Here are some highlights from the last fall months!
- Kalymnos Climbing Festival
- Women’s Sports Foundation Gala
- 21st Birthday
- PCI Clinic at Earth Treks
- RedBull Illume Event in Arizona
- Los Angeles Trip
- Mont Tremblant, Quebec – Thanksgiving with the family and skiing
Time sometimes just whizzes by and I lose track of how many weeks pass. There is a saying that I like to assume is true – “The busiest person is the most productive person.” When I become stressed with the list of things that I want to accomplish, I assume that this is true. Though, when it comes to dealing with relationships including friends and family, sometimes I find myself slipping towards being neglectful without meaning to be. This can be difficult. I really love spending time with my friends, getting to see my family, and doing everything that I love to do including traveling, climbing, events, and random adventures. When my schedule fills up, I feel like a robot sometimes, lost in a whirlwind of traveling and obligations that I just need to execute. Lately I have been spending about four days in NYC (where I am living) and the other three days of the week traveling. A few weeks may go by and I realize that it really has been a chunk of time since I have done something so simple like spoken with someone close to me. For that reason, I am finding it important to build in relaxation and family/friends time to my schedule. Which, on that note, lands me at our family ski house in Mont Tremblant, Quebec, passing my extended Thanksgiving weekend with my mom, dad, and brother, Charlie. While I have a pile of schoolwork to complete, I can do it from the comfort of our couch, surrounded by the snowy mountains and the warm energy of my family. My life in this moment feels at ease =]
Coming up this month I have the final weeks of my fall semester at school, which means final papers and final exams. My last exam is December 19, at which point I will return to Canada to celebrate my Grandma’s birthday and Christmas with my family. I love to ski, so coming up North is always an opportunity to hit the mountain!
Then, after a week in Canada I am flying to Malaga with some of my friends to go climbing outside in Southern Spain for my first time! I have spent a lot of time in the Cataluna Region of Spain (North), so I am excited to explore this new region of one of my favorite countries in the world!
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I want to throw out a Thank You to everyone who reads my blog, is active on my social media pages, and/or is there supporting me and my climbing career. I truly thrive off of your energy and really love to meet all of you when I can!
Furthermore, a Thank You to my sponsors for enabling me to follow my dreams and to realize that anything is possible.
LIVE LIFE and Love it!
Last weekend I competed in the Nation’s First All-Women Climbing Competition – The Heist. The event took place at Central Rock Climbing Gym and ladies from across the Nation flew in to compete for a big cash purse prize – allocated among the top women! Combining a bouldering qualifier round with a boulder and sport climbing final required us to come prepared for anything and everything, all in one day. During qualifiers I flashed the five hardest problems and sat in first place going into the final. In finals, we (the top six women) had two boulder problems to do our best on in five minutes time frame, and one try, onsight format, on a lead route. The setting was set by an all-women crew as well. Namely, Kasia Pietres and Sydney McNair, the head setters, worked hard towards separating the field and defining the winner as the climber that succeeds the most all-around. Our climbs were a mixture between technical and balance, burly and dynamic, as well as a long and endurance oriented route.
The women’s field was strong, including 2nd place finisher, Delaney Miller, 3rd place finisher Meagan Martin, finalists Francesca Metcalf, Angie Payne, and Kyra Condie, and just narrowly missing finals, Tiffany Hensley and Nadya Vorotnikova.
I was really happy to finish first =] and I topped the finals route so that was a nice touch!
Seeing so many motivated female climbers crowd through the gym to climb, watch, and cheer was inspiring. The energy was palpable. And thanks, guys, for cheering on the ladies, too!
This weekend I stayed in NYC for my first full weekend without travel. That was incredible. I love traveling, but I also love NYC and being in the city with my friends cannot feel better! We went to the Global Citizen Concert where Alicia Keyes, John Mayer, the Kings of Leon, and Stevie Wonder all performed. Spending a beautiful day outside in Central Park with friends listening to live music… I can’t complain!
Now, I am back to my routine for the week with school, training, filming, meetings, and some fun time in between. On Friday I fly out to Squaw Valley for a RedBull Athlete Team Meeting, and then on Tuesday I fly to Greece for the Kalymnos Climbing Festival. I will be back to NYC in time for midterms: D
Live your imagination!
