I did it again. I went waaaayyyy too long without mentioning any climbing. I’m truly sorry. I am! We are indeed climbing, I swear!! Despite all the baby cuteness you’ve been seeing on here, we’ve also been out at the rocks…a lot. And not just making an appearance, actually climbing…a lot. And to prove it, this post is going to be only about climbing. And…why not, only about me. It might sound like bragging I suppose. But I don’t really care. Cause I’m a mama now with 2 kiddos and it just feels dang good to be climbing strong (well, strong for me anyway). And I think mamas, especially mamas, deserve the right to brag every now and again. Read on if you’re interested. Stop here if you just want more baby cuteness.
Last fall Paul and I decided to approach this winter’s climbing season with a new philosophy: Train more, climb less. This switch was mostly out of necessity than desire. As the weather started to cool enough to start training on the backyard woody again, we quickly realized that our standard woody routine just wasn’t going to work the same as it used to pre-Ivan. The old routine with only Silas around was this: Get home from work, all eat dinner together, all go out to the woody together – most of the time friends would join us, climb, then around 8ish Paul or myself (depending on who’s turn it was) would take Silas in for his evening bedtime routine, put him to bed and then come back out to continue to climb until 9 or 10pm.
Everyone had always warned us that once the second kid comes along the required effort is actually multiplied by 10, not 2. And of course we never believed it, until Ivan was actually here. All fall we kept trying and trying and trying to get the old routine to work, where we all went out to the woody together after dinner and then put the kids down for bed and then continued to climb afterwards. We failed miserably, over and over again. With two kiddos dinner now seemed to take exceptionally long and getting them ready to take outside even longer. Once outside, one or the other inevitably needed food, a sip of water, a diaper change, a potty break, a different toy, some kisses, etc. etc. etc. and before we knew it both kids would be screaming in hysteria because it was way past their bedtimes and we were only just barely warmed up! The bedtime routine always felt like eternity and by the time they were both finally (finally!) sleeping, Paul and I were too exhausted to even think about going back out to climb.
Hence the new philosophy: Train more, climb less – figure out how to make the most out of less time.
Fall was already upon us and we needed a solution, fast! So first, we came up with a list of intense climbing-specific training routines that we could do in a short amount of time. We didn’t care about ‘general-purpose’ fitness as we like to call it (or “all-around” fitness), we just cared about the exact fitness or strength required to send our Hueco projects. We specialized. Next, we outlined a rough “schedule” of which days of the week we wanted to train, taking care to allow for proper rest before a Hueco weekend and/or an exhausting day with the kiddos without cutting out priorities like pizza-and-board-games night or dad-makes-pancakes mornings. And finally, we decided to push all mid-week training until *after* the kids went to bed. This last part was the hardest. First of all, I deep down really like it when the whole family is all hanging out at the woody together and having fun (key words being ‘having fun’). Second, starting a hardcore training/climbing session at 9pm takes an EXTREME amount of motivation. Thank goodness there’s two of us. It’s rare we both feel lazy on the same night so we can usually count on the other to get our butt outside to train.
(So here’s where I start talking all about me, hehe). Day after day, I tried to stick to our schedule. Sometimes I didn’t. Most of the time I did. As we started to descend upon Hueco I also made up my mind to focus on doing new climbs of every grade. Note: having climbed at Hueco for 9 seasons, it’s sometimes hard to find new stuff to do that’s within one’s ability. Enter “bottom of the barrel” boulder problems. Hey, what’s NOT to love about a unchalked, manky-looking v0 above a menacing prickly pear with the name “Dead Cat Face?”
As the weeks ticked by and daydreams of finally crushing Bloody Flapper Traverse danced in my head, I slowly began seeing the results of my late night training sessions. I was getting stronger and in addition, all the bottom-of-the-barrel boulder problems were improving my technique as well as my head. Steadily, I began ticking off harder and harder problems. And this week, riding home after yet another Hueco weekend rampage and contemplating my winter performance thus far, I realized I’ve pulled off my strongest season yet…..AND….IT’S NOT EVEN OVER!!!!!
I present to you my mid-season Hueco tick list; the new and/or noteworthy sends:
Lip Sync, v3. A climb I’d always wanted to do but was always too busy working on Bloody Flapper Traverse, v9, which shares the same start and topout. I did this one second try, only because I dropped off on the first thinking that the pads weren’t placed properly under me while noticing Paul ditching my spot to tend to children. (Happens a lot these days).
Squeeze Me Tender, v3. Flash. A fun little ditty with a real topout hidden over near The Dark Heart on East Mountain.
Stationary Snake, v3. Flash. Another exceptional climb for the grade and 2-star rating.
