Category Archives: Inspiration

Climbing Destination: Hatun Machay, Peru

HatunMachay1Hatun Machay is a remote, high altitude (14,000 ft!) sport climbing, hiking and cultural playground, about two hours outside of Huaraz, Peru. With over 400 bolted routes, and counting, and seemingly unlimited bouldering you could spend weeks there without repeating a climb. The sunrises, sunsets and alpine hiking are stunning enough to attract non-climbers. That said, you’ll be almost entirely removed from civilization, including internet, and even consistent power supply (they run the power a few hours at night in the refugio), which I really relished, but you may want to bring a good book, a sketch journal, and a desire to find supreme relaxation.

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Women on Lead: Interview with Jessica Mor, Founder of 3rd Rock

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Jess sporting a 3rd Rock sports bra that she designed

The climbing industry is full of innovative and creative people who use their talents to come up with ways that we climbers can have an even better experience on the wall. The past few decades have given us lighter gear, better and harder ways to train, and opened up countless new routes in beautiful places that will keep us climbing for as long as we could possibly want. And now, thanks to a fun new company out of the UK called 3rd Rock, we even get clothing designed specifically for climbing! We sat down with the founder of 3rd Rock, Jessica Mor, to learn a little more about the climbing-focused, responsibly-made clothing her company produces.

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Girl Crush of the Month: Alex Puccio

Alex on Free Range (V12), just one of so many boulders she's conquered.

Alex on Free Range (V12), just one of so many boulders she’s conquered.

It’s pretty amazing that after more than 3 years of Girl Crushes we have yet to feature Alex Puccio. It’s probably because we thought “Duh, of course we always crush on her, like all year round, not just for a month”. So today, on the heels of Independence Day, we’re giving props to the one of the best American climbers of all time. For the newbies out there Alex is a 9-time national bouldering champion, 13-time World Cup medalist, and has claimed countless boulders outdoors including V14s, Jade and The Wheel of Chaos. This time, we’re inspired by her consistent optimism and drive to perform, despite a few serious injuries along the way, which nearly every climber can relate to.

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The Climbing Fall that Almost Took My Leg

Pushing through and climbing on between surgeries.

One fall changed everything for Clara, and led to years of battling surgeries, recovery, and intense fear. Today she shares her story with us.

Recently a friend of mine sent me an article comparing the risk of injury from climbing to other sports. Interestingly, climbing had a lower incidence of injury compared to sports like basketball and soccer. And when you think about it, it makes sense – most of our gear doesn’t actually help us climb better, it’s just there to keep us safe. Yet, we still think of climbing as a fairly high risk activity. I think it’s because we know that aside from a pulley tear here or there, climbing injuries, while rare, can be catastrophic.

I learned that lesson the hard way. A slip and a fall – 20 feet runout above my last piece, a #2 c4 – landed me in the hospital. But I was lucky; what gear I had was good, and it saved my life. I escaped with “just” a broken leg and a few scrapes. Having lived a pretty active life, I was no stranger to injuries so I was pretty sanguine about the entire situation. In fact, we drove back to NYC from the Gunks before checking in at the hospital. Plus, I got used to reading stories of climbers who had decked, broken both legs and their back and were climbing 5.13 again after just a few months. So I figured I’d be sitting the rest of the season out, and then would be back at it in time for the spring.

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Girl Crush of the Month: Anak Verhoeven

Photo by Sébastien Richard

Anak making history on Ma belle ma muse, 9a/5.14d. Photo by Sébastien Richard.

At just 19 years old, this month’s girl crush, Anak Verhoeven, has already gotten in more climbing than most of us. With climbers for parents, she started climbing age 4 and the sport has since been a defining feature of her life. Not only has she podiumed at many world competitions, including taking gold at the 2015 World Youth Championship in Arco, but she has also accomplished plenty on real rock.

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Climbing Destination: Taghia Gorge, Morocco

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Today Cathy shares with us her experience and tips for visiting Taghia Gorge, Morocco.

Climbing in the Taghia Gorge, located in the high Atlas mountains of Morocco, is like climbing through a time machine, where the towering limestone walls protect the small village from the conveniences of this modern life. Climbing here began in 1974, with the establishment of the route Shoukran (5.12) by Tony Arbones. Further development, including many highlights from Arnaud Petit, leaves Taghia with 250+ routes, and endless potential for development.

