Confessing my climbing love affair at Thrillseekers in Denver, Colorado

I must start this post with a declaration of my undying, unwavering love for Tally Rock Gym. My marriage to this smelly, sweaty, dirty climbing facility cannot be touched, and nothing can ever come between the bond that I share with Tallahassee’s finest (and only) rock gym.

But this whole long-distance relationship thing is getting to be too much.

I’ve spent too many nights pining for my dearly beloved rock gym, and it’s come at the cost of my climbing abilities, and my now way-too-soft finger callouses. I went on a few first dates with the climbing walls here in Denver, but was turned off by their too-clean facilities and hoards of patrons who just used this place as an alternative to traditional gyms. I need a rock gym that’s as dirty as an outdoor crag, as smelly as my boyfriend after a week living in a tent, and as creatively set as my darling Tally Rock Gym.

And then I found Thrillseekers. It was love at first sight.

This phenomenal climbing facility knocked my socks off from the moment I pulled into the parking lot. Housed in an old theater, this joint reeks with evidence of the building’s past life. The stage was converted into a raised climbing area, the balcony transformed into a sweet bouldering section that you can actually climb up to from the ground level, and you can even spot the original ceiling molding peeking out from the hold-filled walls.

Unlike the overly-sterile gyms I had previously visited in Denver, this place instantly captured my adoration with dim lighting in the front desk area, messy rubber flooring, chalky old holds, and fellow climbers who didn’t give me the “who is this girl” stare when I hopped on the wall. The route setting was creative and challenging, and I spent my afternoon acquainting myself with the taped, dirty orange walls. I was in heaven.

While Tally Rock Gym will always take the cake as my favorite climbing gym, Thrillseekers has swiftly earned itself a second place ranking. I plan on investing in a membership when I return this week, and can’t wait to start frequenting the climbing walls. Nothing will ever beat the musty warehouse, family community, and collection of memories I treasure from my sweetheart gym in Tallahassee, but I’m ready to engage in a little love affair with Thrillseekers while I’m here in the Rockies.

Shh.. Don’t tell Tally Rock Gym about my infidelity.
I wouldn’t want to break her heart – this is just a fling.

Follow, like, share, spread the love!

Late Night Climbing Photoshoot at TRG

After convincing the owner of the Tallahassee Rock Gym to close early on Saturday night so we could all go feast at China Delight, the crew and I returned to the rock gym armed with two bright portable lights and my camera. We spent the evening testing out the new routes, chasing trains as they passed Railroad Square and eventually, I fell asleep on the dirty rubber floor of the gym. It was a fantastic evening, even though McGoo and Niko stole my camera within five minutes of our photoshoot.

The real proof that my camera is a miracle worker? Check out how professional my roommate, Brooke, looks in her climbing shots. This girl hasn’t climbed in months, and yet the glory of Nikon was able to make her look like she was a seasoned veteran.

I was very pleased with the results from the photoshoot, and am eager to get back into the gym to take some more sweet shots! I’ll be taking some video footage this week to begin your weekly presentations of the best routes at the Tallahassee Rock Gym.

Get ready for the week to begin, especially all you students! Spring semester is only a few days away, and it’s time to kick things into high gear in preparation for a successful semester. I’m looking forward to my last first day of classes, but it will be bittersweet every step of the way.

Follow, like, share, spread the love!

Get your handmade Kendal Jackson backpacks, chalk bags and more!

To tide you over while I’m away at Horse Pens 40, treat yourself to the hand sewn backpacks, chalk bags, satchels and even yoga mat bags created by the talented Kendal Jackson. I met this creatively gifted man while visiting Niko’s hometown of Tampa. When I was finally able to move past how awesome Kendal’s blond dreads are, I fell smitten with his personally designed bags. His chalk bags are sold in rock gyms around the nation, including Boulderdash in California, Michigan’s Rock-On in Grand Rapids, Vertical Ventures in Tampa and of course, my second home at the Tallahassee Rock Gym.

Niko is the proud owner of Kendal’s prototype backpack, and I begged him to get me one of my own. Spoiled as I am, Niko purchased me a custom-made backpack for Valentine’s Day. Since the day I received my pack, it has been my #1 bag. I use it every day to go to class, tote my laptop to work with it, and it’s the best sack for a day at the boulder fields. Each of Kendal’s bags are sturdy and beautifully sewn. They declare their individuality with boldly printed fabrics and unique design features.

Kendal recently sent a new shipment up to the Tallahassee Rock Gym, and I was lucky enough to get one of the first looks at the batch. A mushroom printed canvas chalk bag immediately caught my eye, and it only took a few minutes to decide that it was well worth the small investment of $24.00 – this bag had to be mine. I still haven’t stuffed my new bag with chalk; it’s too beautiful!

While I still refuse to abandon the pristine condition of my unused mushroom bag, my reliable backpack will undoubtedly be my trusty companion this weekend at Horse Pens 40. It will hold my AE-1, my digital camera, fruit leathers for munchin', my climbing gear and everything else I need.

Find your ideal chalk bag, laptop sack, yoga mat case, purse-style bag, satchel or backpack at the Kendal Jackson Bags website. You can choose from pre-made bags, or order a custom piece. Kendal strives to use as much recycled material as possible, and can create a bag using any fabric you may desire. I know many climbers who love his chalk bags, and a bunch of my close friends will swear by their Kendal Jackson backpacks. These bags were built for exploration and adventures.

