Flatrock Fest, Newfoundland

HeaderDuring my visit home in Newfoundland, I’m bound to meet up with my friends who, conveniently enough, are all rock climbers like myself.

Lori, my climbing buddy (we were each other’s first climbing partners—19 years and going!) mentioned to me that she was heading down to Flatrock, a small town, minutes outside of St. John’s where she was going to be volunteering for the day and invited me. You know I had to go to that.

Flatrock Fest successfully finished up its third consecutive year of inviting regular climbers, folks who’ve never stepped foot on a climbing wall or rockface, and the others who have been itching to try outdoor climbing. For fifteen bucks you show up, get the gear supplied to you, sit in on sessions, and climb til your hearts content for a full day of climbing and rappelling, down at Flatrock.

Wallnuts Climbing Centre, amongst many more sponsors helped out in executing the event held by the Alpine Club of Canada. There were goodie bags handed out to the first 50 climbers who signed up. Inside the bags were a variety of prAna tee’s, chalk bags, Rock & Ice magazine, and a rock climbing DVD. I was not one of the lucky contenders to sign up in advance, plus I was volunteering so I didn’t think it was fair for me to grab one from a lucky attendee. I sure wanted one though! I did end up getting a sweet door prize (Evolve boulder brush) and a Black Diamond cam keychain.


It has rained continuously throughout my trip back home in Newfoundland, but we lucked out weather wise and had a fantastic day down on the rock with over 150 people in attendance. The guys from Wallnuts worked hard putting the event together, with more than 20 top ropes for people to get on and climb.

Leo (the owner of Wallnuts, who is like an older brother to me. My brother and him go “way back”) ended up staying overnight in a tent down at Flatrock the night before the fest, working hard putting everything together for a successful day. I was told he knew the tide wouldn’t be coming in throughout night, so he was safe and sound. Still wouldn’t be me down there, scary stuff!Tent-in-Flatrock

Lori set up the rappelling station — which I had a go at multiple times. It scared the crap out of me, since I don’t regularly climb outdoors, if anything I boulder.  But after a few tries I easily got over the fear of leaning bum back over a cliff and use an ATC to rappel down. That’s me getting ready to go! About-to-rappel

There was a special guest this year, Black Diamond sponsored climber J.P Ouellet was there giving a few talks throughout the day on trad climbing. I sat in on one of his two sessions (can you spot me?), and asked a handful of questions. Flatrock2014-BlackDiamond_GSL-6055(photo from ACCNL)

I felt a bit silly at first when he asked everyone in the group how long they’ve been climbing. Some answered 5 days, a few months and up to a few years. He pointed at me and I squirmed, answering “ninteen years” — and here I am sitting in on a beginners session on how to use cams, nuts, and bolts. J.P was pretty great, funny and informative with his talk at Flatrock, so I’m glad I sat down to enjoy it.

I’ll leave you with a few more photos that I took throughout the day at Flatrock Fest:

Leo-and-JoostLeo’s a Dad!

Flatrock-FestI’m the queen of inappropriate footwear, so I had to borrow Lori’s 5.10 accents for the day trip.
















I’m glad I was home at the perfect time for the Flatrock Fest, and hopefully I’ll be back next summer for the fourth year.

Sponsors of Flatrock Fest 2014: Wallnuts Climbing Centre, The Outfitters, Black Diamond, Metolius, Rock – Ice, Flashed.

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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.

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