whether the weather

I find myself constantly checking the weather.

The first few years of my climbing career, Brian and I climbed outside every weekend regardless of weather; nevertheless, we checked the forecast multiple times daily between weekends just to know what we were in-for. A fifty-percent chance of rain could mean that there was a fifty-fifty chance for any rain at all, or it could mean that it would definitely rain for fifty percent of the day. And you would think that if there was only a twenty-percent chance for precipitation, it should be safe to be outside. Often though the sky would dump tons of rain on those days. There was also the rare zero-percent chance-for-rain-days when a thunderstorm of Old Testament proportions would arrive. So even when we did check the forecast, the weather remained unpredictable, and we would have no idea what was going to happen. By far the worst thing to happen though, was when we would decide to stay home because of a high chance of terrible weather and end up missing perfect weather and climbing conditions. That has happened more times than I care to remember and leaves a lingering feeling of total human failure in my gut.

After about five years of climbing together almost every weekend, Brian and I started getting sick of the unpredictable weather at the New River Gorge, when it rained whether it was forecast to or not, or was so hot that the otherwise dry rock would be sweating: even if we could find dry routes to climb, we’d still getting soaked from precipitation or perspiration while we hiked and camped. Our stuff would get wet and never dry. We kept going though. At that point in our young lives, it was better than staying at home and cleaning the house. Or maybe it was just a compulsion we were unable to thwart. It was the only way we knew how to be.

For a while, climbing seasons meant fall, spring, summer. Winter in Western PA and West Virginia meant taking a breather from climbing outside, though on some nice days we would still try to get on real rock, frozen fingers and toes be damned. As the years went by, climbing seasons became more than weather and temperature, more than fall, winter, spring, and summer. Whole chapters of life became a different climbing season. When you stick with something for more than say, seven to ten years, you begin to notice your life becoming organized in this way. Seasons of life can be even more wild and unpredictable than the weather without a way to check the forecast. Seasons of life can interrupt your climbing career for more than just a weekend here or there. But the thing I realized at some point was that in one season, you might not climb very much, but when that season is over, you can look forward to being immersed in it once more.

So far, I have not lost climbing to Real Life seasons: not to pregnancy, not to life with a newborn, not to injury, not to having a sick parent or child. These times in my life just became a time of climbing inside: climbing with new and different purpose, climbing for sanity, climbing for rehabilitation and healing. And these seasons of only climbing inside taught me something else. They taught me that I love climbing no matter what, no matter when, and mostly, no matter where. If I have to climb inside for the rest of my life, so be it. Climbing is as important to me as eating or breathing.

Climbing seasons began to change all the time once we had kids in the mix. The Season of Newborns: we were too afraid to take them outside when they were so tiny, and we thought they would instantly die or be grabbed out of our arms by giant mosquitoes. The Season of Toddlers: we took them outside knowing we would have to manage temper tantrums when naps couldn’t be had, and we wondered if we were crazy for even trying. We always had to find friends who were willing to join us; and thus, there were always people to witness the mess of our family.

The Season of Big Kids was bliss while it lasted. We climbed outside a lot during this season. We chose to homeschool, in part so we could travel and climb any time of the year. So while the happy parents climbed and took turns hovering around them to fend off danger and wild beasts in places like Hueco Tanks, TX, Maple Canyon, UT, and the New River Gorge, WV, the kids played in the dirt, immersing themselves in microbial wild beasts. They loved going outside. They loved camping. They were always game to go somewhere and hang on a rope.

Then came the Season of the Tween. It was a season that seemed to come way too early when our oldest turned nine. Should he really be getting an attitude that young? This was the season when our strong-willed kiddo hated climbing and thought it was stupid. It was a season of forced This-Is-What-We-Do-As-A-Family! climbing. It was a season of Who-Could-Hate-This-Sport!?– You’re-Crazy! climbing. It was almost a season to end all seasons of climbing outside forever for all of us. It was a season of great turmoil.

The Season of the Teen, as anyone could have predicted, did not change the conflict of interest but did increase in difficulty. There was weeping and crying out, “Why?!?” The teenager went to highschool and the freedom of homeschooling both of our kids ended and climbing outside whenever we wanted was over. The teenager became involved with a water sport (possibly the furthest thing from climbing there is) and is happy to step foot in the climbing gym once every two months if that. Ironically, he is still happy to demand we buy him new climbing shoes as he grows. Traveling to climb is out of the question most of the year.

