Rock Climbing Goals: 2015

Way back when-- Me, learning the ropes at Rocky Butte (just outside of Portland, OR).
Way back when– Me, learning the ropes at Rocky Butte (just outside of Portland, OR).

Since starting at High Cascade Snowboard Camp back in 2012, I have given up the freedom of having a summer. My life was dictated by a crew of snowboard-headed managers, my time dedicated to creating an amazing atmosphere for kids young and old to be consumed by. I was consumed by it too; life becomes exceedingly small when you live, work, play (and hookup) within a bubble of 120 people for 2 1/2 months.

This is the first summer in three years that I will be the sole person responsible for dictating my plans and I couldn’t be more excited! Something I heavily neglected over the last several years have been my climbing adventures. During the months of June, July and August, I was occupied with snowboarding and snowboarding camp. In the fall and winter, Portland and the PNW becomes supremely soggy and not so great for climbing. I couldn’t afford a gym pass and so let my bouldering skills fall to the way-side.

That’s what I’m excited to change this year. I’m going to physical therapy for an old shoulder injury that has kept me from fully committing to rock climbing again and gearing up to actually get back into it again. I can afford a gym membership with my new job (yay!) and am stable in Portland once again, with friends I can count on to climb with. Because of all this, I’ve begun setting some concrete goals for me to work through before the end of the year. Since outdoor climbing is so dependent on weather (and weather in Oregon can be so fickle) I haven’t set a specific end-date, I’m merely saying, “before the end of 2015” (so most likely by November).

My goals break down something like this:

  • Climb at 5.11a on top-rope
  • Lead-climb a 5.10a
  • Consistently climb at V3- V4 level at the Circuit
  • Enter the Portland Boulder Rally in the Intermediate category (in October).

These ability-goals are based off the grades that I had previously been climbing at, though raising the bar for myself so I have a new challenge to overcome. When I was last seriously climbing, I was leading 5.9’s and climbed a 5.10b outdoors. In the gym I was climbing V3’s, most V4’s and attempting some V5’s. I know I can get back to this level and I’m looking forward to it. Another part of my goal will be recording my progress on here from successful shoulder rehab to PBR (Portland Boulder Rally). It’s going to be a great time!

I want to get my fitness back and I need to face a new challenge. I’m excited to heal my shoulder fully and get back in to the world of rock climbing, a sport that has shown me some of my greatest personal potential.

I can’t wait to share this adventure with you!

Car Crash


I got hit by a car today. It was scary. In a way I haven’t been scared in a long time- in that way where your body simeotaneosly takes over and shuts down, and nothing you can try to do or think will calm you until your body decides it’s time to be calm. 
I was at an intersection downtown. Me on a two-way street with a stop, the road in front of me a one way with no stops, running north to south. 
I stopped. I looked. I put my car in first gear and began to move forward, then- SHIT– cut right, brake hard, watch in slooow motion as the on coming car approaches my side of the car. It won’t hit. It will hit. Here it comes. Hit. Car stops moving. Hit flashers. I’m fine. Get out of car. 
Except suddenly I’m not fine, and three fireman, two witnesses and the guy who hit me are all around. I’m breathing heavy and shallow. I start to talk and realize I’m about to cry. Shit. Sit down. Someone asks if I can move my car, and I ask if he can drive stick, because I cannot get in that car right now. He obliges. 
Later that day I get a call from my insurance, where they inform me the accidet would be my fault. No. No way. That guy in the 2011 Honda was flying down 2nd, and if I hadn’t cut so hard to the right he would have nailed me directly in the drives side door. No. I am a good driver. He was speeding. He hit me. He broke a single headlight. The side of my car has a car-sized indent in it. No. 
They took a statement and are processing the claim. Nothing has been sorted yet. I’m glad I’m ok. 
Poor Stanley*.
*Stanley is my 2002 Mazda. 

I don’t know how to start this exactly.

It’s a tough subject that never seems to get any easier. I’ve felt compelled to write this down though, ever since the thoughts popped into my head two days ago. My thoughts on race; racism. I don’t think that I will, but I hope I don’t offend anyone with this. [I feel compelled to mention that, because every other second there’s someone who accidentally said something wrong on the internet when they didn’t mean to, and t haunts them forever. I don’t think this is that piece for me, but you never know..]

I was walking home and noticing how many more black people are in my new neighborhood compared to my old neighborhood. I felt separate from them as we passed each other along the sidewalk. They stood out against me, I against them. I then started wondering if this was how I felt around my friends that were black, asian, mexican, etc. No. I realized that for the most part realized their ethnic background and/or skin color had never even come up as more than a mental acknowledgement. “Yes, you do not look like me. Yes, you have a few mannerisms that are different from mine, but so do a lot of other people,” and that was about it.

