Escalando Fronteras Clip


We took a group of kids to climb in the city’s canyon today, and hastily put the footage into this short clip about Escalando Fronteras.


Drawing – It’s Not Something I Do, But…

I’ve recently been inspired to use a new medium to share what I see in Monterrey, and sit down and draw places and people that we normally take photos of. Here, we took a slight detour from our usual route when we exit Huasteca, taking a short road that ended abruptly where it has been eaten by a hurricane, and rocks protected the drop off. Shacks and fences were made from scrap metal and wood, and trees and plants seemed to hold everything together to keep from being blown away. Although the street never got traffic, and was unremarkable, I wanted to try to capture the tacked-together scrap pieces, layer of pretty trees, and the mountain range Sierra de las Mitras in the background.


Corn and Cement: The Taste of Monterrey

The bizarre and large flood plains that are Monterrey and the larger state of Nuevo Leon were originally dubbed “Extremoduro” by an early colonist, or “extremely hard”, and hold 5 million people, making it the third largest city in Mexico (behind Guadalajara and Mexico City). Cement is a highly visible part of the city: not only does the beautiful mountain range of Sierra las Mitras, which splits the city, have large visibly exposed quarries on both sides, but unpainted cinder blocks lay foundation for countless poverty polygons. During operational hours, the quarries’ factories belch diurnal dust in drifting plumes over the west end of the Monterrey.

Cement, in fact, can be tasted, smelled, and visible by the city’s inhabitants. The dust finds a way into everything, coating the sidewalks after a heavy rain, and leaving a similar silt layer of lime on the bottom of the boiled kettle.

Elote is the Mexican street corn, topped cheese, mayonnaise, a spicy cayenne pepper mix, and a slightly soured cream similar to France’s “crème fraîche”. The smell of elote, Monterrey’s perhaps second most salient ingredient, just a culinary topping to the sprawling cement sea, dances through one of the also richest cities in Latin America by escaping the tarps of corn stands from large cooking pots, curling in the nose of pedestrians, and snaking tiny tendrils through the streets of the barrios, not very far, into dark abandoned structures, through windows dark and empty like the eyes of long-gone addicts.

On hazy days, though I can’t actually smell it, I fancy the dust from the cement quarry must sift down from their plumes to collect in the furrowed streets to partner in the dance of the smell of elote.


Time Wave Zero

Although there are no photos, I did Time Wave Zero last week when I’m not even supposed to be jogging yet. The ankle is recovering, and it’s tender, and I am still having some trouble going up stairs.

We blasted up the 23 pitches in a personal record of 17 hours.
It was a first for a lot of things:

Stuck Rope Panic Attack

We’re Out of Water Panic Attack

Assisted Haul Up a 5.12a

8am Alpine Start

…as well as my first ever big wall.

It was quite an adventure, and gave me the kick in the ass I needed.

This is Tiffany, signing off.

Project WallE: Noviembre

Here’s a teaser video with Gaz bolting a line in Guitarritas, a canyon waaay far back in Parque la Huasteca.

We’ve just seen the Banff Film Festival, where Escalando Fronteras’ program leader Rory Smith surprised us by having his video shown on the big screen, then bringing Gaz and I to join him, Ramon, and Nadia up on stage to represent the program while he talked to the audience.

To paint a picture of our experience in our new home so far, we’re in a cozy colonia with trees framing graffiti work eponymous to the artists. Our house has protective metal bars to keep out beaver-sized animals, and even the two upstairs windows have shadow puppets of pointed iron arches within tiny squares of light. The newly installed wi-fi has a fitful temperament, so as a result we share the modem cable. César had visited to fix the wifi on the first day, when I was alone in the house with a locked outer gate, and he had no hesitation in jumping over the fence to replace the modem.

Last Import - 26

The house is by no means shabby: we are actually in a very nice, quiet neighborhood next to a playground, and the national Parque La Huasteca. The graffiti by Tonda13 has a nice flare in their penmanship; the street is filled with trees, friendly dogs with dreaded hair; and only the occasional advertising car blasting the same pre-recording commercial about “tortillas amarillas”. On our left is a Déportivo, a small local bar (or a room with a few folded chairs where men get “barracho” and talk about the old days when they used to run in fit, younger bodies). There are also two tienditas – “little stores” – hoarding Penguïno packages and Modelo beer, tostadas, frijoles, and dish soap, allowing just enough space between the cigarrones and bag of pork rinds to squeeze to the counter and pay.

When we arrived, the house was stripped of furniture, and we now have a spare futon and mattress for visitors. Staying with us now is a cheerful British friend of Gaz’s, Adam, who we’ve happily pulled into our communal meals and with whom we have shared a healthy dose of Cards Against Humanity.

