Today’s post is brought to you by Sarah Coburn, a 22 year-old climber who just left New York for the west in her unfinished van. For building updates, tips and adventures follow her on Instagram @solarlunar__totallytubular.
Van life sounds sweet, right? No cares in the world, driving on the open road, feeling like a modern day-rock climbing-Jack Kerouac—it all sounds pretty good. Once van life starts, maybe it will be just like the climbing movie trailer of your dreams. Maybe your life will turn into a montage of sunshine and cruising your projects. But first, there is work to be done. And lots of it. My partner and I are in the process of creating our home on wheels in a used Ford Transit van. We were psyched when we first got it, and we had no idea how much work it would take. I am writing to share some of what we have learned so far, through lots of trial and error. This list is to give you the beta on some things you may not expect when pondering #vanlife and building out your dream-mobile.
If you haven’t heard of Angie Payne, believe me when I say that she’s a pretty rad lady. If you need some proof, the now 31-year-old has done everything from winning national competitions, to bouldering V13, to taking on some seriously sketchy adventures. Read on for her thoughts on today’s comps, working a “real” job, and what it feels like to now be an “old” climber.
Making the transition from sport climbing at the gym to the crag is unlike any other feeling; you’re no longer bound to color-coded plastic routes and greasy foot chips. The smell of fresh air, the mountains surrounding you, and the touch of real rock under your fingertips gives you an indescribable sense of excitement and freedom. Reflecting back on my early days at the crag, I cringe a bit at the memory of the silly mistakes I made in my sheer excitement that may have compromised the safety of myself, my fellow climbers, and the well-being of the crag. To save you the embarrassment of the mistakes I’ve made along the way, I’ve compiled a few tips:
Every year the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) hosts a series competitions in each discipline of climbing: bouldering, sport, and speed. This year the bouldering World Cup series has come and gone, and now the sport climbing World Cup series is underway. Did you even notice? Okay, maybe you noticed, but how many comps did you watch? How many did you care about? For most of us, at least Americans, the answer sounds something like “Not many”, “Zero”, or “Huh? You mean that Euro comp?” Having covered each Bouldering World Cup competition this season on Crux Crush, we also noticed that very few of you read, commented on, or shared these posts. I’m not calling you out here, I’m just saying that we, as Americans, don’t seem to care.
There are really two sides of the not-caring-equation: the competitors and the spectators. Each side isn’t getting into it for different, but related reasons. To dig into the issues surrounding the World Cup we caught up with a bunch of American climbers who have competed in the series, including Megan Mascarenas, Margo Hayes, Ben Hanna, Sierra Blair-Coyle, Michaela Kiersch, and Josh Larson. Here’s what we found out.
In November 2015, the largest bouldering gym in the United States opened in Austin, Texas. With 50,000 square feet the Austin Bouldering Project (or ABP as it’s known by locals) shattered records. And who better to take on the job of head route setter for the massive gym than the former head route setter of their sister gym (Seattle Bouldering Project), Christine Deyo? Deyo started her setting career in Seattle and quickly moved up the ranks to become head setter before being asked to interview for the position in Austin. In Texas, Deyo is one of only 2 female head setters at the 10+ commercial gyms in the state. While a setter is in charge of putting up new routes or boulders each week, a head setter is in charge of overseeing the work of all the setters in the gym and for Christine, this includes a whopping 250 boulders in the gym at any one time, with 2 new sets going up each week.
While the setting community has historically been male dominated, these days more and more women are joining the crew. At ABP Caitlin Kirshbom and Chelsea McLofland also round out the team of 6 full time setters, a nice 50-50 ratio. I sat down to talk with Caitlin and Christine about their experiences. They have a lot of great insight into the plight of the female route-setter and a pretty refreshing viewpoint on gender dynamics in the community, plus some good advice for any setter–no matter your gender.
“To do good, you actually have to do something,” Yvon Chouinard said (ironically, in an American Express commercial. But hey, it’s a mad inspirational commercial!).
Start with these simple actions to limit your impact.
Climbers might argue the ethics of ground-up versus rap-bolting ad nauseam, but in general, being an ethical, sustainable climber is not excessively complicated. It starts with practicing Leave No Trace (LNT).
LNT is a set of guiding principles that limits our human impact on natural spaces. You can read the seven principles here, and the specific rock climbing ones here. They include guidelines such as stay on the trail, pack out your trash, minimize chalk use, extinguish campfires properly and respect wildlife. Simple but crucial stuff.
Remember that every place you climb has different conservation issues. In many desert locales like Red Rocks and Moab, for example, you have to pack out your poop because it will not decompose naturally, even if you dig an appropriate hole. It’s a pain, for sure, but do you want to step in some dude’s poo while walking through the desert? No, no, no.
Disobeying LNT can get you in other kinds of deep shit, too. The Cold Springs fire in Boulder County this past July – which destroyed several homes, evacuated over 2,000 people and dispatched hundreds of firefighters – began when two men failed to extinguish a campfire properly. They were charged with fourth-degree arson and will likely serve 2-6 years in prison. One thing’s for sure: there’s no rock climbing in prison.
Practice LNT. Be a steward for the places you love.
Shauna Coxsey stole the spotlight earlier this year at the Bouldering World Cup Series with her poise, confidence, and all-around grit and determination. She became the first Brit to win the series, and has a promising future ahead of her with the inclusion of climbing in the 2020 Olympics. We were honored to chat with her, not only because of her recent accomplishments, but her continued dedication to empowering women by founding the Women’s Climbing Symposium at the age of 18 (!!), which has taken off in popularity since 2011. Read on to hear some exciting news on who will be featured at this year’s WCS!
CXC: What is the future of comp climbing?
Periods of injury can be trying for climbers. You may feel a range of new emotions that are difficult to understand. You are not alone. The Kubler-Ross model, most commonly applied to grief and loss, can also be observed in injured climbers during climbing withdrawal and recovery. These 5 stages are meant to guide you through your grief process, better equipping you to cope with your injury and loss of climbing. Proceed through your journey with an open heart and remember your injury is as unique as you are.
As the sport of climbing grows, we want to to be able to share our love of it with everyone. However, the reality is that climbing can be an expensive sport, whether it’s a gym membership, new shoes, or (gasp!) a trad rack.
Here at Crux Crush, we want to learn more about accessibility to climbing, both indoors and out, and how finances play a role. Share your input in the survey below, and stay tuned for a more in-depth look at this issue!