Interested in rock climbing? Here’s how to get started…

Kalymnos, Greece 2012

I started rock climbing in college in 2004. Since then, it’s been my favorite way to stay active outside. It’s also introduced me to some pretty amazing friends and taken me to some of the most beautiful landscapes all over the world. It’s not only a physical endeavor, but a mental one as well. When you’re rock climbing, you don’t really have a chance to think about anything else. Along with dancing, it’s one of my preferred ways to exercise and zone out of everything else.

I’ve had several people ask me how they can get started rock climbing and so I figured I’d write about my experience. There are several ways to go about it, but I’ll share what I did and offer suggestions: [Read more…]

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My nephew’s gonna be a climbing monster!

Although I’m really excited about my upcoming move, I’m getting a little bummed about leaving all my friends and especially bummed about not seeing my family as much. I already don’t see them enough because of my travel schedule, so I’m trying to take advantage of every free evening! My usual Tuesday night clients were both out of town this week so I called my brother to see if it was cool if I picked up my nephew, Jaxson from school to hang out with him for the rest of the day. I’d taken him and my sister-in-law to the climbing gym a couple months ago and he loved it. A new bouldering gym just opened in downtown Louisville and I hadn’t been yet so I thought it would be the perfect time to try it out. Also, I was pumped about picking him up early from school. Even though it was only about 45 minutes from the end of the day, leaving early is still just as exciting. I’m not sure though which one of us was more excited about it…

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For those of you that didn’t know, Climb Nulu is freaking awesome. It’s absolutely huge. There are tons of routes, lots of variety in difficulty, and the walls go up to 16ft! I’m particularly fond of its hours: 11am-10pm. Here’s some quick info on it:

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Like I said, it’s huge! Their kids climbing area wasn’t opened yet, but he did just fine on the regular routes (V0s). The best thing though was that Jax is a natural! I showed him a few technique things on his first couple tries and he remembered them and put them into practice each route. He was super cute: “It’s kind of like figuring out a math problem!” He totally gets it. He even took a no-hands rest:

Going for the hard stuff…

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And taking a few falls. Yay for padded floors!

He’s matching hands, he’s switching feet. He’s down climbing like a champ and figuring out how to transfer his body weight with very little help from me. This climb he did several times to the top, but I caught his first go at it on my phone. Check out his moves!

(My phone was propped up on a chalk bag and fell over before he finished so you miss the rest of his down-climb and his big jump off… but it was a good one.)

We were super hungry afterwards so instead of going out to eat we came back to my house to cook dinner together. I’d bought the ingredients to make these Spaghetti Squash Burrito Bowls earlier in the week so that’s what we made. He’s going to be quite the good cooker one day. ; )

*I used to say cooker instead of chef when I was a kid, so that’s what we call it.



Taking him climbing with no ropes, giving him giant knives to use… #auntoftheyear

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All in all it was a pretty sweet day and I’m glad we got the chance to hang by ourselves.

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Travel: Kalymnos, Greece

A little travel flashback today…

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My man-friend and I traveled to the Greek island of Kalymnos in the fall of 2012. As far as travel to Greece goes: Athens is where you go for the history, Santorini is the tourist island, Kalymnos is the party island, (we started there) but Kalymnos is the adventure/climbing island! This island is a climbing mecca! The island itself is small, but with TONS of climbing areas. I hear you can go scuba diving and participate in other fun activities, but we were there just for the climbing. We stayed at a small hotel  for 5 days (our total bill was 145 euros!) and rented a scooter to get around on (for 50 euros total, make sure to get an international driver’s license first!)). There were hotels closer to the crags, but they were the normal hotel prices. Ours was about a 15 minute scooter ride away, which was cheaper and more exciting to commute to each day!

Thank goodness everybody rides scooters there and only go about 20 mph… because people were either not wearing helmets or wearing their climbing helmets, like us.

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As far as the climbing goes, there’s no shortage of routes for every ability level. Every route is well marked on the rock, with the name of the climb and its difficulty rating. Since the climbing scene there has just recently exploded (in the last decade) all the routes are very well bolted, so no huge run outs! The week we were here, The North Face was having its annual climbing competition so the energy around the rock was amazing! World-class climbers and amateurs alike were everywhere, just having the best time.

