Cragmama "Not all who wander are lost…" JRR Tolkien

Backyard Workout Challenge

Recently I found myself stuck in a rut when it came to my mid-week cardio routine. (On the weekends, hubby and I can tag team with kid-duty, but during the week I’m usually left to my own devices.)  My available exercise window during the week is pretty darn small.  The most efficient way to squeeze in some exercise is to hop on the elliptical…but that gets pretty old.  So lately I’ve been putting myself through my own cross-training “boot camp” type workout in the backyard.  It’s a lot more fun than being cooped up inside, and it’s a great way to toss in some lower body exercises – something I don’t work very much in the climbing gym!

My format is pretty simple – I choose 15 exercises and do each one for 1 minute.  Then I repeat that circuit 2 additional times, giving me a total of 45 minutes workout time.  Obviously you could choose more or less exercises, and repeat your circuit more or less times.

Here’s a list of the exercises in my “arsenal.”  Some of them are staples that I always do, and others are ones that I rotate through.  I try to change it up a little bit every time so that I’m not always doing the same moves in the same order, but the gist is always the same.


HIGH KNEES (jog, get knees high as you can)
KICK BUTTS (jog, bring heels to bum)
SKIP (explode, w/ big, swinging arms…Big C really likes this one)
DANCE (another Big C fave….)
SIDESTEP (get low,  basketball drill style…alternate directions)
SQUATS (I like to do them with a ball)
TOE TOUCHES (for ankle/knee stability – balance one leg and bend down w/straight back to touch toes)
HAMSTRING BRIDGES (on an exercise ball) 
STEP UPS (on a stair, chair, or bench)
CRAB WALK, BEAR WALK, and any other silly things my 4 year old can come up with that gets the heart rate up.  

My favorite part about this concept is how family-friendly this workout is.  I generally do it while Baby Z is sleeping, although I have done short (10-15 minute) circuits with her playing on the floor/ground near me.  If she needs me I’m right there and it’s easy to just stop my watch timer and spend time with her for a few minutes before resuming.  If Big C is around (ie, not at preschool), then I usually do it when he’s entertaining himself in the backyard.  The cool part is that once he sees what I’m doing, he often joins me for a couple of minutes here and there (he is especially fond of skipping and jumping intervals!)  I like that I’m able to not only model a healthy lifestyle for him, but also get him involved as well!







Two Random Climbing Adventures


This past week our family did two things that we rarely get to do, which made for some really fun (albeit random!) climbing adventures.

Mommy/Daughter Day
On Saturday my boys had an all-day father/son event at a local air show, leaving me and Baby Z at loose ends.  My original plan was to just have a boring relaxing day getting stuff done around the house. But the weather was far too tempting to stay indoors, and after a few last minute plans (as in, 6:30 am the day of), Baby Z and I were off on our first ever Mommy/Daughter climbing adventure!

Climbing has always been a family sport for us, and I have spent very few craggin’ days as a single mom (ie, brought a crag-kiddo but no crag-daddy.)  Offhand I can only think of 3 times I’ve done it with C, and he was definitely way older than 8 months, so I was a little apprehensive about how the day would go.  To be honest, between having to handle feedings, naps, and diaper changes all by myself, I was a little skeptical about how much actual climbing time I’d get in, however I was psyched to spend a beautiful fall day outside with friends.

Blessed to spend the day with this girl!

Blessed to spend the day with this girl!

But although parts of the day were a little chaotic, I managed to get in three climbs – Electra 5.10c, Energy Czar 5.10d, and Butcher of Baghdad 5.11d (the latter of which was a new redpoint!)  And despite a little bit of pre-naptime crankies, Baby Z had a great time.  She got to meet some new people, try out her new fleece suit from Ducksday, and ALMOST eat a rock when Mommy turned her head.  (Big round of applause to John Lee, Hannah Newton, and Pita the Chihuahua for putting up with the craziness!)  We all hiked out with smiles on our faces…except for Baby Z who konked out on the hike out and remained down for the count until we had to wake her up when we got home!

Playing Hooky…
Of course the Crag-Daddy wasn’t about to be left out of the sending fun, and since he had a vacation day to burn, we were actually able to take advantage of the beautiful weather that we always seem to have midweek before a weekend cold snap!  So on Tuesday we grabbed our favorite highschool-er (since local schools were out for Veterans Day) and headed up to the High Country for what turned out to be a profitable day for all parties involved!

After our favorite warm-up at The Dump, Voodoo Child (5.11a), we got down to business on our agendas for the day – Adam had his sights set on Fry Cleaned (5.11d), the Crag-Daddy had some unfinished business with Last Glitch Effort (5.12a), and I turned my attention to Steady Eddie aka Treadin’ Water (5.12a) for me.