How to get there: Flights are available from many European cities directly to Marrakesch. From there you’ll need to get to Zaouia Ahanesal either by public transit (via the town Azilal) or if you have less time and are willing to pay extra, you can travel directly with a taxi at a cost of ~120 euro/taxi (2014). To get from Zaouia Ahanesal to Taghia is ~2h walking trail. When we arrived, Mohammed (the son of Saïd) met us in Zaouia Ahanesal and walked with us into the gorge. Donkeys can also be rented for 9 euro donkey to help carry gear. Once you’ve reached Taghia climbing is a short walk away.

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Two Friends, One Dream: Climbing El Capitán

Today’s guest contributor, Sasha, shares her story of realizing a lifelong dream: climbing El Capitan with her best friend, Geraldine. She trained for seven years to make the transition from a sport climber to a big wall climber, and through sheer determination and obsession, finally achieved her goal.

In the Venezuelan climbing community there aren’t as many women as men climbing multi-pitch routes, let alone in the realm of big wall climbing. And that’s why one of my dreams was to climb El Capitán with one of my best friends: Geraldine.

We hail from Venezuela, but I’m currently living in Spain. Before climbing El Cap, Geraldine and I hadn’t seen each other for 7 years and hadn’t climbed long multi-pitch routes together. We had quite a challenge ahead of us.

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Girl Crush of the Month: Martina Cufar Potard

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Martina climbing Je Bourrine Donc Je Suis, 8b/5.13d. Photo by FotoVertical.

Finding her obsession at 11-years-old, the now 39-year-old Slovenian climber Martina Čufar Potard, has had a life full of climbing. Like many of our girl crushes she has a long pedigree of accomplishments on both plastic and real rock, but what stands out is her unwavering love and excitement for climbing. After so many years she still says, “Climbing is my life! New challenges, new routes, new moves, new places, new friends every day!” Like great food or a warm shower after a cold day, climbing to Martina as she puts it is, “Simply the best!”

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In Defense of University Climbing Walls

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Crowds gather for a competition at the UD climbing wall.

Today’s post comes from Laura Donohue, a student at the University of Delaware and Vice President of the Outing Club. In a country where our “leaders” see university climbing walls as a waste of recourses, many, like Laura, see incredible value and importance in these sacred spaces. 

Every college student goes through the same stresses and pressures: the endless onslaught of assignments, final examinations, and the pressure of the future looming ahead. It is a constant struggle to find time for relaxation. Every climber, hiker, and explorer alike finds themselves gazing out the windows during lecture yearning for the mountains. At the University of Delaware, tucked into a very small and a very flat state, climbers have found refuge from the stresses of everyday college life.

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Women on Lead: Cara Dozier, Owner of Virginia Beach Rock Gym

Cara Dozier

Cara and her family outside the Virginia Beach Rock Gym

Climbing gyms are perhaps the most valuable tool that we climbers have to build strength, improve technique, and prepare us physically and mentally to get out and crush on real rock. Gyms are probably where most of us started, and where a lot of people will end up staying, as indoor climbing quickly becomes a sport of its own. So while we love spending hours in these buildings with ever-changing routes, perfect conditions year-round, and an atmosphere that encourages and builds our beloved community, it’s easy to forget that climbing gyms are a business, and running one takes a lot of hard work. While it’s still a very male-dominated industry, more women are taking leadership roles in building these places up. As business owners, climbers, and very often wives and mothers, they juggle more than we would ever guess from the outside. Blending your passion and career is tough, but those who take it on are strong, confident–and they’re a force to be reckoned with.

I had the chance to sit down and chat with Cara Dozier, co-owner of the family-owned and operated Virginia Beach Rock Gym in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and one of those very women making an impact in the climbing community. Cara’s personality exudes kindness, warmth, and a very notable confidence, which serves her well in dealing with the challenges of owning a rock gym in a place as foreign to climbers as Virginia Beach. Virginia Beach isn’t exactly known for its climbing–it’s flat, featureless, and the closest elevation gain is about 4 hours away. Despite those challenges, Cara has spent almost her entire life helping to build the passionate and eager climbing community that exists here today.

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