Getting older, getting weak, getting strong again – My Birthday Challenge Recap

Sometimes, the passage of time is a good thing – you become wiser, you get your shi*t together, and you figure yourself out. Sometimes, it’s not such a great thing – like when six months fly by and you can barely still call yourself a climber.

After falling out of love with climbing at the end of my yearlong road trip, I shifted my priorities around for a few months. Climbing took a backseat to other life “things” like moving to Colorado, freelancing, and hiking.

Before I knew it, my 26th birthday was approaching. I had been slowly dabbling back in my love affair with climbing, but with less than two weeks before my birthday, I decided to attempt whipping myself into shape for a proper birthday challenge with the lovely duo from The RV Project – who are going to turn this challenge in a kick-ass video for their birthday challenge series with EpicTV.

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The challenge was to climb 26 v-points in each of the main areas at Joe’s Valley (78 v-points total) within 26 hours. After picking up two new pairs of Five Ten shoes at the Food Ranch, I started the challenge at 5:45 PM on Wednesday, October 15th.

After warming up at the Mine Cart area, I started getting into my challenge at the Riverside Boulders in the Left Fork. Confession: I had never climbed one of the most iconic lines at Joe’s Valley – The Angler (V2). It’s a little tall, and I always wussed out last year when I spent the season there. Oops.

I somehow managed to send The Angler first go, and immediately felt confident about my challenge. Maybe all that trad Jason Gebauer has been making me climb helped my mental game for bouldering!

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Photo: The RV Project

The next morning, we got off to a fairly slow start (which will later come back to haunt me). I started the day on The Small Boulder, which was a goldmine of short, easy problems. After warming up and ticking off a large portion of my Right Fork points, we hiked over to a funky V5 called Blue Eyed.

Vikki helped keep my psyche high by climbing with me, but I’ve never seen her as mad as in the moments after she battled the awkward top-out on Blue Eyed. (There’s a video, y’all should demand it from her!)

There was a very necessary Food Ranch break between the Right Fork and New Joe’s – how’s a girl supposed to crush boulders without an oreo donut? (I also dropped my phone in the toilet and had a mini meltdown but that’s irrelevant.) Add a few energy drinks, a dash of Taylor Swift, and some beef jerky and you’ve got the recipe for my much-needed second wind.IMG 5097 1024x670 Getting older, getting weak, getting strong again – My Birthday Challenge Recap

I was pretty gassed by the time we arrived in New Joe’s, unable to repeat the crux on a classic V4 called Pimpin’ Jeans that’s usually a cakewalk. I climbed every other line on the boulder, repeated a crimpy V5 named Reading Rainbow, and sent two slightly sketchy tall problems I had always avoided. (There’s a pattern here: I climbed a lot of problems I used to be afraid of.)

As evening drew closer, it became clear I wasn’t going to complete my challenge within the 26-hour time limit. I had 5 v-points to finish in the Left Fork, and about 10 left in New Joe’s. There was no way I was ending my birthday without climbing all 78 v-points, so we kept filming and chugging along.IMG 1380 1024x682 Getting older, getting weak, getting strong again – My Birthday Challenge Recap

At 10:15 PM, I finished my birthday challenge flashing a sandy V3 mantle. I was 2.5 hours past my self-imposed deadline, but I still felt victorious. When I started my training for the Joe’s Valley, I was pretty pathetically weak and out of shape. At the end of my birthday weekend, I was back to feeling like a strong climber. I didn’t send any of the hard problems I had hoped to project – but I already have a trip planned in two weeks to go back and work ‘em.

In total, I climbed 35 problems in 28.5 hours to achieve my 78 v-points. I sent 25 problems on the first go, and 13 of those were flashes. Not too shabby for a couch potato!

The rest of my weekend was filled with a rest day at the Food Ranch, exploring the hills with an old friend, hanging out with the old crew around a campfire, and crushing new (to me) climbs. I spent the drive back to Denver on Monday afternoon feeling like I was back – like everything I had lost with my climbing had suddenly been rediscovered (and even improved). It feels really, really good.

