2009 – A Milestone Year

29 12 2009

The year is drawing to a close and I’ve begun to realize that, even though I didn’t allow myself to literally write down a list of goals for the year (I find this just results in too much pressure and disappointment…), I did in fact have a bunch of goals and I accomplished a big number of them. In fact, I hit some pretty big milestones this year. So without further ado, here are the highlights (in chronological order):

  • First time: pulling a chest muscle by coughing too much. And then taking 2+ months to recover.
  • Onsighted my first Indian Creek 5.11, Rump Roast II. After several months of not climbing because I had pulled a chest muscle.
  • Turned 21.
  • Accepted as a PhD student in geology at Stanford.
  • Awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.
  • Ran my longest ever trail race: 22k in Malibu.

  • First time: in Zion, and first time on a multipitch free route in Zion – Sheer Lunacy.
  • Graduated from Caltech with a B.S. in Geology.

  • Returned to Smith Rock after not visiting for almost 5 years.
  • First time: onsighting 5.11d (or sending any 5.11d, for that matter) – my dream route, Sunshine Dihedral.
  • Returned to Squamish, one of my favorite areas to climb, and finally sent Crime of the Century, right before onsighting Yorkshire Gripper.
  • Moved to Palo Alto, started climbing at Planet Granite Sunnyvale.
  • First: duathlon. Competed in the Luna Bar Women’s Duathlon at the Luna Bar Women’s Triathlon Festival: 2mi run, 20mi bike, 4mi run.

  • Met Sarah Kate, my awesome climbing partner. πŸ™‚
  • Started my first term of grad school at Stanford.
  • Biked to school every single day.
  • Visited Arkansas for the first time, on a geology field trip.
  • First: Climbed my 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Yosemite 5.10s – 2 onsights and a redpoint.
  • First: Climbed my first Yosemite 5.11, the crux pitch of South by Southwest, which I climbed with Sarah Kate.

  • First time: Feeling like I am getting over being cripplingly intimidated of climbing in Yosemite.
  • First time: attending a tweetup: #jtreetweetup!
  • Finally sent Gunsmoke! (First tried it in April 2005)
  • First time: getting the whole week of Thanksgiving off, prompting an awesome trip to Indian Creek.
  • First: 5.11++ onsight in Indian Creek – Quarter of a Man.
  • First: 5.12!!! Swedin-Ringle.

  • First: 5.11+ that felt easy… Coyne Crack.
  • Finished my first term as a grad student at Stanford.
  • First time: living less than 2 hours away from Luke – he moved to Mountain View!
  • Finally met theclimbergirl πŸ™‚

So, as you can tell, it’s been a great year, in both my lives (as a climber and a geologist). I think 2010 will be a really exciting year as well, as I start to get more involved in my research at school and I continue to train (and hopefully not get injured). Sarah Kate and I have a really big goal for next year in Yosemite, so hopefully that will keep us motivated! Also, Luke got me a triathlon wetsuit for Christmas, yet another reason to start training for a triathlon (or two!) in 2010 – hopefully a sprint distance first and, if all goes well, an Olympic distance.

Happy (almost) new year!



Some Excuses for my Slacking

16 10 2008

If you are one of the few who actually follows our blog, you may have noticed that there has been a slowdown in posting recently, especially on my part. It’s not that we haven’t been climbing (we have, this coming weekend will be our 3rd 3-day climbing weekend in a row) but that somehow life has become ridiculously hectic.

Even though my class schedule isn’t that bad, I am also a TA this term and I now have less than 3 weeks until my first two fellowship applications are due (the NSF and the NPSC), which is kind of scary. So in addition to my homework and reading The Self-Coached Climber and trying to train for Equinox, I also have grading labs and writing three of the more important essays that I’ve had to write in my life.

Hence a little less blogging…

But meanwhile, a brief update of what we’ve been up to (other than trying not to stress out too much):

Last weekend we headed to Idyllwild on Friday so Luke could try to send Insomnia. He got it on his second try, but not a true redpoint because our rope was too short to clean all the gear from the first try (long story…). Then we toproped the Pirate (5.12c/d) which was AWESOME and really fun. Then we went out to Joshua Tree to camp with Luke’s cousin and her family and do some more climbing. Luke lead Left Ski Track (5.11a) which I found to be extremely unenjoyable, despite it’s “classic” status. Then we headed out to Equinox, which Luke TRed 3 times and I TRed 1.8 times. It was January temperatures in October – really cold. We woke up feeling like we had been run over by several trains on Sunday morning, so we had massages, relaxed, then packed up camp and headed back to Equinox. I felt really physically exhausted, so decided not to waste my time trying it when I couldn’t give enough effort. Luke placed gear while I lowered him from the top and went for a pre-placed gear lead attempt. He did pretty good and linked up through the crux. It was even colder today. I was wearing 2 down jackets, a fleece, and an R1 and was still cold. Brrr. We rewarded ourselves with sandwiches at Crossroads and a visit to Nomad before heading home.

