Southern Comfort XVI

This past weekend Appalachian State University’s climbing team hosted their spring climbing competition, Southern Comfort XVI.

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It was a BLAST!!!! I haven’t competed in ages, and I thought it would be a fun excuse to visit all my friends in Boone. I didn’t climb as well as I had hoped, and didn’t make it to finals,  but placed #1 in Women’s Advanced and came home with two sweet Organic bags!!!!!

omg bags
OMG BAGS!

When I first got into the gym and started feeling out the problems, I’ll admit that a little bit of rage started bubbling up. I feel like there’s a lack of understanding in most gyms about how short a short-person is. So (a) I want setters to start being more creative in how to make a problem more difficult, aside from just putting in big moves, and (b) I need to figure out a way to channel that frustration into training harder, because I’ve been sorely slacking lately and that’s totes my fault for making poor life choices (chocolate > climbing?).

Just as a quick ruler idea from Drexel: when setting a move that is not intended to be a dyno, check the span from one fingertip to the opposite elbow. This may seem ludicrous, but that is actually my span compared to his.

height
THIS ^ IS MY LIFE!

So I went around and decided to give everything a three-go limit, starting with the hardest problems and working my way down. I’ve learned from previous comps that sieging is not the way to go. It quickly became apparent that all the advanced problems and most of the higher level intermediates were not feasible. I thought about getting upset. I saw other short girls getting upset. I actually saw one girl cry! But I didn’t want to go there. I wanted to climb hard-ish and have fun. So I just gave up on expectations and focused on problems that were more short-person-friendly. And that was fine. It was my attachment to a certain outcome that was the problem, not the outcome itself. If the ultimate goal is happiness/inner peace/what-have-you, then winning a comp should really be just a middleman, which means it is completely arbitrary. I shouldn’t need to “win” to have fun and feel good about myself.

I had left the competition early to answer my phone, went back inside to turn in my scorecard, and then finished up dealing with some really ridiculous situations going on back home — one of the plights of being an on-call therapist is that I have to stop whatever I am doing, 24/7, and deal with a client who was, in this situation, pooping all over the place as a power move against their parents. And then I got another call about a person trying to kill herself and had to somehow wave my magic wand and fix everything.

Sometimes I wonder why on earth I would choose to work in this field. Why didn’t I just stay in the minivan with Drexel, where everything was clean and calm and poop-free?

why god

I took a walk to clear my head, ate lunch, cuddled my puppy, and still ended up scoring a front row seat to watch FINALS!!!! I got super excited watching Melise, Rose and Kelsey cruising through all the Women’s Finals problems!!!! I thought it was neat that they changed the comp structure this year to allow for 3 females and 3 males, versus just top 3 coed competitors as they have in the past. Everyone took their seats and the heat was on!

Southern Comfort Girls
You can’t see it, but that dude on the right looked super jealous of Melise’s guns.
socoboys
Carter was able to make that cool face in the split second after noticing I was take a photo. That takes some mad skillz.

The highlight of the finals was most definitely catching Melise flying through the air in slow-motion and completing potentially the hardest single move of the day. (Don’t mind the creepy demon chanting.) Carson and Jeph got PSYCHED!!!!!!

When everything was said and done, it was a great competition and a great weekend. Everyone went home with something cool, whether or not they placed, because of the insane amount of raffle prizes. AND I got to eat Cha Da Thai for dinner two nights in a row with my friends. AND some ladies took the plunge and bought themselves a pStyle! AND we (minus Carson) had a really nice group hug slash kumbayah circle. AND don’t forget those Organic bags!! How could life get any better than this?!

pstyle
Photo stolen from http://cruxcrush.com. This could be you!

Comment below and you’ll be entered in a drawing to win your very own pStyle!!!!

Dik-diks, Dixon, and Dilly-Dallying

Drexel is still on the road, doing his best to keep the cross country crimpers alive and crushing projects left and right. He claims his fingers are so sore from climbing that he’s unable to write any of his own entries, so here’s a quick list of his latest sends: Osiris V10, Bubba Gump V10, Bread Loaf Factory V10, and the most epic, Western Gold V11.

