Friday, December 31, 2010

Climbing pregnant: Weak 33

Well this one is a short post cause I'm WEAK!
I made the mistake of not climbing for the last two weeks and now I'm all outta pregnancy climbing shape! Suck. I tried to climb a couple days ago and only did four routes (all 5.9). And they felt sooooooo hard. But I wasn't sore at all! Which means that its my endurance that took the dive. That time I took off because of the holiday's eating obligations made me stiff. I've had more hip and back pain than usual. Plus more swelling. YAY!
I went climbing and did those few routes and my body was tired yes but it was like it gave this giant sigh and said thank you. Climbing stretches the old tissues. Phew. I feel better.
I shall now refer to weeks 32 and 33 as WEAKs.
It is 7 degrees outside today with the sun shining. brrrrrrrrr
I really want to go sledding and or skiing. But I generally don't do either of those activities very safely in the first place. This coming week I'm going to work really hard to not hibernate too much and get those juices flowing!!!!
We'll see how it all goes down.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Week 32: Balance: An argument in favor of climbing pregnant

Balance seems to be a popular question from people who discover that I'm still climbing. They ask, "How is your balance?"
"You must fall a lot."
"Does that big belly make you tip over?" That one is my personal favorite. Thanks for the compliment.
My answer is NO!!

Balance is a product of a few key factors. The main ones being muscle tone and balanced proprioception. These sensors in your body tell you whether or not your foot bone is connected to your leg bone and they tell you if you are standing, and if you are standing solidly most importantly. We use our vision for 90% of our balance. Have you ever tried to stand still with your eyes closed? How about on one leg with your eyes closed? It takes practice and what do you think you are training? Your proprioceptors.

Putting all this into context, as a pregnancy progresses, weight is gained in the center of a womans body. The center is the belly, the mid section that connects your top half to your bottom half and because there is little help from this area late in pregnancy, other adjustments must be made.

That myth that pregnant women fall over a lot, in theory, has to do with whether she sits all the time or is able to move and exercise.

So here is my argument for climbing while pregnant.

Climbing allows for a change in weight distribution. A climber must shift weight onto the left foot to lift the right foot, must balance weight in the center in order to match on a hold above the head. If a pregnant woman climbs throughout pregnancy, as a pound is added each week, proprioceptors are able to adjust to this change and therefore balance throughout the body is maintained.

I may not be good at picking things up off the floor or tying my shoes but I can balance on one leg with my eyes closed. I did it yesterday.

Climbing is good for pregnant women.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Climbing pregnant, the first fall: Week 30

It never crossed my mind that I might, at some point, actually fall while climbing. I know, duh, it is a possibility, I just hadn't considered it. I have been very thorough with whomever is belaying me. Checking and double checking that everyone is double backed, locked and loaded. I make sure that my belayer knows to keep me tight so I don't go far if I was to fall. All the precautions were there, and I felt safe.
A few nights ago I was in the gym, same old same old. I was warmed up, it was my last hard climb of the session. I placed my foot on a positive but slick foot hold, and stretched up for a far reaching hand hold. SLIP. My foot skated off and off I went. I was dangling there in space when I realized I had actually fallen. During which time I tightened my abs as much as they would tighten (reflexes), so tight in fact that I had a hard time getting them to relax. I re-situated myself to a more comfortable resting spot and contemplated what had just happened. I sat there, waiting for the contractions to start. But there was nothing. My breath wasn't labored, my body felt fine. I was fine. So I kept climbing, I finished the route and called it a day.
Even though everything seemed well and good, I needed to feel the baby move before I was on a path towards ease of mind. I sat down to take off my climbing shoes and put on my regular shoes and bam bam bam goes the baby. Knocking around in there like nothing out of the ordinary had happened.
I would have been fine had the voices of the hundreds of people who have said to me,
"You aren't still climbing are you?"
"Oh that's so dangerous, what about the baby?"
"You shouldn't be climbing, should you?"
And even though I know how to answer each and every one of their questions and comments. Even though I know that everything is fine and that climbing feels better than walking. Even though the baby was moving, I didn't get a single contraction...
The ghost-like voices in my head filled me with anxiety. It took me two days of talking myself, talking to the baby, talking to my medical practitioner friends for me to let go of the notion that I had damaged the baby by falling a 1/4" on top-rope.
I'm fine,
the babies fine,
if something irregular happens with the baby, it has nothing to do with my climbing. If mama is happy, baby is happy.
How much better can I take care of the growing life in my belly than to eat well, be well, and choose activities that give me peace of mind.
F*** the police.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My New Best friend

We recently got a few inches of snow which have quickly turned to ice which summoned a sort of unwanted dance. I almost fell three times yesterday so I have turned to Kahtoola for answers...
The Microspikes. I went for a walk on the ice today then romped up into the snowy hillside with my dog. No problemo.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Climbing pregnant: Week 26

I've officially reverted back to infancy. I have to have lots of snack breaks, naps, snuggles, and I cry when I laugh. I figure its natures way of teaching my child in utero how he should act when he's in the outside world.
I really wish I could talk to someone in the design department at PETZL about some preggers adjustments for the harness. I fear that it is my harness that is going to slow my climbing and not my body. This should not be!
This pregnancy has happened a lot faster than my last, meaning that I am bigger faster. But I can still crank on small holds!!!!
I've noticed that my endurance has improved as well as my finger strength. I'm getting much weaker moving my feet up to new holds and I have to grunt to do a high step. Sometimes I can't high step. 5.11 is my happy place. I can still challenge myself at that grade but I don't feel like I'm damaging myself. I still try 5.12 but I usually don't make it very far. Maneuverability being my biggest hurdle. I got the OK from my doctor the other day who told me that it was ok to use my stomach muscles as much as I wanted so I can suck it in, so to speak, when I need to.

