Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Four weeks with Jack Frost. Part 1.

Jet lag settled upon me. At times I felt drunk and unstable; ready to burst with some sort of emotional explosion of gratitude tinged with nervousness. I had just flown from Munich to Montreal on a gamble. The World Cup circuit was coming up and qualifying required a visit to the homeland. I had waited in Munich for permission to get a wild card to do the comps and so avoid the hefty trip overseas but it never came for my deadline. My rational said to go for the regionals and nationals. That way, if I blew one comp, at least I had a back up...! :)

jumping on a plane!
Having received no answer days before regionals I followed my intuition and searched for a ticket. The one obstacle: paying for it. My visa had already expressed its unhappiness with me incurred from the last two years. The only option left was decided out of pure desperation: to take up an offer from an old friend. So here's a big shout out to Kimanda of Boulders gym in Stelleys who not only covered one of our flights but who also has been a source of unwavering faith in me and my abilities. Thank you Kimanda!

Upon arriving in Montreal the email I had awaited for arrived. The CEC had decided to defer any decisions until nationals as there were a lot of female climbers pining for a spot on the team. Finally, as much as I questioned the sanity and financial irresponsibility of my decision, I had made the right call. 

All I had to do now was compete. Avoiding the pressure to do well was ideal, yet exactly how to achieve that was uncertain. I put an immediate halt to my training program which was in the middle of a strength phase and detailed no prep for comp format. The last european session consisted of Alex shouting strange German words at me to try harder while I climbed to the ring of 5 on, 5 off. 

One day later, I arrived, unpacked and packed again for the weekend trip to regionals. Although incredibly jet lagged, I didn't feel so much nervousness as I did excitement. Many an old friend was within reach not just emotionally as they have been before but now physically. This was something I had yearned for many a time while in Europe. Coming home aroused in me a reminder of where I was from and surprisingly, a yearning to want to come back sooner than thought. It had been so long that the paper bills of my country changed. When I asked a friend when this happened she replied two years ago. Again I asked, questioningly as if I had heard wrong. She smiled and repeated the same answer, 'yes, two years.'

Coming for Regionals proved a good warm up for nationals. I hadn't climbed on North American type problems for some time though the problems at nationals proved more along this line. Regionals qualifiers were surprisingly easy, making it a flash fest, quickly reminding me how the Tour de Bloc comps worked. I made it into finals which were more interesting and a bit tougher which  reminded me of my mental weaknesses in competition.

For the first problem I underestimated the first long move and came up too short but pulled it off second go. Problem 2 had a long lock off to a crimp which I was within a cm to getting behind but not close enough. At problem 3 my head left me. This line had a long reach requiring balance, relaxation and a trust in ones abilities. I confused the beta on my first try, figured it for the second but continued to fall because of climbing in a less than ideal fashion: panicked and rushed. I continued with that neurotic behavior until my 5 minutes were up. My frustration with the problem and for not being able to keep my cool got to me. As much as I tried to let it go, I carried some of that frustration to the last problem which I arrived at in survival mode with a mouth drier than the Sierra desert. Half way up the problem my heel popped off as I had placed it too fast and clumsily. Second try I took more care but continued to over grip my way to the top. The results weren't horrible but that didn't matter. I was not content with my performance and knew I could do better. My insides wondered what happened to the words I had mentally rehearsed: relaxed, strong, confident? After the comp I returned to problem 3 and did it with ease. Unsure of whether this made me feel better as it felt the easiest overall, if anything, it showed me what kind of mental state I need to be in at these comps: calm, cool and collect.

With that I returned to Montreal to feast and train with long lost friends. With just three weeks till Nationals I vowed to work on my mental side, train a ton, practice my French and try a little diaper free with baby Izzy. The trip home had just started and Korean, Japanese and Thai were already on the menu. This will be over in a flash I told myself. Better suck it up! 

part two coming soon. Thanks for reading.