Note the goat…

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We took the scooter for a ride around the entire island (which took about an hour) and found this little inlet. There was a lone church on the hill and this boat, but nobody else around.

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So we did a little making out… naturally.

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We spent our whole trip climbing all over the place and eating the most delicious, fresh food you can imagine.

Very fresh.

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We went to the a few different places for lunch during the week, but we went to the same restaurant nearly every night (I unfortunately can’t remember the name). It was this little place a few minutes walk down the road from our hotel. The owner was the nicest man in the world. We had a blast each night… Including when this happened. Definitely the most “Greek” thing we did:

If you’re looking for an adventure trip I recommend this island for sure!

If you’re not a climber, Kalymnos is huge for scuba diving as well. The island also works out as just an amazing trip for you and your babe, or the whole family! You’ve got water all around, amazing people and food, (eat lots of tomatoes!) and an energy that can’t be beat.

Other posts about the TRX Summit and the rest of that trip here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

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Ha Ling: My first long climb!

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I’ve been climbing since college, but mostly single pitch sport climbing. I’ve done a few multi-pitch climbs with my man-friend, since those are his favorite types of climbs. We’ve done some 2, 4, and 6 pitch climbs, but nothing over that. We didn’t get to climb Brewer’s Buttress Monday, then I got a stomach bug on Tuesday. Wednesday was our last day to climb (as we were going to have his two sons with us for the remainder of the trip). I still felt like ass, but we decided to climb Ha Ling anyway. Ha Ling Peak is an 11 pitch climb that’s fairly easy. It’s rated 5.4 – 5.6 (if you know the Yosemite Decimal climbing System) so it was nice to know I could handle that level since we’d be climbing for a long period of time.

My stomach bug was still hanging around, but I really wanted to do the climb, especially since it was the last chance we could go. The hike up and the first couple pitches were less than enjoyable. Stopping and sitting several times, to keep from puking, was far from my ideal morning… but at least the view was ok.

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Me… not as happy climbing as I usually am:

After doing the first 4 pitches very quickly, and wearing myself out, I wanted to go back down. The thought of doing 7 more pitches feeling like ass was not appealing to me and all I wanted to do was lie down. The thought of quitting though felt much worse… so we kept going, but with the attempt to sit and rest for about 5 minutes after each pitch.

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The great thing about this climb was that all the belay stations were on huge ledges so I could sit and rest. We were stuck behind a couple other teams of people, so it was actually perfect. With a view like this, and some pretty awesome company, breaks don’t suck:

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I started feeling better around pitch 8 so my man-friend decided to capture the moment (me happy):

His fingers in the shot cracked me up. Those GoPros can be tricky…

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Making my way up…

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and up…

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and to the top!

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I’m really glad I finished!

We had an awesome day together, the weather was perfect, and it felt sooo nice to nap afterwards.

Yeeeeeah, bitches!

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And this is just another photo from the Castle Mountain trip two days before. It was on the GoPro with these photos, so I had to throw it in here. Love seats made out of stacked rocks on the mountain ridge are my jam:

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So long, Canada and man-friend! Until next time… xoxo

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Castle Mountain: The Hike, The Hut & The Throne

My man-friend and I planned to do a climb called, “Brewer’s Buttress” while I was visiting this week. It’s located on Castle Mountain. There’s a hut on top of the ridge that you can sleep in, so we planned to hike up Sunday evening, sleep in the hut, then climb all day Monday and hike back out.

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The Hike:

securedownloadThis is the guide for the last two hours of the approach, the faint, red line was the scary section.

This next photo was taken an hour and a half in, at the Lookout Site. I was still in “happy hiker” mode here. Next came freak out, “survivor” mode so my phone stayed in the pack for the duration of the evening.