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Photo: The RV Project

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There aren’t words to describe how thankful I am to Vikki and Spenser for their amazing support throughout my #couchtocrush birthday challenge. They were an amazing film crew, snack suppliers, moral support givers, and generally just wonderful friends. It was incredible to reunite with them at the place where our relationship began while I was living on the road. I love you both so much!

Stay tuned for more from my challenge, including a breakdown of the training process, images from a talented photographer who joined us on the first night, and sneak peeks at my climbing birthday challenge video from The RV Project. Check out Vikki + Spenser’s thoughts on my birthday challenge here.

#CouchToCrush: My 26th Birthday Climbing Challenge

My alarm was set for 6:00 AM, but by 5:43 I knew there was no point in trying to sleep any longer. I got dressed in the dark, caught a glimpse of my unwelcomed mouse roommate scurrying under my door, made a thermos of tea, and tossed my climbing gear into my hatchback before driving out to Denver Bouldering Club for a morning solo session.

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Last year while I was living on the road, my dear friends Vikki and Spenser teamed up with EpicTV to start a climbing birthday challenge video project. So far, they’ve featured Alex Johnson and Carlo Traversi, with birthday videos from Alex Honnold, Steve Edwards, and Spenser’s own 30-day birthday challenge in the pipeline too.

So much in my life has changed since the day they sealed the deal and returned to our dirtbag camp declaring “We’re going to do your birthday challenge next October!” – but the promise of a radical week reuniting in Joe’s Valley to film me making a fool of myself on some boulders has brought it all full circle. I may not have my van anymore, but dammit, I’ll always have Joe’s!

So, what’s my birthday challenge?16 #CouchToCrush: My 26th Birthday Climbing Challenge

Most importantly, I want to climb the hardest boulder problem I’ve ever sent. I have my eye on two problems in particular, both V8s – Black Sea and Feels Like Grit.

Here’s the thing: I haven’t been climbing very much. Aside from scrambling on chossy sand piles in Ibiza and traversing dirty holds in the La Foixarda tunnel in Barcelona, I haven’t really climbed in at least a month.

Oh, but there’s more to my birthday challenge: I’m also going to climb 26 V-points – in all three climbing areas at Joe’s Valley. That’s 26 V-points in the Left Fork, 26 in the Right Fork, and 26 in New Joe’s.

All in 26 hours.

Is there a really high chance I’m setting myself up for failure? Maybe. Am I absolutely out of my mind trying to become stronger than ever in less than two weeks? Absolutely. But has this challenge made me fall madly, deeply, head-over-heels in love with hard bouldering again? You bet.

I chose a $75 24-hour access membership to Denver Bouldering Club over buying groceries for the month, and plan on spending every single morning (and some evenings, too) training to increase my overall endurance and specifically prepare my body for the two boulder problems I am most motivated to vanquish. When I’m not at the rock gym, I’ll be doing pull-ups in doorways, and workouts in my bedroom, and bike rides along the Cherry Creek path.

This birthday challenge might be the most insane thing I’ve ever committed myself to – but I think I just might be able to pull it off. I’ll be arriving in Joe’s Valley on October 13th, and the challenge begins the evening of the 15th, then continues for 26 hours until I a) admit defeat or b) crush the hell out of as much sandstone as humanly possible. Either way, it’s going to be an amazing journey.

I’m dubbing this the #couchtocrush challenge. Follow along on Instagram and Twitter to track my progress, heckle me about my delusional ambitions, and maybe throw some good luck my way.

Chasing Summer: An Ode to Eventual Defeat

The air in Denver was still hot as I drove to the airport on the day of my first flight during my month dedicated to chasing summer. I always wear a sweater when flying, but the moment I stepped off the plane in San Juan, I was assaulted by sweet heat and humidity. I happily stripped off a layer as I waited for a taxi to whisk me away to the shores of Puerto Rico.

You see, I love summer. I love the way the sunshine burns my cheeks, the way my hair feels when its sticky with salt, how refreshing a cold glass of lemonade feels.