I mainly know about these sends because I’ll be at work, in my “big kid” job as a therapist, in a session with a client who is yelling or crying or throwing things, when my phone will blow up with ten texts consisting primarily of exclamation points and excited emoji faces. My first thought when I hear the continuous earthquake vibrations of my phone is, “Uh oh, someone else is in crisis!” so I’ll find some excuse to check the screen. Lo and behold, Drexel has triumphed again! “I did it! I did it! I did it!” he texted.

This past weekend I was lucky enough to join Drexel, Carson and Jeff on a lovely outing to Dixon School Boulders. If you’ve never heard of this place, check out this neat video starring Zach and the Bakker boys talking about Dixon and sending some of the classics. As Zach says in the video, it’s definitely worth checking out, spending a day amongst the trees and rocks on a beautiful, quiet mountainside with gorgeous views.

Dixon boulders is a small bouldering area owned by Crowders Mountain State Park near Kings Mountain, NC. It’s maybe 1.5 hrs from Asheville, 2.5 hrs from Boone. It’s a metaconglomerate rock, which might mean nothing to climbers except that the grain size and quality changes drastically from one end of the boulder field to the other. There are maybe 40-50 total climbs, with only 20-25 being high quality and a couple big projects still waiting for a strong climber to give them a name.

dixon

We first warmed up at a large chunk of rock containing countless fun v0-v3s and also a tricky barndoor problem courtesy of Ian Rogers called Barnyard Banshees v5. From there we moved up the hill to Classic Overhang v3 and Beelzebub Roof v5. Zach makes this climb look easy in the video and Jeph flashed the pants off of it, but I struggled pretty hard to gain momentum to reach certain holds and still have enough power to clamp down on the pebbles up top. I flailed a bit, grunted, sighed, told the group we could move on, started to pack up, and then had a sudden burst of angry determination that I was able to ride to a final send. WHOOSH. Sometimes there really is power in a “last go, best go” gritty determination.

beelzebub
Image captured from Dixon School Boulder video of Zach on Beelzebub v5.

We tromped our way up and over to one of the best boulders at Dixon, Atlas v7. It starts with a really fun traverse leading up to a tricky face slab. Lil Bakker projected the poop out of this boulder back in the day, and now he’s a lean mean climbing machine who eats v7s for breakfast.

Atlas v7
Drexel showing us all how to gently pat-pat-pat a teensy widdle crimp. “There there…. there there….”
jeph
Jeph claims he doesn’t do a lot of yoga, but he hand-foot matched like a regular downward dogger and said, “Namaste? Nah, mus’ go!” as he flowed to the top of Atlas v7.

 

Let me say for the record that I have NEVER felt so supported in my entire climbing life as I did on Atlas. After everyone else sent, Carson, Jeph and Drexel became the world’s best support crew. They showered me with compliments and offered wild incentives that tapped into my deepest desires. I have never wanted a boulder so bad, and been so frustrated by tired fingers. After finally linking all the moves together and figuring out that I could indeed complete the top part through slow suspenseful weight-management and arms stretching at full span so I looked like a gloriously awkward starfish, I just…. I just couldn’t do it. Here I was on the brink of complete life satisfaction, and…. nothing. This might be my biggest deathbed regret.

Next up was Drexel’s biggest project, the terrifyingly tall Leaning Tower v8.  It’s arguably one of the best lines at the park, but is also extremely tall and intimidating and has a very committing last move that Drexel was mentally unable to make himself go for. He’s worked this problem enough times to pretty casually move up the arete and get himself in position to dyno to the top, but the idea of doing a big throw at that height and falling was too big of a fear factor.

tower
Even scrolling through the photo takes a long time!

 

We ended the day on Venom v5 and Venom Direct v6, completing Jeph’s Dixon circuit experience.  We marched back to the Crowders Mountain State Park parking lot with smiles on our faces. We all agreed that the pebbles hurt, but our skin looked a lot better than it had before. My gym skin definitely needed some good pebbly scraping to get it ready for next weekend’s trip to Rumbling Bald.

