Friday, June 26, 2015

Rockfest/Climb-a-thon update

As of this morning,  this weekend's annual Rockfest and Climb-a-thon events put on by Mid Atlantic Climbers and Coopers Rock Climbing Guides have officially been postponed due to the storm system that's set to nail northeastern West Virginia.  While I'm a bit disappointed since I've been looking forward to this for months, I know it'll be a lot more fun to work and climb in good conditions later on. Plus, this means an extension to the fundraising window, which I'm really excited about.

For anyone who doesn't know, the Coopers Rock Climb-a-thon is a fundraiser for Paradox Sports, a leader in the rapidly growing field of adaptive sports, and an all-around inspiring organization.  In the time leading up to the Climb-a-thon, participants set up fundraising pages to gather donations for Paradox.  On the day of the event, they have three hours to climb as many routes as they can, with routes weighted by difficulty to determine an overall winner.  What I really like, however, is that the event is structured to keep the emphasis on the fundraising.  While a couple of prizes are given to the top climbers, the rest are reserved as raffle items, with extra tickets awarded based on money raised.

When I signed up this year, I did so early with the intention of raising money for as long a period as possible.  Unfortunately I didn't do much to remind people about it until this past week, but since then a few really amazing donors have stepped up, and I can't wait to see how much more we can raise with the extended time.

Here's the deal... I could set up some system where you pay me for each route I climb, but as someone who occasionally spends three hours traversing at the gym without touching ground, the fact that I'm going to push myself at the Climb-a-thon is a given.  Still, it's nice to have that sense that I'm doing it for something, both on the day of the event and during my training days leading up to it.  It's even nicer to see what we can accomplish as a community when we get together,  and to play a part in helping Paradox open the activities we love to those who might otherwise be unable to participate.

View my fundraising page here, and thanks for your support!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Crimps and Chaos at NWB

For a place that's usually my winter hangout, I somehow managed to skip five of the best months at Northwest Branch before getting back there yesterday for some much needed rock therapy.  Not that I did a whole lot aside from hanging out, but just being out next to the river with friends was apparently exactly what I needed.

Meeting up with Charlie, Mark, Harris (yes, he climbed without a harness), John, and Dana, we started off on Crimptastic at my request, though a couple test pulls were all it took to convince me that my finger wasn't ready for it yet.  I moved over to The Business, hoping to make quick work of it after figuring out a really easy sequence for me last year, and with the benefit of the last couple months of strength training for that first move.  No idea what that sequence was, but with Charlie wanting to get on Chaos Roof, I didn't really feel like wasting time trying to figure it out again.

Mark on Crimptastic

Crossing back over the river, I made a quick stop at Crimps to see how the first move felt on my finger, then joined the others at Chaos Roof.  Charlie worked it for a while along with Mark and Harris, and they almost made it look doable enough to get me off my butt.  Almost.

Charlie on Chaos Roof 
Mark on Chaos Roof
Harris on Chaos Roof

After a few really close attempts, Charlie managed to stick the dyno with one of the most exciting swings I've ever seen.  Here's the video, complete with my Gratuitous Cameraman Scream.

On the way out I stopped at Crimps just so I could actually climb something, and I was at least happy that the first move felt so static even with a recovering finger.  Crazy how I used to look at it and wonder if I'd ever be strong enough to do it.  Also a good reminder to myself to remember the progress I've made, which is easy to forget when surrounding myself with so many strong people.  Funny, Chaos Roof always looked near impossible to me until yesterday.  Maybe I should do something about that.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sourland Smackdown 2015

As often as the weather takes a turn for the worse, I couldn't have asked for much better at yesterday's Sourland Smackdown bouldering comp in New Jersey.  Yes it was a little warm for diabase bouldering, but after the forecast a week ago showing rain yesterday as a near certainty, I was so excited about dry sunny rock that I didn't mind a little extra heat.

I've been wanting to get back to the Sourlands ever since Chris Irwin and I were there for the Smackdown two years ago, so when they announced the date this year and Chris decided to put together a Maryland team for it, I was all over the idea.  It was actually a good excuse to log a bunch of diabase time over the last couple weeks, since it's a style I still have a lot to learn about.  Okay, so a couple of those trips were just excuses to have dinner at the Troeg's brewery afterward, but I'm a firm believer in recovery meals being a key part of any training program.

Altogether we had about ten climbers representing Team MD yesterday, and it was by far the most fun I've ever had at a comp.  I was especially happy since my main goal going into the day was not to hurt my finger that's been bothering me all year, and it actually ended up being the most pain free day of climbing I've had in a long time.

                                                                                          Photo: John Brunson
I'll admit I was a little disappointed that I was totally shut down by the offwidth climb that had gone so easily for me last time, but otherwise it was one of the more solid days of climbing I've had.  Somehow I walked away with a 3rd place finish, with Charlie Garcia just ahead of me for 2nd.  There's no way that would have happened if I'd been there by myself.  Between a strong group of friends to keep me motivated, and my favorite spotter John Brunson giving me the confidence to make a couple moves that scared the crap out of me, it was definitely a team accomplishment.  John was also climbing harder than I've ever seen him, in between his demonstrations of spotting mastery.

                                                             Photo: Chris Irwin
                                                             Photo: Chris Irwin
                                                                                        Photo: John Brunson
Team MD's biggest victory of the day came with Dana Bleiberg's first place female finish, especially since she took down most of the male field in the process.  Even more impressively, she pulled it off after showing up three hours late!

