Wall-E The Rock Van: Pt.1 A Very Safe Road Trip

The poorer the adventurer, the richer the adventure.

(Photo above from old trip into Mexico.)

I walk into the small dingy office, and tell the very large man in the chair that after $260 in parts I only had $100 for labor for taking out and installing the new part, and what did he think about that.

He pointed behind him. There was, above his head, a sign that said in big red letters “$125 per hour (2 hour minimum), No Exception”. A machete was stuck into the wall next to the sign. The machete, says the mechanic shop owner, is for people who didn’t want to pay. I tell him I had one too, but that it’s for plants, and not really sharp anyway.

He pulls out his pocket knife. He gives me some pointers on sharpening. I somehow manage to steer the conversation in the direction of my volunteer work with kids. When someone opens the door to ask about a new client, he says not to worry, his boys would do the installation for $100 dollars. People can tell right away that I can’t lie to save my life – and boy, when I’m nervous, words just spill like oil from a BP ship.

We also look like a female punk rock band, piling out of a van with our Mexican tans wearing glasses, bright shorts and all the attitude of coyotes who’ve just breezed through the border their first time.

My registered life in Colorado is on the brink of a disorganized mess after living in Mexico for almost 2 years, so I’ve decided to take a small 6-month break and idle from Mexico back over to the Rocky Mountains. And that there would be the slightest 32-hour driving detour through Yosemite Valley, California, abusing the straight line to our final destination and making it more of a banged-up closed parabolic bell curve of driving hell, through long stretches of no-where Texas and the southwest.

I feel like breaking down out there, on the road, alone, would be the end of me. I’ve had one-too-many panic attacks while being stranded in my van in the south – I imagine that if I did break down, some months later I would be found crawling across the Colorado border like the child found on a raft on that Florida beach, who came all the way from Haiti; I’d be barely recognizable, having been adopted by a pack of dingoes and surviving by dumpster-diving fried food behind southern KFCs; I’d be full of stories about desert storms and ghost towns, of lizard-looking dragons and the odd human friend that maybe existed, or no.

No, better not to break down alone in the south, I think.

Besides, Yosemite is a long-ass drive, and belting Matt and Kim Lightening in the car for 10 hours can’t be repeated with the same enthusiasm twice.

A gas station attendant in the tiniest town before San Antonio, Texas ask if we’re a band, so after a brief pow-wow, we decide to go along with it. Our spontaneous rock troupe would include ex-punk Francesca on lead vocals, mellow Xelo on cello, dependable Jen on bass, and yours truly on cowbell.

Here’s a bit more history on my new fellow band members.

Francesca Cesario, OG outdoor badass who recently ascended Aconcagua, just finished her International Alpine Rescue course, and most impressively (to me) is losing her large toenail to frost-nip (a whipping cold -15C volcano summit in the southern Mexican state of Puebla).

Xelo, a magical and happy human being, has the darkest sense of humor this side of the moon, and would crush you in a Cards Against Humanity game, and her heeler puppy Suni.

Jen, the youngest of our troupe who jumped at the chance to have an adventure in California before her visa expired.

There was a disclaimer with these three: I had explained to my fellow female adventures, and the community on Facebook, how the spirit of the road trip was pure adventure: “Hey, anyone want to go to join us on any part of a trip to Yosemite-Zion-The Diamond to help with diesel, driving or to give a belay?” And everyone wanted to go.

There was one thing: the van could lose power at any time.

“There’ll be an element of surprise to this trip,” I told people.

The cost of driving to Yosemite with 4 people would be like a very cheap bus ride, I said, just more mysterious and unexpected because of looming mechanical/electrical problems. Wall-E is the perfect adventure vehicle – a 2005 Sprinter van with 5 cylinders (a whopping three working without a hitch), two cup holders, standing room for a young adult African elephant or three-and-a-half camels, first-class leg room (if you don’t mind the dog herd coming with us) plus 5 functioning seat-belts for human beings, and a luxurious hammock that swings excitingly with every turn. All Wall-E needed was new brakes, an emergency hand brake, turbo, a windshield, and small engine overhaul for two faulty cylinders. So WallE got an oil change for the trip.

So far, so good, the little Mercedes engine lasted to the middle-of-nowhere outside of Ft. Stockton, Texas, where we swapped out the battery with a spare I happened to have, until that failed too, and we hailed a passing truck to jump-start Wall-E awake. Now we’re in exciting Ft. Stockton, which is a fantastic pueblo full of elusive road runners and tiny horned dragons that look like lizards. We found there’s a leak into the alternator, and by happy coincidence the replacement is exactly what I have in the bank.

We’re waiting for the piece, drinking tea and maté in the vansion’s parlor, and trying to figure out where to print the car insurance card that went missing on day 1. Best case scenario, we’re playing spoons for a cheering crowd at a pub in El Paso, an upturned hat on stage with us. Worst case scenario, we arrive at Yosemite without any trouble.

 

It’s Pronounced Másadventure, Not ‘Misadventure’

This happened last Friday, when we had a ‘misadventure’.
– – –

“Okay, look. Who’s gonna be my girlfriend? Where are you guys from? Look, I’m handsome, fast and furious. Hey. Who’s that sonofabitch behind us? Tailgating me, huh? I’ll show him. I’m fast and furious. Fast and-”

“Curve,” the girl in the passenger seat calls, interrupting the monologue.

“Obviously.” The wheel jerks.

The monologue came from a driver who offered us a lift back to the city. We now realize is absurdly intoxicated, and driving as if the road lines were squiggly instead of straight. I’m panicked.

The driver’s friends seem unworried, and he had behaved much more sober than the other locals that night, had insisted on giving us a ride. Pretty soon, though, he’s acting like a gangster straight out of “Los Jefes”. Which was, I think, coincidentally filmed just outside the entrance of this canyon.

