Times of change

•March 23, 2014 • Leave a Comment

The last two months have slipped past incredibly quickly… I have been enjoying having a house and the structure of a training program for a bit. It is amazingly nice to add a touch of routine to my otherwise transient and unpredictable life. Winter in the desert has been amazing this year, with beautiful sun-filled days and perfect temperatures for climbing in the sun. A nice change from hiding in the shade, as we climbers generally do to get good conditions for most of the year.

Esacalante

Attempting Rob Pizem’s “Blood Pulse” 5.13a, Escalante. Photo: Ben Rueck

Ben, racking up and enjoying the sunshine!

Ben, racking up and enjoying the sunshine!

Training has been pretty exhausting, however, I have been climbing as much as possible. Mainly on the beautiful and abundant sandstone around here, trying to finally become comfortable on these splitter cracks…  I spent a fair bit of time out at Escalante, Indian Creek and even a weekend in Zion! Achieving a small degree of success - climbing has been going well, I am managing to on-sight some mid-twelves and even climbed a few of Rob’s harder trad routes. But I am still far from really feeling comfortable on this terrain.

Monkey Finger, 5.12b - My first route in Zion, thanks Sean! Fun times...

Monkey Finger, 5.12b – My first route in Zion, thanks Sean! Fun times…

After almost two years of completing a couple six to eight week cycles of training throughout the year, I am staring to feel my body morphing and becoming much stronger. My core no longer sags, shoulders feel strong and even my dynamic movement is much better! This time I feel ready for another stint on the road… Travel is an integral part of my lifestyle, and I love to see new places, meet new friends and climbing on a huge variety of rock! However, being on the road constantly quickly becomes tiring and I often find myself dreaming of a home, with a garden, maybe a dog and horse – a place which I never have to leave…

Ah Yeah! Those are dreams for later… Right now this is where I want to be, and I really do love my life! I feel extremely lucky to be supported by such amazing companies and have great friends all over the world.

Climbing near Moab, this place really is stunning!

Climbing near Moab, this place really is stunning!

Change promotes growth and is often very positive, however, it can also be very difficult. The last month has been one of these times for me – I was presented with an offer to join the Black Diamond team, and after much thought, I accepted. As a climber I am moving more in the traditional, big-wall direction, therefore I feel that Black Diamond is a better fit for me. BD aligns much better with my goals as a climber and I believe that I will be able to represent them more completely. This said, I am still very sorry to part ways with Petzl, I really appreciate everything they have done for me and am very thankful for their support over the time I have been with them. However, though sad to leave Petzl, I am very excited for this new opportunity and happy to be part of the Black Diamond team. Bring on the adventures!

New gear... Ready for Brazil!

New gear… Ready for Brazil!

Stories from Down-under…

•February 7, 2014 • Leave a Comment

All my faithful followers! Sorry about my long absence from my blog… This year has been off to a flying start, somehow it is already a week into February and I do not know where the time has gone… At this rate the year will be over before I know it!

The fox fence... Just down the road from our cabin. Complete with a Pink Panther!

The fox fence… Just down the road from our cabin. Complete with a Pink Panther!

The last week in the Grampians was a whirlwind, unsettled weather, far too many projects to finish and a photo-mog (Andrew Burr) to keep happy made for a hectic and ridiculously fun week! Because of the terrible weather, it came to the last few days in the Grampians and we still had not managed to make it out to the infamous Passport to Insanity, one of our main objectives. The weather did not improve and finally on our very last day we decided to hike out, despite not being able to even see the cliff because of low cloud. After a long wet hike through foggy rain, we arrived under the imposing Fortress – We could still barely see the roof through the clouds.

The Fortress, when the clouds finally parted. Passport to Insanity is the roof on the right tower.

The Fortress, when the clouds finally parted. Passport to Insanity is the roof on the right tower.

Andrew, Ben and I huddled, wearing every piece of clothing, vainly attempting to stay warm and hoping that the sun would burn through the clouds at some point. Finally, late in the afternoon the clouds began to disperse and I headed up the first pitch. Luck was with us, and as I climbed through the roof the setting sun popped out below the clouds – I beautiful finale to our time in the Grampians!

Sea stacks on the wild Tasmanian coast. This was our first adventure, on day one in Tasi!

Sea stacks on the wild Tasmanian coast. This was our first adventure, on day one in Tasi!

The next morning we were on a plane to Tasmania, to climb sea stacks! Our main objective was the Totem Pole, yet we also wanted to spend some time exploring other towers on the beautiful Tasmanian coast. Again, we were plagued  by consistently unsettled weather. It was cold, windy and not a single day passed without rain of some sort. However, we managed to make the most of it and climb nearly every day. The Tote did not disappoint! Fantastic climbing on a stunning feature in a wild and incredibly beautiful location, though only two pitches it feels very exposed!

