Weekly Round-Up #11

I love a good, relevant climbing article, and the guys over at TensionClimbing, nailed it. With a keyboard and blank screen, they set out to write “The Rules” of climbing with the intention of making us all better climbers. My favorite, by far, is #6, mostly because I need to constantly be reminded of it (even if it really is a high-gravity day…)

RULE #6: Stop complaining. You’re too short. You’re too tall. Your hands aren’t big enough for that pinch. Your fingers are too big for that crimp. Stop it. Take a look around. We all have our own unique proportions that come with different advantages and disadvantages. We can all see that you can’t span the move that the 6ft tall guy doesn’t even have to think about. We can all see that you can only fit 3 fingers on the hold that the 10 year old girl can shake out on. We get it. Now figure it out…or quit. Quitting is always an option, but it is the process of “figuring it out” that is valuable, whether you send or not.

Why climb the Grand Teton once when you can climb it twice? In one day? And then, why climb it twice, when you can climb it three times? IN ONE DAY! Ryan Burke thinks “it’s an insult to the people who came before me to not take it a little farther.” Which is why he’s also going to pursue a South-to-North speed traverse of the Wind River Mountains. Personally, I’m thankful people like him are pushing the sport so people like me don’t have to.

In my short lifetime we’ve gone from breastfeeding being taboo, to women taking pictures breastfeeding atop Mount Yotei in Hokkaido, Japan. What a time to be alive. In this incisive and perspective-widening article, Leah Story speaks about being a new mom and breastfeeding in the backcountry. “Being a breastfeeding mom in the mountains isn’t a superhuman feat,” she explains, and being in the backcountry is about preparation. Breastfeeding is merely an extension of that.

Tinder, Bumble, and now Strava? The app meant for tracking vert, mileage, and activity is quickly turning into an arena for matchmaking, competition, and friendship. With Strava, you can post where you ran, how it felt, and pictures for accompaniment. You can also see what others post, like their posts, and so on. Zoë Rom at Trail Runner Magazine set out to define Strava etiquette for this new virtual world we live in.

 

 

Conquistadors of the Useless, or Pursuers of Passion?

 

“Don’t try to change the world, find something that you love
And do it every day
Do that for the rest of your life
And eventually, the world will change.”

––Growing Up, by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

Millennials get a lot of flack.

We’re dubbed lazy, entitled, useless.

Our work ethic is questioned, our desire to live in vans reviled, and our love for the outdoors?

Useless.

But is it?

I’ve wrestled with this question late at night with wine in hand, mile 7 of a trail run, and over countless cups of coffee. It’s clear that our society, so centrically created around capitalism, values what we produce. In fact, so often, our value is determined solely on what we create.

In terms of money, it’s easy to define. As a society, we value wealth, and those of us who choose to claw our way up the corporate ladder will, usually, be rewarded for our time and dedication to the man. Whoever he is.

This idea is something I understand well. Working my way through secondary and higher education, I knew following a specific path would ensure my success. I knew how to do exactly what I was told to do.

I soon realized, though, like many of us do, that continuing to pursue that life would be empty. While the security of money is nice, and up to a certain threshold ($75,000 to be exact), can actually make you happier, sacrificing happiness to get to that point isn’t necessarily worth it.

So, when I chose to study creative writing in college, I knew I was setting myself up for societal failure.

 

When I decided I wanted to focus my efforts on writing in the outdoor industry, I laughed at my silly masochistic self.

Because if writing isn’t enough to sustain yourself, or prove your worth in society, playing outdoors is even worse.

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Desert trail and sandstone towers in Moab, UT

My feelings of uselessness increased the more time I spent outside. Days passed without a single thing to show. I hadn’t written anything. I hadn’t changed anyone’s life. I certainly hadn’t made any money.

But I felt so much happier.

What came next was an energy for preserving our wild and beautiful places. This energy evolved into passion, which included writing to government officials and advocating for public land.

