Well, it has most certainly been a while, hasn’t it? I’ve missed keeping up with this blog, but sometimes, life really gets in the way.
The last time I wrote, I had just gotten outside on real rock around the Bay Area with some friends from Maryland. I talked about Spain and the future. Those plans won’t be happening this year, and I’m perfectly alright with that. I have many years left to explore the world – now just isn’t the time in my life for that. But it will come.
Anyway – it’s been truly incredible being back in school after two years of working full time. I’m surrounded by passionate people who are interested in similar things but with different backgrounds, experiences, and career goals. It’s refreshing, and I’m so excited about my classes (and lab work, which has been phenomenal thus far). Everything to this point in school has reaffirmed my decision to make this change, and I know that I’m where I’m supposed to be at this point in my life.
With that said, I have certainly made time for climbing. With the exception of school and lab, that’s actually all I’ve done otherwise. I’ve gotten involved with Cal Climbing, the team/club here at Berkeley, and I’ve made a ton of new friends through that. It’s inspiring to see so many psyched and strong people motivated to improve and get after their goals both inside and out.
I’ve meant to write several times since moving out here, but whenever I have the time to write, I’m not motivated, and whenever I have the motivation, I don’t have time to write. I just finished with a particularly busy stretch of school and lab, and this weekend felt like the perfect time to recap a busy (almost) 3 months of life on the West Coast.
I spent September trying to strike a healthy balance between school/lab and climbing. It took some work, but I definitely found it. I spent several days outside on real rock, including trips to Panther Beach, the Nut Tree Boulders, Castle Rock, Goat Rock, Indian/Mortar Rock, and Yosemite. I enjoyed some beautiful local bouldering, spent lazy days in the sun with friends, and got up my first multi-pitch and crack climbs in the Valley. It was a month filled with experiences and a total absence of grade-fixation. It was just so lovely to be out on rock and climbing again.
October was heavier with school and lab work, but it also afforded me time to get back into the gym and train a bit more. I hadn’t really pushed my finger that much since the injury back in March – but some time in the gym definitely showed me that I was finally over those injuries. It was a wonderful realization, but I also understand more than ever the need to be mindful of my body and how I treat it. Another injury like that could be disastrous for my climbing future – and I don’t plan on repeating that experience.
I only got out once in October, a few easy sport routes at Table Rock up by Napa Valley. I went up there to help teach a Cal Climbing clinic on sport leading. It was a ton of fun, and our two students both lead 5.9 on their first day on real rock – so awesome. I also flashed 5.11b, my first flash and send of the grade outside (I’ve only been sport climbing outside a few times, so there are many grades I’ve just never even attempted).
The highlight of the month was competing in the Portland Boulder Rally. What an incredible event! It was a blast watching so many pros crush, and the atmosphere and vibe was just so positive. It was my first competition since last November and my first since the pulley injuries. I competed in Advanced, and I had my best performance and finish ever – 6th place! It was a huge accomplishment for me, and I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so strong in the gym. I had an amazing time representing Skratch Labs, catching up with old friends, and making a ton of new ones! Special shout out to Alex and his crew for showing me around the city and taking me in for the night – you guys all rock, and it was a pleasure to meet you!
After the comp, I had some trouble getting into a groove inside, and I definitely went through a bit of a slump in my performance and training. But I got it back on track with a trip to Yosemite to start out November. I went back to the Valley with two good friends to boulder, and we had a fantastic time. Rather than staying in Camp 4, we treated ourselves to a tent cabin in Curry Village (home of the 2012 Hantavirus outbreak, my favorite virus/infectious disease *nerd alert*). It was such a nice change to sleep in a bed!
We spent two days working on some boulders around Camp 4, and I got to revisit some projects from my first trip to the Valley last Fall. I didn’t send any of them, but I feel like I’m a better climber than I was a year ago. Maybe not stronger, but definitely more experience and much smarter. My projects will take some more work, but they’ll still be there be whenever I go back. I did send V6 outside for only the second time, so that was really awesome!
I’ve spent the past few weeks engrossed with school and lab work, but it hasn’t felt like a chore – I love what I’m doing here at Berkeley. But I have made time to get into the gym and train, and I’m definitely getting stronger – working back to solid V6/7 while projecting V8/9 again. I’ve been crimping quite hard lately, and that’s been an amazing feeling. It’s good to try hard again and not feel so hindered by my fingers.
I’m starting to take advantage of the local climbing resources a bit more as of late as well. The past two weekends, I’ve gone to Mortar Rock, just a few miles up the road from my apartment here in Berkeley. The rock is super sharp, and there are some really good, hard problems there. In fact, we ran into Chris Sharma up there last weekend! That was a nice surprise. It was incredible watching him pull on some of the harder problems that have gone up since he bouldered there in his younger years.
I’ve been working on the local classic Nat’s Traverse at Mortar, a pumpy V8 that’s a ton of fun. I did every move today, and that’s got me so motivated to continue training and working hard. I’m using some interesting beta that I hope I can make go. Because of my height (and limited strength), I’m using a sequence that adds 4 or 5 V5 moves into the middle of the climb. It’ll be tough, but I’m confident I can do this boulder (at one point or another, using one set of beta or another).
So, that’s been my life over the past few months – school, lab, climbing, training, sleep, eat, repeat. I love it. I’ve loved every minute of it. I feel strong again, I’m as motivated as I’ve ever been, and my body feels healthy. I’ve gotten out on real rock more frequently than I ever have before, and it doesn’t look like there’s much of an end in sight.
This week, I’ll be traveling to Bishop with Cal Climbing for Thanksgiving. I’m so excited for this trip, and I have been since we first started talking about it back in September. I’ve spent the Fall almost completely ignoring roped climbing just to prepare for these few days. I’m as ready as I’m going to be, and I’m beyond psyched to enjoy the holiday in the Sierras with my friends.
As always, I want to thank my sponsors Skratch Labs for fueling the pursuit of my passions and helping me live my dream. Seriously, they’re a truly fantastic company, and I’m so proud to be a part of the Skratch family. Go check them out, I promise you’ll like what you find. Excited to have some hot Apples & Cinnamon drink mix for the cold desert temps!
I hope it’s been a great Fall for all of you, and I want to thank you for stopping by and reading. I’d like to be more consistent with my writing once again, and I’ll do my very best to keep up this time around.
Let me know what you’ve been up to this Fall in the comments or over on Facebook. Stay stoked and climb on, my friends!