Rightly so, this has also become known as the Season of the Renegade: Nobody wants to climb?! Fine! I will go by myself! I wake up at five am on a Saturday to drive four hours to the New River Gorge and climb with friends who do want to climb. I climb all day and drive home happy and exhausted and sore and hungry and get home at eleven pm. I eat M n Ms and drink Coke so I don’t fall asleep at the wheel. I feel hardcore. This scenario has happened 4-5 times. I have taken my younger son with me a couple of them. I have encouraged my husband to go on his own renegade climbing trips with others. With secret tears and deep heart sadness that our family no longer climbs together, this may actually be sustainable.

The next season I imagine for myself and my husband will be The Season of the Empty Nesters. This could be a resurgence of The Newlywed Season when we were always away from home climbing somewhere. Climbing is a sort of glue that will keep Brian and I together and happy in Middle Age and Old Age. We will sneak away to climb somewhere out West— maybe somewhere we have never even taken the kids!– and be gone for weeks on end. Our muscled arms will have wrinkly and saggy skin dangling off of them. We will look half our age. We will again have a reason to check the weather even though we already always do that anyway.

Too far!

A mom and her young kids just walked past the house. The kids were on scooters and the mom was walking with them. One of the kids got a little bit too far away from her so she called him back, “That’s too far!”

Yesterday Seb started driving. My young boy is now 16 and two inches taller than me and allowed to operate motor vehicles that have the potential power to maim and kill if not used properly. My sixteen year old got in the car yesterday after getting his learner’s permit and just started driving around town, to get home, to pick up his brother, with other cars surrounding him and all the rules to follow. For the next six months he will be required to have one of us, his parents (or possibly another consenting adult), sitting in the passenger seat telling him what to do, reminding him of the minutiae of things to be constantly thinking about as he drives: where are you going, which lane should you be in, use your blinker, slow down (!), pay attention to what the cars are doing in front of you, pay attention to the signs, don’t hit any cars, don’t kill anyone! Seb already knows a lot of the rules because of the mini test he had to take to get his permit. He knows all the rules intellectually that we just have internalized and mostly ignore now. He quotes them while he drives. I have to remind myself that he doesn’t want to hit anything either. Currently, he wants to follow the rules and do the right things.

So we sit in the passenger seat and tell him and he responds with, “I know!” We tell him where to turn, how to get places. But soon enough, even before the six months is up, he’s not going to need us to tell him what to do every five seconds, or where to go. He’s going to know, and he’s just going to drive. Maybe the only thing that there will be left for us to remind him of is to slow down!

Just slow down a little sooner at the stop sign, at the red light. Just slow down a little earlier because I still have that fear that you are going to hit somebody even though I know you don’t want to hit somebody and probably won’t. Just slow down because you are not an expert yet. Slow down and drive the speed limit because you are a teenage boy, and I know all you want to do is to go fast, and if you get caught, “the powers that be” will happily relieve you of your driving privileges. They don’t trust you either.

But in six months or so, sometime in December, there is going to come a time when he gets his actual license and is going to be allowed to drive without a parent or other consenting adult in the car, and we’re going to have to trust him with his own life and the life of others every time he gets in the car and drives away from us. And we won’t be able to holler after him, “That’s too far! Wait up!”


Six months before my 100 year old grandmother died, she stopped wanting to eat. She didn’t stop eating. She still ate. She grew up in an orphanage in Poland, and there was a certain duty around eating and cleaning and making beds.

She stopped wanting to eat.

Working from home, my whole routine revolves around eating. I am consumed by thoughts of food. I want to eat all the time. At 8:00a, I can have my breakfast smoothie. At 10:00a, I can have some chocolate. At 12:00p, I can eat lunch. And so on and so forth. In retaliation, this Lenten season I fasted. I wanted to think about Jesus’ words that we do not live by bread alone, but on the word of God. I fasted parts of days, skipping a meal. Once in a while, I fasted for a whole day.

