I grew up in Durango, Colorado, surrounded by amazing access to the outdoors and living around amazing athletes. (I have childhood memories of Ned Ovverund working on cars for my father for a few years.) My mother is the toughest person I know, and my father is the definition of tenacity. My husband makes me laugh harder than anyone, and my brother has always been my athletic inspiration.
Over the years I have grown to believe that the more fun we are having when we are enjoying our bodies and enjoying other people, the better we perform. I grew up on skis and was a gymnast as a child. I love to telemark on moguls and in powder, and I have been a backcountry ranger in the San Juan Mountains in the Weminuche Wilderness. I like to trail run with Pippet the Wippet and Marvin the Marvel (my two dogs), and I will go mushroom hunting this fall. All that said, however, my passion right now is rock climbing.
I really started climbing about ten years ago when I got a teaching job in Rifle, Colorado, and couldn’t find anything to do. (Imagine my pride when I finally reached my first set of chains in that canyon!) Since those days, I have continued to be fascinated with the sport: sandstone, welded tuft, basalt, limestone, granite, conglomerate—you name it, I want to climb on it.
I thought I was pretty much a “rope climber” up until a couple of years ago when I began to see the fun in bouldering. We could say my climbing aesthetic is such that I am hopelessly infatuated with the gymnastic purity in the movement of sport climbing and bouldering. I have decided bouldering is the close inspection and study of movement. It is technique distilled. It’s like taking the crux of your rope project and placing it under a microscope for the close inspection of details in a given series of moves.
Generally speaking, I spend my winters bouldering, and I spend the summers on ropes. Although I have a distinct respect for the guts and brains of trad climbers, and I occasionally get talked into a trip to Indian Creek, and I love knocking around on rock in the mountains, I will probably never be a true trad climber. I am not closed minded to it, but have not yet been bitten by the trad bug….
I climb some days during the week in the gym to stay fit, especially during the winter. It forces me to take a break from grading papers (I teach English at the Community College in Santa Fe, New Mexico). To be more precise, if it’s cold outside and I am teaching school, I spend three or so days a week in the gym, while hopefully getting outside on the weekends. During the summer, I spend less time indoors and more outside because my schedule allows it.
Most of my bouldering projects fall into the range of V6 or V7 with an occasional ego bludgeoning on something harder—or easier—to remind myself of where I actually am on the suck-o-meter. On ropes, I could give myself airs and say that I am a 5.12 climber, but then there’s always a 5.10 somewhere that scares the crap out of me…so who knows what I actually climb on ropes. This leads me to feel that grades are extremely subjective and can be a very fickle metric for “ability”… whatever that means. Grades can be polluted by gross sandbagging or shameless softening, so I have come to value simply taking joy in the art of climbing and the study of the moves themselves.
Give me a thinky, technical climb, no matter what the grade, and I will be hooked. I will drop knee, do the splits, hang sideways and upside down, crimp, side pull, and heel hook my way to the top. I will do the dynamic move if I absolutely have to, and celebrate when I actually execute true dynamism because this style of climbing is not my default. I’m too picky and stuffy for that kind of fight all the time. (Which is too bad since I am 5’1” with a negative ape index; it would be in my best interest if I could loosen up and become exceptional at flying through the air. Oh, well.)
I battle with perfectionism, I am always coming up with new theories about what makes a good climber, and I am learning to embrace failure as part of my sport. I like tiny sharp crimps, take joy in monos, curse slopers, and love every miserable second of anything related to climbing.