“It Makes More Sense to Live in the Present Tense.”

Crusher Alli Rainey works Last Man Standing, 5.13a, Wild Iris, Wyoming © Louis Arvevalo

Crusher Alli Rainey works Last Man Standing, 5.13a, Wild Iris, Wyoming © Louis Arvevalo

Green grass, blue skies, 60°F on the rock, tank tops, camping, climbing and focus.

The nearest springtime rock-climbing destination for me is Lander, Wyoming.

Pale-orange walls, greasy and reachy warm-ups, sharp pockets, throes of weekend warriors sending their projects, families with dogs and babies, “crushers” climbing the big routes around the corner, waking yellow-jackets, and tiny yellow bitterbrush flowers.

The crag is alive with people and their plans below the steep walls and amongst the blooms.

And, I exist in the middle of all the colorful noisiness. I’m tuned into all the going-ons, the chaos, the distractions.

I’m a mountain guide so my situational awareness knob is turned up to ten. I forecast events and outcomes as I absorb the variable inputs and outputs of the system around me.

It’s a key skill to fit all the pieces together to make a big climb or long ski-tour work: How are we doing on time? Is the weather holding? Who’s getting tired? Are we on the right route? Is that the right ridge?

But when I’m sport climbing, I have to remind myself to dial the knob back.

“It makes more sense to live in the present tense” is a quote from the band Pearl Jam.

When I’m sport climbing only the rock right in front of me matters. Not Time. Not impending rain.

I need to block out the chatter, let go of thoughts and focus on my next move.

Because, if I am right here, right now, in the present tense, then I can make that next pocket!

Happy Climbing everyone!

How to Buy a Rope?

Angela Hawse, co-owner Chicks Climbing and Skiing climbing at Cascade Canyon with a Sterling Evolution Helix bicolour 9.5mm © Randy Gaetano

Angela Hawse, co-owner Chicks Climbing and Skiing climbing at Cascade Canyon with a Sterling Evolution Helix bicolour 9.5mm © Randy Gaetano

Buying a rope is one of the more complicated decisions you will make when it comes to climbing gear. To help you decide, I’ve put together my two cents on the top things to consider when it comes to making a rope purchase.

1) What Diameter?

For single-pitch climbing I recommend a 9.8mm.

A thicker diameter rope is more durable and has increased abrasion and cutting resistance. A 9.8 mm will take the abuse of high-volume, single pitch climbing and hold up better if the rock where you climb is sharp.

For multi-pitch climbing you’ll want something skinnier like 9.2mm. Whether you’re leading or belaying, you’ll appreciate less weight hanging from your harness.

2) What Length?

The industry standard climbing rope length is 60 meters, just shy of 200 feet.

If the climbs are longer, like in the Ouray Ice Park, I recommend 70 meters (232 feet).

Lately, I’ve found it’s convenient to have an 80m rope. 80 meters often eliminates the need for 2 ropes on a multi-pitch descent.

3) What Features?

A bi-pattern is great for multi-pitch climbing. It saves tons of time and energy when you know where the middle of the rope is.

Dry treatments prevent ropes from absorbing moisture.

A wet rope is less strong, heavy and can freeze stiff.

I highly recommend splurging for a dry treatment if you’re an ice climber or you live in a wet place like the Pacific Northwest or the wild woods of the East coast.

4) Still not sure?

Get started with Sterling’s Evolution Velocity (9.8mm, 60m). The Velocity is a great first rope for mainly single pitch cragging. It’s also a great workhorse for top roping.

Go a little skinnier with the Sterling Evolution Helix (9.5mm, 60m or 70m) for a great all around rope on both single and multi-pitch.

Go big with the Sterling Evolution Aero (9.2mm, 70m or 80m, bi-pattern). This will be your “sending’ rope and it will get you up and down most multi-pitch climbs.

5) Add a rope bag to your shopping cart to keep that new cord of yours in tiptop condition over its lifetime!

Safety Memo: Keep It Tight!

