Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Park City Wildflowers

Currently, it is beautiful and green around Park City, UT The scenery along the mountain bike trails has been fantastic. Here are some pictures from the ride on Monday when we rode the Glenwild loops.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Project Diary: Days 4, 5 & 6

Day 4: I was warmed up, I was focused and I maximized the rests. Per the previous day's finding I was able to get myself psyched up and got my 'grrr' on to leave the big cobble. A big yell and sideways move into the pocket. Tighten the core, heel hook next to the right hand and grab the slopping cobble. Stabilize, give a good grunt and grab the good part of the next cobble with the right hand. Keep the heel hook, flag the left foot and grab the next bad cobble with the left hand. Pull hard, keep the core tight and move the left foot into the pocket, right foot onto the spike by the last bolt. Keep it tight! Focus...grab the final hold with the left hand, really bear down and keep it tight, move the right foot into the pocket...miss. AAARRRGGH! Nothing but air. I fell with my hand on the final hold and missed the stab into the pocket with the right foot. Next time up, I fell leaving the big cobble because I was just spent from my first attempt. I did however, find an alternative foot from the pocket so I don't have to be so precise. After a rest day I will send!

Day 5: Yesterday was a rest day, so today should be good. Utter failure. For the life of me I cannot repeat my efforts from Tuesday. It is hot and I only gave it one attempt. I did however, feel that the next day would be better. We decided to wait until 2pm to start with the warm ups. This meant that we would arrive at the Pipedream after 4pm and hopefully it would be cooler.

Day 6: Excellent late start. I did two routes at the Minimum crag to start the warm up. When we arrive to the Pipedream, I did a nice little 5.11d, Excavation to finish the warm. Then I got in line for my route. My route, La Confienza shares the start with two other routes, plus many extensions. Plus, the anchors are share with a couple routes as well. This means that if the cave is busy, there is some line jockeying to ensure that those attempting to redpoint have a clear run to the anchors.

I felt pretty good, a little tired from the previous day, but a manageable tired. I felt good at the cobble, and got psyched. Set up, stab left for the pocket. Came up sort! Great anger and I am embarrassed to admit, profanity. Not a good thing. What had I done wrong! Why??? I was incredibly discouraged. I pulled up to the bolt and just hung there with tears threatening. All sorts of raw emotion were just boiling inside. I had sent the route just days earlier, but fell at the anchors (which of course doesn't count as a send!). I grabbed the big cobble, but something just didn't feel right. There had been a nagging thought just before I fell, that I wasn't set up right. Still, I Tony take and I hung some more contemplating the rock. I again grabbed the big cobble...oh my goodness! I had my hands position incorrectly putting my right hand to far right and making the move left to the pocket too long. What a stupid mistake! I pulled on and made all the moves to the anchor and lowered dejected.

I did give it another attempt, but fell low. I took the opportunity to finish the route, but take frequently to try some new beta and solidify the known beta. It is good to keep the mind open to changes and try new ways of doing a move. I will not come back to this route for until our next trip to Maple Canyon. This is OK as it was time to walk away for a bit and do some other climbs.

Epilogue: I finished the time here in Maple on a high note today. After some easy warm up routes to work out the soreness and exhaustion, we went to the Cragenmore wall. I onsighted 5.12c! A route named Popcorn. Today was our third day on and I had to dig pretty deep and am very happy.

We leave this canyon more fit and strong that we have been in some time. I may not have been able to claim a redpoint on La Confienza, but I am stronger and smarter as a result of my time on that route.

Now, for a few days of relaxing and mountain biking near Park City. Then onto limestone pocket pulling in Wyoming.The move left to the pocket that was giving me problems.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Project Diary: Day 3

Thank you Paul for taking photos!

Well, today I did 3 warm up routes and 2 burns on La Confienza. Both times I fell toward the top moving off the big cobble and going to the pocket. I'm very happy with how I felt and climbed today.

I remembered the sneaky kneescum beta down low to make a move easier and grab a quick shake. Big progress for me was to skip one of the clips in the bulge. It was committing, but I believe it saved me some energy. Plus the rope ran differently and it wasn't in my way when getting the left kneebar after the bulge.

