Monday, December 7, 2009

Triple Crown Birthday Weekend

This past Friday I turned 28 and I am proud to say that despite cranking out some serious boulder problems yesterday, I am not in a world of hurt today (just my hips- ha!) This Triple Crown event, like all the years past, did not disappoint and included a bonus SNOW DAY on Saturday. Kenneth and I headed up to Chattanooga Friday afternoon with Jack-the-Dog in tow and went straight to the pre-registration party and set up the Prana tent. It was when my hands turned to icicles during the tent set-up that I first began to wonder if I was going to have any hope of climbing well. I had on more layers than the kids in the Christmas Story as I handed out Prana beanies to all the crazy climbers (mostly Floridians) who had not brought any head-coverings to the event and whose ears were disturbing shades of crimson. From there we met up with Michelle and went to Mudpie for some beans, rice, cake, and karaoke.

We stayed with our good friend Michelle in St. Elmo at her new kick-ass abode. Hotel Michelle was also the headquarters for the boonies (Pat Goodman & Jessa Goebel) and for fellow Prana/FiveTen athlete, Alex Johnson. Michelle’s dog, Oliver the fluffy-white-talking-dog, was joined by my dog, Jack (an old friend of Ollie’s), and Fritz (A.J.’s 4lb. chihuahua). Oliver (a huge husky) and Fritz became the star-crossed lovers of the weekend with an unfortunate mutual attraction thwarted by dimensions.

We all hunkered down for the night and I was the first to wake up Saturday morning (comp day) and look out the window. Chattanooga was covered with an inch of snow and it was still snowing! Still in my sleeping bag, I grabbed my laptop and hopped into Alex’s room playing “White Christmas” on my iTunes. For those of you who don’t already know, Alex lives the life. She climbs and hangs out with Fritz and sleeps. That being said, the girl does NOT wake up early or easily. I turned up the music and started to dance in my sleeping bag until Fritz woke up and decided that attacking me was the only option. Poor Alex finally opened her eyes and in a very confused tone looked right at me and inquired, “what ARE you?” That was how the snow day began.

Our entire snow day events: coffee, Waffle House, coffee, Bluegrass show downtown (Gerle Haggard rocked it), hot chocolate, hike with the dogs, tea, dyno comp at the gym, served tea at the tent, and then went to bed with hand-warmers in my sleeping bag. Hot beverages were definitely the theme. Before the dyno comp started, they had a pad-stacking contest where you had to stand on top of bouldering pads and add pad by pad until you eventually toppled over. Hailey (bad-ass local climber) tore it up and beat all the boys with an impressive thirteen-pad tower with her teetering at the top. Zach Walker brought the pain in the massage corner helping climbers loosen up and work out the knots.

Sunday=comp day. With temps in only the 20s to begin, we filed into the frozen boulderfield. When it gets that cold outside, I usually tap out and stay home and knit next to our space heater. I do not function well in freezing temperatures. I had on more layers than I care to admit (notice there are no climbing pics of myself below in part because there was no time and in part because I resembled the Michelin man). I had hand-warmers in my pockets and in my down slippers that I wore to get from problem to problem- all while having my climbing shoes tucked in my long underwear to keep them warm. The day got better and better and my climbing got better and better as the sun graced us and I ended up having my best bouldering day ever- and managed to win the entire comp! It was unexpected, but a great birthday gift. My ticklist:

  1. Man Hands (V8)
  2. Odyssey (V9)
  3. Grimace (V8)
  4. Spanky (V8)
  5. Cleopatra (V8)
  6. Bedwetters (V9/10)
  7. Dr. Atkinson (V8)
  8. The Brotherhood (V8)
  9. I Think I Can (V9)
  10. Fatigue Syndrome (V8)

Jack & Ollie enjoying the cold
Chattanooga's Gerle Haggard Band

John Hur on Odyssey-V9

John on Space-V8

Monday, November 9, 2009


Slider is one of my favorite boulder problems of all time (#1. The Orb, #2. Mighty Mouse, #3. Slider). Alex Hooks was photographing the Triple Crown event this past weekend and sent me these shots from Slider & Beta Boy. Thanks, Alex!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Triple Crown at Horse Pens