Fasting for 24 hours is hard. When I think about food while in a fast, I want to lean into it and fully experience the discomfort. I want to dwell on what it might be like to be hungry long term. When hungry for a few hours, I’m tired, I can’t think well, I’m crabby. What happens to a young child who is always hungry but expected to learn? What happens to an adult who is always hungry but expected to work? I hope ruminating on being hungry changes how I consume food. I hope it will change my habit of eating for entertainment— every day cannot be a feast day.

As the end of Lent approached, I began to think of the joy of resurrection and that I will see my grandmother again someday. I allowed myself to think about the menu for the party we will attend after church early Easter morning. The celebration of Life over Death should be a feast of food, drink, and fellowship. The feast teaches us to hope for a time when all will be fed and satisfied.

It’s been a long time…

Almost three years of life have remained undocumented here! I will now attempt to get back to it and turn this into… something. A place where I write stuff, share life experiences. Our anklebiters are now teenagers, and life with teenagers is much different than life with babies, or toddlers, or big kids. I don’t even know if they’ll let me share anything about them anymore.

Also, I’m planning to finally publish my book that I started years ago, and I hope this blog will become a place I can share that walk too… and maybe a way to market myself and said book. Eek. I don’t even like the way that sounds. Publishing a book requires the author to put themselves OUT THERE. I’m beginning to look at book proposal templates, and my heart rate is up and skipping. I’m intimidated, and a voice in my head is telling me that there is no way I can pull this off. And then I read in the book proposal template (thanks, wordmelon.com), and it literally says in there, if you don’t think you can do this, you won’t be able to convince a publisher that you can do it either. Damn. So first I have to work on changing that voice in my head and gain a little confidence in myself. This blog may be a good place to start.

living the dream 2009-2016

seven years and at least eight road trips have passed. in the moment of a double take, while i turned, blinked and then quickly looked back, so much time has gone by in those short years. the 3 year old baby is well into his 10th year. the 6 year old big kid is going on 13, a big kid on the slow transformation to an adult. it seems like we were just at the AAA in east liberty, getting the title of the 2001 red vw eurovan weekender transferred into our names. we were giddy with excitement at the road that lay open wide before us with this purchase. a dream all wrapped up in one pop-top van. this vehicle was going to be our only car, our every day transporter to things around the city, and our weekend transporter to our other life, our climbing life. oh the road trips we could take! we had barely owned the van before we began planning life around it. the kids couldn’t wait to romp around the pop up. this eurovan was the perfect purchase for us. absolutely perfect. it was just a vehicle, yes, but it also became our symbol of the good life.

it’s hard to try to sum up these past 7 years. i can list all the big road trips: 2009 denver, colorado; 2010 hueco tanks, el paso, texas; 2011 6 week tour of the u.s. from pittsburgh to hueco to tucson, arizona to santa cruz, california, to salt lake city, utah to denver, colorado and back home; 2012 maple canyon and salt lake city in utah; 2013, steamboat springs, colorado and heuco tanks; 2014, hueco tanks; 2015 hueco tanks. and there were some other trips to connecticut and philadelphia and florida. but what’s hard is conveying in this short post what these trips meant to us. how we were challenged and how we grew as a family. the really amazing take your breath away good moments and the punch you in the gut hard moments when you just wish you were back home. all the stuff we got to see! we had birthdays on the road. the boys lost teeth on the road. we made new friends on the road. we made old friendships better. the van got us to every destination. she only broke down when we were home, around pittsburgh.

we aren’t going to remember only the road trips in the van though. there is also the every day around-home memories too. the van took us to back and forth to the hospital every day for 2 weeks when oren fractured his skull in 2009.  giving friends rides to places around town. moving furniture. sitting in the van for two hours on the coldest night of a very cold winter waiting for a tow on washington blvd the time the alternator belt broke. looking out into a sea of cars in a parking lot and being able to spot the van poking her head up above every other vehicle. driving to the pool in the summer. driving to the ice skating rink in the winter. driving to soccer. piling bikes in with the kids and driving to the bmx track. driving, just driving the van. i loved driving that van.

we had a rough 2015 with the van and as a family. the van started breaking down in small ways a lot. i don’t want to go into the litany of all the things that went wrong. but it was really starting to wear on us, especially brian who was the one to get her to a mechanic and have to figure out how to get to work around it. the last half of 2015, we drove my dad’s jeep about as much as we drove the van. for whatever reason, 2015 was also sadly devoid of camping and climbing–the things that reminded us of why we really loved this vehicle, why we spent so much time fixing it. and things were tense in our family with a tween in the mix. it was like the dream was falling apart.  things just didn’t fit right anymore. it seemed like we were forcing it too much and failing. we didn’t want to admit it, but we were outgrowing the van.