Dawn Glanc demonstrates how to safely clean an anchor. "Be sure to double-check yourself anytime you move from one system to the next."

Dawn Glanc demonstrates how to safely clean an anchor. “Be sure to double-check yourself anytime you move from one system to the next.”

We care about you.

Please keep it tight!

It’s easy to feel over-eager on your first few rock-climbing outings of the season. Stoke could obscure the fact that you are rusty. Over the winter, your skills and finger strength may have faded.

Here are five reminders for a safe and excellent rock-climbing season:

Perform a Quick Belay Test

If you and your partner are new to climbing together, be sure they will belay you as you like. No one outside at the crag is checking for belay cards or competency. It is up to you to be sure your belayer can do their job.

Share your Plan

If you plan to “clean” the anchor, have a conversation with your belayer about your intentions before leaving the ground. Be sure the plan and the commands are clear to avoid any problems.

Limit Chatter

When climbing action is happening, limit your conversation. Unnecessary dialogue may confuse a situation. Be respectful that constant yammering can be very distracting to others.

Double-Check

ALWAYS double-check your systems. Have a systematic way of moving from one system to the next. I recommend keeping the first system weighted and clipped until you have visual confirmation that the new system is in place. Once you have confirmed the new system, then detach from the old. Most importantly, don’t rush!

Review on the Ground

If you have any questions about a skill, be sure to review all the relevant information on the ground. Dangling 100 feet up in the air is no time to ask for clarity.

Thin Skin Thick Skin

Zim's Crack Creme is fingertip bliss

Fingertip Bliss!

I just got back from my first rock-climbing trip of the year.

It was great to feel the warm, dry rock, even though it was ROUGH on my skin.

This is normal. The first climbing outing of the year always feels particularly hard. It takes some climbing time for my skin to toughen up, for the pads of my fingertips to get thicker, and for calluses to form in high-wear spots.

But, this year I had an advantage.

This year I used Zim’s Crack Crème.

Here is what I found:

  1. Zim’s helped my skin last longer on the first days out climbing
  2. Zim’s helped my skin heal and repair itself faster.

I started applying Zim’s Crack Crème before I headed out to climb.

This allowed my skin to absorb the crème before my fingertips touched the rock and got covered in chalk.

I was able to stay out all day. Even on the sharp limestone of Lander, Wyoming, I never thought, “Ouch, I don’t wanna touch the rock anymore.”

After climbing, I washed the irritating chalk, aluminum residue from the climbing equipment and fine-ground dirt, off my hands.

And, I applied another generous layer of Zim’s.

The rich formula soothed my skin, but did not leave me with sticky fingers. I can’t stand sticky fingers!

The all-natural ingredients include Anrica flower extract and Myrcia oil, which are great homeopathic remedies for their anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.

I noticed that small, damaged areas of skin around my knuckles and fingernails started healing before cracks developed.

High-wear areas such as the crease between my thumb and index finger stayed soft, yet durable.

Zim’s crack cream allowed me to climb for a few days in a row right after a long winter of skiing.

Yeah, my fingers, hands, and shoulders are sore, but my skin remained tough – Thanks, Zim’s!

Advanced Rock Climbing Training Program

Carolyn Parker taking a hike on Wanderlust,  Kalymnos, Greece, ©Robbie Klimek

Carolyn Parker taking a hike on Wanderlust,  Kalymnos, Greece, ©Robbie Klimek

Advanced Rock Climbing Training Program

For more advanced climbers, read 8-Week Basic Rock Climbing Program Part 1 and Part 2 first.

If you finished the 8-Week Basic Rock Climbing Program, nice work!
Try the advanced program outlined below.

Advanced Rock Climbing Training Program

The Advanced Program builds on the Basic program with

1) back-to-back climbing days

2) and, bouldering.

 

Schedule:

Monday – Yoga or Active Recovery

Tuesday – Bouldering and Strength

Wednesday – Gym climbing routes for climbing endurance

Thursday – Aerobic work 90 min, conversational pace

Friday – Rest

Saturday – Climb

Sunday – Climb or 90 min Aerobic work, listen to your body this is a lot of volume. Do the beneficial aerobic work if overly tired.

