Well, the last two months have been a transitional period. Can you believe it? We have indeed been living in this house almost two months on the dot. And Chris has been working on remodeling the guest bathroom nearly the entire time. Poor guy. He isn’t exactly the type to finish projects as quickly as possible. Once I begin a task, I need to complete it ASAP or I’ll drive myself insane. So, yes, I’ve been subsequently driving Chris insane by asking him weekly when he’ll be done with the guest bath. Part of me just can’t wait to start inviting our new friends over for cocktails and a good time!
When Chris isn’t working on the bathroom, he spends most of his time at the rock climbing gym. He works there around 40hrs per week, and still wants to hang out for the fun of it. Can’t complain if you like your job that well! I have also found a full time job, so we’re starting to breathe more easily.
The answer to what you’ve all been wondering… Have we been getting out climbing? Initially, no. Last weekend was our first full weekend bouldering outing. I could come up with a myriad of crappy excuses as to why we haven’t been traveling outside, especially since that’s the main reason we moved here. Being able to drive an hour and go climb on some awesome stone is a huge plus. Truth be told, I had an ex teammate from college commit suicide a few weeks ago and it hit me shockingly hard.
When I first heard, I was stunned. I was stunned to the point that I was numb. I lied to myself, trying to convince myself that I wasn’t all that affected. I was friends with her in college, but not close. I was an overwhelmed senior with no ideas of my own, merely attempting to live up to the expectations of my family, my coaches, my professors, and my employers. She was a freshman on the western team (I rode english), so I didn’t have a lot of interaction with her. I was somewhat disgusted with this particular freshman class, since they were less concerned with working for their positions on the varsity team and more concerned with boys and alcohol. A couple of them showed up to a number of competitions completely intoxicated, including the national championships. They’re lack of sportsmanship cost us big time.
These memories trickled in and out of my mind for several days before I realized that I was fooling myself. These thoughts were distractions to avoid dealing with how I truly felt.
I understand what it’s like to feel alone, like the world is against you, like people might be better off without you around. Honestly, I moved out to California for more than the climbing and citrus trees. I was tired of hearing that I was ‘incapable of making friends or maintaining relationships’, ‘all your relationships will fail’, ‘everyone hates you’, ‘no one wants to be around you’, ‘you need help’. After I heard about my teammate’s death, I became so burdened by my experiences. I was terribly saddened that one of my teammates could reach the conclusion that no one cared and there was only one way out. I would have done anything to help her see that, even when the people closest to you can’t seem to love you, there are other people you’ve long forgotten who still care. Of course, following the news, there was a tremendous outpouring of love and support from so many people. I regret that my teammate couldn’t witness the kindness that surrounded her.
I remember how, in college, I would upset a number of my friends because I spread myself too thin and didn’t have enough time to hang out with them as frequently as they wished. They were DISAPPOINTED that I couldn’t be around them ENOUGH. The sweet comments uttered by my coaches and professors still bring tears to my eyes. Yet the harsh words I had recently heard had consumed me. It’s scary to think, but I believed them. I believed something was inherently wrong with me, that I couldn’t be loved or liked. If the people closest to me couldn’t tolerate me, then who could? Inevitably, I somewhat became the person I was afraid of being. I hid myself which made me miserable, and miserable people are no fun to be around. There were glimpses of hope, times where my eyes would light up, I’d dish out some of my very dry humor, and I’d crack a wry smile. Then I’d wall myself off, ashamed of that side of me.
Texts messages, emails, and false promises hurt just as badly from 3000 miles away, unfortunately. However, being in a new place and sensing a ‘new beginning’ encourages you to break out of your shell. I’m slowly making friends and charming people the way I used to. Not everyone is turned off by my lack of filter, and instead react favorably to my candidness. Even my boss commented, “You’re such a sweet, honest person. I’d like to get to know you better and communicate with you more.” We’ve since had discussions on numerous topics. Even when we disagree, I don’t get flamed or ridiculed for my opinion. It’s a wonderful feeling!
Long story short, to those of you struggling with your relationships in life, constantly trying to change who you are to gain acceptance, remember that your loved and liked by way more people than you think. Take a time-out, and reflect long and hard on what YOU want out of this life and how YOU are going to obtain happiness. No one is in charge of that but you, and there is no one to blame but yourself! I’m disappointed I wasted my time listening to toxic words coming from people projecting their misery.
