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. 🙂
  • 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 🙂

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!

Lizzy

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Sweet Gear Review: Patagonia Crosstown Backpack

17 12 2009

Although most of the sweet gear I get is for climbing or running or cycling, there is some awesome gear that I use for my during-the-week life. I know that most climbers out there are like me: we have a “normal” job during the week to help support our climbing habit on weeknights, weekends, and vacations. Many of you probably commute to work in some way, and you might even have a laptop that you commute with, like I do.

Well, if you’re looking for a great solution for organizing your stuff and transporting your laptop to and from work or school, the Patagonia Crosstown backpack is a great choice.

Patagonia Crosstown backpack. Photo from Patagonia.com

For the last many years, including my entire time at Caltech, I used a Timbuk2 bag as my school bag. Although there are some great reasons to use a Timbuk2 bag (they’re awesome, and generally very compatible with getting around by bike), they are not really the best commuting bags, in my opinion, especially if you’re carrying a laptop back and forth. The fact is that the bag is only ever on one shoulder and, well, it doesn’t feel good on your shoulder. So, when I knew I would be carrying my computer to and from the office every day at Stanford, it was time for an upgrade (my parents offered to get me a new backpack as a graduation gift).

I chose the Patagonia Crosstown backpack because it seemed to have a great combination of features, functionality, and style, and that has definitely proven to be true.

Here’s a rundown of the features I love:

  • Laptop sleeve is perfect for my 13″ laptop, and easy to get my laptop in and out even when the main compartment is pretty full.
  • Plenty of room for notebooks, textbooks, lunch, extra jacket, etc. in the main pocket, plus a little internal mesh pouch that’s perfect for my calculator and mouse.

Main compartment, showing laptop sleeve and internal mesh pouch.

  • Just the right amount of organization in the front compartment – my favorite pencil, my favorite pen, my cell phone, and my ZuneHD. Everything a girl needs 🙂  Plus room for my wallet and other small necessities.

Front organizer compartment

  • External mesh water bottle pouch. Because it’s good to stay hydrated.
  • Zippered side pouch. It fits my keys and the “coffee shop” covers for my bike shoe cleats. It is really awesome to arrive at my office or my apartment and not have to take my backpack off to access my keys. I don’t think I can ever be happy with a bag that doesn’t have this feature from now on…

Zippered side pouch (perfect for keys!)

  • The front sleeve is PERFECT for my Chaco Flips, which I wear approximately 350 days a year, including most school days. Since I wear bike shoes to ride my bike, it’s great to be able to easily throw my flip flops into my backpack.
  • Comfortable suspension. To be fair, I don’t have a very long “commute” – 5-6 minute bike ride or a ~20 minute walk – and I have a very light laptop, but I’ve taken the backpack (full of stuff) through airports, too and it’s generally very comfortable.
  • Durable fabric that does a good job of staying clean. I don’t have a rear fender on my bike, so when it’s wet, the spray from the back wheel gets on me and my backpack. But you couldn’t tell from looking at my backpack – the dirt brushes right off.
  • Environmentally friendly: the backpack is made from 100% recycled polyester (except for the lining and mesh).

Flip flop sleeve!

There are a few minor issues I’ve had with the backpack:

  • The shoulder straps have a tendency to loosen – I feel like I have to re-tighten them fairly often. This may be due to the amount of on and off I subject my backpack to – I’ve never had a problem with it loosening while I’m riding my bike.
  • The waistbelt also seems to spontaneously loosen, even though I never use it (just keep it clipped closed so it’s out the way). This could be kind of annoying if you use the waistbelt on a regular basis (I don’t).
  • It might be tricky to fit a large laptop into the pouch, although if you have a computer that big, you’re probably not carrying it to work/school every day.

So, to sum up my thoughts: this is a really great backpack, especially for my (short) commute. It has great tools for organizing my stuff, without going overboard, as it seems many backpacks do these days. And there are many really thoughtful, awesome features like the zippered side key pouch and the front (flip-flop) sleeve.

Lizzy





Cause for Celebration

15 04 2009

Things have seemed so busy recently… I think I may not have written anything on the blog since just after Indian Creek, which is probably a month ago at this point. I will hopefully have time to catch up on my backlog of activities, but here are the highlights:

I went to Hawaii with other graduating seniors and grad students during my official spring break. It was sweet to learn a bit about igneous rocks in the field – my classes tend to be heavy on theory and light on hands-on experience. Sadly, it rained almost the entire time we were there. I had been looking forward to some nice Hawaiian sun.