Free soloing a vertical cliff at 350 meters elevation is not where you will normally find me climbing. The difference between free climbing and free soloing is that, while free climbing you have protection and a rope so if you fall the fatality risk is actually very low; whereas, if you fall doing the latter, the fatality risk is almost certain. What keeps me from feeling inclined to free solo are the uncontrollable aspects of the sport. While climbing, it is beautiful to feel in complete control of yourself and your movements – to feel aware of your surroundings and to know that the utmost concentration is necessary in order to succeed upwards; however, this beauty comes with uncontrollable dangers like rocks breaking. At times in the Dolomites, the likelihood that the rock will break feels more likely than the possibility of it not breaking.
Although, desperate times call for desperate measures and what would a day of big wall climbing in the Dolomites be without being an epic one? I do not think that Edu and I found that out…!
After sending Bellavista and having a few days to rest, recover, and take photos, we set out to do another Big Wall project. This time, we had our eyes set on an onsight attempt of “Camillotto Pellissier,” a route up Cime Grande that includes pitches 7b+ – 7c – 8a+ – 8a – 7a – 8a+ – 6c+ – 6b – 6a – ….etc (5.13c pitches) to the top of the tower. No female had free climbed the route before, so I was going for the first female ascent as well as for the onsight. We had been watching the forecast for a perfect day to climb (even though the forecast in Tre Cime is not very accurate..) , found a day with good weather, woke up early, and went for it. Edu lead the first pitch, then I lead the second, and we traded off like this for the whole route. The person who climbed second had to follow but they got to climb with the backpack full of RedBull, water, and food.
Each pitch we successfully onsighted. By the time we got past the harder pitches, we were optimistic about the send and figured that we only had smooth sailing ahead. We were prepared with our Gore-Tex jackets just in case of an unexpected storm like on Bellavista.
The book did not mention that the top easy pitches did not have any pitons or bolts, though, so we were not prepared with friends or pitons to place. While the top section consists only of easy climbing, you are still vertical and 350 meters above the ground on loose rock, so ideally you have some form of protection. We were optimistic about finding at least some rusty pitons to place our draws in to and to keep a rope, though, after not finding anything for about thirty meters, we decided to just untie and climb simultaneously to the top.
Given our situation, we did not have too many options. Once you are at that height on the wall, your only option is up so you can descend the other side. I focused all my attention on keeping four-points plastered to the wall as often as possible and to check each rock before advancing. I zoned everything else out. The thought of falling was not something that occurred to me because it was something that I just could not let happen. That was until the crater-like rock that I thought was really solid that I had my left hand and left foot on ripped from the wall. I felt the jerk of the rock as it plundered first into my knee and then wisped into the long vat of air between the ground and me. My right arm and right foot seized to the wall and my heart skipped a beat. I had a death grip on my right side and all I thought in that moment was shift to the right and stay on the wall.
This moment was a decade. Life went on pause and then I was searching for a sturdy new place for my left hand and foot to go. After this rock break I felt the enormity of the danger much more prevalently. I was scared but I could not stop because I knew we had to get to the top.
I realized there is no room for complaining in a situation like that. Complaining will get you nowhere – only to a more negative mind set and it will detract from your attention to the task.
At the top, we began our treacherous descent. Like Bellavista, the first portion of the descent consisted of occasional sketchy rappelling off old pitons, and then just down climbing, ideally through crevasses.
After climbing three separate big walls, including our main project, and feeling lucky for being okay (albeit bruised) after our potentially fatal situations, we decided to spend the last four days of our trip comfortably sport climbing.
We went to Erto one day, (I sent Tucson ), then Dardago (I sent Linea Calda!) for a photo shoot with Jensen Walker for a new FiveTen Poster, and then to Frankenjura, Germany for the last day and a half. We felt nice and light climbing without all our gear like jumars, repel devices, grigris, approach shoes, etc attached to us Sport climbing sure was a comfortable regression.
You can never expand your comfort zone unless you step outside of it and test yourself. This trip, I certainly pushed new personal limits and I learned a lot about new gear, how to calmly deal with life-threatening situations, how to get through harsh circumstances, and I also experienced a whole new scope of challenging climbing that I had been unfamiliar with before. Going on a trip like this with someone that I could trust, get along with, and spend three-weeks straight with was essential. I had a blast with Edu Marin the Machine and I cannot wait for our next adventure!
Stay tuned for pictures!!
Our human capacity to push past suffering through sheer motivation and willingness to bite piercing pain ceases to amaze me.
I experienced the peak of my exposures to epic adventures August 12.
