Your Best Cup of Crag Coffee

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Me, manically hand-grinding coffee beans in Lovell Canyon, NV, at dawn.

Coffee & climbing! If you’re like me, you really can’t have one without the other. Let’s be honest: for some of us, climbing without being properly caffeinated is effectively a safety hazard. (Sure, Alex Honnold purportedly does not consume caffeine, but… we all know he’s some kind of robot/behemoth/super-human).

Over the years, I’ve experimented with many different methods of making coffee while in the wilds, with various tools at my disposal. In my search for caffeine while backpacking in New Zealand, I once even drank cold, instant coffee made with iodine water (spoiler alert: it was terrible). Here are my expert opinions on everything I’ve tried, so that you may make your best cup of crag coffee yet.

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The Climbing Fall that Almost Took My Leg

Pushing through and climbing on between surgeries.

One fall changed everything for Clara, and led to years of battling surgeries, recovery, and intense fear. Today she shares her story with us.

Recently a friend of mine sent me an article comparing the risk of injury from climbing to other sports. Interestingly, climbing had a lower incidence of injury compared to sports like basketball and soccer. And when you think about it, it makes sense – most of our gear doesn’t actually help us climb better, it’s just there to keep us safe. Yet, we still think of climbing as a fairly high risk activity. I think it’s because we know that aside from a pulley tear here or there, climbing injuries, while rare, can be catastrophic.

I learned that lesson the hard way. A slip and a fall – 20 feet runout above my last piece, a #2 c4 – landed me in the hospital. But I was lucky; what gear I had was good, and it saved my life. I escaped with “just” a broken leg and a few scrapes. Having lived a pretty active life, I was no stranger to injuries so I was pretty sanguine about the entire situation. In fact, we drove back to NYC from the Gunks before checking in at the hospital. Plus, I got used to reading stories of climbers who had decked, broken both legs and their back and were climbing 5.13 again after just a few months. So I figured I’d be sitting the rest of the season out, and then would be back at it in time for the spring.

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Women on Lead: Interview with Hilary Harris, Founder of Evo Rock + Fitness

HH Evo Portland

Continuing our series celebrating Women on Lead, we have an interview with Hilary Harris, founder of Evo Rock + Fitness, which started in New Hampshire and has expanded to locations in Maine, Indiana, and soon, Colorado.  In today’s interview, she dishes on growing a business, the changing face of women in climbing over recent years, and more!

CXC:  Tell us a bit about your background as a climber.

HH: I started climbing in college, and have been climbing for almost 30 years.  I went to college at University of Colorado, and went with some friends and my little brother who was also getting into climbing at the time.  I had actually made the decision to go to University of Colorado because I loved skiing.  We used to joke that climbing was a good activity in the off season of skiing, but then it became a year-round activity and I got into climbing full-time. I graduated from college and went to Europe, where I honed my technique, trained with the German team, and climbed with some incredibly strong, inspirational climbers.  When I came back to the US, I was climbing hard routes and competing, but really preferred climbing hard routes so left the competition circuit.  At the time it was hard to make it as a professional climber, so I went back to school for architecture.

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Dyno-ing for People Who Can’t Jump


Ready, set, dyno! If we can do it, so can you.

When I say I can’t dyno, I really mean I can’t dyno. There is some gravitational pull connected to my bum that increases ten fold at the exact moment I pump and release to go up. Instead of catapulting upward, I typically plummet to the ground with a loud, confidence-inspiring thud. I tried pumping, visualizing, counting, ejecting, nothing seemed to propel me in the right direction of up. After years of refusing to try any problem or route that involved a dyno, I finally admitted I had a dyno problem and needed serious help to break the process apart and then build it all back up together. Luckily climbing coach and pro, Mike Foley, was open to giving me (and by extension you!) a few pointers on the dyno process. After just three drills, I felt more confident in attempting a dyno and even managed to stick a few dynos since! Below, I’ve described the three easy drills that Mike had me do and included a quick video demonstrating each so that you could set the same drill up at your own gym. These three drills will either warm you up to practice dynos if you already feel confident in the skill, or will allow you to gradually build up to an actual dyno.

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Summer Crag Essentials

Crag-essentials-20161. Moutainsmith Mayhem 35 WSD – Hands down, this is the most comfortable pack I’ve ever worn. The padded waist straps and women’s specific fit make the heaviest loads float lightly on your hips, and you won’t have any more excuses to complain about a long approach with this pack. The stretchy front mesh panel is great for quickly stowing a chalk bag or jacket, and asymmetrical zipper prevents you from needing to dig through a full pack to get to something in the bottom. The pack is rigid in its size (it can double as carry-on luggage), so it can be difficult to carry a sport rack, rope, shoes, and other gear unless you very carefully coil the rope. I would go for a the 55 L option if you’re going to be carrying more to the crag.

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Conquering a Fear of Falling

Climber Fear

Chelsea on Fuzzy Undercling (5.11b) in the Red River Gorge. Photo by Erik Thatcher.

Chelsea has been climbing for 11 years and has dedicated her life’s work to outdoor education as an Outward Bound instructor. The self-proclaimed lover of all styles of climbing: bouldering, sport, trad, mountaineering, and ice, has worked hard to overcome her fear of falling. Today she shares her story with you. 

I was fed up, utterly frustrated, on the brink of quitting climbing all together.

I had spent the majority of my decade-long climbing career not climbing anywhere close to my physical limit. Here I was, an Outward Bound Instructor whose job it was to teach people to push their comfort zones in order to learn what they are truly capable of, and I was not able to do that for myself. It’s not because I didn’t want to. I really did want to know what it felt like to try hard and to climb while pushing my physical limit.

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Giveaway for You & a Friend – Just Because!


“One for you, one for me…”

We wanna show you all some love on this Wednesday with a giveaway full of climbing goodies! Yep, just because you rule. The winner will take home half the swag and will choose a friend to receive the other half. Check out all the ways to enter below.
Good luck and climb on!
Mary & Emily

Just Because Giveaway!

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Girl Crush of the Month: Anak Verhoeven

Photo by Sébastien Richard

Anak making history on Ma belle ma muse, 9a/5.14d. Photo by Sébastien Richard.

At just 19 years old, this month’s girl crush, Anak Verhoeven, has already gotten in more climbing than most of us. With climbers for parents, she started climbing age 4 and the sport has since been a defining feature of her life. Not only has she podiumed at many world competitions, including taking gold at the 2015 World Youth Championship in Arco, but she has also accomplished plenty on real rock.

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Guide to Women’s Climbing Shorts – Summer 2016

Welcome to shorts season!

Welcome to shorts season!

The only thing that rivals the difficulty of finding good climbing pants is finding good climbing shorts. We’ve done some “work” for you and tried out a bunch. For the reviews below, Mary is 5’4″ with an athletic build, usually size 2-4 in outdoor brands and Emily is 5’1″ with a small, athletic build and usually size 0-2.

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Tips to Trad: A Beginner’s Guide

When I began trad climbing earlier this spring, I was entirely perplexed about where to start. I kind of felt like…


And though I’d like to say trad isn’t complicated, that’s not really true.


The sheer amount of gear alone is overwhelming! Don’t worry, you probably won’t need this much. Photo by Weigh My Rack

The fact is, trad requires an added level of technical expertise and gear than sport climbing – there’s no avoiding that. But when you boil it down, these are essentially the two things you need: skills and gear. Here I’ll walk through elements of each, and provide tips for your first lead. This is by no means comprehensive, but will hopefully give some ideas and a good starting place.

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