A huge thanks to everyone who organized and ran the event, especially to the volunteers at the boulders helping us navigate and make sense of things.  Can't wait to get back up there!

Team MD!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Gunks snowflakes

Sometimes we hold on to things long past the point when they've outlived their usefulness and, in realizing this, we owe it to ourselves to let go of the past and move forward in a more productive direction.  Robin's Bouldering Page has been a big part of my life over the past few years.  For a long time it was, as the name suggested, a page about me bouldering.  In looking back at recent posts however, I've noticed a clear trend of injuries and laziness relegating me to the role of chronicling others' bouldering exploits, especially those of my esteemed friend Charlie Garcia.  My trip to the Gunks with Charlie this past weekend only solidified this realization, and so effective at midnight, I'll be changing the name of this blog to more accurately reflect its current direction.  At the moment I'm leaning toward something like Robin's Watching Charlie Warm Up On His Bouldering Projects Page, but that might be a little long.  I have until midnight to think about it in any case.  I do promise to include the same amount of random food photos, such as the incredible pork belly tacos I had Saturday night at Mexicali Blue.

April Fools!  Well, at least about the name change.  I was totally serious about continuing to include gratuitous food photos, especially since my meals were easily the most successful part of the trip for me.

With a forecast high of around 37 degrees, Charlie and I opted for an early start Saturday morning to get us to the Gunks just as temps were getting manageable.  As it turned out, we got there just as the "possible" snow showers had reached their heaviest point.  Looking at how wet the roads were, and thinking the rocks wouldn't be much better, we took cover in Bacchus until the worst had passed.

As the snow died down, we decided to take our chances with the rocks.  The road became drier and drier as we approached, and we were happy to find most of the boulders dry, even if some of the approaches made me question my choice of a spring break destination.

After a lot of walking around, we finally settled on the Boxcar area, planning to warm up on the traverse before climbing the arete that we both had our sights on.  I took a short run to get my core temperature up, but probably should have done something to get my fingers moving a little more first, as my left middle finger soon made it clear that I wasn't going to get much climbing done.  Charlie made quick sends of Boxcar Arete and The Hump before we headed down for some good food and the warm hotel room that we had reserved in anticipation of the night's 20 degree low.

Sunday actually broke well into the 40s, and after meeting up unexpectedly with Andrew Chao and some of this friends, we almost forgot about the previous day's relative lack of productivity.

My continued ligament irritation left me unable to do much aside from some easy scrambling around, but Charlie managed a quick send of the tricky Lynn Hill Traverse.

He made even shorter work of the various Buddha variations, putting down Enlightened Buddha on what I think was his first attempt of the day.

We spent a little time on the only boulder that shut him down that day, but he somehow still had the energy for a second try send of Jackson Pollock on the way out.  I also shoed up for Boulder of the Gods in the interest of topping out at least one boulder to make the 5 hour drive worth it, though I made a point of grabbing the sides so that it didn't technically count as a send and blow my streak.

For my first time bouldering at the Gunks, or at least standing around while others did, I can definitely see why people like some of the boulders so much.  The are a few I'm looking forward to coming back to with a healthy finger for sure.  Still, this trip showed me that the Gunks will always be more of a trad destination for me, at least based on the amount of time I spent staring up past the boulders and jealous of the sounds of gear rattling high above.  Guess I probably shouldn't admit that on a bouldering blog though.  Forget I said anything.  Pebbles for life!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Rockfest and Coopers Rock climb-a-thon 2015

Last summer the Coopers Rock Climbing Guides put on a fantastic event with their 3rd annual Coopers Rock Climb-a-thon, and I was extra excited to hear that they'll be doing it again this year on June 28th, since the Mid Atlantic Climbers will be holding their annual Rockfest event at Coopers Rock that same weekend.  Two of my favorite events of the year, and I don't even have to move my tent!

For anyone unfamiliar with these events, Rockfest is the biggest event on the MAC calendar, giving climbers the opportunity to give back to one of their favorite climbing areas with a variety of projects. Work typically includes trail maintenance, trash cleanup, graffiti removal, or whatever other tasks the park requests, with plenty of time leftover afterward for climbing and making new friends over food and drink provided by local businesses.  If you haven't been, I can't recommend it highly enough.

The Climb-a-thon, which I only learned about a couple of weeks beforehand last year, turned out to be equally exciting.  Participants compete with each other for vertical feet climbed (with difficulty factored in) on the many toprope routes that Coopers Rock has to offer, but what I like best about the event is that the fundraising remains the main focus.  Participants are encouraged to raise money in advance of the event, and all donations go to Paradox Sports to support their amazing work in the area of adaptive climbing and other activities.  As a special ed teacher, I appreciate the process of adapting activities to individual needs and capabilities, and am continually blown away by what Paradox is able to help people accomplish.

Unfortunately I pulled a tendon in my foot a few days before the event last year, and was unable to climb as a result.  That turned out okay though, with my mom taking my place and finishing as the top female climber, and Chris pulling off the overall win.

Barring any unforeseen injuries, I can't wait to get out and actually get to climb this time.  The routes looked so fun last year, and with the multi-hour traversing sessions I've been fitting in, I should be able to make the most of my time.  I'm even more excited to have eight times longer to raise money for Paradox than I did last time around.  Speaking of which...

Here's the link to my fundraising page.

If you have a few extra dollars sitting around, especially if you're not going to the Climb-a-thon yourself, please consider helping me support the fantastic work that Paradox does to give everyone a place in our climbing community.  In return, I promise to climb my butt off and earn every dollar that comes my way!