There are a lot of “unspoken” rules to climbing, some of which are so subtle that they take years to learn. Because of these non-overt rules there is this kind of “mean girl” humor about newb’s amongst climbers. I know we are all guilty of doing this at some point. I always feel bad though when I see a climber, who is clearly new to the sport, doing something really silly or obnoxious. Maybe its because I was a newb once too, or because I was nerdy in middle school and people made fun of me, or maybe its because I am a social worker and have a genuine concern for the well being of others. Regardless, I think, as bad ass climber chicks, we need to take it upon ourselves to help teach new climbers the things they need to know, rather than making fun of them behind their backs because they don’t know better. Oh, and by the way, here is some information on the “official” difference between noob and newb:

The top 10 things you should know if you are a new climber, aka: “newb”

1. Don’t boulder with your harness on. Also, you don’t need to load your harness up with gear to go climb at the gym. You don’t need a full rack of trad gear on your harness to sport climb a 5.9.

newb style, she looks strong though

bouldering newb style, she’s got some muscle though

2. Distracted belaying is dangerous belaying. Don’t interrupt someone who is belaying. Saying “hi” to your long lost sorority sister can wait until their climbing partner is safely on the ground.

3. Don’t ask people how hard they can climb, watch them and if they are climbing around your grade, join them.

4. Don’t brag and don’t give beta (the way to do the problem), unless someone specifically asks for help or you are climbing together. You can say “Want beta?”

5. The first thing you should buy is your own climbing shoes…nothing yells NEWB like wearing a pair of gym shoes with socks Oh, and please DO NOT dare wearing Vibram Five Fingers to climb in.


newb bouldering in a harness and Five Fingers

icky gym shoes

icky gym shoes with socks

6. Don’t think you know everything, actually don’t think you know anything. Just because you took a belay class at the gym last week doesn’t mean you know jack shit about climbing. Learning about climbing takes time, open mindedness, practice and responsibility.

7. If you don’t know something, ask, you are responsible for your safety. nothing makes you look stupider than falling 40 feet because you clipped the auto belay into your chalk bag

8. LISTEN to the Enormocast (or other climbing podcasts), READ climbing blogs, WATCH climbing videos, GET ON Mountain Project.

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9. Wear appropriate climbing attire…if you are not sure what that means, click on the picture below.

10. Be open minded to the suggestions of other climbers and do not take it negatively if someone offers you advice…it could save your life.

Have fun and don’t forget to finish your 8 knot!!


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.

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!!!!

Put A Lid On It: Some Thoughts On Helmets In Sport Climbing


By: Justin Roth
Source: The Stone Mind
Photo: Sheila Estaniel as taken by Mariam Gevorkian

A certain professional rock climber said to me during an interview years ago, “Wearing a helmet in the mountains is ridiculous, like wearing a condom during sex.” I found his analogy to be problematic on several levels, but I’ve since met a lot of otherwise intelligent climbers who hold similarly confounding views when it comes to helmets. From comfort to fashion to the belief that crag X or climbing style Y are “safe,” the reasons we leave our protection at home rarely make good sense.

Most of us won’t climb routes without a rope because free soloing lies on the wrong side of our risk/reward threshold. Likewise, few of us drive sans seat belt or mountain bike without a helmet. So why the resistance to helmets at the crag when we routinely see them in skate parks and terrain parks, in the Tour De France and in kayaking competitions — when they require so little effort to employ and we know they work?

I can only take it to mean that sport climbers believe what they’re doing is relatively safe. Compared to alpine climbing, with its many objective hazards, I guess that’s accurate, but as anyone who works in the climbing industry can tell you, “safe” isn’t a word you can rightly throw around in regards to climbing. Even if you’re clipping bolts at a convenient little roadside crag, there’s no way around it: falling through space with only a thin nylon cord to catch you entails undeniable hazard.

Climbing isn’t shuffleboard, after all, and that’s precisely the point. The added spice of risk is at least a part of why we climb. But the cost of a lightweight, comfortable helmet is so low, and the degree of suffering such helmets can help prevent is so high, that whoever thinks it’s not worth wearing one just isn’t doing the math. Hang out with a person who’s suffered a traumatic brain injury and then tell me you don’t want to wear a helmet because it doesn’t look cool. Read more