I then began wondering why I was feeling such a vast gap between myself and the strangers around me in my local community. What I concluded was that we had nothing immediately in common. Maybe if I talked to them, got to know them- we’d find we had similarities. But chances are that we won’t stop to have that talk, that I’ll never know more about them than I did in that passing moment.

Within snowboarding, you know your kind. You can pick them out of a crowded bar or on a MAX train during rush hour. You know them as you pass them by on the street and no words were ever exchanged. You see it in their dress, their attitude, the way they carry themselves- it’s like a neon sign shouting, “YOU AND I ARE ALIKE ” no matter who they are or what they physically look like. This is the difference. My friends who happen to be X, Y, or Z are just that- friends that have trait X, Y, and Z; but they also snowboard. Snowboarding is what defines them and our relationship, and glosses over everything else. I’ve formed closer bonds with people that don’t speak english and live thousands of miles from me  than I have with some people I’ve had full conversations with around here. There’s something unspoken- an undertone of camaraderie, that amasses and overwhelms everything else.

I think more people should join sport. You learn a lot about yourself, about depending on others and about the fun that can be had when you share an amazing moment that you create together- that no one else can have. The rush of cutting a perfect line through fresh snow and seeing your friend follow after you or grinning stupidly at the bottom- in those moments, no ones cares what else you do. If you can ride and you love it, nothing else matters.

Commuter Combat– Surviving Public Transit

Sketch: Number 8 Bus Portland

The time is just past 5:30 and the number 8 bus is operating at max capacity. We can take no more.

The Commuter Combat Arena is packed.

Our wheels are pressed to their utmost PSI, gears creak and the steering wheel churns. Hopefully we’ll make it home, but our fate is as uncertain as the number of people exiting the bus at each stop.

At the last pause, one more warrior left our midst, and the pressure within the vehicle lifted just enough to allow another single passenger to board. The conductor rasped between coughs, “I can take one more!” The waiting pedestrians looked longingly at our vessel, choosing the single among their midst that would be allowed passage to their home. The bus eased shut the doors and pressured the accelerator. We cruised smoothly past four faces, glaring at us from under the #8 road-side post.

Perhaps next time those tired souls will be welcomed in with open doors and ushered to an uncluttered seat of their own. For now, we- the crowded crew of this bursting bus, journey on towards our abodes. We stay thankful that we are the riders- for having a promise of way home is enough for us to endure this rocky journey.

Getting Back to “Extreme”

Jenna In the Salt Flats
This ocean’s all dried up, looks like i need to go find myself a new one.

As you get older, you sometimes find yourself further away from anything you might call, “extreme;” in a complacent place you never quite remember arriving at. That’s a vague statement, I know. What i mean to say is- one day, I’m guiding rafts down rivers and kayaking class IV rapids; I’m camping out in tents and chopping wood and making weird whiskey drinks with instant lemonade– and then the next? The most adventurous thing I’ve done lately is bike to work. I haven’t done shit. I haven’t pushed myself (even when I was snowboarding in Japan last year I was taking it easy). I’ve been injured and now broke and all together a little too passive. And passive gets you no-where good, as this motivational meme will attest to.

I stumbled across this quote today. It really struck a cord with me.
Dead fish are smelly and can’t swim. I don’t want to be a dead fish.

I watched a documentary tonight that really hit this point home for me again. It’s called Desert Runners and is about several people attempting to run FOUR ULTRA MARATHONS in just ONE YEAR. I’ve never thought it possible to run A marathon, and they went ahead and packed almost 20 of them into a single year. Oh, and did I mention they were all through DESERTS?

This documentary resonated with me the same way that the book, Born to Run did. I relate with this extremism; pushing yourself along with others to the bitterest point of your endurance. These people pushed themselves to their physical limit, and as they were reaching their breaking point, a fellow racer came to them and offered support, encouragement and fresh water. I need that in my life again; not just yoga classes, or fitness boot camp. I need to overcome real danger, a real and life-threatening challenge. I remember gaining a special bond with the people I kayaked and rafted with. What we were doing was of course fun, but it also had undertones of true danger if things went awry. We had fun, played hard- and then buckled down and did everything in our power to help our co-workers when something was going wrong. We were a team and it didn’t matter who you were- if you were struggling in a real way, we weren’t going to let you go it alone. You learn a lot about yourself in those moments as well, you realize you can overcome far more than you initially thought.

