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.

 

 

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

Why You Should Learn to Lead Climb

As with any sport, climbing follows a natural progression.

First you learn to boulder. Then you try out top-roping. Eventually you muster up the courage to try lead climbing. And once the fear from lead climbing subsides, you test your luck on gear. Generally. I know people who have done this in reverse, or skipped an element all together. It’s all in the eyes of the climber.

For about four years I was content letting someone (usually my boyfriend or another really strong male friend), lead the climb and set up the top rope for me. Then I’d willfully flail around on the thing for however long, maybe make it to the chains, maybe not, be lowered, maybe get grouchy for being such a terrible climber, rinse, repeat.

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Let me say, there is nothing wrong with top-roping. In fact, top-roping is an essential and useful aspect in learning how to climb. The falls are more protected, you can hone in on your technique, and it requires little know-how. Top-roping plays a vital role in climbing.

This is sticky, so bear with me.

Before I learned how to lead climb I was always dependent on someone else. I needed someone with a higher skillset than my own to hang draws and set-up the rope for me. Climbing wasn’t my own. I couldn’t call up just anyone to go climbing, I had to call someone who would be willing to take me out and do the work for me.

The more I went out and lacked the skills to set-up my own climb, the less empowered I felt.

In fact, I started to feel everything but empowered.

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I understand teamwork and collaboration. I value the power of we. And climbing is far from a solo endeavor. You need a partner. You need a catch. You need a spotter.

Like every good partnership, however, it can easily become exhausting when one partner is doing all the work. I noticed this in my relationship with my husband (who was my boyfriend at the time of these revelations). I wanted to be this strong, independent woman, but I was unable to own my climbing. And it was so easy to use him as a sort of crutch. I started thinking, if he hadn’t come into my life, would I be climbing at all?

I needed climbing to be a thing for me. I needed it to be something I did because I could. At that point, I couldn’t just go out and climb because I lacked the skills.

So, I learned to lead climb.

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And yeah, lead climbing is terrifying. While it gets less terrifying over time (and then ups the terrifying levels when you least expect it), learning to lead climb is scary and uncomfortable and if you’re anything like me, can be downright paralyzing at times.

When you’re first starting out, it’s type II fun, for sure.

But once you start hitting that flow on lead, and you realize that every fall won’t be your last, you tap into a part of yourself that believes you can.

For the first time in my climbing career, I’ve been able to go out and project 5.12 with some incredible, crusher, badass ladies. I’ve introduced women to the sport. I’ve been able to setup top-ropes for beginner climbers on routes they wouldn’t have been able to try otherwise.

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I love this circle.

So to all of you out there, who want to try lead climbing, but are maybe scared (or, like I was, downright terrified), I encourage you to try it. Take a class. I know the gyms in Salt Lake offer lead climbing classes on a regular basis. There are also dozens, maybe hundreds of people in climbing communities who are more than willing to mentor and encourage new climbers.

So get out there, and get scared.

 



 

**All pictures courtesy of my dashing, and incredibly talented husband, Coby Walsh. You can follow him on Instagram @icoby24

 

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?

 

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.

 

Weekly Round-Up #5

It appears I have quite a problem posting consistent midweek round-ups, so we’re gonna shoot for the vague “Weekly Round-Up” and see if my consistency can be, well, consistent.

I’ve come across so much good content in the last few weeks! We live in an incredible time where information is accessed so quickly and easily.

Millennial Tastes are Driving Marketers Crazy, but it’s Doing the Food Industry Good, an article published by Upworthy, highlights how millennials are driving positive change in general consumption, and in particular, the food industry. There’s been a lot of negative press about millennials in the past year. We’ve been misunderstood, and also ignored. This article is proof of both. But it’s also proof that corporations are starting to take notice, and it’s good for everybody.

I love anything that highlights women taking a stand throughout history. I love it even more when it involves the natural world. The NCPA published this article documenting six national parks that wouldn’t exist if it hadn’t been for the women that championed them.

“In the past 18 months, over 50 bills attacking federal management of our public lands have been introduced to Congress,” begins this interesting and helpful article about five simple ways we can protect our public lands from Climbing Magazine. It’s a hard time to be a human and lover of the natural world, but we can’t remain overwhelmed. It’s time to take a stand for what’s most important. From volunteering, to signing up for newsletters, this short and comprehensive how-to can make you feel a little less overwhelmed and a little more proactive.

And a funny goat video.

Enjoy your weekend, friends!