My plan to climb a hard multipitch route in the Dolomites, Italy was born from an Adidas dinner-table discussion between Reinhold Messner and me. December, 2011, we are sitting at a fancy restaurant and Messner ecstatically flips the wine menu over and draws a pen from his pocket. Enthusiastically he maps out the Tre Cime Oveste peak and stars a section at the quarter-mark up the mountain and notes “roof.” Messner, aware of the physically and mentally taxing project completed by Alexander Huber, drew me to a new project. Two routes stem from this picture that he drew- one pitch going left from the “roof” is Bellavista, graded 8c, and one going right is Panaroma, graded 8c(+).
In 2012 my calendar quickly filled with events, competitions, and outdoor aspirations. Going to the Dolomites kept being pushed to the wayside due to convenience, weather, and circling my comfort zone.
I also knew that trying these routes would be a unique task for me. Both juxtapose physically difficult climbing with technical and big wall exposure elements.
I have done very few multipitch routes. Climbing in The Dolomites is a feat itself for multipitch climbing. The region is composed of piercing limestone cliff faces. The rock has striking streaks of black down sheer yellow-white faces. It also breaks. A lot. Rock avalanches are common, and subsequently helicopter rescues are just as common.
Climbing in The Dolomites is a balance between balletic technique and maintaining as many delicate points on the wall as possible incase the stone you are holding with your hand or stepping on peels off. The more points, the more likely you are to stay on the wall when your hold does not.
The approach to the grand roof on Tre Cime Oveste requires this style of climbing, but then quickly transforms into a style of powerful endurance.
Kicking back to a steep angle, the wall is right in your face. Its immensity is unavoidable. The climbing is intimidating and exposed. Climbing with a jumar and trax is important because otherwise there is no way to return to the wall after falling. And the way down is not close. The rope will not reach the ground from a belay.
Originally, I posted The Dolomites, Italy, in my calendar for June. Then, the weather remained wet and cold so the route was seeping from the snow.
I went to Spain then South Africa. Then, I returned to the US for a week to visit the North American RedBull headquarters, the OR Show, and to compete in the Psicobloc Competition. Directly after the competition, I flew to Europe.
August is my last free month of summer break before class starts again in NYC. Therefore, it was perfect for me to travel to the Dolomites to try the project.
Lately I am really motivated to fuse physical challenges with testing my mental limits. I have been excited to explore new terrain- unique projects like first ascents and to have more experience big wall climbing. This type of climbing requires me to push myself to realize what is possible- to explore new test pieces and to maybe accomplish what has not been done by women, or in certain cases, anyone, before.
I flew from SLC, Utah to Munich, Germany August 3. I met Edu Marin when I arrived at the airport, August 4, then we rented a car and drove to Italy.
August 5, we climbed a 3,000-meter wall that had no particularly hard pitches, but that was extremely exposed and had a lot of traditional pitches. We arrived at the top late and it was really dark and difficult to find a place to repel. By the time we found it, repelled through the dark, and hiked back to the cabin where we were staying, it was already 230am. We thought that this would be the most epic adventure we could have.
The next day we hiked around the mountain, then drove to Tre Cime. Originally, we planned to climb some other big walls on Tre Cime Oveste before trying Bellavista. However, when we got to the wall and looked up at the stunning, intimidating wall that towered above us, we thought why not just go all in from the start.
We decided to try Bellavista first because our friend Dani Moreno tried Panaroma and told us that some of the holds broke and the route is quite reachy now. Bellavista and Panaroma share the same beginning but then split at the harder pitches. Bellavista traverses left and Panaroma traverses right. Then, they meet back up after two pitches and both continue to the top of the mountain.
We had enough gear with us to try the first few pitches of Bellavista. There are five pitches until the first “8c” pitch of Bellavista. The pitches are 7b-6a+-6a+-7a-7a+. We decided to link the five pitches into two pitches because we had a long enough rope to set up just two different anchors. The first day, we climbed these pitches and then came down at the anchor before the hardest pitch of the route.
The next day, we returned and each tried the 6th pitch, “8c,” once. If you fall on the route, you have to jumar back up to the wall. Therefore, trying the route requires a lot of effort. The falls are intimidating and exposed. My first try, I definitely knew that I mentally had to relax more. I was over-gripping and nervous to fall off the pitons into a huge gap of air. However, if I didn’t accept the possibility of taking a big fall, there would be no way to try to send the route.
The next day we rested, then the following day the weather was bad so we went sport climbing in Erto, just south of Tre Cime, closer to Auronzo. In Erto, I onsighted several routes including “Muveive” and “Pole Position,” 8a+ (5.13c). We went swimming in the lake and relaxed in Cortina. Sport climbing all of a sudden felt so much easier after Big Wall Climbing! Safe falls on bolts and the only equipment you need is shoes, harness, chalk, a belay device, draws and a rope!