Right after we moved in, I REALLY wanted to get the yard in decent shape. Although we live in the city, we’re on a large (to us) lot. It feels especially big when you’re spending days on end picking up trash, pulling up invasive vines, digging up rugged bushes, etc. I started on the back yard, but decided my time would be better spent on the front yard first. The back yard needs a ton of landscaping which we probably won’t get to until this fall.
Chris helped out initially, until he began demolition on the guest bathroom. We tidied up the house as best we could when my dad came to visit for a day a week after we got in. Then, it was time to get dirty. I spent every spare hour out in the yard while Chris worked up a sweat in the bathroom. We were both tearing up our respecting projects, but mine was looking better while his was looking worse. Sometimes, it has to get worse before it gets better!
First, I learned that the right tool for the job is a lifesaver. Chris initially picked me up some gloves and small gardening tools. The kinds of things you see old ladies using in movies. “Surely,” I thought, “if all I need are those little tools, this should be a piece of cake.” WRONG. I’ve never done yard work before, but boy-oh-boy was I in for a thrill. I woke up in the morning with sausage fingers, unable to even curl my hands into a fist. It was pathetic. Plus, add on severe back, ab, oblique, leg, shoulder, forearm, and wrist pain. What the heck, these old ladies must be hosses!
However, with lots of pain comes lots of progress. It took about a week, but we got that front lawn in tip top shape!
Woo hoo. Haven’t posted here in a while. I hardly know where to start.
Somewhere around mid-January, Chris and I headed out to good ‘ol Joshua Tree to check out the bouldering and trad climbing. Josh was one of my first outdoor climbing experiences, way back three years ago. I was brand new to the climbing scene, and hardly knew what to do with an ATC. I had never rappelled before when I found myself at the top of a long pitch, having followed up behind Chris. Before I knew it, cling cling cling, down went my ATC, bouncing off the crystalline granite. I turned to Chris with a horrified look on my face. What were we going to do? How would I get down? He gathered himself, instructed me to take his device and rap down. “What are you going to do?” I asked. “Don’t worry,” he said. I rapped down, only to find out our rope wasn’t long enough and I would have to down climb the last 20ft. It was an ‘easy’ slab, but you quickly discover that nothing is easy in Josh. I managed to hit the ground in one piece, and Chris rapped down after me using a Munter hitch. Google that one if you’re curious.
Surprisingly, my ATC wasn’t far off. I saw the gold piece shining behind a bush. I picked it up, elated. I figured as long as it was intact, I could use it again. Nope. Chris took it from me and showed me how it was dented and jagged where the rope runs through it. I had to buy a new one. So off to the gear shop we went, and I got myself a new gold ATC.
So that’s my best Joshua Tree story. Takeaway lessons include, don’t drop your rappel device (or anything for that matter), and ALWAYS make sure your rope is on the ground before rappelling off without a care in the world. Best to have a few tricks in your basket in case things don’t go as planned. I’ve added a few tricks to mine, and I feel a lot more confident on top of a formation now.
Back to the current road trip. Chris and I had been discussing off and on about buying an investment property near climbing, living in it for a year or two, reselling it, and taking the gains to road trip some more. On our way out to California this year, we put a call into a realtor to get started. We visited a couple of houses off the bat, but were appalled at their condition. We had somewhat high standards, since we were looking at resale potential. It had to be in a desirable area, with a lot of room to grow, not too much work but enough that we could do ourselves (no major structural damage or health hazards like lead or asbestos), very safe, three bed and two bath since this is what sells most quickly, a decent layout since moving walls would be $$$$, a corner lot, good size lot for privacy, all for a reasonable price.
Our realtor was kind of moaning and groaning, tell his how difficult it would be to find what we wanted in our price range. Low and behold, a week later a property came on the market that was just what we were looking for. We didn’t beat around the bush, and got straight into escrow. The guy who owned the house was a pain, but everything eventually lined up and we closed. So we now have a house, in California, with climbing all around us. From Josh and Tramway to Black Mountain to Bishop to Vegas and beyond, we are incredibly excited about the climbing opportunities.
Unfortunately, since things moved so quickly, we didn’t get much time to climb in Josh. However, I did discover that the trad climbing out here is fantastic, but the bouldering is very hit or miss. The bouldering style seems to be extremely height dependent based on our limited experience, which is strange to me considering it’s granite. I’ve always really enjoyed granite because I feel less restricted that way. I can usually find intermediate feet that make moves work. Maybe we just need to spend some more time out there. There is just SO much stone, gems must exist. A lot of wading is inevitable with that much rock around.
