I love posing productions, of course. Ummmm, what else?

Had my last day in the forest yesterday, but I haven’t been projecting much the last couple weeks so there was no urgency. I didn’t even feel like making any beta videos, since I either sent, never tried, or gave up on pretty much everything I’d encountered. So hey I suppose this is where I can talk about climbing!


I’m super happy with my bouldering trip. I did a ton of problems, a few projects, and yesterday I managed to do one more hardish lip traverse in just a few tries. I took that as a sign that I’ve learned something aboot sloping lip traverses.


There were a few things I thought would be projects that I had to give up on, and that was strange since I rarely honestly forfeit a climbing project. I’ll move on for a while and plan to return at a much much later day, but I never outright say “I’m over this forever.” But I did that a couple of times.


I thought, after my first good day missing just the last move, that I’d get Baba Haridas, a classic lip traverse. But jeebus, my hamstring never recovered from the first session, and has lead to a pretty horrendous right-kneebar disease. I kept giving it goes now and then, getting close and falling. Finally it was just painful to pull with my heel, and I let it and all the other right-heel hooking lines go. I had a similar but worse experience with Sesame Street. My first day felt good through the strong lower moves on greasy crimps, but I didn’t know how to do the end, a big move over a bulge with a greasy sloper (there is a theme developing). I was super stoked to try it more, and the next time I nailed the last move a couple times pretty easily. But that day the beginning felt super hard and I couldn’t get to my previous high point. The next time I lost another move from the start. The other day, after a full rest day and with decent conditions, I couldn’t even stick the start.


It was the flowers for algernon project experience, and I got very bummed. Nate got annoyed with my grim attitude and decided to give me a talking to about how lame it is to have low climbing self esteem, which was super awesome of him. So I gave up on Sesame Street. I think that’s all the projects I quitted.


I sent some good ones too! Including Gibbs Cave, which was super fun and went down fast, early in the summer when it was still a bit cool and rainy. Ah…what else? Minor Threat took a few days, I kept trying to do it at the end of the day, thinking I was some kind of hoss, but no. Had to go first thing then it went fast. Those were kinda the highlights. There were some things I wanted to try but never got to. There’s this awesome talus line that some folks find dabby that I’m excited to get on someday. It has a glorious name too, “Native American Giver.” I also got on The Fuzz last night, but it wanted everything I don’t have, like left wrist hanging abilities, and hamstring power. Autobody/Fixing the Car also looked awesome, but I wound up not spending anytime there. It’s About Time, Child Abuse, that long one with the sharp crimp and the impossible to remember name uphill of the black dyke, Old and Serious, and Twisted, are others I’d like to get on but I never made it.


Sport climbing was rougher. I didn’t go much, and although I managed to do a good new line every time I went it’s been a constant battle. I feel pretty scared up on the rope and I’m still trippin out over anything less than a 35 degree angle. Heading to Horne Lake tomorrow, so there will be no shortage of steepness! I want to project this thing called Subdivision, which will take a couple days I think/hope, and give a few runs to Velvet Elvis, which seems relatively easy, but is very strange and I didn’t do all the moves of the weird, face down the middle of the cave ending. After that I’m going to spend another night or two in Squamish getting organized, then head to Leavenworth for ten days before I race back south. Yay hoo!


glamping at horne lake August 1, 2011

Took a 3 day camping trip to Horne Lake on Vancouver Island for some limestone sports action. A delicious break from granite sloper training and brushing off holds all day. Climbed 3 days and no elbow fire! I think the relatively relaxed climbing was a good break, and I also think I’m trying harder than I think I am at bouldering around here. The rules at Horne Lake seem to be something like, ‘no chipping, sandbag everything’. But it was pure pleasure to move on that kind of rock again, workin knee bars, grabbin’ jugs, gettin’ pumped, taking looooong falls in a roof. I did some twelves (omg!) and took some pictures:

berries galore

that's a camping milk steamer there on the right. i know. no, i know.


the titular lake

aggressive canadians graffitied my car at the trailhead

Back to the Squamish forest boulders today! I have a few projects in the talus, tons of classics to try and mellow circuiting to experience. Why is the sherpa taking so long with the coffee?


smoke out July 28, 2011

Filed under: Climbing,Trips — sendann @ 5:02 am
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scary slab arete at the smoke bluffs. terrifying, but a lovely pic by lotto dotto