Though, after trying Bellavista two days before, we were more psyched than before to return to try it. The route is exhilarating. It is not only beautiful, (it is called “Bellavista!”) but it is also challenging, exposed, and a full adventure.
Our third day on the route (August 11), we both tried the hardest pitch again. I did the hardest pitch of Bellavista my first try that day, so it took me two tries in total. I lowered down the static rope, and then jumared back up to the belay station and belayed Edu. After two tries Edu sent the pitch as well. “Que equipo fuerte!”
We then continued to the next pitch, the “8a” pitch. I flashed the route and then Edu sent the route his second try. We repelled to the ground and were incredibly excited. Bellavista was certainly possible in our minds. “All” we had left to do were the subsequent easy pitches to the top of Tre Cime Oveste. Of course, this seemed easy in our minds. However, what I didn’t realize is that after the 8a pitch, you are only about ¼ the way up the wall. The peak is at 2,973 meters. Tre Cime Oveste towers over the Dolomites mountain range. To send the route, we needed to be at the peak!
We hiked back to Refugio Auronzo with the plan to go for the send the next day. Alarm set, we were physically tired but psyched and ready to go for the send the next morning.
August 12 (the next day) we hiked back to the base of Bellavista to go for the send. The rock was cold and humid. Climbing felt much harder due to the wet rock. Though, my mind was set on the finish. I really wanted to continue.
Edu tried the hardest pitch first, but slipped off. He lowered and warned me that it was wet. I tried it, slipped, and pulled up back to the rock to chalk up the crux. I still wanted to go for the send. I knew it was possible. After trying the crux again and finding a new intermediate where before I had to do a bit of a blind-jump, I lowered and rested about 5 minutes, then lead for the wet-climb send.
I had to fight to send the route the second time more than the day before but when I got to the anchor, I was exhilarated. The hardest portion of the route was complete!
Edu, bleeding all over on his hands, lowered on the fixed static rope (fixed between the anchors of the 8c and the 8a) to the middle, then jumarred up to the anchor before the 8a to belay me free climbing the next pitch. I sent the 8a, then Edu jumarred up to the next anchor. Edu warned me that it was going to be a long journey to the top and we were running a little late, but I naively thought that it couldn’t be a problem. We just had easy pitches in front of us. Well, while they were easier, there were still more than 12 of them left…
We climbed fast, sending every pitch and linking routes together to move quicker. Climbing in the Dolomites though, you need to be careful because the rock is very delicate. Sometimes it feels like every other hold you grab breaks off.
About 200 feet from the top a big storm thundered through the valley and rain drenched us.
Climbing slower through the storm, we finally arrived to the top about 9pm. It was dark and difficult to see through an overwhelming amount of surrounding clouds and pouring rain.
After looking around for the place to head down the mountain and failing to find it, I realized that I had some battery left on my phone and cell service. We called Alex Huber (the first ascensionist of the route and climbing legend) and asked him how to get down. He told us that it was a difficult trail and dangerous trail down and recommended we sleep at the top.
We were so wet and cold. Standing in the howling wind at the top, we thought this was crazy. Surviving the night at the top in our condition sounded like a feat in itself. Though, after searching for another two hours for the way down, we realized that Alex was right. Every way we walked, we faced a perpetual dark drop off the side of the tower. Down climbing was perilous because the rock is so fragile and we could only see what was in front of us through the light from our headlamps.
Exhausted from the long day and the mental battle, we dozed off for about two hours shivering on a rock. At about 530am, morning dawn lit up the mountain and we optimistically continued the search down. We were frozen and tired. A warm shower, sleeping bag, and hot cappuccino sounded like heaven.
After about two hours, we were back in Refugio Auronzo. Each shower is 5 euros and lasts about 5 minutes. I bought three showers!
Climbing Bellavista opened a new door of possibility for me. Edu taught me how to use a lot of new big-wall gear, I realized the capacity of human suffering is without boundaries, and we accomplished a long-time dream of mine. We also did all of this much sooner than I anticipated!
Now we have ten days left in Europe. Tomorrow we will take some more photos on Bellavista, then try Panaroma and climb some other big walls in the Dolomites. August 24 I fly home and then start my second year of University! This summer has been amazing
P.S. Stay tuned for Photos!!!
“I went skydiving, rocky mountain climbing, and two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu…”
Well, basically. Except the bull was plastic.
