Allowing Myself

…to feel, to love, to be.

Tag: rock climbing

Check List for Worthwhileness

We had Monday off from work – and there is nothing I love more than a Monday holiday. A perfect day for some climbing outside (it’s been months) at Stoney Point.

Making a 1/2 day trek to LA’s urban outdoor rock gym is right in line with my adventuring for 2015.

It requires some planning, getting up early on a day off, packing a bit, and the whole hustle it takes to actually get going. Then, once you’re there, you scout around for the routes, re-route your plan if other people are already there, discuss anchor points, look at maps, stand in the hot sun and set anchors (this part mostly done by H), and then finally – almost 2 hrs after you left the house – you’re ready to climb.

And climbing is a metaphor for life itself, but we don’t need to go into it right now. Instead, what I want to point out is, all of the above is hurdle enough to keep people (and by “people”, I mean me) from doing anything interesting with their time.

So a day like this is really just a check-list for embarking on anything worthwhile:
Plan a bit
Pack a bit
Invite someone cool to travel with
Stare at maps some
Scout a bit
Route + re-route as needed
Tie in / buckle up / walk off the cliff (whatever, you get it)
… and enjoy it

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Malibu Creek – Hike and Climb

Last week, we had Tuesday off, and decided to head out to Malibu Creek State Park to climb the Planet of the Apes wall. After taking care of the dog and eating breakfast, we headed out. The park was simple to find and we didn’t hit too much traffic.

It was overcast which made the feeling of autumn and vacation sink in even more. I’ve had the camping / hiking bug for a while now, and it was intensified by our trip to Joshua Tree a few weeks ago.

We parked, paying $20 to the envelop system because we didn’t have any change, and headed down the Crags Road trail. After about 1.5 miles we came to the Planet of the Apes wall.

Another group was setting up a few climbs, but the bolts for the easiest climb were still open. We hiked to the top of the wall, the view was awesome. H set up our top rope anchor. (You can see him in the picture above – and the tiny people near his left elbow that show how high up we were).

The climb we set up, a 5.9, ended up being tougher than I’d hoped. Even though there are huge pockets for your hands the wall comes back at you, and it takes a lot of energy just to stay on the wall and not swing off. This was a type of climb I don’t normally work on. Plus, it is filthy. There is tons of dust and dirt in the holds, so it felt like reaching around in a cellar.

We didn’t last long. H melted out before the top of the 5.9 – I made it 1/2 way. We switched ropes with the group next to us so we could try the next route over. That felt more fun, but was tough as well. Then there was already another group of people waiting to set up their ropes. H felt pressured and I agreed. We decided to pack up the climbing gear, eat lunch and continue on a hike into the canyon.

We came up and around to the rock pool, which was prettier than it was clean. There were a lot of people there, including what felt like a bus load of high school kids.

The people were were originally climbing next to at the Apes wall had also packed up and made their way to traverse the rock pool to an additional set of climbs on the other side. You can see them in the two pictures above making their way across the rock wall of the pool.

We ate lunch at a picnic table under some coniferous trees, brown needles blanketing the ground. It felt isolated, quiet and just what I needed. The overcast made climbing feel really hot, but otherwise I was wearing my jacket and long-sleeved shirt.

Sitting there at lunch, eating a random assortment of food I packed, I told H I could sit there for hours. That I wish I’d brought a book and we had more time – I wanted to just relax there for hours. But we needed to get hiking to beat the daylight and we didn’t have all night to burn.

Down the path, H slowed. H was tired and probably not as into the hike as I was. We were headed to the M.A.S.H. site – I was using that destination as a reason to get him going. I’m all for hikes for the sake of hiking, but H likes a purpose to all the walking (this is pretty much the only instance where this type of “productive” role reversal happens haha).

 

After about an hour of walking, we made it. It’s not much, but it’s cute. I hadn’t been to this site since I first moved to LA. I don’t remember being that impressed with it then either, but it does make for a “destination” on the hike.

We took a few pictures, ate some snacks at the tables and then both took an Awake energy shot. That perked H right up. He was zooming along the trail on the way back and we were chatty as we kept up this faster pace.

We talked about camping, our Thanksgiving trip plans, the future of our homelife, the idea of kids and a bit of what we’d like 2015 to hold (travel, for sure). This is the kind of quality time I really love – being outdoors by ourselves, doing something interesting with H, and a good swatch of time to enjoy.

