I’m hitting the road – to the southeast!

Since my year in the van ended, I’ve gone on quite a few road trips – but they’ve all been little league status. Circuits around western Colorado, weekends in Moab, driving from Miami to Sarasota for a wedding. All great trips, but nothing quite like the long stretches of endless road and vague plans of a grand adventure.

But on Wednesday, I’m adding another tick to my cross-country map circuit:

I’m road tripping down to Florida for Tally Rock Gym’s Save The South climbing comp!

As it turns out, one of the few downsides of leaving the freelance world is that you can’t just take off for weeks at a time – so I’m squeezing a wonderful 3,350 mile road trip into just six and a half days. ‘Cause I have to be back for work on Tuesday, you know? Here’s what the road trip circuit looks like:

Road trip Colorado to Florida.

The plan is to leave Colorado and well, just drive. I’m planning on snagging the passenger seat for the first stretch so I can finally get some photos of the mountains along I-25 heading towards Santa Fe, then we’ll press on until we hit New Orleans! I haven’t been back to New Orleans since I was a little kid, so I’m stoked. We’re staying at a historic haunted hotel right in the heart of the city, and our tick-list includes beignets, live jazz, and cajun food. After that, we’ll make a pit stop somewhere to touch the gulf (because, saltwater!) before shooting east towards Tallahassee.

I cannot wait to get to Tallahassee so I can fill my belly with corn nuggets from Lindy’s, soak up all the springtime blossoms, pull some sweet plastic at Tally Rock Gym, and give some loving to gorgeous miss Amble pup. The 5th annual Save The South bouldering competition to benefit the Southeastern Climbers Coalition is already promising to be a mega rad reason for this road trip – we’ve got a killer event lined up and two local breweries who donated some delicious brew to our SCC after party!

On Sunday morning, Mcgoo and I are going to haul ourselves up to Chattanooga for a day of climbing before hitting the road hardcore back to Colorado. I’m pretty psyched ’cause this is our first ‘big’ road trip together – we’ll see how long it lasts before he wants to toss me out of the Subaru. His adoration for me just oozes out of this photo, amirite?

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

It feels so good to have a reason to hit the road again, and this trip combined with all the training I’ve been doing lately feels like a retreat to complete the beginning of the next phase of life. My body feels good, my mind feels good, my Gmail inbox is finally cleared out, my knack for writing seems to have returned, and all the pieces seem to be falling into place. High five, universe!

 

Go from #CouchtoCrush to Save The South!

It’s the second day of spring, and I am feelin’ fresh. Yesterday involved a little core training and a trail running session with Heather from A Colorado Gal, and today I’ve already gotten in some climbing and foam rolling. I’ve been extra motivated in my Couch-to-Crush training lately – and for good reason.

Tally Rock Gym’s 5th annual
Save The South Bouldering Comp is on the 28th!Tallahassee Rock Gym Save The South

I had originally planned on finally competing (always the organizer, never the climber), but since I’m emceeing again, I’ve decided to just climb for fun – but the event has still been a great source of inspiration.

Whether you’re training for Save The South, or just want to finally send a project at your local crag, pick a goal to look forward to. It’ll help keep you motivated, and give you a reason to get up and get movin’ on those mornings when your bed feels particularly cozy.

In honor of my favorite climbing event of all-time, I’ve put together a Save The South training workout. The climbs at Tally Rock Gym really engage your upper body and core, so this circuit focuses on arms and abs. Start your session with 20 minutes of cardio (or 30 minutes of bouldering), then launch into the workout below. Top your day off with some foam rolling and 15 minutes with your rice bucket – and bam, you’re one step closer to crushing.

The Save The South #CouchtoCrush Climbing Training Workout

If you want to kick things up a notch: do crunchy frogs instead of knee-ups, and grab a weighted ball to bounce during each Russian twist rep.

To celebrate the training season, the first #CouchtoCrush giveaway is dedicated to everyone gearing up for Save The South. I’ll be bringing a few prize packages down to the event, including this one:

#CouchtoCrush Giveaway

Wanna get your hands on a gorgeous handmade Kendal Jackson chalkbag, Nature Valley’s new Nut Crisp bars, ClimbOn salve and tape (you know, for all the outdoors crushing you’re about to do)? Share your training + climbing journey with the #CouchtoCrush hashtag! And, for the rest of the training series, anyone who tags #SaveTheSouth in their photos gets an extra entry to the giveaways. I’ll announce the winner of this package at the comp!

