Philosophical Musings on Rock Climbing

9 11 2009

Prompted by a recent post by Jamie Emerson on Grades.  I thought it would be good to dig up a few older thoughtful posts on climbing mixed with some classic climbing quotes.

“The best climber in the world is the one who’s having the most fun.”

– Alex Lowe

Grades, Grade, Grades.

“As we unloaded packs at the parking lot, two young ladies approached us to ask if we were THE Yosemite climbers… They asked if it were true that Yosemite climbers chafe their hands on the granite to enable them to friction up vertical walls. We assured them that the preposterous myth was true.”

-Chuck Pratt – 1965

What is Trad?

‘I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.’

– Bene Gesserit “Litany Against Fear” from Dune by Frank Herbert

Hesitation and Commitment.

“Some of the world’s greatest feats were accomplished by people not smart enough to know they were impossible.”

– Doug Lawson

Training, Progress, Belief




A ‘Brief’ Personal Climbing History

2 09 2009

This post will be far from “brief”, but considering how much I could write about each route I consider personally significant, this is short. The feeling of a prized send, a realized dream or even a hard attempt is difficult to describe so I will give a simple overview of  my many years of climbing.

I come from an outdoorsy family.  My parents both ski-ed, were avid scuba divers and enjoyed the outdoors. Despite this I grew up with a funny concept of camping since we always road-tripped in a ’78 Chevy van that my dad had converted to have a bed and a special sleeping spot for me. I remember the first time I saw a tent and was confused about what it was for. I had my special fort in the van where I slept, and I had never camped ‘outside’.


Too cool, wearing cutoff Gramicci’s and wearing Oakleys…


On one of the many “solos” at Marymoor. I often wouldn’t touch the ground for an hour  or more.

In middle school I was not as outdoorsy as the other kids despite going on various hiking trips around Washington. I became a bit more “normal” in 8th grade when I started playing Ultimate Frisbee and climbing indoors at Vertical World in Fremont (before it was torn down to create the Adobe Complex). After 8th grade I was pretty hooked on indoor climbing and my dad and I almost built a climbing wall at our house.

Before going to high school I took a 3 week Outward Bound course in Oregon. We spent a week rafting the full Deschutes River and then spent. Two weeks learning how to mountaineer (use ice axes) and eventually climbed the Middle Sister.  While I had been climbing indoors and on artificial outdoor structures Outward Bound was most likely my first real rock climbing. We top roped some easy cliff band in our La Sportiva Makalu’s and it was fun. We came back later that night with a full moon and rappelled down the wall exciting!

When ya gotta Aid you just gotta

Aiding up the Monkey’s Face on our 9 hour (yikes) 5 person ascent of the West Face Variation.

In high school one of my first friends was a climber and had been climbing for years with his father. Through my friend Hartley and the outdoor program at Overlake I slowly learned about climbing outside. During the summer I spent my time at Marymoor park bouldering, traversing and soloing on the climbing wall there.  I often would spend 4 days a week climbing still a bit oblivious to going to a crag to lead routes on my own.


The door to my bouldering success at Bucknell.


Our new routes board at the Bucknell Climbing Wall.

From junior to senior year in high school my focus on climbing shifted towards ultimate frisbee but I was still enthusiastic about the sport and upon graduation bought my first set of cams.  Until this point I had been climbing indoors on ropes and leading a bit of sport and trad outdoors but had never really bouldered. I did traversing and short boulder problems but I didn’t think too much of it.

The Summit!!

Gordon points to the summit of Tower II on our climb of the Yellow Spur

College brought about a big change in my climbing as I now had access to a small climbing wall on campus and could climb almost 5 days a week (seen above).  Due to the height of the wall we mainly bouldered and in the first month of college I went on my first outdoor bouldering trip.  My strength increased a lot my freshman year and my climbing took another big step when I ended up working at Vertical World in Redmond the summer of 2004.  My life was climbing and this year saw my biggest increases thus far. I went from V1 to V4 (indoors) and lead my first trad 5.9 (Godzilla at Index) sent my first 5.11b (Aborigine at Exit 38) and did my first 5.9 multipitch leading all the pitches (The Yellow Spur in El Dorado canyon). I returned to college much stronger and full of power.


Working up Five Finger Discount at the Red River Gorge.