This weekend we’re headed to Red Rocks to hopefully send Cloud Tower among other routes.



My Life as a Geologist

23 09 2008

I have finally returned from my brief stint of being a geologist (and not a rock climber – I haven’t gotten to climb in three weeks!!!). I don’t get the impression that many people actually know what geologists actually do, other than look at rocks, I figured I’d write a post about it.

Most geologists agree that in order to be a real geologist you have to go into the field sometimes to look at or sample real rocks. Geology is not one of those things that you can do only in a lab. But once we’re out in the field, there are a lot of things we could spend our time doing. Different geologists will see different things in the same place, depending on whether they are focusing on small, medium, or large scale features.

My trip was mostly about looking at medium-scale features – beds and “structures” (which are generally faults and folds) that occur on several meter scales. It’s hard to really understand the big picture of what’s going on at this scale by just looking at it and writing some notes. That’s why we “map” what we see – we start with a topo map of the area and draw in “contacts” between different rock units (for example, the contact between a 100ft thick bed of limestone and a 150ft bed of shale) as we trace them around hills and through “structures” like folds and faults. We also pay attention to how the beds are oriented so that later we can understand what’s going on below the surface. I’ve included some examples below.

This is a geologic map of the state of California. We do something like this, but on a much smaller scale, where 1 inch = 500 ft.

This is a smaller scale geologic map of part of the Grand Canyon.

This is a sample of a “geologic cross section” that a geologist can make based on observations from the surface. It shows a hypothesis of what the units look like below the surface. This example is from a folded and faulted area in Tennessee and North Carolina.

So for 18 days, I was hiking around a field area (called Poleta Folds) in the Inyo Mountains (which is the range to the east above Bishop and Big Pine) just above Deep Springs Valley, looking at rocks (but not climbing them). Our field area was at about 6000ft, so it was relatively good exercise to be hiking around off trail with a pack on all day. For most of the trip, we camped at a nice forest service campsite at Cedar Flat, somewhere between 7000 and 8000ft. The days were pretty busy – we would wake up at 7am every morning, cook breakfast and pack lunch, drive to the field area by around 8:30, work until 5pm, head back to camp, cook dinner, “ink” our maps (copying over what you’ve drawn in pencil during the day with pen so it doesn’t smear), and go to bed exhausted around 9:30pm. I hardly had any time or energy to think about rock climbing, although there were no rocks worthy of climbing anyways.

Sweet geology that we unfortunately didn’t get to map. The white flat area in the background is on the valley floor of Deep Springs Valley.

Doing a “field camp” like this is basically a rite of passage for geologists. It’s important for someone studying rocks to know how to function in the field since fieldwork is generally involved with most geological studies. Some field camps are a lot longer than ours – 10 weeks instead of 3 – but I feel like I learned and accomplished a lot in my 3 weeks. Plus, with only 3 other students in the class, I’m not sure we could have spent another 7 weeks together…

One of many cute lizards in the field area.

One of the highlights of our trip was a regional field trip day, when we drove around and looked at stuff instead of mapping. We ended up at the Patriarch Grove in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest at around 12,000ft elevation. Although the day was a bit cloudy, making the view of the Inyos and Sierras a little less spectacular, it was still really beautiful up there. It even snowed on us, which was a big difference from being hot and miserable in the field area (I had to use 55 spf sunscreen because I was getting burned through several reapplication of my usual 30 spf).

Old trees and chilly weather at the Patriarch Grove.

But now it’s back to climbing and rushing to get things done for my senior year of college. WOO!


No Lizzy Posts for a While

26 08 2008

Sometimes, there are things other than rock climbing that happen in our lives. I am about to experience one of these things. Starting Friday, I will be out in the desert for 3 weeks for Caltech’s field camp, a pretty standard experience for geology students that involves going out into the field, walking around a lot, and figuring out what is going on with the rocks out there.

Although I’m not excited about not getting to see Luke or go climbing for so long, I am still excited to go out and learn a lot. Geology is one of those fields where you tend to learn a lot more out in the field than in some classroom and I always come back from most field trips really motivated about geology, which will be a good way to start my senior year.

So you’ll probably only get to read Luke’s posts for a while, but hopefully he will still be doing some sweet things while I am busy – starting with the Third Pillar of Dana and the Red Dihedral on the Incredible Hulk this coming weekend.