5 New Year’s Resolutions for Intermediate Climbers

#1 Find Strength in Numbers

Community is one of the things (for me, the thing) that makes climbing so amazing. Make it your goal to reach out to somebody new in 2013. Include the person who’s looking for a partner in your group–even if it makes odd numbers. Help out the beginners in your gym or at the crag! Make sure the guy in his street shoes and a harness in the bouldering area gets a good spot–sometimes beginners aren’t as in control of where they land when they fall. Be warm, welcoming and supportive.

#2 Use Outdoor Time Wisely

You should have three modes:

  1. Onsighting 
  2. Working
  3. Redpointing

Most intermediate climbers spend too much time trying to onsight and redpoint, and little or no time at all working or projecting routes. If you’re trying to send the minute your feet leave the ground, every time, I’m talking to you! If a route is too hard for you to onsight, you should be working it! Test out beta, try tough sections multiple times, rest on the rope, and plan tactics for your redpoint go.

#3 Work on Your Footwork 

Let’s be honest guys–we’re never going to be done working on footwork. There is no final state of footwork nirvana in which no improvement is possible. Now that we’ve accepted that, resolve to work on footwork in some way in every training session. One way to do this is to play the silent feet game–find a friend to make sure you stay accountable!

Fancy footin' on the cigar in Ten Sleep Canyon, WY

Fancy footin’ on the cigar in Ten Sleep Canyon, WY

#4 Be a Beginner Again 

Once you’ve been climbing for a while, it’s easy to fall into the trap of doing what you’re good at. Trying things you’re bad at makes you look silly, it’s hard, and it often feels like you’re not getting anywhere. Do it anyway! Are slopers your nemesis? Replace a hold on a moderate (for you) route or problem with a sloper and see how it changes your beta? Technical masters, try something with a roof ! Jug haulers, try something balancy. Don’t spend any time telling everyone around you that you’re bad at whatever it is to lower expectations before you try it–just do it! You don’t judge other people when they fail, odds are, no one is judging you!

#5 Give Yourself a Break

When you have big dreams, it’s easy to fall short of your expectations. When this happens, don’t beat yourself up about it. Keep dreaming, and keep working! Someday you’ll get there, and in the meantime, there’s lots of fun to be had along the way.

What are your resolutions? What are you working on in the New Year? Want me to bother you about sticking to them in June? Post up in the comments!

Advertisements

Climbing-Related Things I Have Bookmarked In The Last Year [An Exhaustive List]

In case you’ve already read all the books you got for the holidays….

Climbing Community/Culture/Meta

  1. Women, First Ascents, and Competition, Article by Thomasina Pidgeon [Gripped] 
  2. LT11’s Jordan Shipman on Vision and the Lack Therof in the Climbing Industry [LT11]
  3. Ten Top Tips for Staying Alive [UKClimbing]
  4. Collette McInerney on Women Sending Hard [Five Ten]
  5. Sonnie Trotter on Dave Graham’s Secret and Hard Climbing [Sonnie Trotter]
  6. NYT Profile of Ashima Shiraishi [New York Times]
  7. It’s Not Cool to Care [The Stone Mind]
  8. Spiral of Death [Rock and Ice]
  9. Women and Development [B3 Bouldering]
  10. Climbing is (Not) the Best [The Stone Mind]
  11. Exorcising Dirtbags: Let the Right One In [Climbing Magazine]
  12. Return To Sender: Writeup of Sender Films [NatGeo]

Long Term Road Trips

  1. Getting Out of the Midwest, Trip Budgeting [MP]
  2. Western U.S. Road Trip, Planning Details and Destination Recommendations [MP]
  3. How To Budget for a Climbing Road Trip [Roll Global]
  4. Guide to Safely Sleeping In Your Vehicle for Free [Roll Global]
  5. 9 Traits of the Ideal Road Trip Companion [semi-rad]
  6. Hobobo Guide to Free Wifi [Roll Global]
  7. Steph Davis on Living in Your Car, Safety Issues [High Infatuation]
  8. Steph Davis on Food on the Road [High Infatuation]
  9. Steph Davis on Where to Sleep While Dirtbagging [High Infatuation]
  10. Steph Davis on How to Set Up Your Truck i.e. the Shelf! [High Infatuation]
  11. Simple Living Manifesto [72 Days Project]
  12. Making Your Road Trip 40% Better [semi-rad]
  13. The Ultimate Road Trip [semi-rad]
  14. Interactive Map: Breweries of the United States [Pop Chart Lab]
  15. Active Fire Mapping Program [US Forest Service]

