Alex Puccio’s Controversial Crowdfunding

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Alex competing in the 2014 World Cup series, where she placed 5th overall. Photo: Seb Lazure.

While crowdfunding may be commonplace amongst start-up businesses, bands, and filmmakers, it has rarely been used by climbers, until last week when Alex Puccio posted a request for donations on the crowdfunding website RallyMe. Setting her goal at $10,000, Alex plans to use the money to fund her 2015 World Cup circuit travel expenses, where she hopes to, once and for all, clinch the title of World Cup Champion. Her request for funding has received a range of responses from the climbing community, from “I couldn’t think of a better cause worth supporting! So honored to be able to donate to see this hero make her mark on the world!” to “I feel insulted that Miss Puccio feels she’s entitled to money that could go to better causes.” With these two opinions and many in between it got us thinking about why the climbing community seems to be so polarized about Alex’s crowdfunding.

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Strength is my Weakness

Alex on a trail run in La Grand, Oregon

Today we feature a guest post from Ultra-runner and climber, Alexis Crellin, pictured above in La Grand, OR.

It was mile 29 and I was lost. The trail that I thought led to the top off Grove Creek Canyon had taken me to a literal cliff side high above it. “What an idiot.”  I said out loud to myself as I peered down into Utah Valley. I absentmindedly sucked on the tube of my hydration pack and was quickly reminded I had been out of water for the last two miles… It was the first time running this trail backwards and I clearly hadn’t paid enough attention.

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Climbing and Culture in Catalunya

Haley climbing in sector Esperó Primavera in Siurana

Haley climbing in sector Esperó Primavera in Siurana.

Ever wanted to drop everything, find some work in Spain, and live out your climbing dreams? Guest author, Haley Ross, did just that, and today she’s giving us the inside scoop on living and climbing in Catalunya. 

Spain, and more specifically Catalunya, has gained world-renowned climbing status with its legendary crags like Siurana, Margalef, Oliana, and Montserrat. In recent years, the climbing community has grown dramatically, with professionals and novices alike moving here to take advantage of the endless opportunities. If you’re lucky, you’ve gotten the chance to explore some of the truly exquisite climbing, but what if you decided to call Catalunya your home? I had barely dabbled in the climbing world before moving to Spain in 2012 to try my hand at teaching English abroad. I imagined staying for a few months, maybe a year, but that all changed the day I started climbing. I was instantly hooked on the sport for all of the common reasons: physical exercise, being in nature, the sense of community and positive atmosphere. But climbing here seemed to posses something distinguished, one-of-a-kind, with an extremely fanatical, almost (and by ‘almost’ I mean totally) addictive quality. I’ve now been living, teaching, and climbing in Catalunya for the past two years and have no intention of leaving. You’ve probably heard about the “magic” of Catalunya, or even had the chance to visit, but what is it really like to call it home? Why has it become such a climbing “mecca” and what makes it so special?

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Girl Crush of the Month: Jewell Lund

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Jewell and her sunny outlook on climbing.

This month we’re seriously swooning over Salt Lake City crusher, Jewell Lund. Climbing for 11 years now, she first got into climbing back in high school with a group of girlfriends who were all stoked on adventure. They had learned how to snowboard, mountain bike, and backpack together, but when climbing was thrown into the mix it was different for Jewell. As she describes, ”[Climbing allows me] to connect my mind with my body, myself with my environment, and myself with my partner. It’s a beautiful way to experience whatever the moment is.” We couldn’t have put it better ourselves!

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How To Break In Too Tight Climbing Shoes

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Ashima could not do a sick heel hook in ill-fitting shoes!

You know that feeling when you get a fresh new pair of climbing shoes, and they are so pretty, and you are so psyched on them?  And you insist that this is the correct shoe for you, as you cram and contort your foot to get the shoe on.  Then you start to climb in them and you’re thinking to yourself “Did my feet get bigger? I know I’m usually a size 38.” You make it through one climb, and wincing you take your shoe off, and your foot is already starting to look like something from a horror film.  Yeah, I’ve been there too.