I'm enjoying my slow degradation. Every week I do get a little weaker. I don't push it even though I know that I used to climb MUCH harder. I'm listening to my body. As I go up a route I don't just push push push. I pause on easier holds, relax my belly, relax my hips, muscles, breath. I treat the climb like a dance more than a push to the top. Each move (especially the easier ones) I try to do with as much finesse as possible. I don't allow myself to get too locked in a position where I'm struggling to make the move. Being a pregnant athlete means you get to enjoy yourself and take it easy more than I would usually allow myself to take it easy.

So far, I've noticed I have MUCH less edema than my last pregnancy. All this motion must be good for circulation.

I'm still enjoying my climbing:
6-7 routes 2 times per week
Warm-up 5.8/5.9 (2)
(2) 5.10's
5.11 project
Finish with a pumpy 5.10 OR try a 12 and usually fail miserably but at least I tried!
Stretch and do standing rows with a theraband or band system. Pull shoulder blades back and strengthen the opposing muscles that are being pulled forward by the weight in my front half.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Climbing pregnant, Week 24: Body harness

I fit in with the kids. That's really the first thing I noticed with the Petzl 8003 adult body harness. At first glance I thought it would be a puzzle to put on but it turned out to be way easier than any regular harness I've used. The "belay loop" as it were is in a very good place for a pregnant woman. It fits comfortably under my bra line and the rope or belay device connects the two sides of the harness. At first it felt really strange to tie in so high and I had to modify my belay technique just a hair to be able to belay comfortably. These are things any climber would easily figure out. The one conundrum is how to make the entire thing fit so it is snug but doesn't hinder my extension.

If I make the leg loops tight so they don't meander as I climb (which is really annoying and I end up fiddling with them throughout the route but hey it's good for endurance..) it shortens my reach. For example, if I have to walk my feet high to make a move that is at the extent of my entire 5'1" frame, the harness tightens in and I end up with a total length that is about 2 inches short of my norm...not that I need any more length cause I'm so tall. I've tried loosening the shoulder straps (dangerous), and the leg loops... not sure how to remedy this but if anyone technical has any suggestions let em rip!

Falling: I was belaying a much larger friend of mine the other night on top rope. And I have to preface that before him I had told my friends they weren't allowed to fall..I was scared, you understand. Anyway, he fell and I belayed him normally and the harness didn't pop my belly like a zit and everything was cool. It was actually more comfortable to catch his fall than it is to sit back at the top of a climb before being lowered. (It takes me a minute to situate.)

Overall this harness is exactly what I need to keep myself climbing.
I'm amazed that my stamina is progressing. It's very strange to feel more able yet weaker. Even though my endurance for routes is getting better, my ability to yard on small holds is diminishing! Here is my latest work-out:

2 times per week, two hour session:
1. Warm up easy, juggy 5.7/5.8
2. Then 5.8/5.9
3. 5.10 with crimps, slopers, one dynamic move
4. 5.10 with big holds on an overhang to induce some pump.
5. 5.11 project with small holds and no rest
6. repeat crimpy 5.10
7. 5.10 with sustained and dynamic moves (this is the only climb I feel I really use my abdominals)
8. 5.10 that makes you use your brain
9. and 10. cool down on two easy climbs

I've also come up with a stretching regimen that I'll video and post eventually.
I hope this helps, keep sending your comments and questions my way. This is fun!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Don't knock it till you try it. Seaweed is my new favorite snack! It is chock full of iron most importantly but it also has many fantastic vitamins. It's very hard to find a good, taste-bud tempting photo of seaweed. I guess it would be pretty hard to get creative photographically...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Climbing pregnant: Mind Trip

The past few weeks have been a mental transition more than a physical one. As my physical ability changes, so does the style of climbing I am attracted to. The vast majority of my friends are boulderers. Now that I can't top anything out without turning into a whale and flopping my way atop the boulder, climbing with my friends has become a new hurdle. They have all been so nice, spending extra time on the warm-ups, only making fun of me a little and in return accepting my sideways sarcasm with little rebuttle. I've now reached the point where I don't really WANT to go bouldering. I want to do routes! I am faced with the challenge of getting my boulder thirsty friends to put on a harness and lead (cause I can't).

I can't climb on the sharp end because that would put the baby in jeopardy. I'll allow my child to make that decision for himself someday. For now, I have borrowed a petzl body harness and I'm going to try it out tonight. I'll report back!