It still made me wonder if spending all this time outside––climbing, skiing, running, and whatever else––was actually worthwhile.

As it appears, rock climbing is useless. And despite various attempts to justify the sport, many people continue to agree that nothing good comes from climbing rocks.

It might be true for some people. Maybe there is an entire branch of the climbing community that doesn’t see the value of public lands, refuses to attend crag clean-ups, and will go on their merry way never giving back to the community.

Beneath their inability and lack of desire to give back, however, lay the seeds of passion.

Although I don’t know many (if any) people in the climbing community who do not care about anything and anyone besides themselves, there is something within them that draws them to the sport. This passion, I believe, is exactly what the world needs.

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Anger, resentment, jealousy––these emotions often stem from an experience in our lives that told us we couldn’t. Whether it was society, our parents, our significant other, or a complete stranger. At some (or many) points, we decided to let someone see the fragile, brilliant dream inside of us, and they laughed, or doubted, or overran us with their sarcasm.

Along the way, so much of our passion died because of doubt.

What I love about the climbing community is that “no” isn’t a reasonable answer, and we continually rise to a challenge. We spend our summers waking before the sun, and our autumns climbing in headlamps, because we just want the thing to go. We spend days, weeks, months, sometimes years, climbing the same damn route because we’re too stubborn to admit defeat. We suffer flesh wounds, centipede bites, rock fall, numb toes, tendonitis, rolled ankles, broken ankles, whippers, and thirty-foot run-outs.

In climbing, we shape our character, we define what is and isn’t possible, and we refuse to back down.

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Red Rocks, NV

The same is true of any sport. It’s in the face of adversity that character and resiliency grow. So maybe, on the surface, climbing seems useless.

After all, we’re spending years of our lives hanging off the side of cliffs.

But when you look into the benefits the sport creates, and how the fissures splay throughout our society––the activists it creates, the stories of endurance and the human spirit it tells, the passion it inspires––it’s hard to say the sport is futile.

 

Is the Future Female?

There’s a lot of hype right now in the outdoor world about women in the outdoors.

And for good reason.

The tides are finally changing, and woman are stepping into bold new roles. We’re seeing more women in the outdoors, more women (and men!) advocating for women in the outdoors, and more non-profits, organizations, and companies dedicated to woman than I can keep track of.

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Photo by Utomo Hendra Saputra on Unsplash

It. Gets. Me. So. Stoked.

Because when you look back over the course of history, the sh*t women had to put up with is pretty abysmal.

Like when Arlene Blum wanted to trek Denali and was told women weren’t allowed past the kitchen at base camp.

Or when Margaret Smith Craighead, Margaret Bedell, Ann Sharples, and Mary Whittemore made the first female ascent of Owen-Spalding on the Grand Teton, and the Salt Lake Tribune wrote, “Another successful invasion in the field of sport by the weaker sex.”

WHAT.

Yeah, it was a common thing.

Even earlier this year, when Austin, TX mayor, Steve Adler, decided to host an all-female showing of Wonder Woman, a livid man sent in a letter saying, “the notion of a woman hero is a fine example of women’s eagerness to accept the appearance of achievement without actual achievement,” and “achievements by the second rate gender pale in comparison to virtually everything great in human history which was accomplished by men, not women.”

I literally cannot even. Literally. Cannot. Even.

Even looking at our political landscape: our current Vice President OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA thinks women shouldn’t be paid the same rate as men for the same amount of work.

Sigh.

I promise you, though, we have come a long way.

Because despite the amount of backlash women’s programs have received in the past year (and the past entire history of mankind), women have defended their rights, and gained momentum. The Women’s March garnered at least 3.3 million protesters across the nation.

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Photo by Roya Ann Miller on Unsplash

H O W E V E R

We may be doing ourselves a disservice by saying the future is female.