Winter terrifies me. Historically speaking, it’s the season in which I disappear. I slip into a deep hibernation where I shun the idea of going outside, rarely change out of my bathrobe, and shudder at the thought of trying to drive through snow. I’m from Miami – I’m just not built for the cold.IMG 3223 1024x1024 Chasing Summer: An Ode to Eventual Defeat

And so, I started chasing summer. First to Puerto Rico, where I spent five days swimming in the warm sea and following locals to secret street parties. I dug my toes in the sand while eating passion fruit frozen ice, bought a sarong, and cut my toes on sharp rocks along the coast.

When I flew back to Denver, I feared I would feel a chill upon my arrival. Thankfully, summer persevered – I was sweaty as I walked back to my boyfriend’s car at the airport. I was still safe from the impending winter.

Two days later, I flew across the Atlantic Ocean to Spain. I started chasing summer in Barcelona, where I feasted on tapas and explored famous landmarks. I spent an afternoon climbing at La Foixarda, an old tunnel transformed into an urban climbing crag with everything from bouldering traverses to bolted sport lines. It was so hot I could hardly keep my fingertips gripped on the humid holds.

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Summer continued to reign as I traveled from Barcelona to Paris and Valencia. I rejoiced every time I pulled on a pair of shorts, or tromped through cobblestone streets in sandals. It was scorching on some days, and while others complained, I celebrated what seemed to be an eternal season.

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My final moments of chasing sweet summer were spent on the island of Ibiza. My father and I bushwhacked through thickets to find the perfect views of the ocean, and toasted our adventures over flambé and pitchers of sangria. I climbed on sandy cliffs where the rock crumbled beneath my grip. I explored a natural aquarium in an underground cave. All around me, the people on the island seemed to live in agreement that summer would last forever.

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But it wouldn’t.

Eventually, my avoidance of the seasons had to end. I flew back to Colorado, cringing as I checked the weather forecast. Summer was over now.

But I still have my sun-kissed skin; I still have my little handfuls of sea glass I collected from the sea; and I still can hear the sound of the ocean if I close my eyes and pretend really, really hard. My wardrobe might be regulated to pants and flannels now, but summer lives forever within.

Chasing Summer: Puerto Rico

Every time I return to the sea, I am reminded how essential it is to my being. My short trip to Puerto Rico was no exception. From the moment I inhaled the sticky sweet island air, I was enamored.

Honestly, I accomplished pretty much nothing I intended to do while visiting Puerto Rico. There wasn’t any climbing, nor did I get my drink in a pineapple, nor did I even so much as set foot on a trail. But I had a wonderful trip.

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Instead, I explored the culture and history of San Juan (and Viejo San Juan) during my brief stay. I practiced my Spanish – which got oh-so-good by the end of the week – and ate more mofongo than should be humanly possible.

Our first day in San Juan was spent searching for beach towels (to no avail, I ended up just buying a sarong, which I love) and getting caught in thunderstorms on the beach. Once we resigned ourselves to getting totally soaked, we stashed our bags under a bush and dove into the ocean – which is where we spent the entire afternoon.

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IMG 3153 1024x493 Chasing Summer: Puerto Rico Y’all, I really need some more ocean in my life.

We stayed at the San Francisco Posada Guesthouse, a lovely hostel in Old San Juan located at the top of a gorgeous old building. The balcony overlooks a round courtyard where merchants peddle homemade goods, and the surrounding cobblestone streets are filled with cafes, little bars, and souvenir shops.

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Unsure of how to best soak up the nightlife scene, we put on our heels and wandering down to explore. By chance, we bumped into three adorable Puerto Rican college students who beckoned us to join them for “the big party at La Perla.

In my mind, it was a nightclub I had heard about. In reality, it was a locals-only street party held in one of the oldest parts of town. Young people flooded the streets, music pumped from every open door, vendors cooked street food, and everyone was drinking this awful sangria that came in a pouch with a built-in straw. It was perfect. Our three new friends were so kind and hospitable. We eventually lost them in the hectic crowd, but they texted us to make sure we got home safe.

The following morning was spent recovering from our foray into the depths of Puerto Rico’s local party scene. We explored the streets between thunderstorms, and gorged on seafood for our last meal.

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And then just like that, my first visit to Puerto Rico was over. But I’m determined to come back, and spend a lot more time on the island. The climbing scene potential is huge, and after hearing that Puerto Rico is struggling economically, it blows my mind that there isn’t already an initiative with the tourism board to promote climbing. What better place to escape winter than the crags of Puerto Rico? Who’s with me, lets go back and crush!