“Curve.”
“Obviously.”

There’s three of us, sitting squished in the back seat as the car weaves and is corrected, and we’re getting more and more nervous. A sense of self-preservation paces and fidgets in the back of our minds. Our hypothalamus is poised for flight or fight.

Obvio obvio obvio. Hey, who does this dude think he is? Orale tu pinche maricon joto.”

This is what happens when you go ‘adventuring’. Things go wrong. The designated return ride was supposed to meet us at mile 5 at 10:30pm, if in case we hadn’t returned to the entrance by then. So we had continued to the the dam, coasting the whole ten miles until the road dead-ended. At this moment we still didn’t know where our return ride was. (The canyon had no signal.)

We had actually turned down several rides, offered by drivers in even worst shape that this guy. Twice before we’d hitched rides, once with the local police when they made their usual rounds. The second time I had jumped into a car, it had promptly reversed a back wheel over the 30-meter cliff. This third ride is stretching my luck.

At least this guy stayed on the road, and all-in-all his friends seemed unworried.

“Curve.”

The wheel jerks right.

Still, worrisome though.

“Obviously.”

Suddenly, the driver gets fed up with the guy behind him, maybe picking up on our discomfort of being in a car sailing left and right like it was tacking to catch the wind.

“I’m f*cking fast and FURIOUS!” He speeds up.

We had enjoyed the journey into the canyon in traditional style: one on a bike – one on skates – myself, running – and now found ourselves hurtling back towards the canyon’s sharp turn on the small windy road that had been so peaceful. But it was frequently crossed by passing mules, cattle, and stray dogs, we’re rapidly approaching 100 kilometers an hour, in pitch darkness, hurting too fast towards this fishhook turn.

“Curve. Curve!” the girl pouts emphatically. We begin all shouting: “CURVE! CURVE! SLOW DOWN! -”

For a few seconds, his foot stays on the pedal. Then he brakes hard and bouncing careens off the road into the pebble dirt that lines the backcountry highway.

“Okay, we’re getting out now,” says the fastest-acting one of us. Claudia, you’re a goddess.

Now halfway in we immediately get another ride in the back of a truck and an hour later we find our friend. Exhausted, but too excited on account of being alive to let the adventure end just quite yet, we talk about that ride while we eat at my house. Then I drop the others off at each of theirs. At 5am, I face plant in bed.

Adventure? Well, mission achieved, though that ride is not something we ever necessarily want to repeat. In the spirit of tradition, we’re going back on Friday to do the same 10 mile route in the canyon again.

This time I’m parking my van at the finish line. But as they say… Adventure begins when plans end.

My Ideal Auto-Responder: ¨Taking Time be a Kid, Will Be Back in Office Whenever I Feel Like It.¨

Taking time to just be a kid right now, so for any urgent matters just send an email to the poor guy in the office. I´ll be back at some point, at some indefinite point of time in the future. Mostly likely the 8th, late that night – or, around that then, if I feel like coming back at all, or if I don’t feel like just taking an extra day off to spend quality time with my kid/old friend forge important friendships/create lasting memories/catching frogs/laughing until our faces hurt.

Cheers, T.¨

The Fundamentals of Living for the Young (At Heart) And Restless

 

  1. Own a camera, sometimes. Sometimes use it.
  2. Give hugs and kisses (and receive them). If this sounds easier said than done, maybe you’re feeling very alone? In that case, you must not own a dog.
  3. Get a dog. You can call it “Dog”, or any animal not related to dogs at all: like “Moose” or “Elephant”, or something big and entirely un-doglike.
  4. Live simply.
  5. Love deeply.
  6. Learn other languages, and remember it gets much easier after the second.
  7. Get overly excited about the little things, so you can roll with the big things.
  8. Travel, then open your home to other travelers.
  9. Always remember these wise words when you’re not having fun: “Adversity is adventure.” – Tommy Caldwell
  10. Breathe through your nose.(It really does help when you need to focus, like when you’re saving lives in the mountains, navigating icy channels, or just under pressure to order pizza.)

How to Always Stay a Kid

Alternatively,

Suggestions To Make Your Own Mid-life Crisis!

Or,

Things You Can do to Enjoy Just Being A Human Being, For a Moment, Until Reality Hits, and You Need to Pay the Bills.

  1. Mix traditional sports in wonderful, unconventional, unique ways: skyaking, sandboarding, snowskating , skatebiking, bhiking (in which you sometimes have to get off your bike, and laborously hike).

    Here’s Pee Wee demonstrating proper form of being a kid. Teens, though at times tempted to act like adults, are definitively experts in the field of being a kid.

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  2. Set arbitrary and perhaps impractical goals¨just for the hell of it¨; act as though it´s of life-or-death importance.

    They are, in a way  – who knows, that floor  REALLY COULD be lava! AHH! Dog, what are you doing in the lava?! Get out!! Now! Hoof it! Nooooooo – !

  3. Forgo responsibilities to take time to be outdoors or with people who make you feel happy, especially when you feel the urge to relieve stress unhealthily.What is making you stressed is not really that important in the big scheme of things: remember, we’re 26,000 light years from the center of even our own galaxy. Close your eyes. Breathe. See the ocean, mountains, snow. Imagine you´re out there for a minute. We´re a small blue dot. Gray, to a dog.
  4. Practice being playful, even when you have nothing.Example: When you see your shadow is projected on a wall and near a group of friends or strangers that can´t immediately see you, immediately break out in dance. This is especially great for the deaf and mute, if you run across or know anyone deaf and mute.
  5. Put something (like this) in your vacation auto-responder:
    ¨Out of the office. Taking time to just be a kid right now. For any urgent matters, send an email to person.responsably.sitting.at.desk@companyname.com.I´ll be back in the office at some indefinite point of time in the future, mostly likely the 8th. If I feel like it, because, you know, I might want to take an extra day to go spend quality time with friends/my kid/fur child or drive out to say hi to mom/dad/random person to make lasting memories/catch frogs/laugh until our faces hurt. If I re-think my life and decide it´s time to move forward with my life, you´ll probably continue communication with [official title of responsable guy sitting at desk] and we´ll never talk, unless we´re friends on Facebook, or actually know each other outside of the office.When/if I am back in the office, I will get back to your inqueries as soon as emotionally possible.