It makes perfect sense to me that I'm attracted to routes and the gym seems a very fitting place. I can climb more and longer than I could if I were outside. There seem to always be jugs around the hard holds so if I get too tired I don't have to back off the route, I can merely switch gears from 5.11 to 5.9 in a single move. It's brilliant. Here is my workout and I try to do it twice a week:

Warm-up on 5.8 and a 5.9.
Follow with 8 routes between the grades of 5.10 and 5.11.
Cool down on 5.8 slab

This is a goal right now more than a standard. It seems that my belly gets really tired on the 6th of the harder routes. I've thought to break it up a bit and do 4 hard routes then one really easy one, then 3 or 4 more hard ones. I'm hesitant to break it up like that because part of me believes that with the added blood volume, my endurance isn't quite what it used to be. So sticking with slowly increasing the amount of routes I do would hypothetically increase my endurance.
Through all this I have to remember that I am not training in the traditional sense of the word. So...Even though I have a goal, I'm not going to break myself trying to accomplish it. That would be counter productive.

I'll keep you updated with the status of workouts and stretches and whatnot...
Please feel free to post comments, questions, and suggestions straight to the blog so everyone can benefit. Thanks!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pie Festival: Pietown, NM

Pie is good for the soul. And when you mix it with rock climbing and friends, well, you have one happy pregnant Carrie.

I took my daughter Ava with me on our first ever time to the Pie Festival, not knowing at all what to expect. I'm sure everyone has their own agendas during piefest but ours consisted mostly of:
wake up, eat pie, go climbing, go to the festival and eat more pie, go climbing, have gigantic spaghetti dinner.

The day of the festival we were focused on climbing in the morning so we got all our peeps together and headed out to Monster Island, a small but fun area with problems you are more than happy to get on for this one-time-a-year occasion.

Jenny Walker
Climbing an overhang 4.5 months pregnant is harder than it looks!! I decided to make this particular overhang the last of my pregnancy. I found that it was really hard to not breath so hard that I gave myself a Braxton-Hicks. I had to rest, like a sport climber, mid problem to calm my breathing down and relax my stomach.

When the clock struck 12:30, we all ran down to the cars to make it back to the festival in time to see the pie eating contest (They make the contestants hold their hands behind there backs and go in face first!). By this time I was so hungry we had to stop at the pie booth first for an appetizer.

Being at the Pie Festival is a little like going to some one else's family reunion except everyone is invited.
After laughing through the pie eating contests and thoroughly stuffing ourselves, it was time for the horny toad race.

The horny toad race was truly a spectacle. Walker and Lisa efficiently drew two concentric circles with chalk on the towns basketball court. Each child, or adult, was marked with a number or letter that corresponded to the one on their toads belly (for retrieval and return to their homes after the race). The toads were then placed in an ancient metallic bucket looking thing and placed in the center of the circle. The first toad across the line won. Now, there were large toads and itty bitty toads which apparently has nothing to do with their age but all to do with their type. When the bucket was lifted, the crowd that had huddled around to watch erupted in whoops and hollars. When Walker's mom (the judge of the race) lifted the bucket there were 31 toads piled on top of each other. Now, we had heard that it once took a single toad 10 minutes to get from the pile to the winners circle so we were prepared for a wait. But the moment she lifted the lid this tiny toad shot out and crossed the line within seconds. Winner! Personally I think that was our toad because she was not returned to us at the end. Second place was actually two toads; one large toad with a tiny hijacker on its back.


Pie Fest would not have been complete without the Kearney's and their amazing hospitality. In addition, I am so thankful for all our wonderful friends who make the Pie Festival what it is!

Photos by:
Javier G and Jenny Smith

Friday, September 3, 2010

Climbing pregnant: Week 16

* Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. The opinions on this blog are my own educated opinions.

The pants I've known and loved are now crying "Mutiny!". They have rebelled against my growing belly and are refusing to button or zip. Solution: Belly band. Love that thing. I can still wear my skinny jeans and I don't have to show anyone what I'm wearing underneath.

I went out to the Priest Draw a couple of days ago and for those of you who are unaware of this area, it is almost all completely horizontal roof climbs. Now, I'm four months pregnant and my pants don't close, do you think I have enough core to climb roofs? I actually did amazingly well but it wasn't my core that is putting an end to my roof climbing for now, it's my joints. Being pregnant is much more than just carrying extra weight. Your body has to grow in order to accommodate and what do you think happens to your stomach muscles? They stretch!!! Without being too graffic here, not only do they stretch but all of your joints start to act like putty as well.

Relaxin is a hormone that does exactly what it sounds like, it relaxes things. Joints in my case. Strangely my core was still strong enough to keep me climbing through some very tough rock climbs but the moment I had to throw a heal to pull or drop my knee down and push the pain was un-ignorable.
The sacroiliac ligaments connect the sacrum to the pelvic bones. My pelvic bones are beginning to wonder. Therefore, I'm switching my focus in climbing to more vertical pursuits that do not require me to torque that area as much. The pain associated with my shifting pelvis is a constant bother. I work with a lot of physical therapists (I'm a tech getting ready for PT school) and I've been picking their brains about how to stabillize an area that doesn't want to stabilze. Their answer for the moment is to do exercises that strengthen the area around the joint.