El Burro, v3. v3, hah! This climb was a long-standing project for me. Yes, project. In my defense, the guidebook claims, “A challenge for any v3 climber – or v10 climber for that matter.” I think I first tried this climb like 8 years ago or something. It’s hard! And right before Christmas I finally did it. And a momentous send it was: Last climb of the day – we decided to stop there on a whim (the story is always the same: we’ve got 30 minutes before the park closes, want to try El Burro real quick? It’s right here. Try it. Fall off. Pack up and go home. Stupid El Burro.) On this day my good friend Tammy and I had given it a half-dozen or so tries. Dusk was quickly turning to dark and it was getting hard to see. Paul (who was the guide for the day) says ok, last try. We gotta roll. I try again and latch the slopey pocket for a millisecond before falling off trying to get my feet up. A new high point! Paul announces it’s time to pack up. Tammy hands me the chalkbag and says “Chalk up and go again. Right Now.” Are you kidding?! I need to rest at least a couple minutes after that big go – I’m all out of breath even! Paul protests and starts packing up. Tammy hands me the chalk anyway. Not a full minute after falling off I was back on … and … sending!!! I was positively beaming while pulling the topout and we were all whooping and hollering like madmen, Silas included. These are the kinds of sends I fantasize about. The perfect ones.
Bloody Flapper, v4. Repeat. Figured I should pay my dues to the Bloody Flapper Traverse if I’m serious about wanting to send it this season. The v4 and v9 share the same finish.
Young Guns, v4. Second try. Lowball with heinous crimps. Bottom of the barrel.
Be Flat, v4. Repeat. Why not? I like this one.
Belly of Burden, v5. One-move wonder adjacent to Belly of the Beast, v7. Completed in a few go’s. Uneventful. Not quite bottom of the barrel.
Ides of March, v6. Completed in a session. Not so hard climbing to a defined crux move where you’re laid out on tiny pinch above a not-so-great landing….if it’s just you without a spot cause your husband is busy watching kids that is. Luckily we were there with friends so I not only had peeps to move pads, I had spotters too!!! And excellent ones at that. Thanks Dan and Steve!!!!
That Hi-Pro Glow, v6. First tried this one back in 2005, blowing off the final jugs at the top. Eight years, two kids and with a lot more power-endurance later we at last return and I clean it up in a morning. This was another one of those “I wonder if the pads are under me?” sends as I hear Paul wrangling kids far below.
See Sharp, v6. Small crimps and delicate moves. Had always wanted to take this one seriously and start projecting it but could never do ANY of the moves. Tried it again in January and was pleasantly surprised that some of the moves actually felt do-able. Went back a month later and cleaned it up in a session. An unexpected send. This never happens to me.
The beginning of See Sharp
The mid-section of See Sharp
“Banana Split,” v6-ish. Having fallen from the final move of the Bloody Flapper Traverse, v9 (aka Banana Juice) a handful of times pre-Ivan, I’ve decided to take a more pragmatic approach toward trying to send it this go-around. I am working it in reverse. My first goal was to do the topout (see Lip Sync above). Next was to send it from the v4 start (see Bloody Flapper above). After that was to send it from what’s kind of a low start to the v4; standing on the ground on small crimps instead of standing on a tower of pads, or your husband’s knee or whatever other means one needs to reach those ridiculously high start holds to the v4 proper. By starting from the ground you do the second cruxy-portion of the Traverse. It’s quite good in and of itself and my friend Raquel and I refer to it around one another as “Banana Split” since it sorta splits the v9 in half. Anyway, this goal is now done too, woohoo! The next will be to send it from the soft jug before the first crux (which I’m pleased to say I’m one final move away from sending). And then all I’ll need to do is tack on a few v2ish moves before that! Easy, right?! 😉
The first move into what we call “Banana Split”
Belly of the Beast, v7. I first tried this in November. Would have sent it in December had I not body-checked Paul into the adjacent boulder at the finish. Kept going back but could never get to that high point again. Watched some You Tube videos last week, changed my beta and sent it next go. Yey!
So what’s left on my to-do list for this season? I’m close to cleaning up Hector in a Blender, v7. I tried Sex After Death, v8 last week and not only nailed the second move for the first time but climbed all the way up to the good right hand before the final big throw. I’ve sent Better Eat Your Wheaties, v8 in my head a least 3 dozen times already but in the real world still have yet to stick the first move again post-Ivan (came close back in January though!). And then there’s The Bloody Flapper Traverse, v9 but that one goes without saying. How’s this for ambitious? Or psyched? Or cocky? Or however you want to look at it. If you think this was bad, just wait for my next post: “Dad Eats V11’s for Breakfast.” See you at the boulders! Hehe.
posted by arr
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