Category Archives: Climbing News

Climbing in the Year 2030: Climbing Mentality

Photo credit: Royal Robbins

The mental fortitude that Lynn Hill demonstrates could be a focus in the future of climbing. Photo credit: Royal Robbins

Over the last two weeks, climber and author John Burgman, has looked into climbing’s crystal ball and predicted how the sport might change over the next 15 years. Today we go back to the future one last time and take a look at potential changes to climbing mentality. 

In a recent Ask Me Anything on Reddit, Lynn Hill was asked about the mental side of climbing, and she responded with her opinion that focus and mental fortitude don’t come so much from other people, rather they are strengthened within oneself. This was an appropriate answer because for a long time external resources—experts, websites, classes and books—that targeted the mental side of climbing did not exist. As a result, for many climbers, diving into psychological motivations and working on mental toughness for routes—or bouldering problems—long involved a sort of jury-rigged hodgepodge of non-climbing sources forcefully poured into one’s own climbing mold; take a meditation exercise that you learned in a yoga class, combine it with a visualization technique from a self-help podcast, use a little of that anti-anxiety breathing technique that a former roommate taught you, and apply it all to whatever crux is tripping you up at your crag.

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Strong Climbing: Not Your Average Comp

Julia Sikut pulling on the wall at BKB Somerville.

Julia Sikut pulling on the wall at BKB Somerville.

Sunday, May 31st, OutdoorFest, Brooklyn Boulders, and Adaptive Climbing Group will be hosting Strong Climb: An Adaptive Climbing Competition. Let’s just say this isn’t your average climbing competition, it’s more like the kind of comp that Charles Darwin would’ve dreamed up. Sponsored by Adidas Outdoors and organized by Adaptive Climber, Kareemah Batts, the competition will challenge both able-bodied and adaptive climbers to compete in adaptive style climbing. Later in the event, Adidas athlete and three time national lead climbing champion, Delaney Miller, and sponsored paraclimber Julia Sikut will compete in the various challenges.

Delaney, National Lead Climbing Champion, and Julia, Pro Paraclimber, will compete in the competition

Delaney, National Lead Climbing Champion, and Julia, Pro Paraclimber, will be competing.

While the competition aims to raise awareness and money for the Adaptive Climbing group, Delaney explained that she became involved “because it also helps to bring a stronger sense of community between adaptive climbers and the rest of the climbing community. When I went to compete in the World Championship in Gijon, it felt like the USA Team was split between the para-climbers and fully abled climbers. My hope is that events like this will help unite the climbing community so that everyone feels connected, regardless of ability or health.” Julia Sikut was one of the para-climbers competing at the World Championships in Gijon. She also leads weekly adaptive climbing sessions at BKB Somerville. She hopes that participants and observers “may learn about different body types and what they can achieve. I don’t think anyone would assume its ‘easy’ for someone to climb with one arm, or for someone to climb without the use of legs. But sometimes people (disabled or not)  inaccurately assess the abilities of others just based on first glance. I hope this competition gives all different body types a chance to accurately represent themselves and what they are capable of doing.”
The three categories of competition are:

“Climbing Blind”: Paired competition, climber is blindfolded. Climber must stay on route. Best time, most holds on while climbing, wins.

“Look Ma! Just Hands”: Climber must climb routes by campusing only (no feet).

“Hop to It”: Climber to choose one leg to climb with for entire route and cannot switch feet during route.

Each challenge will be run by someone who has the disability that the station attempts to replicate, and will share their experience as an adaptive climber. “Watching climbers push themselves outside of their comfort zones is always inspirational and exciting,” shared Delaney. In fact, for Julia, climbing was one of the first adaptive sports she tried after an accident left her paralyzed from the waist down. Says Julia, “I enjoy the problem solving and independence.” Outdoor Fest Founder Sarah Knapp explained, “While climbing competitions and fundraisers happen all the time, this event is taking it to the next level and providing an experience for everyone that will hopefully change perspectives and build community.”

Climb on! ~Cate

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Watch Ashima Send Her First 9a/+

Last month Ashima Shiraishi became the youngest person yet and one of just two females to have ever sent 9a/+ (5.14d/5.15a). Want to know what it looks like to send 9a/+? Check out Petzl’s just released video of the thirteen-year-old sending Open Your Mind Direct in Catalunya. As for her final words on the climb? “Finally… That was so, like, surreal.”

Climb on!
Mary

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10-Year-Old Angie Scarth-Johnson Now Youngest to Send 8c/5.14b

Angie on Welcome to Tijuana, 8c/5/14b. Photo from Angie's Facebook.

