On being injured…

Wow…this sucks. I just started this blog and now I have no cool experiences to write about because I didn’t listen to my body and I strained my flexor tendon my left hand. This past few weeks have been rough. Labor Day weekend I had big plans to go up to Yosemite and spend the night on dinner ledge and do some trad climbing with Taleen (I even got new trad shoes, which I was super excited about writing a review for).

Breaking in my new trad shoes at Stoney Point

Breaking in my new trad shoes at Stoney Point

T and her friend Annie stuffing their faces on dinner ledge in Yosemite

T and her friend Annie stuffing their faces on dinner ledge in Yosemite

The Rim Fire was slowly being contained and we were going to risk it and go but, Justin got a cold and we decided not to go. We got lucky because just a few hours later, the smoke from the fire blew into the valley and Taleen ended up going to Fresno for the weekend because the air quality was so bad (and now she has a lovely hacking cough).

rim fire

Taleen’s own shot of the smoke from the Yosemite Rim Fire

Anyway, everywhere else was humid and disgustingly hot, so Justin and I decided to go up to Black Mountain with Nicole and Morgan for some bouldering, with plans of conquering Traitor Horn in Tahquitz the next day. On our first bouldering problem, Justin hurt his finger and swore off climbing for the rest of the weekend. I pushed myself, but not too hard, hoping Justin’s finger would feel better and we would still go to Tahquitz.

Morgan, Nicole and Justin as the sun sets on the boulders of Black Mountain

Morgan, Nicole and Justin as the sun sets on the boulders of Black Mountain

When we woke up in the morning, his finger was still hurting and it was probably better we didn’t go to Tahquitz because thunderstorms rolled in. When we left Black Mountain, my left hand was hurting; but my ring finger has kind of been in a general state of dull pain ever since jamming it last year while hosting basketball club for the kids I work with; so I didn’t think too much of.

On Beethoven Wall at Stoney

On Beethoven Wall at Stoney

I had a really busy week at work the following week (ughhhhh…work), so I kind of took it easy except for throwing in a quick 11a and 12b without warming up while at the gym with my cousins. Not a good idea, but my hand felt fine.

Climbing Cousins (Me with Gracie, Blythie and Teddi)

Climbing Cousins (Me with Gracie, Blythie and Teddi)

While at work on Monday, I noticed that if I pinched my thumb and pointer finger together I felt a kind of soreness in my hand extending from my ring finger. I was overly excited to climb though, since I had basically taken a week off and they had just set some new bouldering problems at the gym, so, I decided to climb anyway. I sent a V1, V2, V3, and got on a tricky 4 without beta and misused a finger pocket with my left ring and pinky fingers. I fell off and noticed a slight pain in my hand but I moved on to another couple of problems, after which, my hand started to hurt pretty badly and began to swell up a little bit. I was devastated, thinking in the moment, how badly I wanted to keep climbing and send all the new routes that had just been put up. And as the week wore on and the swelling slowly went down, I became more and more depressed…thinking awful thoughts to myself like: I’ll never climb again, I’ll have to make new friends, I’ll lose too much strength and will only be able to climb V0 for the rest of my life if I ever do climb again, what am I going to do with all this free time? Ben can attest to all of this.

loser
Well, for now I am just going to let my hand heal and once it feels better I will slowly start climbing again…I just have to remind myself that people recover from much worse injuries all the time and that my climbing friends will still like me and my other friends will be happy to spend time with me. I am hiking all this weekend and I have plans to go backpacking next weekend…so all is not lost…maybe I will even pick up yoga 🙂

Thank you Arielle (most awesome sister ever) for scoring me these!!!!

Thank you Arielle (most awesome sister ever) for scoring me these!!!!

The Official Jewish New Year Post

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“The Bong” at Joshua Tree

By: Emily Weinstein

L’shanah tovah, fellow Bad Ass Climber Chicks! The sun has just set on what 99.8% of the world knows as September 4, 2013, but what Jewish people know as the first moment of the year 5774.

