How I became a rock climber

When I do the math, it’s almost impossible to believe myself when I remember that I’ve been climbing for nineteen years.

dyno at wallnutsDynoing. Circa 2002-2003.

I first heard about Wallnuts Climbing gym through my Brother, when it was being built in 1994-1995. My brother and Leo (now, the owner) were close friends all throughout High School. The roles were reversed. I thought my Brother would be more into the climbing than myself. But I was the one who kept at it. I didn’t think I’d be hooked on climbing after my first few times. I remember my Father having to hold my hips into the wall as I was terrified of moving upwards.

Fast forward a few more years and I had no fear. Dynoing high up in the air during competitions. The perfect spotters, and all the strength. I feel as if I was at my “peak” during this time. Then again, now that I’m climbing regularly — I’m stronger than I have ever been.

boulder comp wallnutsBouldering comp circa 2004.

Wallnuts back home in St. John’s Newfoundland was my home gym for many years. It’s the place where I spent 5-6 days a week at during high school. All of my friends back home are climbers. They’re my best friends, that I’ve created long term friendships with, that I cherish to this day, even though I don’t see as much of them now that we’ve all spread across the globe.

Climbing in Newfoundland left me with some amazing memories. One of which, I like to say I’m in a climbing film. In 2004, we drove across the province to boulder in a couple of places along the west coast to get filmed in various places. It was super cool.

trev archesHere’s one of my best buddies, Trev and I climbing in The Arches, Newfoundland. I felt like a bad ass, getting filmed.

Nancy archesBut to be honest with you I was definitely the worst climber there. I’m not used to climbing outdoors at all, and was falling off easy problems. Still a memorable experience, though.

From there, I climbed regularly until I moved out of the province in 2006, to Southern Ontario. The climbing gym had just closed and shut down their facility a few months upon my arrival. I didn’t climb at all for the first few years living in Ontario. I brought my gear back home with me the 3-4 times I flew to Newfoundland for visits. I missed it, but I had picked up other hobbies (soccer and CrossFit mainly) to keep me occupied.

GRR August 2011A few years later in August 2011, Grand River Rocks in Kitchener opened a gym. A 5 minute drive from my old work place, I joined immediately. I volunteered at that gym for kids birthday parties and a few boulder competitions. I wasn’t climbing as often as I originally was, due to the fact that I’ve been spending the majority of my time playing soccer, and doing CrossFit. boulder comp at grrI participated in a few competitions there, and made a couple of good friends along the way, but wasn’t a regular any more.

IFSC Bouldering World Cup 2013Last year, I watched the IFSC Bouldering World Cup at the Gravity Climbing Gym in Hamilton, Ontario with a few climbing buds. I was stoked to finally see world class boulderers in person, for the first time in my life. It was an incredible — climbers came from all across the globe: Japan, USA, Russia, and China to name a few.

I’ve never taken climbing seriously enough to actually train on my weaknesses. I still like to avoid slopers at all costs, I’m working on pinchy holds and stemming moves. But I never go into the climbing gym to work on a campus board, or do multiple chinups for practice. I hop on the wall, find a climb that I can’t seem to top out on, and work on that for the afternoon. It’s what I like, keeps me in shape and doesn’t feel like exercise to me.

When I tell people I climb, they think I’m super strong, or powerful. I’m the opposite. I’m a thinker, I have great balance and technique, which I believe makes me a smart climber. Nothing bugs me more than climbers scrambling up the wall, ruining the rubber on their shoes and grasping for holds. You don’t need to do that to accomplish the route. Sit back, think about it and be sure about the holds you’re grabbing. There isn’t any need to readjust your hands on the holds, you’re wasting time and energy doing so.

This brings me to 2014.

climbing shoe selfieWhen we moved to California a few months into living here a blog reader now turned friend, e-mailed me asking to head into Planet Granite for a climb.

Planet Granite BoulderingI’m hooked all over again, and climbing on the regular — going 3-4 days a week. Right now it’s my primary source of exercise with a yoga class thrown in before I hit up the bouldering wall.

There you have it, that’s my history on how I became a rock climber: 19 years and counting.

I’m thinking of incorporating more climbing blog posts if you’re interested in reading about it? Let me know.

Fitness Recap: Climbing 5.11c’s

I pluralize that like I’ve climbed more than one 5.11c last week. Don’t let my over-exaggeration fool you, only one was on sighted last week but I’m still pretty stoked about it.

Have to be honest, it’s hard getting back into workout out after two weeks of relaxing with family visitors, eating all the food, and having fun. Not that working out isn’t fun, because climbing, bouldeirng, and yoga is definitely exciting to me. But you know how it is.

I worked out twice last week. At least climbing/bouldering was incorporated into those two workouts along with 75 minutes of a yin yoga class, where the instructor came over to me in the most jam-packed yoga class I’ve ever been in, asking me if I was in pain. No ma’am, I’m not in pain — I’m simply inflexible in my entire right side of my body, workin’ on it.

511cSneaky Ellen taking pictures of me climbing the 5.11c. I’m talking about this constantly in my blog post, because I’m super happy I climbed it. My legs were doing the sewing machine bobbing up and down, because I seriously thought I was going to pop off the route at any moment. It was crimpy 3/4 of the way, definitely my style. However, in the picture above I’m stemming on crimps. I’m terrified of stemming, simply because I feel that if I fall unexpectedly, I’ll scrape my entire face off the wall. I don’t know, it’s obviously a mental thing, but I need to continue climbing those sorts of routes to get over it. It’s not happening quick enough for me.

Random questions:

Tell me 2 things that you’re excited about today

When is the last time you tried a new-to-you sport?

Guess how old my climbing harness is