For more images of Kendal Jackson’s bag creations, and fun updates about the company and Kendal’s climbing adventures, check out the Kendal Jackson Bags Facebook page.

Follow, like, share, spread the love!

Worried in Wyoming

This morning my update comes from my lonely room at the Parkway Inn in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Yesterday at noon, I dropped the boys off at the trailhead that leads towards the base of the Grand Teton. They took on an 8 hour approach, hiking up towards the Lower Saddle of the mountain, where they planned to camp for the evening. If all went according to plan, they should currently be strapped into their climbing shoes and be crag climbing up towards the treacherous summit of the Grand – yes, the same summit that killed two climbers this week.

I am a nervous wreck. Yesterday wasn’t bad; I enjoyed an hour of relaxation in my hotel’s sauna, then explored the Jackson Hole town square for a few hours. I fell asleep with Niko’s smelly pillow cradling my head. I was a little tense, but otherwise relatively calm.

This morning is a different story. Today they take on the more dangerous section of their ascent. They will be taking on a climb that none of them have previous experience with. Every time I glare at the giant face of the Grand Teton, it seems to taunt me, saying, “Hey there, I’m about to devour your boyfriend.”

Not to mention the fact that they were entirely unprepared for the climb. The entire upper half of the summit is drenched in soft snow, and the boys’ idea of snow gear is duct taped shoes and a sorority windbreaker that we stole from Jeff’s frat house. The more I think about it the more I wish I had stopped Niko from going. I have the worst feeling.

The boys won’t finish their descent until later this evening, so my plan for the day is to clean out the messy Jeep, then check out the local rock gym, The Enclosure, until they call me to come scoop them up. I don’t know how I’m going to climb though, I’ve transformed into a nervous bucket of anxiety. I just want to know that they’re alright.

Send good vibes their way. I’ll post a quick update as soon as I hear from them.

Follow, like, share, spread the love!

Hittin’ the Road!

Today is the day! As I type, the boys are loading up the Jeep with tents, climbing gear, and a giant tub full of munchies. Baby Cap is all nestled into his mason jar – did I mention that he’s coming along for the ride? I can’t wait for the moment when he finally emerges from his chrysalis so I can release him into the beautiful wilderness that is about to be my home for the next two weeks.

Expect frequent updates, though they may not be as wordy as I typically am. We’re headed towards Tulsa, OK, as our first stop, then it’s off to meet our good friend Dan Cardenas out in the Grand Tetons of Wyoming. From there we’ll trickle back down towards Florida, making stops to climb in Colorado and Utah. I cannot begin to express my excitement for all of the photography opportunities and story-telling material I am bound to come across during this adventure.

I developed my first roll of AE-1 film today, and even though it is slightly messed up because I didn’t realize my aperture is broken until after I took all the pictures, here’s my favorite shot from the roll. It is a great image to start my epic road trip, and it captures the spirit of this adventure perfectly. – And who doesn’t want to oogle at my gorgeous boyfriend?

Keep in touch, comrades. Leave me lots of comments to keep me occupied during the long stretches of driving. Send me suggestions on places to stop, travel tips, anything. If you’re in Tallahassee, make sure my housemates don’t burn the house down while I’m gone! Farewell civilization, hello America.

Follow, like, share, spread the love!

TRG 15th Anniversary BBQ

A little shameless promotion never hurt anyone, eh? Everyone should come out this Saturday and help the Tally Rock Gym celebrate 15 fearless years of braving humidity, taping up flappers, taking whippers and loving the sport of climbing. We’re going to set up a BBQ out front, and we’ll be stripping the entire gym on Friday – so there will be all new routes up for Saturday! Come climb fresh problems, play on the slackline, and fill your bellies.

Follow, like, share, spread the love!

Cinco de Mayo

Feliz Cinco de Drinko! Or a few days after, I guess. I had an interesting day, to say the least. It started out pretty normal with me dropping my boyfriend off at his first day of summer classes, running to the bank, then naptime. Everything went downhill after I met up with the boys for a circuit workout at the Rock Gym. The circuit ended with a climbing a traverse lap around the gym, leaving me dripping in sweat and struggling to catch my breath. The obvious after-party for our grueling workout session? — Momo’s.

Now, this is where the trouble starts. First we hoped into our friend Nick Seale’s ‘truck’, or rather, his rusting red Bronco with the top sawed off to create a convertible effect that left my legs itching from the moist seat upholstery that had been left exposed to bare the abuses of the weather. We picked up a small handle of tequila, and headed back to Momo’s for some free pizza and Mexican cervezas. Ay, yi yi!

One giant slice of pizza, one Corona, one Modelo, and one tequila shot later, I was on the road to a hangover. I’m a lightweight, what can I say? To top it off, after we left Momo’s we headed back to the liquor store where I let the Liquor Loft employee talk me into buying a six-pack of Imperial on the promise that I could come back and bitch him out if it wasn’t good. Eric bought more tequila, naturally.

We brought our purchases back to the Rock Gym, and here is where the story goes blurry. Two Imperials downed, and I was certifiably d-r-u-n-k. Attempts to climb were feeble, so Jeff and I headed off on an adventure around Railroad Square with beers and camera in hand.

The rest of the day is a blur of pretty flowers, a van painted like the Mystery Machine, a pitstop at Jeff’s apartment, passing out at Niko’s house, and somehow making it back to my house in time to feed Starsky for the evening. Where memory fails and I run out of words, I’ll let photographs fill in the blanks. Enjoy.

Follow, like, share, spread the love!