I personally did not know any of those numerical facts without Googling them, for though my last name is Weinstein, which is essentially a synonym for “Jew,” and though my blood is 100% Jewish, if you’re into that sort of thing–i.e., “racial purity,” which, I am always quick to point out, a guy named Hitler also was.

The Jews are sometimes referred to as “the tribe. ” I am not that deeply immersed in what is sometimes called “the tribe.” In fact, it wasn’t until I started climbing–while literally wandering the desert, which Jews have been known to do–that I found what I truly believe is my one true tribe. I speak not of the Jews, whom I expect comprise slightly more than 0.02% of this Facebook group, but of the climbers, who comprise 100% of this Facebook group.
We are some of the women of that tribe. Our numbers are comparatively small, though not as small as the Jews’. And our tribe, the climbing tribe, has much in common with the tribe whose New Year dawns, paradoxically, at sunset.

We are a tribal people. We are nomadic. We gather around fires. We observe rituals. We know one another by common dress and language. When we want to lay with someone, we invite them to our cave, or cave-shaped tent, or car. Or literally, a cave. We know of caves. This thing is primitive.

Both tribes have a history of being chased by people in uniform, and we have both spent time in the desert. That’s about where the similarities end.

Being a Jewish climber can be hard, because Jewish parents worry even more than other kinds of parents. This is because Jews worry even more than other kinds of people. But climbing can help with that, because climbing helps with worrying. Maybe not your parents’ worrying, but your own.

I met the woman who assigned me to write this post during the New Year of the solar calendar. She climbs much harder than I do. She photographed my very first lead. Now that I think of it, I have pulled all the roofs I have attempted in her presence, because she pulls all roofs. Now that I think of it, we have spent, in total, just a few days together in life. We have known one another, in total, for less than a year. But I expect to see her for many years to come, in places near and far, and I trust her with my life. Such is the nature of tribalism, of both the Jews and the climbers.

As fall begins, as the year 5774 begins, let us take this opportunity to make another set of New Year’s resolutions for the rest of the 2013 climbing season, or the start of the 5774 climbing season. I will start:

I resolve not to back down from trad leads I can cruise on a toprope, because cruising something on a toprope does not provide the same hormonal high as leading it, and as John Long says, “toproping is great practice for climbing.” I resolve not to forget my headlamp. I resolve to bring calorically adequate snacks for climbing buddies who may be larger than I. I resolve not to approach in Chacos. I resolve to hangdog less when toproping, and lower off. I resolve not to tell my mother when I’m going climbing, so she does not text me anxiously to see if I am still alive when my phone is dead and I am drunk in a national park.

Is there something women-specific to be said in this women-specific forum? If so, it is this: I have found a very good sports bra, and I am not a woman who tolerates sports bras, though once, I was a woman without a tribe. Here is the sports bra:


If you are a Jewish woman with stereotypically large boobs, this bra may be too small. But if you have been climbing a lot and used to have bigger boobs but have now become strangely rangy, then you will take a large. And if you are not sure what size you are, just call the company. A very nice man in Boulder, Colorado will discuss the size of your breasts and how exactly  you like them to be cupped or compressed with you in a non-creepy way, and guide you to the right size, though being a Bad Ass Climber Chick, you could of course get there on your own.

I will close with the words of my non-Jewish friend’s very non-Jewish grandmother, spoken at her 95th birthday, to her progeny, shortly before she died: “You all seem like very attractive people. As far as I know, none of you has ever been arrested. I am proud to be associated with you.”

I lied. I will close with the words of my own 92-year-old Jewish grandmother, spoken from the bed where she lays dying, or living, hard to tell which. “Be careful, Emily zys, (sweet Emily), don’t hurt your beautiful self.” But when she was young, she also said, “I wasn’t born just to die.” Between these grandiose, Jewish statements, we live, and we climb.

L’chaim, Bad Ass Climber Chicks! It is a New Year! To life!
I am proud to be associated with you.