Side lying: Lying on your side with your arm bracing in front of your body, straighten your legs out as though you were sandwiched between two plates of glass. keeping your knees facing forward lift and lower your leg squeezing your bottom. You should feel this in your upper glutes. Do it till it burns then take a break...

Side lying circles: Beginning the same way but this time lengthen your leg out and up off of your opposite leg. Keeping your knees facing forward start making small circles in the air with your toes. Go both ways.

Bridges: Laying on your back with your knees bent, slowly lift and lower your bottom off the floor by squeezing your bum to lift as high as you can.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Climbing pregnant: The first trimester

During my first pregnancy, my doctor told me it wasn't even safe to ride a bike so I chose to wait till the baby was born to tell her I climbed while I was pregnant. Most people, doctors included, don't understand rock climbing. But all risks being assessed, and being smart people, we can continue to climb through pregnancy.

Here's the truth:

1. Not every pregnancy is the same.
2. Not every woman will handle pregnancy the same.

For me, the first trimester entailed a lot of nausea, and episodes of extreme fatigue. I found an unusual way to deal with both of these hurdles.

1. Fight nausea with food! The moment I woke up in the morning I went straight to the kitchen and ate a bowl of cereal. I did not say good morning, I did not stop to pee, I did not collect $200. Food FIRST!!! I made the mistake with my first preg. of indulging in my sleepy state and hanging out in bed while the nausea worsened. BAD idea.

2. Climbing was the only time I didn't feel nauseous. If it were up to my body I would have stayed on the couch and ate food but thankfully my will was taking notes. Activity fights the nausea, and holds the fatigue at bay.

There are a few catches. I was able to still climb v-hard till I was about 3 months pregnant. My core was still good BUT I had to climb in the morning AND schedule a nap almost directly after. I don't remember being this tired with my first pregnancy but I'll refer to truth #1.

We all put pressure on ourselves to achieve and/or to live up to expectations. Like the co-worker who tells us about the woman he knew that ran 20 miles up until she was due. Or that one woman who worked 40+ hours a week till she popped. These sorts of stories are not inspiring to me and I wish these people (men who are sans children usually) would recognize that the true bad ass is the one who chose to even attempt the feat of growing a child in her belly and enter the journey or parenthood.

Why am I ranting? Well, it's hard to know what and what not to do during pregnancy in the first place without someone making you feel inept.

SO.... Do what makes you happy!!!!!!

Rock climbing makes me happy but it is a tiring activity. I climbed when I felt the most fresh and energized taking into account that I had to have enough energy to pay at least a little bit of attention to my daughter. ;) Not to forget work/study and whatever else occupies your day. Budget your energy. Recovering when your pregnant takes longer. Your body isn't just funneling it's efforts to maintain you. In your first trimester your blood volume is increasing which takes up a lot of iron. Protein Protein Protein! All that fatigue stems from the fact that your extra energy stores are going to help create the placenta, which is completed by the second trimester.

I eat a lot while I'm climbing. I think of the placenta as the baby at the moment, taking up it's own weight in food. So, start eating for two! Especially when you are expending calories in an activity like climbing. And lots and lots of water!

If you feel twinges in your belly while you are climbing, especially if you are on overhangs, stop doing that motion. As you get bigger, your ligaments stretch and it can be painful at times. But don't worry if it starts to ache a little, just take note and don't do that exercise any more. Now, I'm not a doctor but I'm pretty sure that if you have aches in your belly followed by spotting you should probably contact your DR who will then yell at you for climbing. Just so you're warned.

For me, the harder I tied to climb and the further along I got, the faster I got tired. And this truth will lead me to my next post: Week 16. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Climbing Pregnant: The Hours

So I'm very very close to doing the problem I've been talking about. I don't want to jinx myself though. I'm pretty sure I have two more weeks of high performance climbing before I can't hold my core. The way I've come up with this is an equation of sorts. It seems that after each climbing session, the amount of hours that I can hold my belly in has started to decrease. One session at the Mars roof now leaves me with two hours of sucking it in time. I figure for each hour that I can hold it in= one week of peak climbing time. I really really hope I'm right or perhaps a bit conservative.
Wish me luck.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Preggers: One day at a time

So, there are lots of things to talk about when it comes to being pregnant. Even though this is baby number 2, the moment I found out I was pregnant I wanted to go out and find every fantastic preggo book on the market. But attempting to be a frugal mama made me step off the shopping trail and delve into iphone-landia. The book, What to Expect While you're Expecting has an iphone app! It tells you your due date, does a countdown for you and tells you roughly the size of your babe. It also gives you something to read daily on topics ranging from sensitivity, nutrition and even constipation! I love it an it only cost me $0.

So I've had a few days where its so freak'in hot outside that really all I could do was lay on the couch and eat. But I'll have you mind, tomorrow is a full climbing day.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Ladies Issue

Leave it to Dead Point to do away with editorial submission guidelines and entertain an idea that may not be the most popular one but certainly the most intuitive. I think it's brilliant: The Ladies Issue. There are so many lady crushers out there of all walks of life who, just because they don't send v1000, are worthy of editorial mention. I am so inspired by this issue and hopefully you will be too.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Here we go again

Be prepared, this blog is incorporating a new topic that may not appeal to everyone, for those who are uninterested in this addition, please keep checking in cause I won't be single minded in my postings.

