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.
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.
Sinking deeper and deeper into that familiar feeling of crazy depression, my ankle felt almost worse.
For four months, I haven’t been able to climb without pain, and climbing is my very simple world. Am I losing grip on my 17-year-old passion, slowly and involuntarily? Is this the end? Should I finish up that business degree, take up art, and make strides toward my dream to open a climber cafe in a spanish-speaking country near a climbing area?
Quickly after getting back on track, I realized how my own denial had caused me to make serious mistakes.
Mistake One: The Adjustment Bureau
Denial took it’s first tottering baby step a few week after surgery, during a visit to the physical therapist. When I asked “How long until I can go for a run?” and the doctor’s answer was “Ah, well…” – I blinked, and my heart skipped a beat (already, denial was causing arrhythmia). The doctor continued: “Don’t even think about running until after 6 months. For now, try the stretches first, then maybe walking…then maybe swimming…” (Swimming? Was that hard?) “…and work your way up.” He was right, of course. Try getting the bike not to wobble, then you can think about the Tour de France. That next week, I was climbing and stepping for the first time on the spin bike. Alone, I pumped on the pedals and refused to stop pedaling, reading Climbing to pass a solid hour. If I’d told a friend to help me slow down, they might have seen how silly I was pushing so hard in a cast. And this was the problem: I should brought in all my friends to help me stay on track. Like an ‘adjustment bureau’.
Mistake Two: No Sleep ‘Til PT
I had three sessions of P.T. in the US before traveling abroad, and the trip couldn’t wait. My goals in Mexico included hiking for days with a heavy pack, jumarring camera equipment up trad lines, doing my first big walls, maybe even climbing a 5.14. When they set the second cast, I was ready to train again. Still on crutches, watching my boyfriend train while I couch potato-ed, reading possessed me. Training for the New Alpinism, Marathon Training for Beginners…these books and others spurned my soul to fly off to the start line and juggle dumbbells. How was I going to deal?
The problem was, I didn’t. I was helping myself prepare for the future, but not for the present. Week two, still in the cast, I was heel hooking on .12c and began making hour-long sprints on spin bikes, turning up the resistance as the ache in the Taylor fracture was overpowered by my addiction to endorphins.
Mistake Three: “Well…poopsicles.”
After arriving in Mexico for our four month project, I began holding the camera like a teddy bear in my arms, changing focus from my climbing to other things: drawing the mountains of the Mexican national park La Huasteca, drawing the streets, shooting video of the at-risk program, and aiming a naked lens at everything I see. So desperate to keep myself still one morning, I knitted a ridiculous small blanket while the boys made a go at Sendero Luminoso. But this was not the problem – knitting only gives me minor carpel tunnel and a tendon ache. The problem was that, however much I wanted to obsess and progress on climbing projects, I could not, and could not let go. (This had happened once before, after winning two micro-fractured heels from a fall onto concrete.) After a while, frustration set in, like an unwelcome roommate to the already cluttered space of my mind. Also settling into the upstairs was resignation, quick to step in when frustration took a break. So that between trips outdoors and time with the roommates, I felt sadness, homesickness, and disappointment. That wasn’t working either, surprisingly.
Then, the heavens sparkled and, suddenly, unicorns existed.
A friend offered to bring me to a physical therapy clinic, where she was rehabilitating a knee injury. I made the decision to drive with her that morning to Clínica Everest (aptly named), over a very appealing job opportunity teaching English. In the office, my friend pointed to my sneaker. “Look at how she’s walking.” It was dented to the left, as if Patagonia had integrated a gangster lean into the lefts of their athletic shoe line.
I was very surprised when the doctor offered two months of physical therapy. Though I walked like Captain Ahab (I do tend to have his tunnel vision, too) still, at the offer of two months, I thought “Well, is it that bad?” Clearly, denial was strong in this one.
So big thank you, Clínica Everest.
I’m thankful that visiting this PT clinic with a friend woke me up to the realization that I was straggling. We are always finding ourselves in ruts, and always find out ways out through the offers of kind people.
With the time remaining in Mexico, I hope to recovery enough to climb more of the beautiful routes in La Huasteca and continue going out with the kids on our trips. Maybe even send 5.13?
So if you are injured before a long trip to La Huasteca, El Salto, or Potrero and may need PT, visit Clínica Everest.