the last trip to hueco we took began to convince us. although the van had a newly rebuilt transmission, it would go into safe mode randomly here and there. this meant that it wouldn’t shift out of second gear and the engine had to be turned off to “cool down.” the first time this happened was in dallas, texas when we were already over a twelve hundred miles away from home. so for the whole trip, in the back of our minds, we were worried we might not get home without some serious trouble and maybe a long distance tow. it was too stressful. it tainted the whole trip. but the last nail in the coffin came back home. it was christmas eve. there had been some noise in the front end for a while, but now it was really, really loud. so loud that people would turn and look and not because the van was so cute. but on our way to church that night it got really, really, really loud. embarrassingly loud, and it seemed like the van was losing power. brian drove the van home that night, but it barely made it. the alternator was broken. and so were we. we had to get rid of it. it was time to buy a new car.

today, saturday, april 9, 2016, almost exactly 7 years to the day, the van’s new owner drove her away from our house. it has been months since we have driven her more than a few blocks. she sat out back in the alley, her top peeking over the back fence at us. we sold her on ebay to a man from new york with two boys. he has friends who are vw westy folks, and so the van goes to a good home, to people who appreciate her charm and will care for her well. i am writing this little piece as a sort of eulogy to her–not because the van died. i really thought up to last year that we would drive her into the ground, that we’d be her last owners. but she’s gone on to possibly bigger and better things. this is a eulogy to her, but also to what our life was with her. things are changing for us. our family is changing and our needs are different. the dream has to change too. so i’m saying goodbye to all that for now, at least to how it’s been until now. we aren’t a family of little boys anymore. and it seems we have less time to gallivant around the country to the next climbing destination. it’s not that the dream is over, it’s just changing. now we need to figure out how to live the dream in this new phase of life.  and with a different vehicle set up, one that doesn’t feel so perfect. and it’s hard, for me at least. it’s hard to say goodbye.

there is water running down our street.

when brian and i bought our house in may of 2004, we had a healthy fear of being homeowners, being responsible for an entire, free-standing building with electric, water, sewer and other utilities that were to become OURS. or maybe the fear wasn’t healthy enough. for the past almost 12 years, we have avoided any of the emergencies that we have been afraid of: fire, exploding water heater with lots of water damage, sewer back-ups, freezing or breaking pipes with lots of water damage, and i don’t know what other nightmares danced in our brains when we would contemplate home ownership in the deep dark of the early morning hours. we have had some big things come up like a roof  being replaced, and a bathroom and kitchen being redone, but nothing emergent–nothing completely out of our control. i think we were kind of lulled into a false state of homeowner’s bliss. but this week, we have been properly disillusioned, and it’s possible that we may have truly reached home ownership maturity. this week the water line to our house broke.

sunday morning before church there was  a noise–under the house? out in the street? under someone else’s house?–and the floor in the living room vibrated a little bit. the kids were alarmed. i was sure there was work being done outside somewhere on our street and it was probably nothing to be worried about. until i went in the kitchen to rinse out the smoothie-splattered vitamix carafe. the water didn’t turn on. hmmmm, so maybe the noise was from under our house. nah. probably the water company doing work somewhere in our neighborhood. it’ll be back on by the time we get home from church.

i was soon to learn that any work that involved the water authority is very unlikely to be done on a sunday morning, or maybe at all. but i digress. sunday was a mess of waiting around… for plumbers to diagnose the problem. unfortunately when the plumber who responded to our urgent call went to the basement to see if the problem was at the point where city water comes into the house, he was almost electrocuted because of a faulty neutral electrical line coming into the house.

so sunday became waiting around for duquesne light, our electric company to come fix it. thankfully, DL responded promptly, and the electrician not only fixed the neutral line, but all lines going into our house since they were being held together with electrical tape. (they had been like this for almost 12 years or longer?!?) that done, the plumber returned and tried to find the valve box where you can turn off the water coming in from the city at the street.  the water needed to be turned off in the street so that he could open the pipe in our house to see if it was blocked. if the water wasn’t turned off, it would just spray in all over our basement. well, the valve box was not to be found. and here is when we started to deal with Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority.