So, I know it's a bit soon to be broadcasting this but I think it needs to be documented. The last time round so many friends had questions for me and I plum couldn't remember the answers to them. So now at least, I'll have an outlet and hopefully I can answer those questions finally!

I'm 9 weeks pregnant. This is usually the time that a couple keeps their news secret because many things can happen. Up until week 12-14, this is known as the first trimester. This is a huge time for me. I'm adjusting to the idea of being pregnant while dealing with all the symptoms that go with it. Thankfully, I have a very supportive husband who is stoked on the idea of number two.

Right now, I am nauseous all the time and the only way I have found to curb this unfortunate side effect is to eat small meals often. The second I go vertical in the morning I eat a bowl of cereal. It's fast, it's delicious, and it really only keeps me full till I can make an egg and some toast.

The other thing that temporarily curbs my nausea is CLIMBING!! I feel better when I'm doing something even though my first inclination is to lay on the couch and do nothing all day long! Which I did for about a week before I figured this secret out.

I have a project. Just completing the first half would be nice but to do the entire thing would set my climbing spirit at ease for the future of my pregnancy. I think it's important to set goals for yourself when you are in your normal state let alone with time constraints and pregnancy. This goal of mine motivates me to get off the couch and not eat cheese burgers all the time!

I still eat cheese burgers occasionally though.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

knowing when

Photo by Travis Vincent
I'm sure it's no secret that I love roofs. Sounds so strange if that sentence were read out of context. But I fear I may be tiring of them. I have been trying another Mars roof epic called "Supplexing Navajos" after hearing rave reviews from many who say it is by far their favorite on the roof. I now have my own opinion on the matter and it is of a contradicting nature. I find the climb to lack flow, have tweaky holds and I'm over it. I've done all the moves, I've done the climb in three parts, so I know that I can do it but, "Do I want to?" The answer is NO. I've moved on. I've decided that while I'm working the climb I've always REALLY wanted to do, maybe I'll give it a go or two for stamina and if I send it I send it, if I don't, no loss.
Is knowing when to stop a step toward enlightenment? Is greatness about knowing when to use it?
I've been thinking about training. Now, I don't mean going to the gym and pulling and not climbing outside. I might do a little of that here and there but when I say training I mean eating well, knowing when and how to peak your performance. Does anyone out there specialize in this kind of knowledge? If so, impart some on me!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ahhh Climbing is soooo good.

So I wrote this boo hoo post last time. Sorry to get all whiny and emotional. I felt really STUCK!!
But then, the universe aligned and Kyle came home from the canyon because of sideways blowing snow and said he needed some quality time with Ava and sent me out for a day of climbing.
Lisa the Lisa showed up at my house at 2:30. I was napping, the wind was howling and I was cold cold cold. But I pulled myself together, slid into her third world rig and she and I along with Tony Chang, EMA, and Andy Klier set upon the anvil boulders to climb more than two moves.
It was completely gorgeous. Sun was shining, green everywhere, and the desert was in bloom. Amazing that only a half hour drive can send you into an opposite land, Mars you could say.
Lisa the Lisa is strong. I love her. She and I were feeding off each other, she would send, I would try, she would send, I would try. It was awesome. OH and the boys would try too. It was a relaxed posse in a beautiful place. What more could I ask for. I was actually out climbing!
Around 6pm the sun started to duck behind the hills and the chill set in. We rolled up to Mars Attacks, our last climb of the day. Mars Attacks has thwarted me for years. I don't know if its my lack of going back to it and trying often. But I try it at least once a year. I may have gone a few seasons without trying it but most importantly, I've never been able to do the first move. I'd never tried the heinous top out either because, if you can't the first move you can't do the problem.
Photo by Kyle George copyright 2006
I'm about 3 months pregnant in this photo. Still trying the first move!!!

Well, turns out I should have scoped the top out.
Cause I sent it first try yesterday. But I'm not going to say it was pretty. I had no idea where I was going at the top and I'm pretty sure I was talking to myself. But whatever. I did it! Haha.
What a gift at the top above the trees: The sun setting and a desert cactus blooming.
In the last light of the day, my birthday sister Lisa the Lisa sent it too. Girl Power. Meow.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The rundown

