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

Category Archives: Climbing

Posts about…you guessed it – climbing! Trip reports, anecdotes, and musings about my favorite recreational pasttime.

Climbing Mantras From a Toddler

Climbing Mantras From a Toddler

Sometimes as climbers it’s easy to get bogged down with training philosophies, number chasing, or even just overzealous trip planning.  All of those things have their place, but too much focus on any of them can lead to burn-out pretty quickly.  Every now and then it’s good to take a step back and remember the basics of climbing… 1.  Climbing should be fun.  If it’s not, pick a another route.  Or do something else different entirely.2.  Sometimes climbing is easy.  When it’s easy, relax and enjoy it.  3.  Sometimes climbing is hard.  When it’s hard, you have to try hard.…Read the rest of this entry →

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2013 Year in Review and Climbing Hit List for 2014

2013 Year in Review and Climbing Hit List for 2014

This time of year in my climbing journey always involves a lot of reflection.  I look back on how well I accomplished my goals for the past year, and I look forward to setting new goals for the upcoming year.  But as soon as I saw two lines on a pregnancy test last June, it’s fair to say that my list of climbing projects got put on the backburner.  Pregnancy is obviously not the time to explore your limits.  That being said, I “failed” miserably at crossing off even half of what I set out to do on my 2013…Read the rest of this entry →

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Holiday Crankin’ at Rocky Face Park – 30 Weeks Pregnant

Holiday Crankin’ at Rocky Face Park – 30 Weeks Pregnant

It’s not every day that our family gets to try explore a new climbing area within a day’s drive.  Our original plan for a midweek holiday climbing escape involved local rock at Crowders Mountain.  But when my friend Tonya, (who happens to be 32 weeks pregnant herself), suggested a day trip to a “new” area that’s been getting a fair amount of buzz recently, our ears perked up.  When we saw that it was just under an hour and a half away and that the approach time was literally ZERO, it was music to our preggo ears!  Much more enticing…Read the rest of this entry →

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Rock Climbing and Pregnancy: What Changes to Expect

Rock Climbing and Pregnancy: What Changes to Expect

A lot of folks assume that rock climbing and pregnancy go together about as good as ants and a picnic.  However, with one pregnancy under my belt, and well on my way to completing a second, I can honestly say that climbing can be a healthy and enjoyable prenatal activity.  That being said, just as not all women should attempt to run/bike/yoga during pregnancy, climbing is not for everyone.  But if rock climbing is an activity that you engaged in on a regular basis before becoming pregnant, it’s an activity that is perfectly acceptable to continue for most women.  (Disclaimer:…Read the rest of this entry →

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Our Family’s 15 Minutes of (Local) Fame!

Our Family’s 15 Minutes of (Local) Fame!

 Some of you may recall a Cragmama facebook post a few weeks ago that mentioned our family being interviewed by our local NBC TV station at our climbing gym, Inner Peaks.  The producer’s idea was to create a hopefully endearing story about how climbing has been a family affair for us – first as a couple, then as a family of 3, and now as a soon-to-be family of 4.   The shoot took a little over an hour on a weekday morning, and entailed us all being interviewed individually (including a chat with C as he was tying in…Read the rest of this entry →

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Pregnancy Update: Weeks 19-26

Pregnancy Update: Weeks 19-26

Today marks 27 weeks of pregnancy, aka the 3rd (and final!) trimester.  Although I certainly hope she stays cooking in there for at least another 2 months or so, if my little girl were to be born now, she’d have a 90%  chance of survival – wild, huh?!?  Anyway, here’s a look back at the last 8 weeks of my 2nd trimester, from an activity/training perspective… Week 19 - I found myself partner-less at the gym this week, and since I’m past the stage where I feel comfortable bouldering, I had to get creative on the auto-belays in order to get…Read the rest of this entry →

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New River Gorge Climbing – 24 Weeks Pregnant

New River Gorge Climbing – 24 Weeks Pregnant

For the past few weeks we’ve had our eye on our schedules and the weather, with fingers crossed that the stars would align and we’d get one last chance to hit up the New River Gorge once more before cold weather, holidays, and new baby prep begin to overwhelm.  Towards the end of last week we finally saw a weather window that looked promising, so we made tentative plans, solidifying them on Friday just a few hours before we left (not recommended, as the mad dash to pack was a bit hectic…) Despite the fair skies advertised for Saturday, it…Read the rest of this entry →

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Another Round of Pilot Mountain – 22 Weeks Pregnant

Another Round of Pilot Mountain – 22 Weeks Pregnant

Another beautiful fall weekend, another day trip to Pilot Mountain.  Only this time the leaves were in spectacular color, making for a gorgeous backdrop the entire day.  While I didn’t accomplish anything noteworthy, I certainly enjoyed myself.  I got to try out several new pieces of gear, including the latest Phase Quickdraws and Cord Trapper Rope Tarp from Trango. I was even able to get on a few newer routes that were recently bolted.   Pole Dancing (5.7) – A great new addition to the cliff, and a much better option for a beginning leader than other nearby routes at similar grades.…Read the rest of this entry →

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Craggin’ at Pilot Mountain – 20 Weeks Pregnant

Craggin’ at Pilot Mountain – 20 Weeks Pregnant

Pilot Mountain brings about a mixed bag of sentiments for most North Carolina climbers.  Most  beginners LOVE it, and it’s easy to see why – the approach is short, top-roping access is easy, and there are heavy concentrations of routes in the 5.5-5.9 range.  However, once climbers get a little bit of experience under their belts, it’s not uncommon for them to suddenly start sneering their nose up at the crag that taught them how to climb.  It’s crowded, often overrun with large groups of boy scouts, youth groups, and outdoor meet-ups that may or may not share the same…Read the rest of this entry →

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Fall at the New River Gorge – 17 Weeks Pregnant

Fall at the New River Gorge – 17 Weeks Pregnant

After rain, rain, and more rain botched our plans to head up to the New last weekend, a high of 70 without a cloud in the sky was a welcomed sight this weekend!  We had a rather large crew, with a wide range of ability levels and agendas, so the real crux of the weekend was figuring out where to go!  We ended up deciding on the Upper Meadow for Day 1, and Endless Wall for Day 2, which seemed to work out well – all parties involved sent a little, flailed a little, and of course laughed a lot!…Read the rest of this entry →

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The Murky Ethical Waters of Onsight Climbing…

The Murky Ethical Waters of Onsight Climbing…

Nothing earns you more street cred in the climbing world than an onsight near your limit.  Because let’s face it, figuring things out on the fly is hard!  Odds are good that on your first time through, you’re gonna botch a few sequences, or at the very least, do them less efficiently than you would if you were more familiar with the route.  Once you’ve touched all the holds you start to piece the route together in chunks, and can usually make a better plan of attack (figure out clipping stances, find rests and shake-out spots, etc).  Not to mention…Read the rest of this entry →

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The NEW Tenaya Oasi: Comfort + Performance = Climbing Shoe Perfection!

The NEW Tenaya Oasi: Comfort + Performance = Climbing Shoe Perfection!

It’s been almost a year to the date that I traded in my La Sportiva Miuras for a whole fleet of Tenayas – Tatanka for overhanging terrain, Masai for technical edging, and Ra for everything in between.  To be honest, I’ve never looked back.  My experience with the product as well as the company has been nothing but top-notch, so I’m thrilled that Tenaya is adding yet another great shoe to their line-up!   At this point I’ve done a wide variety of demo’s – at the New, at the Red, and at various climbing gyms across the Southeast.  And…Read the rest of this entry →

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Obed, Tennessee Trip Report – 13 Weeks Pregnant

Obed, Tennessee Trip Report – 13 Weeks Pregnant

If I had a dollar for every time one of our crew said the word “manky” this weekend, I’d have plenty of money for a nice date-night dinner with the hubs.  For those of you that aren’t familiar with this highly technical term, “manky” is generally an accurate descriptor of summer climbing conditions in the Southeast.  The rock feels greasy, palms are sweaty, and chalked up holds feel like they are coated in a layer of slimy toothpaste.  Not to mention that smothering wet blanket of humidity Mother Nature tosses over your head while hiking in and out of the…Read the rest of this entry →

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New River Gorge – 12 Weeks Pregnant

New River Gorge – 12 Weeks Pregnant

To celebrate my fading nausea from the 1st trimester, we decided to take advantage of some unseasonably fair weather at the New River Gorge, West Virginia.  With daytime temps hovering around 80 degrees, and nights dipping into the 50′s, their was a crispness in the air that was much more reminiscent of the beginnings of fall rather than the end of summer! I found that I had a mixed bag of emotions with this trip.  On the one hand, I’m feeling great – my energy is coming back, and the icky nausea is gone. Although I can clearly tell that…Read the rest of this entry →

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Cragmama T-Shirts Are Here!!!!!

Cragmama T-Shirts Are Here!!!!!

It’s official – the moment you’ve all been waiting for!  (Well, I suppose that might be a little strong…but hopefully a few of you have been at least looking forward to it?)  After I got a lot of positive feedback from various social media outlets, along with some good old-fashioned word of mouth, I decided to move forward with the Cragmama t-shirt idea.  The idea was first planted in my head by David Lithman, owner of Adayak, an online clothing company specializing in outdoor lifestyle wear.  The goal at Adayak (a combination of the words “adventure” and “kayak”) is “to…Read the rest of this entry →

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Pooping in the Woods, Broken Bones…oh, and a little bit of climbing too.

Pooping in the Woods, Broken Bones…oh, and a little bit of climbing too.

Despite how crazy it sounds, that title pretty much sums up our Father’s Day weekend trip to the New River Gorge.   Here’s the specifics: POOPING IN THE WOODS:  (Ok, so non-parents you might want to just tune out for this first paragraph…)  For the past two weeks we’ve been kickin’ it local style while we went cold turkey with big boy underwear with C, and this was our first weekend trip sans diapers (maybe “sans” isn’t entirely accurate…I did have a large stash of pull-ups in my bag “just in case”).  But I am so proud to say that…Read the rest of this entry →

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Crag-Family Interview: A Family Affair!

Crag-Family Interview: A Family Affair!

If you’ve been following the recent kid-crushage that’s been happening up at the Red River Gorge this spring, you might recognize one of the names in today’s family interview.  In fact, Deadpoint Magazine recently wrote an article on this family after 12 year old Harry ticked his hardest send to date – Southern Smoke (5.14c).  Fortunately, the Edwards’ also agreed to answer some of my questions about family life at the crag as well.  Here’s what they had to say when I caught up with them via email… Names: Rob (44), Jennifer (37), Samantha (15), Harry (12), Preston (9) From:…Read the rest of this entry →

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Sending Projects (Finally!) at Obed Wild and Scenic River

Sending Projects (Finally!) at Obed Wild and Scenic River

Historically if the weather is good (or often times even if it’s not), 90% of Southeastern climbers migrate to one of two world-class hot spots for Memorial Day Weekend – either the New River Gorge in WV or the Red River Gorge in KY.  But for 3 years running our family has chosen to head in the opposite direction to the Obed River – a smaller (but almost just as good) climbing area just west of Knoxville, TN.  Generally speaking, a “crowded” weekend at Obed is about the same as the average non-holiday weekend at the the New or the…Read the rest of this entry →

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Keeping Elbow Tendonitis at Bay with Armaid (plus a GIVEAWAY!)

Keeping Elbow Tendonitis at Bay with Armaid (plus a GIVEAWAY!)

While there are any number of items you might expect to see passed around a campfire on a chilly spring evening in the middle of the Red River Gorge, a wacky-looking contraption designed to massage one’s forearms is probably not first on the list.  But that’s just what happened at our campsite on our most recent trip to the Red.  Why?  If you assumed it was due to overindulging in one of the many other items that are more commonly passed around a campfire, you’d be wrong again.   Let me back up.  Steve and I first discovered the Armaid…Read the rest of this entry →

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New River Rendezvous X – A Recap of the Rollercoaster

New River Rendezvous X – A Recap of the Rollercoaster

After skipping a year for the first time in 10 years, the New River Rendezvous was back and better than ever this past weekend!  For those of you not familiar with it, the ‘Vous is a climber’s festival that raises money for the New River Alliance of Climbers (NRAC).  It’s also a great excuse for the climbing community to get together and celebrate living near some of the best stone this country has to offer!   Though it was the 5th Rendezvous for Steve and I (and Cragbaby’s 2nd), it was my first time attending as an athlete for Trango,…Read the rest of this entry →

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Sending a Family Project: Flash Point (5.11d)

Sending a Family Project:  Flash Point (5.11d)

This weekend the hubby and I had the unique opportunity to send a project together, one that was equally meaningful to us both, but for very different reasons.  For Steve, Flash Point was about redemption.  After a pretty successful toprope run this past January, he tied in on the sharp end with no expectations and shocked everyone (but probably himself the most!) by making it through the first two cruxes clean before pumping out one move before a good rest 80 feet up.  After jugging back up he found some better holds that probably would have kept him on had…Read the rest of this entry →

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Fellow Cragmama Charmagne Cox: Inspiration Multiplied!