    Cheers, [here enter your nickname, or your real name – maybe a new nickname, that you like and hope might stick, like: Jimbo, or El Jefe, if you´re the boss and they won´t take it the wrong way, or ¨One Happy Camper¨ if you work in the outdoor industry, or anywhere really that people appreciate vacation, and camping, which they should. Or the first letter of your name, which I like – informal, short´n´sweet and to the point].¨)

Get Girls Stoked

Photo by Galen Peterson (See his Flickr)


She’s gorgeous: baby teeth awry, dirt-covered, and with an insatiable obsession with phones. Meet V, age seven, sister to three brothers and a toddling two-year-old.

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There’s a situation revolving V’s family that, for the sake of respecting her privacy, keeps this post from going too into detail about her case. But the story is a hard one: our founder works more closely with the mothers than I do and hears more of the brutality and the abusive relationships that cause cycles of violence in the community, but sometimes, from what we see and hear in the broad daylight, I just want to go up to the perpetrators and land a solid knuckle sandwich right on their drug-addict, jailbird ugly mug.

This photo was taken by Galen Peterson, who, along with Joslynn Corredor, visited us for two weeks to pitch a hand in with Escalando Fronteras, our youth program based in Mexico taking kids climbing outdoors to prevent continuing cycles of drug abuse and crime.

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Joslynn and Galen helped us out a ton: Galen was your typical engineer, so he bustled around brainstorming ideas to help us build something for the program, and abruptly one day we made shelves for our hosh-posh splat of gear in the corner of the house. Another day, Joslynn brought beanies made by her grandmother, and we delivered a bag of hats with handful of ponchos for the rain so the kids could go to school.

Jos and I may have yoinked a malnourished puppy from the hood, fed him, and touted him around with us for a day, too. The next day we did the same with a kitten. Volunteer life. So rough.

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Galen and Jos being climbers they lent us a hand with developing local boulders in our backyard as the closest collection of boulders to the city. With a serious killer donated kit of wire and plastic brushes, Jos and I, Ramon and Galen scrubbed off the silt from a previous rainy winter, printed a hand-made topo, and encouraged more climbers.

Rompe Picos is 40 minutes crossing the city, 15 from our climber refugio. The closest boulders otherwise are 8 to 12 hours away: a new area Piedritas in Coahuila, famous Peñoles to the northwest, and Hueco Tanks. The area is under a dam, with boulders, slab, highballs, lowballs and up to V8 projects.

Sick.

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By the way, this oddly-positioned absolutely MASSIVE dam above the bouldering was constructed to prevent hurricane disasters…yes, in the desert. 6 years ago, when the whole canyon system funneled hurricane rain into the city and a system of slopes lead uncountable water drops to a wide flood plain inhabited by 5-7 million human beings, all hell broke loose. The hard-packed, intolerant desert ground resists water absorption, causing serious damage from whirling, flooding, air-born weather monsters.

Rompe Picos has hidden overhangs invisible from the outside, sun-baked area.

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Last weekend, we took the kids to the new bouldering zone with US freelance photographer, climber and journalist Sasha Turrentine – who stood atop boulders with her lens aimed dirtward, and captured the chaos of 20 kids crawling over their new boulders for just the second outing.

A few from the roll:

So HEY – thanks for reading. Glad you got this far, and hope you get to see this canyon system close to Potrero Chico and El Salto.

– – Thanks also to Mad Rock Climbing, NiteIze, and our supporters for making climbing accessible to youth living in inner urban labyrinths and without access to the outdoors.

If you support climbing brands supporting youth outdoors, buy their stuff.
We use the Mad Rock R3, kid’s shoes, and harnesses for our outdoor adventures and highly recommend them for outdoor climbing adventures.

– Keep the soul awake, and the dream alive –

Tiffany Hensley

Why I Have a Strong Need to Gaze at Mountains

I set off for the second morning working with the kids gazing at the mountains, as I effing, effing love to do every day.

That day, like almost every day in the 5-million-human-dense industrial capital of Mexico, a haze of pollution clouded the steep slopes on all sides. Their heart-machine-pulse shapes, occasionally brilliant clear and peacefully pristine between the advent of a rainfall, were just phantoms of themselves, shadows made by  3am quarry explosions and poor traffic flow, both dumping a veil of lime dust and Co2 in the valley. But somehow, I still couldn’t stop gazing at those mountains.

Sparkling clear with the air of plant farts, the mountains offer cost-free therapy, endless self-reflection and golden-ratio type inspiration for the masses milling below them, and sucking wind on them: mountains make us feel small; they are immovable, timeless, all-generational landmarks orientation in our lives; they remind us to stop pussy-footing and start Sisyphus-ing; and are the only thing aside from a beautiful human figure or a vast, lapping tide-oscillating ocean that can fill a thousand-mile stare. A mountain’s endless lines of detail and four-dimension shape – which I can attest for since to me a mountain never looks the same when I see it, especially if my tiny, relatively frail human matter is on top of it (or if I go through Google images) – captures the eye and engages the human yen of incurable curiosity.

When that veil is dropped by the mines and mufflers obscuring that vision, millions citizens, and the day’s IG sunrises, are robbed of something.