The school year has ended and a new schedule begins. For the past few years I've been taking pre-requisite courses for physical therapy school. I've had to take Anatomy and Physiology (which I took online), two semesters of Chemistry, and last but certainly not the least, two semesters of Physics. I absolutely loved the Physics. I was always really intimidated by Physics because my math skills were never very concrete. But being that I am an older student and much more focused towards my end goal, I found it to be an absolute joy. You can ask my friend Justin Wood, who helped me out on more than one occasion with understanding the math, that I had to work really hard to gain the necessary tools to be successful in the subject. Maybe it was the gigantic hurdle I had to leap over, or the idea that energy cannot be created or destroyed, or perhaps the teacher; whatever the reason, I grew as a person from having to take Physics. Weird I know. But if you have a goal that seems unattainable and you have to work (with others and with yourself) to figure out and achieve, I think you can do nothing but be changed. I had to believe in myself.
The class was Mondays and Wed. from 6-8:30pm. I often had to find a baby sitter for Ava (thank you granny liz and grandpa ed). I also taught Pilates during the day at the same institution and so received a tuition waiver (score!). But now that its summer (supposedly), the schedule has changed.
I'm now working as a physical therapy tech 15 hours a week while Ava is at Montessori. Kyle has been working in the canyon with his new business Bright Angel Bicycles so our lives are a bit scattered.
I can't just split whenever I want to go climb in areas you have to scramble to or places that are on a precipice. I can't afford to buy a gym membership ($70 per month) because we just started a business and invested all our savings. That money goes to activities for Ava anyway. Money aside, we live in an amazing place to climb with loads of areas that are kid friendly. But on a day like today when the wind is gusting so quickly that they had to close in interstate, whats a mama to do?
I have been adjusting the past week and a half so I've only climbed 2 days and I'm feeling very very antsy. My day that I have to climb on is the windiest day all year and I feel really frustrated!
I know this will pass as all things do, and I will adjust to my new schedule but right now I just want something to save me!!!!!!!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

April showers bring May snow

I'd like to just go ahead and give mother nature a little heads up: It's May 1. It should not still be snowing. Here in Flagtown we had a beautiful week, spring was in the air, folks came into town for climbing, and then all of a sudden I was turning the heat back up and shivering in my socks.
So, Jill, and Ava and I went to Grand Canyon to check out what my huz Kyle and his business partner Wes Neal have been up to...nothing short of revolutionary.
Bright Angel Bicycles.
It's the first bike rental concession in the Grand Canyon,
but there is more that is special, it caters to a wide population of sight see-ers. Because they don't rent out mountain bikes (you can't bike into the canyon anyway) they have a different user base than the usual outfitter. They rent cruisers: flag-spirit 100%. (Flaggots like to ride single speeds at high high speed on sh*tty terrain

This new business is sort of welcoming the Grand Canyon to the world of Eco-friendly transportation. The very nice rim trail can be easily followed on a cruiser by way of the shuttle- bus-only Hermit Road.

I took this photo while flying downhill and trying to balance my camera on my helmet. During the ride up, Jill and I got into a debate of whether greater mass actually makes a person faster on a downhill cruiser ride. We set physics aside to answer this question through trial and error. I was the leader every time by about a bike length and it turned out that Jill (5 months pregnant) is still 2 pounds lighter than I!!!! She's a machine. We rode up and down hills for 16 miles and she was right next to me (almost) the entire time!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Deer in Headlights

Have you ever been introduced to a problem that feels so completely impossible? Do grades really do it justice? "Deer in Headlights" is precisely one of those problems. Just getting both feet off the ground is an accomplishment and the second you do, you understand where the problem gets its name. I talked to Ana Burgos after she did it and she told me, "It just suited me." Ok...Ana is about 4'11". I then heard from my friend Eben who said he thought it suited him. (He's like 5'11") I'm sorry. This problem doesn't "suit" anyone! Ana you are just strong!!!! Well, it felt hard to me.
Craig McCullum, shot this with a photo camera and unfortunately you can't see the mount. At least you'll have beta for the top though! At the time, the snow had yet to completely melt and the rock was dirtier than a hub cap on a four wheeler which always makes for an exciting exit....

Monday, April 5, 2010


photos by Kyle George Photography

I can't help it. I'm really proud of myself for unlocking v10. I truly believe that it was something in my mind that was holding me back. A couple weeks ago, my little family and I met up with a rad posse of climbers: Ana Burgos, Jill Church, Nick Vosbein, Lisa Rands, and Matt Birch, for some beautiful granite climbing in Bishop. My first day out I sent Slow Dance (v10) at the Happies on my 4th try. What is it about a problem that attracts you to it? Lets be honest. Sometimes, climbs look a lot better than they climb and vice versa. The most classic lines in my book not only look great but are great. Slow Dance is not a classic but it was a great climb. I was initially attracted to a sculpted looking hole that I could barely fit two finger tips in. Upon further inspection I felt a hidden thumb catch on the side and was sold. I'm a huge fan of pockets so I have fun at the Happies. The sit down felt a little ridiculous because you basically start laying on your back. Well, maybe it's just me because I can barely reach the foot holds which are tucked into a little cave that flows all the way to the base of Acid Wash (You could really scare someone popping out of that hole which Ava quickly discovered!). The rest of the climb was fun and it provided me with all the necessary challenges, but I had it in my mind to go and challenge myself on some harder problems. I have been repeatedly told that I should just climb what I want and not pay attention to grades. Yea, duh but if I stuck to that I wouldn't be challenging myself. I've noticed that I have a "style" which is all well and good but I need to branch out a bit!! So Lisa and Matt and I took a tour of the Buttermilks and I tried a handful of v11/12's and had the best day I can remember in a long time. Not that I sent anything..not even close! But I was so worked for the next 4 days that I could barely move my right hand. That was exactly the day I'd been looking for! Challenge!!!