Compared to the rest of the wall, Steady Eddie rarely sees any action, not because the route is bad, but because it is almost always wet at the crux, due to drainage up top.  But on this fine fall day, everything was bone dry, so I decided to give it a go.  Confession: My first go did involve a stick clip at the crux.  The holds were SOOOO silty and dirty (from runoff) and it was impossibly hard to see the sequence…so I did what any sport weinie would do and called for the stick clip.  After a good brushing I could start to visualize the moves, and was able to make my way to the top.

Daddy/daughter time at The Dump

Daddy/daughter time at The Dump

There were no surprises, as the beta for the hard moves followed a recurring theme similar to most of the climbing at The Dump – whine a little bit about how the holds are facing the wrong way, then get your feet up to your face and undercling with all your might!  Steady Eddie featured a hard move down low, then pretty easy climbing up blocky flakes until you hit the business, when all of a sudden the holds sort of disappear. A super high foot and a few powerful undercling moves one right after the other makes up the crux.  My second…and third…attempts were actually thwarted not by the crux, but by a long move off of a sloper to the finishing jugs.  I just couldn’t seem to get my feet set up right, though each time I refined my beta a LITTLE better and was a LITTLE bit closer to making the move.

I was pretty frustrated when it didn’t go down on the third go.  Adam and Steve had both sent, and no one likes to be the only non-sender in the car on the drive home.  But much props to the Crag-Daddy for convincing me to give it one more go, despite the fading light.  I waited around for about 20 minutes, then executed every inch of beta exactly how I wanted to.  My feet touched the ground JUST as the sun dipped below the trees.  Yes! First new 5.12 redpoint postpartum!  And for the first time in a long time, our car drove home with not one, not two, but THREE sends to celebrate!

Contemplating the business on Steady Eddie (5.12a)

Contemplating the business on Steady Eddie (5.12a)

Cairn-building 101...

The lighting was weird, but Big C was VERY proud of the cairns he built!

Our original intent was to head to the New again for one final time this weekend, but the weather is looking pretty winter-y.  We may have to leave our projects from a couple of weeks ago on hold for a few months as we shift from roped season to bouldering season.  But if the past few days end up being our last roped trips of the year, they sure were a great way to go out!


The New Tenaya Tarifa is Here!


I’ve found a new favorite shoe.  It’s called the Tenaya Tarifa.  It. Is. Awesome.  This shoe takes the term “versatility” to a whole new level.  It really can do it ALL…and comfortably!

Let me back up a bit.  I first got a crack at these shoes a little over a month ago.  Although the addition of a 4th family member caused me to take a step back from working events and demos for the time being, the folks at Trango/Tenaya thankfully still love me enough to send me a care package of their newest products for fall – most notably, the Trango Crag Pack and the Tenaya Tarifa.  (And may I say, the crag pack is fantastic – a very well-thought-out design that is obviously based on how climbers actually use their packs.)  But this post is about shoes, not packs!

Smearing on the thinny-thin out at Hawksbill Mountain

Smearing on the thinny-thin out at Hawksbill Mountain

What Tenaya says: “The Tarifa is a powerhouse of performance thanks to the new RB Range X technology (Maximum Range of Response and Balance). The RB Range X system creates a dynamic response and provides unparalleled balance in the shoe, making climbing feel both easier and more intuitive. Its narrow last and mid-stiff midsole are sensitive enough for steep terrain, but hold up to the demands of vertical edging on tiny holds.  The speed-lace system offers quick entry with the precision fit of a lace-up, and the 3.5mm Vibram XS Grip rubber provides unmatched friction and durability.”

What Cragmama says:  I got these shoes the day before heading to Boone for the Hound Ears Bouldering competition.  I was psyched to try them, but brought other shoes as backup, as I wasn’t sure my feet could take climbing all day in a brand new pair of shoes… but the extra pair never made it out of my pack!  I’ve since worn these shoes on friction slab, steep, overhanging terrain, and dime-edge, vertical faces.  And these shoes performed well every single time.  The speed laces combine the best of both worlds – on and off like a velcro, but the exact fit that a lace-up provides.  The only negative thing I have to say about these shoes is that the shoe laces are SUPER long…but that’s nothing a knife and a lighter to burn the ends can’t remedy.

Tackling the overhangs of Psychowrangler 5.12a

Tackling the overhangs of Psychowrangler 5.12a

Bottom Line: If you can only afford to buy ONE shoe, the Tenaya Tarifa should be that shoe.

The folks at Trango never cease to amaze me with their new innovative products.  It’s clear that they listen to how their climbers are using gear, and design products to improve that experience.  Even though I’m somewhat on hiatus now, I’m still so proud to be working with this company, and wholeheartedly stand behind their products.  If you are interested in the Tarifa or any of their new offerings for fall, you can order them directly from the Trango website here.  (And if you’re interested in reviews of the rest of the Tenaya line-up, click here and here.)