After leaving the double kneebar, the route traverses for a few moves. I realized the second time on route that I wasn't moving efficiently and I felt more tired than I should have when reaching the big cobble. I need to remember to move quickly through that section.

The reason I fell moving off the big cobble is that I didn't have my 'grrr' on. When I fell the second time, I realized that I wasn't pulling in enough with my right arm as I stabbed to the pocket. I got back on and made a conscious effort to pull in and back to get my body closer to the rock. This proved successful and I made the last powerful moves to the anchor.

When we were leaving today, Livan made a comment about the route she had just fallen from. She said that she had to almost 'get angry' to power through some moves high on her route. It clicked with me that I was keeping myself too calm and relaxed before heading into the last moves. Tony also made similar statements to me and suggested that I need to determine how to get psyched to pull hard.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Project Diary: Days 1 & 2

This journey has had beneficial effects on my climbing. I have flashed 5.12c, onsighted 5.12b and returned to 5.13 by redpointing six 5.13a in the past year. My fitness continues to improve and I'm very pleased with how I am climbing. However, I am a bit frustrated because for a while now I've felt that I have landed on a plateau in my climbing. My plateau is at 5.13a. I know I am at a point in my fitness and strength that it is time to step up and do harder routes. However, it seems that I have given up too easily on routes because a move felt too hard or holds too horrible. Am I just selecting the wrong routes? Or am I walking away too soon? How do I get off this plateau and climb what I feel I am capable of? How do I get off this plateau without access to bouldering or a gym?

After some contemplation on the morning dog walk a few days ago, I made some decisions. First, select a 5.13b and get climbing. Second, give the route more than one attempt. Third, keep a diary of sorts to chronicle my step up and off the plateau. What follows is the first entry in that diary contemplating my progress.

Several other climbers in Maple Canyon have recommended to me a route called 'La Confienza' as a worthy 5.13b in the Pipedream cave. It was described to me as being big moves on good holds with a double kneebar. I am a sucker for such routes.

Day 1: I belayed our friend Jamie Gatchalian as he redpointed La Confienza Friday and a got good view of how the route went. He then gave me beta as I climbed through the moves. I made it to the anchors the first time on the route! The lower section of the route is about 5.12b with a few powerful moves over a small bulge to a left kneebar. While keeping the left kneebar, reach long left to an excellent hold and make a couple moves before getting a double kneebar. This is not a hands free affair, but it is pretty solid and it will allow me to get a decent recovery. From here traverse on good pockets to a gastone and cross through to the top of a big cobble. At this point there is a marginal left kneebar or a heel hook by the left hand. The kneebar felt like a waste of energy and the heel hook felt a bit funky. Now, there are 4 powerful, long moves to the final jug and a guarantee that my feet will cut loose.

I gave the route three attempts, each time finding more efficient ways to move through sections. I finally figured out the correct body position for the heel hook on the big cobble. From the cobble to the anchors is powerful, so efficient foot placement is going to be important.

I'm in love and psyched!

Day 2: It was Saturday and the cave was organized chaos. The good thing about this is that many people wanted to climb this route or one of the many branches. I saw some good beta for a kneescum to the first undercling on the low section. I did get this the first time on the route, but had forgotten about it. I need to remember this when I get on tomorrow. Also there is a left kneescum just two moves later to enable a better shake before moving into the little boulder problem at the bulge. Speaking of the bulge boulder problem, another woman, Maggie, had some less powerful moves that I like better than what I as doing.

I felt tired from the three runs on the route on Friday, so I spent my two times on the route really focusing on memorizing movement and learning more efficient foot placements. I practiced maximizing the rest at the double kneebar and at the big cobble heel hook. Moving of the heel hook has the potential to be a bit powerful. I need to be quick and efficient with both hands and feet. Then the move left to the good pocket is burly! It is going to be core intensive to keep myself on the rock. I think I'm at the point that I will begin redpoint attempts on Monday. Wow!

