Author Archives: Missy

Climbing & Body Image: Is There an Ideal Body Type for Climbing?

Climbers definitely aren’t a bunch with “average” bodies. Photo by Jake Naughton.

Today’s post continues our analysis of the 2,014 responses to our climber body image survey. 

If you look around the climbing gym or the crag, of course you’ll see some degree of variety in body type, but by and large we can probably agree that what we are going to see are people who have less body fat and more muscle than the general population. So how does this affect a person when they spend a lot of time with this cohort? Personally, I have realized that spending a lot of time with ultra fit folks causes my view of reality to be a bit skewed. I have had my moments of being at a climbing gym and feeling like, “Man, if only I was like 10 pounds lighter and my thighs weren’t so damn huge I could probably send that climb,” only to go to a regular gym or some random social situation and have people actually remark on how fit I look. After reading through our survey results it was a bit of a relief to see I’m not alone in this experience, but at the same time it’s been saddening to hear the painful experiences people have when they feel they don’t measure up to what a climber “should” look like. In our first post on body image we looked at some of the ways in which climbing improved body image. Today we look at some of the more negative trends including a surprising find about male climbers and their body image issues. We conclude with a deeper look at the question “Is there a right body type for climbing?”

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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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How To Break In Too Tight Climbing Shoes


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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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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A Step-by-Step Approach to Conquering Lead Climbing Fear

Feeling the nerves as you get ready to climb? You don't have to!

Feeling the nerves as you get ready to climb? You don’t have to!

When today’s guest contributor, Josh Thompson, approached us with this piece about dealing with fear, I (Missy here today, hey guys!) was on board right away.  As a person who a) has terrible fear of lead climbing, b) is even more afraid of belaying than climbing, and c) has had a lot of negative experiences with climbing in a short period of time, his approach of focusing on belayer competence, rather than the sink-or-swim, take-a-bunch-of-whippers-and-you’ll-feel-better school of thought that is the common wisdom just clicked with me.  Some of it may surprise you, but keep an open mind, and read on! Here’s Josh:

Have you ever tried to reason yourself out of fear? There you are, on the wall, ready to make a move, and suddenly you are flooded with doubt and what­-ifs. No matter how the climb unfolds (i.e. you send, you fall, or you take) you’re enduring this fear for at least some of the climb. We’ve all been there, but here’s the thing – if you wait until you become consciously aware of fear to deal with it, you’ve missed your opportunity.

Here’s my gutsy proposition: The only way you can conquer fear while climbing is by doing NOTHING that causes fear.

You may ask. But how can that be true?  Doesn’t trying to get over a fear of falling mean taking falls, feeling fear and facing up to it? That’s not exactly how it works, here’s why:


Happy calm belayer = happy calm climber

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Why I Dropped Everything To Start A Climbing Company (and How You Can Too)


Natalie climbing Mt. St. Helena in Napa Valley.

Today we have a guest post from the dynamic Natalie Siddique, co-founder of Moja Gear, and all around bad ass.  Sure, we think about forgetting our degrees, ditching our career paths, and pursuing a dream job, but this lady actually had the guts to do it!  Read on to hear about how she made it happen.

Sitting beside a campfire with an impeccable view of the Eastern Sierras, my high school best friend and I had reunited on the Volcanic Tablelands of Bishop, California. With a couple of IPAs and a meal cooked over camp stoves, we sat on our crash pads to catch up on the major events that had altered our lives over the past two years. Little did I know, by the end of that night, I would commit to making a 180 degree shift from my career path and begin building Moja Gear: a business dedicated to a sport and culture that we both deeply care about. I dropped everything in my “life plan” to start a company that I love. And so can you.

Taking the plunge into the unknown is challenging—daunting to say the least. But, I’ve gained a few insights that can help you chase your wildest dreams, whatever they may be.

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Climber Problems: Ankle Injury


Today our friend and physical therapist Kristen DeStefano is back. This month she shares a timely article teaching us everything we need to know about ankle injury.

It’s that time of year again when the air gets crisp and the friction is perfect. It’s time to hang up those ropes and cram your bouldering pads in the trunk! With the seasonal transition, many of you will be heading out to boulder. While bouldering is fun, it has different elements that can lead to injuries— gravity and the ground! These annoying forces make ankle sprains one of the most common injuries in athletics and recreational activities. While many of us have turned an ankle and have been able to brush it off, repeated injuries or more severe injuries can lead to chronic ankle pain and instability when they go untreated.

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Gear Review: Gregory Sage Pack 35L


At the risk of losing all my street cred (crag cred?), I have to tell you that this is my first ever pack. You may remember me, I’m your friendly city-gal turned rock climbing blogger.  So as far as backpacks go I’ve owned, like, a super cute black Marc Jacobs one, oh and this reeeallly adorable polka dot one I got from Forever 21. But I realized pretty quickly that all that stuff wouldn’t last a day in the woods (and though my friends are too nice to say it, it was probably kind of embarrassing). I was sick of borrowing from friends or from my husband whose pack fits me really awkwardly. It was time to upgrade. I knew I wanted a pack specifically designed for women, and I knew I wanted something with side or bottom entry zippers (I may be a city gal, but I wasn’t born yesterday) and come on, of course I wanted something that was at least kind of cute. This is what lead me to Gregory packs. With their women specific packs and simple design aesthetic, I knew I’d find my match. I have to be honest though, based on sight alone, the Sage pack was my last choice amongst all their packs, however, now it definitely tops my list. Here’s how it went from the bottom to the top:

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One Step at a Time: Climbing and Addiction

system wall

Starting out climbing can be daunting, but it can also be healing.

People often say things like “I’m addicted to climbing” and sure we get that they mean they really really like climbing, like, a lotBut the truth is addiction is a serious issue in our country. In 2013, according to a study by the  Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an estimated 21.6 million people aged 12 or older (8.2 percent of the population) had a problem with substance dependence or abuse. This is an issue that affects millions of families, and doesn’t discriminate based on gender, race, or socioeconomic status. It is such a widespread issue, that I would go so far as to say that at some point in nearly everyone’s lives they will be affected by it – whether with their own struggles with substances, or that of a loved one. Today we will share with you one person’s story of recovery through climbing. We hope that her story will inspire others who are facing similar struggles.

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Setting For The Heist: Interview with Flannery Shay-Nemirow


Now that Labor Day is past, and we can smell autumn in the air, we can feel the excitement building not only for “sendage season” here in New England, but also for all of the great comps that happen in our fair city in the coming months. We are really fortunate to see so many amazing climbers from all over the country right here in our backyard. One of the comps we are super psyched about is The Heist, an all female produced climbing comp, with an all female setting team (that’s right, all women set this comp, which makes it unique in the US). This year the head setter is the one-of-a-kind, super strong, Flannery Shay-Nemirow. We were fortunate enough to catch up with Flannery to ask her about her process in setting for The Heist, and also learn about the gal behind one of our fave climbing videos (if you haven’t seen it, you MUST click here, it’s a rule, sorry) where she talks about eschewing the conventional path of going to college, and instead embarking on her own educational journey through climbing. Read on for more about Flannery and The Heist!

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