Little Rock City – My Battle to Conquer ‘Super Mario’

In climbing, we always hit those routes that stump us by only a few simple moves. Days, weeks, sometimes even months are spent tirelessly battling against the rock to complete a send. During last weekend’s trip to Little Rock City, the V4 route named ‘Super Mario’ became my new, obsessive project.

After working it the entire weekend, I fell short of sending by one simple move: a cross with my left hand up to a set of perfect honeycomb holds. I mastered the route’s infamous knee-bar, shredded my fingers on crimpy ledges and still I couldn’t complete the route before our weekend was cut short by a dreary bout of rain. I still find myself miming the movement sequence of the route when I’m walking to class.

Here are the best sequential shots of Super Mario. The boulder itself is stunning, perhaps lending to my obsession with the route. Thankfully for you, lucky readers, my dear friend Libbi sent the route – so you have a fairly complete set of Super Mario move-by-move documentation. The only moves missing are the first moves up to the block ledge you’ll see in the first picture, and the third move which requires the climber to throw right onto a crimpy little nook, then cross left on the other side of the crimp. Enjoy:

As disappointed as I was when my final day of working Super Mario was abruptly cut short by Mother Nature’s merciless desire to sprinkle the mountain with rain, it gave me a great reason to plan a return trip to Little Rock City. Niko is hellbent on spending a weekend at Rocktown, so I’ve compromised and decided on a post-finals adventure to both crags. Super Mario, you will be mine!

While we’re on the topic of climbing: have you voted today for the SCC Purchase & Maintain Land for Recreation & Greenspace Preservation effort through the Pepsi Refresh Project? Voting ends in a few weeks, and we are so close to the finish line. VOTE EVERY DAY! You can log in with your Facebook account, and it takes only a few seconds of your day to potentially help our climbing community.

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Meet Sender, the New Climber Pup!

During our adventures in Tennessee and Little Rock City, the crew found many things. We found abandoned brushes for dusting off holds; we found a set of car keys in the boulder fields; we even found a cool group of climbers called Dyno’Mos – Georgia’s premiere queer climbing organization! The most amazing find, however, was our crew’s new official mascot, Sender.

Every morning before heading out to climb, we made a ritualistic pit stop at the Kangaroo gas station located at the bottom of the mountain. I developed a tradition of buying a 99 cent pack of sour gummy worms, and everyone else stocked up on coffee. On the last morning, we made our final stop at the familiar gas station. While waiting for everyone to finalize their purchases, I met a sweet stray dog with a gray muzzle and big, warm eyes. She immediately responded to our affection, and was charming without being overeager. I wanted her.

We sent Jeff inside to ask the attendant about this mysterious pup – how could such a loving dog be left out in this wet, cold Tennessee morning? Apparently, it isn’t uncommon for people to abandon dogs in the nearby area, and lovely Sender was left homeless at the Kangaroo. Jeff stepped outside of the station, threw his arms open and yelled “Come on baby, you’re coming home with me!” Sender ran into his arms like they had been pals for years. It was one of the most beautiful man/creature moments I have ever witnessed.

It didn’t take much convincing before Sender was wedged up in between Chris and a crash pad in the back seat of Jeff’s Jeep. Her official naming occurred over breakfast at Cracker Barrel – another climbing trip tradition. First we toyed with the name ‘Cruxie,’ then considered the slightly controversial name ‘Beener’ before settling on ‘Sender.’ She’s the Rock Gym pup now, and had a blast at the Climbing Club meeting last night.

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Little Rock City: The Preview

Folks, I have been experiencing a beautiful whirlwind of life these past five days. This trip to Little Rock City saw my hardest and best outdoor climbing yet, which was highlighted by my early send of The Main Event (V4) on the first day. While climbing was undoubtedly the focus of this excursion, a culmination of adventures came together to form the whole of the trip.

Our first evening was spent at Matt Wood’s cozy home outside of Atlanta. His hospitable father greeted us with a medley of fresh veggies, steaming homemade chili and stacks of candy jars. In the morning, we set off towards the Montlake Golf Course for our initial day of climbing at Little Rock City.

The crew, posing in Matt Wood's driveway before heading out towards Little Rock City. (Photo by: Ray Wood)

The mornings were filled with instant oatmeal, lounging on the dock of our campsite and scurrying off towards the bathroom. Our days were spent in the boulder fields, and yes, this is where the bulk of my photographing occurred. In the evenings, we retreated back to our humble tent city for toasty campfires, hastily made dinners and bundling up in our tents.

I snapped around 800 photos this weekend with the Nikon d60, but won’t be getting the connector cord until the Climbing Club meeting tonight, so you’ll have to exercise your patience until then. However, after tonight you can expect a week’s worth of adventure stories, climbing photography, step-by-step analysis of routes and more.

In the meantime, take a few seconds to vote for the SCC’s Pepsi Refresh Project – they want to acquire over 80 acres of land currently inaccessible to climbers/hikers and transform it into redeveloped rock climbing areas, as well as establishing hiking trails throughout the south east. It takes 2 seconds to vote!

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Little Rock City – Where I’m at Now.

As you read this, I’ll be out in the boulder fields of Little Rock City in Tennessee. While I can’t promise any live updates from the mountaintop, here are some sweet shots from my last trip to LRC to give you a little glimpse at what I’m experiencing, and what you can expect when I return with lots of stories and stellar photos – compliments of Marisa’s beautiful Nikon d60!