This whole day felt perfect. I’m so glad we headed out on this little adventure. Clearly both my day off alone and this day made for a super spoiled introverted me. Yay.

Joshua Tree Overnight (Part 1)

A few weeks ago we took a few of H’s students out to Joshua Tree for an overnight trip: camping, rock climbing and hiking. The night before was Halloween, where it poured rain and we slept maybe 4 hours. The lack of sleep was no fun, but I knew the rain was going to make the drive to the desert a gorgeous sight.

I was right.

The guides we hired decided we would climb the solarium at Joshua Tree. Most of the kids had never rock climbed before and the weather report that morning was saying cold winds – the solarium is one of the warmer areas to climb at JTree.

The guides spent a lot of time talking about the mechanics of climbing, even demoing a climb, and then got the students up and going.

The routes they set were easy so the kids were having a good time. If they weren’t climbing they were talking, taking photos and eating snacks.

I was able to get on a 5.9+ / 5.10 route later that afternoon. It was really difficult. It took me quite a while, and while the guide belaying me wasn’t the best coach, another guide encouraged me from below, and I made it. There is nothing more thrilling than reaching the top a climb you’ve never done before – and this was a difficulty I’d never climbed outside. Woo.

After climbing all day, we all piled into the 12-person van and H’s car and drove out of the park into town. We went to Pie for the People where H and I split a Caesar salad and sausage, mushroom and ricotta calzone. (This is the same place we ate after our climbing day Memorial Day weekend, which I still have to blog about…) The students all sat at a table together, eating and talking, and being the purely young and self-sustaining people teenagers are. And from the pizza place we were given this awesome sunset.

And that’s just part 1.

Climbing Stoney Point

This weekend, we spent both Saturday and Sunday at Stoney Point Park. It is as awesome and as ghetto as the reviews online say.

It’s a rock-cropping right along a freeway, with tons of bouldering, rock walls, trails and caves. But it’s also covered in broken glass, dust and spray-paint. H said it was considered the original climbing gym of LA climbers back in the 70s, y’know, before there were actual fancy indoor gyms.

Lately, H is climbing Point Dume once a week and learning to secure his own top ropes. He was excited to climb outdoors this weekend on his own. We went to Stoney Point Saturday on a whim, on what we joked was a recon mission, just to check it out.

It was hot, dusty and busy. We saw a few teams of people climbing and a few single people bouldering. We took Carter with us so he’d have some exercise as we’d been out late the night before and had plans that evening. He was not too pleased with our plan, but it turns out, he’s so adorable, that people are willing to chat with us just to pet our dog. That worked out really well b/c we spoke to two different guides who told us the routes they were on and other info about the walls.

Sunday we got up early, packed up our stuff (new rope, cooler, water, shoes and harnesses) and drove up again. We picked up our friend T who wanted to join.

When we got there, we totally lucked out b/c the main wall we wanted to climb, Mozart’s Wall, had two groups on it, but only 6 people total, 4 of which were just learning to climb outdoors. It was the perfect opportunity for us to practice outside and for H to practice setting top rope anchors.

I was able to climb the Far-Left route, which is listed as a 5.8 in Urban Rock and H was able to get up Center Route, a 5.9 with guidance from one of the other climbers. We didn’t get a ton of climbing in, we each did about 1.5 routes, but it was a successful day.

It’s been 7 months of climbing for us. H really needs to climb outside now as he’s hit a plateau at the gym. For me, each day I climb anything, I get better.

I’m so addicted.

You really can not beat this life. xo

Werkin’ It Out

Back!

Back in the saddle again…

I’m back to working out and it feels aaawwweesssooommmmeee.

For some reason, I always get on an exercise kick in August. And, like I’ve mentioned before, rock climbing has become the end to the means. I want to eat well, sleep well, drink enough water, strength and tone my muscles because I want to CLIMB.

Yesterday, for the first time ever, I went to the rock climbing gym by myself. It was great. I warmed up on the stationary bike, climbed a few routes on the auto-belays and then did a HIIT workout. For the first time in years, I spent an hour at a gym.

But what is a “hiit workout” you ask?

Well, it’s high intensity interval training and it’s magical.

It’s everything I love about lifting weights and strengthening my body and most days it takes 12 minutes.

Yes – TWELVE MINUTES.

My lovely SIL who introduced me to this awesome concept explains the benefits of hiit. She got pretty ripped working her tail off (to really see results, you do have to do more than 12 min, but I’m not there and I don’t care. I feel awesome anyways). I figured if it worked for her, it could work for me.

