Together to the Top: A Look at Climbing’s Next Generation

With all the amazing things young guns are doing across the world, it can be easy to forget that we’ve got a few impressive ones here at home. Today we’re recognizing the efforts of Bimini Horstmann (15 years old), Katie Lamb (17 years old), and Lily Canavan (16 years old), who are right in Crux Crush’s backyard. At the end of 2014, these three out-climbed other formidable little crushers to bring home some hardware from the PanAm Championships in Mexico. If you’re from the Boston area, you’ve probably seen these girls at local comps, gyms, and crags. They are a great reminder that the next generation is quietly and tirelessly working in your local gym…even if most of them don’t have their driver’s license yet.

1 BH Podium

Bimini Horstmann (left) collecting her silver medal for the USA in the Female Youth B Rope competition. Photo by Bimini Horstmann.

CXC: When I was a kid, there was an overwhelming amount of sports to be a part of through school and local community centers. How did you end up finding climbing?

Lily: For a birthday party, I went to a gymnastics place that had a climbing wall. Fred, the guy running the birthday party, convinced me to join the team at that wall. When he moved to the Rock Spot, I joined the climbing team there. Eventually I quit ballet, figure skating, and swimming, just because I was having more fun at climbing practice.

Bimini: I was taking classes at the Newton YMCA and really wanted to keep climbing. We searched around for a team, and my mom (who knows Lily’s mom) saw Lily’s name on the Rock Spot website. So I also joined the Rock Spot team. I ended up quitting softball, and then swimming as well. Swimming especially was hard on my skin.

Katie: My whole family started climbing when I was still really young. I didn’t really have an option so we’d pack toys that I could play with at the gym. Eventually I decided to join the Boston Rock Gym’s Team Waimea, and at some point, I got to the age where I really started to try.

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Interview with Climber and Model Sierra Blair-Coyle

Sierra soaking up some sun and getting in some bouldering in Maui

Sierra soaking up the sun and getting in some bouldering at Grandma’s Beach in Maui, HI

Arguably the most recognizable female climber today, Sierra Blair-Coyle hardly needs an introduction. When she’s not climbing and modeling, this 20-year-old keeps busy studying marketing at Arizona State University and interacting with her some 200,000 Facebook followers. We caught up with Sierra to get a glimpse into her everyday life, her career, and just how she got there.

CXC: How did you first get introduced to climbing, and what made it stick?

SBC: The first time I climbed was on a wall at a local outdoor mall. I instantly loved climbing and would beg my parents to take me back every single day! The guys who ran the wall were very encouraging, and they would let me climb to my heart’s content. After this, I told my parents that I wanted to start competing in rock climbing. At the time, they did not know that climbing was an organized sport. Luckily, there was an article in the newspaper two weeks later about a local climbing team and how they had just competed at Nationals. I immediately went to the gym, joined the team, and started competing!

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#JeSuisDawnWall? The Hashtag Activist


Over the last two weeks, via social media, the world experienced gut-wrenching moments, ending in extreme sorrow in Paris and extreme joy in Yosemite. Today climber and mountaineering historian, Carolin Roeder, explores what she calls “the hashtag activist.”

Last week, my Facebook feed could not decide whether Paris was the place to be or Yosemite Valley. In some magical way, we were simultaneously Charlie and Ahmed and Tommy and Kevin, inching up El Capitan’s Dawn Wall using only our pencils to defend the freedom of speech.

As a European, a climber and a history PhD student who works on the history of mountaineering, it made sense, perhaps, to be Charlie-Ahmed and Tommy-Kevin at the same time. And yet, I felt much unease about how #dawnwall and #jesuischarlie competed in a very similar way for my identity.

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We Built A Home Wall (and So Can You!)


I must admit when my friend Jess said she was building a home wall, I didn’t quite believe it would happen. I threw her proclamation in with the large group of other climbers who claimed they would build a wall, but never got around to it. But low and behold, a few months later, I got a text with a picture of Jess holding an impact driver, surrounded by plywood. She was building a wall, and today shares what she learned and how you can turn that plan to build a wall into an actual home wall.

I’ve enjoyed climbing on friends’ home walls for several years now. I love the camaraderie they inspire and admire the owners’ freedom to set routes and climb whenever – without the commute to the gym! Over the past few years I’ve committed to climbing more seriously, and while I’m psyched to be bouldering more powerfully, I don’t dig the commute to the gym. Over the past year I started casually dropping hints to my husband that our basement could be converted into a home wall, but honestly without either of us having any construction experience I never thought it would actually happen. Cut to Crux Crush pointing me to Metolious’ wall guide and support from some enthusiastic friends and family with construction experience and we decided to give it a go! There are several guides to building a home wall online, but we learned many things along the way, beyond the scope of any guide, that I wanted to share with you:

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Gear Review: Black Diamond Vector Helmet Women’s

Vector BD Helmet

Over the winter break I went skiing for the first time in ten years and was shocked to see everyone and their mom wearing helmets. Back in the day, the only people wearing helmets were jibbers doing tricks at the park. Today, you’re the odd one out without a helmet. Somehow, over the last decade, it has become “cool” to wear a helmet skiing. Unfortunately, this is not yet the case in climbing. But it got me thinking, what would it take in culture and helmet design to get climbers to the point where wearing a helmet is seen as cool? The Black Diamond Vector helmet is a step in the right direction.