I flew from Europe out to California to visit the RedBull HeadQuarters in Los Angeles. While in SoCal I had my athlete orientation and I met the staff working at the HQ. I also got to hang out with RedBull’s Ashley Smeltzer – we went climbing, skydiving, and to the US Surf Open where we happened upon a plastic bull that we both gave a spin. My trip was a thrill. I’ve taken a lot of planes but I’ve never jumped out of one! Sky diving, especially, was an adventure at the top of my bucket list that I found so exhilarating to finally do! The experience was totally unique – basically, you jump out of the plane and free fall for much longer than I thought, then when you release the parachute, you get to soar above the land, guided by the wind. The view is also spectacular from above = the true bird’s eye perspective.
After LA I took a plane (which I didn’t jump out of) to SLC, Utah for the biannual Outdoor Retailer Show.
In conjunction with the OR Show this year, Chris Sharma, Mike Beck, and a host of supportive sponsors and setting crew (including Dani Andrada) organized a Deep Water Soloing Competition at the Olympic Park. The 52-foot erected wall towered over the swimming pool where ski jumpers practice-land their jumps.
The invitational “Psicobloc Competition” was scheduled over three days – beginning with a Qualifier/Practice Round Wednesday, then proceeding with a Semifinal and then a Final on Thursday and Friday.
Intended to be a duel-style event, the objective of the competition was primarily to complete the difficult climb as efficiently and in as timely a matter as possible in order to reach the highest point, and for a tie-breaker, the quickest.
I ranked in top seed after the first days, so my bracket order was against 16th place, and then through elimination rounds, I proceeded to the quarterfinal, semifinal, and then final round.
The competition required stamina, technique, power endurance, and strategy. These overall requirements made it exciting and unpredictable. With a sold-out stadium watching and all of my good friends and idols there, I couldn’t help feel incredibly excited, but also, really nervous! My goal was to make it to the final round = the final duel!
After initially sending the route in my first round in order to have confidence in all of the subsequent rounds, I proceeded to compete in the quarterfinal and semifinal, dropping off at the next high point above where my competitors I was dueling fell from in order to conserve energy and to keep the rhythm of the competition fun and exciting to watch.
In the final round I was up against Delaney Miller, a talented sport climbing phenomenon from Texas. I knew that we were both capable of doing the route, so my strategy was to climb fast – in case we were both up at the top, the tie-breaker would be the person at the top first. This decision did come with risk because as the rounds proceeded, the holds got a little wet from the splashes, so my concern was slipping off. I am learning, though, that climbing at a faster pace is beneficial, too, because you are hanging from the wall for less time and expending less energy. When I was at the top rest before the final, hardest sequence, I looked down to see that Delaney had fallen. I guess I could have dropped off then, because I had taken the victory, but I continued up to the top in order to have that ecstatic, numbing feeling of being at the top of the world in front of the awesome crowd and all of my friends! Then, I took the victory plunge down into the water.
Watching the men was insanely impressive. Seeing such idolized climbers like Chris Sharma, Daniel Woods, Jimmy Webb, Tommy Caldwell, Kevin Jorgeson, Carlo Traversi, Dave Graham, and so many more big names, all battle it out on gymnastic, all-or-nothing moves was so remarkable. In the end, Jimmy Webb dueled Daniel Woods in the final, and JWebb took the victory!
This competition was hands-down the best competition that I have ever competed in and I am so thankful to everyone who contributed to this experience – from the organizers to the crowd, to the other competitors.
Stay tuned for the video!!!
Now I am flying back to Europe for three weeks to climb outside in the Dolomites with Edu Marin!
Following my first two weeks climbing in Waterfall Boven and exploring areas in and around Johannesburg, South Africa, including Kruger National Park, Arjan, Keith, and I flew to Cape Town for the third week of our South Africa tour. Cape Town is easily one of, if not THE, most beautiful cities I have ever been to.
Flourishing with lush rolling mountain ranges, a crashing crystal-aqua Ocean, and towering sandstone cliffs, Cape Town is any outdoor sports enthusiasts’ dream. I can easily see months passing like weeks in Cape Town, and for me, my week there passed by like an exhilarating day.
I spent the entire week climbing in Montagu and staying at Arjan’s baller mountain-top house. While in Montagu, Arjan and I worked on a new line – an unclimbed project originally bolted by Sean Marsh about a decade ago. While sandstone like Waterfall Boven, the style of climbing in Montagu is quite different. The lines are more physical rather than technical, and much steeper.