Mes amis
BlocShop- New bouldering gym opening up in Montreal!
My most wonderful hosts. J'adore.
Fred is psyched for the comp!
A bad shot of ISO
Supper number One

Supper number Two

Sunday, February 16, 2014

backs, whips and a time out

The 80 year old came out of me this week. Rather the 99 year old. But to be honest, I haven’t met many 99 year olds, so I guess I haven’t really a fair comparison. There is one lady that I remember distinctly though. She was a retired ‘sister’ and lived in a retirement home in Melbourne, Australia where all the other retired sisters and fathers lived of that particular sect. It was the location I chose for a photo essay that I was doing for school. The home was in one of the older buildings in Melbourne making the backdrop quite beautiful and characteristic. The people there were so curious about the black box which I held in my hand and asked why I chose to go there and photograph ‘a bunch of old people’. The answer, reflected in my eyes but not in my voice wanted to express because you're a beautiful shining piece of gold vibrating with so much wisdom and love…how could I not?’ Although their bodies were slow, their eyes sparkled with life and a sense of peace that spoke of a time long past. They were there and would remain there until they left this planet. I was there just for a couple days trying to capture something that in a sense cannot be captured.

Perhaps that's a strange story to relate in a climbing blog but we all get old right? At least most of us will. I threw my back out last week, pretty intensely for the first time in my life. Although my mind felt young, my slow moving body felt otherwise. The week brought on slow and painful movements with two days of being unable to really walk. When it started to improve I could walk down the street but the sixty year old would pass me. Obviously climbing was out of the picture as was any sort of physical activity. I felt like a thirty year old in retirement and a new sense of compassion filled my body for those who have to endure chronic pain day in and day out. I just really hoped this wasn’t what it was going to be like for me when my turn came around for the rocking chair.

I do think there is a reason and season for many things. Sometimes shit just happens but this time around, it was my doing. I was overtraining. I am just so god dam psyched how can I not? I simply love climbing. And when it comes to anything related to climbing such as training and throwing my body through the ringer, pushing to exhaustion…this creates so many feelings of aliveness; to have a body and actually use it. I know this isn’t the smartest or most productive way to train. We’re only human and although in our minds we feel we can go on forever, these bodies do not.

And so I was forced to stop. Everything. For the last week I have sat and pondered what climbing meant to me, among other things and at least managed to finish writing my training program. I was a little annoyed that it had all come to an unexpected halt. But the rest was welcome. I was exhausted. My body had also been pinned down by a flu which seems to come hand in hand with overtraining. But I’d be fair to my back; it did give me some warning. When it started hurting I opted for easy climbing over a hard session. The next day was worse so I rested from climbing and opted for a light jog in the between the trees which in itself would heal anything. Wrong. The next day was payback time for ignoring the little voice inside of me which said don’t climb, don’t run, rest, be still… I could barely stand, walk, let alone move.

The "walking" Man of Munich

The only thing I could do is surrender to the wishes of my body. Rest, rest and more rest. I finally saw this as an opportunity to put my feet back on the ground, to start listening again, to hear what my body is saying and wanting. I thought about my tendency to over train and wondered if it’s something that just comes along with certain types of personalities.  Phillip Seymour Hoffman died that week from a drug overdose. Drugs are addictive and bad for the body. So is overtraining. It could easily end one’s climbing life. So how does one find balance? To know when it’s too much? Too understand how to get stronger and improve without over doing it. To stop when you know you should even though the climbing and training speak louder, shouting at you how much fun they bring you, making walking away even harder.

My best training partner and I getting at it

Maybe the answer is not so complicated. Could it be that the voice within me that was telling me to slow down, to not climb, to not run, is the answer? The voice within who silently whispers, ok that's the last set, the last lap, the last try. When ignoring what comes up from the depths of our being; we learn from consequence that this guidance is unfailingly right. Disobeying never seems to really pay off except in lessons and reminders for the next time to heed its wisdom. In retrospect a sigh comes and yes, I was told and yes, I ignored. But like a constant presence at our side, it gives us chance after chance to listen. It’s always showing and guiding us to our highest good and our best interest even if the voice of wants and wills says otherwise. Listening to that which wants us to grow and expand but is wise enough to stay within our physical limits takes some listening, some patience and trust.

My only hope after this latest adventure is not to become more aware of this voice, as its presence is felt quite readily; but to actually listen to its warnings despite my own egoic wishes. The time off has made me realize yet again how important climbing and movement are to my body, my being. Climbing has taught me so much and has been such a source of adventure and fulfillment; I couldn’t imagine life without it. Aging is unstoppable but perhaps with more discipline and awareness, the climbing life can go for what may seem like an eternity like the bleausards in Fontainebleau clearly demonstrate. With an old rag and a door mat as a crash pad, these guys can hike up one’s project, clearly proving that climbing is like good cheese. One only gets better with age. We just have to be wise enough to listen to our body. Thanks for reading. :)
Starting to recover so we hit up one of the coolest swimming venues i've seen. 

a munich masterpiece under the full moon

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Some most un-recent tales...