so sunday became a day of waiting for PWSA. and monday, and tues, and wednesday, and thursday, and today….. don’t get me wrong. they came. not sunday, but they have been at our house every day this week. they have come long enough to mark where the valve box should be one day. they came another day to fine find the valve box and dig it up. and the other days have been a fiasco of them trying to turn the water off. thursday morning the water started to pour out of the sidewalk and down the street. and so it still is, more than 24 hours later. dom costa (our PA representative)’s office has become a liason for us. and our plumber has a friend at PWSA who is trying to find out their plan.

there is still water running down our street.

meanwhile, i can’t really complain. i mean, i guess i am complaining a little bit. i’m not at home, and i’d really like to be. we are staying at my parents’ house, and while this is the most comfortable place to be if we can’t be in our own home, it is not our own home so we’re not sleeping really well. we’re all feeling a little edgy and frantic. how long can this go on? til a warm day?

and then today i read on the news about a water main break in a different part of the city. cars are under water. there is a big sink hole. hundreds of people are without water too. and maybe tomorrow and who knows for how long. so if that’s where PWSA is right now, if all their workers are trying to put a lid on that problem, i think i can convince myself it’s okay to wait. i can hang out here at my parents’ house for a while longer. and pray that those hundreds of people who are also without water have somewhere just as lovely to go to wait until their water gets turned back on.

yes, there is water running down our street, but i’ll just sit around here, warm and dry as the snow begins to fall, and be thankful that i’m not stranded out in the cold. and that there are three toilets close by that flush at the mere touch of a handle.

first things at forty

i turned 40 mid-november of last year. just a few weeks ago, really. brian threw me a lovely, low key, small party with a few of my  very loved and close friends from pittsburgh (just so those of you from out of town know you were missed! and if you are here, and didn’t get invited, it’s all brian’s fault). and it was at a wine bar.

this is the first party brian has thrown for me in all my years with him. though, i think once or twice before, he finagled casual gatherings for drinks.

soon after my birthday, we left for hueco tanks to rock climb, which some of you might be sick of hearing about (BUT I’M NOT TIRED OF WRITING ABOUT IT). anyway, while in hueco, i sent my first V8. a stout grade! the hardest i have ever climbed! a first and a best.

another first is happening today, and is truly what prompted me writing this quickie. today, for the first time in my life, i’m making lasagna. i gradually have been coming into a more domestic time in my life, taking on baking and cooking meals with pleasure instead of dread. i usually do a pretty good job following a recipe for the first time, even complicated ones since i like to dabble in grain-free baking. and i make my own yogurt, for crying out loud. i’m not done with the lasagna yet, so i have no idea if it will turn out well. but here is the recipe, and it is not a toy. yum.

so far, 40 is looking just fine.

thoughts at the beginning of a new year

january, a very bleak month indeed, is beginning to wind down. february is lurking somewhere, behind the cloudy, cloudy skies and frigid temps. what it will bring, i don’t know. probably more of the same dreary and cold days with occasional snow. or maybe we’ll be able to sense the days getting longer finally. maybe we’ll have more than one sunny day during the whole of the month.

the winter weather makes me listless, as it does every year–i complain about it like a broken record. the boys and i are back in the swing of school though, catching back up after our long absence. our days are spent huddled with our books in front of the fireplace, reading about cyrus the great or figuring equations or writing down sentences containing the week’s spelling words. we are content with this, mostly. the kids still would rather fill their days just playing. history and science really grab their imaginations, but not enough for them to refuse legos for story of the world. sometimes i wish this would change. but, come to think of it, i’m not always choosing to renew my mind over sitting with the internet in my lap or a show on the t.v. i’m trying to change that about myself, but only because as an adult, i can see how it would benefit my life, make it richer, fulfill a part of me that simply longs to know stuff. the boys will get there.

since our return from hueco, i have also found it very difficult to get back into my uber healthy lifestyle of eating really well, cutting down on sugar and alcohol a lot, and exercising a good many days each week. the holidays, of course, killed the healthy eating/drinking (or not drinking). though i think a person ought to enjoy a short period of gluttony here and there, and i certainly worked for it training from august to november and then being out climbing for almost an entire month, it’s hard to get back on track. i completed a 7 day cleanse that didn’t rid me of my sweet tooth, and i’m still struggling, but i’m back under control.