This “Pipedream Project” overlooks the canyon, as it is situated at the top of a mountain. The climb itself is not too long and has fairly straightforward, core-tension movements, and finishes with a final crux section that sticks with you to the anchor. In fact, the second-to-last draw to the top anchor has some of the hardest sequences on the route because you have to move quickly through steep compression moves on awkwardly bad holds with high feet, and then jump from a small crimper to the finish jug by the anchor.
My first two days on the route I figured out all the moves except the last move. Jumping is one of my weaknesses and I could not figure out how to solidly execute the final move. The climbing is neat on the route: it is gymnastic and relatively comfortable rock – it has smooth sandstone sloped holds. Though, it felt difficult for me and the next days climbing I diverged from the route and did some first female ascents on other lines and some onsights on nearby climbs.
For the final climbing day of the trip, I trekked back up to the Pipedream cave with the intention to just climb the project moves for training and to work out the best beta with Arjan for fun.
When I started climbing, I was pretty sore and tired. I wasn’t so sure what to climb, but after relaxing in the sun, taking in the fresh air and the stunning view, and having a laugh on the portaledge, I chalked up and got back on the route. The rock felt stickier than before and the moves seemed to flow. At the last bolt, I executed new beta for the top section, and the possibility of this route taking form all of a sudden was an option in my mind.
My third try of the day, in the early evening, I came strikingly close to sending. Rope in hand, pushing up to clip, I slipped and fell clipping the anchor.
NOOOO!!! This fall felt like a fully feared terror coming to form in slow motion. I watched the swinging anchor as I took a nice big whipper.
The sun was gone and it was soon going to be dark. After belaying Arjan trying the route one last time for the day, I thought: One more go, for good riddance. I had given the route my all the time before and had no idea what to expect. I thought to myself, if I can get that slippery pinch at the top again, that will have been a really great final effort for the day. I made it to this point on the route, squeezed in high with both my feet, stuck the fat pinch, jabbed into the one-finger undercling, stood up into the crimper, and squeezed my high heel in tight as I lurched left hand for the finish hold. I caught it! I quickly pasted my feet back on the wall, took a breath, clipped the anchor, and though OH MY GOSH! Wow!
I have always wanted to name a climb “Miss-Behaving” as a bit of a pun from misbehaving and an old boat tale, and this route just felt so appropriate for the name. So, “Miss-Behaving” is my new addition to Montagu – a proud 5.14a.
This final first ascent send was the cherry on top of the most amazing trip I have ever been on. The beautiful landscapes, incredible thriving wildlife that we experienced first-hand, and the fun-loving, motivated crew was unparalleled. I would not change anything about the trip, other than prolonging our time
After playing with some cheetahs and strolling the beach in Cape Town in the morning, I am now off to Germany for a night to train with Ludwig Korb (Dicki) at Café Kraft, then flying out west with RedBull and Adidas. My next objective on my calendar is the Deep Water Soloing competition in SLC, Utah, in conjunction with the Summer Outdoor Retailer Show! Check out this video and get pumped Cafe Kraft
Xx S <3
First time, love at first sight! Africa is exotic, welcoming, and free. I feel so fortunate to be able to travel here and I am so appreciative to everyone making my trip so great!
On July 2 I traveled to Johannesburg with 3StringsProductions – Keith Ladzinski and Andy Mann and Arjan de Kock of South Africa. Our agenda was to climb at Waterfall Bovcn – South Africa’s gem for sport climbing. This climbing location is easily world class. Located outside of JoBurg, the landscape is filled with rolling hills, trickling mountain streams, and immense cliff faces. The rock is a red and black streaked bullet-sandstone. The climbing is technical, physical, and proud. It includes cracks, daunting vertical faces, and thin edges.
I spent my first day at Waterfall Bovcn accustoming myself to the style of rock climbing there. I onsighted and flashed a couple routes including “The Beast,” an 8a+ (5.13c), and “Monster,” a 7c+ (5.13a), and “Jack of All Trades,” 8a (5.13b). Not wasting time, the next day I was quick to find a hard project to settle in to. While climbing at the “God No” sector of Waterfall Boven I came across this proud and intimidating blank face that was striking. There was no chalk but the rock jutted out from the Cliffside, asking to be climbed. I was climbing with Arjan de Kock and we looked for the route in the guidebook, contacted some locals, and found out that indeed, it was a pure line that had not seen any ascent. Originally bolted by Andrew Pedley in 2008, it stood as the “Overlord Project.”