Sophomore Year went fairly quickly and my sport climbing was taking off. I broke further into 5.11 at the Red River Gorge and the Obed but my trad climbing was lagging. I had taken a few trips to the Gunks but had yet to make it to 5.10.  I climbed my first 5.10+ crack at the T-Wall outside of Chattanooga but couldn’t figure out the Gunks. I had been thinking of studying abroad and decided that going to Melbourne would be a great academic challenge and would allow me to go to “school” at Mt. Arapiles.


Flashing It’ll Never Fly at Mount Arapiles 23/24  (5.11+)

Victoria, the Australian state where Melbourne is located, has a strict trad ethic and taught me a lot while I was there. These 6 months of 2005 brought my trad climbing to a new level as I moved into 5.11 routes. I learned how to place gear faster and found the relaxed zone required for hard and runout routes.  A big mental change also took place as I learned to accept the local  standards for climbing style.

The route the changed my mind was a popular toprope on the Kitten Wall above the Watchtower Faces called Hard Nipples. At 22 (11b) this route was at my limit and after doing it clean on TR I wanted to lead it. The gear was beyond tricky and I was pissed that it had not been bolted. I steamed at my partner but he told me that since it was possible to be lead on gear, it should be lead on gear. A month or so later after leading a few 21s and 22s I realized the route was in my reach.  I toproped the route again and figured out the gear and was amazed that I could find something that would work.

New Zealand 05 - Mark 005

Way excited to be at Castle Hill!

The first boulder problem would have to be soloed to about the 20 foot mark but I knew I could do it and committed to the techy moves and reached the ledge. In when two cams and I started up the steep section. one more cam and then the crux. Grab a left hand pocket and make a full span right to a good hold. Reach back and plug a red TCU in the pocket and work up into a roof. A blind yellow alien above your head and then the final face crux. A few moves get your feet over the roof and then easy moves lead to a bolted anchor. I had sent and in doing so had changed my perspective on bolts and had done my first 22 gear lead!

New Zealand 05 - Mattie 102

Learning how to Mantel at Castle Hill, New Zealand


Attempting my first 24 at the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, Australia

Returning to the states I quickly lost my trad lead head but still had the power from the longest time of climbing I have ever had. I put this power to good use on a trip to Horsepens 40 in January 2006 and sent my first two V6’s and a V7.  Also on this trip while in the Obed I climbed my first 12a a long time goal that had evaded me in Australia despite doing my first 24 (5.11d) in New Zealand. From November 2005 until the 2nd week of January 2006 I had climbed almost 50 days culminating with a first place finish in Mens Advanced at my first ABS comp at SportRock.


Toproping my first 5.11 crack – at Mount Buffalo, Australia

Dirty South 06 - Gordon 447

Going for the crux deadpoint on Undertow (my first 12a) at the Obed.

Sadly all my my climbing and enthusiasm would start having consequences in 2006. Psyched to climb as hard as possible on an upcoming trip to the Red River Gorge I started intense campus training. The day after a session of two finger campusing I had pain in my left ring finger. I properly took a week off and slowly eased back into climbing with a month before my trip. Over the next many years my finger has given me varying amounts of trouble. I was able to climb fairly well at the Red River Gorge and returned to college psyched as ever for the next bouldering comp, this time the Mammut Gravity Brawl in New Jersey. My friend Adam and I had a blast but during the comp but I dislocated my right shoulder on a V7 that where I had campused into an Iron Cross and was trying to do the next move.


Hanging out at the Mammut Gravity Brawl after dislocating my shoulder.

Governor Stable Comp 06 - Luke 028

Hanging out and taking photos at Governor’s Stables.

My shoulder only partially subluxed and in 6 months I was climbing fairly well again and have since sent harder problems and routes than before the injury. The main thing that changed was my climbing style. I was no longer so willing to dyno freely and took a lot more time to think about the moves and make sure I would not re-injure my shoulder. This mental change brought with it a bit more hesitation and fear and still effects me today.


Flashing the classic Ro-Shampo 5.11d/12a at the Red River Gorge.

NRG Nov 06  - 119

Flashing Bourbon Sauce 5.11d at the New River Gorge

(My ambition to do this route was  inspired by a trio of women who sent it when I was at the crag 3 years earlier.)

After healing up and sending a handful of 5.12’s by the end of 2006 I turned my attention to bouldering for my senior year. I wanted to climb V7 again and worked on power. My crowning achievements from that year were The Bubbler V6 and Iron Lion V7 at Haycock Mountain.  After graduating and working on bouldering for a little while including a send of Blue Flame v7 at Tramway I switched back to roped climbing. The blue flame had taken many tries over two days and had done a number on my shoulder.