Chasing Summer: A Declaration

There’s somewhat of a war going on out there – and we all need to pick a side. I noticed the first battle cry last weekend while driving through the Colorado mountains on a mini road trip: a small army of Aspen trees defiantly emblazoned with leaves turning an unmistakable hue of gold. Little leaves fluttering in the wind, flashing a suspiciously yellow color.

We’re sitting on the cusp of seasonal change.

For some, this is a small hint towards victory. A promise that summer’s hot and humid occupation of the earth is coming to an end. It’s a first little outcry in the name of winter.

That’s why I’m flying 38,000 feet in the air right now, my suitcase full of bikinis and sandals stowed in the compartment above my seat. Summer is ending in Colorado – so I’m ditching the mountains and heading to the sea.

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I refuse to give up summer just yet.

All around me, folks are latching on to any sign of the upcoming winter. And I ain’t havin’ it. While some of you are already unpacking your skis and eyeing the snow forecasts, I’m fighting to hold on to every last instance of summertime bliss.

Don’t get me wrong ­– autumn is one of the best seasons. Crisper air gives way to cozy mornings and prime climbing conditions. My birthday is on its way. I love the fall, but I also hate it – because I have no greater enemy than that which comes when those yellow Aspen leaves finally lose their life and fall to the ground. I loathe winter. It’s wonderful for my productivity, but I’d much rather exist without it.

There are two sides to the war that’s about to break out – and I’m choosing to continue chasing summer.

While all you snow bunnies prepare for the first snowfall, I’ll be out in Puerto Rico, Spain, and Ibiza. Waking up along the coast, eating gelato to cool off while exploring hot city streets, and spending as much time in the ocean as possible. I’ll give in to winter eventually, but join me while I chase the remnants of warm weather for as long as possible.

Explorer Series adventures with Mile High Clothing

A few months ago, photographer Jason Gebauer asked if I could play model for an afternoon so he could get some lifestyle photos for a local apparel brand, Mile High Clothing Co. I instantly fell in love. When MHCCO invited me and fellow lady adventurer Tiffiny Costello (you can read her take on our adventure here) to take a little road trip for a photoshoot to launch their new #ExplorerSeries project, I hopped on board without hesitation.

The original plan was to head to the Maroon Bells area, and summit a 14-er. A combination of sketchy weather and dreading the thought of sitting in I-70 holiday weekend traffic redirected our adventure towards Buena Vista. It’s a short 2.5-hour drive from the city, making it a perfect weekend escape.

Tiffiny and I loaded my hatchback with camping and climbing gear, then hit the road towards the mountains. We got a late start (two introverts + a lazy Saturday morning = slow going), and spent the first day scouting locations and exploring the area around Mt. Princeton and the Arkansas River.IMG 00281 1024x1024 Explorer Series adventures with Mile High Clothing

Our destination allowed us to avoid the major holiday traffic rush, but we didn’t quite plan the camping situation – every developed site was 100% full. Luckily, a very kind ranger drove us out to a spot called “Dan’s Land.” It’s quite literally this dude Dan’s land, where he allows primitive (read: no fires) camping for free.

The initial sentiment was that we were both ready to call it a night as soon as we got our tents pitched in the dark. Then we looked up, and the milky way beckoned us to bust out our cameras to play around with some night photography. We ended up staying up for hours, and took a lot of photos.

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The next morning we awoke to contend with another faux pas: we brought a stove, but forgot to pack the propane. Oops. The issue was quickly solved by tossing our firewood into a grill at a day use area back at the campground we had hoped to stay at the night before.

Nothin’ like making breakfast the old fashioned way, y’all! It took more than a few attempts to get the fire blazing, but eventually we had ourselves a little morning feast.

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We spent the rest of the day hopping from one beautiful outdoor location to the next. I am absolutely smitten with the area between Buena Vista and Salida, and can’t wait to return for more adventures. We hiked up rainy hillsides, did a little chossy bouldering, played by rivers, and got our fill of fresh air in our lungs before retreating back to city life.