Lifestyle/Road Trip Blogs 

  1. Mike D’s Climbing Roadtrip Blog
  2. Furgonetten
  3. Peder and Jess
  4. Dirtbag Life

Interviews 

  1. Really Great Interview with Alex Johnson [DPM]
  2. Interview with Collette McInerney on Bolting and Climbing Hard [Climb Find]
  3. Zen Quotes from Chris Sharma [Climb and More]
  4. Interview with Chris Sharma in Ceuse [Petzl]
  5. Chris Sharma Interview [UKClimbing]

Mental Aspects of Climbing

  1. Fear of Falling – Article Explaining Clip Drop Training Technique [UKClimbing]
  2. Attitude and Climbing [MP]
  3. The Rotpunkt Method [The Stone Mind]
  4. Escaping Climbing Grades [Alli Rainey]
  5. Escaping Grade Imprisonment [Alli Rainey]
  6. Mental States, Peak Performance, and Big Dreams [Alli Rainey]

Training for Climbing

  1. Climbing and Training for a Half-Marathon [MP]
  2. Exhaustive Collection of Mostly Horst-Authored Training Articles [Nicros]
  3. Upper Body Strength+Power in Climbing & Training [Alli Rainey]
  4. Hangboard Training with Ryan Palo [Metolius]
  5. Sport Climbing Training Plan, Discussion [MP]
  6. How Do I Get Better Faster? [Power Company Climbing]
  7. How to Climb Harder than Other Newbs [Power Company Climbing]
  8. Relationship Between Lock-Off Ability and Performance [Eva Lopez]
  9. Training Tuesdays: Training Program [Climb On, Sister!]
  10. Training for the Red River Gorge [MP]
  11. Pushing Through Plateaus [Alli Rainey]
  12. How I Broke Through My Biggest Climbing Plateau [The Morning Fresh]
  13. One Workout Every Climber Should Do [DPM]
  14. Training Wonks Discuss Training [MP]
  15. Spice Up Your ARC Training [Lazy H Climbing Club]
  16. Training Obsession [Will Gadd]
  17. H.I.T. Training [Cragmama]
  18. Article about Professional Climbing Coaching for Adults [Climber Magazine]

Climbing Videos 

  1. Tomorrow I Will Be Gone, Bouldering in Rocklands [Outcrop Films]   
  2. Zombie Roof Solo [Will Stanhope, filmed by Dave Pearson]
  3. Red River Gorge: Gray’s Branch [Colin Delhanty]
  4. Cell Block Six [Sean Stewart]
  5. Protips 3 Jason Kehl [Climb X Media]
  6. Protips 6 Lauren Lee [Climb X Media] 
  7. Protips Slopers [Climb X Media]
  8. Climb Like Sharma [Rock and Ice]
  9. Demon Seed [Sean Stewart]

Destination Specific Links 

  1. Ten Sleep, Wyoming [Roll Global]
  2. Ten Sleep Canyon Camping Options [MP]
  3. Climbing on Cayman Brac [JB]
  4. Fired For Sandbagging route page [MP]

Gear

  1. Blank Slate Page Where You Can Buy the Ten  Sleep Guidebook [Blank Slate]
  2. What to Put in the Ultimate Back Country First Aid Kit [Roll Global]
  3. 12 Reasons the iPhone is an Awesome Piece of Climbing Gear [Adventure Journal]
  4. 10 Cheap Substitutes for Expensive Camping Gear [Adventure Journal]
  5. Bliss Wrap [Icebreaker]
  6. Foam Mattress Topper [Walmart]

Miscellaneous

  1. Pretty Nice Climbing Photo Which I Bookmarked For Unknown Reasons [tumblr]
  2. Elvis Leg of The Climbing Soul [Tara Reynvaan]
  3. A Zen Story [Stone Mind]
  4. Making a Crimp Mug [?]
  5. Excellent RouteSetting Blog [RouteCrafting] 
  6. Dream World [The Ascent Blog]
  7. Finding the Power of the Unplugged Mind [Proactive Outside]
  8. Physiological Responses to Rock Climbing in Young Climbers [British Journal of Sports Medicine]

Have more links or better links? Did I forget to bookmark something good? Post up in the comments and let us know!