With this aesthetic line in front of me, it would be a shame not to try it. So, I got the draws together, lapis brushes and chalk out, and ventured up the unknown line. Working on a project is always like putting a jigsaw puzzle together – figuring out how pieces fit in order to form a unified whole. I had never been through the process of trying the unknown, though. This process of finding out if something truly was possible was new and exciting. As Arjan and I chalked up the holds, worked out movements, figured out sequences, the route began to take form. I started to believe that it was possible. The abandoned blank face now had fresh prints!
I felt totally enthralled by this new project and exciting adventure. July 5 I went in to Johannesburg to give a slide show presentation to the South African Climbing Community, but then I unfortunately had to opt out of the planned climbing exhibition the next day at “Choss Pile” because of my enthusiasm to return to Waterfall Boven to try my project and because of the time constraint that my film crew had with getting footage of the climbing. For anyone that was expecting me at “Choss Pile,” I am so sorry I couldn’t make it!
The next two days I spent at Waterfall Boven were exciting! The moves began to flow and I unlocked the sequences. My third day on the route, my 6th try (like with Pure Imagination!) I sent the route!
Ecstatic joy! I surge of motivation and joy ran through me at the top. I was so happy because this was a route that at the beginning, I did not even know if it was possible. The climb included long vertical run-outs, some gnarly falls, some bigger reaches, and some crack climbing. In the span of a week, I found the key to unlock this new beautiful line.
I chose to name the climb “Rolihlahla,” which is Nelson Mandela’s middle name. I chose this name as a tribute to Nelson Mandela. Mandela is one of the greatest men in history and it is moving to be here during such a critical period of South Africa. With Mandela’s ailing status, the world is on high alert for his dwindling wellbeing. Driving through the country, we can feel the community’s deep-hearted passion and love for him.
As for the difficulty, I chose to grade the route “8c.” I think that this is an appropriate grade in comparison to other 8c’s that I have done. Arjan de Kock, who I worked the route with from the start, nabbed the second ascent and confirmed this grade as well to me. Grades are obviously subjective, though, and ultimately what matters most is the unique exquisiteness of this line.
I am proud of this accomplishment
I also did the first female ascent of “Godzilla,” an 8b, and became the first person in history to onsight “The Bovenator.” The climbing continues… and my psyche GROWS!
Stay tuned for more about our trip! Also, 3StringsProductions will be producing a film for RedBull and Adidas so I cannot wait to share my trip in full detail through this video!
HOLA de Espana!
Back again in Spain, I can honestly admit that I cannot get enough of this country. I love the culture, the landscape, the way of life, and last but certainly not least, THE ROCK!
The main difference between climbing in Europe and climbing in the US is the concentration of difficult climbs in each area. The US has some amazing places to climb, but the amazing thing about Spain, in particular the Cataluna Region of Spain, is that there are so many world-class challenging routes in a wide variety of areas all within less than a 2-hour driving radius from each other.
Today I have arrived to lovely RAIN in Rodellar for a week of climbing.
Before coming to Rodellar, I was first in Zaragoza, Spain for an event with EntrePrises at Dock39 – an incredible outdoor adventure center, then in Riglos with Adidas. In Riglos, I went kayaking and mutli-pitch climbing, along with hanging out with fellow Team Adidas Athletes and Employees. Following Riglos, I traveled with fellow Team Adidas Climbers and Spanish “Strong Men!” Dani Moreno and Alberto “Beto” Rocasolano to Margalef for two days where I did a few onsight routes, then I went to Huesca with Dani to train and to climb outside at two nearby climbing areas the following week.
Then, for the weekend I went to Gijon, Spain for the Spanish Championship. This was the 4th competition in a row for me that went very well… I won Yay!
The routes were really well set and I enjoyed the energetic crowd! The wall was outdoors in the City Center Plaza so there were a lot of people in the audience as well! There were two rounds of competition on Saturday – first the Semifinals and then the Finals in the evening. Semifinals were flash format in which I was tied for first after finishing the route along with three other women. Then, the Finals round was an onsight round in which we had a preview for six minutes, then eight minutes to climb the route.
Ramon Julian Publique (Spanish and World Champion) and I were the only ones to reach the top of our respective routes (male and female) and therefore, I won for the women, and Ramon (always IMPRESSIVE!) won for the men!
Now I have just arrived to Rodellar where I will climb outside for my final week. Unfortunately, the forecast is quite grim. Today it has been raining all day. Tomorrow I will climb in the big cave at Las Ventanas, so hopefully everything has stayed dry. Maybe the rain will stop, too!
Fingers Crossed for Buen Tiempo!
Ciao for now!
