Throwback Thursday: Climbing edition

If it wasn’t for my brother and Leo, his high school buddy, I would have never become a climber. 19 years ago, Leo and his family opened the climbing gym back home in Newfoundland Canada. From the beginning, when they recruited their friends to help build Wallnuts, I watched. I don’t recall much of it, but I do remember the warehouse transforming into the unknown. I didn’t have any interest in it back then, but I went to scope it out a few times.

My brother didn’t bother to climb much, but I went in for their daily kids camp and climbed til my hearts content. While I was visiting Newfoundland for five weeks this summer, I looked back on a few old photo albums I had as a kid and came across this oldie.

Wallnuts1995Shoes, chalk bag, and a harness — all rentals. This was me at the kids camp in 1995, the first year the climbing gym was opened. Umbro shorts and all, I am about to top out on my favourite wall in the gym: the roof. Wallnuts has since renovated their walls, including eliminating my favourite roof and looking at expanding to another location, all signs of growth.

My first pair of climbing shoes were the 5.10 MoccAsym’s. But the one’s to write home about were my second pair of climbing shoes, the La Sportiva (now men’s) Miura lace-up’s. An aggressive shoe with the perfect heel cup, amazing for heel hooking, and having fun at comp’s ;)RockFall05



frontpageThroughout the years I had a few one-on-one coaching sessions with the guys, where I began to climb harder routes, how to climb quietly, when to chalk up on a route, and make the routes more efficient on my body to not tire myself out too much. Years later, I got the guts to get my lead climbing course done. I was terrified I wouldn’t be able to lock out the figure 8 belay devices, and ATC’s. I got used to it, I did the course and from there I started climbing lead confidently.

After 19 years of climbing, can you believe I am still afraid of heights? I suppose, that’s a good thing. I don’t want to be too daring or bold—it’s not in my personality. I like to play it safe. When I boulder at my new climbing gym here in California, I often down climb the boulder problems because falling is simply too spooky for me. The bonus side of that is that I’m perfecting my technique each down climb, gaining more endurance with the static moves I do.

I have a many awesome memories of climbing at Wallnuts, and I’m so happy for the experiences I had while I lived in Newfoundland.

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Essential Rock Climbing Gear

Congrats, you’ve drank the climbing kool-aid.

climbing gear2Once you’ve decided you want to invest your money into the sport of climbing, and already scoped out the local indoor climbing gym, you’re probably ready to commit to purchasing a few items to gear yourself up instead of renting the gear each time.

Climbing Shoes

katana miuraYour rock climbing shoes should be well-fitted. Any climber you ask will be opinionated on what type of shoes work best (for them). For the most part climbing shoes will be uncomfortable and snug. For instance, mine are 2.5 sizes smaller than my street shoe, with my toes curled up so much I have to walk on the sides of my feet when walking around the gym. It’s the way I feel confident and secure on the wall. On the other hand, my climbing partner doesn’t like her feet mangled up in climbing shoes and prefers to have a snug fit, with her feet flat.

After 19 years of climbing, I’ve only bought 3 pairs of climbing shoes, and never resoled a pair. My first pair of climbing shoes were 5.10 Anasazi MoccAsym’s, a comfortable slipper. My second pair, were a unisex shoe at the time, now marketed as men’s, was the La Sportiva Miura’s (shown above in lime green), which is much more of a high performance technical shoe, with crisp edges for stepping on tiny micro crimpy holds, or sustaining your foot holds on overhanging boulder problems: these shoes were/are my favourite. Last year I purchased another pair, this time the La Sportiva Katana’s women shoe (shown with the Mirua’s in baby blue). Less technical than the miura’s but also a great shoe for bouldering, doing heel hooks and smearing.

Price range for climbing shoes: $50-$170


harness checksI will continue to support my Canadian companies, and currently I’m using the Arc’teryx Targa men’s harness. I decided to put my climbing harness into permanent retirement after putting in a few good years of use. I’m onto using my husbands brand new climbing harness that has been sitting around unused for a couple of years. Even that needs to be replaced within the next year, as the webbing on the harness deteriorates after time.

Again, climbing harnesses are all personal preference. Head into a gear shop and try on a couple. You may prefer a minimalistic climbing harness with less padding, or you may enjoy one that is more substantial and has a ton more padding. It should be comfortable. I haven’t a clue what type of harness I’m going to try on when I buy one within the next little while. Anyone have suggestions? What are your favourites?

Price range for harnesses: $60-$130

Chalk + Chalk bag

Half way up the wall with some sweaty hands? Dip your hands in a bit of chalk to dry them off. Chalk bags are meant to tie around your waist as you climb up the wall. But they also make a bit of a statement. There isn’t any specific type of chalk bag I’d recommend to anyone, as it’s all about personal preference on how it looks. For the most part, chalk bags are relatively the same size if you’re tying it around your waist while you climb. Usually chalk bags get a lot of wear and tear, but I like to be relatively careful with mine as I’ve had mine for almost as long as I’ve been climbing. The climbing gym owner back home in Newfoundland made, and sold a bunch in the first few years.

old yeller chalk bagI have a bit of a soft spot for my ol’ yeller chalk bag.