Fellow Cragmama Charmagne Cox: Inspiration Multiplied!

A lot of times I wonder if the only reason our family has remained as active and adventurous as we have is because we have just one child…Then I met Charmagne Cox.  Her inspiring story leaves no question as to whether or not its possible to continue recreational pursuits with multiples…and by multiples I don’t just mean multiple children, I mean MULTIPLES.  As in TRIPLETS.  Let that sink in for a moment – 3 kids to carry in to the crag (in addition to all of your climbing gear), 3 kids to get down for a nap at the base…Read the rest of this entry →

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Rocks For Research – An Inner Peaks Fundraiser

Rocks For Research – An Inner Peaks Fundraiser

This past weekend I had an awesome opportunity to participate in Rocks for Research, a fundraiser event at Inner Peaks Climbing Center.  In a matter of hours, we raised more than $10,000 dollars for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF)!  As volunteer coordinator,  I had the chance to work behind the scenes with an amazing crew of hard-working folks.  I also got to represent Trango/Tenaya with a shoe demo, which is always fun (shout outs to Steve Lineberry and David Barbour for helping get shoes on stinky climber feet!).     Despite an emergency evacuation inside due to rain, the…Read the rest of this entry →

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Highlights from the Red River Gorge – and a “Giddy” Giveaway!

Highlights from the Red River Gorge – and a “Giddy” Giveaway!

Over the past few years it’s been tradition in our family to head to the Red River Gorge twice a year – once in the spring and once in the fall.  While we’d love to make it up there more often than we do, it’s hard to justify such a long drive when we can get to the New River Gorge in half the time!  Last spring I got cheated out of our spring trip due to a rather unattractive ankle boot, so this year a trip to the Red seemed like the perfect kick-off for the spring climbing season!…Read the rest of this entry →

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Indoor Climbing vs. Outdoor Climbing

Indoor Climbing vs. Outdoor Climbing

“I finally sent that green route in the lead cave!” I announce to the fam gleefully over dinner.  After a few rounds of high-fives and “cheers” (C’s favorite dinner pastime of late), I proceed to re-enact my crux beta over my plate of  chicken, while Steve nods in understanding and C spills his water accidentally on purpose.  This conversation is actually not unlike the ones we have after a day outside cranking on real rock, either on the hike out or with our climbing partners over an outrageous amount of food.  Both contain elements of  challenge, perseverance, and hopefully success every now and then.  But…Read the rest of this entry →

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Spring Egg-stravaganza at Crowders Mountain!

Spring Egg-stravaganza at Crowders Mountain!

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted a trip report.  That’s because it’s been just under a month since I’ve climbed outdoors.  Between cold and wet weather, a little guy’s birthday, and a (hopefully minor) knee injury, our weekends of late have been occupied with activities other than climbing.  So when the stars aligned just right last Saturday, our whole household was psyched!  For me, the tick list was non-existent.  My main goal was to test the knee out on some local rock before galavanting off to the Red River Gorge later in the week.  Oh yeah, and I wanted to do…Read the rest of this entry →

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How to be a Great Belayer

How to be a Great Belayer

There’s a whole host of resources available online and in print aimed at how to successfully climb harder, stronger, higher.  However, there’s only a fraction of information available for another crucial, yet often overlooked skill that is vital to every good send: the art of belaying.  Sure, most climbers, even newbies, have a basic knowledge of how the belay system works, and understand how to use a belay device of their choosing.  They can most likely pass a belay test at their local gym and can handle the number one priority for a belayer – keep the climber off the ground.  That’s good. …Read the rest of this entry →

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Strategies for Rainy Day Climbing (with a Toddler!)

Strategies for Rainy Day Climbing (with a Toddler!)

In just a few short weeks it’ll be springtime again.  I can picture it now – buds will begin to sprout up in the garden, the birds start singling a little louder, and the days start getting a little longer.  Oh yeah and it rains.  All the time.  Actually that’s not true.  It doesn’t rain ALL the time.  The typical m.o. in the Southeast is for the skies to be bright and sunny all week, with clouds moving in on Friday afternoon, just in time to thoroughly soak your newest objective at the local crag.  But before you’re tempted to cancel that…Read the rest of this entry →

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Life Lessons You Can Learn From a Rock Climber

Life Lessons You Can Learn From a Rock Climber

The writer in me loves metaphors and analogies, which is one reason why I love writing about climbing.  Time and time again I’ve been able to apply concepts from the rock climbing world to my life as a mother, wife, and friend.  What a lot of non-climbers don’t realize is that there are actually several different disciplines, or styles, of climbing – some of us may have an end goal to climb Mt. Everest, whereas others of us may aspire to touch every piece of local rock that we can.  Each discipline has a different set of values, ethics, and…Read the rest of this entry →

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Adventuring with Toddlers – In a Nutshell Why It’s Worth It

Adventuring with Toddlers – In a Nutshell Why It’s Worth It

A lot of times I get asked what makes it worth it.  Why do I put forth so much effort to continue down such an adventurous path now that I’ m a mom?  Maybe because it seems so natural to me that I can’t imagine life any other way, but I sometimes have trouble finding the words to answer that question on the spot.  But as I look back and reflect on how much our family has been able to share together, I know that those memories speak louder than any words ever could…so here’s my attempt to (briefly) address…Read the rest of this entry →

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Guidebook Update – With a Sneak Preview!!!

Guidebook Update – With a Sneak Preview!!!

  After turning in a giant lump of manuscript to Earthbound Publishing at the end of the summer last year, my work on the guidebook has been pretty sporadic the past few months.  Mostly I’ve just tweaking a few revisions here and there and wrapping up some interviews.  However there has still been one large item on my punch list that had remained unchecked for a long time, mostly due to logistics…The North Face.  Not the jacket company (although one of those would have come in handy!), but the North Face of Stone Mountain.  For most climbers, it’s always been…Read the rest of this entry →

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Hidden Wall: Where the Party’s At…

Hidden Wall: Where the Party’s At…

A lot of folks climb for years at Crowders Mountain without ever venturing over to the “dark side.”  Accessed from a completely different parking lot than the Main Area, Hidden wall is a small sport crag with a handful of short, classic lines, along with about a dozen link-ups and variations.  Most of the routes feature bouldery cruxes with long, burly moves on barely-there feet.  Local developer Wade Parker likes to refer to these scrappy grunt-fests as “blue-collar routes” – ie, for the working man (or woman ).  No room for dainty, tiptoe-ing technique – you’ve gotta be willing to fight for a send…Read the rest of this entry →

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3 Ways to TRY HARDER So You Can CLIMB HARDER!

3 Ways to TRY HARDER So You Can CLIMB HARDER!

This just in: If you try harder, you can climb harder!  At first glance, this might seem glaringly obvious, but it was rather eye-opening for me a few weeks ago after my hubby (tactfully) pointed out that it looked like I “gave up before I even tried” on a route that was giving me trouble at the New River Gorge.  That statement prompted a very reflective and enlightening discussion on the drive home that caused me to develop a new mantra for pushing my limits on the rock.  And though simple, I’ve already seen improvements from it, so it seemed worth sharing!  Basically it all boils down to the mantra of…Read the rest of this entry →

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An Equal Opportunity Climbing Weekend

An Equal Opportunity Climbing Weekend

“I have a dream that one day bolt-clippers, boulderers, and tradsters will come together on my birthday and climb and eat pizza,” – The Crag Daddoo Well, maybe those weren’t his EXACT words, but in the spirit of the MLK holiday weekend, it was a reasonable paraphrase…and with that in mind we invited our friends from far and wide to celebrate Steve’s birthday this past weekend.  And we couldn’t have asked for more perfect weather - highs in the 50′s without a cloud in the sky!  DIXON:  We kicked the 3 day weekend off on Saturday by converging at the Dixon School…Read the rest of this entry →

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New River Gorge (in January?!?) and Climbing “Tall”

New River Gorge (in January?!?) and Climbing “Tall”

  The cool thing about living in the Southeast is that rock climbing can be a year round endeavor.  In fact, some south-facing, friction climbing areas are pretty much only good in the winter (Stone Mountain, Rumbling Bald, and the Asheboro Boulderfield come to mind).  If the sun is shining and the wind is calm, you can have a very pleasant day with relatively warm rock even with high temps in the low 40′s.  But despite the abundance of winter climbing opportunities, our family always makes a definitive shift into “cold weather climbing mode.”  We spend more time jumping down onto crash pads than…Read the rest of this entry →

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A Little Bit of Holiday Crankin’

A Little Bit of Holiday Crankin’

Back in my pre-kiddo days, I was an elementary school teacher, and was accustomed to having a lot of time off over the holidays.  My hubby is blessed to get a decent amount of  vacation days at work, so he grew accustomed to taking off the same days that I had for Winter Break.  Now that I’m not working outside of the home anymore, he’s STILL accustomed to getting lots of time off at Christmas, so he saves up enough vacation days every year to take a full two weeks off over Christmas/New Year’s.  That means we have plenty of…Read the rest of this entry →

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Hit List 2013

Hit List 2013

With 2012 in the archives, it’s time to look forward to another year…and another Hit List!  Each time I write out a year’s worth of climbing goals, I get a little bit nervous.  What if I fail?  What if I am nowhere close to any of these goals by the end of the year?  The truth is, that could easily happen.  Maybe the logistics don’t cooperate for me to be able to put in the time needed to cross some of these routes off.  Or worse, maybe I’m able to invest plenty of time into a project, and still come up short!  Goal-setting can be…Read the rest of this entry →

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Hit List for 2012 – The Year in Review

Hit List for 2012 – The Year in Review

Well, another year has come and gone, which means another Hit List has drawn to a close.  This was the second time I’ve put my year-long goals out there in cyber space (for 2011 Hit List click here), and once again, it was a wild ride, with plenty of bumps (and bruises) along the way!  After an unexpected injury started the year off on the “wrong foot” (sorry, couldn’t help myself…), I found a lot of my mental battles this year revolved around fear.  Fear in trusting my ankle again, fear in getting my lead head back, along with an…Read the rest of this entry →

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Cragbaby Highlights for 2012

Cragbaby Highlights for 2012

It’s been a big year for C, who went from a curious, craggin’ toddler to a big boy with his own agenda at the crag (which may or may not have anything to do with  climbing…).  So in honor of Highlight Week 2012, here’s a look back at some of C’s favorite moments from this year (from his perspective, of course!)… 5.  Big Boy Climbing Gear – This year I had my very own climbing gear – shoes, chalkbag, harness, and helmet.  Just like Mommy and Daddy!  Even though I don’t always use all of it, having my own gear…Read the rest of this entry →

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Finding Success in Failure (aka No More “Whining”)

Finding Success in Failure (aka No More “Whining”)

This past Sunday marked Day 3 of work on my most recent climbing project at my local crag, Crowders Mountain.  This route was one that I had picked out for my Hit List for 2o12 – The Whining (5.11d).  I chose it not only because it’s an area classic, but because it specifically plays to my weaknesses – a one-move wonder, go-go-gadget-reach style crux.  The route only officially goes at 5.11d, but the running joke is that for every inch you are under 5.8, it’s a letter grade harder.  Most are able to make the long reach by utilizing a…Read the rest of this entry →

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A Rendezvous in Red Rock Canyon Sans Toddler

A Rendezvous in Red Rock Canyon Sans Toddler

What do you get when you combine the lights of Vegas with the sandstone of Red Rocks?  A perfect weekend with just me and my hubby!  I flew in to meet Steve late Thursday night (he’d been at a conference all week for work…so he says anyway ).  One of our main objectives for this trip was to take advantage of being sans toddler and do some multi-pitch trad routes.  (Non-climber note: Routes that are longer than one rope length are divided into smaller chunks, usually around 100-150 feet apart, called pitches.  Sometimes each pitch will vary in difficulty, with…Read the rest of this entry →

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Twelve 5.12′s in 2012 – and Fashion Makes it a Dozen!