First day of attempts on Iron Lion V7.

Haycock 4-14-07 - 169

Many months later sending my hardest boulder problem yet.

Haycock 4-8-07 - 042

Loving the Triassic Diabase of The Bubbler V6

Climbing on routes I could still push my limits climbing 5.12 and didn’t have to worry about moves that were as taxing as bouldering. In 2007 Lizzy became my main climbing partner and we focused on sport climbing to train for a trip to the Red River Gorge for the Petzl Roc Trip. This training was very effective and Lizzy saw large strength increases and I onsighted my first 12a. At the RRG I onsighted another 12a and Lizzy flashed her first 11b.  Onsight climbing is tricky business and I was happy to have achieved another long time goal.

In 2008 we started the year with a lot more trad climbing and Lizzy attempted here first 5.12 leads at Indian Creek. By 2008 I had adjusted to the climbing scene in San Diego and found a strong and committed partner. During the summer of 2008 I stared to have real endurance and spent a bit more times on harder routes. I managed to climb my first 5.12c and 5.13a and turned my focus towards my super project Equinox.


Putting up a second wall in my training room back in Maryland.

Equinox as I have written in the past was the hardest project that I have ever attempted. When I first tried it I hated it soo much was entirely frustrated and uninterested. Lizzy persisted in her desire to climb the route and we spent many Equinox days out in J-Tree until in November when I finally did it clean on TR. My goal was an ascent with preplaced gear (which fit the remaining time in the J-Tree season) and I got it down to one or two falls on lead. One particular week my skin was particularly soft and I was trying so hard that I removed half of the skin from all my fingers. This put a dent in my schedule so we took some time to boulder and I came back full of power.  The day of my redpoint I barely made it out of bed not wanting to make the drive to J-Tree. When I sent,  after 3 false starts or failed attempts, the route fit together perfectly and I made it to the anchors with a mild pump but fully in control. This was an excellent ending to 2008 and I could not have been happier.

I had been taking steps towards climbing harder routes and my goal for 2009 was to develop more power and break into the 5.13 grade. Since Equinox had been my first 5.12 trad route I wanted to keep up with my crack climbing skills and try to progress on other routes in J-Tree. 2009 has been quite the wild ride since I have been injured since late January and have been unable to crimp well with my left hand. In recent months I have gained back fitness and had an excellent trip in Indian Creek with multiple 5.11 trad onsights. I was able to jam without harming my finger. Now in August I am starting to feel powerful again and have started campus training. Having done a few 12a’s quickly I think that I am ready to try some harder projects.

Since life is a bit up in the air I have yet to commit to a given route. My motivation in May was very high for a trip to Zion. I had one of my best trad climbing days with a 5.12 and two 5.11 onsights.  My motivation is currently on the Incredible Hulk where I had an amazing ascent of a variation of Positive Vibrations and then went back and onsighed the standard finish pitches.

With a strong showing this past weekend at Pine Creek, including a 5.12a onsight, I think that I may beable to make some progress in 2009.

Thanks for reading aren’t you glad it was `brief` 😉

– Luke

Widget Love, or How I Became a Trad Climber

7 08 2009

The more climbers I meet, the more I realize that my experience of climbing has been unusual. I feel lucky to have had the experiences I’ve had, because they’ve allowed me to have what not every 21-year-old female climber has – a passion for trad climbing. I love sticking my hands, fingers, and feet into cracks. I love the complexity and freedom of placing my own protection. And, of course, I love the incredulous look that boys give me when they see me racking up for a hard trad route. This is the story of the journey that’s got me here.

It all started during the summer, 8 years ago. I was 13 and on a summer camp trip – a little bit of outdoor climbing and some river rafting in Washington. We were climbing at Mt. Erie, a scenic beginner crag in Northern Washington, and this was my very first outdoor climbing experience. I was toproping one of the routes (nothing too hard – I doubt we did anything harder than 5.9) that had a crack in the top section with a small chockstone in it. I grabbed the chockstone, making my hand into what was probably something close to a fist jam. I had some tense moments when I thought my hand was stuck, but once I relaxed everything was good. So I guess to a certain extent, crack climbing was intuitive for me from the beginning of my climbing career.