On our Alaska trip, we worked out a few times together and she created this little hiit for us. This is also the routine I did yesterday at the gym.

And this morning, after rollerblading with the dog, I found a spare 15 min and did another one. I use the BodyRock YouTube videos.

It’s been about 3 weeks of running 2m (slow, slow, slow 2m with the dog) or rollerblading in the morning, followed by a HIIT. Or I just run. Or I run in the morning and climb later in the day. Or I skip a day and do yoga. (Free yoga at doyogawithme.com h/t my SIL again).

It sounds like a lot, but it really isn’t. I’m probably burning no more than an extra 300 calories per day and I’m not seeing a huge change physically because those calories come back in delicious adventures like my recent addiction to hot chai lattes despite the heat wave or our trip to Rita’s this week.

Where I am seeing a difference is in my energy levels. All of a sudden, I feel like I have tons of energy. Feeling healthier makes me want to eat better, so I am making good choices despite the sugary treats I’m enjoying. I’m less interested in alcohol (again, can’t climb well if you feel hungover and dehydrated). And I’m climbing better and better.

So that’s how I’m working out lately. If you’ve done HIIT before and have any advice, ideas or want to share your experience – feel free to write a comment. Cheers to good workouts!

Fire Crags & Tri-Tip

During the wedding weekend, we had all Saturday free. H thought it would be cool to meet his colleague B for a climb in Santa Barbara. B suggested Fire Crags on Painted Cave road off Highway 154. We looked it up online and gave a thumbs up via text. Our plans were set.

We arrived around 9:30am with the sun was already blazing, flies buzzing around our ears. We parked the two cars in a pull off on Painted Cave road and got out to look for the trail. We couldn’t find it at first and thought maybe it was further back down the road. Back into the car, and rolling slowing down the steep road, we looked for a possible “hairpin turn with a pull-out on the left”.

We saw another dirt spot and parked again. H and B headed down what looked like a trail going west to see if they could find the actual rock wall.

After about 5 min of hiking, they came to a crag with a view, and bolts in the face. This was the spot we were hoping for. I could see them off in the distance from where I waited near the road (in the shade, shaking my hair to deter the flies). They came back out, we parked both cars, and started unpacking the gear to carry back down the trail.

The trail was pretty clear, if narrow, and we made it back to the crag in good time. The trail leads to the top of the routes and then you hike down a bit more to drop your stuff and climb. You can set some of the routes from the top, no lead climbing needed.

B set the ropes, explaining his plans to H. Recently, H bought us a rope, so we’re starting to learn how to set up our own top-rope climbs. But this is nothing to mess around with – it’ll take time and practice to learn and stay safe.

Luckily, the rock face blocked the sun. We climbed for over 2 hrs before the shade disappeared. It was a gorgeous, hot day to be out in the woods climbing rock.

The climbs were challenging, especially for me. The sandstone wasn’t as sticky as other rock I’ve climbed. The height of the route wasn’t too bad – all of them are pretty short (maybe 50 feet or less). But the view out towards the ocean was disorienting. It made me feel like I was up much higher than I actually was.

The heat + lack of sleep + poor nutrition (aka not enough food / water and drinking the night before) pretty much ruined my endurance. It took me a long while to get up the first route, which was the easiest to climb for the day. At the top I was shaking so badly, either from exhaustion or adrenaline (from the perceived height) that I couldn’t walk backwards off the ledge to come back down. It took me a few minutes to be calm myself enough to be lowered.

H had a better time of the routes, though he also felt pretty exhausted. With more experience B was able to climb the routes with minimal struggle.

I did pull a cool move on one route, trying to get up and out of a “cave”. I ended up working this problem for a bit, trying different combinations of hand-holds and foot positions. This was super fun, and the most I’ve worked a route in an outdoor setting.

Climbing is a physical sport, but I love the mental challenge of it – being on a route and not knowing where your next move is going to be. In the gym I tend to climb routes I understand before I’m even on them, but when you’re outside, you don’t know until you’re up there.

Two days before, we climbed Point Dume, and we were pretty spoiled to climb outside 2x in one week.

Being out in the woods, working my body and sweating in the sun, is such an amazing break from the day-to-day drama of work and household crap. Even though we were exhausted afterwards, it was so worth going.