Twelve 5.12′s in 2012 – and Fashion Makes it a Dozen!

Some of you may be familiar with my quest for “Twelve 5.12′s in 2012″ this year.  For those of you that aren’t, here’s the skinny…At the tail end of last year I managed to eek my way through my very first 5.12a (TKO at Crowder’s Mountain) for the “send.”  (Non-climber translation: leading a route from the ground-up with no hangs or falls on the rope)  With one under my belt, the next logical step was to establish myself a little more firmly within the 5.12 grade.  I figured averaging one per month would be a reasonable expectation.  Plus, twelve 5.12′s…Read the rest of this entry →

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Cragbaby’s Photo Shoot: Anatomy of a Good Jump

Cragbaby’s Photo Shoot:  Anatomy of a Good Jump

As many of you know, I posted up some of the leftover photos from some of the recent Trango shoots last week…but what you probably didn’t know is that during one of those Trango shoots, Cragbaby was involved in a photo session of his own!  My favorite climbing photographer (who also happens to be one of my favorite people period!) knows firsthand just how much my little guy enjoys hamming it up for the camera.  So when she started snapping photos of C jumping off a boulder, his efforts went from casual to full throttle in about 1.4 seconds!  …Read the rest of this entry →

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Some Climbing Pics…plus VOTE FOR CRAGMAMA!

Some Climbing Pics…plus VOTE FOR CRAGMAMA!

I posted last week about the highlights from ROCKtoberfest, the annual climber’s festival that benefits the Red River Gorge Climber’s Coalition.  In that post I mentioned the fact that the whole scene was so busy I hardly had time to even think about taking any photos, never mind actually digging my camera out of my pack.  Ironically, however, part of the reason I was being pulled in a million directions was because of photos – one of my fellow Trango teammates, Dan Brayack, was hard at work shooting images of all of us climbing routes.  The photos will be use…Read the rest of this entry →

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Red River Gorge ROCKtoberfest…aka TRANGO-fest!

Red River Gorge ROCKtoberfest…aka TRANGO-fest!

When it comes to the age old climber’s debate between the Red and the New, our family has always sided with the New – for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that it is 3 hours closer to our house.  But that’s not to say we can’t have fun at the Red every now and then.  Usually we make the trek up to ole Kentucky once or twice a year, when we’ve got an extra day or two to climb tacked onto our weekend.  This past weekend was one such weekend, although it was…Read the rest of this entry →

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H.I.T Hard, Crank Harder…

H.I.T Hard, Crank Harder…

I’ve had a number of requests recently for some more posts about training, especially from fellow female climbers.  So it seemed fitting to share about my somewhat recent experiences with HIT Strips.  A little late, but better late than never!  HIT Strips, aka Hypergravity Isolation Training, are a training protocol developed nearly a decade ago by guru Eric Horst, author of numerous training for climbing books.  What prompted me to hop on the strips?  Summer in the Southeast, as you are probably aware, is not known for it’s sending conditions.  Heat and humidity is at an all-time high, causing both…Read the rest of this entry →

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New River Gorge: The SEND Train has left the station…

New River Gorge:  The SEND Train has left the station…

And I managed to hop on it this time.  (It’s about time…) SEND TRAIN:  The extreme sending phenomenon that occurs when a group of climbers are projecting together and one person finally has a breakthrough – the rest of the crew feeds off of that psych, and all of a sudden everyone is crushing left and right. In last week’s trip report I alluded to the fact that I had felt like I had been in somewhat of a climbing slump for the past few weeks.  It seemed like no matter how hard I tried, I was always coming up…Read the rest of this entry →

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The NRG Craggin’ Classic…

The NRG Craggin’ Classic…

This weekend marked an exciting milestone for the American Alpine Club, as well as any climber frequenting the New River Gorge (which is probably the majority of us in the Southeast…)  The “Craggin’ Classic” event gave climbers a chance to get a sneak peek at the latest progress on the new AAC climbers’ campground.  It’s pretty bare bones right now, but from the sounds of it, it has the makings to become a staple part of the NRG!  The crowd was small, but the camaraderie was high, and it seemed as though everyone was relieved to finally see some fall temps again!…Read the rest of this entry →

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Dixon Bouldering: All’s Well That End’s Well

Dixon Bouldering:  All’s Well That End’s Well

  This weekend marked 7 months (almost to the day) since I broke my ankle on a funky lead fall last winter.  I paid my dues in a boot for 6 weeks, worked my butt off on the hangboard, and got back on the sharp end of a rope the second I was given the green light.  I waited a good long while before bouldering in the gym again, and when I finally got back to it I mostly kept it to problems I had wired and could use for 4×4 training sessions.  Because the hubs and I take turns…Read the rest of this entry →

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Progress (Not Perfection) at the Obed

Progress (Not Perfection) at the Obed

The Obed Wild and Scenic River is our family’s favorite crag to hit over Labor Day weekend – it’s nice to have an extra day with the longer drive, and we’re able to avoid all the crowds that are swarming at the New and Red River Gorges.  However this time probably could have been talked into going just about anywhere  had the forecast been any better, but it appeared that the entire Southeast was being held hostage by Hurricane Isaac.  We weren’t too worried about the climbing – because of the steep terrain and enormous roofs, the Obed is a…Read the rest of this entry →

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Back to the New River Gorge

Back to the New River Gorge

My affair with Ten Sleep Canyon sure was great while it lasted, but like so many good things, it had to  come to an end.  Lucky for me I had the world-class climbing of the New River Gorge to come back to.  And this weekend was not just any old weekend at the New – one of our partners in climb just moved up there a couple of weeks ago, and our crew descended upon his new digs in full force.   Day 1:  Endless WallOrdinarily Endless Wall would not be what I would consider a “go-to” area for summer,…Read the rest of this entry →

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Nothing Like the Needles…and Our Moves Like Jagger.

Nothing Like the Needles…and Our Moves Like Jagger.

We  couldn’t have scripted a better ending for our trip than the spindly little spires surrounding Custer State Park, also known as the Needles.  The tiny, airy summits provided more than enough reward and motivation for 4 (and a half…) climbers to get off the ground one more day.  And the long runouts over moderate terrain was ideal at the end of the week when lead heads were secure but our bodies were tired.  The word that best sums up the climbing at the Needles is FUN!  For me, it was an experience with a distinctive child-like quality to it.…Read the rest of this entry →

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An Affair With Ten Sleep Canyon

An Affair With Ten Sleep Canyon

Dear Ten Sleep Canyon,Thanks for the amazing time.  Were it not for geography I would definitely make cheating on the New River Gorge a regular occurrence with you.  But the long-distance thing is gonna be hard, so we’re gonna have to settle for a rendezvous every year or two.   Love you long time,Cragmama     Over the top?  Not really.  This place was that good – a summer sport climbing paradise I tell ya.  First of all, the canyon was ridiculously impressive, making Spearfish look like nothing more than a small trench in the foothills.  The approaches were long but rewarded…Read the rest of this entry →

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A Devilish Rest Day: Devil’s Bathtub and Devil’s Tower

A Devilish Rest Day:  Devil’s Bathtub and Devil’s Tower

After 2 days of  crankin’ in Spearfish Canyon, our crew was ready for something a little more low-key.  The only must-do on our agenda was to make our way 3 hours west to Ten Sleep, Wyoming, but nobody said a rest day had to be boring…We had found out from some locals about a surreal swimming hole along Sunshine Creek in Spearfish Canyon, which seemed like a great way to pass by the morning.  It was about a 2 mile hike round trip, along a well-worn trail that was mostly flat and often meandered back and forth across the creek.…Read the rest of this entry →

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Wild West Whirlwind Round 1 – SPEARFISH CANYON

Wild West Whirlwind Round 1 – SPEARFISH CANYON

As most of you already know, our family just got back from a whirlwind climbing trip to South Dakota and Wyoming.  To say that the trip was a success would be an understatement – we had a fabulous time, and as I look outside at my droopy, hot backyard as I type this, my only regret is that we’d had more time to spend out there!  This trip was a far cry from our usual weekend excursions, and in a lot of ways, it was somewhat of a “luxury trip” (for us anyway…though it probably doesn’t fit most people’s definition…Read the rest of this entry →

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A Pilot Mountain Legend: Lloyd Ramsey…

A Pilot Mountain Legend: Lloyd Ramsey…

This is the second time in under a month that I have had to post about the loss of a North Carolina climber.  It’s definitely not getting easier, and I certainly don’t want to make this a habit.  This one really hits me hard because Lloyd Ramsey is someone whom I knew very well.  In fact, I can probably count on one hand the number of times that I’ve climbed at Pilot Mountain and haven’t ran into him.  Lloyd was a staple figure at the park, and anyone who has climbed in the area with any amount of regularity would recognize him.   Not…Read the rest of this entry →

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Trango in da House – and on the Trad Wall!

Trango in da House – and on the Trad Wall!

I’ve probably said it before, but one of the best parts about climbing is the people who do it – they tend to be pretty fun to hang out with.  Thankfully our local climbing gym, Inner Peaks (IP for the cool folk…), figured this out a while ago, as evidenced in the member parties they have several times per year.  Even though our family has only been in Charlotte for a little over a year, we’ve had a chance to check out the party scene at IP more than a few times, and we’ve never come away disappointed.  This one…Read the rest of this entry →

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Little Wilson – A Mid-Summer Cragger’s Dream

Little Wilson – A Mid-Summer Cragger’s Dream

So after spending the past two (unseasonably mild) weekends catching up around the house and enjoying time with family, the heat was back in full force this weekend.  Our original plan was for the New River Gorge, but with temps hovering at 100 and humidity almost as high, no one was psyched on sleeping in a tent in a pool of sweat.  We instead opted for a day trip to a shady little crag off the beaten path in the western part of the state – Little Wilson.  This was actually our first time going there.  We actually attempted to…Read the rest of this entry →

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TRANGO Cinch – A Belayer’s Best Friend

TRANGO Cinch – A Belayer’s Best Friend

So let’s say hypothetically that your favorite climbing partner’s birthday was coming up, and you were looking for the perfect gift to give to the person that holds your life in their hands week after week.  You could probably be successful with the token REI gift card or treat them to a post-climbing feast – climbers generally aren’t that hard to please.  But if you wanted to be a little more selfish efficient in your gift-giving, you would do well to consider the TRANGO Cinch, as odds are it’ll make you both happy.  Why your belayer will like it… -…Read the rest of this entry →

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Trad is Rad at the North End of Moore’s

Trad is Rad at the North End of Moore’s

Out of all the areas I’m covering in the Piedmont Guidebook, Moore’s has been one of the trickiest for hands on research.  Although I climbed at Moore’s quite often pre-Cragbaby, pregnancy and a baby made for a too-long hiatus.  (Due to the nature of the typical descent options we’ve found other areas to be much more kid-friendly, since a day at Moore’s means a day at the cliff sans Cragbaby).  Thankfully we have two sets of grandparents nearby, but we certainly can’t take advantage of them every weekend (nor do we want to – climbing is a family activity for…Read the rest of this entry →

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Lessons Learned from the Fifth Planeteer – aka Groove is in the Heart

Lessons Learned from the Fifth Planeteer – aka Groove is in the Heart

For those of you readers that are on the other side of 30, you may remember a TV show called Captain Planet.  The heroes of this kid’s series were 5 environmental good guys, known as “planeteers,” each possessing a magic ring that controlled an element of nature (earth, wind, water, fire) that they would use in their valiant battle against pollution.  Then there was the fifth guy – his magic ring supposedly gave him the power of “Heart.”  As kids we always thought this guy was dorky – the other planeteers were all much more suave and cool.  In fact I…Read the rest of this entry →

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Say It Loud! The New Doesn’t Get Old.

Say It Loud!  The New Doesn’t Get Old.