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Getting Over Topping Out

I’m not a scared climber. I don’t usually notice when I’m above my bolt, I’ll take whippers that scare onlookers more than they scare me, and even on high boulders I’ll try hard. But I’ve almost come to expect a panicky, scared feeling when topping out. Maybe it’s the pressure of the send, the fear of falling from an awkward, heel-hooked position, or probably some combination, but whatever it is freaks me out more than other climbing situations. So, to overcome it I’ve taken a few tips from our post on conquering lead climbing fear and put them into practice. Just like getting over any fear, the plan involves banking positive experiences and creating muscle memory that you can rely on. Here’s how to get over topping out:

Gain some confidence topping out boulders below your limit.

Gain some confidence topping out boulders below your limit.

Practice, Practice, Practice. Top out inside the gym and outside on easy, short boulders below your limit. If your gym has boulders that can be topped out, climb ‘em! Often the gym will have jugs up there, but let’s be real here, those jugs usually don’t exist outside, so once you’ve gotten comfortable topping out using jugs, simply take them out of the problem. The lip of the boulder or flat top more closely approximates real boulders. Also boost your top-out confidence by climbing lower, easier boulders outside.

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KJ Sends Pitch 15 on the #DawnWall

The Dawn Wall in Yosemite. (Photo credit: Tommy Caldwell's facebook)

The Dawn Wall in Yosemite. (Photo credit: Tommy Caldwell’s facebook)

This is what the World Cup must feel like to soccer fans. Hundreds of thousands of people around the world have been glued to a variety of media outlets from The NY Times to ABC News to Instagram, following the progress of Tommy Caldwell & Kevin Jorgeson on the #DawnWall.

Pitch 15. (Photo credit: Brett Lowell)

Pitch 15. (Photo credit: Brett Lowell)

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5 Things About Climbing I Wish I Knew 5 Years Ago

Sarah Williams putting her lessons learned climbing into practice.

Sarah Williams putting her climbing lessons learned into practice. (Photo credit: Carlo Nasisse)

We’ve all had that moment in climbing where something finally clicks, either physically or mentally. For most of us, that moment came later in our climbing career – followed by that temporary moment of regret: ‘If only I’d known this when I first started climbing!’ Today Sarah Williams shares her list of 5 things she wish she’d known when she started climbing 5 years ago. While it might be too late for some of us, hopefully Sarah’s advice will inspire any newbies just getting into the sport!

Lesson #1: Try Harder Stuff

Any gym rat can tell you that grades are very subjective. You may be cruising V5’s but just can’t seem to pull the move on one funky V3, or you might put 15 attempts into a V6 and flash the V7 next to it. Just because you’re climbing V3 and projecting V4 doesn’t mean you can’t jump on a V5 or even harder.

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How To Go From “Sport Weenie” To Ice Climbing Diva


Today we are lucky enough to have guest contributor Alexa Siegel share her best tips for how to go from being an obsessive sport climber to an all-out ice climbing machine.  She shares her story of how she fell in love with the sport, and why she thinks you can too!

I grew up in the suburbs of Boston and started my climbing career in the only gym in town.  Obviously, I was pretty cool, because that’s where I would hang out Friday nights. I couldn’t get enough.  I focused my energy around sport climbing, mostly because it was so accessible, and between my best friend Jamie and I, we could scrounge up draws, a rope and a vehicle to make the two hour pilgrimage to Rumney, our climbing mecca!  By the time college came around I dabbled in trad climbing, but my sport climbing background followed me like a shadow and somehow I ended up with the nickname “sport weenie”.  I ticked my way up the grades, learning how to move on real rock.  The frigid thought of ice climbing never crossed my mind.  My wiry, lanky frame doesn’t stay warm all that well (even during the summer months, my hands and feet remain ice cold to the touch). I never gave ice climbing a second thought. I avoided the cold.  Then everything changed when I moved to North Conway, New Hampshire after college, where there is not a climbing gym for miles.

What’s a girl to do during the long cold winter months without a gym?  Enter: ice climbing.  I thought to myself “How bad could it be?”

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Ashima Shiraishi Earns FFA of The Swarm (V14)

Ashima sending The Swarm (V14) in Bishop, CA

With her dad faithfully spotting, Ashima sends The Swarm (V14)

Ashima Shiraishi has started 2015 off with a bang, sending her second V14, The Swarm in Bishop, CA today. The 13-year-old is one of only four females to have ever sent V14, and now she has earned the first female ascent of this famous and scary boulder. Before her, The Swarm was climbed by a number of super strong guys, including Daniel Woods, Paul Robinson, and Dave Graham. On her Instagram Ashima wrote, “Ahhhh!!!! Sending has never felt this GOOD!!! Trying to get the first female ascent of The Swarm V14 was a huge mental battle for me! What a way to start the year!!!” Indeed. Happy new year to you, Ashima!

For more on the boulder check out this video of Brian Hendrick almost sending. Can’t wait to see a video of Ashima! I bet she’s got slightly different beta…

Climb on!

Info and Photo Credit: Ashima’s Instagram and Climbing Narc

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