We’ve been here for a week on the dot, and are enjoying it so far. It’s a tremendous workload, but I hope we enjoy a break from the road for a bit. Who knows. I’m already missing it terribly, but I’m hopefuly that once we get more settled that desire will fade. Temporarily, at least.
So, year, we now have an awesome, hard, inspirational, long-term project to keep us motivated. The faster we get things accomplished, the faster we can resell and get back to doing our favorite thing… dirt bagging! Expect lots of posts on remodeling and visiting surrounding climbing areas. Things are about to get CRAZY!
Well, we’re home. We arrived at the beginning of last week. We were kind of bummed that we couldn’t stay out climbing longer, but we were running out of stuff to do. We’ve begun a training regimen to stay in shape and motivated for Cali in January/February, weather dependent. I’ll provide a brief outline of that in the next post. For now, I’ll wrap up what we’ve been up to since the last time I checked in.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but we didn’t experience the best weather for humidity and temperature dependent sandstone. All throughout November and early December, temps were in the 70′s, humidity in the 80-90′s, with a blazing sun. Although it only rained a handful of times the entire time we were on the road, the stone often felt damp. During crappy conditions, I did my best to avoid banging my head against the wall by trying nearly every V5, V6, and V7 in Stone Fort. Of course, that only took about a week. Stone Fort is no Font. It’s a nice little climbing area, but it’s just that… little. I really enjoy interspersing long-term projects with climbs that I can complete in a day or two. It helps me stay on the learning curve and maintain a positive attitude. Once I had maxed out all the moderates, I was left only with long-term projects. Unfortunately, since I’ve been staying off crimps and focusing on open hand strength, I was screwed. Slopers and humidity do not mix! I threw myself (and sometimes my shoes, my brush, my fists) at slimy, crystalline dishes that baked in the sun.
Chris kicked my butt, per usual, putting down nearly every V7 and V8 he tried. He sent Spanky V8 2nd day as well as The Pinch (V7/V8 depending on who you ask). He worked a bit on Biggie Shortie V10 and Electric Bugaloo V10, which at least were in the shade full time. I got tired of hearing Chris recommend Cleopatra V8 to everyone in the park, so I jumped on it at the end of the day one afternoon. I shocked myself with an ascent in under half a dozen attempts. Good to know I can still climb small hold balance climbs!
With both of us feeling kind of down, I decided to get my trad game on. I’ve been saying ever since I led my first trad line that my goal is to become a competent 5.10 crack climber. We had been climbing every third day on at a small, scrappy cliff below Stone Fort called Leda. I was leading my usual 5.7s and 5.8s, struggling to overcome the mental hurdle of breaking into 5.9s and 10s that involve more jamming. However, I experienced a bit of a breakthrough at Stone Fort while working and eventually sending a V1 finger crack. The bottom was quite difficult since it was wide fingers for me. There were very few feet outside of the crack, so I really had to trust the insecure jams. I heaved and grunted my way to the top, super proud to have stuck with it long enough to figure out the lower sequence. Crack boulders are a new favorite!
Our last day out at Leda, I was able to climb a 5.8 face climb which shared anchors with a 5.9 crack, allowing me to toprope the 5.9. The crux wound up being face climbing over a small bulge/roof, but it was still a confidence boost getting through a 5.9.
This was around the beginning of December. Chris’ skin was giving him a ton of trouble, and he had accumulated three or four holes in his fingers. We opted out of paying the $10 day fee at Stone Fort since we were both somewhat burned out on the area. We tried a new trad area called Sunset which was supposed to have tons of great, high-quality easy lines. Unfortunately, the entire cliff is West facing, which means it never sees the light of day. We headed out one morning when the high for the day was 55, and we were miserable. 55 in the sun tends to feel like 75, while 55 in the shade tends to feel like 32. I was incredibly disappointed, since the climbs appeared to be a blast.
On to plan B. We talked about making a short trip down to HP40 and staying at a nearby WalMart as opposed to paying the camping fee to stay in the park. There would be lots of new moderates for Chris and I to enjoy while Chris healed up, and I’d get a new round of projects to attempt. We were certainly ready for a change of scenery. At the last minute, we discovered that the WalMart did not permit car-camping. We were already over budget since we had just bought a spankin’ new (and horribly expensive) battery for the car. Camping in the park at $15/day/person simply wasn’t reasonable for us.
We nixed HP40 and instead headed down to Rocktown. We played around for a few days, not sending much. Once a heat wave rolled in, back to Sunset we drove. We were not disappointed. The climbing was incredible. I choked down my nerves and managed to send a few 5.10s. I’m still waiting to take a fall on my gear! Poor Chris, while I was belaying him from the top of a long, wandering 5.10, he fell just above a ledge. With rope stretch, he would up hitting it with the side of his booty. I heard a yelp, thought the worst, then heard, ‘”Climbing!” He finished the pitch just find, but with a bruised ego.