But I do.  And it sucks.  Not sure why, but this weekend made me feel old.  Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I twisted my ankle (the one that I used to consider my “bad” ankle until I broke the other one…) just hiking into the crag on Day 1.  Thankfully it seems to be nothing more than a minor inconvenience, along with an annoying,  rainbow-colored reminder that my Earth-Suit ain’t what it used to be.  Or it could possibly be related to the fact that I realized that not one but several of my climbing…Read the rest of this entry →

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RokRok Chalkbags Review

RokRok Chalkbags Review

Want an example of perfect timing?  I was contacted by Leilani Pierson, the beauty and the brains behind RokRok Chalkbags, just a few days before our climbing trip to Tennessee.  She asked if I’d be willing to choose any bag I wanted from her collection of gorgeous, handmade chalkbags, to review here on the site.  Begrudgingly, I said yes.  Just kidding.  Of course I jumped at the chance, especially once I saw how amazing and unique each bag was – I had a really hard time deciding on just one, so I listed a couple of favorites for Leilani to…Read the rest of this entry →

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Good Times at The Dump

Good Times at The Dump

There’s a small collection of bolted lines right off highway 221 coming out of Blowing Rock in Western North Carolina.  It goes by several other names besides The Dump, but regardless of what you call it, conditions were darn near perfect for it this past Saturday.  Most of the climbing there hovers just less than vertical and features very technical and sequential moves on itty bitty holds.  Although the cliff sees sun for the majority of the day, the elevation generally puts it a good 10 degrees cooler than us down here in Charlotte, making for a sweet escape from…Read the rest of this entry →

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Obed: To Crush or To Be Crushed?

Obed: To Crush or To Be Crushed?

If that were the question, then the answer would most definitively be YES to both, which is great since our plans almost got squashed before we even left the house because of a poor, sick Cragbaby. Thankfully though he started feeling better just in time (when we asked him if he wanted to get in Mommy’s car and go sleep in in a tent he started jumping up and down shouting, “TENT!  TENT!”).  Despite a later-than-planned start, we made it to Tennessee only slightly worse for the wear.   This trip was an interesting balance of both success and failure…Read the rest of this entry →

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Pilot Projects – aka The Day of Reckoning

Pilot Projects – aka The Day of Reckoning

If you’ve been following the blog for the past few weeks, you’ll probably remember that my friends and I have all been on a search for significant sendage on some of the best lines at Pilot Mountain.  My climbing partners have thankfully been gracious enough to allow me to pick their brains a bit so that I can share multiple perspectives on projecting strategies.  Since Steve (aka Crag-Daddy) was the only one that scored a send on our last visit to the area, the rest of us couldn’t stay away.  So two weeks later we returned with guns blazing, ready…Read the rest of this entry →

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Cameron and Jonathan Horst – aka the Send Brothers!

Cameron and Jonathan Horst – aka the Send Brothers!

It’s been a couple of months since I’ve done any interviews, so I figured the best way to make up for lost time was to bring you two interviews for the price of one!  Prepare to be absolutely amazed (and also a little bit sheepish, since these boys are more than likely hiking laps up your projects for their warm-ups…)  Cameron and Jonathan Horst (or Cam and Jon for short) are the sons of training guru Eric Horst, author of numerous books on climbing-specific training, including the well-known titles “How to Climb 5.12,” and “Training for Climbing.”  I first met…Read the rest of this entry →

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A 5.12 for Mother’s Day (and a bunch of other awesome stuff…)

A 5.12 for Mother’s Day (and a bunch of other awesome stuff…)

The build-up to this weekend at the New was admittedly a bit chaotic.  But despite last-minute partner bailing, a forgotten ankle brace, and a moody weather forecast, this Mother’s Day ended up being the best yet!  I had two goals in mind – to send as many hard .11′s as I could, and to get redemption on a 5.12 project from last summer… Day 1 Routes (Butcher’s Branch and Seven-Eleven Wall): The Greenpiece (5.10b):  I’d only been to Butcher’s Branch one other time, and it was almost exactly 4 years ago.  I remember having an epic almost-onsight of this route…Read the rest of this entry →

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The Smoo(oooooo)th Quickdraw from TRANGO

The Smoo(oooooo)th Quickdraw from TRANGO

Trango has a new quickdraw called the “Smooth Quickdraw.”  To be honest, my initial thought was that their marketing department must not have been trying very hard. I mean, when you call something “smooth,” all you’re really saying is that said object has a continuous, even surface, free of bumps or ridges, right? If that’s our working definition, then every quickdraw I’ve ever owned would be considered “smooth.” It seemed like Trango’s naming system was similar to those people that name boulder problems based on some obvious, over-used characteristic (“The Arete,” “The Egg,”, or “Big Crack.”)  Descriptive, yes.  Creative, not so…Read the rest of this entry →

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The Art of Projecting (Continued)…

The Art of Projecting (Continued)…

Last week I went into detail about the art of projecting a route, and included the perspectives of three of my climbing friends who were also on the quest for a meaningful send.  Well, our crew reconvened again, same time, same place, this past weekend, each of us ready for a rematch with our own personal nemeses.  Here’s how we fared… OVERHANGING HANGOVER (5.11b) Steve: I got right down to business and warmed up on my project.  I was feeling a little jittery before starting but once I got going I was locked in and felt really strong.  The lower section…Read the rest of this entry →

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Indoor Training Tips: Triple Intervals

Indoor Training Tips:  Triple Intervals

I’ll be the first to admit, it’s hard to get in a good (and efficient) workout at the climbing gym with Cragbaby flitting around like the social butterfly that he is.  The days when we could time our gym time with a nap in a stroller are long gone, as are the days when we could barricade C with crash pads under an overhang.  To be honest, I’ve been pretty indifferent towards the climbing gym for the past year or so.  Yeah it’s a fun place to go, but out of the 4-6 hours that I spend there every week, how…Read the rest of this entry →

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A Weekend of Projects – Part 2 (Pilot Mountain)

A Weekend of Projects – Part 2 (Pilot Mountain)

I mentioned in my last post that I’d be separating the weekend out into two posts, since each day was so different from the other.  I thought it would be fun to change things up a bit, so rather than the typical play-by-play trip report, I thought I’d focus on “projects.”  For those non-climbers out there, the term ”projecting” is used to describe the process that one goes through to successfully redpoint a route near or at their limit.  A route is considered “sent” (aka redpointed) when the climber is able to lead the route from bottom to top (bringing the rope up with them…Read the rest of this entry →

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A Weekend of Projects – Part 1 (Moore’s Wall)

A Weekend of Projects – Part 1 (Moore’s Wall)

This weekend was pretty varied on all counts – weather, climbing, accomplishments (or lack thereof).  But regardless of what sort of hodgepodge it was, it was certainly fun as well as productive, and a good one-word sum-up would be PROJECTS.   Our journey began Friday night at my parent’s house (aka Paw Paw and Gaga) near Winston-Salem, where Cragbaby hung out all day Saturday so Steve and I could get our gear on at Moore’s Wall.  This is my second time at Moore’s in the past 2 weeks – the last time I spent the day in the Hanging Garden, and…Read the rest of this entry →

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Slabster’s Lament 5.12a/b – The Lament is Over…

Slabster’s Lament 5.12a/b – The Lament is Over…

Every now and then a route deserves to be memorialized by a post all to itself. In the case of Heresy (5.11c) out at the Obed, it was because of my first impression of it when I first laid eyes on it, several years before I was strong enough to even think about sending it. With Dave the Dude (5.11d), it was because the line was just that good – not only was it a classic in every sense of the word, but it was a culminating finale to a fantastic trip in the Red River Gorge, and thinking about…Read the rest of this entry →

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Tales of a Broken Talus – 7 Lessons Learned.

Tales of a Broken Talus – 7 Lessons Learned.

So it’s been 75 days since my ankle went snap, crackle, pop on an otherwise delightful winter afternoon at the crag.  Since then I have been on a rather emotional roller coaster ride of thoughts, feelings, and mental processing.  Thankfully for me however (as well as everyone who has to put up with me on a daily basis…), that roller coaster has slowed down substantially in the last few weeks as my life has slowly but surely crept back to “normal.”  Looking back throughout the recovery process, Ive realized that this whole ordeal has been quite a learning experience for me, so I…Read the rest of this entry →

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New River Gorge: Round 2 (aka Let’s Stop Playing Games)

New River Gorge:  Round 2 (aka Let’s Stop Playing Games)

Considering our history with rainy weekends and the New River Gorge, we are all too aware of how fickle spring weather can be – so another weekend of sunny ad 70′s was too tempting to pass up, even though we were just there last weekend!  It also didn’t hurt that our family has been in real rock withdrawal over the past 6 weeks due to me and that ugly black boot (which is currently perched high upon a shelf in the garage, hopefully to never be resurrected again!)  So once again, we loaded up the car (this time we weren’t as rusty!), and hit the…Read the rest of this entry →

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A New Season at the New River Gorge

A New Season at the New River Gorge

 As we packed up our climbing and camping gear as a family on Thursday afternoon, I realized that it had been quite a while since we’d done this.  Our last family camping trip had been at the New last October, our last day multi-day climbing trip had been at the Red just before Thanksgiving, and our last day trip at the crag as a family had been at Hidden Wall 8 weeks prior when I fractured my ankle.  To be honest, I was feeling a bit rusty.  Family Packing Hour used to work like a well-oiled machine – but this time…Read the rest of this entry →

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Guidebook Update…Sans Boot!

Guidebook Update…Sans Boot!

 Well, it’s been quite a while since my last guidebook update, but rest assured it’s not from lack of progress.  Since a fractured talus and a walking cast put my vertical research on hold for a while, I’ve chained myself to my computer the minute Cragbaby falls asleep, fervently finishing up route descriptions and working in all of the creative anecdotes so many folks have been so kind as to send/tell me.  But there’s only so much work I can do without actually touching the rock, so as soon as my doctor officially de-booted me I hit the ground running…well,…Read the rest of this entry →

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PETZL Helmet Campaign – Round 2!

PETZL Helmet Campaign – Round 2!

Those of you that have been loyal readers for a while now may remember a post I did last October about my stance on helmet usage, as part of a Helmet Campaign from Petzl and their marketing guys over at Pemba Serves.  It certainly got quite the response – 107 comments even!  While I’d like to assume it was my literary prowess and creative wordsmith-ery that compelled such a reaction, in truth I must admit that it probably had more to do with the fact that Petzl was giving away a free helmet to one lucky commenter.  Excerpts of my post were melted into…Read the rest of this entry →

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Cragbaby Crushes -”Up the Down”(V0-)

Cragbaby Crushes -”Up the Down”(V0-)

Just because I’m stuck in a boot and restricted to three-limbed toproping doesn’t mean Cragbaby is taking it easy.  In fact,  this past Saturday he’s taken his projecting to a whole new level!  C had been working on the down climb from the free-standing boulder at Inner Peaks off and on for a while now, but at best his motivation could be considered sporadic.  His usual modus operandi was to get a couple of feet off the ground and then announce that he was “All Done.”  He would then go back to his other favorite climbing gym activities – brushing off holds,…Read the rest of this entry →

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No Send Saturday (aka How I Scored a Sexy Black Boot)

No Send Saturday (aka How I Scored a Sexy Black Boot)

At the risk of spoiling the suspense, I’m just gonna go ahead and tell you that this story doesn’t have a happy ending.  What started off as a jovial weekend with good friends ended pretty abruptly for me with a hard smack against the wall and searing pain in my left foot.  The bad news kept rolling in over the next few days as my foot expanded to almost elephantitis status, and several X-rays showed a small fracture on my talar dome (or in layman’s terms, the pointy top part of my ankle bone that meets up with my lower…Read the rest of this entry →

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Misty Mountain Threadworks: A Review

Misty Mountain Threadworks:  A Review

A couple of months ago I was contacted by Mike Grimm, owner of Misty Mountain Threadworks.  He asked if he could make me a harness, and after hemming and hawing for a while, I told him I’d have to think about it…Just kidding, of course I jumped on the offer!  Misty Mountain is a well-respected local company that has been around for quite a while.  They have a reputation for not only developing superior products, but also for a committment to sustainability and reducing their carbon footprint. After a few emails back and forth followed by some detailed instructions regarding…Read the rest of this entry →

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A Sunny Corner in the Linville Gorge (and GIVEAWAY from CLIF!)

A Sunny Corner in the Linville Gorge (and GIVEAWAY from CLIF!)