For too long, women were undervalued. Their opinions weren’t respected, they couldn’t run/swim/bike fast enough, and they didn’t ‘deserve’ the rights of men. I want to be very, very clear here, I am 100,000% for women’s rights, for equality across the board, and for every woman who believes she can. I am not, however, about promoting women in a way that demotes men.

Men are pretty awesome. I think they’ve gotten a lot of flack for their past transgressions (and by “their past” I mean all the men who made a bad name for the lot thousands of years ago). Take my husband for example. He’s a feminist. He supports my career. He washes the dishes and does the laundry. He’s kind, generous, strong, empathetic, and courageous.

The future, I hope, is symbiotic. I hope this movement empowers women to come alongside men so that both genders are recognized for their strength, courage, and all the talents they bring to the table. We’re not one better than the other, but we are better together.

So yeah, the future has a lot more female influence (THANK GOD), but I hope we can play to the strengths of both genders to create a more peaceful future.

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Photo by Matt Heaton on Unsplash


Photos courtesy of Unsplash

Weekly Round-Up #9

The Down to Earth expedition is doing something the world needs a lot more of: using passion to influence change. Michaela Precourt is a visionary, she hopes for the children of the future, and wants to “instill hope back into education.” This hope lead her to found this expedition where she and a team of athletes are creating real-life curriculum through studying the effects of climate change in the arctic, recording it, and sending the videos back to schools. Their mission and its effects are authentic, “Down to Earth is filming a series of human-powered expeditions dedicated to education, effects of climate change, and how to live sustainably.” Here’s part 1 of their film series:

In response to last week’s blurb about women choosing not to have children, here’s another thoughtful and funny article defending procreation. Katie Arnold highlights the positive in raising children, and how bringing children into an adventurous life can be difficult at first, but pay off later. She also doles out a few tips, “Once a month, enlist the kids to help purge the toy bins and donate to those in need. Your minimalist obsession equals their real-life lesson in sharing and compassion.”

Sarah Castle and Alison Wright didn’t just want to hike the John Muir Trail, they wanted to give back while they did it. Over cups of coffee and topo maps, The Cairn Project was born. The non-profit exists to get teenage girls, of all backgrounds, outside. In one year, the duo have raised over $30,000 to be distributed to partner organizations through small grants.

Should wilderness be free? I’ve thought about and researched this topic quite a bit in the past few weeks. In Utah, there’s long been debate about a toll in both Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons. Essentially, the amount of users far outweighs the resources, and taxpayer dollars don’t bridge the gap anymore. Heather,from Just a Colorado Gal, shows that Colorado is experiencing similar issues: too many users in too little space. Are we entering a new era where we have to pay in more places that we play?

 

7 Foods to Grill that Aren’t Meat

Tis the season for outdoor barbecues, sunset beers, and camping! As a vegetarian (or someone trying to cut down on their red meat consumption), it’s easy to feel left out when the grill master is yells out “Order up!” for all the hot dogs, burgers, and bacon he’s just grilled to perfection.

Have no fear! There is food for you yet my dear herbivores!

Aside from the traditional veggie burger or tofu dog (which really have come quite a long way), there are heaps of other items you can grill that aren’t meat. And if you grill with enough flare, you might even steal some jealous stares from your burger-loving friends.

1. BBQ Seitan

Need I say more? This recipe from The Spruce is a classic take on the hearty staple of seitan. It requires minimal prep, just cut and marinate the pieces, throw them on a soaked bamboo skewer, and grill ’em up!

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thespruce.com

2. Grilled Onions

It goes without saying that you can grill any kind of vegetable, but this grilled onion recipe hits the nail on the head. Perfectly charred sweet onions are the brilliant side you’ve been searching for to accompany your BBQ seitan.

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chefsteps.com

3. Sweet Potato Skewers

I swear, put anything on a stick and I’ll be excited to eat it. Equal parts sweet potato and onion, these skewers, once drizzled with some tahini sauce (or sauce of your choosing), are the bees knees and super easy. Feel free to add/subtract whatever veggies your heart desires.