I’d love to hear from everyone else – what’s YOUR most versatile shoe?  If you only had space in your pack for one shoe, which shoe would you take?


TIGHTS! A Review Round-up (and Discount Code from Ellie!)

3 NC old-schoolers bringin' back their cutting edge 80's fashions at the Dixie Rock Climbing Comp last year...

3 NC old-schoolers bringin’ back their cutting edge 80’s fashions at the Dixie Rock Climbing Comp last year…

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year or so, you have probably noticed a rather alarming cyclical trend when it comes to the latest women’s workout fashions.  As in…the 1980’s called and wants their spandex back?!?  As a climber, I can definitely dig it.  Look at any old school climbing pics and you will quickly realize that lycra was a way of life for the pioneers of our sport.  Tapping in to my inner 80’s childhood almost seems like a fitting homage to pay to my sport of choice.  That being said, I’ve been easing in to it a bit.  After all, just because you CAN wear something doesn’t necessarily mean you should.  I do realize that I am in fact a mom of 2, and what I can get away with wearing probably differs greatly from what a cute little high school student can.  So while I have thoroughly embraced the loud and obnoxious colors, I’ve kept the zany patterns a little more low key…for now anyway.

And at this point my workout wardrobe boasts a surprising amount of athletic tights (again), perfect for a review round-up!  I have tested items from 4 different brands – 2 dominating forces in women’s workout wear (Athleta and Stonewear Designs), a company new on the scene (Ellie), and an oldie but goodie when it comes to clothes on the cheap (Old Navy.)  Some were purchased by me, others were given to me for review purposes…but ALL will be highlighted in this post with my honest and unbiased opinion. (And one is even offering a discount code for Cragmama readers!!!)

I have ranked each brand with 1-5 stars in six different areas (1 being awful, 2 being awesome).  I have also highlighted a few standout features of each specific tight.


 Athleta Balance Capri (Retail price: $79)

As a former athlete for this company back in 2012, I’ve got enough Athleta clothes to open up a small store.  (And even 2 years later, most of the pieces are still worn on the regular.) The Balance Capri is one of dozens of different offerings in workout tights from Athleta.  I chose these in particular because I loved the bright red color! Like many other Athleta products, the Balance is made out of Pilayo, which is a signature Athleta fabric that is comfortable, durable, and wicking.   This fabric can meet all of your workout needs – great in an indoor gym setting, but tough enough to withstand climbing outdoors.  It’s flattering when worn alone, or comfortable as a baselayer.  These clothes are the most expensive of the bunch, but because they swap out colors so often, it’s usually pretty easy to score a bargain on the previous season’s styles (or at least get the price down to what a normal person would pay…)

Stonewear Designs Sprinter Tight

Stonewear Designs Sprinter Tight (Retail price: $79)

Stonewear is another company that I have worked with in a sponsorship role (2013.)  (And another brand that I still wear almost on the daily! )  As with most SWD items, versatility is a huge selling point with the Sprinter Tights. This tight can handle any workout you throw at it, running, yoga, climbing…and then still look hip under a flowy top when you meet friends for dinner later!  The ruching at the bottom adds a little bit of flair, and a reflective strip adds visibility for dusk/dawn workouts.  The fabric is so luxurious and ridiculously comfortable and stretchy – and even though it’s not terribly thick, I was surprised at how well it holds up – no signs of wear and tear even after cranking out double knee bars on a classic Cotton Top route a few weeks ago! The only downside I see is that it only comes in black.

Ellie Tone and Awaken Leggings

Ellie Tone and Awaken Leggings (Retail price: $44.95)

Ellie is a new company that incorporates trendy, mod-style fashions in to their workout wear.  The best part of these tights was the value – a high quality product at a lower price than competitors.  The fabric was not quite as comfy or smooth as the Athleta or SWD styles, but was still very high quality.  Other than getting a little fuzzy at the seams from rock abrasion, these tights have proven to be very durable, and passed the sheer “down-dog test” with flying colors!  If you want crazy colors and cutting edge style, this shop is definitely for you!  And the folks at Ellie are so psyched to get the word out about their products that they are offering 20% off of your first order for all Cragmama readers!  Just enter the discount code of “erica20″ when prompted online!

Old Navy

Old Navy Active Compression Leggings (Retail price:  $29)

Ok so it’s no secret that this commercial giant scored lowest in just about all categories but price. These tights are definitely NOT up for multiple seasons on real rock, but they work just fine in the gym.  And don’t wear them in hot weather (they don’t breathe at all)…or cold weather (they don’t wick).  But if you need something cheap (and fast!) head to your local Old Navy store, where you can probably find some on the closeout rack for under $15 if you’re lucky!