I can’t wait for Steven Lozano to visit us in January and help us develop with another drill. My ankle is healing slowly, and I can hike up a rope to take photos and video, even climb .12b, but can’t do any long venturing to help develop Huasteca.

Until next time!

Project WallE in Monterrey, Mexico

The two of us, Gaz and I, on our way to our destination of Monterrey, visited Potrero Chico and stayed several nights in La Posada, which has camping, hammocks over a pool, a nice restaurant, communal cooking area, a grocery store just a half mile back down the road, and Luigi’s pizza and climbing gear stand just below the walls. The area has been considered national park space since 1959, and caters to visiting climbers.

We’re officially in Monterrey as of three days ago, in the third largest city in Mexico, also known in the past two years as the murder capital of the world. The city has quieted down since 2012, and although no tourist hostels remain due to the drop off in travelers, and still many climbers hop over the border to multi-pitch in El Potrero Chico, sport climb in El Salto, and boulder in Penoles. The city is built on white concrete, and the mountains are shrouded in pollution and dust.

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The climbing area we live near now is the Parque la Huasteca, which was developed decades ago and has a guidebook out by Ramon Narvaez, one of our roommates. (The canyon is massive, harboring caves and tall slabs prickled with lechuguilla, mala mujer, scorpions, centipedes, and hundreds of routes. On our last trip, a lechuguilla plant left a hand-sized bruise where it stabbed me in the leg, and we’ve heard of mala mujer giving massive, unpleasant rashes to one of the past developers. This week, we’ll be posting more photos of what we find.)

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When I post tomorrow, I’ll take more pictures and share some video of the neighborhood.

Vantarian Tips: 1 Year of Van Life

Six months ago, I wrote some thoughts down about what I’d learned about cooking, and only since then have I recently finished maturing into a truly healthy eater. At the time, it was one year since I had moved out of a two-story townhouse (with a small yard, HOA fees, an HD television) and into sixty square feet of mobile housing.

Holy whale balls!

So on the road, people of every demographic pegged me with questions about van life – do you shower? How’s the gas mileage? Most importantly, do you eat well? While one old couple in New Orleans asked me about the heat, they could hardly keep my collie from climbing into their car and settling under the AC.

To give you some background story, I spent half that Van Year on the move, satisfying a drive to see the continent in its entirety: together with my dog, we rolled van twenty-four thousand miles to places like LA, up the Pacific Coast to Squamish, Mexico, Toronto, Ohio, Colorado, NYC, and an endless, endless number of small towns. I spent another 6 months after that in parking lots in Boulder, working at the Boulder Gear Exchange and instructing at The Spot Bouldering Gym.

Here’s three main things I learned about cooking while traveling on the road.

Foremost: Have an efficient kitchen.

For me, efficient means minimal effort, minimal time, and maximized use of space. I used GSI Outdoors equipment because they have lightweight, packable cooking ware. They began as a construction company in San Diego, and now sell in Canada’s Mountain Equipment Co-op, REI, and even across the pond. The gear I used is pictured above, and included the Minimalist and the Java Commuter. Their cooking pans also cook fast, clean quickly, and store easily. Every meal cooked in 15 minutes, was eaten in 10, and cleaned up in 5.

My only concern was a question brought to my attention by a devout vegan and healthitarian: what chemicals were in the non-stick pan? Was plastic a fair exchange for wood? But on the go, this wasn’t a concern. I was always on the move, healthier than ever, and happier than a pig in slop. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say I was like Fringe’s Folly on a successful Trader Joe’s dumpster dive.

Two: Don’t cook every meal.

Surprisingly little really needs to be cooked: eggs and meat. Anything I’m missing? Coffee, salad, nuts, dip, oatmeal, edible fruit, can all be raw or instant. Oatmeal? Boom, I didn’t need milk. Add water and let it sit a bit, German style. Epic tupperware is your best friend, and don’t forget to bring food with you all the time. Foldable, cleanable utensils make a world of difference when I’m eating quickly. Last, carry bell peppers and a bit of dark chocolate. These satisfy your hunger, are delicious, and peppers are very high on the ANDI nutrition ranking from Whole Foods. Refrigeration is a nice perk, and certainly long trips require food storage.

Three: When cooking, use wine

If you’re making a nice meal, go the whole 9 yards, don’t stop one bottle short of the good life. If the van is in an amiable climate, I recommend a reclosable box of White Zinfandel for cooking chicken (my fav) but there’s also sherry, champagne, and white wine, and other options to explore with other meats. This really kicks the level of sophistication up a notch, and is mandatory for wheel homes converted with nice wooden floors. 😉

Hope that helps with any future vanlifers buying (or still dreaming about) the mobile life!

If you have any questions or need some specific direction, vegan tips, lifestyle adjustments, etc, shoot me a message on Facebook.

Rock on! \m/