It’s been a while since my last post. There’s been waxing and waning between ideas of what to write to the contradicting thoughts and emotions of why bother, wondering what’s the purpose of blogging anyway. Pre-Christmas season was a right off. Energy was low and the old game of tug of war came back. The questioning of if I was standing in the right spot echoed from my insides while ‘stay or go’ became the internal question of the day. To be with family and friends at Christmas pulled at me like they would never release. I thought about the last Christmas; the pre-Gite Arbonne days, being in the van in Font with so much rain beating down. The time leading up to it wasn’t easy and ironically the moment I decided to quit everything, things turned around as if an unanswered pray was heard. This realization brought a sigh of relief like a loud bell, oh yeah, this Christmas thing.

Although without the big pleasant crowd, I had many blessings to count. Walking the city streets of Munich and seeing the begging homeless made me grateful for van life, however cold. The thought of actually packing up and getting on a plane made me slither a little on the insides anyway. Although the idea of long days spent driving under a huge sky between the many bountiful crags pulled at me; staying in Europe was what I wanted, at least for a little longer.

In November and December the roads between Germany and Switzerland were our home. Magic Wood was covered in a pile of stinking snow which apparently would take months to melt. Ticino was ripe with a crisp blue sky. The whole area was virgin to me. I had visited briefly ten years ago but the memories were vague. Upon arriving the view started to look familiar. The winding road, the big church with the Virgin Mary looming steadily above the village, the old rock buildings scattered above which I wondered were livable or not.

Our stays were short; a weekend here, an extended weekend there. Balance was sought between the plastic world and the outside. A local friend Petra showed us a couple areas while the tour continued with Toby the friendly giant who we had met in Magic wood. The area became more familiar as did the smell of billy goat and techniques on how to roast chestnuts. I’d have to say though; Ticino didn’t stir my soul like some places. It never bothered me to leave and yet, it never bothered me to stay. The one exception was when going to meet my old friend Justin Wood from the States. I had just over a week to frolic in the forest with this kindred spirit and I dreamt about all the cool problems we would try and stories we would tell.

checking out the goats
On the way there from Munich I decided to drive via Zurich to attend a bouldering comp at the new Momentum Bouldering Gym and to face the realization that I live in a time warp. Having bouldered the day prior, I anticipated the full day of recovery and rest I had ahead of me. After much diddle dawdling, the organizer emailed informing that the comp was actually today and started in 20 minutes. My ass was still 1.5 hours away! Undeterred, we battled the horrendous traffic and confusing streets of Zurich and we showed up 3 hours later. The comp was worth the hassle; the different styled problems and unpainted walls made for a challenge. The gym was not insulated thus allowing me to blow O’s with my mouth proving what some would consider ‘good conditions’. Despite my lack of rest and untimeliness I made it into finals, having the privilege to stand in the same line as the Swiss power house Petra Klinger, who is an inspiration to watch. At the end of the comp I walked away not only psyched but with a gentle reminder to work on my weaknesses; dynos and big moves involving especially shitty feet around incredibly awkward corners.

The following day we headed to Ticino. Unfortunately Cedar caught a stomach critter which lasted a few days and a couple days later it was my turn. As I felt the sense of fainting coming on, I quickly pulled the van over only find myself moments later having rolled back into the road with people honking at me and Cedar shaking me while simultaneously holding a bucket under my mouth. The feelings invoked of helplessness and vulnerability by both of us could be a story unto itself. Needless to say, our ten day visit to Ticino was quickly diminished as we huddled away from climbing and human contact as the sun teased us under the cold conditions.

