climbing

Smith Rock Classic: Spiderman Buttress

smith rockSmith RockFirst pitch of Spiderman ButtressSecond pitch of Spiderman Buttress
No denying that Smith Rock is a very special place. Whether you’re there to get spanked by its stiff routes or hang on some softer classics, you’re in for a real treat. All climbers must go to Smith Rock to be humbled. As you walk through the canyon, you hear the echoing of grunts and screams from full grown men and women as they fall to their last piece. Shades of yellow, brown, red, orange and pink paint the rock walls. In early October, the sun can still leave you heat stroked and desperate for a tree, but you won’t find shade unless you retreat to the trail. Smith is truly a magical place for climbers.

My husband and I have been to Smith countless times. Each trip has led us to different quests and different routes. The most memorable of trips was the day we climbed a very popular, but nonetheless classic route, Spiderman Buttress. I don’t care what the too-cool-for-5.7’s climbers say, this route is fan-freakin-tastic!

To get there, you have to climb over Asterisk Pass onto the back side of Smith. This side is great because on a clear day you can see Three Sisters, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Jefferson among many other peaks. If you’re lucky there won’t be twelve groups of climbers waiting at the bottom. The belay area is practically a four star hotel, so you can relax and enjoy the dry sauna. I know, I know, you’re still hung up on the fact that it’s rated so low. You’ll forget about all of that once you’re on the second pitch because you’ll have a shit eating grin on your face from all the fun you’re having. The first pitch is probably the most difficult but nothing you can’t handle. The second pitch has everything! Exposure, smooth moves and a roof! Roofs are so fun! This one is particularily awesome, so don’t be scurrred! The last pitch is an easy jaunt up and tada! Have a seat and watch the climbers on Monkey Face as they slowly and painfully move up their 5.14C.

Here’s the thing, don’t be a party pooper. Chasing grades is all fine and well, but if you get caught up in your own ego’s master plan of achieving epicness, you’ll miss out on a huge part of climbing. There’s a time and place to dominate a route and “tick” off all of those 5.12’s so you can tell your bros at the gym how yolked you are. Just don’t forget, climbing is about having fun too. Besides, you can do the softer grades and say “I soloed that barefoot.”

The Memo You Didn’t Get

Breaking news! When you have a child, everything will change. Climbing, skiing, mountaineering, backpacking and hiking; all of those things you love so much will be put on hold. Obviously my husband and I did not get the memo that reads as follows:

“Dear expecting parents,

Awe, that’s sweet, you decided to make a baby. Good for you! You know what’s even sweeter? You think you’ll be doing all of the fun things you love so dearly within a few weeks. Sure, sure, drop baby off at grandmas while you hit the slopes. Life as you know it will stay pretty much the same, just with a sweet little angel floating around you. WRONG. I am here to inform you that everything will be different and for the first few months it will be hard as hell and even though it’s the peak of climbing season, you’re done. Oh, and forget about all those other fun things you like to do and your relationship. That is all.

Sincerely,

The people with the memo that you never got”

Before you start questioning the love we have for our child, hear me out. Let’s just start from the understanding that we love Baby C more and more every day. Our hearts feel like they could explode they’re so full. That said, I’d like to confront society for not explaining well enough how difficult the adjustment from single to parent life is. There are no books that tell you about the things my husband and I went through. Sure, sleeping, breast feeding, etc., that’s all difficult too, but I’m not talking about the physical aspects of parenting. I’m talking straight up emotional funeral; the severe sense of mourning your old life. Not in a regretful way, but in a surprised this all happened this way but we thought it would happen that way. You don’t realize how much time you have to yourself until you don’t have it anymore. At a moments notice we’d grab our rope bag and head off to the mountains. That’s just not possible anymore. That freedom is gone, for now at least. It’s no longer just the two of you and if you’re lucky enough to have a partner that’s also your best friend, this is devastating on its own. While a baby enriches your life and gives you such a humbling perspective, theres also the understanding that your wife is not just yours anymore. She’s his too and you have to share, oh and the sharing is 80/20 baby dominates. I don’t think most people want to admit these things in fear of being perceived as a bad parent. Let me tell you right now, you’re not. These feelings are valid and while you may feel sad about it sometimes, as you sink into the mold of being a parent, everything gets easier. Soon you won’t remember a time before your baby came into the picture. You’ll only know carrying an extra twenty five pounds on a backpacking trip or walking away from finishing a boulder project without a second thought because baby needs you. Eventually, it all feels normal again, I promise. If you find yourself feeling down, simply explain to your baby the importance of excellent crevasse rescue skills and poof! You’ll instantly feel better. By the time Baby C is three, I swear he’ll know the in’s and out’s of three pulley system just as well as he knows Elmo’s Song.
Consider this that memo I never got.