The heat of a Mexican summer, bustle of industry, and a big city and bright lights makes far and distant that feeling of coziness given to pea-soup foggy days.

Instead, a resident working inside their office and looking for an answer to a fax malfunction, sales call, or life, might glance out to see the mountains shrouded from view and feel trapped inside Plato’s cave. In this case, the most elite might be content with a view of the traffic below or of clean interior white walls, and just quietly losing it while they finished pending items and faxed forms. Those walls were probably plastered and built with the same materials contracted to put finishing touches on the local mental institution’s newest ward, which has a great view of the forest behind it the board had insisted it was valuable for the mind. At any rate, an under-paid construction worker who lives in extreme poverty – his family put up in a roofless breeze-block box with a dirt ground – would also probably look up at the skyline hoping for a break from his thoughts about the lack of safety equipment required on site, and his wife’s new baby. With only the ghost of a mountain to entertain his rooftop work, he would not feel any better for stopping.

Yeah, I mean… We’re not all suddenly jubilant when small palm trees and neon strip club signs become visible from across the valley. It sure gives you something to look at, though, right? Maybe that palm tree will make us think of Hawaii, and a happy place not in an office or sun-scorched roof-top.

My point is, both demographic extremes in the largest wealth gap in Latin America spend time in Plato’s cave, and with just a small opening: a screen that can be as small as a flounder or as big as a Maui Maui. That window has the incredible capability to feed the hungry mind with any information at all, but mostly is feeds us the past and only offers glances at the present, small moments of our friends’ lives on Facebook, and some perhaps disorienting marketing messages.

Mountains are pretty sweet advertisements, though.

Case in point, the mountains are the reflections of ourselves, and when we are trapped in our own minds with blurry outlines, the image is only a upside-down flipped silhouette – the sky has fallen, and the peaks deceivingly far above and out of reach like the surface of a world apart hanging suspended above us.

On the importance of gazing at mountain ranges, we can do what we can. E.g., IG: Instagram is full of mountains towering above gorgeous lakes, and if you follow Ozturk, NatGeo and sherpa cinema like I do, these are great substitutes for the real world in those moments you can’t be in the woods or on the trail, like when you sit on the ceramic bowl at work and it may be shocking to other humans if you choose to poop outdoors with a view, say, off the roof, or in the yard.
The way I can explain the importance of gazing at mountains is a part of Vonnegut’s book Slaughter-house Five, which came to mind every time I drove to Boulder for work in 2012. The best part of my day was seeing the sun set on the expansive Rockies range, and I felt small, grateful for the outdoors, and empowered to take shit from non-one: like an Tralmafadorian, two-feet-high, green, and shaped like a plumber’s friend.

“The Tralfamadorians can look at all the different moments just that way we can look at a stretch of the Rocky Mountains, for instance. They can see how permanent all the moments are, and they can look at any moment that interests them. It is just an illusion we have here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever.

I am a Tralfamadorian, seeing all time as you might see a stretch of the Rocky Mountains. All time is all time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings or explanations. It simply is.”

Chris Sharma: Wanderlust Interview

You may not know the interesting path that led Chris Sharma to where he is now.

Here’s a bit from the interview you can find in full at Wanderlust.

By chance, a friend had mentioned an opportunity to interview Chris, and as I’d grown up in the same town and stayed at his house in Spain a few days, though I was far too shy to talk to him both as a kid, and as a lost and hitchhiking 19-year-old teenager in Barcelona, I figured, well, here’s chance to talk to him and ask him about his past – and not hurt myself. (Out of nervousness I once actually dislocated a spinal disk while trying a hard move in front of him. When I say that I was a shy kid, I mean it.)

Some digging online found, comically, another interview with Playboy Italy, posted by Climbing. 

– – – – – – – – – – – –

Interview with Chris Sharma

To the audience of mass media, Chris Sharma is a fearless athlete who defies gravity with the strength of just his fingers on cliffs, high (very high!) above a dark crashing sea; though if you ask rock climbers who’ve followed his progress the past 15 years, what they will note is that the man who carries the monk-bestowed named Sharma has conquered some of the hardest physical landmarks in the sport with incredible modesty and playfulness. Under these layers, you’ll find a story going back to when Sharma was just 17 and suffered a major knee injury that opened the question: why am I doing this?

You undertook Japan’s Buddhist pilgrimage, the Shikoku, walking over 750 miles to 88 Buddhist temples. What was the inspiration for that?

When I was 20, I had all this success in my climbing career, and had done pretty much everything I had dreamed of doing. I’d even climbed the first ascent of Realization. [At the time, the sport’s hardest line outdoors in the world, 5.15.] Between when I was 17 to 22, I was having a difficult time. On top of that, I had some serious injuries, and was questioning everything that I was doing. So growing up not only in Santa Cruz, but in a household that was Buddhist, where that was our tradition… that was my way of trying to get to the bottom of it all. So I took a trip to India, and on one of my first trips to India, I met this Japanese guy, and he told me about this pilgrimage. It sounded amazing. Right after I had done Realization, I went to Japan and…I did it. It took me about 6 weeks, and was a really powerful experience. For a week I was shown the rituals that you do, the whole process, then I did it by myself for 5 weeks.

Those kind of experiences I fall back on when I’m having a hard time, you know, to figure things out. All of that had a big impact on who I am.

– – – – –

Read the full interview here at Wanderlust.

Athlete Interview: Mar Álvarez

Below, the interview in Spanish.
For english speakers, here’s her interview in English on Rock & Ice

Some backstory. You can skip down to the interview if you’d like.

I wrote her in English and translated her responses from Spanish to English for R&I. The reason I approached Mar was because she’s the fifth woman to ever do 9a, I’d never heard of her before – and she had no sponsors, which resounded a part of my childhood. She’s also vegetarian, which is a surprise. Many of us can appreciate Mar’s focus, overcoming a lack of resources and sacrificing everything to pursue her passion. She has gone to great lengths to train better while keeping a job. Not many people can climb full-time without rich parents or moving their life into a car.