The Spree: 1

2 in a day, 3 in a week. The spree.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Postural Righteousness: Stretching

For our second installment of Postural Righteousness we'll be working on stretches. Before you watch the short video it is important to recognize how your personal body is aligned.
To do this, stand in front of a long mirror that will show you your entire body. Notice if one shoulder is higher than the other, is your head tilted, is one hip higher than the other, is one foot more forward or more turned than the other. Try to align yourself so that you are even. Then begin these stretches.
#1 Chin to Chest:
Place hands on top of head and relax your neck so that your chin travels down towards your chest. Do this without forcing your head down. Hold for 20-30 seconds taking deep and complete breaths and repeat 2-3 times.
#2 Ear to shoulder:
Place your right hand over the top of your head so that you can grasp hold of the left side of your head. Using the weight of your arm, let your head relax sideways so that your ear travels towards your shoulder. Breath, and hold it for 20-30 seconds. Switch sides, then repeat each side 2-3 times.
#3 Chin toward armpit:
Place your right hand on the top left side of your head, look at your armpit or knee or hip and allow the weight of your arm to gently stretch the opposite side of the back of your neck.
These will all make more sense if you watch the video
The next stretch isn't in the video but is a great one as well.
#4 The Door Jam stretch
You can use any vertical solid surface really. With your arm held bent at a 90 degree place the length of your forearm on a door jam and turn your body away from the door jam. This stretches you pecs and sometimes your biceps.
Repeat all exercises 2-3 times or throughout your day.

If you have any questions please feel free to post to the blog that way everyone can benefit.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Postural Righteousness

"We all have the right to have good posture!"
This is my belief anyhow. I, admittedly, have good posture. That is, when I think about it, I have good posture. I teach Pilates to a range of abilities. As a part of my class I talk a lot about posture, body alignment, and body awareness. But I didn't always have good posture. In fact, I Don't always have good posture. I have to think about it! A lot.
In the past year or so many of my friends have asked me, "Are there exercises to help my posture?"
Rock climbers have terrible posture. You know it, you can see it. We all look like the Hunchback of Notredame. I'm starting a new element of this blog and I'm calling it, "Postural Righteousness". I will do my best to give weekly exercises and ideas to help all of us with this habit (it is a habit you know), stick with me and we'll all get over it.

This is the hunchback................................This is Me...................

So, stand up straight, stick your chest out and make your mama proud. Your first homework assignment is simple:

You are an upright individual. You walk on two legs, sit on your bottom, swing your arms when you walk. Do you really know what your body is doing at any given moment of the day? We are going to start by connecting our minds with our bodies because this above all or any exercises I can give you is going to be the key to your presentable uprightness.
  1. Sitting down, without moving away from your computer, try to visualize all the parts of your body. Got a mental picture? Now, start to add to this picture. What is the position of your feet, your hips, stomach (near your navel that is), chest. Visualize your spine, your back, your neck, your head. Where is the top of your head?
  2. Paying special attention to what your spine, stomach, neck, and head are doing. Where is your stomach in relation to the bones that form your spine and your hips?
  3. Place both feet on the floor. Lean forward. Do you feel your hips tilt and your stomach change position?
  4. What does your neck do when you lean forward? Does it stay in line with your spine or does your chin jut forward?
  5. What is the position of your shoulders? Are they held high, tilted to one side, or maybe level. Lift your shoulders as high as you can trying to touch your ears and take a deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. Lift them high!!!! And then drop them. Repeat. Breathing in, lifting your shoulders high, and exhale DROP them.
    Are your shoulders lower than they were?
  6. Sit back in your chair so your bottom touches the back of your chair. This may feel awkward and stiff but stay with me. Try to begin from your tailbone and slowly press your lower back against your chair. Feel you hips tilt to a very upright position. Smoothly, allow the rest of your spine to rest against the back of the chair. Did your shoulders rise? Try to relax them down. You should feel that your shoulder blades are even on the chair as well.
  7. In this position, relax your neck and shoulders by taking a deep breath in and exhaling any tension you might be holding.
Congratulations, you have now met your body, acknowledged it, and now you can begin to help it. You can do any number of these things during your day. Sitting or standing. Just by taking into account what your body is doing at any given moment is your first step to better posture.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Inspiration Station

Call me a dork, a dweeb, a fan, a freak, a fool---or join me in being completely inspired by the olympics! I don't know about you but I'll take some inspiration where-ever I can get it and the olympics seems like a darn fine place to pick some up. Last nights men's half pipe final was a body buzing high of inspiration. Shaun White. No more needs to be said.
Dude, he sent that thing.
So today I've vowed to stop drinking more coffee and remember that I haven't eaten yet. Scarf some eggs, drink some emergen-C, eat some carbs and go for it.
Today, I'm taking my dog on an hour long snowshoeing adventure to go check out the state of the boulders. Our five foot dump of snow is beginning to melt off so I figure there have to be some dry top-outs out there in the wild!
I'll find some time to do some work before I head over to a friends wall to train before I pick up my daughter from school.
One thing: I'm getting tired of my breakfast routine. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Tale of Two Islands

The latest Urban Climber Magazine is OUT! The cover is Kyle's photo of me on Mobeus and it welcomes the reader with an accurate picture of the sloping, powerful and yet graceful problems that await climbers in NZed. Our feature article is my first published work and has ignited an excitement in me to do more! The 10 page spread is, in my opinion, carried by Kyle's stellar photos. As a non-climber, Kyle's eye is honed in a different way and I hope you enjoy his images!
The issue itself seems to give each individual article a cohesive, over-arching theme: classics.
Our article is named for a Tale of Two Cities, another is named for the amazing poem by John Keats, "Ode on a Grecian Urn", which was a poem that resonated with me in high school.

