Author Archives: Jess

Pack Review: Patagonia Cragsmith Pack 35L

Patagonia Cragsmith

Today’s review was written by CXC regular contributor Jess. Here’s what she thinks of the Patagonia Cragsmith.

After years of hauling my gear in tiny daypacks or oversized backpacking packs I decided it was time to finally invest in a specialized climbing pack. For me, the essential features of such a pack would include a padded waistband and a U shaped back pocket for easy gear access. I found these features in Patagonia’s fantastic Cragsmith.

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Get Your Weave On with a DIY Rope Rug

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Cabin fever doesn’t even begin to describe what we’re experiencing in Boston as we dig out from our fourth blizzard in less than 3 weeks. In an attempt to entertain ourselves beyond watching another climbing video and doing another hangboard session, we reached out to our uber crafty friend Jess, to show us the “ropes” on some climbing related DIY projects. 

I have a confession for make: I love a good DIY. Repaint thrifted furniture? Done. Recover lampshades in colourful material? Done. Wedding stationary from scratch? So done. So when it came time to retire the pretty green rope my husband and I climbed on during our honeymoon in Kalymnos I knew I wanted to give it a second life in our home as a woven rope rug.

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

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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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The Science of Being Pumped

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To avoid getting pumped, rest and shake out when you can.

Today climber and physiologist, Dr. Jessica Otis, stops by to give us the 411 on the biology behind the dreaded pump. Let the schooling begin:

We’ve all been there, you’re 40 feet up an overhung climb, approaching the crux which is technically within your ability, you try to crush it, but you’re totally pumped! There are great training articles on Crux Crush to help you increase your endurance so you won’t be pumped next time (check them out here and here), but the question I’m going to address today is: what is happening to your muscles to cause your forearms to feel like two steel golf balls?

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Gear Review – Petzl Elia Women’s Climbing Helmet

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Dr. Jess is back today with a gear review and message for us all, CXC included: “Protect Your Head!” 

I like to think of myself as a safety conscience, responsible climber. I carefully maintain my equipment, regularly retire old gear, and always do a pre-climb harness and knot check with my belayer. Despite my focus on safety, I’m embarrassed to say that it took me 5 years of climbing to finally purchase a helmet! Maybe it’s the fact that I started climbing in the relatively safe environment of a gym, or that I never saw my friends or the pros climb in a helmet, or the fear that it would be hot and uncomfortable, but I never gave much thought about not wearing a helmet while sport climbing outside. That all changed when I started climbing at Safe Harbor and Birdsboro, PA. Both areas feature excellent bolted routes on man-made crags (a road cut and old quarry) that have quite a bit of loose rock. I bought the Petzl Elia women’s climbing helmet and now that I own the helmet I’ll never go back to climbing without it. Here’s why:

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Dr. Jess Talks Skin Care

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Today, Dr. Jessica Otis, who pops up on Crux Crush from time to time (check out her post on protecting your lats), is sharing her wisdom on skin care. Here’s what she has to say about keeping your outer layer in tip top shape:

From the chalk we cover our hands in, to the sun beating down on us while climbing a wall, and the cuts and scrapes that inevitably result from a day at the crag, climber’s skin takes a real beating. All too often we take the amazing healing and protective properties of our skin for granted. I, for one, was always a wash my face and slap on some body lotion or sunscreen kind of girl, until the arrival of some, ahem, “fine lines” on my face and a live in boyfriend with five times as many skin care products, which catalyzed an overhaul of my skin care routine. So today I thought I’d share what I’ve found works well for my skin to combat the effects of climbing.

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Protecting Your “Lat Pack”

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Because the lat-pack, (aka Latissimus Dorsi), featured above on Mary, is near and dear to the ladies of Crux Crush, today’s post is devoted to how to protect those beautiful lats from injury. We talked with climber and physiologist, Dr. Jessica Otis, about this topic. She shares her sage advice below:

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