Rock Roots correspondent Lily He brings us a tale of two friends and their adventures out West with none other than Steph Davis! Enjoy!
This is the story of Anne (pronounced “Annie”) and Lupe (short for Guadalupe), friends brought together by climbing in the Boston area. They are now in the midst of a “long distance relationship” after Lupe moved to Austin, Texas, but had their last hurrah in Moab, climbing at a women’s clinic run by Steph Davis this past spring.
LH: Anne and Lupe, you come from two completely different climbing backgrounds – how did you two meet?
AK: You could call me the gym rat. The first time I climbed was with my sister during my sophomore year of college. We would go to the local gym and have a blast climbing ropes. Since then, I started climbing more or less frequently depending on how steady my partner situation was. Climbing is something that I enjoy because it’s challenging and involves problem solving. Because I always want to be good at what I do (and because I also wanted to find others to climb with), I decided to sign up for MetroRock’s Sunday School [a training program offered at MetroRock], and then Granite Girls [an all female climbing school at MetroRock].
GM: I’m definitely not a gym rat. A friend of mine asked me to go climbing two years ago, and I said why not? My first climbing experience was at Frankenstein Cliff, ice climbing. After the winter, I went to Rumney, Cathedral, and White Horse [local New England climbing spots]. It was fun, but I wanted to properly learn safety procedures and get stronger. The only way for me to get better was to climb consistently – which meant moving indoors where weather wasn’t an issue. So, I signed up for Sunday School and met Anne. We then met again at a heel hook clinic, did Granite Girls together, and have been climbing together ever since.
LH: What makes you guys such great climbing partners?
GM: I really like climbing with Anne because she is stronger than me, and pushes me to climb harder. We’re similar in height and body type, which means I can learn more from her than my original climbing partner (who is taller and heavier).
AK: Lupe is a great coach. I always joke that I’m inherently lazy, and Lupe won’t let me climb only things that I’m good at. She calls me out when I’m slacking. We met at a point where both of us were in a serious climbing mindset and wanted to train. Lupe wants to send projects outdoors, and I want to get strong and get comfortable competing. Neither of us really bouldered much until about 3 weeks before The Heist [female-only bouldering competition at Central Rock Gym in MA]. Lupe and I both dared each other to sign up for it, and now we’ve both stuck with it.
LH: You two recently went on a 2-day women’s clinic with Steph Davis in Moab. What did you learn?
GM: I had actually been to Steph Davis’ crack clinic which was larger and had climbers of various ability, but found the women’s clinic appealing because it was going to be all women, smaller in size, and the beta was going to work for me. Someone wanted to feel more comfortable lead belaying with a gri-gri, so Steph started out teaching us how to mock lead belay. We also got to climb some crack using Steph’s placements, and all along the way we were asking questions. Having access to Steph in a small group setting was why I wanted to go.
AK: Some things she taught us that stood out to me were how to deal with weight differentials between you and your belayer, and racking up efficiently (especially if you weigh less).
GM: I loved seeing Steph climb and getting a feel for her attitude towards climbing. There was a party trying to climb this runout route next to us, and they were having trouble getting to the second bolt. So Steph just walked right over and asked if they wanted help, and quickly flew up the route for them. They had no idea who she was – just a “Thanks lady!” and they were off.
LH: People dream of crack climbing in the southwest – what was your crack experience like with Steph?
AK: I’ve always thought, “what’s the big deal about crack climbing?” You’re doing the same motion over and over and it’s highly uncomfortable. You’re literally jamming body parts and torque-ing them. I did try crack during the clinic, and though I felt like I improved immediately from my first attempt to my second attempt, I’m still not sure how crack climbing is more fun than other types of climbing. I can definitely see how it’s a different type of challenge.
GM: I was really proud of how Anne said “crack is not for me” but still tried it – there are a lot of people who won’t push themselves to get out of their comfort zone the way Anne did. I love crack climbing because it’s hard and you have to work for every inch and get past these mental challenges. I think crack climbing is where men and women can be at the same level because of just how mental the game is.
Lupe and Anne, you remind us that climbing relationships are unlike typical friendships; the right amount of “push” (and maybe a small quantity of trash-talk, ha!) can lead to results that you can be proud to say you’ve built together. We love your rock roots!
Thanks so much to Lily for bringing us another great installment of Rock Roots! If you like this post check out some of her past posts here. And to get in on a climbing adventure with Steph Davis click here!