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naturallyella.com

4. Mexican Street Corn

Oh my yum. I first tried Mexican street corn when I was climbing down in El Potrero Chico, and while this isn’t quite the real deal, it comes dang close. Although the idea of putting mayo on your corn sounds a little out of place, trust me, it works.

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seededaetthetable.com

5. Peaches

It’s like a mini peach cobbler! Halve the peaches, take the pit out, spread on a little sauce, and let grill for a few minutes. While this recipe doesn’t call for it, I recommend placing a dollop of ice cream in the middle and spreading some pie crumbles on top. YUM.

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tastespace.wordpress.com

6. Din Tai Fung Tofu

While the black vinegar in this recipe may be hard to come by, I would be amiss to leave out grilled tofu in my vegetarian grill edition! Packed with flavor, and so easy even your cooking-inept friends can do it.

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fried dandelions.com

7. Balsamic Garlic Grilled Mushrooms

Mushrooms might be my favorite vegetable, and marinating them in balsamic and garlic definitely seals the deal. These mushrooms are so easy. 30 minutes marinating and a few minutes on the grill make this recipe an instant winner.

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closetcooking.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are your go-to grilling recipes?

Reflections on a Marathon

There are plenty of things I thought I might never do. Running a marathon was one of them.

For at least ten years I’ve put “run a marathon” on my bucket list, or my one-year list, or any other goal-oriented list I made. I can recount my goals for 24, 25, and 26, and all include running a marathon.

I finally got around to it.

The thing about running a marathon is this: if you want to do it, you can. Not to put off the years of hard work and effort that elite runners put into it—I’m speaking to the first timers, the wannabe’s, and the slightly interested.

If you want to run a marathon, just do it.

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On my 26th birthday I registered for my first marathon. I was tired of putting it off until the next year, because eventually I would be 80 and wishing I had done this thing I had spent so many years wishing I had done. There’s a quote I rely on, etched into my journal, that reads, “How you spend your days is how you spend your life.” I realized, on the celebration of my 26th year on earth, that I’d spent a lot of days (9,490 to be exact) waiting to do something, to be somebody, to finally cross things off my bucket list.

26 would be the year I stopped wanting and started becoming.

As I sat in a coffee shop with a good friend of mine, I found a marathon, I registered, I downloaded a training plan, and I set my mind to it.

It really was as easy as that.

For ten weeks or so I ran four days a week. In that time, I traveled to Mexico, had a fluke knee accident, came down with a cold that left me in bed for four days, and never ran farther than 10 miles.

I don’t recommend it.

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If you’re going to run a marathon, train for it. Give yourself enough time to develop your athletic base, endurance, and most importantly, your mental fortitude. Fortunately for me, climbing strengthened my mental muscles and, it turns out, I’m mentally stronger than I ever gave myself credit for.

Leading up to the marathon, when I felt I hadn’t had enough training due to circumstance, I told my friends my mental game would get me through. After all, nearly everything is 90% mental, 10% physical, right? For a marathon, however, I’d cut it down to 60/40.

I leaned on examples of extraordinary individuals. Like the young women who runs half-marathons despite frequent seizures. Or the man with no limbs who climbs mountains. Or any other individual who disregards the resounding “you can’t,” and shows them they can.

We drove up to the start line around 6:30am. I finished off a cup of water, went to the bathroom, and did a few jumping jacks to warm up. My husband and brother-in-law were running together, and I was prepared, and excited to run the race solo.

I headed to the start with my running vest equipped with some extra GU’s, a bottle of water, my phone, and headphones.

When the gun went off, I was elated.

Part of me never expected to make it to the start line.