A rad invention- a stove that runs on just small twigs!
It can also charge a phone with the USB and has a fire powered fan that keeps the fire going. eco!
Bocci ball!
Yes. It was cold. 
Our time with Justin amounted to two or three days but it was better than nothing. Catch up time on the latest of my Salt Lake City friends, Hannah, Sunny, Carrie, was brief but enough to make their presence felt closer. In the meantime I got one problem under my belt, a line called ‘teamwork’ which should be renamed ‘dagger holds’. But as I owe the send to the random boys who walked by with perfect timing to spot me sketching on the top, the present name is rather suiting.

the crew
The last day consisted of an international posse counting 2 Germans, 2 Canucks, 1 Australian, 1 Spaniard, 2 Bulgarians, and 3 Americans who all headed to area 101. The problems in this zone were big; some beautiful, some not, but all of them were given a fair go. Alex and I played seek and destroy for a new level for us. I was close on the start moves, she looked better on the end. If team ascents were permitted we’d have that but if divided by 2 the answer is not new for either of us so we just continued our punting on the other rock formations on our path. When the sun went down, the headlights came out. When all skin and energy was spent we headed back to Justin’s for what would be the last Justin supper.

And so that happened a while ago… Like last year to be exact. I could blame busyness for my untimely post of these adventures or the absence of a computer that actually worked but if truth be told it was motivation. Sometimes it really seems like there is nothing to say but perhaps the real crux is getting started because it seems now, when the first word is done, there’s no stopping.

Thanks for reading. X

Goats checking us out while we check out the goats. This one is fond of Toyota's. Smart guy.
Team training
Yet another goat
Tasting the Germans "gluhwein" on Xmas day
Checking out the Munich surfers on Xmas day
Munich Xmas markets

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Tips on how to climb V10. (or any grade for that matter...:)

For over a decade, my life has been weaving in and out of a nomadic lifestyle whose main purpose was to follow a blue colored sky and a shining sun overlooking a field of boulders. Living such a life entwined with climbing has given me many invaluable experiences not only about the sport but also life lessons about myself and the world. I often wondered how I could say thank you to a sport and way of living that has given me so much. So far, this is what I have come up with.
This is my first article of what may hopefully, be many. I hope people find this useful and if anyone has any questions they may like answered I will do what I can.

This one is for Krystal who inspired it. :)

V10. What is that? It is a number signifying the level of difficulty of a boulder problem but it is also more than that. It's a breaking point. A level perhaps not yet reached but knowingly, attainable. But how can one reach this exactly? What skills and mindsets are needed that will enable people to reach their next level be in v5, v10 or v13? Below are some tips which I have gathered which have helped me and others push through plateaus and reach the next level.

Add variety to your world

Try many problems, easy and hard, regardless of the grade, regardless of the style. This way you get exposure and experience on many different holds and styles that will help you breakthrough to the next level.
It helps to travel to places so you can widen your base and abilities even more. If you can’t travel then be sure to try those obscure problems and lines that perhaps have overgrown or that you promised you will ‘one day’ try. If you are stuck in the gym, make up problems that are your anti style or that play on your weaknesses.
The only way to climb v10 is to try v10. So be sure to try a lot of them but avoid limiting yourself to trying JUST v10’s. The world is your oyster and every problem can teach you something.
Climb with different people. Everyone has different climbing styles, abilities and something to offer. Climb with people who inspire and can teach. Be open to healthy criticism; be willing to learn and to hear what you may not want.
If what you have been doing isn’t working, change something. Step out of the normal routine; go to different problems, areas, gyms. Hell, even try a different mode of climbing like clipping bolts!

Don’t limit yourself:  

Self-limiting thoughts get you nowhere. As does not trying something because it is ‘too hard’. If a line entices you whether it is v0 or v13, then try it.
You have the power to make or break your own limitations but the limitations that others put on you be it friend or foe is none of your business. Try to not let the negative influences of others bother you.
Too often people limit themselves to the problems that suit only their strengths. Avoid doing this by working your weaknesses and widen your base by opening up your world to the world of slabs, slopers, pinches, crimps, roofs, etc. Eventually, improvement will come so just be patient.
Often people ask the grade of a problem before trying it which can be limiting. When the answer comes around, some won’t try because they think it is too hard but there are also the folks who won’t try because they think it is “too easy”. Try everything!
Imagine the possibilities!

Find out your weaknesses and strengths

Ask your friends what they think your weaknesses and strengths are. Work to improve your weaknesses and take advantage of your strengths when seeking out a problem which you want to try.