Between both of our iPhones, Tiffiny’s Canon + GoPro, and my Nikon – we ended up with a massive pile of photos. Here’s a little taste of some of my favorite images we ended up with:

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PS: All photos of me were taken by the lovely Tiffiny Costello. Anything else featured in this post was taken by me.

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out Mile High Clothing on Instagram – you can see our photos from our #ExplorerSeries takeover. I had a fantastic time, and can’t wait to see what the project evolves into. Thanks for supporting our adventures, Mile High Clothing!

Why I Still Drink (Just One) Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks

This morning, I woke up and it was suddenly autumn. An evening storm cooled the air down to a crisp breeze, and my open windows let the chill drift beneath my blankets. I’ve never been so excited to shiver. Something felt different – special somehow – but I couldn’t put my finger on it until I noticed that today is basically a national holiday: pumpkin spice lattes are back! I immediately put on a beanie, flannel shirt, and leather boots, then skipped my way to the nearest Starbucks.

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Here’s the thing: I know Starbucks isn’t the best. I am fully aware there’s no pumpkin in their lattes. I also understand that in lieu of pumpkin, they pump their flavored lattes with cancer-causing, questionable ingredients – but for the duration of this grande pumpkin spice latte I have in my hands, all bets are off. (After today, it’s back to my homemade pumpkin spice latte recipe, with real pumpkin).

So why did I spend $3.26 on a pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks this morning?

Yes, this is about that first sip when the frothy whipped cream and a splash of spiced coffee hit my tongue for the first time – but it’s about so much more than that. This is a calculated symbolic gesture that I’ve participated in for years. It’s an annual milestone I feel compelled to complete. It marks the changing of seasons, the beginning of the best time of year (and not just because my birthday is getting closer).

This artificially flavored pumpkin beverage is a symbol of the beginning of bouldering season.

It’s a hint towards the changing colors of leaves.

It means I get to unearth my scarves, hats, and long socks from the depths of my closet.

Sadly, it also means that winter – my least favorite season – is also on the way. But we’ll ignore that for now, focusing instead on the beauty and glory that fall brings.

And so, I’ll continue to shamelessly indulge in this horrifyingly unhealthy pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks – because of what it means to me. And in a few hours, when my belly is aching from all the chemicals leaching into my body, I might feel the slightest tinge of regret, but the excitement and anticipation of the upcoming season will remain. (But seriously, go make your own pumpkin spice lattes. It’s not that hard.)

Do you indulge in Starbucks ever? (I know some of y’all are addicted!)
What’s your favorite symbol of changing seasons?

What’s in my pack? #FLtoCO Road Trip Edition

In exactly 12 hours from this very moment, I’ll be on a red-eye flight down to my hometown, Miami. I’m heading south for a few reasons: I am in desperate need of some sea-time, I’m celebrating my little sister’s graduation, and we’re embarking on a cross-country road trip to move her out to Denver! Instead of the usual two-day haul I usually struggle through during drives from Florida to Colorado, we decided to make an adventure out of it.

First, we’re heading up the Florida coast to Tallahassee to see my pup, Amble, and climb at Tallahassee Rock Gym. We’ll visit my sister’s friend in Atlanta before heading to Chattanooga for my favorite part of this trip: climbing at Stone Fort and a visit to the Tennessee Aquarium! Then we’ll jet westward, stopping to visit family friends in Kansas City and exploring along the way.

Since my sister will be bringing everything she owns in her little sedan, I’m trying to pack as light as possible. I’m only bringing my Topo Designs Klettersack, and my new Keen sling I picked up at Outdoor Retailer last week. Here’s a quick peek into my #FLtoCO road trip bag:

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  • 1 Nalgene
  • 1 new pair of La Sportiva Testarossas
  • 1 Kendal Jackson chalkbag
  • a roll of athletic tape
  • Metolius brush
  • my Nikon D7000
  • Lumia 1020 (best smartphone pictures of all time)
  • GoPro
  • 2 Goal Zero charging sticks
  • a heap of chargers