On The Facebooks: https://www.facebook.com/ClinicaEverest?rf=439585619389981
We are finding incredible people with enormous compassion who want to help Escalando Fronteras! If you’re reading this an want to help, we can always use more connections and donations. Contact us at escalandofronteras.org
I always remember having the luxury of an American life (perhaps with the exception of camping in the Buttermilks in Bishop for a month). Even when I road tripped in my Sprinter around North America for 6 months, my online job with Mad Rock covered the minimum of gas and food.
Every weekday morning at 6am I took the opportunity to use the bathroom, then bask productively, in a Starbucks café, enjoy free coffee refills with my earned Gold Star Level Rewards, and pound out several hours of work. Then I would continue my drive to the Grand Canyon, or up the California Pacific Coast, or off to The Chief, or down to New Orleans.This was America. Rich, warm, and full of surplus luxury. From those six months living in an aluminum can, I hold many fond memories of warm, cozy 24-hour joints filled with students, equipped with fast wi-fi, and offering beautiful views.
When my boyfriend and I moved into Monterrey, Mexico, the Starbucks may as well have been the Four Seasons. It had a history of being raided when the government was in turmoil.
For traveling rock climbers, northern México, needless to say, is a whole different story than the US and Canada.
The poorest parts of Monterrey are filled with urban flotsam and jetsam, an endless sea of city debris tossed overboard by the cement square ships, simple houses that flood the valley below the Cerro de las Mitras as though they were mollusks and mussels swept in by the hurricane several years ago.
Tumbleweeds, brown plastic bags discarded and filled with air that roll and bounce on the streets, follow the uneven pavement past glassless barred windows and doors. Those without bars, have the openings covered with thin crate pieces with faded cursive brands, resembling a capitalistic collage. A string of graffiti runs along the walls of the canal that separates the city, like an elaborate caption to a disparate picture of shacks and glossy glass buildings.
The feeling of walking through a poverty-stricken barrio like Lomas Modelo is one of resignation. In the barrio, there is no luxury, no aesthetics. The children make toys of what they find, like the leftovers of someone’s torn piñata or a deflated ball. The roofs of the houses are piled with trash and broken plastic chairs, flung there by the tide of poverty.
At night, the puddle of lights laps at the foothills of the mountains, where inhabitants can see the city’s nakedly exposed quarries. Above the urbanization, in the air, a haze obscures the towering peaks of el Cerro de las Mitras, which are faded to near-solid opaqueness. This could be mining dust, pollution, or, on those drizzly days, a mixture together with high humidity, the water molecules trapping but not grounding the CO2 and other flighted chemicals.
The jarring image of poverty is unbelievable in Monterrey. Higher on the hills, the dark eyes of 10-story abandoned cement structures gaze emptily out at the city, and overgrowth hides the many dilapidated buildings between rich estates guarded by high walls, metal spikes and barbed wire.
There’s so much that can be improved here, but the general attitude towards humanitarian improvement is like that of a child who has too much homework to do over the weekend, simply drops it in the trash, and makes up an excuse to the teacher.
Though not everything can be fixed in the world, a program that focuses on the national park, on education, and on ethics can improve the mindset of many children, and at least bring the first step to the path of the city: self awareness.
Follow the Project at: http://www.projectwalle.com
… It’s not so bad.
Anyone can work full time and train hard for their projects.
The other week I listened to Beyondtalks at a local brewery. TNF’s MountainAthletics program, with Cedar Wright as the coach, was helping two men FA a new 5.12 in Yosemite Valley around their 9-5 job.
That’s great, I thought, then blithely: That’ll happen to me one day when I’m old.
A week later I walked into a gear store a found myself with a second job. I’ve been training for the upcoming Psicobloc competition the same week Team WallE summits Quandary peak to raise money for The Colorado 54, and now my training time was looking thin.
Surprisingly, the experience has thrown me back to Biology class, when I would get in early to grab a seat behind the classroom’s full work counter. When the professor crawled through a slow slideshow of DNA particles, I snuck in sets of pushups to the great entertainment of my seat mate. Being in lenient public school, I did the same in guitar class. Tony was a great friend of mine who dreamed of being a police officer and we trained almost together every day, climbing the football goal posts, the buildings, and getting into competitions when we were supposed to learn Greensleeves on an acoustic.
So I sneak in what I can at work. I stretch a lot, drink tons of water, and get a short run in before going into work, and a short run after work.
I’m also continuing my personal project to all 54 14ers in Colorado during the weekends. I’ve pretty much completed just the shorter day hikes, and I’ll have to start working on the longer, Class 3 and 4 routes.