Back at home, we had a lovely night with Drexel and Carson’s family. We even got Nana to add her vote to “Cutest Baby Animal”! But we need your help!!!! DESPERATELY!!!! We narrowed it down to top five contenders: Dik-Dik, Slow Loris, Wallaby, Wolf, or Panther. Please vote in the poll below so we can figure this out once and for all.

 

dik-dik
My vote was for Dik-Dik! It’s tiny, it’s awkward, it has oddly tiny ankles, what’s not to like?
dik-dik2
I won’t lie. I’m biased. So Dik-dik times TWO!

 

slowloris
Adult Slow Loris look like Pokemon.
slowloris
SEE!?!?!? POKEMON!!!!
wallaby
Willaby wallaby woo, an elephant sat on you!
wolf
Peekaboo, peekaroooooo!
panther
TIL: Even black panthers have spots.

 

 

 

Invisible Ethics of Conversation

Have you ever played the game The Sims? Remember how when two people are talking for a while you start to earn points on your relationship meter? That’s how real life is, only not. Talking to another person can be a magical thing. It can make you feel more alive and connected. Almost any conversation can be an enjoyable, beautiful thing that changes both of your lives for the better. You have the ability to take it to this place. You also have the ability to crush all the joy out of a conversation and put everyone in a grouchy, aggressive mood. Which one do you prefer?

sims
“The sun is a mass of incandescent gas, a gigantic nuclear furnace…”

 

Rules of conversation can vary slightly based on the degree of rapport you already have with a person. A conversation with a stranger or roommate might be a lot different than a conversation with your best friend. Regardless of whom you are speaking with, it can’t hurt to keep in mind these Invisible Ethics of Conversations:

1) When someone else is talking, focus on “What is this person really saying?” rather than, “What do I want to say in response to this?” While sometimes it is appropriate to share a story in response to someone else’s story, it is not okay to interrupt their story to do so. This might be a really hard concept to accept, but the world does not revolve around you. People are not necessarily fascinated with everything you have to say.

blah blah
Oh yeah? Your mom is blah blah blah.

 

2) When you ask a question, give the person a chance to response. Don’t interrupt their answer to bring it right back to you. Give them a moment to think. Silence is okay. Take a deep breath and wait patiently for an answer. Do not ask a question just because you really want an excuse to answer it yourself. YOU ARE NOT THAT COOL. STOP IT.

3) Try to give all parties involved an even amount of talking time. Shoot for 50/50 or 60/40. Once you get to the 80/20, 90/10 or god forbid 100/0, this is no longer considered a “conversation” but becomes “ranting” or “venting.” I know they both having the same root ending, but a monologue is not a dialogue. Unless you began this social interaction with the understanding that you were going to dominate the air space, there is no excuse for your selfish behavior. Make the world a better place and please just stop doing that.

facepalm
If people often look like this when you are talking, you are doing something wrong.

3) Be aware of your agenda when talking — Are you trying to build a relationship? Offer someone advice? Gain information? Vent about something bothering you? Impress someone? Once you identify your agenda, make sure your behaviors are congruent with your goal. IF you are trying to impress someone, be aware that talking about yourself and your great qualities can actually hurt your relationship and backfire on you by making you look like a tool. Learn the phrase, “Show, don’t tell” to remind yourself to demonstrate your qualities versus talking about them. Don’t tell someone, “I’m a fun guy” but actually do something that brings enjoyment to others so they can see how fun you are. Especially when meeting someone for the first time, there is nothing more annoying that screams insecurity than a long drawn-out story highlighting how awesome you are. The best response to this type of story is a, “Yeah you’re really cool” and then walk away.

I care what you have to say.
Oh yeah, that’s fascinating.