What ended up sending us home was soaking wet rock. We headed out one especially humid morning, made the 1.5hr hike only to find seeping, dripping rock. It wasn’t damp, it was pouring droplets. We were super bummed! It was supposed to rain the next day, and things were forecast to cool down considerably. We made the decision to head home early and start a training program. We’re nearly finished with the first phase, which has been kicking our butts. Can’t wait to share it! Happy Holidays, all! I’ll upload some pictures and video to Facebook soon.
Just a quick post. I’m excited to report that Chris and I both sent our first V8 of Stone Fort, one after the other, second attempt of the day on each. I have included video of Chris’ ascent of Cleopatra. The climb I completed, Grimace, is hard to shoot since it’s in a corridor. Maybe we’ll go back and film, who knows. It was a super fun climb, one that I wouldn’t mind doing a few more times. Also in the video is a slab that we flailed up at the end of the day called High Tide, V6. Enjoy!
P.S. – For those wondering, I did Grimace the ‘approved’ way, without using the arete and pocket/slot. Only the locals seem to know that the climb is an eliminate!
We’ve finished up our fourth day of climbing in Chattanooga. The weather has been inconsistent, so we haven’t been able to climb as much as we would have liked. Nonetheless, we’re having fun and learning a lot.
We ran into a little car trouble in Rocktown just before leaving. We were packing up the car one night when it died, suddenly. Luckily, a van next to us had jumper cables and we were able to power it back up. We had hoped we had left a light on during the day and the battery wasn’t toasted. We woke up the next morning to a dead car, again. We asked several people for a jump, but no one had cables. Stupid, stupid Nicole. I ALWAYS keep jumper cables in the car, but forgot them at home this time. Naturally. The first time we run into car trouble I forget the jumper cables.
We ended up waiting around until noon for the people in the van to wake up and give us another jump. We drove straight into town to Auto Zone, where it was confirmed that our battery was done. Auto Zone would be able to order us a new one from their store in Chattanooga and have it in Lafayette by 4pm. We shopped around a little bit to see if we could get a better price, but no such luck. $200 later, our car was good to go. Yeah, the small battery in the Prius (not the hybrid battery) is incredibly pricey, mainly because it goes in the back instead of the front.
We left Rocktown last Sunday morning and headed to Chattanooga. Our first stop was Rock/Creek, an outdoor store. Chris brought along a new pair of Katana laces for when his old pair blew out, but they turned out to be the wrong size. The only sense we can make of it is that, recently, La Sportiva modified the fit of the Katana Lace. Chris was tremendously bummed since that was the only stiff shoe he brought. We debated immediately driving to Rock/Creek to pick up another stiff pair, but Chris decided to hold off. Rock/Creek didn’t have anything in stock that Chris wanted, so he ordered a pair of Scarpa Feroces. We’re expecting them to arrive any day now, and Chris is getting more excited by the minute.
We’ve been having a good time in Chattanooga since then, despite the capricious weather. Chris’ tick list has grown exponentially to the point where I can’t even list his accomplishments. He ticked A Face in the Crowd, V7, the first day out. It’s a super crimpy line in a tiny alcove. He was sure it wouldn’t go down, but after a short break he knocked it out. It couldn’t have taken him longer than a half an hour of effort.
Meanwhile, I worked on Grimace, a super slopey V8. At first, sitting beneath the climb and feeling around on the holds, I didn’t think I could do a single move. Shortly thereafter, I was linking the first 1/2 of the climb. Then I linked the second half. Just gotta piece it all together! I need to go back and figure out the deceptively hard and pumpy topout. I’m excited to start putting in send burns!
That same day, Chris played around on Celestial Mechanics (V7) while I gave a shot or two at Spanky (V8). Temps, temps, temps! It was humid and WARM which made the rock slick. The rumors we’ve heard are true… Stone Fort is very temperature dependent!
Chris and I also put down Sternum, a classic V5 that fools any non-local. The grades given in the South are based on a different system than elsewhere. Climbs in Stone Fort can be quite beta-intensive, and grades are assigned assuming all the beta has been sussed out. In other words, the grade is given based on the ‘most efficient method’ which is often not very obvious. Favorable temps are also assumed. It’s a running joke that climbs vary +- three V-grades depending on temperature and humidity! Although the South has a reputation of being exceptionally sand-bagged, we haven’t found that to be the case at Stone Fort, which is considered by most to be the best bouldering area in the South. In fact, despite significant recent downgrades, Stone Fort doesn’t seem as tough as Rocktown. We may be proven wrong in time, however.