running has fallen by the wayside this year. i have given it up completely for now. last year at this time brian and i were in the throes of training for a long trail race. we considered doing it again this year, but brian found a new spark for climbing, so we decided to focus any training on that sport. i’m actually relieved. going out for runs had become extraordinarily forced with no feeling of reward at the finish. now i just (silently) mock the people i see out running in the horrible yet classic winter we have been having. suckers. when the weather gets warmer and it doesn’t seem like it’s either dusk or dark all day long, maybe i’ll take it up again.

climbing has even been hard to get back into. there are a few reasonable reasons for this:

one) the aug-nov training period was very intense, and i was doing some sort of workout 5-6 days a week, sometimes 2 times a day (i know, crazy, right? but i can’t say enough how well it worked and got me strong). i think i have it in my head that i have to jump right back into that training mode. which leads me to…

two) the spring climbing season (for outside adventures) is a somewhat far off. realistically, we won’t be climbing outdoors until maybe sometime in april, but more likely may. i just don’t have the motivation (another trip or a climb that i want to do in the area that i need to get strong for) yet. the local climbing gym certainly isn’t inspirational. i need to be content with just normalcy at the moment, a normal amount of climbing.

i have made one big-ish change recently (like, 3 days ago) that i hope will stick and help me out with this discontented preoccupation: getting up earlier (not too early) in the mornings to exercise first thing. i’m hoping this will help me be more consistent–nothing like waiting until 4p to exercise, knowing i have to start making dinner by 5p. i usually just give it up and say i’ll do it tomorrow. then the same cycle begins again. if i get it done in the morning, i won’t be dwelling, scheming, planning the rest of the day to try and get it done. i want exercise and climbing and stuff to be in my life, but i don’t want them to run it. i want to leave room for the renewing of my mind, remember?

i don’t really have a reason for this post except that i wanted to write. so here is a kind of happy-new-year-looking-toward-the-future type of post i guess. happy new year!


the christmas tree is lopsided

but what are you going to do when you get home from a long trip in the wee hours of the morning of december 18? it was dec 22 before we went out to get a tree and fancied the house up with the usual decorations and some new lights on the porch. pure white lights. not cool white, which shine purple, or warm, which shine… well, warm, like candles. i like white lights, but i swear there are way too many choices! the pure white is still kind of chilly to me. i’d like to gaze at our house and be wrapped in thoughts of hot chocolate and wood burning in the fireplace, not  shiny icicles. but again, your choices are severely reduced when you hit target for lights less than 2 weeks before christmas. i’ll have to remember that next year.

yes, we have already begun to think about next year. in fact, i was thinking about next year, and another trip to hueco on the drive home. we hadn’t even left the state of texas yet before i was putting together a new tick list for thanksgiving 2014. but before i head in that direction, let’s talk about the end of this trip. if you followed us on instagram, you saw that from dec 9-12 we hung out in tuscon, az, with our friends paul and april. it was good to have a rest after climbing so many days, and hiking and hiking and hiking, and trying to get to the office at the right time in the morning to get our reservations for north mountain or hit the trail to east spur before the crowds started filtering in. we had rest from our vacation right in the middle of our vacation! how often do you get a chance to do that?

thurs, dec 12 (oren’s b’day) we headed back to hueco for 3 last days of climbing. we had some problems we hadn’t ticked off at east spur and on north mountain, and a tour to the main part of east mountain where we hadn’t yet been to. friday morning we headed out on an east spur/east mtn tour so i could finish up that hi pro glow, a burly v6 on the purina wall. we “warmed up” on some freezing bottom-of-the-barrel climbs in the shade where it felt like it was still in the 30s. one was a fun, slightly painful v3 called solitary snake. on to hi pro glow which was also a bit shady. the kids and a couple of the parents could hang out in the sun a ways away while i put my time in in the cold darkness. i was worried at first that i wouldn’t get to the top because i kept falling off the beginning moves. i think my shoe rubber was too cold and wasn’t sticking to anything. but all the trying hard and falling off finally warmed up my muscles, and i topped that climb out. not bad for working on it less than 2 hours total. brian had a bad day since he didn’t have any specific climbs he wanted to get on except jingus bells, a slightly scary v5; but at the end of the day, he pulled out an exciting  flash of belly of the beast v7. and april ALMOST sent super classic better eat your wheaties (so close!) v8, her current proj and one of the coolest climbs in the park. so we could all walk back to the campground in celebration mode, which meant birthday cake (oren turned 8!) and bourbon and maybe some climbing movies.