 

Climb 2 – 4 days a week to the best of your ability.

 

Week 1 – 3 Hard weeks, push yourself!

Week 4 – Easy week – take three rest days and just have fun, don’t train with any structure or you’ll burn out or, worse, you’ll break.

Week 5 – 7 Hard weeks, push yourself again.

Week 8 – Easy week – take three rest days and just have fun, don’t train with any structure or you’ll burn out or worse break.

 

Monday – Yoga or Active Recovery—Self-explanatory

Tuesday – Climb

Warm up on easy routes if possible or easy boulder problems. This is a hard bouldering session for climbing power. Try problems you fall off of after a move or two. Try and do all the moves. Project the same problems for three weeks. In your session once warmed up complete:

3 x VO

2 x V1

2 x V2

1 x V3

Then, once your skin is done, head to the regular gym area and do a supplemental strength workout.

Following are two advanced strength training workouts to choose from:

#1

10:00 warm up light aerobic work

2 x 8 shoulder opener

2 x 5 cuban press

3 x 5 wall squat

and any mobility work you need to work on.

Then:

5 x

3 x Single arm body row

3 x KB Bosu Chest Press

10 x – Floor Wiper

Rest as necessary

Then:

2 x

HSPU Ladder (5 – 1)

Rest as necessary

 

#2

10:00 warm up light aerobic work

2 x 8 shoulder opener

2 x 5 cuban press

3 x 5 wall squat

and any mobility work you need to work on.

Then:

6 x

2 x Single arm offset pull up per arm

8 – 10 x Anchored leg lower add weight if appropriate, hold med ball between feet.

Rest as necessary

Then:

5 x

5 x Bent Over Row with lock off in three positions

10 x Archers (5 per arm)

10 x Hanging Windshield Wiper (5 per side) Legs straight, keep hips high

Wednesday – Climb

You may have to skip this workout at first. It depends on how sore you are from Tuesday and your capacity to recover from this amount of work. That’s ok. Listen to your body. If you have to skip it, then do active recovery, yoga, recovery endurance, etc.

Start with routes of difficulty. Warm up on two moderate pitches then, TR or lead with no hangs or very short hangs—if you fall, immediately get back on the wall.

Do three routes at, or close to, your limit back-to-back with no rest. I.e. 5.10, 5.11, 5.9. You should blow off the last route due to physical pump and mental fatigue. Climb routes you know, so you can be super efficient and finish them. Once you fall you are done, no hang dogging. Do 3 – 4 groups of three pitches. Vary difficulty so you are always falling on last the pitch or close to it.

As the weeks progress make the pitches more difficult: 5.10, 5.11, 5.11. Find a partner psyched on this as well, they belay you, then you belay them!

Then once your skin is done head to the regular gym for a supplemental strength workout.

Thursday – Aerobic work 90 min, conversational pace

Friday – Yep, rest, or active rest. Go on a walk or easy ride. The discipline to work hard at training takes a lot of mental and physical energy.

Give your body and brain a down day.

Saturday and Sunday – Go outside and climb both days. Or, get endurance greater than 90min on one of the days.

Saturday – Climb hard. You should feel good coming off a recovery day.

Sunday – Climb easy, take a nice long ski or ride, rest .

Repeat the week.

Move things around as life demands.

Get a friend to train with you—so much more fun.

Remember, have fun, train hard.

Carolyn Parker
Ripple Effect Training
www.rippleffectraining.com

Voluntary Simplicity and the Art of Packing

From the ocean to the mountains in one pair of pants! Kitty Calhoun working a new route in Kauai, Hawaii.

From the ocean to the mountains in one pair of pants! Kitty Calhoun working a new route in Kauai, Hawaii.

“No. No, you don’t need that either.” I said to my son, Grady, as he packed for a multi-day, rock climbing trip.