I’m so excited about Save The South next weekend. It’s an incredible fundraiser for the Southeastern Climbers Coalition, and the road trip down to Florida is going to be the perfect way to welcome spring. Big love to all the sponsors who are supporting Save The South – y’all rock:

Moja Gear, So iLL, The Crash PadKendal Jackson Bags,
Dirtbag ClimbersRock Candy HoldsMad Rock ClimbingGrassLands Brewing Company,
Teknik Handholds IncEvolvAlternative Baking Company, Momo’s PizzaSurepaw Dog Gear, and more!

PS: If you’re a southeastern climber, or just looking for an excuse to visit the greatest rock gym ever built, register for Save The South ASAP! You can stop by TRG in person, or pre-register on the phone, or sign up the morning of the event. I can’t wait to see everyone there for a weekend of Tallahassee Rock Gym southern lovin’. Pass me the corn nuggets!

Official Results from Tallahassee Rock Gym’s Save The South 2013 Grand Reopening Event

There’s a rare phenomenon amongst writers: It’s that experience that you simply can’t seem to put into proper words. Any description or attempt at retelling the story feels subpar, grazing the surface at best. That’s exactly how I feel about trying to recount the incredible event that was Tallahassee Rock Gym‘s grand reopening and annual Save The South bouldering competition.

I’ve adopted the Save The South fundraiser event as my favorite rock gym project for the past three years, and while we knew that this year would be huge with the unveiling of our enormous new bouldering section, I was entirely unprepared for how incredible the event would turn out. Maybe it was the weeks of building and preparation I had watched unfold in anticipation of the event, or maybe it was the three hours of sleep I was running on, but I definitely choked up while welcoming climbers to our beautiful, hand built, grassroots, constructed-with-love, new bouldering section. I mean, look at it. We MADE this:A first look at the new bouldering section at Tallahassee Rock Gym.

Here’s a few stats to put things in perspective: Last year, we had about 50 climbers, and raised around $1500 for the Southeastern Climbers Coalition. Pretty sweet, right? This year, I wanted to dream big and aim to raise $2000 for the SCC. What really happened is this:

Over 100 climbers came out to the Save The South event,
and together we raised $3160 for the Southeastern Climbers Coalition

In addition, our friends at the SCC started a new effort to boost membership, so each registered climber at our event is now a 2013 member of the Southeastern Climbers Coalition – that’s over 100 new folks joining the family of this grassroots conservation organization. Incredible.A few of the lovely ladies who climb regularly at Tally Rock Gym, and came out to show their love.

We decided to host this year’s Save The South in January instead of the usual March date, largely because Niko and I will be many, many miles away from our home by spring – and this turned out to be the perfect way to kick off our year of Simply Adventure’s mission to spread the love of climbing and conservation within the community. We donated hundreds of dollars of gear to the event raffle, and spent the past few weeks toiling away to prepare for the climbing festivities.

I am still reeling from the unbelievable amount of love and sense of community that was exploding as climbers returned to Tally Rock Gym, some after being gone for many years, and celebrated the hard work and craft put into the new climbing walls. We had folks travel from Colorado, Texas, Orlando, Miami, Jacksonville, and beyond. Whether Tally Rock Gym was the first place they learned to climb, or they were veterans of our annual Save The South event, everyone poured into our humble warehouse space with the same eager attitude and unwavering excitement. Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who came out to climb, spectate, and cheer – it was a true honor to have been a part of this event, and share it with all of you.
Max Richardson and Shea Nicole share the climbing wall during the Save The South event.

There are still over 1500 photos that I need to sort through and edit, but enjoy a few teaser images while you sort through the official score results. Note: The top three competitors for each category are in bold!  

LADIES

Meagan Martin 3769
Aubrey Wingo 2236
Lexi Toro 2153
Amy McKenna engages interesting beta during the Save The South event at Tallahassee Rock Gym.
Sarah Tepper 2061
Tessa Bullington 1773
Anna Hartzog 1750
Katie Devick 1713
Lauren Buntemeyer 1687

Cassie Newman 1648
Amy McKenna 1574
Nicole Nguyen 1533
Rima Nathan 1482
Jill Smith 1445
Melissa Martin 1390
Kaylee Cubeta 1313
Robyn Weinlauf 1258
Katie Pullen 1217
Candy 1175
Kayla Hibbard 1162
Ingrid Baldeon Passetti 1148
Haley Hyde 1062
Caitlin Marsteller 1013
Becka LaPlant 917
Casey Gray 893
Toni Sturtevant 805Sarah Tepper maneuvers up the arete at the Save The South event.
Tara Bullard 730