saturday was our east mountain day. i had high expectations for this tour. maybe i shouldn’t have let it go until so late in the trip. i had a tick list for this area of 3 problems v5-v6-v7. for me to send all these in a day was sort of a pipe dream. but it being so late in the trip and my second day of climbing in a row, it would have taken a miracle for me to do all three. we were getting so tired. needless to say, i didn’t do all 3. hobbit in a blender (v5) took me ALL DAY instead of 1-2 tries like i was envisioning. i got nearly to the top of this tricky rock climb 5 times before i stuck the last big move and finally topped it out. ridiculous. but it was exciting when i did it after so may tries! brian did the other two problems on my tick list without any trouble, back to back, ides of march and hector in a blender. next year…  (now you can see why i’m already projecting to next time, right? things left undone. i hate that.) april also sent hobbit in a blender, and once again, we all walked back to the campground in celebration mode.

sunday was our last day of climbing. we would be leaving in the afternoon to start our long drive back to the burgh. i had one problem on north mountain that i had tried earlier in the trip and hadn’t sent yet. mexican chicken v6: a roof problem with a spicy finish. this climb is not at all my style, and the ending is the kind of ending i typically have trouble with: pulling a roof and making a long move with my foot super high. awkward. i was hopeful because the second day i worked on it, i was able put it all together except the last two moves. i thought that after a nice long rest in tuscon, i would come back fresh and ready and strong. (too bad resting in tuscon had a lot to do with eating birthday cake, chocolate and drinking wine.) i didn’t intend to save it until my 3rd day on of climbing though. i got to the end and into the last moves of mexican chicken 3 times, but i just couldn’t pull it off. my hands were like claws… claws that didn’t really open or close anymore, useless, useless claws. time to go home. a bitter sweet ending to our trip. things left undone. i hate that! no i don’t. i love it– i’m saving it til next time. (brian had a good last day with a send of mcbain v8 and a crazy looking v5 that i can’t remember the name of. i think we even got video of both.)

so here is my tick list for hueco 2013 (i am forgetting a couple of the not-so-memorable climbs):

  • v2 ostracizer
  • v3 el burro
  • v3 solitary snake
  • v3 skimmer
  • v4 b flat
  • v5 hobbit in a blender
  • v5 meat maker
  • v6 that hi pro glow
  • v6 see sharp
  • v6 see spot run
  • v8 s.a.d.

not a bad list! i wasn’t expecting one so long. i definitely wasn’t expecting to send s.a.d. or see spot! my training certainly paid off.

2014’s tick list is a little longer and has some stout problems on it, some of which are “in my dreams” kind of climbs. for what it’s worth, here’s the list (it’s what is going to motivate me and focus my training all year):

  • v3 squeeze me tender
  • v4 bloody flapper
  • v4 t-bone shuffle
  • v4 the fin
  • v4 try hard
  • v5 jingus bells
  • v5 animal acts
  • v6 mexican chicken
  • v6 ides of march
  • v7 belly of the beast
  • v7 big iron on his hip
  • v7 hector in a blender
  • v7 new religion
  • v8 better eat your wheaties
  • v8 mr. serious

and so, we may end up with a crooked tree again this coming christmas if we make this trek to hueco again in december. it’s so very much worth it though. happy 2014!

(we do intend to put some pics of the trip, and maybe some videos up on the main page soon.)

what do you do…

when the sun won’t come out, the wind is blowing, the temps are in the 30s and the campground electricity and water go out? go climbing until your kids can’t feel their toes, huddle in the van with the engine idling, cook out in the cold, eat with 9 other people in your friends’ van, try to sleep with the whole family on the bottom bed because you can’t keep the pop-top up, wake up to sunshine in the morning, turn the van back on, hike around to find the closest pit toilet, gather your kids and your things, and go out climbing again.

then get out of there and go somewhere else! tucson, here we come!