Saturday, March 16, 2013

1:01 PM
As I mention in my "about me" page, one of the key things that I want to do with the MommyTasker blog is to open it up to the voices and perspectives of my friends who are remarkable people, doing remarkable things. As we all do, they have something unique to share about their experience of incorporating health, fitness, and enrichment into their personal, family and professional lives. I hope you find them as inspiring as I do.

This post is by a good friend of mine who I met through rock climbing. We climbed together regularly for several years before life and careers took us to different parts of the State and now different sides of the Bay. In addition to being a post-doctoral fellow at UCSF, she is a devoted wife and mother, and a really bad-ass rock climber. She is a strikingly beautiful woman who carries herself with the poise and stature of a professional ballerina, which she was for 10 years with the SF Ballet. She also has a wicked sense of humor and hand-makes awesome fleece legwarmers (see below) to augment the shorts, thigh-pad and medicine tape look you need to sport when you climb as hard as she does.

Fleece Leg Warmer Entrepreneur and Model
At her son's recent fifth birthday party, my friend shared with me that her goal was to climb a 5.13a before she turns 40 this summer. For those of you who don't know, a 5.13a is a REALLY, REALLY hard climb. Like very elite level - not what you think a 39-yo mom would be doing - kind of climbing. I am totally impressed by her mental and physical strength in tackling this endeavor and asked her to share her experience of striving to achieve her pre-40 bucket list goal. This is what she said:

You Have to Look Good to Climb This Hard
I am kind of obsessed these days with my “project,” and doing what I can to make it happen - we shall see.

I started rock climbing about ten years ago.  It was that fateful day down in Pinnacles National Park when I was unable to do the second move upward on a 5.9 route called The Wet Kiss.  I have been obsessed with climbing ever since.  This time I am trying a route called Cell Block, a 5.13a at a climbing crag near Sonora called Jailhouse (named for its proximity to a correctional facility). This route is hard for me, and it will be the first of this difficulty grade for me.  In fact, I spent about six days unable to figure out and execute the crux move on the route.  My goal is to red-point the route (i.e., climb the whole route without falling) before I turn 40.  I have four months to go but the cliff will become too hot to climb on well before then. The clock is ticking, in more ways than one.

Jailhouse is shaped like an amphitheater, part of a basalt cliff band that lies east of the town of Sonora. It is a beautiful but rough place.  The "warm-ups" are rated 5.11d and the "regulars" (i.e., the people who climb there all the time) like to warm up on a 5.12d climb called Soap on a Rope. The regulars are also fiercely protective of the crag and so its location and stature in the local climbing community is somewhat mythic.

To finish my project route I will have to maneuver the compressiony roof bit above the column (where a huge block fell out a few years ago), head into the steep middle section, do the “pentagon” move before the technical knee-bar rest, then head into the crux - the “baby’s butt”, before hauling myself one more bolt up to the horrible dicey and slopey finish hold to clip the anchors.  This is so much jargon I can barely believe I can remember it all let alone climb it!

The Straddle Splits Long Reach to Hold Onto Nothing Move
Usually I climb outdoors at least one day each weekend (which means about a 3 hour drive each way to and from the crag). I climb in the gym a couple times a week at “lunch” and cross-train on my non-climbing days by running on the treadmill in the basement at work before dashing off to pick up my son from daycare. I do what I can to supplement these more structured workouts with the at-home variety (i.e., roll out my ridge rest - ersatz yoga mat - at 11 pm to do light upper body work, antagonist to climbing stuff, as much core work as I can muster without making grunting noises that will wake my sleeping family, and some stretching). Sub-optimal training if you asked me, but I do what I can. Short gym sessions, mind-numbing treadmill runs, and therabands and door frames at home serve their purpose. They keep me feeling like I am doing things that take me closer to reaching my goal.  I have to stay motivated and focused for my one day a week out on the “proj” and this is how I do it.

Luckily my husband understands my need to achieve this goal, being an obsessive climber himself.  He has been supportive of this endeavor even though the last few months have been somewhat of a pain in the a$% for him.  On my weekend climbing days, he has been home taking care of our son, and although it is wonderful bonding time for the two of them, it would be more fun if we were all together.  Soon it will be Tahoe climbing season again and we will all be out climbing together - treeless scree, potential for rock fall and waking young rattlesnakes will be a thing of months past.  But until then we will say some more early morning goodbyes, and I will go try hard and do what I can. Last weekend I only fell once - perhaps this weekend will be the one.

Here is a final picture of  me, the Guest Post Author, and another great friend (and hopefully future Guest Post contributor) on a women's climbing trip to Owens River Gorge. The tattoos are fake - the smiles and the muscles aren't. Climb on...
Women Who Rock
Please contact me at,, or connect with me on Facebook. 


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