"Beauty is truth, truth beauty," - that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

The quotes that narrate a beautiful photo essay by Andrew Burr range from Mark Twain to Top Gun (One of my favorite movies to quote.) This issue is full of content that transcends the world of climbing and yet it matches so well. I love the play on words. Kudos to Justin Roth.
I have to mention that the juxtaposition of the woman climbing on the rocks (you know which one I'm talk'in about) and the woman flying through the air like super dancer climber is one of my favorite parts of this issue.
Go get it and let me know what you think!

For more about our trip in NZ which spanned 5 months go to:

Monday, February 1, 2010


A Portrait of Fred Nicole from Prana Living on Vimeo.

Chuck Fryberger shot this well stylied short about Fred. By the way, his camera is so high tech it looks like an underwater boom box. Check it!

Monday, January 25, 2010


Natural Disasters are not the end of the world. But the last few weeks it seems mother nature has flexed her biceps and reminded us just how fragile our existence is. After the news about Haiti landed on my internet scene, my eyeballs were glued (torturously so) to all the images from the devastation that is Port au Prince. From the first moment I saw the photos I felt summoned to help. That's when Flagstaff got our own taste of El Nino.
In one day, 3 feet of snow blanketed Flag in white. The next day, it dumped 2 more feet. With interstates closed, and buildings collapsing what is a person to do but go sledding, build five room igloos or perhaps just snowshoe down to a friends house for hot cocoa and a jam sesh. Ava (my daughter) kills it on the harmonica.
Driving through the desert where the houses look like hobbit holes and little lights peer out of buried windows. The usual browns and golden tans have been replaced by sparkling white and I feel like I'm in a whole new place. I didn't have to travel far, like a 360 degree circle I landed in the same place I started but a world apart.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Dear Martha

Since the snow has made the top outs untop-able I have decided to become better acquainted with my kitchen. My first project was to find the perfect recipe for baking chocolate chip cookies at high altitude (we live at 6500 ft). I had always heard to add more flour (makes them very dry and crispy), add less flour (makes them thin and crunchy), don't add as much baking soda (blah)... I decided to try this recipe that was buried deep within the archives of Cooks Illustrated. If you've ever attempted any of these recipes you should know that Cooks LOVES butter. How wrong could it go really? And they turned out to be the best cookies EVER. So here's the recipe:

Warning: Do not bake cookies in batches!!!! Bake them separately!

Be amazed, not afraid, of the size of the dough balls you place on your cookie sheet.

Makes 16 cookies. Published May 1, 2009. From ATK Books.

Avoid using a nonstick skillet to brown the butter; the dark color of the nonstick coating makes it difficult to gauge when the butter is browned. Use fresh, moist brown sugar instead of hardened brown sugar, which will make the cookies dry. This recipe works with light brown sugar, but the cookies will be less full-flavored. For our winning brand of chocolate chips, see related tasting.


1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8 3/4 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar (5 1/4 ounces) (see note)
1 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks (see note)
3/4 cup chopped pecan or walnuts, toasted (optional)


  1. 1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large (18- by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

  2. 2. Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.

  3. 3. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using), giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.

  4. 4. Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons (or use #24 cookie scoop). Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet. (Smaller baking sheets can be used, but will require 3 batches.)

  5. 5. Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.

Have fun!! Bon appetit.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Saturday, January 16, 2010


My favorite way to see the back country in Hueco is to just throw down the extra cash for a commercial tour. That way I can go wherever I want with my friends. When Andy Klier is my guide I pretty much just let him show me around and we usually end up in some far reaching obscure area on West mountain. The approach is usually the warm up: Climbing up 5.8's, leaping over crevasses, and traversing exposed ledges with a crash pad strapped to my back. The time it takes to get to the boulder problem is one of the best parts about climbing in Hueco. I like to call these adventurous meanderings, "Misguided Tours".
On one misguided tour we found ourselves on all manner of "trad" boulder problems. The fin next to Uncut Yogi for example, Nick actually taped his hands to hand jam. We all did the "hourglass", I arm jammed to finish a beautiful v7 called Belly of the Beast because I couldn't reach the positive crimp another 6 inches away....the list goes on. So, if you come to hueco and you "aren't a boulderer" cause you've been trad climbing or whatever, keep in mind that the only four star problem in the park that Fred Nicole hasn't done is a 35 foot roof crack on north mountain called, "The Morgue" (v5). Happy hunting!