After two days of rain, we were able to hit the rock again. It was still very humid and warm. Chris managed to put down Cinderella, V7, almost immediately. I struggled the first day, but hit my stride the second. I ended up sending the Pinch, V7/8, and Chris nearly ticked Cleopatra, V8, falling off the last hard move a handful of times. We both did Shotgun, V6, fairly quickly, and Chris says it’s his favorite V6 to date. We played around on some V5 and V4 slabs near Space Odyssey (blanking on their names). They were excellent! I’m happy to get on some crazy foot-work dependent slabs again. I’ve been climbing so much power lately. I also attempted Kingpin, V6, with the static start, not realizing that it was a Font-style start where you jump off the ground to get to the second hold. I’ll have to go back for that one!
Yesterday was a trad day out at the Chickamauga Creek Gorge. We’ve been wanting to check out T-Wall, but have heard numerous horror stories about vandalism in the parking lot. We have far too much to lose if our car gets broken in to. Chickamauga, although likely not near the quality of T-Wall, was a fun learning experience. I did my two hardest leads, nearly bursting into tears on one of them. We climbed three 5.8s, but they were SERIOUS. Chris nearly got killed by a falling branch when the wind picked up halfway through the day, the same wind that blew in the storm that we’re experiencing today. No joke, it missed him by inches. It was the wildest thing to watch. We were standing at the cliff, waiting on our last climb which was occupied by another party. All of a sudden, I hear a *CRACK*, process that it came from above us, and dove in toward the cliff, hoping to be saved by a roof. Chris stood still as a statue, merely raising his arms over his head to protect himself. I watch as a branch soars down just beside him. It may as well have been played in slow motion. My heart pounding, I ask, “Are you ok? Why didn’t you move?!” He was in complete shock, only managed a half-hearted chuckle, turned around to take a first glance at the missile that almost killed him, and walked in toward the cliff. He doesn’t have the best reaction time, to say the least!
We finally got to climb the last pitch just as the storm clouds were rolling in. As I was busy balking at the crux move, a guy from below shouted to me, “Your gear looks great! Stick your foot in the crack and reach up to the jug!” I shouted down, “You make it sound so simple!” He replied, “It is!” My ass it is… I stuck my foot in the crack, locked off, grabbed a credit card crimp, locked off again, grabbed another tiny crimp, and THEN found a decent hold. Height makes a difference! I also laughed to myself at the fact that the guy could assess my pieces from 60ft below. Luckily, I can assess my own gear, I knew it was good, and went for it. It was a wonderful day of learning!
Today, we sit in Starbucks waiting for good weather. It has been pouring rain all day. I just hope it quits long enough for us to pack up the car and make our bed tonight!
A week or two ago, Dave Graham (a famous pro climber) wrote a new blog post. Chris read it and told me it was excellent, and he highly recommended I read it immediately. I was in the middle of something else (nothing at all, really) and forgot about it. I always enjoy Dave’s posts, so I almost prefer to save them and stash them away for a treat.
Today, I read the post. I should have done so as soon as Chris suggested. As I mentioned some blog post or two ago, I’ve been struggling since we’ve been on the road. Two weeks of steroids, two weeks of illness and recovery, plus other nonsense in my personal life have left me drained and feeling blue. I wanted to run away from home like we usually do this time of year and beat myself up on any problem I could get my hands on. Ever since January, I’ve felt like I’ve hit obstacle after obstacle, and experienced setback after setback. All I want to do is try hard. That doesn’t seem like too much to ask for!
Dave’s post is all about trying hard. I love to try hard. In fact, I like to try hard more than I like to accomplish a goal or ‘send’ a rig. It’s the entire process of peering up at a bloc of stone, smiling, shaking your head because you know it’s beyond you, throwing your pad down anyway because, in Dave’s words, “Why just go back to where we came from when we could find out a little, ya know?” Even if I could learn one move, my time would be well spent. I don’t even mean complete one move, I just mean learn the general mechanics of making the move even if I don’t have the strength to do it myself at the moment.