This weekend was the 7th year of Triple Crown at Horse Pens, AL. I have been there every year for the past seven and it is starting to make me feel very old. I can still hang with the big guns though, placing a very close second to Alex Puccio. Go Team Five Ten! The weather was beautiful with temps a little on the warm side for the ancient sandstone slopers that characterize this amazing little boulderfield. The comp was full of the usual sending energy that brings people back, year after year, to try their hardest. Having just returned from the Greece trip, my endurance is there, but my bouldering power is still not back at full force. Highlight sends of the day included Slider (V9), Ghetto Superstar (V9), and repeating some of my favorites in the boulderfield (Consumption, Chevy, Stepchild, and Great White). Kenneth and I had a great time hanging out with old friends and getting back to bouldering. We headed out to the ranch Friday afternoon to set up the prana tent, climbed all day Saturday, and stayed up making tea and giving away clothes to a bunch of really psyched folks throughout the night. The booth was a huge success: the Prana presence at the event was definitely strong! Here's a few pics from the event. . . more to come

Consumption- V7

Hailey on Stepchild-V8

The Prana tent
I make a mean green tea
Jimmy's Prana Tee has seen more climbing days than most climbers have
Jimmy Webb - winner of Mens' Open- enjoying his new (and old) Prana garb
Poor Max, this year's lead athletic supporter
My friend, Leonard

Friday, October 23, 2009

Closing Time

Today was our last climbing day on the island. There have been a lot of people leaving everyday for the past week. The winds are picking up and the air is cooler and some of the restaurants are gearing down. We are all feeling pretty thrashed with this being third day on. We hiked back to Spartacus this morning to wrap up some climbing there and then took a long afternoon siesta. When we woke up, we went back to Arhi for some photos in the setting sun. Kenneth took these of me on Angelica (8a):

While we were hanging out it the sun, this guy caught our eye and we were able to get some good photos of him
Prehistoric Kalymnos Lizard alive and hungry for rock climbers!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sikati Cave

Today we ventured (and it absolutely was an adventure) to the Sikati Cave . . . a sector on the most remote part of the island not often traveled to except for crazy climbers and goats. It was as if we had entered another world cresting the top of the tail peak of Kalymnos: the terrain was like something out of Lord of the Rings and the ocean, now unimpeded by Telendos, went for as far as we could see. In the far distance, we could barely make out the lines of the Turkish mountains.

The hike in was about an hour: not too grueling, but longer than we thought it would be. There is a beautiful, secluded beach ~200m down from the cave which was where James & Laurel decided to spend most of their day. The descent into the Sikati cave was an easily managed series of bolts with a fixed rope and we were then greeted by more Kalymnian three dimensional rock climbing with alienish features made more dramatic by the rock sculptures climbers had built on the ground along with the occasional goat bones/carcasses from the poor goat that had misstepped along the rim of the cave.

I wish I could say that the climbing was as good as the surroundings: it was just not on par with some of the more stunning sectors we had already been to this trip. The climbing was impressively steep and long (which I love), but the rock quality was not quite as good and the grades seemed a little off. I was psyched to get the credit for flashing two 8a’s (Morgan/Adam Extension & Super Lolita), but both felt quite soft for the grade and the rope drag made for some VERY challenging upper clips on both routes but particularly Super Lolita. It felt like climbing with a 50lb goat on your back. Absolutely glad we ventured to see it and experience it, but I don’t think we’ll be making it back to the Sikati cave this trip.

An amazing approach. . .the Sikati cave looks like a meteor hit the hillside
Flashing Morgan/Adam (8a)
Kenneth & James looking at Turkey on the horizon
I thought this guy was particularly adorable as he blended with the surrounding shrubs
Dan Mirsky pondering the moves to come

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Send Train

The winds have changed again in Kalymnos and the temps this morning were cool. We decided to return to the Grande Grotta one last time this trip as the boys wanted to get back on Aegalis. It was cool enough that we hiked with an outer layer on, but by the time we reached the olive tree a quarter way up the Grotta hillside, we were sans shirts. The sun does not hit the Grotta until 1400-1500, so I took advantage of the cool breeze and decided to go for the onsight of Fun de Chechunne (8a). This route includes a 40m roof and 28 bolts: quite intimidating!