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This hike isn’t just walking on a trail. NOPE. It’s 3 and a half hours of hiking, scrambling, climbing up STEEP trails and rocks, and hoping you don’t trip and fall off the side of the mountain. You’re on a steep trail for about an hour and a half to the lookout, then it’s a ton of scrambling and climbing for the next two hours. We anchored in to a couple parts and short-roped others. I’m glad I did it and finished  it, but I’m also glad I didn’t die. I could see how that’s easily done on this type of exposed terrain. Ten minutes into this hike, I was already breathing hard and dreading the rest of it. Pretty much everywhere you hike, climb, or ride in the Canadian Rockies is steep as shit. Add to that the elevation (we were going up to 7,800 feet), the several pounds of climbing gear, clothes, and food in my pack, and my lack of long cardio training and I had the perfect recipe for two small asthma-like attacks. I don’t have asthma, but I did get the closing of my airway and the increasing difficulty to breathe, which caused me to get really dizzy and weak… Which is extremely scary when you’re up that high and having to climb up exposed areas. Don’t know if I’ve ever been so fatigued on an approach before…

The Rainbow:

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This rainbow appeared at just the right time… the first time I needed a huge break from the steepness of the hike. I totally needed to stop and breathe (and not retreat back down to the comfort of a lower altitude, like I desperately wanted to). It was nice to see this beautiful site from way up here. It was my motivator for the rest of the climb. There were actually 2 rainbows, but the other one was nearly gone by the time we pulled out the cameras.

The Hut:

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The hut at the plateau of Castle Mountain is operated by the Alpine Club of Canada and costs $40 per person per night. It seems pricey and it’s cramped, but it’s worth it when you don’t have to climb several hours immediately AFTER  hiking up. It’s also great because it comes equipped with cooking gear, utensils, water, toilet paper, etc, so you don’t have to carry all that ish up (along with the other gear). Totally worth it. The hut consists of two bunk beds, spaced about two feet apart. When we arrived, there were already 2 other couples there, so we had to break out the wood sheets from under the beds to bridge across the top and bottom beds of the two bunks. Now 3 people slept along the top row, and 3 along the bottom row. It’s often been said about the hut: “It sleeps 8, but you wouldn’t want to be one of them.” We were a little cramped with 6 people so I can’t imagine 8, unless you were really good buds with the other 7.

The Throne:

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“This unique structure is a credit to the skill, vision and sense of humour of those who created it.” says the Banff Rock Guidebook. And it’s completely true. They’ve made a toilet at the very edge of this 1,000(ish) foot  cliff, so you can look out onto this vast land and admire its beauty… and relieve your bladder, all at the same time. I’ll admit it was a nice switch from having to squat in the woods, hoping that you’re not near poison oak or peeing on your shoes. My man-friend told me about The Throne long before we planned to climb here and I thought it was hilarious. Here’s “The Throne,” the view from the seat, and a photo I’ll probably regret posting on the internet:

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The best peeing view ever:

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Because I was completely drained and feeling awful from the previous night’s hike and the fact that it was raining and freezing at 5am when we were supposed to start our climb, we chose not to do Brewer’s Buttress. I felt like a total weak-ass coming all this way and not doing the climb, but it’s best to listen to your body when you NEED it to work all day long. Brewer’s Buttress has thirteen pitches, which seemed exhausting. That would take most of the day, along with the descent back out. We opted instead to sleep in, chat up our bunkmates in the morning, practice building trad anchors (for me) and work our way down at a leisurely pace, which only took 2.5 hours! It was an eventful couple days, but I’m glad I did it and looking forward to the next trip!

My handsome Alpine Guide on the descent:

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Podcast! Fitness and TRX

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A couple weeks ago I had the privilege of joining VO2 Multisport 
and chatting with Angie Fenton for Get Fit Louisville.  
And I got to hold a microphone! 
We covered topics from TRX to climbing, 
dancing, and women in fitness.
 Listen in here.

To download this podcast (and the other 6 episodes) for free, check them out on iTunes

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Mid-Week Climbing Days!

So my friends Adam and Andrea, last seen here,  
have just returned home from spending several months traveling
the globe. Since they’re in the process of finding work again, 
they have some free time and 
they’re my new go-to buds for climbing mid-week! 
A & A 
(& fake smiles)
We were able to drive out to the Red River Gorge, 
which is a little less than two hours away from Louisville. 
The weather was perfect, 
we all got a little climbing in, 
I got to lead (which I’ve been needing to get back to),
 
and fun was had by all… 
especially the Tang:
I’ve also started making a new “Goin’ Climbin'” Playlist
because there are always songs I want to hear on 
the drive out to the Red… or anywhere to climb, really.
Any mellow, but fun songs I should add? 
It’s a two hour (ish) drive…
also love me some Jason Tyler Burton!
His ish just isn’t on Grooveshark…
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Last Week’s Jams