Baby In A Garbage Can

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Garbage cans are extremely versatile. Not only can you put garbage in them, you can also bathe your ten month old baby in them. Camping is quite the ordeal with a baby and if you have a child like mine, you will do anything to keep in line with their routine. If you stray from the norm, baby will have multiple meltdowns and you will suffer the wrath of an adorably horrific monster.

Bath time is number two in the series of five regimented tasks before bedtime. They are all necessary in inducing sleep and giving Baby C the queue’s he needs in order to know “ohhhhh, I get it. You want me to go to sleep now.” Without bath time, you might as well welcome the apocalypse in because Baby C will reign fury upon you.

Obviously the anticipation is killing you now and you’re just beside yourself with anxiety. Wait no more! I will divulge my garbage bath secrets!

First, clean your garbage can out. Second, heat up yellowish-brown pumped water at the campsite. Third, fill up the garbage can. Fourth, put baby in garbage can. Fifth, take pictures of baby bottom smooshed against garbage can. Sixth, watch baby enjoy the hell out of himself!

That’s it. Your baby is now clean and he can move onto step three in the series of five.

Infinite Bliss: Climbing Two Months Postpartum

Just two months after giving birth or as I like to refer to it, “massacre on my lady parts for eight hours,” I told my husband I wanted to climb the first ten pitches of Infinite Bliss. Located on Mt. Garfield’s western peak, 23 pitches, climbing roughly 2600 feet. It’s the longest sport route in North America and it is quite impressive looking. Two months postpartum, 1300 feet and ten pitches, noooo problem. Before I get into anymore details regarding the climb let me describe to you what two months postpartum means.

So you just had a baby eight weeks ago. Emotional chaos aside, your body is straight up wacky. I don’t mean wacky like, funny clown juggling cakes while riding a electronic bull. I’m talking sack of skin hanging from your stomach that used to house a seven pound human. I’m talking you haven’t slept in two months and your breasts are swollen to the size of healthy cantaloupes, not to mention leaking all over you (yes, I was fearful of attracting bears). To top it off, despite climbing and running into my 38th week of pregnancy, my physical fitness and endurance was nonexistent. Sack of skin, extra weight, full boobs and no endurance; a delicious recipe for an unsuccessful attempt at climbing Infinite Bliss.

Before we hit the approach trail, not once did all of those things mentioned above come to mind. The hike up is reasonably short but fairly steep. This should have been my que that maybe this was too much too soon. At the base of the climb, you can’t help but be captivated by the rugged scenery. Towering behind you is a massive vertical wall and in front is a stunning range of densley forested peaks. It doesn’t get any better than this. The first ten pitches are very easy and most people simulclimb them. Because we were just looking for a leisurely first climb, we chose to leap frog it. Our first mistake was getting a late start and forgetting that the climbing is quick but the rappelling is slow. By the time we got eight pitches in, it was three in the afternoon and there was a brand new baby waiting impatiently for us over an hour away. We decided to make the rapel down and head home. Once we reached the base of the climb, we met two climbers heading up. They told us they were doing all 23 pitches today, at four in the afternoon. Ha! Hope you brought your headlamps for the hours of night time rappelling!