Visualize yourself sending your project. Imagine how the holds feel to your fingers, how much weight to put on each foot, how to move your body. Invoke the feelings of trying hard and how much effort you need to release with each move. Go over the sequence again and again not just with your mind but with your body. Breathe in the feeling of satisfaction when you pull through to the finish. Imagine and believe.
“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” ~Albert Einstein

Want it

Try really hard not because you have to, but because you WANT to. Want it like a passion that burns through you that won’t be satisfied until you do it but remember that when it is done you still won’t be satisfied. Try so hard that you aren’t scared if your tips bleed. Give 101% on your send effort. Grunt. If all else fails, try harder.
Avoid excuses about the conditions and your performance. They contribute to weakness and are limiting. You can’t change the external state of things so just deal with the internal and work with what you have.
And most of all; be determined. Be a fighter. Stick with it and remember why you’re doing it. The journey is the reward not the destination.

Embrace Failure

Be prepared to fail. It comes with the territory. When you fall, get up, try again.
Find out why you fell. Ask others more experienced for advice. Be open to learn.
Avoid not trying a problem because you are afraid that you may fail on it. You will never know till you tried and it is better to tried and failed then to not have tried at all.
If your emotions start to take over, walk away but remember to walk back.

No expectations

Being close to sending a project can build hope which is good but can also lead to expectations and pressures to send. Before approaching the problem, instead of thinking about topping it out and finishing, try to focus on each movement and the climbing itself. As Bruce Lee would say: “Be like water”.

Find one your style

Sometimes it helps to find a problem that is your style be it crimpy, slopers, slab, big moves, tick tacks, steep, whatever. Often enough I have to hunt around because harder problems tend to have bigger moves and with my small stature this can be an issue. That said, not trying something because it has a kind of move that you may not be good at is very limiting so try it anyway. If anything, it forces you to work your weaknesses.                  
Some folks like to go for ‘soft v10s’ such as ten-ten in hueco, but aiming for a solid v10 such as ‘Power of Silence’ or ‘Thriller’ will be much more satisfying... Trust me. 


If you want to get better on rock, climb rock; just like, if you want to improve on plastic, climb plastic.
A golden rule is climbing trumps training. Understanding movement is very important. I have seen plenty of strong climbers struggle on problems that ‘should’ be relatively easy considering their strength simply because they didn’t understand movement.                                                                                                
Train your weaknesses. If you need stronger fingers, hit up the hang board for a bit but also mix it up with climbing many problems needing strong fingers. Need more power? Train power but also get on problems with powerful moves.                                                                  
If there is a certain type of hold or movement on your project that is shutting you down, build a mimic in the gym that will work on specifically this.                                                                                                  
If needed, get a coach or trainer that will help with technique, climbing specific strength, movement etc.
Avoid overtraining! Rest, relax and listen to your body. Injuries delay progress!

Take a rest from your project

Despite the burning desire to return day in and day out to your project, give it a break. The body will appreciate the rest as will the mind. Often my desire puts a blindfold over the memory of this lesson I had previously learnt. Recently, I spent the last 8 climbing days returning to my project. Falling off the end half of those days kept me motivated yet the other days offered digression. My mental focus was diminishing and my body was building an overuse injury from repeating the same crux move over and over again. Did I send? No. Lesson? Take a rest from your project. The chance of actually sending will increase tenfold and instead of offering a ‘bitter, thank god the ‘torture’ is finally’ over type of send, it will feel much more like a ‘happy, satisfying, enjoyed’ type of send.

Think like an athletic

For a long time I never considered myself an athletic and scoffed at those who did things like dieting, cross training and weight lifting. But as I progressed and wanted to improve I realized other things had to be considered. Balanced training, cross training and eating healthy would all come second nature to any serious athletic but many climbers seemed an exception to this rule. So find out how other athletics train and learn from them.
Eat smart and healthy. Not only will it help you recover faster but your body will be happier, lighter and performance will improve.
Stretch on rest days; cross training for balance, remember your core, stay on your toes and always listen to your body.

And remember, climbing rocks is more fun than climbing grades. :)

the author on a fabulous squamish v10

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Magic Wood part 3. The obsession begins. The final.

It's strange to write about a problem that I haven't yet sent. Perhaps even crazier the number of days spent on it, not only in a row, but thinking and pondering about while the rains fall and dampen its holds. But this story isn't so much about the problem; it's about an idea turned obsession. Perhaps a story from which one could draw advice from on how to NOT send ones project.