4) Learn active listening responses like:
a. Reflection: “It sounds like… you were really feeling [emotion] about this.”
b. Summarization/Paraphrasing: “So you’re saying that…. ?”
c. Ask open-ended questions: “What did you mean when you said….?” or “What was it like to… ?”

listening

5) Pay attention. Look at the person talking. Smile, nod, make eye contact, notice what’s going on with both of your body languages and adjust accordingly. Unless you are expecting an emergency, do not pick up phone calls or answer texts. That is equivalent to abruptly interrupting your conversation to start talking to the random guy next to you. Most phone communication can wait 10 minutes. Having a phone is not an automatic excuse to be rude.

6) Learn to fight fair. If you disagree with something the other person is saying, understand that everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. You are probably not going to change someone else’s mind. The best you can hope for is a shared respect of each other’s viewpoints. Do not state your own opinion as fact (unless in the rare case that it is), but rather, “I feel that….” Or “Hmm, I can see how you would think that. My take on the matter is…” Unless this is a debate club, you are not going to get a prize for being right. Rethink your agenda: Is your focus to build a relationship, or build your ego? Sometimes it is very fun and enjoyable to argue when done in a fair, friendly way. Sometimes it is just abrasive and obnoxious. If you are arguing just to have another excuse to dominate the conversation, stop it.

calvin
Do not take advice from Calvin.

 

Have I missed anything? Please let me know in the comments below!

Bringing in the New Year at Rocktown

Last week a giant awesome crew of Booners and Knoxvillians made their way to Rocktown to herald in the new year. For me, it was a vacation! For Drexel, it was just another day in the life. (Sigh.)

Words cannot describe the pure childlike glee of watching people casually crush their long-time projects like it ain’t no thang. Trey (seen below) walked Sherman Photo Roof V7 the way you can brush your teeth with your eyes closed. It takes a lot of confidence and tenacity to come back to a climb that caused so much heartbreak the previous year (he consistently made it to the last move multiple times). By now, he could probably do all the moves in his sleep. I think many people would just throw in the towel and say “F*ck it, I’m never touching this rock again!” But not Mr. Ronald Worley the Third. No, not him. This is a shining example of what a positive attitude can do.

face
“My positive attitude is overflowing.”

Another example would be the tall, indescribable Mr. Ryan. He drove all the way to Rocktown, shivered himself to sleep in his tiny car (scientists are puzzled how an 8′ man fits inside a 6′ car), and hiked around in the miserable mistiness. I had assumed everyone who dealt with the elements did so because they were determined to climb. It wasn’t until I had already left that I realized Ryan hadn’t climbed at all! Dealing with a shoulder injury and potentially needing surgery, he came out just because he was psyched to hike around outside and cheer on his friends. He never once mentioned his shoulder. He never complained or seemed disgruntled with his lot in life. So HIGH FIVE Ryan. I know plenty of people, including myself, who have let an injury completely crumple their world. They become angry and embittered, slaughtering gallons of ice cream and muttering curses to the rock gods. Or worse, they try to climb through an injury, realize it hurts or is getting worse (no duh), and throw a temper tantrum. So next time you’re griping about your sore fingers, just think, “What Would Ryan Do?” (WWRD).

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WWRD? Look sensual on a rock.

Another remarkable feat of tenacity was Carson’s return to Big Bad Right V8. Last year he took a bad fall and severely sprained his ankle on this very climb. This year, without even breaking a sweat, he cruised through the powerful moves and did a little dance at the top. Ian, not to be outdone, stole Carson’s beta and sent, riding high on his previous sends of Brown Hole V8 and Triple Threat V9, and then later got way too excited on Price is Right V8. For those of you who haven’t met Ian, he’s one of those annoying guys who can hop off the couch after not climbing for months and then crush your project into tiny little pebbles. He is also really good at dancing with his head pressed against the roof of a car (fun fact of the day!).

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Carson working out the moves of Golden Harvest V10.

My day at Rocktown was a success, despite not sending any new boulders. I was able to stick a difficult move on Sherman Photo that I had never done previous, and I tickled the top of The Tao V8. Since I’m not getting any taller, my only hope is to keep getting stronger. Spending a day climbing outside was an excellent motivation to keep training during the week and trying harder to be a weekend warrior. (Definition: a “weekend warrior” is a person with a big-kid job during the week who only gets to go climbing outside on the weekends. Yay life.) 

tao
Experimenting with some barely existent intermediates on The Tao V8.