Things you need to be a badass climber chick:

The Very Basics

  • You will need a pair of climbing shoes. Some popular beginner shoes are:

Evolv Electra

electra

La Sportiva Mythos (these are so cute I would seriously consider wearing them as a regular shoe)

mythosJust know that the cheaper the shoe, typically, the faster it wears out. Just to compare these two brands, Evolv has some AMAZING shoes that are priced very reasonably, however, because of softer rubber and synthetic materials, they tend to wear out pretty quickly (and get really smelly). La Sportiva on the other hand, uses much harder rubber and leather, so they can last for a long time, but you will find yourself spending much more.

RUBBER: a soft rubber (like TRAX, used on Evolv) will be stickier on the rock but will wear down faster and a harder rubber (like Vibram, used on La Sportiva) will last longer but not give you as much friction on the rock.

SIZING: sizing is very important and there is a bit to consider when choosing the right size. You want your shoes to be tight but you don’t want them to crush your toes and you should be able to walk around in them for a few minutes without excruciating pain. (Once you are climbing a little harder you will be ready with choosing a shoe with a little more pain, and therefore a little more gain in grade). CONSIDER: a synthetic shoe (Evolv) will not stretch much, but a leather shoe (La Sportiva) will likely stretch more than you would guess. So, for leather shoes size down a bit more. If you want to buy a shoe online, my advice would be to try it on in a store first or make sure you can return it for another size.

  • You do NOT need a chalk bag and chalk. My advice: don’t use chalk because you think you have to because everyone else uses it. If your hands aren’t sweaty when you climb then you don’t need to use chalk. The more you use it, the more you depend on it, kinda like crack. I didn’t start using chalk until I was climbing 10b/c
  • GET a head lamp. You never know when you might get stuck on a climb that you started at dusk and have to clean and rap down in pitch black. Better to be safe than sorry

headlamp

  • Have some type of day pack or backpack to carry your shoes/gear/food/water/warm clothes.

If you want to rope climb you need:

  • A harness, typically Black Diamond is a good place to start and they make female harnesses

harness

  • A belay device and a locking carabiner: An ATC from Black Diamond is a good start. They are simple to use, cheap and can be used to rappel when cleaning routes. If you think you might get into multi pitch climbing you might want to consider spending more to get a guide ATC which will allow you to use it as an auto locking belay device from an anchor. If you have lots of money to spend get a GriGri. I am kind of against them because I think they can potentially minimize an opportunity to learn how to use an ATC properly (which is a much needed skill in climbing), however, they are very safe(as long as you use them properly) and can save your climbers life in the event that something happens to the belayer.
click to buy

gri gri

guide atc

guide atc

  • GET a friend with rope, draws, cams, anchor building shit. If you are just beginning, wait to purchase this type of gear until you are familiar with it and know what your preferences are.

If you want to boulder you need:

  • A friend with a crash pad/or a crash pad of your own. You can really get any kind to start with. Often times you can get a MadRock pad for $50 at an REI gear sale or on Craigslist. Usually, the cheaper the pad, the heavier, smaller or less shock absorbing it is. If you want to spend more money, you can get a nice big pad, or one with cool add on’s like zippered pouches for guide books and stuff.

crash pad

If you are camping at the crag you need:

  • A backpacking sleeping bag, or at least something warmer than a “girl scout” bag. I have The North Face 15 degree down Blue Kazoo bag that I got at a REI gear sale for $80 (thanks Kevin Wong) and I ❤ it! I prefer a down bag over synthetic but that’s a whole nother debate.

blue-kazoo-ASKA_42F_hero

  • A sleeping pad. I used to have a fancy one that you blow air into. It was kind of bulky and heavy and I was always worried about using it directly on the ground because I didn’t want it to pop or get muddy. It started leaking air and then I lost it wandering around Wonderland in Joshua Tree on New Years so I got a cheap foam thermarest (the cheapest one you can get) so I wouldn’t have to worry about it popping or leaking air. It is very light and I don’t have an issue with it being uncomfortable, it actually keeps me warmer than the nicer one I had.

thermarest

  • A friend with a tent/or your own. I prefer a light weight two person tent. That way you can use it for backpacking, it is small and compact and easy to set up. Also smaller tents are much warmer.