Gift Ideas for the Climber in Your Life

#1 What They Ask For

Relatives and non-climber friends of climbers can have a hard time figuring out what it is you want. A few years ago, my brother walked into a book store and asked for a book about climbing for his sister. He walked out with a copy of 127 hours.

If you do your best on your own, your climber will still love their gift. But climbers are pathological collectors of climbing year. We have a wish list, trust me. We can always think of something we ‘need’ that you can get us! Read on for more ideas for (affordable) gifts for climbers…

#2 Something to Put on Their Hands  

For a detailed and hilarious overview of “crap climbers put on their hands”, check out this post over at The Stone Mind. Despite carrying it around with me everywhere, I never lost my little tin of Skin Doctor while I was on the road this summer. It was too precious to lose! The Climb On! products also get rave reviews from climbers I know.

Climb On! Lotion bar. Also comes as a creme, and (newly) with a manly scent!

#3 A Bail ‘Biner

This suggestion was inspired by my lucky bail ‘biner. It was one of the first pieces of gear I ever owned. Whenever this bail ‘biner went up a hard route on someone’s harness, the route got finished, and the ‘biner came back down. Once I noticed, I started taking it with me for a little bit of extra confidence.

Get your favorite climbing partner a lucky bail ‘biner of their very own for the new year. Write them a note. Tell them about the mystic powers of the lucky bail ‘biner, and remind them to dream big and try hard in the new year. If the ‘biner eventually gets left behind, its newness and shininess will make someone’s day.

From Trango, the Superfly. Your favorite climbing partner could be super fly too!

From Trango, the Superfly. Your favorite climbing partner could be super fly too!

#4 Really Fancy Socks

This suggestion came from one of my followers on twitter, @climbing_strong. Having the right thing in between your shoes and your feet can make a world of difference in comfort when you’re out tramping. Even better, sock sizes are easier to guess correctly than other clothing sizes. In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with a merino wool, but some folks are fond of synthetic technical fabrics as well.

socks

I love all things colorful, and Icebreaker doesn’t disappoint. Their apparel is a bit pricey, but the performance you get is worth every penny.

#5 Reel Rock 7

Nothing says “I love you, man” like giving your buddy climbing porn for the holidays. This year’s Reel Rock is now on sale at www.reelrocktour.com. I think it’s worthwhile to support the folks that are producing top-notch climbing media. Reel Rock is consistently entertaining and high quality. This year’s films are no exception.

#6 Rope Wash

The year after I found 127 Hours under the tree, my family upped their game and bought me rope wash. On their own. Despite knowing barely anything about climbing. I was surprised and touched.

The question of whether washing ropes actually does anything has been debated endlessly on the internet, and eventually boils down to personal preference. Several different washes are available, but I’m inclined to trust something from a rope manufacturer over and independent product. Follow these tips from Splitter Choss if you end up putting your rope wash to use!

Sterling’s Wicked Good Rope Wash

#7 A Petzl Draw

Tried and true, these draws are beloved by climbers the world over. They can be a bit pricey, so most climbers I know acquire them slowly, a few at a time. Help your favorite climber out by adding a few to their collection.

petzl

Big beefy dogbones make great emergency nylon jugs when you’re trying hard at your limit.

#8 Your Suggestions

What did I leave off? Leave a comment to let me know!

[Dear Beloved Family, Please refer to #1, then talk to Mom. :)]

Rest to Send

It’s almost Thanksgiving! As the race to finish up projects before the season ends begins, check out these tips for resting on routes and then go out and crush!

Rest When You Don’t Feel Tired

Some routes have a relatively easy section of climbing, followed by a bomber rest, followed by the ‘real’ business. These routes can be hard to rest on–you’re not tired yet, you’re anxious about the rest of the route, and it feels silly to be sitting around. I have two strategies for these sort of rests. Sometimes I’ll visualize climbing the rest of the route, reviewing beta, creating a positive vision for how the rest of the climb is going to go. Sometimes this will just make me nervous and shaky, so I’ll just focus on breathing and slowing my heart down. Do what works for you, but always take full advantage of any rest you get.