We’d originally planned on spending our Saturday climbing in Boone, but when we got the offer for a grand tour of a newly developed area in the Linville Gorge, we jumped at the chance.  The stomach bug had made a couple of passes through our house last week so we were more than psyched to get out and enjoy some fresh, new scenery. After a pre-dawn start, our posse convened just outside of town and made our way to the crag.  After taking in some gorgeous views along the ridge on our approach, we arrived at our destination a little…Read the rest of this entry →

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A Mid-Week Respite at Crowder’s

A Mid-Week Respite at Crowder’s

One of the perks of having local rock is the ability to get out mid-week, so whenever any of my climbing partners can arrange to get out on a weekday, Cragbaby and I try our best to join in on the party.  I was pretty psyched to be able to get out two days in a row last week, especially since by the time the weekend rolled around the unseasonably warm fair weather had turned frigid and rainy.  We spent our first day at Hidden Wall, and our second at Crowder’s Main Wall.  Oh…and sorry for the lack of pictures,…Read the rest of this entry →

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Down and Out at Asheboro

Down and Out at Asheboro

I apologize ahead of time for the lackluster content of this trip report…but I’ll claim the weak and injured excuse. This past Saturday marked our first trip of the season to the Asheboro boulders.  I arrived psyched to explore some new problems as well as hop on some old favorites.  After a quick warm-up, I hopped on Lightning Bolt Crack (V3/4), a unique finger crack that is (ordinarily) so fun that I make it a point to tick it every time I’m there.  Sometimes it takes me a few tries to remember the right hand sequence, and this particular time…Read the rest of this entry →

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Real Rock Tour de Charlotte

Real Rock Tour de Charlotte

Well, after a day at Pilot and a couple of days at Stone, we decided to round out our Holiday stay-cation by giving some dear friends from our old stomping grounds in Raleigh a tour of what our new locale had to offer, rock-wise.  So last Friday we all took on Red Wall at Crowder’s Mountain.  After warming up on Opinionated (5.9+), Steve and Sam explored Scramble My Feedback (5.10a), while Caleb and I tackled an unknown, obscure line that as far as I know isn’t listed in any published guide (yet…).  Everybody took a lap on this one, and…Read the rest of this entry →

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2012 Hit List

2012 Hit List

Although a large part of what makes crag days special involves the amazing people I’m with and the spectacular setting we’re in, another big part of it for me is the personal satisfaction that comes from working towards and achieving goals that I’ve set for myself.  Sometimes those goals revolve around specific routes, grades, and/or areas, and other times they are more vague (ie, getting better at _______ technique).  Other times they are things that are personally applicable to me in my current life phase.  For example, during my pregnancy I challenged myself to see how many weeks into my…Read the rest of this entry →

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Guidebook Update – Stories from the Stone Age

Guidebook Update – Stories from the Stone Age

In between bouts of Familial Invasions, I spent the majority of Christmas Break working on the Stone Mountain section of the guidebook – confirming topos, writing descriptions, researching previous guidebooks, and of course, squeezing in as much climbing as possible.  After a cloudy day at Pilot that never quite warmed up enough, I was relieved to drive into the parking lot at Stone the next day under a beautiful blue, sunny sky.  Publisher Bill and I got to work on photographing routes and double-checking the lay of the land for the topos on the South Face for the first couple…Read the rest of this entry →

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Highlight Week Continues…with the 2011 Highlight Reel!

Highlight Week Continues…with the 2011 Highlight Reel!

Our family is grateful to have had the opportunity to get a lot of time out on the rock this past year.  In fact, we managed 5 trips to the New River Gorge, 2 trips to the Red River Gorge, 2 trips to the Obed River, 2 trips to Grayson Highlands, and of course numerous day trips to various crags across North Carolina. Its no wonder that loads of fun were had by all as 2011 played out.  In keeping with the “Highlight Week” theme, and in honor of our family’s time-honored Highlight Reel tradition, our family decided to wade through…Read the rest of this entry →

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The Hit List for 2011 – The Year in Review

The Hit List for 2011 – The Year in Review

I mentioned before Christmas that the first week in January was going to be celebrated as “Highlight Week” here at Cragmama.  It seemed appropriate to kick things off with the Hit List.  Some of you may remember  my 2011 Hit List that I published last March, where I listed 10 goals (some very specific, some rather general) that I had my sights set on for the year.  I remember at first being a bit hesitant about posting them for the world to see, since I wasn’t entirely sure that some of the objectives were even in my realm of ability.…Read the rest of this entry →

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4 Weeks Off = First 5.12a!

4 Weeks Off = First 5.12a!

I know I said I’d be taking a break from blogging until after the New Year…but our climbing trip yesterday was particularly noteworthy…This past week marked the end of our self-imposed 4-week climbing hiatus…we celebrated by promptly getting spanked at the rock gym on both Tuesday and Thursday.  On Friday, however, it was a different story and we had a different reason to celebrate – my first 5.12a send!  To be honest, my expectations hadn’t been very high – after 2 days of solid rain, we weren’t even convinced anything would be dry enough to climb.  But the morning dawned…Read the rest of this entry →

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Guidebook Update: Pilot Progress

Guidebook Update:  Pilot Progress

Although my attempts to work on route descriptions at Stone Mountain were waylaid by the storm front that moved in on Thursday night, my day spent at Pilot Mountain on Thursday was well worth the drive on a variety of levels!  Originally Bill Webster (aka guidebook publisher) asked me to join in on a meeting he had lined up with the park staff to talk about access.  He figured some of the information discussed would be prudent to the guide, and also said we could work together on double-checking my descriptions and taking pictures when the meeting was finished. I’ve…Read the rest of this entry →

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Somebody Broke the Off-Season Rule…

Somebody Broke the Off-Season Rule…

…and it wasn’t me.  I’ll give you a hint – he’s just over 2 feet tall and 25 pounds of sheer energy.  Yep, that’s right.  While hubby and I have both been very diligent and committed to our 3 weeks of rest, Cragbaby has been literally climbing the walls, flaunting his young muscles that have yet to discover the need for rest days. Household bouldering is anything but a new phenomenon for C.  He’s been projecting various items around the house such as chairs, stairs, tables, and shelves since he was around 5 months old.  In fact, I even found…Read the rest of this entry →

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Choosing an Off-season – aka The Importance of Rest

Choosing an Off-season – aka The Importance of Rest

What’s the best part about being a climber in the Southeast?  Climbing is a year round sport!  What’s the worst part about being a climber in the Southeast?  There’s no off-season… I grew up in a family that followed multiple sports – baseball, basketball, volleyball…pretty much everything but football.  (And thankfully my hubby never got into football either – which works out well since football season also brings some of the best weather weekends of the year!)  I remember that my “favorite” sport would always be whatever sport was currently in season at the time.  I remember anxiously awaiting the…Read the rest of this entry →

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A Slab-tastic Thanksgiving at Stone Mountain

A Slab-tastic Thanksgiving at Stone Mountain

  While the majority of the country was up at 4am (or never even went to bed…) for Black Friday sales, our household instead celebrated “Slab Friday” at Stone Mountain.  Cragbaby’s Grammy graciously agreed to let him hang with her all day so that Steve and I could not only hit up the area that I am definitely the least familiar with guidebook-wise, but also have the chance to get our multi-pitch on together for the first time since an excursion to the Linville Gorge back when I was 5 months pregnant or so. Stone Mountain is one of those areas…Read the rest of this entry →

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A Classic, A Project, and a Classic Video Project

A Classic, A Project, and a Classic Video Project

We’d been looking forward to the Dixon Crush-fest Bouldering Competition for a few months, and although we were disappointed when it got cancelled, we didn’t let it stop us from having our own crush-fest this past Saturday.  Besides, Cragbaby and I were both sporting new gear from Icebreaker  and we were anxious to put it to the test (more on that exciting partnership later!). What started out as a chilly morning turned into a great day – what we lacked in sunshine was more than made up for in friction!     We spent the morning in the Lower Area,…Read the rest of this entry →

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Dave the Dude 5.11d – From a Dudette’s Perspective…

Dave the Dude 5.11d – From a Dudette’s Perspective…

While every climbing trip we take involves fun and uniqeness, not every trip contains a moment like this one.  It’s 5 days later as I write this and my heart still skips a beat when I think about this line.  When I first sat down to write up my trip report from last week’s trip to the Red, I knew Dave the Dude deserved way more love than a brief mention in a weekend recap, so I decided to memorialize it as a Classic Climb. Just like the old adage that says you can’t judge a book by its cover,…Read the rest of this entry →

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Red River Gorgeous…

Red River Gorgeous…

Last week our crew made a pilgrimage north across state lines, where we spent 4 days frolicking around on Kentucky sandstone.  This marked our family’s third trip to the Red, but only the first in which we didn’t get rained on every single day.  In fact, aside from a few passing showers in the car on the way up, we didn’t even see a drop!  Since we had a fairly large group, we decided to all go in together and splurge on a cabin – considering that the lows were in the upper 20′s, it was well worth the extra…Read the rest of this entry →

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Guidebook Work Day: Enjoyment High, Productivity Low, Sans Cragbaby!

Guidebook Work Day: Enjoyment High, Productivity Low, Sans Cragbaby!

While admittedly that title might be a little extreme, the Moore’s Wall Guidebook Photo Extravaganza certainly did not go as planned. The original plan was to meet up with my favorite photographer, Manuela, on Thursday morning at Moore’s Wall. Our goal was to photograph as much of the cliffline as we could and spend the night with family in Winston-Salem, so that we could not only wrap up route photos on Friday, but also walk the cliff with Carolina Climbers Coalition president Scott Gilliam so that he could show us some undocumented lines. Our plans started unraveling long about Wednesday…Read the rest of this entry →

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The Highlight Reel…

The Highlight Reel…

If you’ve ever climbed with our family, then you’ve probably experienced the end of day mental pat on the back otherwise known as The Highlight Reel. It’s a long time tradition that Steve and I established years ago, back when we first started climbing. At first it was just something we talked about with each other on the way home from the crag. We gradually introduced it to our other climbing partners and it just sort of took on a life of its own… Here’s how it works. After a hopefully long and fun-filled day at the crag, each person…Read the rest of this entry →

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Rocktober-fest at the New River Gorge

Rocktober-fest at the New River Gorge

After a small string of crappy weather trips a few weekends back, I was starting to think our rain curse was back…but au contraire!  Despite both nights plummeting to a frosty 35 degrees, the daytime temps went from frigid to an ideal 60 degrees within a couple of hours of the sun rise, much to everyone’s delight.  Although we had a pretty big crew with a wide range of skill levels represented, I think everyone managed to get their fair share of pump and exposure, along with a healthy dose of fall color. We spent Saturday at Endless Wall, which is probably…Read the rest of this entry →

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How to Use Your Stick Clip (a Collaboration with the Crag-Daddy)

How to Use Your Stick Clip (a Collaboration with the Crag-Daddy)

For those of you that remember my recent post a few weeks ago regarding the DIY stick clip, you may also remember that I promised a subsequent post on how to use your handy dandy new pole.  (Or you may have forgotten all about it since it’s taken us so long to finally take these videos…sorry about that).   Anway, since my hubby prides himself in his mastery of stick clip tricks (and while I have no trouble hanging a draw, compared to Steve my “trick” skills are that of a mere apprentice), an instructional post like this was right up his…Read the rest of this entry →

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A Day at Dixon

A Day at Dixon

We had a few things to get done this weekend (not the least of which involved taking Cragbaby to a pumpkin patch), but the weather was too good to pass up – so we ended up spending Saturday at our local bouldering area – Dixon School Road Boulders.  We actually had spent a quick evening session there once back in the summer of 2009 – Steve was in Charlotte on business, and since I was teaching at the time and out of school for the summer, I’d gone with him.  (It turns out I was also pregnant with C at…Read the rest of this entry →

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Cold, Sleet, Snow, and Generosity…but No Bouldering.

Cold, Sleet, Snow, and Generosity…but No Bouldering.

Ah, fall.  Always ushered in for our household by the first Saturday in October, where we head up to the High Country of western North Carolina with the other “pad people” to pretend that we are pebble-wrestlers (aka boulderers).  Even though roped climbing is more of our “thing” (as is evident by anyone seeing hearing me on a mantle topout), we like to get our boulder on occasionally as well, and ALWAYS on this particular Saturday for the Hound Ears Bouldering Competition.  This annual shindig is the first in a series of 3 comps collectively known as the Triple Crown. …Read the rest of this entry →

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Helmets – Heck No or Essential Pro? (and a GIVEAWAY!!!)

Helmets – Heck No or Essential Pro? (and a GIVEAWAY!!!)

