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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.