Upon arriving in magic wood and not knowing the place, I didn't have a tick list that excited the bejonkins off me so basically it was limited to the one problem I'd seen in a photograph: pura vida. Having been in Magic Woods for close to 4 weeks my energy was spent on everything but that. Tried twice with two different groups of friends, I was unable to do the first move and the end just led me down a path of confusion, so my effort was brief.

After finishing many of the problems that enticed, Pura Vida crossed my mind again. A fellow camper, Axel, had thoughts of it as well, like it had become an alien that slowly invaded people’s minds. With renewed psych off we went. Working backwards this time, the end was surprisingly figured out so I returned to the first move. Every time, I was thrown onto my back into its pit of a landing as my hands refused to grasp the hold in a way that actually held on.


Returning another day with Alex the psyched german, I repeated everything but the obvious. Spit off again and again, different feet and handholds were tried with foolhardiness. With a perplexed face, I watched Alex do the first move with ease. And here comes something that I love about climbing. He pointed to the subtle difference between the position of our starting feet. " You are starting with your left foot under you and I place mine here." He pointed to the big rock which ones ass will land on if one doesn't stick the big move on one summer. I did as he suggested and bang. What had moments before felt impossible was done with ease. I repeated it five more times just to prove it to myself but fell at the next crux, two holds from the finish. The impossible suddenly felt possible. But as fatigue set in, the holds started to feel smaller and greasier. The first move became hard again.

Then the sweet bitter rain came. Like a visitor that constantly dances their fingers on ones kitchen table over a cup of tea. That day the obsessing started. Sitting in the rain was something i had enough of this trip. I thought about leaving. But no, I can't, I'm so close. It will dry eventually. I will wait. Pondering the moves, I visualized myself doing it over and over again. Putter patter. Left hand there. Drip drop. Right foot there. While people climbed on the Bruno boulder I walked to it like visiting an old friend to see how it was. Condensation was high, sucking water onto even the lower holds which were once lined with the fine colour of white.

Wetness to the very bottom.

The next dry day I realized the unhealthy part of obsessing over a project through five days of rain. Physically I was fine but mentally I was done. I felt burnt out on it not from trying but from the thinking and obsessing about it while listening to the rain drops fall on my van. Thoughts of escaping invaded my mind as was the mistake of waiting for it to dry. 

The first day back offered damp holds matching my low psych. Yet falling near the end instilled hope. There was a few more days of sun coming and the optimist in me said it can only get drier. But the next day offered much regression. Everything on it felt hard. Again Alex came to my rescue.  "You try it too many times and too many days in a row. You look tired." That was a mistake often repeated but coming from someone else's mouth was like a reinforcer to the truth. With that we left. We tried other problems and the fun returned.

Returning the next day with a fresh head, hope was provided. My first attempt felt strong but still, I fell at the end. After a few repeats of that frustration and fatigue started to take over while my tips screamed bloody murder at me. What are you doing to us they screamed? Every bit of me felt done.

alexandra sending foxy lady
The rain was pending. But this time it fell in light drops which kept most things dry. The condensation wasn't so high and the friction felt better. On my rest day I thought of things outside of that boulder. But ironically, each climbing day I still returned. I start counting my tries to avoid being there too long. Giving myself 3 tries from sticking the first move and 3 falls of falling on the first move took away one full attempt as if i had stuck it. My spotter thought I was nuts. I thought the breaking point happened days ago.

There was a panic inside of me that told me to go there every day. It could rain tomorrow. People spoke of snow. There wasn't a voice saying breath, slowdown. If it was dry, I'd go there, until the one day when I didn't. My last day on it I repeatedly fell off one move from the end, locking my left arm down and hovering my wavering hand within mm’s below that last crux hold.  A small back muscle from doing the long lock off felt strained and screamed silently to me.

The next day I debated returning or breaking my obsession. When asked how long I'd been on it, the response of the last eight climbing days triggered shouts of don't go; climb with us. Perhaps they were right. Rest from it would be good, mentally and physically. Logic trumped passion. I tried other problems but the sense of unrest remained. I felt like I abandoned my best friend. God dang I thought. Just one more try. Just let me have One. More.Try...