Ben on the Tyrollean traverse, off of the Totem Pole!

Ben on the Tyrollean traverse, off of the Totem Pole!

Keep an eye out for the next Adidas Outdoor Magazine/Catalog for a more in depth account of Ben and I’s adventures!

Ben and Andrew Burr having fun in the salt lake!

Ben and Andrew Burr having fun in the salt lake! Thank you both for a great trip!

For Ben and I the fun did not stop there though, after a week in Tasmania we headed to my NZ. Where I proceeded to give Ben a whirlwind tour of the best climbing areas my home land has to offer. We drove straight out to Castle Hill, where we were meet by a film crew from TVNZ and proceeded to get destroyed on the round featureless boulders for the next few days. The climbing here is weird and involves more pushing and footwork than pulling – Stay posted for the TVNZ morning feature!

Ben climbing above Diamond Lake, Wanaka. Photo: Judith Spanken

Ben climbing above Diamond Lake, Wanaka. Photo: Judith Spanken

After a few days, we somehow managed to fit my dear mother, Ben and I into my tiny 3 door Mazda and headed South – Darrans bound! On our way down we stopped in Wanaka, where I lived just after high school and learnt my first real lessons in climbing. In the last ten years, since I had lived there, a huge amount of new crags have been discovered and developed, so Ben and I spent a few days exploring these and waiting for a storm to pass through from the West.

One of the classic Wanaka crimp test-pieces! Photo: Judith Spanken

One of the classic Wanaka crimp test-pieces! Photo: Judith Spanken

A few days later, in the driving rain, we drove the long windy road further south, to the Darrans – My favorite place to climb in NZ. It is always exciting driving back into those wild remote mountains, stacked with huge imposing granite walls. This time we only had a couple days of once again unsettled weather, so we spent them sport climbing on the most classic lines!

The time passed very quickly and soon it was Christmas eve and I dropped Ben off at the airport to head home. After which I had another few weeks in NZ, enjoying some relaxed time with my family and old friends. Though it was difficult, I actually managed to survive an entire week without climbing at all. A well deserved and necessary break from climbing!

Ben and I chilling out at the Chasm in the Darrans. It was great to show a good friend this special place! Photo: Judith Spanken

Ben and I chilling out at the Chasm in the Darrans. It was great treat for me to intorduce a good friend this special place! Photo: Judith Spanken

Now, I am finally back in Grand Junction, settling into the winter and the amazing brutality of another training cycle with Rob Pizem! Thanks Rob for helping me prepare for another year packed full of incredible adventures! And thanks once again to all my sponsors for helping me achieve my dreams and adventures!

Happy New Year from Downunder!

•December 30, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Hope you all had a great Christmas and wish you all the best for 2014! Can believe another year has past already… Sorry I have kind of dropped off the radar for the last while… Internet access  and time to use it do seem to be super easy to come by down here!

Ben and I have spent the last 6 weeks in Australia, Tasmania and most recently a whirlwind tour of NZ. Before heading out of the USA, I spent a couple weeks in Colorado training and trying to get my body to remember how to hold onto small edges and pull again… This took a little while, after weeks of jamming my hands kind of forget how to hold downward pulling holds. My focus was on keeping on going for hours at a time, not doing hard individual movements. But our bodies are amazing, it always surprises me how little strength I actually loose and how quickly everything comes back!

On the top pitch of Echoes, 5.13a! Photo: Jesse Zacher

However, two weeks sped by, and soon Ben and I found ourselves driving over Vail Pass in a heavy snow storm, with cars and trucks sliding all over the road – terrifying! But, we made it to Denver airport in time to catch our flight to LA… Then after a couple days, a sales meeting, some fun times with the US Adidas crew and an afternoon on Manhattan beach with my dear friend Ronny, we found ourselves back on a plane with a ridiculous amount of gear – Headed back down under…

Ben and Ronny... Need I say more?!

Ben and Ronny… Need I say more?!

Manhattan Beach

Manhattan Beach

Australia is a strange, flat land of Kangaroos, every possible poisonous creature and yet amidst the barren plains there is incredible climbing to be found. I had previously spent very little time in the Grampians, so Ben and I spent most of our time there… generally getting crushed on the spectacular, yet very unforgiving Taipan wall! It took a while to get used to the climbing down here – At best, the bolts are spaced, at worst ridiculously runout – It took some adjustment before being able to relax enough while a long way above a bolt to climb anywhere near our potential…

The incredible Taipan Wall!