“You mean you only take one pair of pants, one T-shirt, one long sleeve, a sweater and a rain jacket?” he asked.

“Yep, and a toothbrush.” I said. “Just make sure your clothes are synthetic so they dry faster. Don’t bring more than you need. Your focus should be on your experience, not your excess baggage.”

I learned the tenets of voluntary simplicity from my dad. Now I’m passing them on to my boy.

I look for multi-functionality in most of my clothing. I keep things basic.

The first time I wore my RPS pants, I was on my way to Kauai, Hawaii with Grady and Jay, my husband. It was snowing in SLC when I boarded the plane.

On Kauai, we found some rock and began working a new route. Ordinarily it would’ve been too hot to climb in long pants but I needed protection from the sharp limestone for a crucial knee bar. I wore my RPS pants as I climbed out over the ocean.

The fabric on the RPS pants is light and has a modest stretch, which allowed me to focus on the task at hand.

A couple of weeks ago, true to my dad, I packed ONLY my RPS pants, my Capilene Daily T, my Capilene long-sleeve, my Micro-puff, and my Alpine Houdini jacket to teach a climbing clinic in Bishop, California.

As I drove through the desert, a friend called and asked if I would like to go skiing the next morning.

“That would be fun, but I don’t have any ski gear or clothes,” I said. My mind raced through everything I would need and I quipped, “I mean you have to look good to play good. At least that’s the advice on Friday Night Lights.”

There was silence on the other end of the line.

The next morning, my friend announced that the temps would be in the single digits as he handed me his worn-out ski clothes.

“Thanks, but all I need is your long johns. I’ve got pants.” I held up my RPS pants.

I got boots, skis and a free lift ticket and we were off.

I was looking good and skiing pretty good too. I suggested we ski in the trees so that my friend could get photos of me ripping it up.

He obliged and positioned himself just behind a small sapling.

The problem was that I had to make a tight turn between him and the tree. Despite appearances, I didn’t have the skills. I plowed straight into him with full speed. His iphone, gloves and poles went flying. After picking up our “yard sale,” I brushed the snow off my RPS pants—no harm done except a bruised ego.

I probably won’t tell Grady about the crash;

But, I won’t miss the opportunity to tell him he doesn’t need me to buy him the ski pants he’s been coveting because his RPS rock pants will work just fine.

Everything I needed for my trip to Bishop.

Caution! Wet Rock

Spring showers and summer thunderstorms bring a common dilemma: How soon afterwards is it OK to climb?

A few weeks ago, during our Indian Creek Clinic, it rained hard for a couple of hours. The rain began at 8pm and was followed by a strong wind.

Climbing the next afternoon remained a possibility.

Then it rained hard again at 3am for an hour.

Climbing the next day was out.

Instead, we went to a less-travelled area and spent the day working on gear and systems at the base.

Later, back at our cars, we found a note on every windshield.

The notes read, “Don’t climb on wet rock. You can damage it.”

Others had assumed that we were climbing wet rock!

At first, we were indignant—

Then we realized that we should feel encouraged that Climbers are using awareness and self-discipline to protect our fragile crags.

To climb or not to climb on wet rock is a question that is even more difficult when one has traveled for the weekend or is paying for a clinic.

Nevertheless it’s a particularly important question especially when it comes to climbing on sandstone like in Indian Creek and Red Rocks. Many climbers are more used to limestone or granite. Limestone and granite dry out much faster.

Sandstone takes longer to dry out because it is porous. It absorbs water. And the cementing agents that bond the rock together like clay, silica and salt dissolve when wet.

Wet sandstone can be up to 75% weaker than dry rock. When the rock is wet and weak, edges wear down faster and break off more easily.

So, should you climb or not climb?

Wait 24-48 hours after a rainstorm, but sometimes longer.

How much longer?