We topped the afternoon off with trip-tip sandwiches at the iconic Cold Spring Tavern, just down the road from Fire Crags. Talk about a time warp. Established in 1865 during the stagecoach era, the property has a few buildings, all of which look like they’ve never been renovated. There was no a/c in the bar, where we ordered from a few of the beers on tap, and received a ticket for the trip-tip, which we then took to a BBQ outside. It’s popular in the central coast to have salsa on your tri-tip – this is the Santa Maria-style BBQ.

We ate our sandwiches in the shade, at a picnic table, with cold beer in plastic cups, and a blues band of 50-something year old men playing out front. Motorcycles lined the dirt parking area and kids ran around parents eating at their own tables.

It felt like a mini-vacation and the perfect way to break up the more social, busy parts of the wedding weekend. H drove us back down Hwy 154, and we switched drivers at the 101 north on-ramp. He slept while I drove us back up to Santa Margarita, listening to the college radio station play The Weepies and Joan Baez.

Point Dume Climbing

People throw around things like #sograteful and there is a Thank You chain-letter of postings going around on Facebook (of which my friend Steve’s are actually amazing to read). And I know it’s hard to be happy when you’re in a bad spot – arguments with a boyfriend, a manager who isn’t very nice, not being able to pay your bills. Whatever.

But I’ve found that each day, life presents us with tiny opportunities to actually live.

Rock climbing is something I thought I wanted to do, but it wasn’t until H signed us up at a class 6 months ago that I actually tried it. So it’s kind of mind-blowing to me that last week we climbed Point Dume, an ocean-side cliff.

I mean, come on.

Of course it wasn’t perfect. Traffic was stupid getting there. The wind was whipping sand in our faces, piling in our stuff and our ears. The setting sun was blinding on some parts of the route. The wind made it impossible to hear each other. The waves were raging due to a storm surge. And the view + wind made the whole climb much scarier than it should’ve felt.

At one point, I was singing to myself, to focus my mind on the next move right in front of me. (If you start looking at an entire route, it can get pretty daunting.)

But I would be an idiot if I didn’t say this was one of the best freakin’ ways to spend an afternoon.

As we packed up to drive home (to pack up and travel to a wedding weekend), I told H and his friend we were climbing with – that we are some lucky human beings to be outside on a Thursday night, at the ocean, climbing rocks. You just can’t beat that.

So if you don’t mind, I think this is an entirely appropriate time to write #blessed.

TGIF xo

Piqued

This week I felt back on track.

I did work, hung out at home, watched season 2 of Orange Is The New Black, went running and ate healthier. I took Monday off, which was much needed. We went to the climbing gym & guys, Kal Drogo aka Jason Momoa works out at my climbing gym! (What a beautiful, beautiful man. Even H was staring.) I co-worked with my friend Billye and swam in her pool. Overall, it was a good week – quiet, productive, and pretty drama free.

I am looking for book recommendations, always. While chatting with my friend Chelsea (a big reader like me) she suggested I check out your summer reading list on the TedBlog. If YOU have suggestions for ME – would love to hear about them in the comments!

You can’t do your job well if your job is all do, from the Artifact Uprising blog. Love this blog. And can I just say, with T-10 days to go until our epic Alaska trip, I am already pinning over the AU book(s) I plan to make from our vacation photos.

But I didn’t pay for beans and water. I paid for the experience, the story, the instagram photo and to satiate my curiosity.

Pricing + marketing by Ari: $12 cup of coffee experience.

Saw Wish I Was Here last weekend. I loved Garden State, and while this movie wasn’t that good, I did enjoy it. And Zach Braff isn’t hard to look out, mmhhh. And yay for movies that have soundtracks, especially ones that include the Bon Iver song in the video below. Which, by the way, was filmed in Iceland but I like to pretend this song is on my mind right now b/c ALASKA.

Oh gosh, and this video made me tear up with how magical it is: Roadtrippers’ time-lapse of the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

And to continue on the teary-eyes: This little story of a guy racing his dad’s ghost in the machine of his Xbox hit me pretty hard.

If you missed it, my post about Support got a lot of shares last week. And THANK YOU x10 for reading. I’m writing for you. xo

Technicolor Climbing, New Hampshire-style

During my June work trip, I extended my stay to include a full day of rock climbing with my awesome coworker Arielle (read about the first time she took me outdoor climbing). She and her boyfriend, Eric, took me out to Pawtuckaway in New Hampshire where we took a leisurely hike in, climbed a few routes, and enjoyed the most gorgeous of New England summer day you could ever imagine.