I do my good deed for the day, brush out all the holds even though I’m likely not to be able to pull on a single one. I pop on some shoes, don’t even tie the laces, gently palpate the start holds and the next set of holds, think about how a ‘good’ climber would start the problem. I pull on a couple of times (if I’m lucky) with no intent of giving it any real effort. I just want to put my feelers out. I become a bit more comfortable and begin getting after it. I’ll try to figure a little something out. When I’ve decided I’ve spent enough time on the first move, even if I can’t make any sense of it, I attempt the second move. I try each move in isolation until I can’t reach up any further. I tire myself out with this process, slough off entirely too much skin, and venture forth to find something more ‘within my limits’.
Often times, that ends up being my last encounter with the problem. I tell myself, “You gave it a good shot. You always need to play around on problems that are impossible for you. Take away what you can. You’ll have to get a lot stronger to have a chance in hell of sending that one. Let that motivate you.”
There are rare occasions where I return to the ‘impossible’. A lot of times it’s because it’s a weekend and crazy busy, so I just get on whatever is free. Or Chris is working another project in the vicinity. Or I’ve run out of things to do and ‘it’ is all that is left.
This such instance recently occurred out at Rocktown. The problem is given a grade of V7 which is a grade I am capable of climbing in a day if it suits me well enough. This was no such boulder, however. It consisted of small slopers with tricky, slick feet and huge, powerful moves. I spent a full two days simply working out beta, deciphering sequences that would work for me since God knows I can’t just climb it like a ladder the way the boys do. Oh, how I so often desire to climb straight up like the strong are capable of! Alas, I relate to Dave in this manner. I seem to piece together the most unlikely methods of ascending a hunk of rock.
After two days working out the moves, I was able to start putting in ‘send’ goes. The problem took so much out of me that I was only able to spend at most a half hour on it before I was spent. Two more days passed. I cockily even set up the video camera. I thought I was that close. Four days on a V7 and no send. I felt pathetic. Similar to Dave, I pondered… What would my friends say? What would my friends think? I’m so weak! This climb is so easy for some people. Is it just hard for me? Is it hard for others? Do I give it a personal grade? I consider it to be the hardest line I’ve tried to date. Why can’t I just DO it? It’s ONE move I’m struggling on! The last hard move. I can do it in isolation time and time again. From the ground, it appears impossible. Why? I can get to it, fall off, jump right back on, and stick it. Why am I so weak? Chris flashed a V7 the other day. Well, almost. He tried the first move a year and a half ago and ripped a hole in his finger. It hardly counts. I wish I could flash something. I wish I could SEND something.
Who hasn’t experienced this process. Another thought that enters my mind is, “I’ve spent all this time and effort on ONE climb. I’ve obsessed over ONE climb which has totally overshadowed many other climbs in the area. Who knows what I could have accomplished by now if I had just let this one slide!”
Dave brings up the real question. My hero puts it all in perspective. Would I be more proud of this climb if I had flashed it? Or sent it within a day? No. Never. I love to try hard. I’m such an idiot! Why do I like climbing? Because I love learning. Because I love the puzzle. Because I love feeling the tension in my muscles, I love being pumped, I love grunting because my core is so tight, I love falling. I love slapping up worthless slopers, I love feeling panicked while knowing I’m safe if all hell comes loose. I love losing myself in the process of a hard ascent. Yes, hard for me. What difference does it make if a gumby can walk my project? I can congratulate them, be enamored with their strength, tenacity, and oblivion of what could go wrong, of not sending.
I’ve never understood the purpose in setting goals because I am so infatuated with the process. When I flash something, I downgrade it immediately. I don’t feel proud. There was nothing to it. A lot of people see flashing (finishing a route on the first attempt) as the display of mastery. Flashing at your limit means everything comes together perfectly, you read everything right, nothing is in your mind except the present, it’s the feeling of complete control and pure flow. It’s fun to flash, but it’s not why I climb. I am more a Sharma or Dave type, where it’s the journey that drives me. The pressure to achieve a goal stems from something, someone beyond me. As soon as the trek has ended, following my moment of elation is a sensation of doubt, somberness, and contemplation. It’s over? Already? Now what? I’m lost without the grueling and painful failure! I immediately pick up something else to drown myself in, to think about, dream about, a heroine addict desperate for a hit. Ah, yes. My obsession has its place. And its on a bully of a rock that I wrestle to death.