  1. How hard did it rain? Was it a light sprinkle or a flooding deluge?
  2. How long did it rain? Did it rain for a few hours, or all day?
  3. What is the aspect?
  • South facing cliffs dry faster because they are sunny and warm.
  • North facing cliffs dry slower because they are shady and cool.
  • East facing cliffs get morning sun, but afternoon shade.
  • West facing cliffs get morning shade and afternoon sun.
  1. Is it windy? Wind helps rock dry. Some cliffs are more exposed to wind than others.
  2. What’s the temperature? Is it a hot summer day? Is it cool spring morning?
  3. Was the sky clear or not since the rain?

 

Final Test

Is the ground dry?

First, It should look dry.

Then, Make sure by scraping away some surface sand.

If the sand underneath is wet and sticky? Don’t climb!

If it is dry and powdery? Climb!

What to do when it is too wet to climb?

Take a Rest day. Lounge around.

Go hiking.

Scout new climbing areas.

Practice skills that don’t require climbing. Minimize your impact by going to a less travelled/popular area.

You Can Do Hard Things

Chicks Indian Creek Closing Meeting, a celebration of having done hard things.

Chicks Indian Creek Closing Meeting, a celebration of having done hard things.

It’s good to be home after a whirlwind of Chicks rock climbing clinics.

Vegas, Bishop, Joshua Tree, Indian Creek.

Early in the month, Elaina and I teamed up with Mountain Gear to present clinics at the Red Rock Rendezvous. Over four days, 1000 climbers took part. We are always honored to participate in this amazing climbing festival.

After the Rendezvous, came Flash Foxy’s Women’s Climbing Festival in Bishop, California, where Kitty and I taught a clinic together in the Owen’s River George. Flash Foxy is an excellent place for Kitty and me to spread the good work of Chicks.

Next, a small, intimate clinic over Easter weekend in Joshua Tree: only five of us allowed us to really minimize our impact on the crags. Chicks works hard to be respectful and low-profile when visiting National Parks and other sensitive areas.

Indian Creek clinic finished up the month with a different level of engagement. Indian Creek is remote. There’s no wifi or cell service. I watched everyone let go and focus on the moment. Unplugging allowed for a childlike playfulness—needed to climb splitter cracks!

All month, I worked with women, supporting them to tackle objectives with power and confidence. They all came with goals and I watched them all obtain and surpass their goals.

Now, it’s my turn. I must practice what I preach, walk the walk, climb the climb.

But I’m lucky, I take with me the infectious spirit and empowerment of each woman. Their courage emboldens me.

In summary, I leave you with a very short story:

A mother was climbing with her daughter.

The daughter said, “This is hard.”

Her mother replied, “You can do hard things.”

I take it with me; My mantra: You Can Do Hard Things!

Happy Spring,

Dawn Glanc

Belay Gloves: From Fashion Faux Pas to Fashion Forward

Belay Gloves

“Save yourself from a lifetime of climbing goo exposure by wearing belay gloves.“ 
Dawn Glanc, co-owner Chicks Climbing and Skiing, avid glove-wearer, member of the fashion police.

Be smart, be hip, be cool! Protect your hands by wearing belay gloves

I started climbing in the Black Hills of South Dakota in 1996. Back then, “the Hills” were not particularly known as fashion forward. However, we had our standards. For example, if you wore belay gloves, you got the suspicious side-eye.

Work gloves signalled, “rookie.” They meant that the person could not belay. And, this fashion faux pas was considered common knowledge.

Perhaps it was the movie Cliffhanger that made leather, half-finger gloves cool for climbing and rope work.

I’m not sure how it happened. But somewhere, somehow, something changed and a few companies like Black Diamond began making leather gloves with a keeper-loop. This loop, a small hole in the Velcro cuff, allowed climbers to store the gloves on their harness by clipping them on with a carabiner.

This caribiner keeper-loop was a game-changer for the reputation of gloves.

Today, gloves are the sign of a competent and knowledgeable belayer.

I wear gloves when I belay (both indoors and outdoors) because I find that when my hands are protected, I can control the rope more smoothly. I also wear gloves every time I rappel and coil the ropes.

I’m a big fan of Black Diamond’s Transition Gloves, preferring the full finger version to the half-finger one.