Having lived in LA almost 8 years, I am blown away by the intense greenery of the east coast during summer. There is clearly no shortage of water there. Walking through the park, and coming up to the water in the first photo, it all looked like Technicolor. I couldn’t stop commenting on how green it all was.

Our climbs were good. Eric showed me how he sets a top rope anchor (something I have yet to learn). He is quite meticulous and really patient, so it was great to have him talk through his process. Also fun to watch him and Arielle climb – always enlightening to see how people approach a route.

We found this baby bird nest in the chimney climb. So tiny. We ate supermarket sandwiches and went through a bag of pretzels. We talked about work and climbing and life. It was just a delight to be outside in summery weather.

After we climbed for the day, they took me to a little coastal town (my fav!) called Portsmouth, NH where we ate at the Portsmouth Brewery. And then they took me to the ocean, because they rock.

Having climbed outdoors 3x now (one trip was Joshua Tree, which I have yet to blog) I am loving both the outdoor camping / camaraderie all-day feel and the intense competitiveness of the gym. Still feels so crazy I can add “rock climbing” to my list of hobbies.

 

 

 

 

Climbing A Quarry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As part of my 30 at 30 list (which I titled My Big Three Oh List) I put “rock climb outdoors”. I haven’t written about it a ton here, but since H and I took a rock climbing class in February, I’m hooked. He bought me a harness for my birthday and I picked up a pair of shoes on discount. Besides the craziness that was April, we’ve gone to the rock climbing gym about 2x per week.

We only know a few people who rock climb outdoors here in LA, and most are men. I have no problems climbing with men (H is a fantastic person to climb with for me personally b/c I trust him, obvi) but there are certain ways of approaching a route that I go after that a guy may not understand. For example, I am only 5 ft tall and therefore have to rely on my flexibility over my actual wing-span to reach certain holds.

It’s important to me that I climb right – I don’t want to pick up bad habits that will prevent growth in skill as I progress. I focus on balance, flexibility and core strength. On routes, technique and intuition guide me.

And now that I’m learning how I learn, instead of just expecting to be good at something immediately, I attention to the skills I want to acquire and mak sure I don’t try to climb routes that are so hard, I feel frustrated and want to quit.

Luckily for me, my colleague Arielle LOVES to climb outdoors and she totally relates. She assured me that my gut-feeling about climbing with men was pretty spot on (again, they’re not being mean, they just don’t have the same body types) and that she would be more than happy to take me out some day.

It just so happened that I flew to Boston for work in April and could come in a day early to go climbing with her!

We went to Quincy Quarries on a gorgeous almost-spring Sunday afternoon. Now an LA native, I was surprised by how bare the trees were still, and a lot of the ground was muddy from recent rain and thaw. There were lots of groups out, clustered around ropes and routes, enjoying the sun and park.

Arielle had all of the gear we needed (including a helmet with a pony-tail space – how cool?) and was confident I could climb a route or two on a wall near the water. She hiked up a wall of boulders, set our anchor and ropes, and we were ready to climb.

Everyone said I would be addicted to outdoor climbing as soon as I tried it – but to be honest, that didn’t happen. It felt like such a different experience that I couldn’t really compare it to climbing at a gym. It felt more relax / less competitive than at the gym. People were laughing, sitting around, a little pup (pictured above) was in and out of the water with a tennis ball. Arielle would try a route and be up there much longer than H & I would be on the wall at the gym, but it was cool – all fun and no stress.

She climbed a route first so I could copy her – and it was awesome to see her climb. There is nothing short of exuberance on this girl’s face when she is outdoors. And she’s super encouraging. When I was climbing, she would suggest good next moves, encourage me to keep going, and just seemed super joyful to be sharing the afternoon with me.

I completed one route and attempted another. We ended up running out of daylight, which was a bummer, because I felt I could’ve stayed there all day. I hope to climb outdoors here in LA soon and to go out with Arielle again on my next trip east.

The whole afternoon felt pretty magical, even surreal, as I was outside in chilly weather, with a colleague (we don’t normally get time as friends, even tho we totally are), CLIMBING a QUARRY WALL. Pretty rad. Can’t wait to do it again.


Special thanks to Arielle who, by the way, just returned from a ladies climbing trip to Moab (!!), which just seems insane to me – she’s pretty bad-ass. She recommends you check out her hero, Steph Davis.