Other things you might want to consider getting but you don’t NEED:

  • some type of camping/backpacking stove if you want hot food or water
  • a camping chair/you can also use a crash pad for this
  • tape or you can always steal some from your friends
  • a light weight down jacket that you can stuff in your backpack and bring everywhere with you.

Echo Cliffs in August: An Evolv Cruizers Review

I decided to finally get myself a pair of approach shoes (I am considering it a late birthday present to myself)! The Evolv Cruizers are probably the flimsiest approach shoe you can get, however, they are light weight, extremely comfortable AND (most importantly) aesthetically appealing (I’m seriously considering wearing them to work, as any REAL badass climber chick would). Now, I had never worn an approach shoe before, so I had no sense of how AWESOME the first approach in them would be. Here’s an idea:

Me: Erik, I need help, this is too steep, I am going to slip, put out your haaaand!!!!!!!

Erik: Dude, you are wearing approach shoes (keeps hands at side).

Me: (slowly creeping down the questionable rock) Woah!!! I’m not slipping!!!! I’m like a lizard!!!!

I then proceeded to clean an EZ route on Easy Street while wearing the Cruizer’s, and enjoyed the least painful climb of my life.

Evolv Cruiser's in Slate

Evolv Cruiser’s in Slate (Click on the pic for a link to the website)

So, all in all, approach shoes are pretty awesome and the Cruizer’s are comfy and cute. What else could a badass climber chick ask for?

Technical Love

If you are a new climber, you have gotten all kinds of questionable bodily configurations yelled at you from the ground. Often times you don’t listen (you really don’t) and keep struggling to get the move with your own clumsy beta. That was me once. Now, I beg my climbing friends for technical beta. I love technique. I love learning a new technique that I never even thought to try before. At first it feels awkward and I don’t know how to use my body to accomplish the move, but, as time goes on it makes more sense it and I incorporate it into my climbing without even realizing it. When think back to the basics like backstepping and flagging, I can’t believe how far I have come because those movements come to me so naturally now. The climbing techniques  on this menu appear along with their definitions, examples of where you might use them, and a video demonstration.

Flag (ex. The Crack at Stoney Point).

Flagging is used purely for balance. You are flagging when you stick your foot and leg out in one direction or another but don’t put it on anything. Think of it like a pendulum. If you need to go out left, flag your left foot to the right and visa versa. Flagging is often used when there are no good foot holds for one foot or if something is overhung or reachey.

Watch how I get my left foot up high and flag my right foot  to the left when I go for that reachy move with my right hand at the beginning.

You know you are a bad ass climber chick if:

  • you don’t mind the look of chipped nail polish  and you won’t let the lady at the nail salon touch your calluses

IMG_4850

  • there is spilled chalk that you haven’t had the chance to clean up in some area of your home or car
  • all of your leggings have holes in the butt
  • your friends ask you why your car smells like feet
  • you spend more money on Patagonia, La Sportiva and Prana than you do on C&C California, Michael Kors, or Prada.

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  • people wonder what kind of relationship you are in because of the bruises all over your legs and cuts on your hands
  • you aren’t shy when it comes to talking about poop
  • it’s hard find a guy because you “only date climbers”
  • you don’t have to watch what you eat, carbs = power
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Nom face on Cat in the Hat in Red Rocks, Nevada

  • people introduce you as a “professional” rock climber (even though you only climb V3, shhhhh, they don’t know what that means)
  • if you run out of toilet paper or tampons at home you always have extra in your climbing pack
  • you have seriously considered wearing hiking pants, sports bras, approach shoes, etc. to work
  • you have to size up your tops, jackets and dresses because otherwise you can’t get them over your shoulders without them ripping

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  • your sister thinks you are “granola”
  • you don’t care if he has a job as long as he can climb V8 or ascend 13s. The girl version of beer goggles!
  • Taking two trips to carry groceries from your car is not an option. You hang a bag from each finger and consider it training
  • you are planning on naming your future child or pet: Grigri, Crimp, Beta, Sharma, Sierra Nevada, Purcell Prusik, Buttermilk, Whitney Portal, or some other insane climbing term or destination

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  • your life evolves around your next climbing trip