I don’t want to downplay this trip. I realized I had serious limits. My body was hurting and it was desperately trying to tell me but my ego told it to “suck it!” I paid. Oh, I paid big time. Listening to your body is so important. I wanted so badly to climb a long route as soon as possible to satisfy my pride, but instead, I received a serious dose of postpartum reality. My husband wished we wouldn’t have gone, but in hindsight it was the perfect smack down I needed.

Infinite Bliss is still on my list, but this time, it’s all twenty three pitches! Now the only thing stopping me is a reliable babysitter…

Put Your Kid In A Backpack

It’s not easy hauling a baby in a backpack for ten miles, or skiing down a mountain with a six month old straddled to your back. Shit, nothing about having a baby is easy. When my husband and I first found out about our son, we thought “this little creature can’t stop us, we’ll be summiting mountains just a few short months after he’s born!” Ha. Ha. Ha. It’s been nearly two years since our sweet, defenseless, and extremely precious son has entered the world and boy were we wrong. Im not talking, “whoops , I thought you said ‘squash the midgets’ not ‘wash the dishes,'”more like, donkey punch to the face wrong (My husband says that means something sexual but I much prefer an actual donkey punching you in the face with his hooves). Our worlds have turned upside down and while we begged for mercy in the first year (also known as the year of unrelenting sleep deprivation), we have evolved into “those people with the baby.” It’s true, we leave a pile of food smashed on the floor at restaurants, I whip out my boobs in public, and we’re always late, ALWAYS. The only difference between us, and the other baggy eyed servants swimming in a pile of regurgitated food at the restaurant, is our nagging desire to go on an adventure.

Going to the grocery store is a big deal with your child. I’d go so far as to call it an “outing.” Going on a ten mile backpacking trip or rock climbing in leavenworth (you’ll hear a lot about this place in future posts) is a huge deal. It goes beyond “outing” status and into “serious shit” mode. Things to consider before talking your baby/toddler into the great outdoors:

– Who’s going to carry the seemingly weightless feather and how?

– Who’s  going to carry all of the other crap, such as; diapers, wipes, food, extra clothing, lovey bear, favorite book, water bottle, sound machine, crib, bouncy chair, coloring book, etc.

– Naps. Are you a victim to your child’s nap schedule? Don’t you dare mess it up! Keep with the schedule or there will be hell to pay!

-How much energy do you want to exert because you won’t be sleeping for longer than two hours at a time when you get home because someone is still waking you up to play at 11, 1, 3 AM

-Your baby will gets filthy and there’s nothing you can do about it

There are so many considerations before you walk out the door. No more, “Let’s go for a quick trip to the Exits! Grab the harnesses and let’s go!” Yet, we still pursue our hobbies. I have to warn you, being adventurous with your baby doesn’t just entail preparation, it also confronts a whole other set of issues that my husband and I had not anticipated…

Haters. They are everywhere. You can identify them by the following attributes: stink eye, horizontal head shaking with duck lips puckered, incoherent whispers, and if it’s a woman, she’s typically got on a pair of Jordashe jeans, venti cookies and cream starbucks cup and her kid on a leash. But really, haters are all around you. They will be judging and they will be ready to share their opinion with you, given the right moment. On our second climbing trip for the season, my son was one month old. There were three of us so that one person could be with Baby C at all times. The landings were flat and climbing was easy. It was the perfect climbing trip to bring our little rug rat too. Of course someone just had to whisper in a non whispering voice “why the hell would you bring your new baby out here?” Instinctually, I wanted to ripoff my clothes, roll around in mud, carve a spear out of a tree limb and pounce on the man as if he were the last piece of meat before winter. For those of you who know me, don’t worry, I didn’t.  You see, he was a hater. It is inevitable you will come across them, but it’s up to you to remember that whatever judgements they project onto you, it’s their own shit. It’s not about you and if you take it too seriously, you lose. So chill out, smell the evergreens  and do some extra squats because that weightless feather really feels like a big fat sack of blubber on your back.

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