Following Master Looney (5.11a) in Summer 2004

Fast forward several months to the next spring. I am 14 and heading to Joshua Tree with other students from my high school for “Project Week” – a week before spring break where students head out to have non-academic adventures – volunteering, art, outdoor adventures, etc. I was totally psyched to be going to such a classic climbing area and, having read about trad climbing in climbing magazines, was hoping to learn to place the widgets and maybe start leading. Although leading was too much to ask for this trip, I did learn how to place nuts and cams, both for leading and building anchors. Even better, I learned a lot more crack technique and loved every bit of it. I learned to hand jam on a vertical, perfect hand crack where there was no chance to cheat by using face holds or laybacking. It was magical, after trying the non-crack climbing options, like double gaston-ing the crack, to slot my hand in, drop my thumb down, and pull on a perfect hand jam. I came back from the trip utterly in love with trad climbing.

Over the next year, I went on as many climbing trips with my high school’s Outdoor Ed program as I could manage, snagging my first trad leads on the short crags of Leavenworth, WA. I even went on the trips for the middle school students as a “student leader”. My parents would only let me go climbing when guides were around, so I took every opportunity to have them critique my gear placement and tried to absorb every trick for anchor building, multi-pitching, etc.

Leading Karate Crack (5.10a) in Summer 2004.

The spring of my sophomore year, when I was 15, found me on a climbing Project Week again, this time to iconic Smith Rock in Oregon. Although I didn’t get to lead anything on this trip, I got to toprope plenty of excellent climbs, including the classic Karate Crack, and “mock-lead” some routes to have my gear critiqued more. I was learning the critical balance between moving efficiently and pausing at length to place perfect pieces.

Learning about rope management in the North Cascades.

The next few years saw me grow even more involved in participating in and leading Outdoor Ed trips, taking every opportunity to lead trad routes that I could get. I also had the amazing opportunity to go on climbing trips organized by the Northwest Mountain School, a small guiding company owned by my good friends John and Olivia. On these trips, I had the opportunity to climb at Smith Rock (both summers) and in the North Cascades (2nd summer). John and Olivia and the rest of their guides were very encouraging and gave me tons of opportunity to lead. On our 2nd Smith Rock trip, I onsighted Moonshine Dihedral (5.9), my first onsight of the grade, and redpointed Karate Crack (5.10a), my first 5.10 lead and a route I’d been in love with since I first toproped it. Climbing in the North Cascades taught me a ton of important skills for rope management, anchor building, etc. for multipitch trad climbing and I continued to refine my crack technique on gorgeous granite cracks.

Leading at Pearly Gates in Summer 2004.

During my senior year in high school, I organized and helped lead my final Project Week trip, this time back to Joshua Tree. I lead my first J-Tree 5.9s, a big step for me since the grades there tend to be a little stiff. I spent the summer afterward teaching climbing camps for kids (I got the 4-10 year old crowd, quite a challenge) and dreaming of all the climbing I would do in college in California. I lead Index 5.9s (another step up from Joshua Tree 5.9s) including Godzilla, Princely Ambitions, and Roger’s Corner, taking advantage of the freedom my parents had finally given me (at 17 years old) to go climbing without being accompanied by guides. I dreamed of long granite trad routes, perfect sandstone splitters, lovely basalt columns – I knew college was the time when many climbers really got serious.

But I had chosen to go to the California Institute of Technology, which is not exactly a “normal” college. Over the past 4 years, my schoolwork was intense and time-consuming, taking up much of the time and energy I’d hoped to devote to climbing. Nevertheless, the myriad of climbing areas within semi-reasonable driving distance of Los Angeles and the boundless enthusiasm of Luke have helped me bring my trad climbing to a whole other level, even though my progress has seemed frustratingly slow at times.

Psyched and tired after sending Even Stevens (5.11b) in August 2006.

My freshman year at college had less climbing than I had hoped, since I was busy getting used to the whole college thing. Nevertheless, I did get the chance to visit many of the classic not-too-distant climbing areas like J-Tree, Tahquitz, and Red Rocks. I started gaining more confidence, leading some 5.10s in J-Tree and getting a reputation among the Caltech Alpine Club for my relaxed, runout leads on Red Rocks multipitch routes like Johnny Vegas (5.7) and Black Orpheus (5.10a). I was still considering the possibility of guiding (I had done a lot of youth climbing trip leadership and was WFR certified at the time), so I spent the summer “working” for my friends John and Olivia – hoping to get some guiding experience in Leavenworth, WA. Although I didn’t end up guiding any clients (I was only 18 at the time), I had a great summer of climbing in Washington, often with Luke. I lead my first 5.11s, two trad routes at Index – Thin Fingers (5.11a) and Even Stevens (5.11b), had a great trip to Washington Pass with Luke, and took my first trip to Squamish (how dreamy!). By this point, I was figuring out how to rack my cams on my harness in a way that worked best for me (I, as many others, started off leading with the cams on a gear sling, but this doesn’t work so well for “hard” trad climbs. You want ’em on the gear loops in arranged in a way that it’s easy for you to find and remove the right one.)