Even a week before the event I thought about calling in and switching my registration to the half-marathon. I’d only run 10 miles. I didn’t want to disappoint myself. I didn’t want to disappoint my husband. I didn’t want to fail, and have to tell people I hadn’t met my goal. Before I started that marathon, I still believed that having not tried might be better than failing.

I started out slowly, treating the first mile as a warm-up. I began near the back of the group, with maybe ten people behind me. But it felt comfortable. I didn’t need to go out with guns-ablazing. My number one goal was to run the entire race. My number two was finishing with an average 12 minute mile (5:24:00).

Running had never felt so good.

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Before I knew it I was coming up on mile 8.

Then mile 9.

When I passed mile 10, I was in unchartered territory. From then on, every mile was a new record, the official furthest I’d ever run.

Mentally, I was prepared. I knew I could get to mile 20, because I knew I could run 10 miles. Once I got to 20 I knew I could run 6 miles. That was my mental game plan.

It worked.

 

The miles kept passing, and I kept running. Until mile 22, I never felt the need to distract myself.

Those last four miles, though. Damn.

It took a lot to run the last four miles. My legs were aching, knees wanted to buckle, and my hips were so stiff. But I’d run so far, I couldn’t quit.

When I passed the mile 26 marker, I kicked it into high gear.

My last mile was my fastest.

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I crossed the finish line with tears in my eyes. The volunteer handing out finisher shirts and metals asked if I was alright. I replied, “I’m just so happy!”

I don’t know what else competes for that moment. Never had I felt so accomplished, so tired, and so elated at one time. It was euphoric.

Running a marathon redefined my limits, and what’s possible for me to achieve. I’m no longer sure of the validity of “I can’t,” because can’t is a misnomer. It confuses what’s possible for you now, for what’s possible for you in the future.

You can, it just might take some time.

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The Chasm Between Social Media and Real Life

A few years ago, NPR aired a story about the rise of our discontentment as it relates to the rise of social media. My generation isn’t numb to these effects, in fact, we are arguably the most affected by it.

The rise of social media outlets and our obsession with, and dedication to them, has shown us just how much is possible for our lives. We’re well past the days where word of first ascents came a month later in the American Alpine Journal.

If you’re a woman who wants to be a CEO or a man who wants to be a homemaker, you can find at least one other person who’s done what you’re setting out to do, and find comfort in knowing you aren’t alone.

Literally, anything is possible.

For this, I am so thankful for Facebook, Instagram, Google, and other sites like them. I can figure out who came before me and what they did to get there. I can hop on Instagram, search a hashtag, and find a burst of inspiration to get my butt in the gym.

Along with the good, however, comes the bad.

Like how many times I feel shitty about myself because I don’t feel like I’m doing enough. I have a job and other things I love to do and I’m not out climbing or skiing or running everyday. And the problem with Instagram is it makes it seem like everybody else is.

So many accounts, my own included, display an ongoing stream of outdoor photos, and it’s time to confess: that’s not my whole life.

Don’t get me wrong, I wish it was, and I hope someday it will be. I hope someday I can make enough to set out with my husband and our future dog in tow. But until then, I think it’s important to be honest.

So I decided that going forward I’m going to be real.

For example:

I binge watch The Great British Baking Show.

I scroll through Facebook until my eyeballs hurt.

I rarely read a novel through the first time.

Sometimes I literally groan as I enter the gym.

I get scared when I’m lead climbing.

I get even more scared on multi-pitches.

I love to cook.

Sometimes I take four hour naps on sunny days.

I’m still overcoming my irrational fear of bears.

Some days I feel sad and overwhelmed by my dreams.

I often feel lost.

I consistently question my ability to write or climb or ski.

I spend a lot of time in coffee shops.

I am the definition of a work in progress.

What I’m trying to say is this, before you put yourself up against everyone else on Instagram and Facebook, give yourself some credit for being human, and then some more for all that you’re doing already.

It’s weird and beautiful to be human, and it’s important to recognize that in ourselves and everyone around us.