I need to remember that the desire to ‘tick’, to accomplish, to beef up my resume, isn’t actually what I want. That’s societal pressure. What are you doing with your life if you have nothing to show for it? From Dave’s post, Who wants to watch failure over and over again? It’s depressing! No, it’s inspiring! You’re all wrong! If you measure life by what you have to show for it, I have nothing. I’m just a poor, pathetic, dirtbag loser. Reality is, I think I have a better grasp of what life is about than a lot of my more successful peers. I’m happy. I’m happy falling, failing, trying, hurting, obsessing, yelling, laughing, and taking it ALL in when I watch the sunset while seated atop our crash pad, freezing, with a beer in hand and our ‘house’ two feet away parked on the most level spot we could find. Am I dreaming? No, this is my life! The only thing missing is Dave Graham as a climbing partner.
By the way, we’re now in Chattanooga for a month or so. I’ll be back for my ‘nemesis rig’, don’t you worry. In the mean time, enjoy video capture of my last failed attempt on my project. It was hot, so excuse the naked immodesty.
Chris has sent his first V8 of the trip, Bionic Rats. The temps dropped and he floated it. He’s killin’ it out here!
Here are two new recipes we’ve tried. Both were excellent, although we made some alterations.
1. We used cilantro instead of parsley. (WalMart didn’t have parsley??? True story.)
2. We also used white wine instead of broth because that’s what we had and we couldn’t find vegetable broth at WalMart.
3. Used Italian Seasoning instead of thyme.
4. Used barley instead of couscous.
5. Skipped the lemon rind.
6. Chris added sharp provolone.
1. Used barley instead of noodles.
2. Used red wine vinegar instead of brown rice.
3. Used honey instead of agave.
4. Used dried ginger and garlic.
5. Skipped the lime, carrots, and peanuts to save $.
Don’t worry about seeding the cucumber. I also didn’t measure anything. I mixed the sauce ingredients until it tasted good to me. That’s how I roll! I already had most of the ingredients, so all I had to buy was the cucumber and bell pepper.
Both of these recipes were done in 20 minutes or less. Fast, easy, and cheap. Win, win, win.
The last couple of days have been a blur. Thursday was a wonderful rest day where we were able to shower (for free), eat breakfast at our favorite little diner called Susie’s ($2 gets you an egg with biscuits and gravy or an egg with toast and grits), go grocery shopping, and hangout in the library.
After driving back up the mountain to our camping spot, we found that the weekend crowds had rolled in. We noticed a large RV parked near our usual spot. Climbers don’t usually bring their RVs on weekend trips. And it appeared that the RV had been parked and left with no one home. Strange.
We woke up in the morning and followed our usual routine. We hiked out to the boulder field, but were stopped in the parking lot by a couple of rangers asking to see our Georgia Outdoor Recreation Pass. Chris whipped it out, totally prepared. The rangers proceeded to notify us that the forest was being opened to hunters over the weekend and climbing would not be permitted during that time. That came as a shock to us. We quickly came up with a plan to climb for the day then drive to Stone Fort that evening and climb there the following day.
We started the morning off on the right foot over near the Police Brutality area. We climbed three stellar lines, a V0, V1, and V2, all highballs, to warm up. They were a riot and got my head back in a good place. I’ve been struggling with the climbing at Rocktown, getting shut down on moves that my body isn’t physically capable of accomplishing. I haven’t even been able to find climbs to work on that interested me.
Over near Police Brutality is a 25ft tall V6 named The Guillotine. It is a vertical climb composed of miniscule, sharp crimps. Although a style I excel at, it’s not especially a style I enjoy. Regardless, I was happy to find something to play around on and, after taking the fall a couple of times and recognizing it was safe, I put the rig to rest. Chris merely chuckled when I asked him whether he was going to try it. Highballs aren’t exactly his thing, and I can’t blame him!
We hiked back up to Digital Scales, Chris’ project for the moment. He is making excellent progress on it. Only thing is, he can only give it a few good go’s before being wiped out. The problem requires such incredible body tension that you can’t even breathe during the couple of minutes you’re attempting it. It’s impressive to watch.
Once Chris was ready for a break, we explored another problem that I was interested in making my project. Unfortunately, the bottom compression moves are too wide for my wing span. I think there is a way of avoiding the widest compression move, but I’m not strong enough yet to work it that way. Perhaps in time!
We headed back up and over a couple of boulders to Digital Scales. We found another guy on it, as well as another local on The Vagina, a V7 roof problem. We quickly made friends with the guy sessioning The Vagina. His name is Zach, he is originally from Southern California, but recently moved to Atlanta (we discovered it was for a girl). We talked a bunch with him, and eventually spent some time playing around on the problem he was working. We all watched the guy who was projecting Digital Scales nearly complete the problem, but come flying off on the top out only to skid down the boulder behind him. It hurt to even watch. Chris decided then and there he would get to the lip and drop and not attempt the insanely dangerous top out.