  • Full finger gloves protect my hands as well as my fingers.
  • Full finger gloves add warmth on cold days, which further improves the performance of my belay.
  • And, I especially prefer full finger gloves when I’m using a gri gri.

FIT

I fit my belay gloves to be worn over tape gloves. If you never wear tape gloves you can fit them a bit smaller.

However, tape gloves are standard issue for crack climbing, especially desert crack climbing.

Sandstone is as abrasive as sandpaper. To get purchase you need to jam the backs of your hands against the rock. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, but it sounds fun, check out one of our Indian Creek clinics.

In the desert, ropes get particularly trashed. There’s coarse dirt, cactus spikes and other prickly things that want stick to it. This is especially true when pulling and coiling the rope.

Wearing gloves protects my hands from the environment and the climbing goo.

If I don’t wear gloves, my hands turn black with a mix of pulverized sand and ground aluminium. I call this black substance climbing goo. When I wear gloves this goo ends up in my gloves instead of my skin.

Over a lifetime of climbing, nasty goo embedded into our hands cannot be good for anyone’s health!

So, be smart, be hip, be cool, and goo-free. Protect your hands by wearing belay gloves!

8-Week Basic Rock Climbing Training Program-Part 2, The Second 4 Weeks

Carolyn Parker climbing the Great Escape, Sandias, New Mexico.

Strong and confident, Carolyn Parker, Founder Ripple Effect Training, climbs above her gear. Sandia Mountains, NM ©John Kear

I’ve said before that climbing technique is more important than strength.

Still, I encourage you to get stronger.

Strength and training brings more than how much a pull-up, or 10 pull-ups for that matter, will help your climbing.

Training and getting stronger gives you CONFIDENCE.

Pushing through a hard workout will make both your body AND your mind stronger. Working out teaches you about commitment. It gives you a better understanding of how to move the temporary and subjective threshold of discomfort.

These changes create a positive feedback loop that spins off as increased calm and focus—particularly useful climbing skills!

Continue to follow the weekly schedule outlined in Part I as closely as your schedule allows. But only strength train after climbing, or on a completely different day. This way you will be fresh for climbing.

Climbing Skills to Practice on Climbing Days

Reading and remembering:

  • Before you climb a route try to “read” the hand and foot sequences from the ground. This same practice transfers to outside climbing.
  • Remembering the moves on a climb is also a skill. As you do a harder route, try and remember how you climbed it so the next time you do it, you’ll climb it more efficiently. Efficiency brings success on more difficult routes
  • Remember to have fun!

Replace the Strength Training part of the workout with the following:

Basic Strength Training Workout (2nd 4 Weeks)

Warm-up

5 – 10 minutes of light aerobic work, indoor rower, jump rope, bike.

Then:

2 x
8 x Shoulder openers
5 x Push-ups
8 x Supermans on floor
2 x 30 secs dumbbell push-press/30 secs overhead-hold
8 x Good mornings

Then:

5 x
3 x Single-Leg, Straight-Leg Deadlift
10 x Toes to Bar (If 10 is too many, begin with the number you can complete.)

Then:

5 x
5 x Bosu or Bench press DBs or KBs (Weight should allow you to finish the reps with good form.)
5 x Single-arm, single-leg Strict Press (This is an overhead, standing movement. Stand on right leg, strict press with left arm. Stand on left leg strict press with right arm. Use same weight for both arms even if one is weaker. Pick a weight that is challenging to finish five reps.)

Then:

3 x
60 sec Overhead Plate Hold + 30sec Mountain Climber + 60 sec rest

Then:

Cool Down
10:00 minutes easy cardio + foam roller and stretching.

Stay tuned for the next Chicks Training article and ways to make this basic program more advanced.

If you are trying this program or have any questions, we’d love to hear from you. Leave comments or questions below!

Yours in strength,
Carolyn Parker
Founder Ripple Effect Training
Gym Jones Certified
AMGA Rock Guide
Uphill Athlete Coach