Redpointing the classic Scarface (5.11-) in March 2008.

The next year, Luke and I managed to travel across the country many times to see each other and climb together, although it was not a particularly great year for my progress. I got overwhelmed with school and Ultimate Frisbee. However, in the Spring of 2005, Luke graduated from college and moved out to California. My school and climbing schedule changed entirely. I began working pretty much every waking hour during the week so I’d have my weekends free to climb with Luke. And I did this for my junior and senior years of college.


So psyched after onsighting the excellent Rump Roast II (5.11) in March 2009.

Although my fitness has been far from consistent during that time, I have definitely made some major improvements. I took time off trad to go bouldering and sport climbing with Luke and I’m sure the skills I’ve gained from these have really helped me a lot. In fact, I pushed my sport climbing to harder grades than my trad climbs (just barely, 11c vs. 11b) for the first time in my career and learned how much benefit I can gain from general fitness and endurance.

Setting out on my onsight of Sunshine Dihedral (5.11d) in June 2009.

I guess I’ve just started to really notice the payoff recently, since this summer has been going really well for me, in terms of sending. In Smith Rock, I floated On the Road (5.11a) on my first try. I had remembered this climb being tricky, but I hardly noticed pulling the “crux”. Then I did my hardest send to date, Sunshine Dihedral (5.11d), which was a huge accomplishment for me. I’ve been dreaming about this route since my first trip to Smith Rock and to have come to a place where I was capable of onsighting it felt awesome. Despite the fact that my sister and I were a little less motivated to send hard in Squamish the following week,  it felt good to walk up to the crag, rack up, and climb 5.10s –  relaxing even! Sending Crime of the Century (5.11c) and onsighting Yorkshire Gripper (5.11b) on the last day, I was feeling strong, loving the widgets.

Looking back, I feel lucky to have had such great opportunities to be mentored. I think trad climbing is probably the one discipline of rock climbing where one can gain huge benefits from learning the ropes from an experienced “mentor”. I guess there may also be a certain element to trad climbing that is intuitive – jamming has always felt resonably natural to me, as has climbing between stances. Progression has been understanding that a “stance” doesn’t have to be two huge footholds – it can be a solid finger- or hand-jam, a stem, even a solid foot-jam. Furthermore, the mental space for trad leading – thinking not only about moves and rests, but also about gear placement – is not something that you would easily develop when you start climbing in a gym (which I did not). But at the same time, I really believe most of this can be picked up if you invest enough time.

Sure, trad climbing isn’t for everyone. But for me, it is the most exciting, motivating, challenging form of climbing. I’m not sure I will ever be as psyched for anything else (as you may tell from the fact that the routes on my tick list are all trad routes).

Happy Widget-Placing!

Reflecting on Smith Rock.

6 08 2009

It has been about a month since I got back from Smith Rock and thoughts beyond disappointment have started to flow. For all intensive purposes I had performed poorly on the trip despite having fun. I only managed to send one hard climb on my tick list and I neither felt strong nor was I able to maintain a good mental space in smith.

Sending the reachy Toxic.

However Smith did accomplish a big goal of getting me in shape for my successful ascent of Positive Vibrations. I have been writing up a climbing bio which made think about my strengths and weaknesses. In my first many years at Smith ( I went each May from 2002 -> 2004), I saw good bits of progress and was able to really push myself. This was not true in June, as I only finished off a climb I had gotten close to years prior. While I was able to do harder routes than I have on previous trips to Smith I did not find my self at the proverbial “next level”.

Trying not to show how scared I am at the thought of the Monkey’s Face highline

My main realization was that I really like pulling down on holds. I am not so good when the sequence is unclear or I am required to apply substantial force to footholds. While climbing granite I have gotten used to keeping weight on my feet but this did not translate so well to Smith Rock tuff. Lizzy, well versed in small footholds, had a very good trip and sent her hardest route yet. When I top roped Sunshine Dihedral it was crazy to learn how little pulling was necessary despite the high grade. Most of the time the moves were one hand barely making a lock or crimping the crack and the other hand palming against the wall to help move one of my feet up. The climb varied in steepness and some of the smears were pretty desperate. I was very happy not to fall since I expected my feet to give out at any moment. Big props to Lizzy for the lead and for believing in such footwork intensive climbing.