My goal is regain strength in my left side and begin climbing again. I want to enter climbing competitions and do a big-wall climb. I want to sleep on the side of a cliff. As I type this I feel nervous. I’m oddly afraid of heights, and have had my fare share of “freezes” on a rock wall. But I trusted myself, my equipment and my partner, and pushed through. I know I can do it again. I’m going to master these multi pitches and come out the other side feeling on top of the world.

A Little Help From My Friends

Nothing says friendship like holding hands and standing under bridges.
Nothing says, “friendship,” quite like holding hands and standing under bridges.

I just finished reading the book, Lathe of Heaven– which I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys thoughtful, semi-realistic science fiction. The culmination of this book referenced the Beatles’ song, “With A Little Help From My Friends,” eventually allowing the character to succeed by doing just that- getting some help from their friends (I don’t think I’ve given too much away here. It’s a great book, you’ll love reading it).

The mantra of getting by with help from your friends has rung so true for me lately, specifically with car situations. Elisabeth, my roomate Lauren and I went out today to St. John’s Catherdral park for an afternoon of casual and inquisitive photography. Eventually we had to leave and hopped back into Elisabeth’s car, and just as we were crossing the St. John’s bridge, something happened. We still don’t know what, but it was something really not good.

We suddenly found ourselves unable to accelerate past 20mph, chugging along the 405-N freeway. We flicked on her flashers and plugged doggedly onward until we finally (7 miles later) landed at Jean’s house, and retrieved my car. This is where friendship jumps in to play a winning role- Jean told Elisabeth to park her car in her driveway as long as she needed (keeping it out of danger from being towed or ticketed) and my car was waiting there, so I was able to give Elisabeth a ride back home and not leave her stranded in Portland indefinitely0 but not before buying her a drink at Rontoms and sharing the crazy story of our afternoon with a friendly bartender (thanks Bret!).

It got me thinking about how important having friends you can rely on is. Friends that care how your day is going, friends that want to cheer you up when smething bad happens. Acquaintences and casual friends are interested in keeping company with you, but they’re not the ones who will stick their necks out for you, or go out of their way to help you when you’re struggling. Those are the kinds of friendships that you nuture and cherish, because if they aren’t looking out for you, who will? I have the tendency to want to be best friends with everyone, but that just isn’t realistic (or possible, really). What I’ve learned is that you need to find those friends you resonate with, those friends that enjoy your company and person as much as you enjoy theirs, and stick with it. Be friends with as many people as you want, but be sure to invest the majority of your energy enjoying those select few people. Those are the ones that will drive across the river to help you find your car when you can’t remember where you parked it. Those are the friends that will lend you a few hundred dollars to get your car repaired when you’re between paychecks. Those are the friends that will drive you the half-hour outside of town so you can get home OK and those are the kinds of friends that care if you don’t like how your latest crush treated you or that you’re really excited about your new haircut. You need those people and they need you.

Namaste.

Lifelong Fitness- A Path That’s Hard to Stay On

Being an athlete means a lot of things.

Surprisingly, when you are an athlete, you sometimes take these things for granted. I know I did (and still do). Persistence, determination, and the pig-headed stubbornness that keeps you going back for more after you beat your body to it’s limit.

This is a good and bad trait to have. It keeps you working at things that most other people woul give up on, but it also means you can accidentally push yourself past the point you should– potentially injuring yourself because you couldn’t deal with giving up.

That’s where I’m at.

I’ve had several injuries that I’ve denied acknowledgement for YEARS now, and they stubbornly haven’t gone away. Finally, I turned to a sports physical therapist(the regular PT’s are not so great- I’ll probably end up writing another post about that later this month) and have begun accepting and dealing with this injury. I was really excited to get exercises and stretches that would improve the strength and mobility of my arm! Things were looking up, I wouldn’t be a cripple at 45. But then I asked about climbing. My sports PT fixed me a look that said, “are you fucking kidding me?” and told me I DEFINITELY should not get back into climbing right now. “You can’t stabilize your arm while raised, you should NOT go climbing.” Well. That’s rather straight-forward.

The funny thing about this was I still want to go climbing. I hear what she’s saying, I understand it and I get why it would be dumb and counter-productive for me to get back into climbing. But that’s what I want  to do, and when I want to do something like that (and the only thing stopping me is someone saying I shouldn’t) it’s hard for me to keep from doing it. I won’t this time though. I’m going to stay the course and heal myself before I get into the next thing.