Bouldering chalk bags are different. They’re more bucket style to accommodate both hands fitting into the bucket completely and is designed to stay on the ground while you boulder.

Unicorn Dust by Friction LabsAs for chalk, there are two options for what you can use: loose chalk, or a ball of chalk. I prefer using a ball of chalk in its own sack inside my chalk bag bag so it doesn’t spill out if I drop  it on the ground. I refill my chalk ball with this new brand I found through instagram. This is a sample of Unicorn Dust (awesome name by the way) by Friction Labs. I’m one of those weird climbers who rarely refill my chalk ball, because I don’t feel it’s necessary for myself to have chalked up arms all the way to my elbows. I only need to dry off my hands with a bit of a flick to the chalk bag. A bag of chalk will literally last me an insanely long time. I’d like to give this chalk its own blog post, or talking more about climbing gear in another post, because I don’t want to get into a full review of it, as I’m simply discussing essential rock climbing gear today. I do have to mention it’s pretty sweet, has both chunky and extra fine pieces of chalk in the bag. Best of both worlds.

Price range for chalk + chalk bags: $10-$20

Choice in clothing

climbingWhen I take first timers to a climbing gym, I advise them to wear comfortable yet durable workout clothes. I prefer to wear longer pants as I like to use my knees and legs against the rough walls when climbing. The climbing walls surface is unforgiving, feeling a bit like sand paper, which can tear lightweight fabrics. I’ve seen some people wear jeans but I like to have a larger range of motion and find that jeans are more constricting. When I head in for a climb I opt for a tank top and yoga pants.

You can find rock climbing gear at places like Mountain Equipment Co-Op (Canada), REI (USA), or Amazon.

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Thinking Out Loud Thursday #2

Athleta Shorts1. I bought these coral corduroy shorts from Athleta a few days ago. Side note, whoa they’re the same company as Gap!? Their sizing is a little messed up though. I’m not a consistent size in shorts as I am in their bottoms and tops. Strange. I love them, and I’ve already worn them to brunch with my husband and his old co-worker who is moving down from Canada! Yay for new friends!

TwinSoulArt Etsy(image source)
2. Bought a rubber stamp from a local-to-me seller off Etsy, she’s no more than 30 kilometres from me I’d say! These are going to be perfect to stamp on the back of our wedding thank you cards from our wedding. We haven’t sent them out yet, and I assume that is poor etiquette on our part. But I had originally ordered some cards from a site, who essentially made them look horrible. So I took matters into my own graphic design hands, as I should’ve done from the start. Going to head to Target to print them. I’ll let you in on how they look, once they’re all written and sent off :)

Retainer and Philosophy stuff3. I kinda like pink lately. Even bought a new pink retainer case from eBay. I know this is going to sound weird, and maybe gross. But I needed a new retainer case, as mine split open after opening it twice a day. So I went on a hunt for some inexpensive cases on eBay and came up lucky. Apparently came in a pack of SIX. Set for life. I love light pink. Side note: Think I like Philosophy products much? This photo wasn’t staged in the least, I promise. Who likes Philosophy, raise your hand! As stated consistently throughout my blog, I’m not being sponsored by them. I simply enjoy their products. However, they did send me this great scent.

Speck-Case-for-Tablet4. Speck sent my husband a case for his Google Nexus Tablet. I picked out the colour :) It’s pretty nice hey?

Tone It Up Gym bag5. My tone it up gym bag came! I love the darn thing. But when I went climbing the other day I jam packed it full of items that I didn’t need (an extra pair of climbing shoes, my climbing harness, extra chalk, a sweater…). Needless to say, it’s now empty and only packed with my every day climbing gear and yoga mat on top.

6. Speaking of scents, I want to get my hands on the Jo Malone Pink Peony and Blush Suede perfume. I think it’s something due to the fact that I have had peonies hanging out on my night table the past little while. Thanks to Suzie for letting me borrow her photo with her permission.

7. The Guy and I bought a family membership to a local pool! It brings back memories of me training for my Bronze Medallion (is that a Canadian thing? I think it’s equivalent to Lifeguard status). I was never the fastest swimmer, and I worked so bloody hard that summer, getting my timing down on my swims. Except I was the only person who failed the class out of the 15 of us girls, because I laughed too much on the mouth-t0-mouth part. I’m still immature like that. I was so pissed off, I haven’t swam much since. That was when I was 16! Ages ago. Now I am old and shrivelled up (kidding) and cannot swim a full length of the pool without stopping. I’m determined to get my swim strength back.

What perfume do you wear?
I’ve been wearing Philosophy’s latest scent in Sunshine Grace, and I have a sample of that Jo Malone scent, it smells fantastic.

How many times per week do you workout?
Lately, I’ve been working out 4-6 days a week.

Are you a night time or morning showerer?
I prefer to shower in the mornings, but lately I’ve been showering after my workouts, before bed.

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