This is a post about brain buckets, aka helmets.  And guess what – in honor of Petzl’s October Helmet Campaign, I’ve been authorized to sponsor a free giveaway of a Petzl Elia  or Elios (winner’s choice) to one lucky reader, courtesy of the folks over at Pemba Serves.  Interested?  Read on… The majority of climbers have helmets – the real question is does it ever end up on your head, or is it merely dead weight in your backpack?  The subject of helmets can be a controversial one for some climbers – it seems as though there are two extremes,…Read the rest of this entry →

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To Stick or Not to Stick (Clip)…

To Stick or Not to Stick (Clip)…

What is long, collapsible, assembled from a seemingly random assortment of items from the local Home Depot, and always within arm’s reach of most bolt-clipping sport monkeys?  If you answered stick clip, you’d be mostly correct…add in the word MACK-DADDY and you’d be right on!  For my non-climber readers who think I’m talking about a strange way to interact with zoo animals, here’s a quick primer in Sport Climbing 101… A route is designated as “sport” if the line is protected by bolts every so many feet all the way to the top.  The first climber (leader) ties into the…Read the rest of this entry →

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Morning Drizzles in the Highlands: AKA Life in the Clouds

Morning Drizzles in the Highlands: AKA Life in the Clouds

From wallowing in the sunny, upper 90′s of the Obed a mere 3 weeks ago to bundling up with foggy mornings in the 40′s at Grayson Highlands this past weekend, one would think we skipped over autumn altogether and moved straight into early winter.  Though the forecast across the Southeast was looking pretty grim, it appeared as though a lone bright spot was hanging over Grayson Highlands State Park with a mere 20% chance of morning drizzles.  However,we soon learned that a lack of actual rain doesn’t necessarily equal dry conditions.  It seemed as though the higher we drove in…Read the rest of this entry →

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In the Name of Climbing…er, Research!

In the Name of Climbing…er, Research!

This weekend’s mission was all about guidebook research…and by research I mean lots of climbing.  On Saturday Steve, Cragbaby and I met up with knowledgeable local Eddy Ramirez, who was kind enough to give us a tour of some of the lesser traveled areas of Crowders Mountain – namely the Resurgance Walls.  While sitting at home writing about climbing can get tedious at times, the cooler temps and low humidity levels have made my “research missions” a delightful escape.  As if I’m not already motivated enough to explore my new local crag, Crowders is probably the one area out of…Read the rest of this entry →

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The Perfect SEND-tember Combo: Tall Rock and Deep Water!

The Perfect SEND-tember Combo: Tall Rock and Deep Water!

  With Hurricanes Lee and Katia closing in on all sides, we were extremely lucky to get 2 days of great weather on our Labor Day climbing excursion to the Obed Scenic River.  This was substantial improvement over our last Obed trip, when we dealt with thunderstorms every few hours for the entire weekend.  Our posse ended up being a fairly large group, with a wide variety of climbing abilities and goals represented, but what very easily could have been a logistical nightmare turned into a weekend filled with adventure, laughter, and of course – some serious sending!  ***Note for…Read the rest of this entry →

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From Gym Rats to Rock Hounds…

From Gym Rats to Rock Hounds…

It seems like a lot of our climbing recently has revolved around projecting some harder stuff, so it was nice to take a step back for a day with some local craggin’ on more moderate terrain with a couple of gym rats.  The forecast was for temps in the mid-90′s, but with Hurricane Irene baring down on the east coast, it also called for lots of cloud cover and 25 mph gusty winds, which we figured would neutralize the heat a bit.  Considering what folks just a few hours east of us at the coast were (and still are) dealing…Read the rest of this entry →

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Birthday Bonanza at the New River Gorge!

Birthday Bonanza at the New River Gorge!

  Its that time of year again where I get older and wiser, which in our family means we fly north to the New River Gorge to celebrate.  In years past we’ve hit Summersville Lake (for the trip report on last year’s bash, click here), but this year we decided to stay in the gorge and climb away from the crowds.  The weather was (for August), spectacular – temps below 90 with decent cloud cover, and the only rain was in  quick passing showers on Sunday afternoon.  Had we been able to lift off that smothering blanket of humidity, conditions…Read the rest of this entry →

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The Good, The Bad, The Ugly…and a new Facebook Group.

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly…and a new Facebook Group.

Our original weekend plans included a climbing trip to Boone, but unfortunately Mother Nature had other plans.  With all of our family travels and such it had been almost a month since we’d gotten outdoors climbing, so we were definitely itching to get out.  But because the forecast was so sketch, we ended up just staying in town and climbing locally at Hidden Wall.  Considering the weather reports from friends in other parts of the state, it seems like it was the better choice, although conditions were still mediocre at best. Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly… THE…Read the rest of this entry →

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Exposure On and Off the Rock

Cragmama

In looking for relevant posts to use while out of town, I stumbled across this post I did a couple of years ago on exposure.  Even though I ended up not using it while I was in Michigan, I felt like it still applied, so I tweaked it a little, and voila! Exposure is a commonly used term in rock climbing that might not be familiar to those outside of the sport. I found an online dictionary that defined it as “being in a situation in which you are very aware that you are high off the ground.” In other…Read the rest of this entry →

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The New Never Gets Old

The New Never Gets Old

Well its about time.  We went to the New this past weekend and we had….wait for it….NO RAIN!!!  The Lineberry Rain Curse is officially broken!  Sure we’ve had a few sunny day trips here and there, but its literally been a year since we’ve roped up on a completely rain-free weekend.  Conditions could not have been any better – low humidity, cloud cover, temps just barely hitting 80!  And though I would never in a million years wish rainy conditions upon any of my climbing peeps, after hearing of two other crags that got dumped on (one with only a 10% chance of…Read the rest of this entry →

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Over the River and Through the Woods…to Grandmother’s Boulders We Go!

Over the River and Through the Woods…to Grandmother’s Boulders We Go!

Slowly but surely I’ve been whittling away at my 2011 Hit List, and finally dragging my crash pad up to the Grandmother Boulders in Boone brings me one step closer to crossing off #7 from my list, which was about exploring new climbing areas.  These quality boulders are sitting around 5000 feet or so, making for a welcome summer respite for NC climbers drowning in humidity at lower elevations across the state.  There’s not guidebook of course, because thats the way NC bouldering rolls, so we were delighted that our friend Matt was up for showing us around.  The temps were in the 70′s, and…Read the rest of this entry →

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The Heresy Saga

The Heresy Saga

At some point I think most climbers develop what I like to think of as “Daydream Projects” – routes that for whatever reason, almost seem to call your name.  Maybe its because the route is particularly aesthetic or has a famed notoriety associated with it.  Perhaps the route speaks to you because you know it will  push either your mental or physical abilities (or both!).  Or maybe you keep obsessing over it because you’ve gotten on it so many times and keep falling off at the same dang spot.  You have a connection to the route on a personal level.  You rehearse the crux…Read the rest of this entry →

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Tennessee = Thunderstorms and Composting Toilets

Tennessee = Thunderstorms and Composting Toilets

We set off late Friday afternoon on another weekend climbing trip, this time to the Obed River, in Eastern Tennessee.  The forecast called for a 30% chance of afternoon showers on both days – so of course that meant storms the majority of the day on both days (yet again).  Although I’m relieved that we always manage to make trips more than worthwhile (thankfully once again we were still able to crank hard both days), I’ll be honest that the rain is starting to get old…fortunately this time we didn’t have to spend our evenings hanging out in a soggy campsite. …Read the rest of this entry →

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A Day of Hot Flashes

A Day of Hot Flashes

Don’t worry, this post has nothing to do with skewed hormones and ticking biological clocks.  For those readers who are non-climbers, here’s a quick little lesson in climbing linguistics… Onsight – Completing a route from bottom to top with no falls or rests on the rope the first time you attempt it, without any prior knowledge about the route. Flash – Same as an onsight except that you had some helpful beta (info/tips) before attempting the route - such as observing someone else climb the route, reading someone else’s ascent notes, etc. Redpoint – Completing a route from bottom to top with…Read the rest of this entry →

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Interview with Chicks Climbing

Cragmama

Recently I was asked by Maijalisa Burkert of Chicks Climbing if I was up for an interview.  Who is Chicks Climbing, you might ask?  They are only the premiere go-to place for all things related to women’s climbing, both on ice and on the rocks.  Their instructional clinics  (“Chicks with Picks and “Chicks Rock“) can be found all over the country, where they promote self-reliance by teaching technical skills to help women become knowledgeable, independent climbers.  The theme of both their ice and rock climbing clinics is “Women climbing with women, for women.”   These Chicks also aren’t afraid to give back…Read the rest of this entry →

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Unveiling The Cragbaby Project!

Cragmama

It’s here, its here!  Its finally here!  Those of you that have been reading for a while may remember “The Cragbaby Project.”  After learning about my then-new blog series “Creating a Cragbaby,” our professional photographer-turned-cinematographer friend Jan Balster had wanted to use our family as a lifestyle piece for his portfolio in hopes to attract more video gigs.   He wanted the documentary style film to capture the essence of an adventure-loving family outside doing what they love.  Jan shot footage of us on three different days – bouldering in Asheboro, roping up at Pilot Mountain, and an afternoon interview…Read the rest of this entry →

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On Choosing a Crag (Part 2)

On Choosing a Crag (Part 2)

“On Choosing a Crag (Part 1)” discussed some tips for choosing a great crag with a perfect approach.  This is the continuation of that post – applying those ideas to real life scenarios.  The following is a compilation of several baby and kid-friendly climbing areas that our family frequents throughout the Southeast. STARTER CRAGS -  From local jaunts to world-class rock, these areas are great first time crags suitable for the whole family, regardless of age. Pilot Mountain, NC – Certainly not a destination crag, but easy access and short approaches make it a great first-time spot. Sandrock, AL -…Read the rest of this entry →

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On Choosing a Crag (Part 1)

On Choosing a Crag (Part 1)

Everyone knows that not all crags are created equal – but the characteristics that make a climbing area perfect depend on what your climbing party is looking for. Who cares about the approach, you might say – don’t you just go where the climbing is good?!? It seems like a no-brainer for most folks…however since Cragbaby came along, we’ve realized that there is more to a great day than just great climbing. Here’s a list of the factors we consider when we are gearing up for a day out on the rocks. Distance – Remember that short little legs tire…Read the rest of this entry →

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Memorial Day Madness at Grayson Highlands

Memorial Day Madness at Grayson Highlands

After spending the first part of the weekend hanging out with family, we met up with some friends late Sunday morning up at Grayson Highlands State Park for some bouldering fun.  It was the first time we’d been back to GHSP since last fall, and I’d almost forgotten what a spectacular setting it is!  The weather was pretty warm both days, but I’m fairly certain cooler than the majority of climbing areas in the Southeast. Our first day consisted of a high volume of moderates.  We started out at the Picnic/Rock House Area before ending up at the Cap-Gun Boulder…Read the rest of this entry →

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New River Rendezvous Recap

ISO-9000 (5.11b)

After skipping last year’s ‘Vous b/c Cragbaby was still really new on the scene, we were back this year, this time as a family that was bigger (and I like to think C has made us better…) than before!  The weather was great – the driest trip to the New we’d had in a really long time!  We had a whole posse of friends that met us up there, ran into tons of folks we hadn’t seen in a long time, and of course met lots and lots of new friends! We rolled in just before dark on Thursday night…Read the rest of this entry →

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Hidden Projects

Cragbaby making sure my ATC is in good working order while Daddy gets started on Top That Direct (5.10b)

After a long week of working our tails off unpacking boxes, moving furniture, hanging pictures, and organizing shelves and drawers, we decided to reward ourselves with some climb time at the crag on Sunday afternoon.  One of my favorite parts about our new location is that we now have a local crag that is actually “local,” instead of 2 hours away!  So Sunday morning we got up leisurely, headed to church dressed in our climbing clothes (which by the way I also love – a church without dress codes…), and then were out at the crag by 1130 or so. …Read the rest of this entry →

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Parlier’s Project: A Documentary of Grayson Highlands State Park

Parlier’s Project: A Documentary of Grayson Highlands State Park

Last summer we spent a good deal of time bouldering up at Grayson Highlands, VA.  Its an area that has seen smatterings of activity for many, many years, but only in small pockets of the park.  In recent years, this park has seen a resurgence in development, due mostly to my friend Aaron Parlier, who we met out at Grayson last summer.  Aaron is in the process of writing a guidebook for the area, hoping to have it in the hands of the publisher by the fall. On the day that we met Aaron, we also met Daniel Caudill, who…Read the rest of this entry →

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Rain and Rivers Raging at the Red!