The incredible Taipan Wall!

I focused on the classics of the wall – The Invisible Fist, Snake Flake and Serpentine, then moved onto the crazy cool weirdness of Tourniquet 30 (5.13c) – Powerful climbing on sideways slopers up the side of a huge runnel. My initial idea for coming down here was to attempt something harder on Taipan wall, however on arriving here I realized that I wanted to just climb and enjoy without constantly focusing on one goal… It has been a lot of fun, there is some amazing climbing down here!

Roo's in the regrowth

Roo’s in the regrowth

After a couple weeks on Taipan wall, Ben and I decided it was time to go on an adventure… Our goal was to find HB’s epic roof route – Welcome to Barbados, 50 meters of near horizontal climbing through a cave, grade 29 and all on traditional protection! After an hour of bush-bashing through a crazy burnt out forest we arrived at the cave, and it really was everything people said… EPIC!!!

The first half of "Welcome to Barbados"...

The first half of “Welcome to Barbados”…

I was super intimidated – Heading up a hard trad route is nothing new for me, but heading up a horizontal roof with only pockets, where you never have any idea where the next piece might be, let alone where the actual route goes, was a whole new experience… I was terrified! The climbing was super committing, with big runout sections between most of the pieces of protection and no prior information about the route. However, I finally made it to the end and experienced an amazing sense of satisfaction and achievement when I struggled out through the hole at the end of the route!

Ben emerging from the  epic roof of "Welcome to Barbados"

Ben emerging from the epic roof of “Welcome to Barbados”

I rested for a bit then desperately managed to fight my way through the entire cave – Sending it second attempt! The day was then topped off by Ben’s successful send – first go! Thanks Malcom for establishing an amazing visionary route… Keep cranking!

Ben and the Stumpy!

Ben and the Stumpy!

That’s enough for this year… Stay posted for more updates on our Australian adventures! Happy New year!

Moving on…

•October 31, 2013 • Leave a Comment

I love having so many amazing opportunities in my life… But sometimes it can also be a little frustrating not having as flexible a schedule as I used to have! If anything it is just a good motivation to get better though…

El Capitan and Half Dome

El Capitan and Half Dome

As I mentioned previously, my trip to Yosemite Valley was rudely interrupted by the US government - What was meant to be five week trip turned into just over two weeks. My time in the Valley was super productive, but I had to leave and returned just as the Park was reopened to the public. Unfortunately, this did not leave me with enough time to achieve my goals and still be prepared and ready for my next trip… In a few days I head off to Australia! So, rather than try to fit everything in and not really have enough time for any of my goals, I chose to spend a couple days enjoying Yosemite in it’s quiet Fall beauty, then move on to preparing myself for the next challenge… Sport climbing in the Grampians!

Crystal clear water and perfect granite domes

Crystal clear water and perfect granite domes

On my way out of Yosemite I spent a day in Tuolumne Meadows, enjoying the silence and stunning beauty of this place. There was still banks of snow from a storm a few weeks ago, yet it was a beautiful sunny day. I hiked through the alpine meadows, played on boulders, ran up the smooth granite domes and even went for an icy dip in the crystal clear river. Sometimes I forget how nice it is to just relax and enjoy life without trying to achieve any particular goal or push my body to it’s limits…

Enjoying Tuolumne Meadows

Enjoying Tuolumne Meadows

Now I have had a couple weeks back in Colorado, training and trying to get fit for sport climbing again. I love all the different aspects of climbing, but it can be hard to switch back and forth in between sport and trad… For the first while my fingers simply hurt when I tried to hold small crimpers again and my body was shocked by having to actually pull hard moves again – In Yosemite most of what I did was long endurance climbing, where none of the moves were anywhere near my limit!

Sunrise and moonset on my way through Nevada

Sunrise and moonset on my way through Nevada

However, it all came back super quickly… It turns out that I have not lost any strength or power, just forgotten how to recruit it! So, now I am off to spend five weeks climbing in the Grampians and Tasmania – Two places I have been wanting to spend time at for a very long time!

The desert... I do love the wide expanses of nothingness

The desert… I do love the wide expanses of nothingness

I intend to return to Yosemite in May/June next year to attempt to complete my goals. Once again I would like to thank my sponsors, friends and Sport NZ for supporting me and helping me achieve my wildest dreams!

On the road with the super Stealth van... Thanks 5.10!

On the road with the super Stealth van… Thanks 5.10!

 

 

Gimme Kraft!