  • Swoob leggings + sportsbra
  • tasc performance Nola leggings 
  • 3 tank tops (including my Dirtbag Climbers tank, of course!)
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 1 light sweatshirt
  • 1 severely mismatched bikini
  • 3 pairs of socks + 4 pairs of undies
  • 3 pairs of shoes (sandals, red sneakers, and the wedges I’ll wear to the airport)


  • ClimbOn! sunscreen and creme
  • Joshua Tree travel-sized salve
  • Mini make-up arsenal
  • 2 pairs of prescription Ray-Bans (reading + sunglasses from SportRx)
  • Bobby-pins. Lots of bobby-pins.
  • Moleskine notebook + pen
  • headphones

PS: Yeah, I wear make-up. I’d like to think I’m a fairly low-maintenance kind of lady, but I totally require four basic products every day: powder, liquid corrector, white eyeliner (my secret weapon), and mascara. No shame, folks!

I am beyond stoked about visiting family, cannon-balling into the pool, and hitting the road with my sister for our first big adventure together. Lucky for y’all, she’s absolutely gorgeous – because she’s about to become a familiar face on The Morning Fresh! Stay tuned for the fun, and follow the #FLtoCO hashtag for all our shenanigans!

8 Reasons You Need to Watch Reel Rock 9’s Valley Uprising

While doing the rounds at Outdoor Retailer last week, I bumped into one of my favorite people on the planet, Billy Brown, who just so happened to have an extra pass to the Reel Rock film tour‘s advance screening of the new Valley Uprising documentary. The upcoming film release hadn’t even crossed my mind, so I was stoked to get to catch a sneak peek at it. I was expecting to just get a brief taste of the documentary, but we ended up being treated to the full (though not fully edited yet) film.

(Oh and I met Hans Florine – my opening line to him was “I can totally hold your cheese if you want!” Yeah. He didn’t let me hold it.)

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Photo by: Katrin Bell (check out her blog and Facebook page too!)

The short story is: I left with sweaty palms, a full heart, and the immediate need to buy another van and go shred my hands on granite in Yosemite National Park. It was phenomenal. The long story is these eight reasons why you should absolutely attend a screening (or host your own):

1. Lynn Hill kicking ass.

I honestly don’t feel much of a need to elaborate on this one. If you’re a climber, you know who Lynn Hill is – and if you don’t you need to go hang your head in shame for a very, very long time. This documentary takes a look back at her roots, her historic accomplishments, and her crusade as the most influential woman in climbing.

RR9 Poster 241x300 8 Reasons You Need to Watch Reel Rock 9’s Valley Uprising2. Remember that time a plane full of weed from South America crashed in the Yosemite backcountry and climber’s salvaged all the reefer wreckage? Yeah. There’s that.

3. Get a little history lesson.

The number one problem with the new generation of climbers is that we don’t know enough about where “our people” came from. When you start climbing in a gym, you miss out on the tall tales and historical legends you hear out at the crag – and kids these days need a good dose of the past to fully be able to respect the future of climbing.

4. Learn some respect for your elders.

We had a purpose: only through climbing can you find yourself
– and bullshit like that.

Playing off the history lesson, Valley Uprising will make you realize how lame you really are compared to the real dirtbags who pioneered Yosemite. These folks were real bandits, evading the law and surviving off sustenance that would make your canned beans and rice look like classy cuisine.

5. Dean Potter saying things like “Climbing will always be an outlaw pursuit.

6. Because, climbers are so rock & roll.

Fueled by adrenaline and alcoholism, these dudes were true rock stars. They pushed the boundaries of possibility, brought bottles of sherry up big walls, got arrested by park rangers, and left the ladies with enamored with their legendary lifestyles. I mean, they pillaged a drug-smuggler’s plane wreck to fund their shenanigans – it doesn’t get more rock & roll than that, kids.

7. Fall in love with Yosemite.

I know this is pretty much blasphemy, but I don’t always really love Yosemite valley. Nowadays there are too many crowds and too much concrete – and let’s not even talk about how the camping situation. I’m salty about Yosemite, but this film softened me to the core and reminded me why the valley is such an important place for every climber. The granite formations and pure magic of Yosemite are unlike any other place on the planet. Every inch of the park is teeming with history, beauty, and wildness (well, maybe not some parts of the valley, but you can still find wildness if you look hard enough). There’s a reason so many climbers have found themselves hopeless addicted to Yosemite throughout so many decades.