I know for many of you diehards out there the solution for too tight shoes is “Suffer!! No pain no gain!” and that you in fact pride yourself on your feet growing weird new protrusions, and your toes folding over themselves, etc.  But what if you’re like me and you are basically…a huge baby when it comes to foot pain?  I’ll admit it!  If my feet are absolutely killing me, it’s hard for me to focus on climbing hard.  So what’s a gal to do when you plunked down a hefty chunk of change on shoes and you realize they don’t fit?  Today I’ve got some tips for all you tender-footed folks out there.

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Ashima Strikes Again! Ciudad de Dios 9a/+

Ashima sending Ciudad de Dios (9a/9a+). Photo credit: Ashima's Instagram c/o Cross Road Studios)

Ashima sending Ciudad de Dios (9a/+). Photo from Ashima’s Instagram c/o Crossroad Studios.

Less than a week after sending Open Your Mind Direct (9a+*), becoming the first female and youngest person to send 5.15a, Ashima is at it again. We’d barely had time to pick our jaws up off the ground, when Ashima posted her ascent of Ciudad de Dios, (9a/+), and in only three days. According to her Instagram, she actually fell on the last move after just one day of working the route, evidence that despite being only thirteen years old, this young lady is a force to be reckoned with. Ciudad de Dios links two routes Ashima is quite familiar with: Open Your Mind Direct and La Fabela (8c+), which Ashima sent last year.

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Ashima Shiraishi Becomes First Female to Send 5.15!*

Ashima on Open Your Mind Direct (9a+/5.15a)

Ashima on Open Your Mind Direct, 9a+/5.15a (Photo credit: Crossroad Studios)

*Since posting this on 3/17/15, critics have questioned whether Open Your Mind Direct, with the broken hold, is actually 9a+. See our later post regarding this controversy

We’d made bets on who would be the first female to send 5.15a, with Ashima being a clear favorite. Yet, moments ago, our jaws dropped when we heard that it happened: the female-5.15 barrier has been broken, and it only took four days of projecting (is that really even a project?). “OMG!!!” exclaimed Ashima on her Instagram, “I sent my 4 day project Open Your Mind Direct 9a+, in Santa Linya!!!!!!” It’s hard to find words other than “OMG!!!!” to respond to Ashima’s send of the exceptionally strenuous and relentless 40 meter route in Santa Linya. Open Your Mind Direct was originally sent by Ramon Julian in 2008 who gave it 9a+, then it was repeated by several who called it 9a. Julian described the route as “Enormous! 8c+, 8c+, 8c stamina required!!” Just watching the 8 minute video below of Magnus Midtboe climbing the route confirms the endurance required to clip the chains. Recently, a hold broke near the top with local climbers claiming it bumped the grade from 9a to 9a+. “I was able to be the first person to send the route after the hold broke off!” shared Ashima. The list of factors that make this send historic is long, but we could start with the fact that Ashima is 13 years old. For reference, Adam Ondra sent 5.15a for the first time at 15 (La Rambla, Siurana), making Ashima the youngest person (male or female) to send 5.15 (are we missing anyone?). Over the last few years, Ashima has taken the climbing world by storm claiming victories in bouldering and route climbing, in competitions and in outdoor ascents. It’s clear that she is only getting started. We bet on Ashima to be the first female to send 5.15a, now we’re betting on her to be the first person to send 5.15d. Watch out world, this lady’s coming for you!

Climb on! ~CXC

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Challenged to my Core: Climbing as a Mom

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There’s something about becoming a climber that convinces you that you can take on anything. At Crux Crush, we have heard multiple stories of climbing empowering women to overcome everything from addiction to arachnophobia to a fear of heights. I believe this is specifically unique to climbing. When you look up at the tall, steep, seemingly featureless route that you just climbed relying solely on your own body strength, the idea of being able to tackle anything seems completely plausible. It was this (mis?)conception that led me to believe that I could have a kid, continue working, and climb harder than I ever had before.

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