Angie on Welcome to Tijuana, 8c/5/14b. Photo from Angie’s Facebook.

Nipping at the heels of kid prodigies like Brooke Raboutou and Ashima Shiraishi, Aussie climber Angie Scarth-Johnson has now become the youngest person to climb 8c/5.14b with her send of Welcome to Tijuana in Rodellar, Spain. Back in November 2013 Angie took another “youngest to” title by sending 8b/5.13d, Swingline in The Red. Of Welcome to Tijuana Angie’s mom tells 8a.nu, “The climb took her a 1 1/2 weeks including rest days to work it out, she got the first crux fairly easy. The thing that shut her down was the final move to the anchors which was quite reachy for her but she managed to find a way though it. She didn’t really prepare that much for the trip, just her usual training which is about 1 hour 4 days a week. We built her a bouldering wall at home and she just plays a lot on it everyday when she is bored.” Her send yet again highlights just how strong the up and coming generation of climbers is, and we cannot wait to see what the future holds for them. For more on this young gun check out the video profile below. Congrats Angie!

Climb on!
Mary

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Alex Puccio’s Controversial Crowdfunding

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Alex competing in the 2014 World Cup series, where she placed 5th overall. Photo: Seb Lazure.

While crowdfunding may be commonplace amongst start-up businesses, bands, and filmmakers, it has rarely been used by climbers, until last week when Alex Puccio posted a request for donations on the crowdfunding website RallyMe. Setting her goal at $10,000, Alex plans to use the money to fund her 2015 World Cup circuit travel expenses, where she hopes to, once and for all, clinch the title of World Cup Champion. Her request for funding has received a range of responses from the climbing community, from “I couldn’t think of a better cause worth supporting! So honored to be able to donate to see this hero make her mark on the world!” to “I feel insulted that Miss Puccio feels she’s entitled to money that could go to better causes.” With these two opinions and many in between it got us thinking about why the climbing community seems to be so polarized about Alex’s crowdfunding.

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Ashima Strikes Again! Ciudad de Dios 9a/+

Ashima sending Ciudad de Dios (9a/9a+). Photo credit: Ashima's Instagram c/o Cross Road Studios)

Ashima sending Ciudad de Dios (9a/+). Photo from Ashima’s Instagram c/o Crossroad Studios.

Less than a week after sending Open Your Mind Direct (9a+*), becoming the first female and youngest person to send 5.15a, Ashima is at it again. We’d barely had time to pick our jaws up off the ground, when Ashima posted her ascent of Ciudad de Dios, (9a/+), and in only three days. According to her Instagram, she actually fell on the last move after just one day of working the route, evidence that despite being only thirteen years old, this young lady is a force to be reckoned with. Ciudad de Dios links two routes Ashima is quite familiar with: Open Your Mind Direct and La Fabela (8c+), which Ashima sent last year.

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Sports(wo)manship at its Finest: Iron Maiden Season 2 Report

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Lily Canavan takes home the title of Iron Maiden 2015 (still from Cold House Media)

A few weeks ago some of New England’s strongest lady climbers gathered at MetroRock in Everett, MA for the second annual Iron Maiden bouldering competition. The competition series began in 2014, with Angie Payne taking home the first ever title of Iron Maiden (check out last year’s video here). As we see it, the competition is a celebration of the strength and camaraderie of the female climbing community. This year we got in on the action by competing and chatting up some of the finalists. Today we’ve got a report on the event from Boston area climber, and 1st place winner of the Iron Maiden advanced category, Ann Pham.

In comparison with your average competition, there is undeniably something different about the Iron Maiden. The obvious difference is that it’s a female only bouldering competition. Yet, even the camaraderie between climbers feels different. Top female climbers in the world compete alongside local lady climbers, all vying to earn the title of Iron Maiden, yet equally supportive of one another performing at their best. I was given an opportunity to sit down with a few of the local climbers at MetroRock during the isolation period to discuss everything from preparation rituals to what makes all-female comps special.

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Big Ups to Alex Puccio

Alex happily upping her training game

Alex happily upping her training game

Lately all I can think of is Alex Puccio. Creepy, I know. In my defense, she seems to be everywhere: dominating comps, taking down hard boulders outside, constantly training, and popping up all over my Facebook feed. She’s been on the scene for many years, but recently she seems to be taking the climbing world (even more) by storm. So today I wanted to give some huge props to Alex Puccio for being a totally rad, feminine, strong, beast of a climber.

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#JeSuisDawnWall? The Hashtag Activist

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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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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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