And then it came. The dreaded snow. 40 cm of it. Earlier in the day Petra encouraged me to descend so to avoid getting stuck in the mountains. The optimist in me didn’t believe her. The four of us remaining campers huddled under Knuts van door and agreed it wouldn't snow. It was too warm. We escaped to town for a couple hours only to return to snow covered roads. My van sat huddled by the guest house. We slept there to avoid the slippery slope to camp. The snow insulated my van and kept out the street lights. The remaining climbers paced the room in unease while others escaped for snowball fights. I kicked myself for not going back. Was this punishment for obsessing and being irrational with my attempts? Only if I made it so. But really, it's just snow. Besides, the little tweak in my back will thank me.

the skiers will be happy!

The next day, over a foot of fresh snow covered our world. The optimist in me delivered images of melting snow. It can't be over yet. Having already waited through many wet days what's a couple more? Or a few more. Or another week. Hell, when it dries, maybe I will even go to other problems, find another project. Or maybe I will leave and see another part of the world. But this line is worth the wait. 

The problem now holds memories and stories of times past. It offered me something that felt impossible to possible; it gifted upon me patience and impatience; determination and stubbornness; mental battles within myself through various weathers and a taste of obsession and physical fatigue. Currently the snow is melting and my psych remains. Tichino beckons but only until this baby is dry. The forecast looks good and as Arnold says, "I will be back".

Thanks for reading.
May the force be with you.✌

it rained so much they opened the dam...!
Isak doing what he does best.
prepared Scandanavians. earlier in the day...
returning to a surprise
visiting americans and snowballs

the same evening

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

I'm gonna be rich...! ;)

Many people know that anyone with a passion of any kind be it art, learning, or in this case, climbing live with an obsession where they would easily sacrifice what many consider the essentials in order to sustain their passion. For example, the often thought necessity: a luxurious house! Climbers and surfers are often found living in their vehicles year round, waking and sleeping with the sun, following the seasons like a nomad and living a relatively simple lifestyle. Being free of rent, fancy gadgets and taking advantages of thrift stores for things like clothes and dishes, living expenses are kept low, life is lived sustainably and they stay true to their passions, whatever they be.

And so, what's my point? Well, there are a bunch of new ads and buttons on my blog. Basically a couple of friends have enlightened me to the fact that people can actually make money off their blogs and as i need a job, I have decided to try this as a possibility. As I have recently failed at the climbing sponsorship game yet i still want to continue to learn, grow and push myself in the sport that i love, this requires a certain amount of fuel. Houses may not be needed but food and gas are. So, why not! This is my attempt at using my blog as a possible way to fuel my passion. So- welcome to the somewhat desperate ways of the traveling climber!!

There is an affiliate program which I joined which shows as ads and links to various companies. They are not sponsors but companies which put their advertising on various blogs as a way to increase sales. So if someone clicks on the ads linked on my blog and buys something then I get a small commission.

The other thing I have put on the blog is a donation button which was the idea of my brilliant friend Wendy. She convinced me that people actually do donate to blogs and people that they want to support. As I currently have no financial climbing sponsors I thought it would be a good idea as over the years some people have wanted to give money but I refused as I find it more than awkward taking money from friends. This way is anonymous (i think...) so for me it is less awkward and feels more like a public sponsorship for my blog and climbing rather than a handout..! :)

Hopefully this doesn't come across as obnoxious or needy. I realize more and more that positive support given and received to each other be it materially, emotionally, physically or energetically are the basis of life and community. It helps make the world go round!

Thanks for your support by simply reading my blog. :)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Magical magic part two

It must have been the influence of Squamish that built up the endurance in me to stay throughout the rains. The granite was similar, talused, sloping with crimps situated randomly. The dense forest surrounding the boulders was tall, green and hid us from the outside world. Even the water from the old wooden bathtub with a sign above it saying non-potable, tasted just as good as the water springing from any of the fine household faucets in the sea to sky corridor.

And of course the rain. I knew it would stop eventually. It fell upon and touched all of the rocks, drowning the moss so that they held enough water in them to pee out for days. The only difference was the wind which didn't blow like it did back home. It came and went at its own will. And with the wind came an old friend and a taste of forgiveness for myself and them which I never knew possible. My thoughts imagined it so but another part refused it. Like an old washing machine switching cycles, going back and forth, unable to commit to anything but unrest. But then it came. I never knew it would be so easy. So freeing. I was taught otherwise by example. To hold on until your hands bled. It was like letting go of a long heavy rope that weighed on ones back for the duration of what seemed a lifetime. The lightness and clarity that followed showed me my insanity.  Oh how silly. It was my uncle tom who told me i was my own worst enemy. I being too young to understand looked back at him with a face covered in confusion. Always let go of that which drags you down. But it was I who held the rope coiled so tightly around myself and only I who had the power release it.