•October 30, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Check out the great video clip for the new training book/video “Gimme Kraft” featuring Wolfgang Güllich and many other famous climbers!

www.gimmekraft.com

National Park Closure?!?

•October 9, 2013 • 2 Comments

“What the… ?!? The government can’t actually do that, can they…”

But it turns out they can… And they have!

The first I heard about the National Parks (including Yosemite) being shutdown was from some fellow climbers on the Nose, while Sean and I were simul-climbing past them… And this was just a  several second snippet of conversation – I just laughed and definitely did not believe would ever happen. However, we passed 11 other parties of climbers on the Nose that day – Way more that either of us had ever seen on one route ever before! Everyone had heard the rumor of Yosemite closing and scrambled to at least climb one last big wall before they had to leave…  And when we got back down to the Valley floor several hours later, the rumors were confirmed – The park was going to be closed due to a government shutdown!

Niels... Having just made the hair-raising traverse along "Thank God Ledge" Near the top of Half Dome

Niels… Having just made the hair-raising traverse along “Thank God Ledge” Near the top of Half Dome

I still laughed it off and did not believe it would actually happen, until 48 hours had passed… On the 3rd October suddenly there were rangers stationed at the entrance and exit points of the Yosemite stopping anyone who was not a resident or employee in Yosemite entering. By that evening the park was very quiet and empty… I managed to stay for a couple of extra days as I was visiting a friend who actually lived permanently  in the Park. So my birthday present this year was experiencing Yosemite Valley with no one else around. It was incredible to see the legendary Camp 4 deserted, all the facilities closed, parking lots empty, no cars on the road and most of all no constant sound of people…

Sunset in the deserted Valley

Sunset in the deserted Valley

However, this has also meant that my time in Yosemite has been cut short/or at least postponed, as recreating in the Park is currently not allowed. This is very disappointing and I am finding it difficult to know what to do, as no one knows when the park is likely to open again…

Yet, I am still very happy to have managed to have a couple of fantastic weeks of climbing on El Capitan – In the space of a week I climbed the Nose four times! Setting a new female record of 5.39 hours with Libby Sauter, and a male/female record of 3.30 hours with Sean Leary!

Near the top of Half Dome

Near the top of Half Dome

A spur of the moment decision on my part has landed me back in Colorado for a week or so, visiting friends, training with the crew here in Grand Junction, climbing and hoping that the government comes to an agreement soon! On a positive note – It is really nice to see my friends here, training a little, relax and rebuild my motivation again!

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Sunset over the Capitan

Yosemite

•September 30, 2013 • 3 Comments

Driving into Yosemite I suddenly felt an incredible mix of relaxation and psyche flooding through my body…  After a long week of travel, I was tired and had arrived in San Francisco feeling rather unmotivated and exhausted. But, this all disappeared when I laid eyes on the Capitan again. I love this place… It really is one of the most incredible places on this planet – The climbing on El Capitan is phenomenal, and it is incredible having this huge amazingly solid, steep and compact granite face towering over a perfectly flat peaceful meadow – Nothing else compares to it.

El Capitan!

El Capitan!

Although it was a tiring trip, I felt honored to attend the Adidas Rockstars Bouldering Competition in Stuttgart. It was a fantastic event and it was great to spend a few days in one of homes with friends from all over the world! Thanks Adidas for organizing such an incredible event!

The semi-finals

The semi-finals

My first week in Yosemite has been very busy… After a quick warm-up route on the Fifi buttress, I threw myself straight onto El Capitan – Playing on this incredible wall has been pure fun! The first few days I was over-gripping and putting far too much energy into climbing the climbing, simply not feeling relaxed on the smooth granite. However, after a couple runs up the Nose and a day climbing on the top of Free Rider I am feeling like it is home again…

On the Great Roof pitch. Photo: Tom Evans

Over the last week I have managed to do several runs on the Nose…  Yesterday Libby Sauter and I managed to establish a new female speed record of 5 hours 39 minutes – Taking almost two hours off the previous record time!

Libby and I at the top of the Nose!

Libby and I at the top of the Nose!

This last week the 10th annual Yosemite Facelift has been happening – There has been a great turn out of people volunteering to clean up the Valley and some incredible evenings of films and presentations. I am honored to have been invited to present as part of this event- It was great to have the opportunity to contribute to the Facelift and inspire my people to follow their dreams! Thanks! Bring on the perfect Fall weather and lots more fun on El Cap!

On of my most favorite views - From halfway down the descent route

On of my most favorite views – From halfway down the descent route

Once again, thanks to everyone who has helped me live this life and spend time in the most incredible places on this planet!

 
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