In summary, Mar’s vegetarian eating is great for sport climbing, where it is a benefit to be lighter. Her job also revolves around fitness, which as Udo Neumann once said is the basis to all climbing – it just depends what you do with it. If you listen to a lot of climbers’ interviews, you’ll see a common trend in training that focuses first on fitness. Then they add shoulder power and finger strength and the life. To conclude, if  you lift and move all day, hike mountains, and eat well, this sounds like work – but it’s great for fitness.

On a side note, very little climbing literature exists in Spanish compared to English. This seems to seriously blunt the growth of the sport in training circles in countries that don’t primarily speak English and in Mexico I continually find myself wishing Eric Horst was born in Spain.

Other links:
Crux Crush
Mar Alvarez Blog
Namuss Films on EpicTV: How to Climb 9a and Hold Down a Job

 

 

– – – – – – – – –

Interview with Mar Alvarez

What city do you train in? Did you design your training area?

Entreno en el mismo pueblo donde vivo, en Estadilla (Huesca). Cuando me vine a vivir aquí con David, hace 4 años, no había ningún tablón ni rocódromo cerca, por lo que para poder entrenar teníamos que desplazarnos bastantes kilómetros y, por tanto, perder bastante tiempo en los desplazamientos. Teniendo unos horarios laborables que cumplir, se nos hacía imposible ir más de 2 o 3 veces por semana. Además, se trataba de tablones pequeños en los que, para nuestro gusto, faltaban ciertos elementos importantes para poder entrenar bien. Por todo ello, decidimos hacernos un tablón particular lo más cerca posible de donde vivíamos, lo que nos permitía a la vez hacerlo y diseñarlo a nuestro gusto.

What specific antagonist exercises do you do most?

Intento trabajar los antagonistas de los músculos que más influyen en la escalada, como pueden ser los extensores de dedos, manguitos rotadores del hombro, tríceps y pectoral. Los ejercicios los hago con gomas elásticas y con pesas. 

What is your training for finger strength?

Haciendo suspensiones. Son muy aburridas pero es lo que mejor me va para eso. La forma de hacerlas va variando en función del ciclo de entreno en que esté y de cómo voy progresando. En este aspecto me ayuda Pedro Bergua (escalador, entrenador y amigo), quien está metido de lleno en el estudio de cómo optimizar y hacer más eficientes los entrenos. 

How many hours a week do you train?

Según el ciclo en el que esté, entreno más o menos horas. Los ciclos más suaves pueden estar entre las 15-20 horas semanales, mientras que los más duros pueden rondar las 25 horas. A eso habría que sumarle el par de días a la semana que salgo a correr y los ratos que dedico a los estiramientos. 
Esto es lo que intento hacer y cómo me lo planifico, aunque luego no siempre lo puedo cumplir porque el trabajo no me lo permite.

What do you often eat for protein? Are you vegetarian?

Procuro cuidar la alimentación pero no hasta el punto de planificar la frecuencia con la que como unos u otros alimentos. Las semanas en las que más duro entreno o escalo sí que procuro comer más proteína, pero no es algo que calcule o planifique. 

Sí que soy vegetariana, De hecho lo soy desde casi siempre, ya que mis padres lo son. Es algo que ellos me inculcaron (nunca me obligaron, de hecho de pequeña comía carne en el colegio pero fui yo quien decidí no seguir haciéndolo), y como me ha ido siempre muy bien, he seguido siéndolo. Además de ser vegetariana, intento comer lo más natural y ecológico posible.

What education do you have?

Estudié la carrera de Administración y Dirección de Empresas y también  el curso de Auditoría de Cuentas. Durante unos años ejercí como tal, pero no acababa de llenarme del todo, así que lo dejé todo y me preparé para ser bombero (durante este tiempo de preparación, 3 años, tuve que dejar completamente de escalar). Y ahora trabajo como bombero.

Van, Life, Food: Coco PB Quinoa Bars

I fundraised, started, and promptly stopped talking about a climbing vanlife food recipe book last year just before August. At that time, I took on Move Mountains, a 3-month slideshow and gear-collecting road trip that increased the testing and experimenting of recipes while traveling with various friends in Squamish, Leavenworth, Smith Rock, Castle Rock, American Fork, the Rockies, El Salto, and Potrero Chico – to name a few crags – and squatting the climbing gym parking lots en route and between these areas in 8 states.

Here’s a new recipe made with just a stove and GSI Outdoors pan.

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Coco PB Quinoa Bars
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WallE’s trusty GSI pan

Coco PB Quinoa Energy Bars

It’s vegan, almost paleo, and easily varied for all you special types of foodivores. I’m lactose intolerant, gluten reactive, and transitioning vegan to paleo, but it doesn’t stop me from eating buttery cookies and adding milk to coffee.

I highly recommend having coconut oil and coconut butter in your kitchen, even if you love dairy and olive oil.

  • Toast Quinoa and Seeds on your van’s Coleman/Whisper/mini-kitchen in a dry pan.
    (Not gluten-free? Add oats.) Set aside.
  • Mix 2 spoonfuls of coconut oil with 1 spoon each of coconut butter (and/or real butter), honey/agave/maple syrup, pb/almond butter, and seeds –> chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame.
  • And add a pinch of salt.
  • Top off the wet mix with any whimful combination of the following: ground flax, cocao, cinnamon, bee pollen, vanilla extract.
  • Toss in toasted ingredients, mix.
  • Sneak into the cooler/fresh snow outside/your solar-powered mini-fridge/ or a friend’s refrigerator to set for about 1 hour.