Between the many mountain showers and the dry blue sky, magic woods became a different place. The campground emptied. The day to day routines remained the same but less climbing and more of a nothingness which filled and quenched the soul. As the rains fell and with our new company it felt more and more like Squamish yet oh so different at the same time.  There was a surrounding freshness. As the rain cleared, fresh air blew in giving the rocks air to dry.

The rocks became more and more crisp as the weather improved. It was almost too cold for me, my fingers bending slowly as if frozen. But this passed too bringing in sunshine and perfect conditions. Projects were sent by everyone which was a great relief as we all know nothing last forever, especially the sun. The continuous sun attracted more people. What was once a campground of 5 to 6 people became a place where tents and vans parked so close to each other, bringing a feeling of happy sardines in a can. This closeness felt unusual for me coming from where camp spaces are the usual size of 3-4 large parking spaces but this was the norm for European style camping. Our climbing partners and friends for the seemingly endless two weeks of rain and sun departed to continue their lives in other ways. We waved a goodbye to our old friend with the remnants of happy tears in our eyes.

Learning to be more social, or at least adapting to the European style of socializing, new people arrived who quickly became friends. The next few days we basked in the sun and played around on all sorts of boulders. I had already done my main projects for the trip though as we tried more and more, my to do list became longer and longer. All we needed was the pending rain to hold off or at least, time to stay still a bit longer.

But things don't happen like that. The rain returned but this time people didn't leave. So neither did I. There's still some hope it'll dry. Theres still some hope we'll get just one more try. On this line, on that line. It'd be nice to try that one i have never seen before and even nicer to finish just that one line where I keep falling at the end. Oh, and that one with the hard first move... So many problems and all so nice... It's good to be in the magical forest.

thanks for the photo Axel! me on Kaloirenmonster

Paul on the classic Jack the Chipper

Amazing creatures of the forest

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Magical magic woods. Part 1.

Wendy welcomed us on our first day of arrival in Magic Woods. We pulled in to find her sitting on her crash pad in all the glory of the sun. Her long hair was tied back in a bun with a pencil keeping it together. She was hard at work in the middle of a dirt parking lot surrounded by tents, live-in vans and gigantic evergreens towering on every side.

My psych was surrounded by new rocks, good friends and blue sky. The surrounding mountains were big, steep and had an unwelcoming feel to them. They said to keep to the grounds, stay low where the boulders are. So of course, we did.

We ate a quick lunch and packed up our gear. Wendy gave us a tour of what she knew and we climbed on what we could. Being somewhat limited with two pads anyone whose been to magic woods knows this is less than ideal. The talus boulders are fallen between jagged rocks on the side of a somewhat steep mountainside. The large boulders are found by following well worn trails on the moss covered ground. Rocks, fallen trees and large holes were obstacles to either avoid or use as way to move further. It reminded me of the north walls in Squamish in many ways except the holes to fall in were bigger, the rocks more featured and there were a lot more premade landings out of fallen logs to keep one from falling into one of the crevasses of death.

The Canadians remnants from the Munich comp were also in magic woods and it turned out everyone in camp that I knew were resting the next day. With some matter of dislike and at the same, acceptance, I took an undeserved rest day so to keep on schedule with everyone, aka the  partnering psych and much needed spotters and pads.

There was basically one week left with the Canadians and Wendy so days were maximized climbing two days on and one off. My legs ached with fatigue more than my fingers because of the uphill hiking which i was more then unaccustomed to. Getting used to the sketchy landings took me a few days as did my lungs for the hiking. The many moderates in the area proved a very nice warm up to the area. At that point everything was tried  from v0 to v-impossible and all of it was good.

The week passed quickly. Too quickly. It seemed as soon as we got there we were waving good bye to everyone who greeted us: the Brits, the Canucks and unfortunately the sun. I wasn't sure when it would return but the forecast seemed positive and so we stayed positive and hoped for the best. After everyones departure Magic woods became a different place... And a different story. Until next time...

the rains have come