Rain and Rivers Raging at the Red!

Considering that the last time we climbed at the Red was when I was 11 weeks preggo and under a self-imposed toprope restriction, it was great to finally get back there, and this time on the sharp end!  We headed up on Thursday afternoon to meet our crew of climbing partners at Lago Linda’s.  The weather forecast was not good.  In fact, it was downright bad.  But I’m so thankful we didn’t let a few rain drops get in the way of our having a good time!  Obviously with a large posse of climbers with  varying abilities, no two people had the same tick list,…Read the rest of this entry →

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All Sorts of “Newness” at the New River Gorge

All Sorts of “Newness” at the New River Gorge

I’ve been to the New a countless number of times over the past few years, and the best part about it is that it never gets old!  No matter how many times we head up there, no two trips are ever the same, and this weekend was certainly no exception.  In fact, our weekend was chock full of “newness” – a new climbing season, a new drive, a new friend, lots of new routes, new gear, and of course a new hit list to work with.  Our trip started on Friday afternoon, when Cragbaby and I picked Steve up at…Read the rest of this entry →

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A Perspective on Risk Assessment

A Perspective on Risk Assessment

“Do you take less risks in climbing now that you’re a mom?”  If I had a dollar for every time someone has asked me this since Cragbaby entered on the scene…well let’s face it, I wouldn’t be rich, but I would definitely be able to buy more $4 frappucinnos at Starbucks!  The funny thing is, I never really feel like I have a good answer for this question.  I feel like the “correct” answer is, “Yes, the responsibility of raising a little person has made me less risky of a climber.”  But if I’m being honest, I don’t really think much…Read the rest of this entry →

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Crowder’s Mountain – Our New Local Crag!

Crowder’s Mountain – Our New Local Crag!

We’ve been in Charlotte for a little over a month now, but hadn’t had a chance to explore any of our new local rock until this weekend.  We’d been to Crowder’s Mountain before two other times when we were relatively new climbers, but not since 2007, so it felt like a new area.  Crowder’s Mountain is located near Gastonia, NC, and is only 35 minutes away from our new digs!   I can see why Crowder’s doesn’t always have the best reputation among NC climbers. It can get overrun with red-helmeted boy scouts and biting flies during the summer, hikers stand in amazement gawking at those ”crazy folks…Read the rest of this entry →

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The Hit List for 2011…

The Hit List for 2011…

Now that the weather has been so nice, we’ve been starting to line up some climbing trips for the coming months. Since our move to Charlotte a few weeks ago, we are getting pretty psyched about being so much closer to the rock. I’ve decided to put all of this newfound mental energy to good use and come up with a 2011 Hit List. I hesitate to call it a “Project List” because I don’t want to take it too seriously. I dont want to get caught up in the the overtraining, number-chasing, and ego-driven mentality that so many folks…Read the rest of this entry →

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Pilot Mountain Trip Report

Pilot Mountain Trip Report

The weather was stellar this weekend, so guess what we did – we went rock climbing! Surprise, surprise… Oddly enough, our first crag day since the move to Charlotte was NOT spent at local rock. Our plans were with a Raleigh partner as well as a Charlotte partner, so it made more sense to head to a halfway point, and since we just had one day free this weekend, Pilot Mountain got the winning bid! Even though the parking lot was pretty crowded and we saw lots of other climbing parties hiking around, the only route we had to wait…Read the rest of this entry →

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Pilot-Palooza aka Cragbaby: Scene 2

Pilot-Palooza aka Cragbaby: Scene 2

Sunny, highs in the 50′s in February…thats enough to draw a crowd at just about any crag.  We’ve been doing a lot of bouldering recently, but this weekend we decided to rope up at Pilot Mountain.  Incredibly enough, it was the first we’d done any roped climbing since October when we spent several days at the Obed in Tennessee.  Today turned out to be a darn near perfect day - despite how much I enjoy bouldering, I’d forgotten that nothing beats tying into the sharp end of a rope!  We met up with Jan and his wife Crystal in the parking lot. …Read the rest of this entry →

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Lights, Camera…FRICTION!!!

Lights, Camera…FRICTION!!!

  My writing focus these days has been mostly on the Creating a Cragbaby series, so I’ve been a little slack on the trip reports…but a couple of  weekends ago we enjoyed yet another wonderful weather weekend bouldering (and I’m glad we were able to squeeze that in before all the cold and rain set in…)  It was the usual suspects – me, Steve, Canaan, Christie…but this time there was a twist.  Enter Jan Balster, a professional photographer / cinematographer.  We’d worked with Jan before a few years ago as guinea pigs for a promo-shoot at Pilot Mountain.  Well, about a month ago he contacted me…Read the rest of this entry →

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Falling Up and Falling Down at Asheboro

Falling Up and Falling Down at Asheboro

  Our house went on the market last Monday, and after a smattering of showings towards the end of the week, we got slammed with 5 requests for Saturday showings.  We figured since we were banned from our house for all but an hour here or there, we might as well get outside and enjoy the weather.  We decided to meet up with a few folks at Asheboro.  Since it was a gorgeous day, lots of other people had the same idea, so we ended up making several new friends as well as a Charlotte connection!  We didn’t get on…Read the rest of this entry →

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One Last Friction Fest of 2010

One Last Friction Fest of 2010

Until this past week, it’d been over 2 years since we’d gotten our friction on at the Asheboro Boulders – last winter I was pregnant and relegated to toproping, and the winter before that I had a bum shoulder.  But with a couple of breaks in the cold and wet weather streak we’ve been having, we managed to hit the ‘Burl twice – a few days before Christmas, and once more on New Year’s Eve. Our pre-Christmas trip was timed so that it was a pit stop on the way to my parents house in Winston-Salem for the holidays.  It…Read the rest of this entry →

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Let’s Get Ready to Rumble…

Let’s Get Ready to Rumble…

I think most non-climbers probably assume that picking your climbing destination for the weekend is pretty straightforward – what kind of climbing do you want to do?  What distance are you willing to drive?  Pick out a place that answers those questions, and go there, right?  Au contraire my friends.  If only it was that simple.  Yes those questions are important ones to consider, but the most important factor of all is totally out of your control and only mildly predictable – the WEATHER.  For the weekend warrior, watching the weather forecast and planning around it can turn into quite…Read the rest of this entry →

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A Perfect Fall Weekend in the Highlands

A Perfect Fall Weekend in the Highlands

Great friends, stellar rock, and perfect weather all add up to a wonderful weekend in Grayson Highlands, VA!  We arrived late Friday night to the campground, and were pleased to find out that it didn’t get nearly as cold overnight as the forecast had predicted.  After enjoying a nice breakfast with Manbert, we met up with a hodgepodge of folks at the Contact Station before heading to the Olympus/RockHouse area. We warmed up on Cherokee Dihedral (V1), which felt kinda heady for a warm-up, but was a really pretty line up a dihedral with an interesting transition onto the right…Read the rest of this entry →

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Four Days of Dirtbaggin’ in Tennessee

Four Days of Dirtbaggin’ in Tennessee

With Canaan’s arrival this spring, Steve and I were way too busy to plan a big summer climbing trip like we usually do – so when our friend Christie said she had a few days off from grad school coming up in October and wondered if we’d be up for heading somewhere to climb, we jumped on the opportunity!  Steve had a business trip to Charlotte planned for the beginning part of the week, so on Wednesday afternoon, Canaan and I hopped in the car with Christie and Doris and made our way to Hickory, where we met up with…Read the rest of this entry →

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Hound Ears Competition 2010

Hound Ears Competition 2010

The beginning of October marks the start of one of my favorite times of the year – fall.  Warm days, cool nights, pretty leaves…and the Hound Ears Bouldering Comp!  For those of you that don’t know, Hound Ears is a private resort in Boone, NC filled with giant vacation homes.  The woods surrounding these gorgeous homes also just happen to boast some of the best bouldering in the region.  Though seldom taken advantage of by the residents, this rocky playground sits mostly untouched for every day of the year except for the first Saturday in October – when over 400…Read the rest of this entry →

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Mama’s got a brand new bag (and Cragbaby’s packin’!!!)

Mama’s got a brand new bag (and Cragbaby’s packin’!!!)

The past few weekends have been really busy for us, but long weekends with spectacular weather are just too tempting to pass up, so we were off to VA again for some more bouldering fun.  After spending a fun evening with Canaan’s grandparents (both sets!) we were off bright and early the next morning to meet Manbert at Grayson Highlands State Park.  The low humidity and highs in the upper 60′s felt amazing – and I sure was glad that I had bought Canaan some fall clothes right before we left! This was a landmark trip for us, since it was the test run with our…Read the rest of this entry →

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Grayson Highlands Bouldering…..

Grayson Highlands Bouldering…..

……is spectacular!  I can’t believe we never knew about it til recently!  Our journey started out on Friday afternoon with a small hiccup – as we were packing up the car, our friend that was supposed to be showing us around on Saturday texted us that he had to bail due to having kidney stones….hmmm, I GUESS that’s a reasonable excuse and we’ll let it slide…   Anyway, we hurriedly printed out the problem descriptions from Mountain Project and jumped in the car, hoping for the best… And the best it was!  Steve even said it was the most fun…Read the rest of this entry →

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Can’t Get No “Satisfaction…”, so just “Lieback and Enjoy It”

Can’t Get No “Satisfaction…”, so just “Lieback and Enjoy It”

Finally!  A weekend at the New that wasn’t soaking wet!  After we indoctrinated Christie into Southern culture by taking her to Chick-Fila for the first time, we arrived at the Mountain Lake Campground in Summersville just after sunset.  Everyone set up their tents while Canaan waited in his carseat on our picnic table.  After about 10 minutes I realized he had fallen asleep gazing at the moon After a slightly overcast start to our day on Saturday, we ended up with a bright, sunshiny (and humid…) day at last! We had a great group – big enough to be really…Read the rest of this entry →

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Rainy Mornings + Sunny Afternoons = More Than You’d Think

Rainy Mornings + Sunny Afternoons = More Than You’d Think

Well, the weather forecast may have looked significantly better this time compared to the last time, but of course it isn’t a trip to the New without a little rain, right?  Steve, Canaan, and I arrived 7 or so on Friday night, which gave us plenty of time to set up our tent and cook some dinner before it got dark.  Canaan really enjoyed walking around the campground before bedtime – apparently he thought it was hilarious and cackled with laughter for at least 30 minutes.  I’m still not really sure what was so funny, but of course a baby’s…Read the rest of this entry →

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Free to Climb! Independence Day at Pilot Mountain

Free to Climb!  Independence Day at Pilot Mountain

We decided to take advantage of the fact that we were in Winston-Salem by hitting up Pilot Mountain on Monday before heading back to Raleigh after the 4th of July festivities.  We met up with our friends Danny and Tracey in the summit parking lot at 9, surprised to find that it was virtually empty!  It was quite refreshing to be able to get on the routes we wanted without tripping over any red-helmeted boy scouts!  We didn’t even have to endure any wild rapelling shenanigans from the amphitheater from the meet-up groups! This is what our day looked like!…Read the rest of this entry →

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When it Rains, it Pours…

When it Rains, it Pours…

Since Canaan did so well a couple of weeks ago at the New, we decided to get up there again this past weekend.  We took our friends Marc and Marie, who are gym regulars that are relatively new to the outdoor scene.  We thought it would be great fun to head a little further north to Summersville Lake, a pristine blue mountain lake that doesn’t feel like it should belong in as benign a place as West Virginia.  The best part about climbing on a hot day in Summersville is the post-climb dip into the lake.  I went out the…Read the rest of this entry →

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C-Squatch and “The New” Invasion

C-Squatch and “The New” Invasion

After several weekend weather woes, we were finally able to get Canaan up to the New River Gorge for his first multi-day climbing/camping trip.  We decided it would be best to go up during mid-week as to figure out the logistics of bringing a baby to the crag without also having to battle all the crowds of Memorial Day weekend.  We convinced our friend Scott to be our third man/guinea pig under the stipulation that we wouldn’t stick him with the job of baby-watching. So, with as rain-free of a forecast as you can hope for at the New River…Read the rest of this entry →

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Craggin’ with the C-Squatch

Craggin’ with the C-Squatch

So if our hiking trips the past few weekends have improved my mental health dramatically, its probably safe to say that our first day out climbing with Canaan skyrocketed my psyche into the next stratosphere.  A little fresh air, great company, and real rock sure can go a long way – if only there was a way to bottle it for future use during times of injury, sickness, or on rainy weekends! Anyway, after 9 months of “observation” in utero, and 6 weeks of training outside the womb, Canaan was finally ready to participate with Mom and Dad in one…Read the rest of this entry →

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Showers and Surprise Alpine Conditions

Showers and Surprise Alpine Conditions

Steve and I headed west Friday night for the start of our fun-filled, but exhausting weekend.  On Saturday morning our parents threw us a baby shower.  There were about 50 people there and we got LOADED down with gifts!  I got to catch up with lots of folks I hadn’t seen in a long time, including my roommate from college, as well as some old family friends.  I feel like I ate my body weight (which at this point is quite significant…)  in fruit and fondue, but had a blast!  I also had to make a wardrobe change about halfway…Read the rest of this entry →

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Spring in January?