Shake the Kneebar!

Often when you’re resting, you’re recovering in your forearms at the expense of pumping out some random part of your body, like your calves. While I was working 49 in Maple, a friend of mine sent the route. When he got to the kneebar rest before the tough (for me) clip, he set the kneebar, rested, came back onto his arms, shook his calf, and stuck the kneebar right back in to rest some more. It had never occurred to me to shake anything but my arms at a rest until that day! With the shake-the-kneebar beta, I was able to get something back before the tough clip.

I met Wendy in Maple Canyon, land of the kneebars. I learned a lot about resting from this quiet crusher. Here she is cruising 49.

Be Patient

I habitually wear a watch, and I’ve started using it to time my rests. Sometimes it will feel like I’ve rested forever and I’ll look down to see that only 15 seconds have passed. At a no-hands rest, I will hang out as long as 2 or 3 minutes to make sure that I’ve completely recovered. At less-awesome rests, I still try to stay at least a minute. Note: this tip probably won’t work for crack climbers, unless you can find somewhere else to put the watch! ;)

Communicate

Let your belayer know you’ll be resting. Also make sure to communicate clearly and confidently that you are climbing when you exit the rest. You won’t take your belayer by surprise, and you can climb on with confidence, knowing that your belayer is with you.

Listen to Your Heart

Sometimes, a rest is not as good as you want it to be. It feels like you’re not getting anything back, you’re stressing out about the moves above you, and all of the sudden it feels like it would be better to just GO already. Don’t give into temptation! If a rest is only slightly decreasing or even just maintaining your pump, it’s still worth it to rest, because you can drop your heart rate back down and establish a good breathing rhythm. This will help you move better after the rest, even if it doesn’t feel like it while you’re resting.

Practice It!

Incorporate resting into your practice or training in the gym. If you do endurance training like ARCing, you are probably taking a few seconds to shake on jugs every once in a while. Challenge yourself to make good use of less-good rests. If you’re on a good jug, try smearing one or both feet. Use a higher foot than is really comfortable, or use a sideways facing jug instead of an upwards facing one. Teach yourself to relax and get something back even in slightly uncomfortable positions.
What are you trying to send this fall? Let us know in the comments and tell us how it goes!!

how to be a dirtbag climber girl

Someone found my blog by searching the title of this post. I can’t seem to replicate it (maybe the all-knowing google knows that I know where my blog is?), but I thought I’d answer the question anyway.

My most important advice is to be confident, and do it your way.

This is also known as the fake-it-till-you-make-it principle. If you’re a girl considering a dirtbag lifestyle and hesitating, don’t! Just go do it! Before my trip this summer I worried a lot about not climbing hard enough to make it on the road, not knowing enough climbers to make it work, and a lot of other silly things. None of these worries are important. I have never talked to anyone who regretted living on the road for a while.

I know so many people who hit the road, found community, and never looked back. It will work for you too. Sell your shit. Quit your job. End your lease. Hit the road! Or don’t listen to me and do it your way. That’s even better.

Go find the wild places, because they’re there. Mt. Fitz Roy in Argentina by flickr user StuckInCustoms

A bunch of my practical advice for dirtbag livin’ is on this blog. Check out my post about living in a truck, or the dirtbag beta series for some tips. Steph Davis has a lot of great tips on her blog as well. Wherever you go, you will need to find out where to sleep, where to do laundry/get wifi/get food, and where to get beer. Sometimes this info is easy to find on the internet, sometimes it’s easier to find by word of mouth.

There is only one bit of ‘how to be a dirtbag’ advice that is female-specific (that I can think of).

All climbers should be able to pee standing up without taking off their harnesses. It makes life so much easier! If you weren’t born with the right equipment, you should look into getting a PStyle. They are cheap, easy to clean, and don’t look like funnels. I will never go climbing/camping without mine!

What’s your advice for aspiring dirtbags? Sound off in the comments?

Living in a Truck: A Manifesto

Meet my tiny universe.