8. It’s unlike any Reel Rock film before.

Unifies multiple generations of climbers and stories though a single place. The cinematography is superb. The editing is some next level wizardry that brings old photos and video footage to life with movement and emotion.

Not convinced yet? Check out the trailer:

Mini Trip Report: Outdoor Retailer + Utah Adventures

For the past three years, the final stretch of summer has been marked by one event: Outdoor Retailer’s summer market in Salt Lake City. I’ve attended for the past three years, and it’s become one of my favorite weekends. OR Show is the perfect cacophony of business mixing with pleasure, free beer interrupting meetings, reuniting with old friends, and partying with the industry.

I road-tripped out to Salt Lake City with Laurie from Outdoor Women’s Alliance – we took the Wyoming route on the way out, and the southern path along I-70 on the way back (to accommodate some much needed camping after the convention). The first night celebrated old friends with a dinner hosted by Columbia Sportswear, and then it was time to get down to the dirty work on Thursday with meetings and coffee dates. Broke up the hustle of appointments with free tacos and shirt screen-printing at the annual outdoor mini-festival held by Keen – and then it was quickly back to work.

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On Thursday evening, one of my favorite people in the industry, (the man, the myth, the legend) Billy Brown surprised me with an extra pass to the advanced screening of Reel Rock’s Valley Uprising film. Spoiler alert: it was awesome. I’m one of the first people to get all crotchety and jaded about Yosemite Valley, but this film was so powerful it actually made me want to return to the park to climb. Definitely a must-see when the final cut is released!

By mid-morning on Friday, I was totally over the convention center. I didn’t schedule any appointments that afternoon, so my dear friend Adriana scooped me from the Salt Palace to go do a little climbing in Little Cottonwood Canyon with new friends Mary (go check out her photography right now), and her boyfriend Carlo Traversi.

But first, behold Adriana and Steven’s epic climbing set-up in their garage:

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When Adriana and I tossed crash pads on our back and headed towards the trail, I realized something really not okay: this was the first time I had been bouldering outside since my trip ended in late January. Whoa, dude. Never again! I foolishly left my climbing shoes behind, and borrowed a pair of rentals from the climbing gym that were not up to par – oops. Thankfully, Mary lent me her Dragons (which I am now totally in love with).

There were no sends for me that day, but just being back in a boulder field sussing out beta and cheering on my fellow climbers felt oh-so-good. We projected a sweet V4 called Twisted for a few hours before everyone had to retreat back to the convention center downtown.IMG 2442 1024x678 Mini Trip Report: Outdoor Retailer + Utah Adventures

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I reluctantly returned to the Salt Palace to finish up my last day at Outdoor Retailer, and made a few more rounds of socializing before it was time to head out to Park City for the Psicobloc climbing competition finals. Adriana hooked it up with all-access passes for Mary and I, and the three of us had a great time tailgating in the parking lot and cheering on the competitors. The energy at the event was palpable – I loved it!

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The next morning, I capped off my visit to Salt Lake City at the #hikerchat meet-up hosted by Teton Sports and Backcountry Tees. We feasted on burgers, chased pups, and did a little SUP in the park pond before Laurie and I said our goodbyes to the crew and hit the road towards Moab. Naturally, I couldn’t leave town without a visit to In & Out – how is that special sauce so tasty?

Thanks to a recommendation from Beth of 3Up Adventures, Laurie and I decided to camp at Sego Canyon near Moab for the evening. We drove quite a few miles down a well-maintained dirt road past petroglyphs and abandoned ranches to the mouth of Sego Canyon. The perfect campsite beckoned us to pitch our tents under a beautiful tree, and we both slept like babies once the sun went down.

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The next morning we woke up, munched on a few tortillas, and packed up camp. The drive back to Denver took forever thanks to the predictable weekend traffic along I-70. I love living in such an active, outdoorsy state, but it’s such a pain when everyone is trying to head back to the city from the mountains on a Sunday evening. It took us over an hour to travel 17 miles!

Now it’s back to Denver city life for a few days until I jet out to Miami on Friday!