Turning Injury Into Motivation

This is a common case:

Athlete hits a plateau in their many years of climbing and tries to push through it by doing pretty much more of the same thing. First, an injury significantly decreases their climbing capacity, and they take a little bit of time off. After returning to climbing again, and doing the same thing as before without physical therapy, they begin to experience subsequent injuries as a result of muscle imbalance and compensation. This leads to a host of chronic issues, a very long time off the horse, and in this time, the athlete spends hours scouring blogs, articles, and YouTube channels to beef up on injury prevention. They train with a plan, using their downtime to raise motivation, and train intelligently to come back stronger.

This is me.

I was a talented, bull-headed youth competitor in California who was proud not to have a coach. In 2008, much to my surprise, I won the 2008 North American Climbing Championship in sport climbing ahead of Paige Claassen and Emily Harrington, placed 4th in my first Bouldering World Cup, and went to the World Games in Taiwan. I trained, sure – but without any research, just guesswork and experimentation with workouts and diets. In 2009, I wandered abroad in Europe and climbed 8a+ in France, felt good about myself, and in 2010 I left California to live in Colorado and train with the best. Everything was going generally well, with just a few injury hiccups here and there.

In spite of being a decently strong female climber, making all the right steps getting a job at a gym and dropping out of college (twice), I stopped progressing. I couldn’t keep up with the other ladies, and the barrier was becoming something different.

Mistakenly, I thought 10+ years of climbing had taught me pretty much everything about the physical side of training. Six years later, I was making the effort to break what I thought was a mental plateau through trad climbing, when instead I broke my ankle.

Learning about injuries, I realized the problem was definitely mental, but it wasn’t fear.
My plateau was out of ignorance.

They say things don’t leave us in life until they teach us all they know. I made all the classic mistakes with the ankle break, and the path to recovery became much longer and more painful than it should have been – I had a lot to learn from the great teacher Injury.

I ran, like I used to – the ankle hurt worse, the knee and hips couldn’t handle it.
I climbed, compensating with my shoulders – a rotator cuff got inflamed.
I continued pushing through – the other shoulder began to hurt.
I finally strengthened antagonists – and sent 3 V9s in the gym.

I started reading more voraciously.

When I moved from Colorado to Mexico, from US’s competitive climbing hub to a country where climbing training material was not nearly as abundant in Spanish, I felt like a fountain of information. Only then did I realize all my answers were based on anecdotal evidence rather than research about climbing training and injuries; they were also asking a lot of questions I’d never thought to ask myself.

Sure, I’d read Dave McLeod’s extensively detailed books, and taken some wisdom from blogs, but they were not concreted in my memory and I had no technical sports training. I couldn’t even tell you the pulleys in the fingers.

Only then did I realize how diverse and specialized were the parts to a long and successful training career, and how much information there is.

This is fairly late in the game, since I started climbing 17 years ago, but it’s never too late to start climbing smarter. I’m proud to say that a month ago I sent a 5.13b third try, close to the personal record of 5.13c and V10.

I’m going to share some of my training findings here.

Thanks all for listening to my story.

Train hard, and \m/ on.

Tiff

 

The Move Mountains Tour

The Move Mountains Tour: An Adventurous Road Trip in Philanthropy

Sponsored by: Mad Rock Climbing, KAVU Clothing
Supported by: Maxim Ropes, NiteIze Inc,  Petzl

Tour Map

My mail goes to my parents in CA, and my cards and license are attached to a PO Box in Boulder, CO.

However, Mexico feels as much as a home base as Colorado and California.

When Climbing Borders started in 2014, I climbed with kids and helped with USA fundraising. Now the program is grown, and we’re climbing strong as a climbing team, and building the gym in a 3-year donated space from the government. Move Mountains Tour was to help open a highly mis-publicized and poorly understood Mexico to climbers and clarify the over-hyped risks posed to visitors.

– – – – – – – – – –

Long story short, The Move Mountains Tour was a sponsored 3 months of slideshows, collecting $10,000 in gear and funds while I bounced my Sprinter van “Wall-E” from state to state. Myself, sometimes with Rory and Ramon, who flew out to join me for large sections of the road trip, talked to groups at gyms about building at-risk youth climbing refuges as a model for incredible NGO programs in developing countries, like Climbing Borders in Mexico. In the Bay Area, Squamish, even with booths at the OR Show’s Reel Rock Premier and Psicocomp in SLC, we educated the public about volunteering/climbing in Mexico with our youth program. We inspired a lot of people to go to Mexico, and answered a lot of questions – mainly, do you feel it’s dangerous to go to Mexico? Yes, if you walk across the border in a “I Heart Donald Trump” t-shirt. Otherwise, no. Oakland, CA was far more sketchy.

It’s a long story. The Move Mountains Tour traveled from Santa Cruz, CA (my hometown) over 4,000 miles, up north to Squamish, west to Colorado, and south to Monterrey, Mexico. We held a dozen slideshows, presented to hundreds, and twice partnered with bigger fundraising events. UrbanAscent in Idaho donated 50% of proceeds in their competition Urban Legends, where Rory and I gave our first stage-fright-fueled speech on the gym’s counter with a microphone, and Matt Fultz competed and gave the crowd an unforgettable performance.

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The second, in climbing bubble Boulder, CO, BEYONDTalks with Asa Firestone, Andrew Lenz of Brazil’s youth climbing project, myself as a director with CB/EF, and one of our program founders, Rory Smith which presented in Boulder, CO at Twisted Pine Brewing and unveiled a part of Three Peak’s then-unreleased film “Hecho en Mexico”. Christopher Weidner wrote a piece about it that published in the Daily Camera.

