The many faces of climbing: Alexa

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alexa

ALEXA ZAKULA

20 yo. Junior at ASU studying Nutrition and Foods. Lives in Boone, NC and  originally from Walkertown, NC.

THEME SONG:  Blackstreet’s ‘No Diggity’. No doubt. This song always gets me movin’ and groovin’ and feeling swanky. It’s a prime strutting song, but also perfect for chilling or dancing. Sometimes I like to pretend the lyrics are about me, and Queen Pen’s verse reminds me that I am in fact in the baddest clique up on the scene.

1) How long have you been climbing and how did you get started?I’ve been climbing for almost two years now, but I was introduced to the addiction of rock climbing when I was in high school visiting a university out in Pocatello, Idaho. There was a local park that held open climbing every Wednesday for $5, so I gave it a try and immediately became hooked. I didn’t really start climbing until I came to ASU though, since my hometown is not populated with any climbers.

2) What do you enjoy the most about climbing?
One of the biggest draws of climbing for me is the overall challenge it presents. I am very much interested in puzzles of all kinds, and climbing is one of them. Figuring out and working through a new challenging climb is a mental and physical challenge. Whether I am trying to understand a line completely from scratch, or creating my own personalized beta, it takes some focused thought and planning. I also enjoy how I have to figure out how to use my body in the most efficient way in order to pull off certain moves or maintain enough energy to complete a climb. In addition to the challenge, one of my favorite things about climbing is the community. I have met so many people through climbing, and I’ve only been involved for about two years. I love how easy it is to quickly connect with a complete stranger over a big chunk of rock.

alexa sport climbing

3) What are some of your goals in life (climbing and otherwise)?
My goals in climbing are to better understand how to use my body and to target certain weaknesses I have and improve on them. I have yet to establish any kind of training regimen, and working on that will be my first goal to meet this summer. I also want to get out of my own head and become more confident in myself. I have a tendency to underestimate my abilities and cower away from certain climbs out of fear of embarrassing myself.

Life goals right now include successfully getting through school and making sure that I get as much out of the experience as possible. I’m still in the process of figuring out what I want to do after I graduate, and I have a few options to mull over during the next two years. I am considering taking a WWOOFing trip after I complete my Undergrad, and possibly continuing on to Graduate school.

4) What are your favorite pre-and-post-climbing foods?
Almost every time I go climb at a reasonable time of the day, I like to eat a real hearty breakfast, usually something like a loaded veggie omelet, or egg-in-a-basket with some bomber juice or coffee. If I’m low on supplies or a kitchen, peanut butter and anything is the way to go. During an outdoor session, I usually snack on almonds or raw veggies, mostly carrots or green beans. After a hard day I always want to reward my efforts with something filling and flavorful like a veggie burger with the works, or a veggie burrito (if you haven’t noticed already, I am a vegetarian). If it was a super special day with some sort of awesome accomplishment, I’ll even bake some cookies and treat myself to a fancy bomber. Work hard, play hard.

5) What are your thoughts on training?
I haven’t done too much with training, but I definitely have an interest in getting involved. I have learned from experience with other climbers that training can definitely benefit you greatly if done correctly, and that repeating the same climbs over and over won’t necessarily make you a stronger climber except on those climbs. I am in the process of finding a training regimen that works for me, and becoming disciplined enough to stick to a program and put all my effort into it. I have friends who train regularly and are crazy strong, and I definitely want to be able to advance and experience the wonder of harder climbs.    

alexa

6) How, if at all, do you think your climbing has been affected by your gender?
The biggest influence I think my gender has had on my climbing, as unfortunate and gross as it is, would be having to deal with periods. There have been many days where I felt robbed of a good climbing day because I felt weak and sluggish from being on my period. The desire to even try anything requiring a reasonable amount of effort disappears, along with any will to interact with the human race.

Another affect I believe to be prominent sometimes is the intimidation I can feel from climbing with men. This usually isn’t so much of an issue with my friends, because I know that they are supportive of me and encourage my efforts. There have been times however, when I feel extremely testosteroned-out and overwhelmed by strength and egos of fellow climbers. More often than not, it’s not really their fault, but more an issue of my own self-confidence. However, I think I tend to feel more confident climbing with other girls than I do when I’m around super strong manly men crushers.  

7) Who are your biggest athletic influences?
I honestly don’t really have any influences in climbing. There are a handful of sponsored athletes that I love watching, but I there haven’t been any that really had an influence on my style or ideas of climbing. I do look up to all the strong women climbers, of course, because they are proving that we can keep up pretty close with the men and that we can be just as badass as them, if not more.    

8) What advice would you have for someone trying to get into rock climbing?
I would tell them to find someone that they get along with well and connect with who is already knowledgeable and super psyched on climbing. They will be able to help you understand everything more quickly, and get you out into the world of climbing and take you to the coolest areas and introduce you to more climbers who can do the same. 

9) What are your hobbies/interests outside of climbing?
When I am not climbing, I enjoy most outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, having bonfires and getting silly with my friends in nature. I am in the process of trying to learn guitar, which is proceeding very slowly. I dabble some in the arts, mostly abstract and semi-crafty. I have adopted a strange habit of collecting bottle caps, which started with an art project and has developed into a subconscious tendency to steal every bottle cap in sight and hoard them somewhere in my apartment. One of my favorite things to do is go listen to almost any kind of live music, especially free or cheap local shows with bands that are trying to make it big.  

10) If you were given the choice of never petting any cute animals again, or never rock climbing again, which would you choose?
As difficult as that would be, I think I would have to choose to never rock climb again. My climbing abilities will only last so long in my life, but I will never be able to not pet a cute animal. When I’m old and gray I will have to have something warm and fuzzy to nap with and lay in the sun with.

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