I ended the day by onsighting a fun 5.11c, Dry Spunk. This will make an excellent warm up in the future. It is fairly easy climbing for most of the route, it is long and there isn't a hard move on it.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

On the road again and still

It is a very long trip.

Google Maps thought we had too many stops and would not allow all the stops on one map.  Here is an attempt to plot the rough course east and south on the first map, then our journey west and north on the second map.  More detail on each stop by clicking the link below either map.  (Forgive any zoom issues, these may be corrected with the map controls in the upper left corner.)

View Larger Map

View Larger Map

For all but the excursion to La Grande, OR, Blu has pulled our trailer to each of these stops and still going strong!  Here are some of the sites from along the way.

Dare to be different

Found these guy digging in the Mississippi muck

Not quite the Mason-Dixon line

Buffalo Trace Bourbon photo op

Kentucky road furniture

Ahhh....the sun

The road is not too wide in the Keys

Mexico Beach furniture

Coffee and Beignets at Cafe Du Monde
and GREAT mountain biking

Spray from Shoshone Falls
Happy trails!!!!

Thursday, June 9, 2011


When we arrived in Maple Canyon, UT a couple friends recommended that I should climb the route 'Sprout', rated 5.13a. This route is located in an area called the Pipedream Cave and can be reached after a long hike uphill. After 4 days of climbing less steep routes and building fitness, we decided to trudge up the hill to Pipedream.

My first trip up the route was a good run. I got good beta from our friend Blake and made it to the anchors. I was hooked. The lower wall is about 5.11c to a good knee bar rest. Then it is game on with long moves in good holds through a steep roof. This is followed by a pumpy head wall to the anchors. This route was really my style.

A few days ago, I spent some time on the lower section to ensure I was climbing it as efficiently as possible. The holds are a bit slopey and for some reason by the time I made it to the kneebar, I was very pumped. The rest isn't good enough to make a good recovery before launching into the roof section. By dialing this section I was able to reach the rest today without any pump.

As I started out the roof, I made an error in my sequence, but could reverse it back to the rest and start again. I returned to the kneebar, took a few deep, calming breaths and moved out to the roof. At one point, my foot slipped on a slick cobble and my feet cut loose. Thankfully, the holds at that point are great positive pockets and I easily swung my feet back to the rock. I moved strongly across the roof and made sure to be precise and relaxed.

I reached the crux kneebar and was able to relax a minute and slow my breathing enough to feel comfortable to continue. The traverse onto the headwall can be very pumpy. At each opportunity I took a moment to throw a heel hook, shake out and slow down. I did not want to fall at the top after climbing so far.

A few long moves later and I reached the last quickdraw. And, oh did my forearms begin to get pumped! I snuck a little knee scum to get a quick shake before punching it to the anchors. Just then Arlo the Beagle let out a celebratory howl. It made me laugh and gave me the encouragement to get to the anchors.

A 5.13a redpoint after only 6 attempts over 3 days. It was a good day. Thank you Tony for the great belay!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Climbing v. Office

The view from just above the Pipe Dream cave
Walking down from the Pipe Dream wall in Maple Canyon my body felt sore, depleted, bloody, insect bitten, raw and generally worn out.  It dawned on me that there is not much difference between an office job and rock climbing in that a day of doing either involves you:
  • Attempting to do your best 
  • Getting beat up for trying (There is no ‘try’ only  ‘do’ or ‘do not’ but don’t get me started)
  • Intermittent success and failure
  • Success only followed by dreaded feeling of ‘what now?’
  • Starting with optimism
  • Ending with a beat-up feeling with designs on tomorrow and dreams of tonight's martini.
The big difference is that a day at the office pays while a day at the crag costs.

With all these similarities and lack of pay why do I crave the drubbing, gobies, soreness, failure, pain, redpoints, etc that rock climbing provides and don’t miss the office.

Now HOW to make RV’ing, rock climbing and mountain biking pay…

A new level in climbing grades but 10e is as hard as 12c

Peggy viewing Shoshone Falls with high water

Artsy above the Buttermilks
I know you are checking out my sweet tushy, but peruse Peggy's chalk bags at