Zach, Chris, and I were all making good links on The Vagina. Chris and I were growing tired, however, and decided to move on. We wished Zach the best of luck, and he ended up sending soon thereafter. I quickly climbed a funky V5 (funky is always in my style, haha), Breaking and Entering, just for fun and we headed out.
We hiked back to the car and made a quick dinner. We were interrupted by a group of hillbillies who were trying to build a fire composed entirely of leaves right beside us, enveloping us in a cloud of smoke. I did the best I could to hastily pack up the car before we and all of our possessions absorbed the stench of campfire.
We drove to Soddy-Daisy, the little town where Stone Fort is located and picked up a Sonic Blast for good measure. Don’t ask me how we lose weight on the road when we’re constantly indulging in large ice creams and breakfasts.
We arose in the morning and got out to Stone Fort bright and early. We cackled as a young guy shrieked, darted, and dodged around in the parking lot while a bee played predator. I think the bee was as amused as we were. Why are guys so afraid of bees, anyway?
I led the way out into the boulder field. You know, when we’re out west, I always say, “Sure, the east is pretty, but nothing compares to the west.” I think that up until I’m in the magical, enchanting forests of the east. Their charm seems to be even more captivating than the undulating plains and mountainous terrain of the west. You can nearly hear the fairies sing and feel the lightness of their dancing feet in your own as you walk through the fallen, tousled leaves. The colored foliage, the swaying trees, the spotty rays of sunlight that dazzle the climber and give life and character to the stagnate bloc he is wrestling… it’s magnificent, hypnotizing.
I walked a ways until I could no longer hear the hoards of climbs that stop once they reach the first boulder they see. I eyeballed The Pinch, a short, powerful little problem. Chris was mesmerized by a wall to its right, slightly overhanging in nature with horizontal slashes throughout its face. We scampered down a hill to warm up, scampered back up to jump on a V2 mantle problem, tried to drag our butts off a hunk of stone that sat inconveniently under a V5 roof, and came back to what attracted us in the first place.
Awkward V2 mantleness
We each worked on our problems for an hour or two, taking turns while others gave them a burn. We both made great links. In both cases, the only thing holding us back was a pesky, slick foothold that would blow at the very last second. My problem consisted mostly of slopers with uncomfortable feet that always seemed to be too high or too low. I was able to link the entire first half, and the entire second half, but not the two together. As soon as I bumped out to a sloping, crimp sidepull and caught it, my foot would slip before I could complete the next bump. Temps were in the high-70′s with the sun blazing. I wanted to send desperately as I felt damn close, but I eventually moved on to scope out other problems during our limited stay. Chris ran out of skin on his line, skidding off of crimps with tiny, pebble inclusions that ripped him to shreds. An Evolv athlete reassured me that The Pinch was no V7, but a solid V8. That’s how it goes in the South… Classics are often sandbagged. Hopefully, I can put it to rest the next time we’re here!
I sat down underneath a drag of a V5 and decided not to give up any more time or skin. We found a baller looking V6 that started underneath a steep roof and traversed the lip to finish on a savage top out. It took me a while of simply staring at the boulder to envision the moves and to chalk some holds. I finally managed to figure out what beta worked for me and was linking to just before the top-out. At the end, you’re bear hugging the overhanging arete and convincing yourself to launch for a barely-there, grainy sloper. I had to climb the ending a number of times before deciphering what was going to work.
Chris sessioned the problem with me, even though the stone was NOT kind to the skin and his was destroyed. He also linked up until the top-out, but couldn’t handle the burning pain on his fingertips any more. Once he was finished, I gave it one more go, but missed the finishing sloper. I stomped and pouted, and angrily jumped right back on with hardly a break. Alas, I grabbed the sloper, slapped it to match with my right hand, squeezed with all my might and closed my eyes to get my foot up, desperately reached for a sidepull crimp, then held my breath while standing up, hoping not to slip at the final moment. Whoo! I told Chris that that was the hardest I have ever worked for a V6, and it was a proud send for me!
Our skin was wrinkled as dried prunes and bruised to boot, and we were famished. We called it a day. I am SO excited to return. We headed back to WalMart, made an AWESOME dinner (our favorite to date), got a turtle pecan cluster blizzard at Dairy Queen (holy crap, it was delicious), and hung out at Starbucks for the evening. We had IHOP this morning, too. Oh no, we’re becoming southerners! Everything is closed in LaFayette on Sundays, so we’ll stay in Chattanooga for the day before driving back to Rocktown tonight with new stoke to burn.