Oh yes! And of course it was great fun to take first-timers to Rocktown and show them all the fun classics! Macee did her FIRST OUTDOOR v3 with the heart-pumping Mario (or is it Luigi?). HURRAY!!!! Rocktown has something for everyone!! (And if you are scoffing at this, please brush up on your invisible ethics of climbing.)

After a hard day of climbing, we were all looking forward to stuffing our faces with Mexican food. Everyone knows one of the best perks of Rocktown is the nearby Los Guerrero’s. Alas, it was closed! As was the Italian place across the street! What were we to do?!?!? In a small town like Lafayette, there’s really not much else except good ole trusty McDonalds. I’m sure locals were confused by the sudden conglomeration of six cars in one tiny empty parking lot. I know I was. Luckily our noses (slash smartphones) led us to a chinese buffet down the street. It wasn’t amazing, but it was food, and they had seating for all 12 of us. And an entire array of American fried foods (with ranch!) right alongside their greasy lo mein and peanut chicken.

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Do you see Ian massaging his meat down there?
china3
Kyle getting down and dirty with some noodles.
china
“MMM! CHEEEKAN!” (Name that movie for a free block of chalk!)

When we couldn’t fit any more fried donuts and ice cream in our bellies, we lined up at the register to pay. They must have miscounted our party number, because when the last person was lined up they demanded payment for two. Flustered and unsure of themselves, the person said, “Oh, there’s someone still in the bathroom” and quickly beelined for the door. And as the last car squealed out from the parking lot, a little Chinese lady ran after them, screaming and waving her hands in the air.

Happy 2015.

Melise Edwards Hits the South

Drexel here, I just finished up this video of my good friend and fellow crusher Melise, climbing in Boone and Tennessee. Enjoy!

After finishing school, Evolv athlete Melise Edwards hit the road with the intention of climbing in all the best areas the South East has to offer. After a very successful stint in Boone, NC, Melise visited some Tennessee sandstone at LRC, Dayton Pocket, and Rocktown. She had a blast and looks forward to the next opportunity to explore more fantastic bouldering spots. In this video she climbs Klamper V8, Changing Lanes V9, and Portobello V9, in Boone, NC. She also quickly puts together River Dance V9, one of the most beautiful and classic boulder problems the South has to offer.

Keep up with Melise on her blog: itsajurg.blogspot.com/

Oh, oh, oh oh stayin’ alive!

I suppose I’ll keep the blog ball rolling! YEEHAW. (Please feel free to comment below with encouraging words for Drexel to write a blog entry. If we get at least 5 comments, I bet he will write something about how he lives in his van and climb rocks.)

Normally I’m not doing anything noteworthy that is climbing-related. But. This past weekend I took the long-but-not-too-awful drive to Chattanooga to hang out and climb with Drexel and Melise! (Yay!)

Saturday was kind of grey and gross, but we got out for a nice hike with the pupsy to look at the surprisingly impressive and proximal Apartment Boulders. I won’t tell you where they are (just in case this is supposed to be a local’s only secret) but I bet you could find out if you were persistent. It’s crazy to see boulders so close to civilization, until you stop and remember that the boulders were here first, so it’s less “Whoa, how did those boulders get here!?” and more “Whoa! Why did someone build apartments so close to large rocks?!”

Sunday was ROCKTOWN!!! I haven’t been back there since the good ole days of our road trip. Besides one chuffery (can that be an adjective?) day at Blowing Rock, I haven’t touched real rock since… a long enough time that I don’t have the patience to calculate it. So it’s been a while. Words cannot describe the rock star exhilaration I felt walking up to the Hueco warm-up area and finally touching sweet sweet sandstone. (Mmm.) Maybe a picture can do it justice?

The face says it all.
The face really says it all.