Kirsten Clauser 675
Leigh Fremuth 605
Heather Barry 350
Amy Gregor 310


MEN

Mark Mercer 4061
Usman Bashir 3556
Bryce Van Dam 3552
Brandon Iglesias 3184
Jackson Reynolds 3179
Ross Elliot 3150
Kris Long 2843
Wilkiam McKaba 2823
Johnathan Nilson 2803Finalist Lexi Toro crushes the women's finals route during the Save The South climbing competition.
Max Richardson 2801
Jim Smith 2773
Charles Carbiener 2688
Bryan Brindt 2665
Joe Mason 2631
Garrett Garner 2623
Mark Spottswood 2623
Thomas Sullenberger 2611
Ryan VanDeWater 2601
Nam Phan 2596
Colton Peters 2561
Michael Underwood 2546
Bo Cobb 2501
John Permenter 2491
Phil Harrell 2462
Jerry Polmerski II 2459
G Golding 2453
Eli Wolfe 2446
Marc Akbar 2436Dakota Lundeen eyes a big dyno move on the new roof wall at Tally Rock Gym during the Save the South event.
Kyle Sumner 2432
Dakota Lundeen 2431
Dominic Delgado 2417
Taylor Passetti 2398
Martin Stroh 2356
Mike Harrell 2347
David Lawson 2184
Patrick Bresland 2120
Ryan Abramowitz 2068
Alex Woo 1800
Philip Fralix 1768
Michael Hooten 1959
Asa Emmons 1753
Nick Seale 1723
Adrian Thompson 1509
Hunter Metzger 1427
Kurt Marsman 1349
Hal Fravel 1343
Justin Iseman 1304
Alex Pina 1167
Tyler Scheele 1005
Christian Stowers 813
Gary Fowler 727

Whether you placed first or fourteenth, I am so proud of each and every climber who came out to show their love for Tallahassee Rock Gym and the Southeastern Climbers Coalition. My heart grew about three sizes the morning after the competition, reading all of the statuses and posts from folks who love our rock gym, love our family, and felt welcome into our community. (We love you all too!)

Women's finalist Sarah Tepper shows off her raffle winnings - a sweet new Teton Sports Outfitter Quick Tent!Enormous heaps of gratitude are owed to some of our sponsors. Teton Sports and Geigerrig really stepped up to the plate and made generous donations for our gear raffle – which is a huge source of our fundraising for the Southeastern Climbers Coalition. Climbers were hovering over the swag table in hopes of winning the Teton Sports Outfitter Quick Tents and Geigerrig Hydration Packs, and I’ve already received a rave review from one of the lucky winners.

Thank you all again for coming out – and get ready for Save the South in 2014!

Official scores and results from Tallahassee Rock Gym’s ‘Save the South’ climbing competition

What began as a 36-hour rock gym transformation overhaul commanded by a sleep-deprived staff armed with an enormous shipment new holds somehow blossomed into Tallahassee Rock Gym’s most successful Save the South climbing competitionso hats off to you, climbers.

We labored over creative new routes, celebrated the spirit of our humble climbing community, feasted on delectable Momo’s pizza, and had ourselves an amazing event.

All while raising over $1500 for the Southeastern Climbers Coalition.

Those are record numbers, folks – and we couldn’t have achieved it without you. I also recently found out from the head honcho’s at the Southeastern Climbers Coalition that our event has become one of their top fundraisers. For the staff at TRG, our goal has always been to hit $1,500 in fundraising, and we owe it all to our amazing climbers and generous community. Reaching our previously unfathomable goal means only one thing - it’s time to raise the bar for next year’s event! 

I couldn’t be more proud of the participants, staff members, spectators, and everyone who had a hand in making this fundraiser a true success. We came together to share our love for this adventurous sport, and showed our support for one of our favorite climbing organizations.

And we couldn’t have done it without our sponsors. A huge ‘thank you’ and heaps of gratitude are owed to the wonderful companies who stepped in and contributed to our cause. We deeply appreciate the support from climbing businesses like ClimbOn!, PMI Rope, Pro Balm, and the always wonderful Kurt Smith. As a local facility, we also extend many ‘thank you’s to our local community sponsors, including BagelHeads, Trail & Ski, Tasty Eats, and Momo’s Pizza.

