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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


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


Moving to Mexico

In 2013, with the help of sponsors GSI Outdoors, Mad Rock Climbing, and KAVU, I ditched a townhouse to live in a van on a six-month road trip around North America. The 2005 Dodge Sprinter was unconverted, so I slept for most of that time on boxes, and on cold days curled up with my border collie. In March, we came across Monterrey, Mexico…and now a year later and four months deep into a visa, I’ve found myself moving in, sharing rent and getting a work permit.

How did this happen? Why would someone from the USA move to MTY?

“Sometimes life is like a movie.” This comes to mind a lot lately, with all the serendipitous and incredible experiences I’ve had these past four months, working with unbelievably inspirational people. It’s actually a quote from Mr. P, a substitute economics teacher I had in high school who could beat-box and speak arabic, who also dropped this sentence on his teenage economics students as through the square classroom window they watched a new classmate with Turrets run around the yard hurling insults at bewildered teachers and karate chopping a small planted tree. Yes, I realized from then on… If you can take a step back and see life through a screen, or a window, life is just like like a movie: just as tragic, just as hilarious, and just as profoundly unbelievable.

What happened is that I found something unbelievable in Mexico, and it wasn’t the addicts and beggars, as one might think. Nope, all major cities – the US too, of course – have problems with poverty, and even worse, governmental neglect. What I found past the hovels without roofs and shantytowns hidden by flashy billboards, the thing that was unbelievable, was the people working to actually change these situations. A team was coming together as an organization and talking directly to sharp and restless youth in the tightly-knit, drug-laden neighborhoods. They were taking them climbing to give them a different kind of ‘high’.

In Monterrey, as other places, the doors are always open to situations we often hear about in the news, in books, and in movies…but through affluence or ignorance, we barricade ourselves inside invisible walls to stay blind to these discrepancies, feeling ourselves victims for witnessing the suffering because the sight is so painful to see.

Much as my step father refuses to admit they did anything useful, the months of traveling after high school opened my eyes to the invisible walls, the barricade; left me realizing how little I knew, and young I was; instilled in me a growing indignation at ignorance and suffering. When I was 14, and left the country for the first time, I saw how a child that grows up in urban Beijing thinks nothing of walking past beggars with feet swathed in cling wrap to display tuberculosis. They saw the beggar everyday; whereas I and my mother were shocked into mutual silence. At the time, I thought ignoring the woman was another form of maturity, an acceptance to what life brings, or God decrees, or whatever…

But each day, even to the present day, I grew more certain this was wrong to do and that unacceptably, undoubtedly, somewhere else in the world there was a solution for this woman – and also for the man without legs beside her, the old hag forcefully grabbing half-empty drinks from tourist’s hands, and the child without empathy; somewhere there was doctor willing to do a surgery, a therapy, a prosthetic to solve any problem…and education to cultivate those solutions.

I believe the biggest problem is the invidious belief that you can do nothing. That is the very worst fallacy of human nature. That last day before we left, I gave the man without legs the last of my trip money, and I hope I never grow up.


That Ridiculous Trip to Mexico

In March I made two trips to Mexico, and the second trip was absolutely soulfully lucrative. We wandered the art street, worked with Escalando Fronteras, and ran up to El Salto. Here’s some photos!



Putting Down The Predator, 5.13b

Since driving north to NYC, I’ve climbed at The Cliffs in LIC and Valhalla and bouldered a bit in the mossy green, bug-ridden northeast…and I even got to revisit RUMNEY!

And guess what?

I SENT PREDATOR 5.13b!!!!!

Why am I so excited about this climb? Well, for one, it’s tall, proud, and beautiful. Second, I tried this problem just once before on a fun New Hampshire trip for the PrAna-sponsored LT11 Rumney video that raised money for the AccessFund.

The climb kicked my ass that day. We’d all bouldered and found some natural water slides, and had a great trip overall just getting lost, eating pancakes, and catching frogs, and we’d wandered up to Predator, where LouderThan11 got gorgeous footage of me working the entire problem. The fact the video made it appear I’d done the climb had always kind of bothered me…I had actually been terrified of the long drop beneath me, pumped out of my mind, and swapping bugs the whole way, and was hanging on every draw.

Coming back to the northeast, it’s funny how I ended up there again, this time with NYC climber Gareth Leah who works at The Cliffs, and who’s editor of the NYC Bouldering guide published by Sharp End. (Who are also publishing Vertical Mind << I highly recommend this book from Sharp End!)

On the way up to Rumney I had no plans to climb hard, and I haven’t been training intensely at all. But since I began traveling in the climbing van with a hyper border collie, I’ve actually spent very little time focusing on training, and instead I’ve been staying on my feet all day, running into the mountains occasionally and socializing more than anything else.

So I’ve been feeling really light and strong in general…I guess this is the perk of having a mobile life!

Predator went down in three solid tries after the end of the second day, and it felt good to get on a hard sport route again.

My Guest Blog for “Vertical Mind”

“Why Mental Training is So Important: 5 Tips to being mentally tough – by Tiffany Hensley”

I wrote some thoughts about climbing for the authors of Vertical Mind Book, and Don gave it an exciting title!

It’s something I find the United States climbing community needs.
Everyone could be a little less stressed, a little happier, and more mentally stable.

Not that we’re not –
I’m just saying that –


Don McGrath: “I was really lucky to recently connect with competitive climber Tiffany Hensley at a recent ABS event. Tiffany was super enthusiastic about our new book Vertical Mind because she has come to know the importance of her own mental game when it comes to high performance climbing. I was excited when she offered…”

Read the full blog:

Horse Flats

Horse Flats, Southern California. Kenny (the manager of Mad Rock), a climber and cop named Eddie B, Melissa Tomes, and myself pulled together as a team to make a collective 100 points on Saturday for a good, fun day. People are awesome, and it’ll be sad and good to move on to the Bay Area from here. But I’ll see Mad Rock in Salt Lake City.

Matt Fultz

A number of people sent Meadowlark Lemon V13 this weekend, among them were Robyn’s ABC kids Brooke and Shawn, Mirko Caballero, and Idahoian Matt Fultz.

Mirko made since he’s only 12 years old!

So psyched to be out on the road with good people, good wine, and a good dog to share the experience!

Tomorrow I’ll go back to Lethal Design, to see if I can pull off the key powerful move from the beginning.