I have to begin this blog with a little story and give a shout out to my Dad! I was at my home in DC for a day after Colorado visiting my parents, and then I traveled back up to NYC for a last session training with Alexi Thomakos, and the Up2Us Gala. I had my flight out of NYC. Though, through this stream of events I managed to forget my passport on my desk in DC. I realized this on my way to the ABC Studio (roughly 2pm). Uh Oh. My flight was at 7pm out of New York and my passport was in DC. So, I called my Dad who was at work in Baltimore, MD (about an hour north of home). He immediately dropped what he was doing and drove home, retrieved my passport, and drove up to New York to meet me at the airport.
Miraculously, he arrived, passport in hand, and I am now in transit to Spain. So, to begin with: THANK YOU, Dad. You are a hero!
And… side note, thanks police for not giving my Dad a speeding ticket during this express delivery journey; D haha!
That said, here’s where I am at now…
Since I finished my final exams in May, the stoplight has been on Green. Meaning: Go!
Sure, during the school year I can travel by weekend and train; however, only on breaks from school can I really climb outside. Fortunately, I have a three-month vacation now before classes start back up at Columbia University, so for me that means it’s time to be OUTSIDE!
My plan for the summer primarily consists of traveling to new and exciting destinations, and revisiting the places I love most. The latter stated, I am beginning my “summer trip” in Spain.
Prior to flying out to Spain, I attended the Up2Us Inaugural Gala. I am an Athlete Ambassador for Up2Us and there is not enough praise for the positive work that the folks at Up2Us are doing for youth across America. Up2Us promotes sports as the solution to obesity, youth violence, and educational challenges.
The Gala was the cherry on top of the wonderful experience I am having working with this organization.
So – now for the raw climbing!
In a nutshell, this is my summer plan:
I am going to Zarragoza for an Adidas and EntrePrises Outdoors Sports Event. Then, I am climbing outside in the Cataluna region until the 26 of June con mis amigos!
Following Spain I will be in Germany visiting the Adidas HQ for a few days, before departing to the new and exciting portion of my journey: South Africa and Namibia!
My good buddies and film crew, Keith Ladzinski and Andy Mann of 3sm, will be traveling along making a new film centered on me climbing, developing, hanging (on rock and with friends ), and experiencing the unique culture and nature aspects of South Africa and surrounding locations. More information on our trip coming soon.
After, I fly back to Europe for a few days, and then continue westward to LA for a photoshoot with RedBull and other related events.
Then, from LA I will travel down to South America for the World Games in Cali, Columbia. This is the biggest calendar event on the competition schedule for 2013. I am excited to represent USA, and to chill with my friends from the other countries, and to meet athletes from the other sports competing as well.
For the remaining two weeks of August I will return to Europe. I have outdoor climbing plans in Italy, assuming the weather cooperates for our project! Originally I had planned to go to the Dolomites for part of June and this portion of August; however, the weather has not been the best for the project I had in mind, so the Dolomites are on schedule for August!
Then, end of August I move back to NYC to begin my next set of classes at University.
Travel won’t stop because less than two weeks into September I will be returning to Germany for the Adidas RockStars Event. Though, I will be back and stationed in my FAVORITE CITY IN THE WORLD. Aka, NYC, the BiG APPLE ;D
A la Roca!
Xx S <3
Central Rock hosted the biggest and the best North American sport climbing competition that I have been to in Hadley, MA this past weekend. With the help of incredibly supportive sponsors including two of my own sponsors, Adidas and FiveTen, the event organizers, in particular Shane Messer, hosted an amazing event. Big names and fellow professional climbers including Meagan Martin, Daniel Woods, Jimmy Webb, Nadya Vorotnikov, Rob D’Anastasio, Delaney Miller, Jon Cardwell, Chelsea Rude, Claire Buhrfeind, and many more athletes showed up to compete in THE RING OF FIRE for a fun competition and for a big cash purse!
After a flash-format qualifier round (in which I sent our three routes) the top eight men and the top eight women qualified for the final round. This was an onsight round with one route for women and one route for men. Both of the routes crossed each other, traversing the large steep headwall and formed multiple S-like paths upwards. The headwall was already long and steep, but with our finals climbs, we may as well have been doing some laps with the distance that they covered!
Needless to say, I really enjoyed climbing on the routes set. I was really impressed with the huge crowd turnout, quality of the routes, level of climbing, and the overall execution of the championship event.
Cherry on top was winning and getting to see all of my friends
Thank you so much to everyone for making my weekend so fabulous. And, additionally, THANK YOU to all my amazing fans for the support. I always love meeting you and feeling your positive energy – it boosts me up the wall
So much love,