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sunrise on the coast

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a tongue of fresh (less than a day old – still warm!) lava

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pretty orange flower in the botanical garden

The day after we came back, I went to JTree with Luke, Julie and Josh. I caught up on my suntanning that I’d missed out on in Hawaii while everyone climbed at Hemingway, then put my saved energy to good use on Gunsmoke in the afternoon. I made my furthest link yet and pumped out in the corner because I hadn’t gone over my complicated beta beforehand. Then I was just too tired and flash pumped to recover. Maybe next time. But it felt great! The “real” crux is way easier than my short person crux!

Then, I visited Stanford. I had a great time, loved the group that I would be working with and the research I would be doing, and was excited about the Palo Alto weather, which I think I would like better than Pasadena. After stressing out for 5 days, I got the good news that I was accepted to the PhD program in the Geology Department! I’ve officially accepted the offer now, so Luke and I will be headed up to Palo Alto for the fall! We’re really excited!

And last weekend, we went to Bishop. I had my best day of bouldering ever on Saturday, sending two V3s (my 2nd and 3rd ever) and flashing a V2. One of the V3s was steep and juggy, definitely not my style, so it was cool to have sent it anyways. The other one was a problem I’d tried and loved before – Sad Parrot. I’d figured out the crux beta before and this time I had the strength to pull the move. So I guess I’m somehow bouldering stronger than I ever have before, which bodes well for our upcoming Joe’s Valley trip. But I’m also hoping I can combine this newly found power with more endurance for the ultimate goal – Smith and Squamish in June/July.

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I was stoked to be strong enough to pull off this micro pocket this time 🙂

I’m also attempting to train for a 22k trail race in Malibu on May 9th. I decided this could be a good substitute birthday challenge (1k for each year plus one bonus) and I’m hoping just to actually finish, run a good amount of uphill sections, and feel better than I did on the Montana de Oro 8k.

So now I’m busy finishing up my LAST TERM EVER at Caltech. Its crunch time now for writing my thesis, so I’m spending a lot of time working on my research (and loving it, which seems like a good sign for grad school).





Good News!

27 01 2009

This morning I awoke to a very exciting message in my email inbox – my first grad school acceptance! Long story short, I’ve been accepted into the Geology Department at UT Austin and I’m planning on visiting Austin in February to check out the town, the people, and the geology department. I’m excited and relieved to be into at least one school, especially since I had pared down my choices to only 3 schools that I felt would work well for me in terms of science and location.

Any words of wisdom about Austin while I wait to hear back from my two other schools?

~Lizzy





Seeking Balance

18 11 2008

Sometimes, I feel like I am constantly searching for balance in my life. Balance between academics, research, relationships, friendships, rock climbing, ultimate frisbee, family, free time, mental health, and physical fitness.

That’s a lot of things to balance. As a result, everything doesn’t always get its fair share of Lizzy because there’s just not enough to go around. But I just keep trying to squeeze in as much as possible, hoping that at some point, it will all pay off.

I haven’t been climbing as much as I would like recently, but somehow the small steps I’ve taken to eat better and exercise a little more (crunches before bed and commuting to school on my bike) have helped! I have made progress on Equinox the last couple times I’ve climbed it. Although I’m still pretty far from my goal of sending it, this is still pretty sweet. After all, I’m not privileged enough to live the kind of life where climbing gets to be my top priority. It’s comforting to know that I can still be successful without ignoring my other responsibilities.

Now if I could only get into the grad school I want, be lucky enough to win one of the fellowships I’ve applied for, reach some cool conclusions with my research, AND send some sweet routes during the rest of my stint in SoCal, that would be awesome.

But for now, I’m just seeking balance.

Lizzy





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.

Best,

Lizzy





Welcome Back to the Grind

30 09 2008

The wonderful thing that is summer vacation has now officially ended for me. Yesterday was the first day of class of my senior (wahoo!!!) year at the California Institute of Technology. I couldn’t be more excited for it to be my last year, even though I’m also a bit stressed out about doing everything right and hopefully getting into my grad school of choice.

Getting back into the climbing thing after almost a full month off has been a little rough. My endurance went down the drain, as did quite a bit of my newly earned confidence from all my sport climbing successes. Hopefully this coming weekend at the Owens River Gorge will help bring some of that back.

However, I’m trying hard to get back into shape (mentally and physically) because one of our major objectives for the fall/winter season is the crown jewel of J-Tree, my long lusted after objective, Equinox. This is very exciting.

In other news, Luke onsighted the Vampire at Tahquitz last weekend! (And I flailed up after him – holy crap the Bat Crack was kind of hard…) We should have a post about that soon, after I stop being too stressed out about school to actually get anything done…

Lizzy