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.

Making my return to Joe's Valley!

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!

Photo: The RV Project

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. [Read more…]

25 Climbs for 25 Years at Rocktown, and a Perfect Weekend in Chattanooga & North Carolina

In an attempt to say “no thanks” to the typical 25th birthday, which according to my generation includes a quarter-life crisis where you wonder what you’re doing with your life and why you aren’t as so-called successful as your peers, I decided to do something different: I challenged myself to climb 25 boulder problems.

I thought it was going to be easy. The original plan was to head to one of my favorite spots in the southeast, Stone Fort, where I have a pretty decent circuit of familiar climbs. Instead, the weather forecast relocated us to Rocktown – also a wonderful crag, but with a few hang-ups. The boulders are drastically spread-out compared to Stone Fort, and the lines aren’t always as clean.

The day started strong at a familiar warm-up spot near The Orb, a classic Rocktown V8. I made quick work of almost 10 climbs ranging from V0 to V2, including a few new lines I hadn’t climbed before. Things were looking good.
Climbing at Rocktown for my 25th birthday challenge.Climbing at Rocktown for my 25th birthday challenge.

After a few failed flails on Double Trouble (V5) and an old send, Jug Surfin’ (V4), I realized that if I was going to succeed at climbing 25 boulder problems, I was going to have to take it easy. We moved on to another cluster of easy problems, knocking out 5 more lines. I was convinced that V0s were all I’d be able to send, but resigned myself to having a fun day instead of focusing on v-points.

We visited a new area I haven’t seen before, and I flashed two sweet climbs called Ripple (V2) and Mario (V3). A quick moment of redemption, but still no impressive sends.
Climbing Mario (V3) at Rocktown in Georgia for my 25th birthday.Flashing Ripple (V2) at Rocktown during my 25th birthday challenge.

The remainder of the day was spent climbing lines that looked like no one had touched them in a very, very long time. First was a tall arête climb with a sweet iron rail feature, which I quickly cruised up. Then we moved onto a trio of lines on a triangular boulder called Pommel Horse – and it was game-on. This boulder was completely grown over, and anything that could have been a hold was caked in moss or draped with cobwebs. Even Niko struggled to decifer where the various V0s went, but we finally finagled our way up the boulder and I bagged three more sends.
Climbing at Rocktown for my 25th birthday challenge.

I ended the day on what can only be described as a choss pile. My favorite southern food buffet was closing in only a few hours, and I still needed five more climbs. We hiked back towards the front of the boulder field, and climbed unappealing problems toilet-themed names. It wasn’t pretty, but I was determined to finish all 25 climbs.

Twenty minutes of hiking, and an hour of driving later, we arrived for an all-you-can-eat southern feast at Wally’s Family Restaurant in Chattanooga. Once our bellies were bursting with collard greens and bacon, we retreated to The Crash Pad where we were treated to the hostel’s newly opened private room – which is crazy cozy and has a great upstairs view of the grounds.

The next morning, Niko and I made a long haul out to Waxhaw, North Carolina, where we met my family and two favorite fellas for a relaxing birthday weekend. We explored the Q-City BBQ Championship in downtown Charlotte, wandered around Asheville, and I even got to blow out some birthday candles over a slice of red velvet cake. It was the perfect way to spend my birthday – my 26th is going to have a lot to live up to! 

Instead of a Quarter-Life Crisis Meltdown – I’m Going on an Epic Birthday Adventure!

What the title of this blog post should really say is “instead of having a quarter-life identity crisis and major meltdown, I’ve decided to climb 25 boulder problems in the southeast, stuff my face at an all-you-can-eat southern buffet, and spend an evening at my favorite Chattanooga digs” – but that seemed a little too long.

Who me? Turning 25? No way.In some crazy twist of events, I’m turning 25 tomorrow, October 16th. Not exactly sure how that happened, since I still feel like a kid most of the time, but apparently, I’m a real grown-up now. All around me, my peers are having babies, getting married, working full-time desk jobs – and I’m over here living in a van, climbing all day in the woods, and feeling pretty proud if I manage to shower once a week. Oops!

I’ll be honest, there were a few moments of “oh my god, this is it, I need to stop adventuring right now and rejoin the real world and start painting my nails and brushing my hair again – but let’s mull on that for a minute, it’s so not what’s going to happen. If anything, turning 25 is a milestone to celebrate with even more adventures. Thus, I’ve decided to trade my quarter-life crisis for a 25th birthday celebration worthy of reaching my quarter-life.

Here’s the plan:

I’m going to climb 25 boulder problems to commemorate 25 years of a wonderful life (inspired by my buddy Spenser who did 29 Squamish classics for his 29th this summer). I originally wanted to do this at Stone Fort in Tennessee, where I went on my first outdoor climbing trip, but a rainy forecast put a literal damper on my plans – so we’re relocating to Rocktown. There’s still a 30% chance of rain there in Georgia, but I’ll rough it on some moist sandstone if I have to! I’ll post the official tick list once the challenge is completed.

After shredding my skin on sandstone, I’ll refuel at my favorite new eatery, Wally’s Restaurant – an all-you-can-eat southern food buffet loaded with all my favorite fixings, including collard greens, mac-n-cheese, mashed potatoes, breaded catfish, fried chicken, homemade banana pudding, and sweet tea.

The evening will be completed at one of my favorite Chattanooga spots, The Crash Pad. The fellas generously offered to put Niko and I up in one of their sweet private rooms, so we’ll get to shower (see, I’m totally a grown-up!) and relax before heading over to their new on-site restaurant, The Flying Squirrel, for some celebratory drinks.

But it doesn’t stop there – on Thursday, we’re headed out to Waxhaw, North Carolina, to meet up with my family and two of my favorite fellas for a weekend of pumpkin-picking, brewery-hopping, merry-making, and general wonderfulness. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate my birthday – I’m a lucky gal.

Who needs a quarter-life meltdown when you can just have an epic adventure instead?