Daily Camera – Climbing Out of Poverty by Christpher Weidner

Move Mountains Tour north shore final

Success and Impact: We were unbelievably successful, I think mostly in part because we kept ourselves open to unexpected resources (another of saying that we were, basically, desperate). Also, gyms are transitioning to color-coordinated setting to save tape and cleaning out their old holds. At the second slideshow, we walked away with 300 good climbing holds from GWPC. In Seattle the SBP gym gave us hundreds of shoes in ten large bags.

On a Friday evening, when Valerie and I sat in the Redpoint Depot in Smith Rocks, we were given a lead on EntrePrise. “Wow, it’s just an hour away in Bend? Wait a minute.” I called them.”If you can get here in an hour, we’ve got some stuff for you.” I look at my climbing partner, Valerie, this small German girl enjoying a spontaneous vacation away from the tail end of an obscenely boring, unpaid internship in Vancouver. “Can we leave, like, right now?” I ask. We didn’t even put down her light-weight tent, just threw in in the back of Wall-E and booked it to Bend.

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That day, on another hunch, we called Bend Rock Gym. It was as easy as, “Totally. We have two big bins for you.”

I was so excited that I broke the window shield with my spine while taking a photo of BRG’s donations.

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The Move Mountain Tour had a massive outreach in the global climbing community.

I feel as if everyone’s heard about us somehow by now, because we tried to hit the key nerves of the community, from the OR Show, Psicocomp, Reel Rock, and our incredible Ambassadors. We thanked Renan and Honnold personally for their support (though they were as tired of socializing at OR as we were) and garnered a lot of information about fundraising and events for the next tour.

We reached over a thousand, face-to-face, taking into account the Craggin Classic and other events we crashed, unannounced and sometimes without paying. And the crags of course. We reached easily a hundred thousand through media like Chris’ write-up in the Daily, from gym events, sponsors, web pages, and the social media channels of all of the above in the US, Canada, and Mexico. We promoted ourselves and other youth projects, with a mission of youth outdoor education and stewardship. We increased interest and gave information on climbing tourism in Mexico.

We even connected with similar NGOs like The Boulders and Climb’n’Conquer in Vancouver to swap notes and share psych.
I managed to squeeze in Episode 44 with ChalkTalk’s John Blomquist (it was hard to follow up the Ep.43 w/ Alex Puccio) somewhere on the side of Highway 5 in Washington, south of Seattle, on my way to the Portland Boulder Rally, where I got to sit with half of America’s strongest and interview them for the Live Stream, and mention our program in Mexico.

When Ramon helped me drive it all across the border to Mexico through the town of Laredo, fresh from picking up donations at ClimbTech’s HQ in Austin, the sprinter set off the weight alarm, and so we opened the back to customs. They had a field day: here were hangboards, ropes, harnesses, jackets, massive bin on top of massive bin, all well over the max import donation value. We could have brought more holds and donations, crash pad flooring, more workout equipment. We should have had a trailer. Maybe next time.

 

– – – – – – – – –

So. Mexico. How did I get there? Here’s a longer explanation.

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My first time in Mexico, I went on an initial scout with documenting-obsessed (typically British) climbing area developer named Gaz Leah, author of NY Bouldering Guide, who I had begged, pleaded, and coaxed into going with me for just a week, insisting that he needed to take a break from divorce problems and the NY grind. That week went well, he was stoked, but we weren’t able to meet with the youth project’s director, who was on vacation. I dropped him off in Austin to fly back to the big apple, and I considered going back south.

The suggested guidelines of travel in Mexico by the Mexican Embassy are: Don’t drive in the night. Don’t go alone. Don’t ask for directions.

I knew the second exploratory mission was a mess from the start. I had had a momentary panic attack in the McDonalds in Nuevo Laredo, just after crossing the border, when all the fears I had of Mexico ganged up on me – like how little money I had, that I’d forgotten to change for pesos at the border, and that I, really, had no idea what I was doing. Was this responsible? Was this the right choice?

After I got lost driving in the city well after nightfall, and asked strangers for directions, I thought – well, to hell with it. Just like the 6-month road trip I had come from, and everything else in my life at the time, visiting this project (and coming down a second time alone) was all on a whim. There was no serious plan here, so I may as well break all the rules and enjoy the fire-juggling happening at the intersection while I’m rapid-firing texting expensive messages to the US for directions.

But the full seriousness of the city’s problems, and the importance of this program, all struck home, all at once, on day one. Driving to the neighborhood, Nadia confirmed for me the corruption, the endless social and economic problems, including drug addiction. This was stuff I’d read about my whole life, as an unsocial introvert in a sheltered lifestyle in luxurious California. What would I see? As we walk up a dirt street, breeze block shacks on the sides, Nadia checks in on families like a social worker, asks about school, family members, and tells them I was a professional climber (which I could argue I wasn’t, but this obviously inspired the kids) and at last, my strongest memory. I bump fists with long-time drug addicts who are so far gone they look like zombies. (I still jokingly refer to them as zombies with the kids, though they are very often relatives of theirs.) The most profound element about the experience was seeing them actually in the vice of their addiction – they opening huffed paint thinner, like it was a cigarette, and we were in France. What. The. Fuck.

I had been intimidated by the concept of going south. Everyone – parents, friends, strangers – told me it was dangerous. They had seen headlines, heard horror stories about that one guy who was hacked to pieces. I was terrified at first to go to this Iran of the PanAm; I was white, a girl, broke, in an obvious van with ridiculous stickers, spoke piss-poor Spanish, in a van that didn’t even lock properly, with a just the bark of an excitable and harmless collie to protect it from marauders. But I know people are always afraid of things they don’t know enough about. So any threat of violence to myself was not actually scary. Isolated areas of poverty where harmful drug abuse was socially acceptable because education and development were blunted by a lack of resources – that was scary. The fact that it can happen, that you can grow up being that kid who is stunted emotionally and physically because of violence, neglect, and malnutrition.