Spring in January?

What are the odds that a sunny January day in the 50′s would line up with a day off???  We had no choice but to go climbing!!!  We headed west before the sun came up and met up with our friends Marc and Marie, who we met at Triangle Rock Club.  Steve had taken Marc on his first outdoor climbing excursion about a year ago at Pilot Mountain while I was rehabbing my shoulder, so it seemed only fitting that we also were there for his girlfriend Marie’s first time roping up outdoors!  We had a cold start to our day –…Read the rest of this entry →

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Sweet Home (away from home) Alabama…and Atlanta…and Winston-Salem…

Sweet Home (away from home) Alabama…and Atlanta…and Winston-Salem…

So I haven’t been good about updating my blog recently with all the holiday hubbub, but I thought I would throw out a quick holiday sum-up as my last blog post of 2009… We started out our holiday with a doctor’s appointment for the J-bean on Monday, December 21st.  All was well, so we hopped in our loaded down car and drove down to Sandrock, Alabama for a couple days of climbing before celebrating the holidays with family.  Sandrock turned out to be really fun - by no means a must-do destination, but definitely fabulous for a side trip excursion!  Since the…Read the rest of this entry →

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A Hodgepodge of Fun!

A Hodgepodge of Fun!

Our Thanksgiving holiday was a whirlwind of fun, filled with some traditions, a few new tricks, as well as some unexpected surprises!  I guess I’ll start at the beginning.  On Wednesday, me and the Bean had a prenatal appointment in the morning.  I peed in a cup, got my vitals taken, my belly measured, and then we got to listen to J-bean’s heartbeat on the Doppler.  For those of you that don’t know, the doppler is a nifty little piece of machinery that probes around the belly to detect the fetal heartbeat – once the doctor finds the right spot,…Read the rest of this entry →

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Ode to Pilot Mountain…

Ode to Pilot Mountain…

This just in – rock climbing is more fun than staying home raking leaves…even if it is at Pilot Mountain.  For those of you that are not in the know, Pilot gets somewhat of a bad rap sometimes…okay a LOT of times.  The rock quality can be questionable in places, the routes are short, and the base of the cliff is generally overrun by swarms of red-helmeted boy scouts and other groups of people on their first “extreme rock climbing adventure.”  Not to stereotype or anything, but these newbies generally have entirely too much testosterone pumping through their veins, and they love to proudly grunt…Read the rest of this entry →

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What happens in Vegas…shows up on Facebook.

What happens in Vegas…shows up on Facebook.

I’m now in what most consider the “feel good” stage of my pregnancy. At almost 18 weeks, I am no longer exhausted like I was in my first trimester, but I’m not huge and cumbersome yet (just big enough to feel like a small whale at times…) So this seemed like the perfect opportunity to take a vacation! Steve’s company sent him to Vegas all last week for a Microsoft SharePoint conference at the Mandalay Bay. The conference ended Thursday afternoon, so I used some frequent flyers to meet him out there Thursday night. We spent the first night on…Read the rest of this entry →

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Briars and Scrambles and Gullies, oh my!!!

Briars and Scrambles and Gullies, oh my!!!

Finally the weatherman got the order right – an absolutely gorgeous weekend followed by a dreary, cold, and rainy Monday morning! This was the first weekend out of several that hasn’t been a washout, and Steve and I were not about to let it go by without taking advantage of it! We invited our friend Huck to go with us – one of the new folks we had climbed with at the Red a few weeks ago. Huck is somewhat of a new climber, and was eager to try out some new crags he’d never been to. Also, he’d never…Read the rest of this entry →

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Exposure = risk realized, but not increased

Exposure = risk realized, but not increased

Exposure is a commonly used term in rock climbing.  I found an online dictionary that defined it as “being in a situation in which you are very aware that you are high off the ground.”  In other words, standing on a large summit that is capped by lots of soil and very tall, thick trees would not be considered as exposed as a summit consisting of a 3 foot wide pinnacle several hundred feet off the deck.  A steep route traversing across a narrow ridge would be more exposed than a route that meanders up a low-angle slab.  Exposure typically intensifies a…Read the rest of this entry →

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Red River Gorge – great climbing, but where’s the river?!?

Red River Gorge – great climbing, but where’s the river?!?

In the few years that I’ve been climbing, I’ve had the opportunity to climb in lots of different places, but I’d never made it up to the Red River Gorge until this past weekend.  Steve and I had tried to go several times, but due to weather, schedules, injuries, etc., it seems as though the stars were never quite in proper alignment to make it happen.  But when several friends invited us to go, and especially after being able to finagle an extra day off of work on Friday, spending Labor Day weekend in Kentucky at the Red seemed to…Read the rest of this entry →

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Climbing Magazine’s Newest “Reader Blog”

Cragmama

So…its been a couple of weeks since my last blog post, but I have several good excuses!!!  One of which is that I have been officially “hired” as a blogger for Climbing Magazine’s website!  (I put “hired” in quotes, b/c its not really a paid position… )  Anyway, its probably going to be mostly about… you guessed it, climbing stuff.  Trip reports, musings, and the like – similar to the stuff that I post on here, but probably with more photos and technical jargon.    You can get to the reader blog pages by clicking here .  There’s a little “About Me” section,…Read the rest of this entry →

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Gaping Similarities, not Petty Differences

Gaping Similarities, not Petty Differences

So in my last post, I mentioned that we made some new friends at Pies n Pints during our visit to the New last weekend.  We overheard the couple at the table next to ours talking about their day at the Bridge Buttress, another New River Gorge climbing area, so we decided to see what routes they had gotten on.  We ended up talking to them the rest of the time while we ate – Josh and Erin were their names, and they were from Johnson City, TN.  We compared notes on our activities from the day, discussed our plans…Read the rest of this entry →

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Endless Fun at the New

Endless Fun at the New

So what started out as a random assortment of climbing buddies at the New, ended up being just me and Steve.  Some folks bailed earlier in the week, one signed on AND bailed all on the day before, and others bailed after driving for an hour and deciding they were too tired to continue (not naming names though, Manbert…).  Anyway, we spent our first day at Endless Wall, which is in my opinion one of the most beautiful places in the gorge.  I realized that I had a few head issues to work through, but by the end of the day, things…Read the rest of this entry →

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Risks and Consequences.

Risks and Consequences.

It has been a sad week in the world of climbing.  The climbing community suffered a loss of a legend this past weekend.  On Sunday, July 5th, John Bachar fell to his death while free soloing in Mammoth, California.  If you don’t know who he is, you can click on the link to find a quick bio, but this guy was one of the greatest climbers of all time, some might argue THE greatest.  This tragic event combined with my injury a couple of weeks ago in Utah brings to the forefront an issue that most climbers don’t like to…Read the rest of this entry →

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Maple Canyon and Closing Thoughts

Maple Canyon and Closing Thoughts

The climbing at Maple Canyon is probably the most unique climbing area I’ve ever been to.  The rock is a conglomerate embedded with pebbles and rocks of various sizes.  The routes are difficult to read from the ground, and require a lot of endurance to onsight, since you never know what kind of hold a cobble is going to be until you grab it, so you end up spending a lot of energy trying to find the right cobbles to use.  However, b/c of all the  cobbles, we discovered that Maple is also a place that rewards good footwork.  No matter…Read the rest of this entry →

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Big Cottonwood Canyon

Big Cottonwood Canyon

Day 1 ~ Outside Corner, w/North Face variation, 5.7 Pitch 1 – Steve led the first pitch, a fun wandering crack system that wandered up and out to an arete, and up to a ledge.  We saw Norbert and Manuela driving up as we were just getting started.  They spent the day at the Salt Lake Slips, where our line was in clear view all day.  They were thoughtful enough to check on us throughout the day, and document our progress via photos Pitch 2 – Short, but sweet.  I scrambled up a series of broken crack systems til I…Read the rest of this entry →

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Logan Canyon

Logan Canyon

We left the Idaho Falls airport on Saturday around lunchtime, and drove 2 hours thru southern Idaho to the city of Logan, just over the border in Utah.  Our original plan was to drive east to the High Uinta Wilderness outside of Kamas, but apparently there was a lot of snow this year, and the melt off wasn’t quite as far along as it usually is this time of year, so most of the routes were running with water, with 10 foot snow drifts at the base.  So, one  could say that our Logan Canyon plans were sloppy seconds, but…Read the rest of this entry →

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Seneca Rocks Trip Report

Seneca Rocks Trip Report

  Seneca Rocks – N. Peak on the left, S. Peak on the right, Gunsight Notch is the dip in the middle.   Standing on the South Peak Summit Last summer Steve and I won a day of private guiding at Seneca in a raffle during the “Playing for the Payoff” comp at the Triangle Rock Club, a fundraising effort to help buy the property of Laurel Knob in Western North Carolina.  This past weekend we decided to cash in on our prize.  What a great introduction to a new area!  Our guide was Arthur Kearns, affectionately known as “ACK”,…Read the rest of this entry →

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New River Rendezvous – Lucky #7

New River Rendezvous – Lucky #7

The New River Rendezvous was this weekend. This was our third year attending, and it seems like it gets better and better each year! We left Raleigh around 3:30 or so and arrived just in time to see a crazy slide show by Dave Chancellor from SoIll Holds. Friday dawned a beautiful day. Steve and I convinced Norbert and Manuela (whom I will affectionately refer to as “Manbert” ) to get up at the crack of dawn so that we could beat the crowds down at Sandstonia. A lot of stuff was wet from all the rain from the previous…Read the rest of this entry →

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Faith, Rock, and Gear…

Faith, Rock, and Gear…

This morning I was meditating on the idea of God being an “everlasting rock”, and I was again struck with the similarities that that spiritual concept had with my favorite hobby. This is a personal excerpt from my journal, so its a little on the deep side, so bear with me… “Putting my trust in an Everlasting God is a little like doing a really hard trad route with bomber gear placements on perfect rock. I know the protection is sound, so I’m not afraid to keep going, even if it gets hard and I think I might fall. Just when…Read the rest of this entry →

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Best of Climbing 2008…

Best of Climbing 2008…

The Anguish of Captain Bligh 5.11c Ship Rock, Boone, NC Steve topping out on The Daddy 5.6, Linville Gorge, NC         Steve and I at the summit of Table Rock Steve drying off after getting stuck on the Table Rock Summit in a downpour. Rapping off of Skip to My Lou, 5.6, Table Rock Lieback and Enjoy It 5.10d, Sandstonia, NRG Getting the gear ready for Jan Balster’s promo shoot in May

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Squamish, BC Trip Report

Cragmama

Trip Report – Aug 2-10, 2008 Getting there – So we ran into some problems getting there…we found out the day before we left that a huge rockslide was completely blocking HWY 99 about 10 miles away from Squamish. Other than by air or water, the only way to get from Vancouver to Squamish was to drive the looooong way around, turning what should have been a 45 minute meandering from the airport up the highway into a 6 hour re-route on curvy mountain roads. We stopped at a greasy little motel at the halfway point Saturday night around midnight…Read the rest of this entry →

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El Potrero Chico Trip Report

Cragmama

Trip Report – Oct 18-23, 2007 Accommodations – La Posada, Casita #5 We really liked Posada! Everything was very clean, and all the folks that worked there are awesome! Our room was only 2 feet wider than our bed on 3 sides, but aside from the mosquitoes it was great. We even had an extra loft up above to store all of our gear, and even had a private bathroom! The community kitchen was a fun environment – pots/pans and everything were provided, and they had a fridge and several stoves. We had brought all of our breakfasts and crag…Read the rest of this entry →

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