Despite all of the draw weight, I felt surprisingly good and before I knew it I was half-way out the route on a pretty good rest. It is hard when you are onsighting to not constantly worry about blowing the onsight and instead focus on the climbing immediately in front of you- a skill that I am definitely still developing. The route was incredibly fun and adventuresome as I navigated through some of the largest stalagtites I had encountered yet. For the last quarter of the route, I knew that I had it and would not let go for anything. It was a day for sending and the rest of the group soon got aboard: Kenneth redpointed the stunning Aegelis (7c) that you can’t stop photographing if you try, Laurel redpointed her second 7b (Ivi), and James flashed 7b. A good day for all.

By the time our gear was all cleaned, the sun was in full blaze and we hiked back down to Massouri for showers and a delicious dinner at the Gecko. Tomorrow this sick hottie is going to the Sikati.

I love Kalymnos

Kenneth sending Aegelis
James flashing Ivi
Onsighting Fun de Chechunne (8a)

Laurel sending Ivi (7b)
Rocking the Kalymnian fetal position rest

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Rest Day

Finally a truly restful rest day. All I have done is go on walks and washed a lot of clothes in our studio's sink. Here's a couple of pics that I have not yet posted from earlier in the trip:

Monday, October 19, 2009

Knackered, Blinkered, and Spent

Today was a marathon day of rock climbing. Now with the kitten worries gone, my focus returned to sending. Our scooters needed to be returned at 1:00, so Kenneth and I went for a morning session at Arhi so that I could try and redpoint Angelica (8a). The route had felt the most challenging yet and I did not know if I would be able to do it this trip. While we were warming up on Kastor (7a), some funny folks from Scotland got on Angelica to see if it was a route they wanted to work on this trip. After they found out that I was on it the previous day, they asked me if it was desperate or do-able: I quickly answered “both”.

Those blokes were a good time and used all sorts of hilarious Brittish/Scottish vernacular that we had never heard. After the first had made it to the upper crux of the non-holds, he exclaimed many “bloody hell”s and “I’m way to blinkered” before he came down deciding this route was not for him. The second Scott decided to see the non-holds for himself and also came down from there. All the talk of this route being so difficult and not easy to redpoint in a short trip was not exactly encouraging. I tried to block out the negativity and believe that I was about to send the route. My first go, I gave it my best fight through all the sections of difficult climbing. I felt strong going into the upper crux but blew off the eventual target at the end of the non-holds: a jagged right handed crimper. I lowered off quite discouraged thinking that this route was probably too hard for this trip, but I wanted to do it so badly. The line was so beautiful and the climbing perfectly challenging.

After Kenneth had a couple of goes on Eros, I decided to give the route one last go before we had to return the scooters. I felt desperate through the bottom moves and was trying my absolute hardest to get to the upper crux: my arms and shoulders felt like rocks and I knew I would fall as soon as I got on the crimps. I looked up at the rest that I had dismissed as unreachable, but I had no choice. I did a huge move and was so relieved that the rest hold was good enough to recover. I was rejuvenated going into the crux and stuck the crimp with two fingers. Unable to close it down, I high stepped and deadpointed to the bottom of the upper tufa. I knew I would not let go after that and the climbers on the ground yelled “a la muerte” (to the death). [Mom sidenote: to the death is not a literal translation. . .it just means try as IF your life depended on it]. I have not been this psyched about a send for a long time.

We returned the scooters and hiked out to Odyssey to meet up with James & Laurel. I got on Marci Marc (13a) and was very excited to pull it off second go despite feeling so knackered and blinkered. Odyssey is a really cool crag and there was a cute French family there with their little four-year-old boy. We were all amazed how self-entertained he was playing with rocks and dirt and water paints while his parents climbed. To get him interested in climbing routes his dad would place little matchbox cars at various places up a climb and then send him up to retrieve them. Very cute!

Laurel was very psyched to send her first 7b (Luci Luca). James gave Marci Marc a good go and then the poor guy broke his front tooth repair (the result of a Buckhead driver vs. James’ bicycle). He is now missing half of one of his front teeth and we have been trying to decide if superglue would be a valid option. It has made for a good number of jokes- especially after the 1.5L of red wine that was consumed at dinner tonight. Rest day tomorrow: my arms are thrashed!

(Marci Marc 7c+)

James taking it in stride
Laurel sending her first 7b
Kenneth giving the locker room pep talk
Hunting for matchbox cars (I think I see one out left)