The following 6 months after finishing the whimful roadtrip, I scrapped up money in the used gear store in Boulder (Boulder Sports Recycler) and slept in my van in the parking lot, emailing sponsors and planning to go back for four months, and use my van to help the program.

I thought the idea was crazy, and up in the air, until the day we left. I was broke still, paying to fix my van, and just three months before launch date I broke my ankle with a large flake on Rainbow Highway, on which we enjoyed a pleasant  3-mile hobble out in a thunderstorm, fortunately with the ever-ready, amazing, now YOSAR-employed Helen Sinclair.

That four month stint in Mexico turned into almost a year because I picked up teaching English. In case you’re wondering, no, I have never taken a teaching course. However, it paid 50% better than the intensely knowledgeable position at the used gear store in Colorado, and pretty much required no special academic expertise aside from making conversation about whatever (politics, religion, life, NPR articles, etc). As a plus, the moped commute between classes on Mexican highways was far more exciting than sitting behind the counter answering questions about the difference between water-proof and water-resistant TNF Mountain Series jackets.

(If you’re interested in working in the large city next to four major climbing areas, including Potrero Chico and El Salto, and speak English natively, just ask.)

I established a base in Mexico, and decided to do the reverse in 2015. I’d go to the States (which weirdly now felt like “abroad”) for 4 months to do a road trip and fundraising tour.

– – – – – – – – –

THE MOVE MOUNTAINS TOUR: Organizing a 3-Month, 4,000-Mile Tour To Raise $10,000 In Gear

Why Move Mountains Tour? Well, I thought naïvely that I could easily combine the original impulsive dirtbag climbing road trip of North America with a philanthropic slideshow tour. I could use the same sponsors who promoted my climbing to now promote a climbing project, climbing a shit ton between presentations, and teach clinics to stay afloat. I’d start in Santa Cruz, CA where I grew up, go north to Squamish (because it’s Squamish) and hit Idaho and Utah on the way to the finale in Colorado. I was broke, and I was terrified of speaking. But forgetting all that…

Although ‘staying afloat’ and ‘climbing a shit ton’ is the dirtbag way, it was far from smooth sailing. Because I planned the events up the West Coast and out to Colorado so they were spread out in major cities with a few days in between, the trip offered very clear, inflexible deadlines. It was stressful to plan public speaking when I have severa stage fright, but I was also irresponsibly broke, and halfway through was obliged to sell my beloved Canon, which I’d bought half a decade ago. parting with my camera was necessary, though, to take advantage of detours to learn from NGOs similar to Climbing Borders.

One example is The Boulders on Vancouver Island, an UNbelievably successful (and possibly the only) not-for-profit climbing gym in North America. I’d only planned to visit the Climb And Conquer Project in the Vancouver on shore, for which I am an Ambassador, and I didn’t know The Boulders existed until a few days before leaving Canada, via the Climbing Business Journal. My college student Chase Bank account could barely handle the $12 overnight Park-and-Go fee at the Tsawwassen ferry port, so I cut the visit very short – 24 hours – and asked every goddamn question I could think of. My gracious and hospitable host, Kimanda Jarzebiak, founder, answered everything she could in a surprisingly transparent way. I sent all my notes in a document to the other directors, and it was an incredible resource. Well worth the last $20. I felt, at the time, that it even validated the whole Tour to see an NGO so focused, organized, successful. Here was a 3 million dollar gym, a model we could look up to, in a town with a population of 16,000 when our city has 1.4 million. The Boulders was physical proof that the sky was possible in the realm of NGO climbing gyms.

I also spent a lot of time on my computer doing emails for Mad Rock, interviews, and organizing slideshows, instead of actually climbing. Another 150+ of those hours was driving.

– – – – – – – – – –

Psicocomp & Reel Rock in Salt Lake City, UT
Before starting the trip, I flew straight from Mexico to Los Angeles, and sat for 3 weeks in the offices of my employer Mad Rock Climbing. For me, office work in a chair and cubicle sounds like living hell. I have nightmares of sitting in a cubicle that go back as far as first grade – though I have no idea why. Mad Rock headquarters, however, was not so bad, I know and understand the crew, and simply I slaved away to pay the over-worked credit card, bagging my first online-published interview on Rock&Ice for Mad Rock athlete Jesse Grupper, and creating a more enabled level of the Team for dedicated athletes much like myself (but far cooler) to pursue their dreams.

The three weeks finished in a fantastic blur of motion, with an incredible successful outdoor brands convention (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market) for both Mad Rock and the sponsorship of the Move Mountains Tour.

Ramon flew in to help with Climbing Borders, so after my allotted time at the MR booth, at 12pm we speed-walked to sponsors for the Tour and gave the shpeal. It went something like, “Our youth project in Mexico is Climbing Borders, we’re doing a 7-state slideshow tour at major climbing gyms and need gear raffle sponsors. Here’s the website, our email. We have a booth at Reel Rock and Psicocomp. Who do we talk to/ What can you give?” Friends introduced us to new connections, and we wrote emails on our hands. If we managed to talk to the marketing or sponsoring director, they always said yes.

Yes, we had a booth at Reel Rock’s premier in SLC and the Psicobloc Masters deep-water-soloing competition.

The Move Mountain Tour sponsors we collected in SLC are mostly brands I already know and work with. Mad Rock Climbing, of course, they had readily donated very essential gear for the program, mostly adjustable rental harnesses and shoes. Rob from Maxim Ropes promised giveaway ropes, the main lure to the Move Mountain Tour’s fundraising gear raffles. The up-beat brand KAVU said, “No problem, we’ll send a big box of stuff”.  Julianne from Voltaic Systems, our friend Matt from NiteIze, and even Petzl threw in.