The only thing more fun than exploring Rocktown is sharing Rocktown with a climber who is there for their first time. — I still fondly remember Zach S. hiking into Rocktown for his first time and getting psyched to throw his pad down at all the chossy stuff we passed on the way to actually climbable rock. We had to promise him that there was more, so much more to come if you keep walking five more minutes! — There is a strange satisfying joy that comes from showing someone all your favorite climbs. And even moreso, seeing someone flash the pants off of all your favorite climbs. Because honestly, that’s what happened when Melise met Mr. Rocktown. By the end of the day, Melise was victorious, and Mr. Rocktown had no pants on.

One by one, they fell before her – Hueco Simulator V-scary, Nose Candy V6, Sherman Photo V7, Helicopter v6, Standard Deviation V6, Golden Showers V5 (second-go, the only non-flash send of the day)… It was INSANE!

sherman
A photo of the Photo Roof V7.
golden hugz
Golden Showers v5 but I think it should be called Golden Hugz.

Not to be outdone, Drexel sent Triple Threat V9, one of the few remaining Rocktown climbs on his ticklist. I had so much faith in his sending powers that I videotaped it with my dinky-yet-sturdy Lumix (a camera I highly recommend for a roughing-it-road trip), so stay tuned for that lil thang. Please let me know if you have song suggestions!!!! Right now I’m thinking Beyonce

Fancy schmancy bat hanging trickery on Triple Threat V9.
Fancy schmancy bat hanging trickery on Triple Threat V9.

I had no impressive sends for the day. In fact, I couldn’t even re-send some of my easy climbs from last year. And… I think that’s okay. It’s humbling, but it’s nothing to beat myself up about. Still recovering from a bad ankle injury and a lack of any serious climbing/training, my goal for the day was just to regain my confidence and psyche climbing outside on real rocks and re-learning how to find feet without neon tape. And I did that, so I guess my day was a success. (Confidence tip: Set the bar suuuppper low and then exceed expectations no matter what you do!)

My other goal for the day was to teach Rumi how to be a good crag dog. Except for that one time that something snapped in his little furry brain and he went into crazy run-in-circles-as-fast-as-possible-omg-run-run-run, he was pretty good at staying off pads and playing well with others.

dogz
Rumi and his new palz. I think the little one is a bit of a creeper.

Overall, a great day. We had been planning to hit up the Hot Chocolatier in the evening, and Melise had even racked up 50+ V-points, earning herself AT LEAST THREE liquid truffle drinks, but the shop was closed on Sundays. I don’t understand why, except maybe there was a petition by local churches to close the shop and improve service attendance? Is it blasphemous to worship chocolate?!? I say NO WAY. But put away those sympathy notes — we were sneaky and managed to create our own truffley-fudgey-deliciousness back home. Crisis averted.

Until next time,
M&D

selfie
Warning: Don’t steal my camera to take selfies unless you want them posted on our blog. :)

Drexel’s Time in Boone (and my time with chocolate)

New video out. Thanks to Organic for the support, and all the wonderful Booners. http://vimeo.com/113348945 Drexel is having a blast climbing in Chattanooga on the daily, kicking it with Mike and a chiweenie. I’m jealous (about both those things), but too busy coloring feelings with adorable little demon children and their families (yay “real” jobs). This upcoming winter break should see an increase in climbing, psyche, and trips with all our friends to Rocktown, LRC and maybe even Rumbling Bald (Dec. 13th Triple Crown!).

chiweenie
Chihuahua + weiner dog = chiweenie!?

p.s. Good news for all you Asheville climbers: The new Chocolate Lounge just opened, and it’s easy jogging distance from Climbmax downtown. So set yourself a goal of climbing all the v3s — I mean 3 stars — er, I mean dots? Yes. Dots. Climb all the dots, and then get yourself a hot cup of salted caramel liquid truffle. (Or just skip the climbing and go straight to the chocolate – teehee!) … (You know who you are.)

truffle
Mmm, every little spoonful from that little baby spoon was like a majestic swirling field of flowers and unicorns dancing and hugging my mouth.

Following the adventures of two rock climbers and their minivan

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