But I know what you’re really here for – the final score listings.

In similar fashion to last year’s competition, a few of our favorite climbers from Gainesville made the drive up to the panhandle to sweep our high scores and crush our hardest routes. With tireless effort and friendly determination, they once again earned some of the highest rankings during the event – and Gator boys, I better see you back again next year!

Below are the official scores for participants who turned in score sheets at the conclusion of the competition.

WOMENS

Arieanne DeFazio – 2410
Rachel Putman – 2290
Cassie Newman – 2035
Chelsea Boetcker – 2025
Montana Napier – 1645
Barbara Ellis – 975
Maryanne Shaw – 880
Tessa Bullington – 755
Kristin Kozelsky – 635
Madeline Rosenfeldt – 635

MENS

Louie Talacay – 3185
Usman Bashir – 3150
Brian Huang – 3125
Mike Stanton – 3045
Bo Durham – 2995
Bryan Cox – 2980
David Valdivia – 2970
Thomas Bowers – 2805
Spottswood – 2705
Joshua Larsen – 2705
Max Kruse – 2710
Vinny Medina – 2680
Sam Raley – 2640
Colton Peters – 2585
Brandon Iglesias – 2370
Dakota Lundeen – 2365
Tom Patten – 2315
Jacob Stalder – 2475
Chase Pedersen – 2455
Charles Carbiener – 2265
Alex Woo – 2210
Dominic Delgado – 2130
Lucas Larson – 2085
Alex Griffel – 2060
Bob Rosenbaum – 1890
Smiley – 1860
Kris Long – 1855
Zach Stivers – 1855
Brian Drewke – 1825
Doug Walters – 1815
Ray Uzonyi – 1560
Isaac Bakan – 1425
Girish Ramachandran – 530

NOTE: Through the chaos of tallying score sheets, announcing top competitors, and drawing raffle winners, a small handful of men’s beginner score sheets found their way out of the stacks – but top climbers David Miller and Andrew Young certainly earned their mention, congrats fellas!

So, how do you prepare for a climbing competition? Behind-the-scenes of Tally Rock Gym’s second annual Save the South event

Greetings from purgatory. It’s that halfway point between the hell of stripping every hold and sliver of tape off the climbing walls, and that moment of pure heaven, a few hours after the sun has risen, when every inch of the rock gym has been reset with creative new routes.

Ah, the joys of preparing for a climbing competition.

As the hours until the second annual Save the South benefit climbing competition at Tallahassee Rock Gym tick down, the stress begins to rise a bit. Will we be able to finish everything in time? Will the brutal hour of 4:00 AM creep up and leave us too delirious to set quality routes? (Probably not. We’re seasoned pros at the all-nighter setting routine.)

So what goes into setting up a climbing competition?

First, we began to strip. Every piece of tape was removed from its route, and then each hold was screwed out from its respective t-nut. Holds were then organized into giant bins describing their style (crimps, slopers, edges, etc.).

The next day, the rock gym was closed to the public, and the real work began. Anything that hadn’t been stripped the night before was removed from the wall, and we slowly began to reset. The morning and afternoon flew by as I sat transfixed on a single problem I set on the lead wall – but the hours of toiling proved valuable as I ended up crafting my best route yet. While I mulled over a single climbing line, my fellow Tally Rock Gym staffers littered the walls with a collection of innovative, inventive routes that will surely satisfy tomorrow’s climbers.

When the hour crept to 8:00 PM, I hopped over to our lovely neighbors (and event sponsors), Tasty Eats Beer Garden. I ordered a little catering to feed the often underappreciated staff, and show them some gratitude for all the hard work they do to make this event happen. We enjoyed a miniature feast of tempeh sliders, crisp egg rolls, Asian hot wings, and spicy sesame hummus. And then it was back to work.

As the hours begin to blend together, things always tend to get a little weird. An entire day of nothing but dreaming up routes and hauling up ladders with giant hunks of plastic eventually starts to get to your head. Don’t even ask me how I ended up in my bathrobe.

Climbers, I hope you’re as stoked for this event as I am! I may be slightly off my rocker and in dire need of some shut-eye, but you better believe I’ll be ready to rumble come 2:00 tomorrow.