This is where I lived for the summer. Below are 10 of my best tips for living in the back of a truck (or any small space)

#1: Stay Clean(ish)

This applies to your person and to your truck. I make a point of cleaning up the cab a bit every time I refill, and getting my bedroll out requires a certain amount of open space. The entire red mat on the left in the photo must be clear for the bed to unroll. When you’re living in a small space, a small mess can become a big mess quickly. On the upside, even large messes rarely take more than 15 minutes to clean up. Also, these are a great idea, and a good deal.

#2  Have Bins

Or drawers. Or crates. Or shelves. You need something to keep everything in your small space organized and out of the way. In the same token, you don’t want stuff you need every day (like clothes) to be hard to access. If I were going to set up the truck again, I would find somewhere else to store less-used clothes so that the green drawers could be a set of two, and fit standing up.

The organization system I had for the truck worked well. I mostly cooked using the cooler as a counter, and all my food and kitchen related items were easily accessible in the open top crates. The blue bin in the back stored re-fill items, like extra rolls of toilet paper, cans of camp fuel, or packages of baby wipes.

#3 Get Indoors

You might notice that I don’t have the traditional dirtbag truck build. Instead, I use a shelf, an idea I picked up from Steph Davis. The great thing about this for me is that it avoids creating the tunnel like space that most people end up with after building storage underneath a deck. I can even sit up straight inside my truck (with a regular-height Leer cap) because I am so short. It’s win-win.

Taller folks (like my friend Tom, who is 6’4″) would probably need to get a van instead to get sittable-space. I strongly encourage having it if you’re going to live in your vehicle. It means that your vehicle can be a home on four wheels, somewhere you can hang out when you need to, instead of just a bed on four wheels. It also means that if the weather is bad for some reason, you can cook inside your vehicle. In windy conditions, this saves time and fuel, because your food will cook faster. If it’s raining, it means that you don’t have to put up a tarp to stay dry while you cook.

Home on 4 wheels

#4 Actively Avoid Accumulating More Stuff

See #1. Depending on your financial situation and the amount of spending money you have, it can be tempting to buy more stuff. This makes it harder to keep your space clean, and it also makes it harder to stick to your budget. The fewer possessions you have, the better.

#5 Bring Something Homey 

This was important for me, because I was on the road by myself. Most of the time it’s awesome, but sometimes, it’s lonely. I brought my favorite, most comfy, best-blanket-in-the-world and slept with it most nights. Bring something that will make your feel connected and loved, because at some point on the road, you might need it.

#6 Bring Entertainment

You’ll want to be able to entertain yourself, but also other people. If you like reading, a Kindle is a great idea, because it will save you a ton of space in books. If you read all your books, you can explore the large number of books Amazon will sell you for free. Be warned: some are scarily bad! A deck of cards or an easily packable board game are also great to have, in case the weather’s bad or you have to kill time until your climbs come into the shade.

#7 Bring Extra 

… of important but small and easily misplaced items, like head lamps or lighters. In fact, for lighters, you probably want something on the order of 3, not counting the one in your pack. Tie one to the stove, so you won’t lose it. Get a cheap light up key chain and keep it somewhere you can find it easily in the dark, like your glove compartment. Your back-up light can then be used to find your real head lamp.

#8 Get an Inverter

This makes charging your phone, ipod, kindle, etc easy to do if you’re driving around. If you don’t already own them, buy jumper cables at the same time, just in case. I know more than a few folks that have drained their batteries by powering things using their car.

#9 Be Comfy When You Sleep

If this means putting up screening so you can crack a window, do it. My bedding was very simple–the ridged plastic bed liner that came with the truck, covered by the red yoga mat you can see in the picture, on top on top of a 2 inch thick foam pad I got for free from a friend. I sleep deeply and well no matter where I am, so I didn’t need much in the way of creature comforts for my bed. I met people who sleep on mattresses though. Know yourself–you’ll want to be able to get a good night’s sleep.

#10 Be Safe 

Don’t park in sketchy areas. If you have a bad feeling about something, listen to it! I slept in a few rest stops along the way (generally not advisable) and more than a few Wal Marts. My rule was always to never sleep anywhere I didn’t feel safe, and only sleep in places where someone else was already sleeping. This worked out quite well for me, and I never felt threatened by anyone while I was on the road.

Anything I missed? Sound off in the comments!