Standing above the void unable to go any further.

Since January, when I tore a finger tendon, my fitness has been slowly decreasing but I have managed to send many “difficult” routes by trying really hard. I have learned that mental determination can help me overcome both physical and mental issues on a climb. Putting in closer to 100% or even 110% will make the physical part of the climb possible. When I really want to send I can push through my fear and keep climbing. However when this mental drive was absent I could not rely on my strength to get me to the top of a climb.

The beautiful columns of the lower gorge.

In Smith I had a great first day and it was likely the best climbing day of the trip. I sent one of my projects, onsighted a climb on my ticklist but in all my enthusiasm tired myself out. Thinking back, I should have been pacing my self more and getting used to the climbing instead of throwing myself at the routes. Day two I had to take it easy since I had tweaked my right shoulder on a powerful gaston the day before. The sun was quite hot and really made me struggle to find climbs to do. It was hard for me not to be able to chose a project to work on for the rest of the day due to the changing shade. I attempted a few 5.12’s – Latin Lover and Take a Powder – with little success and only got to the top with much trickery via stick clip. I was not doing well with the hold size and could not easily commit to the spaced bolts.

Lizzy Starts up Pure Palm.

The morning of the 3rd day I was quite happy I was in need of rest and went on a nice run to the monkey’s face while the girls slept in. My finger skin was suffering and Lizzy was excited to do some jamming so we headed to the lower gorge that afternoon. The weather was much cooler than the previous day and we enjoyed climbing in the shade. After a warm-up my first lead was Pure Palm which I had finished a few years prior with a few hangs. I started up the holdless stem box and made good progress to the 3rd bolt. After much experimenting I took  and tried to figure out the mental and physical crux section.

Lizzy making her way up Pure Palm.

The main idea was to stem up with your feet above the last bolt and some how make it to the next couple of “holds”. I took a few falls, which helped my lead head, before backing off since I didn’t know what to do. Lizzy went next, made it up a bit higher but then fell off and lowered.  Maddy was next and figured out some crazy hand foot match beta which I tried to memorize and  she almost made it all the way to the top (which would have been a flash) but whipped on one of the final bolts. I tried again and was able to figure out slightly different beta and made it all the way to the top. This route was not at all my style but after seeing a solution I was able to commit to the scary crux. Later in the day I onsighed an amazing finger crack called Last Chance that was quite pumpy but super fun. The last route of the day was On The Road which Lizzy styled on lead and I top roped as the light faded.

Lizzy figuring out the tricky gear on the start of Sunshine Dihedral

The rest of the trip I never seemed to regain my usual power, but was happy to onsight a number of 5.11’s, including the super exposed first pitch of Monkey Space. My lead head never quite came together either and I was unable to put 100% into the climbs I tried, falling off the onsight of P2 of Monkey Space and hang dogging all over the first pitch of Astro Monkey. With three people we had to split up our time and make sure everyone got to work on their projects. Since I was not highly motivated I tried to support Lizzy and Maddy on their routes.

Over the trip Lizzy strategically worked through a few Smith 5.11’s before jumping on her onsight Project, Sunshine Dihedral. Lizzy spent the whole “send” day resting and preparing for her lead. The many days before she had tuned her  stemming and gear placements on many easier routes. I believe taking this approach to a project is key since training really works and getting used to the rock and specific body positions pays off.

Lizzy making her way up in to the crux section of Sunshine Dihedral

Despite not having climbed harder than 11b on gear and 11c on bolts Lizzy onsighted Sunshine Dihedral 11d! for her hardest route to date! As I said above the climb was stout and I was very happy to climb it on TR. Her performance was one of the best of the trip and shows how important desire and commitment are to sending hard routes!

One thing I was really excited about from Smith was how well the following photos turned out. I took the time to stick clip my way up a neighboring route and managed to get a nice angle while Maddy was climbing Latin Lover. The wall was still in the shade and the orange hue of the rock really jumped out. I am learning ever so slowly how to take better pictures and I think these are pretty cool.

If you haven’t read Lizzy’s day by day breakdown of our trip be sure to take a look.

Look in the comments of Lizzy’s send list for some of my suggested routes.