My list is by no means complete – there are a ton of other brands out there, all with different selling points and features.  If you’ve hopped onto the tights bandwagon, please list your favorite brands (or any brands that were an epic fail!)  And if you haven’t drank the Kool-aid yet, what are you waiting for?

(For easy pinning on Pinterest...)

(For easy pinning on Pinterest…)


Highlights from Halloween

Pumpkins...and the "Franken-door."

Pumpkins…and the “Franken-door.”

Considering our 4 year old frequently chooses to dress in costume for everyday activities (I once counted 16 days straight with his “Larry-boy” costume), it’s no surprise that Halloween is a big hit at our house.  We don’t do much of the scary stuff – our decorations consisted of pumpkins, ghosts made out of recycled plastic bags, and a “franken-door.”  But we do tend to go all out for costumes.  I keep hoping one of these years I’ll be able to convince everyone to dress up together in a common theme, but for right now we all do our own (random) things.  And also not surprisingly, a lot of our Halloween “events” tend to include climbing.  Here’s a quick look at the Halloween highlights we enjoyed as a family –

1.  JACK-O-LANTERNS - Our family likes to get one pumpkin to represent each member of our family, and we usually carve them all.  However I was not about to go hacking into Baby Z’s miniature pumpkin, so I decided to do something easier more creative this year.  I thought our pumpkins would be not only groovier, but also longer-lasting if we could paint them with glow in the dark paint!  So I bought a glow in the dark craft paint from Michael’s…fail.  Then I ordered glow in the dark spray paint from a Halloween website…also fail.  Twenty dollars later we still had un-faced pumpkins and two useless cans of paint.  So I broke out the Sharpie marker and called it a day.  Thankfully I’ve got understanding kiddos, and I was more bummed about the $20 than they were about their pumpkins.

2.  COSTUMES – Big C is nuts about Toy Story, so his request this year was Buzz Lightyear, which was easy to score pretty cheap on the internet (and I’m so thankful I shelled out a little extra for the detachable wings add-on, because they are awesome!)  The Crag-Daddy dressed up as Jimi Hendrix for his office’s 70’s themed costume contest (and came in 2nd…).  And Baby Z and I decided to go for the babywearing combo costume – an owl (her) in a tree (me.)  I saw a similar picture on Pinterest a while back, and replicating something similar was surprisingly easy – all it took to change my sweet pea into an owl was a baby carrier (we used our Boba since the straps were brown), a white beanie (we used a too-small one she got in the hospital), a hot glue gun, and lots of felt.  Then we dressed her in coordinating colors.  For my “tree” look I just wore varying shades of brown and intertwined some fall garlands amongst the straps of the carrier.  Easiest costume ever, and wearing her kept her a lot more content than she would have been in a stroller, especially since we were up way past bedtime!


3.  CLIMBING GYM LOOT – You know it’s getting  close to Halloween when the Inner Peaks staff starts stringing up buckets of candy at the tops of the routes.  It was quite a motivator for Big C last year, and he’s been anxiously awaiting the return of the “climbing candy” ever since!  It was hysterical watching him climb in his Buzz costume, and I was flabbergasted at how much harder he climbed when there was a sweet reward at the top!  He did 8 total pitches, 6 of them completely clean, and 3 of them routes he’d previously never gotten to the top of!  Perhaps I should consider rigging some candy at the top of my next project…


WP_20141029_16_59_09_Pro IMG_7963

4.  TRICK OR TREATING - Our neighborhood trick-or-treating tradition usually involves a giant flatbed trailer loaded down with kids, pulled by our neighbor in a tractor that I’ve only seen him use for one other occasion besides Halloween – plowing snow our of everyone’s driveways in last year’s snow.  But unfortunately that neighbor was out of town this weekend, which meant the kiddos had to do things the old-fashioned way.  I actually kind of liked it, because we ended up staying together more as a family (ie, we ALL went to each door rather than the grown-ups hanging back in the road while a posse of kids runs frantically to as many houses as possible before the tractor starts chugging again.


Pre-blacklighting with some s'mores!

Pre-blacklighting with some s’mores!

5.  BLACK LIGHT PARTY – For the second year in a row, our local climbing gym has offered a free “Blacklight Party” to their members.  Last year I painted my baby bump with neon paint – this year I had an adorable little owl snuggled up against me!  Big C’s costume was the PERFECT choice under the lights.  There was no way our entire crew was gonna make it through the entire event, but we stayed plenty long enough for hot dogs, s’mores, and loads of blacklight shenanigans!


And with that, another Halloween has come and gone – next up is Thanksgiving…and then Christmas…and then before you know it I will have a 1 year old and a 5 year old!!!   Yikes!  What did YOUR family do for Halloween, and how did you dress up?