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.
After being stuck in Squamish for 12 days waiting on the arrival of The Circuit Climbing Magazine, I passed through US inspection point and drove from Vancouver, British Columbia to Los Angeles, California. On the way south, I stopped at Seattle, Portland, Medford, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, Sunnyvale, San Louis Obispo, all the way down to Sender One.
At every gym I visited, I dropped off a copy of The Circuit World Cup and Performance Magazine, with an extra if the gym worked with philanthropic programs. Why? I believed it would help the climbing industry.
The magazine has no ads. The closest thing to an ad is on the back: Climbers Against Cancer. Every issue sold marks $1 donated to the cancer research funds chosen by CAC John Ellison, the organization’s founder – a man from a little town in the UK.
The only copy is informative interviews from IFSC’s key coaches and athletes. World Cup coach Udo Neumann has experience in performance bouldering inside, outside, and with other athletes; his interview is the first piece of writing when I open the magazine to show people the contents. Seasoned rock climbing competitors Jan Hojer and Juliane Wurm have also proven to be extraordinary athletes, and in The Circuit talk freely with their charming interviewers. On the topic of visuals, the dynamic depictions from editor Eddie and contributor Bram ring iconic of the IFSC climbing world series.
The reason I see this magazine as a beneficial addition to the US is that the magazine’s European climbers are professionals by trade. The American industry can learn from their examples as marketed role models, emblematic of the passion of climbers in the US, and able to inspire stronger sustainable communities and ethics in branding for climbing companies similar to their sponsors.
These athletes are backed by their governments, tutored by seasoned mentors, and their experience is far more attainable and comprehensible in The Circuit than in the field of competition, where they are in the zone and shy of the spotlight. Athletes such as Juliane Wurm, Shauna Coxsey, and Mina Markovic are turning into remarkable female rolemodels in the climbing industry that we are able to put alongside Sasha DiGiulian and Lynn Hill.
I began talking with the The Circuit’s editor Eddie Fowke for work and was drawn to his inspired looking-glass of the professional climbing scene by his somber hilarity and easy-going Kiwi personality. With his father’s health failing near the magazine’s completion, I was further inspired when Eddie joined the magazine to ClimbersAgainstCancer, and it seemed that at the point of his dad’s passing, The Circuit became an object closer to his heart.
Hearing from Eddie the magazine would arrive on a crate in Canada, I started making my way up north towards British Columbia. I visited my parents, taught clinics in Portland, and took WallE up the Pacific Coast through the redwoods, taking in the sea air, bombing around the damp and windy cliff roads, and snapping pictures of the restless Pacific Ocean. I knew visiting British Columbia would be worth days of driving because Squamish is not only an amazing area. Whether The Circuit is in a crate in Canada or on a counter in San Francisco, it is something of quality, something that looks like the sophisticated Utah Bouldering Guidebook, something that promises only to blossom once a year after the triumphs and feats of a season of World Cups, and something will not be just another free climbing magazine: The Circuit would be something worth picking up.
* A comical word in about the US inspection point.
Upon entering the US from the north, the crossing into the USA is set up to be a terrifying experience. Contrary to a friendly greeting into the land of 100% pure maple syrup and delicious poutine by a polite, questioning, and orderly Canadian, the cameras pointed north were were aimed like rifles and the station clamped on my heart a feeling of unwelcome and authority. A voice from the station’s chair read my van’s fact’s and trailed off, asked a few questions, and sent me on to have my van inspected. Emptying WallE of his bag of mandarins, and some asparagus, I opened the vehicle’s side door, nervous and waiting. My bed was half on top of an entire crate of boxes, perhaps 40 or so, and the boxes of the magazine conspicuously spilled out onto the thin wooden floor like a handful of skittles from a candy vending machine. A muscled inspections officer pushed his way from the inspections building and took slow and measured steps towards WallE, covering 50 feet in three times as much time as was really practical for a man who looked ready to survive a zombie apocalypse. Out of nervousness and some impatience I began talking before the officer broke ten steps, and he continued his slow movements, surprising me by getting comfortable in my personal space, asking unexpectedly polite questions. “May I sit on this? Is it stable?” When I felt too nervous to keep babbling, and had stopped, after a little bit of silence the officer asked, “Are you dropping this off at Vertical World?” My heart soared. I left inspections relieved, and ecstatic to drop off a free issue at Vertical world with Alex Fritz and Tyson Schoene.