Get ready for another great fundraiser to benefit the amazing folks of the Southeastern Climbers Coalition. We’ve got a sweet stash of swag to give away, and while I’m currently too sore and beat up to even be able to climb my own V4 – these routes are pretty badass. Can’t wait to watch everyone climb them tomorrow!

Photo Preview: Tally Rock Gym’s Potluck & Climbing Party

Last Monday, May 2, Rich graciously allowed me to coordinate a little summertime celebration for the members of Tallahassee Rock Gym. The concept was simple – the rock gym is always closed on Mondays, so to give climbers something to do on this lame day, we opened up the gym for members under one condition: you had to contribute something to the potluck.

Not too shabby, eh? There was also a crowded refrigerator full of bratwursts, hummus, veggie patties and more. We did a bit of grilling, a bit of climbing, some slack-lining, and a whole lot of sitting around in front of the gym. Our faithful members brought more to the table than any group of humans could possibly consume in one sitting, which resulted in us attempting to stuff our face with as much as we could. Things got messy, and I quickly got lazy.

Have I mentioned lately how wonderful it is to have a chef as a friend? Raul cooks some of the meanest dishes I have ever tasted, he’s a true culinary artist. His risotto is to die for, mmm. For the potluck, he cooked up a batch of chicken wings doused in sour orange marinade and Adobo seasoning – my kind of man! Speaking of men I love, check out this great shot I got of Nick Seale arriving at the festivities.

We ended the day with juggling lessons from AJ on the slackline, and a surprise cameo by Anthea, who proved herself to be the world’s best dog for playing catch.

Great day overall, and a big thanks to everyone who came out to celebrate a day of climbing, food, sunshine and Tally Rock Gym love. I’m going to miss the gym so much during my trip, even though I’ll be out in some of the best crags in America – nothing compares to home!

Two days until Save the South – all our swag is in, and we’ve been featured in today’s Tallahassee Democrat!

The back room of the spare warehouse at the Tally Rock Gym is stacked with boxes from all our fantastic sponsors – our collection of giveaway swag is officially complete. If contributing to a good cause isn’t enough motivation to get you out to TRG’s Save the South climbing competition on Saturday, then our exhaustive list of prizes will certainly inspire you to chalk up.

We’ve been blessed with an amazing sponsorship line-up: The Crash Pad, Pusher/Revolution, Rock Candy, Kendal Jackson Bags, Greener Grass Publishing, VooDoo Dog, Bagel Heads, Evolv, Mountain Khaki, Momo’s, So iLL holds and of course, yours truly, TheMorningFresh.com – have I mentioned that we’re the official sponsor of the event scores? This is the only place you’ll be able to see a complete score listing.

A special thanks goes out to the Tallahassee based Ramba Consulting group for generously donating $500 directly to the Southeastern Climbers Coalition.

The most exciting news of the day comes from our local newspaper, the Tallahassee Democrat. Fellow climber Alice Hafer wrote a preview piece about the competition, and you can check it out here. For those of you fortunate enough to have a paper copy of today’s edition, you can find the article on page 4 of the Local section! Here’s a little preview from the piece, which she kindly interviewed me for:

“The SCC is a great organization not just for climbers, but for anyone who enjoys the outdoors. They establish a lot of hiking trails and clean-up days. If you appreciate Mother Nature, then you can appreciate the SCC,” Katie Boue, volunteer coordinator of the event, said.

This event is going to be the best comp yet, and I can’t wait to see how everyone performs. Tonight and Friday will be spent furiously stripping and setting at the gym, and climbers are reminded that Tally Rock Gym will be closed on Friday & Saturday for the competition! Keep yourselves busy on Friday as we give the gym a route make-over in preparation for Saturday’s event.

The Cravings Truck is at TRG right now – Chicken & Waffles for everyone!

That’s right – the infamous Cravings Truck is parked outside of the Tallahassee Rock Gym at this very moment, which means you need to head to Railroad Square for some chicken & waffles and beautiful climbing weather. Not into chicken in waffles? Try their delightful red velvet pancakes, or their crisp sweet potato fries.

While working a staff belay for a birthday party at the rock gym this morning, Niko and I toiled over breakfast options. We debated between Bada Bean and Canopy Road – and then, the Cravings Truck appeared like a heaven-sent angel of tasty delight. Decision made.

Climbers, you need to get out of bed and get over to your favorite indoor crag. Not only is the most legendary food truck in Tallahassee sitting right outside our front door; this weather is phenomenal, and today has presented an ideal day for climbing.

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.

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.