If you follow me on Instagram, none of these photos are new,
but if you don’t…

These things were my JAM last week
(…and this past weekend)!
Having Bonna’s B Party! 
(more details on that later)
Me, Bonna, Amanda
Getting in a workout Saturday, hill sprints with Chris Tuesday, 
2 hours of climbing with my college buddy, Noble, on Friday, 
and a BEAST mode workout alone Sunday. 
Some serious sun-spot time with Tang and Church:
(that are in NO WAY healthy)
Getting to hang with Mariah’s brand new son, Chase! 
Watching a shit-ton of basketball, while lying on the couch w/ Willie & Emmy
and lastly, and most importantly: 
getting REALLY REALLY lucky totally kicking my man-friend’s ass
in our NCAA Tournament Bracket competition*. 
YES! 
What’s your JAM right now?

*probably just jinxed the hell out of myself for the remaining games
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Greece: Part 4 Climbing!

After the 3-day Summit, we were a little exhausted
but getting a little more onto Greece time
(maybe not digestive schedule-ly, but sleep schedule-ly).
Work time, check. Play time, commence.
It was time for the climbing portion of the trip
and on to the island of Kalymnos!!
Figure out our bearings… and GO!
The Grand Grotta
an OK view,  I guess… ; )
chillin’ with a local…
and hoping he doesn’t raid the backpacks for lunch
while I’m belaying
He tried, but I blocked.
Sunset at the end of the first day at Poets Wall
Please disregard the dirt, sweat, and chalk on my entire face. Thanks.
Finding the perfect area at Afternoon Wall.
A welcome shady spot for the afternoon sun and heat!
I was saying, “ooh”.
NOT giving a kiss/duck face.
Parts 1, 2, 3
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Book Buzz: Deep Survival. Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why

When my book club was getting off the ground I said the only way I’d join was if we didn’t read any depressing books:

No rape/molestation
No children dying
No abandonment
No self-pity, “why me?” victim books. 

Those are serious issues, and ones that I’ve helped other friends get through and frankly, I don’t want to read about it in my spare time. There’s enough horrible stories in real life and on the news. I want to read inspiring, adventurous, fun, sexy, comedic, good books for entertainment.

So I suggested this book, which has been on my Amazon Wish List for a month or so. My first response from that group email?

“How is that book NOT depressing and horrible?!” 

: ) Fair enough, Sarah. Fair enough. However, this is one of the most inspiring books I’ve ever read.

I’ve been into outdoor adventures for a long time. I like to climb, hike, packpack, camp, etc. I don’t get to participate in as much as I’d like (when you do work travel on the weekends, it limits your “fun travel” time) but I love learning about what ‘not to do’ when you’re in the great outdoors. My good friend, Jenn has worked for the National Park Service and I’ve heard lots of stories from her about people that die in crazy circumstances and ones that survive in crazy circumstances. It’s a morbid curiosity of mine, but one that I think could potentially save my life one day…

In a nutshell: 

First it shows the difference in personalities that determines who survives life and death situations and who doesn’t. Those that are more likely to accept the crisis situation, figure out a plan, and move forward are more likely to get themselves out quickly, before they die. Those who are in denial, focus on self-pity, and wait for something/somebody to come rescue them usually perish. I like to believe I’m a survivor. I don’t spend time wallowing. When something bad happens (in any situation), I figure out what my next step is, and act. I don’t place blame, I don’t wallow, I figure it out.

Then the book talks about the way the body reacts in certain circumstances that make people make smart/not-so-smart decisions. It gets scientific here, but still captivating.

It supports all these thoughts with many tales of survival (and some of peril) in a really gripping fashion: 
*How one teenage girl walked away from a plane crash with no supplies and survived 11 days in the jungle while other adults, with tons of supplies stayed put and died. 
* How one man survived 76 days at sea because he planned for everything that could go wrong and made the right preparations in order to fish and catch clean water from a small life raft. 
*How two grown men nearly died on a mountain climb because they were so hellbent on making this ascent they ignored several signs telling them they shouldn’t have started the climb in the first place; late start, storm coming, severe lightning threats, etc. 
 I read this book in about 5 days and loved every bit of it.
 If you’re fascinated by the same types of things, I’d highly recommend it. 
Plus, it includes several tips on how to prep yourself for decision making
in the thick of it. 
Kindle edition was only $9
Holler. 
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