Little Rock City is the first place I ever visited to climb outdoors. I am looking forward to revisiting all the boulder problems I watched people send in awe while I was still inexperienced; now I’m returning to conquer those problems myself. On the check list for routes I must complete: Super Mario, Sternum, Ribcage, The Main Event and possibly Dragon Lady. They’re all V4+ problems, but after a year of training for this moment, I think I’m ready.

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Off to Tennessee – So, What’s in my Pack?

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s off towards the mountains I go! Packing for a climbing trip has become a true art form, especially in times like these when I’ll be traveling five people deep in a Ford Focus – that’s 5 sleeping bags, 5 sets of climbing gear, 5 bags of food/utensils, 5 bags of clothes, 5 people’s crap in one car. The trick is, lay out what you think you need, then reduce that amount by half. Here’s my final packing spread:

  1. The Stone Fort bouldering guide. Pick up a copy at Tally Rock Gym!
  2. Marisa’s beautiful Nikon d60 D-SLR.
  3. A set of thermal under clothes, compliments of Walmart’s little boys section.
  4. My trusty refillable water bottle.
  5. Bio-wipies, because boys get stinky after climbing with no showers.
  6. Pink gloves to keep ’em fingers warm.
  7. Hand warmers for when the gloves aren’t enough.
  8. My beloved Ray Bans.
  9. A newly purchased beanie.
  10. My gorgeous Katanas, barely broken in but ready to crush rock.
  11. Fruit leathers, lots and lots of fruit leathers.
  12. A Kendal Jackson chalk bag.
  13. Crappy old boots, compliments of Walmart.
  14. My favorite tube scarf, colored to match my Katanas.
  15. A bar of Climb On to repair cracked fingertips.

And that’s pretty much it. Also packed I have socks, undies, my chargers, an extra long sleeve t-shirt, sweatpants and a purple bandana gifted to me by my human rights professor. To eat, we’ve got a few packets of instant mashed potatoes, canned soup, granola bars and oatmeal mix. Of course, can’t forget the sleeping bag. There really isn’t much else a gal needs!

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New Climbing Shoes for my Upcoming Trip!

Reason #4659 that I need to move to the mountains: There are hardly any fully stocked climbing gear shops in the Florida flatlands. Niko bought me a pair of La Sportiva Katanas for my birthday, but we had to order them online. Naturally, after days of restlessly waiting for my package, the damn shoes didn’t fit. To add insult to injury, Al’s Sports in Utah informed me that it would be weeks before they could ship my proper size – a very tiny 4.0!

Frustrated as I was, this was a blessing in disguise. I came across the modified lace-up version of the Katanas, and have ordered myself an itty bitty pair of men’s shoes from Summit Hut in Arizona. They’ll be arriving on Monday, November 8th. Just in time for my upcoming climbing trip to Little Rock City in Tennessee. We’ll be spending Wednesday evening through Sunday morning out in the boulderfields, and I’ll be sporting a beautiful new pair of shoes. Check ’em out:

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Vote to help the Southeastern Climbers Coalition purchase and restore outdoor areas in Alabama and Tennessee!

In recent years, the Pepsi Refresh Project has gained notoriety for their work assisting small groups in achieving big goals. The Southeastern Climbers Coalition is vying for a chance to win $250,000 in funding to restore closed climbing areas and promote the sport of rock-climbing. Their plan is to purchase approximately 80 acres of land in Tennessee and Alabama that have been closed to public access. They also hope to create new hiking trails throughout the southeast, and maintain current trails.

Climbers will be particularly interested in the efforts made to acquire land in Alabama. The 40 forested acres of land are dotted with an impressive amount of boulders and cliffs. There are more than 100 recognized boulder problems in this area, which reportedly range from V0-V12. Non-climbers will also benefit from this project, as it will promote hiking trails throughout the entire southeastern region of the United States.

You can vote daily by visiting the SCC’s Official Voting Page on the Pepsi Refresh Project website. This is a great opportunity for the climbing community to do something that will greatly benefit future generations of climbers and outdoor enthusiasts of all types. It is imperative that we cherish what nature has given us, and there is no better time than now to start preserving and restoring the beautiful outdoors.

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Image of the Day

I have spent my entire day pacing in front of my front door, waiting for my La Sportiva Katanas to get delivered – thank you for the awesome birthday present, Niko! Trapped at home, I have had a lot of time to kill. I entertained myself by flipping through photos from my housemate Brooke’s recent trip to Arizona. I was smitten the moment I came across the featured photo; it speaks to my lifestyle completely, and can be adapted to apply to all of our lives. Life on the rocks. ‘Cause it really always is, isn’t it?

Speaking of rocks, the Climbing Club at FSU is heading off on a trip to Horse Pens 40 next weekend – and I cannot wait. If you haven’t experienced the adventure of a rock-climbing trip, you really should give it a shot. There is nothing like spending a few days out in nature, eating bagels smothered in Nutella, toasting marshmallows over a real campfire and escaping the demands of your daily life. Coincidentally, our trip is happening the same weekend as HP40’s Pumpkin Moon Motorcycle Rally and family camp-out. I reckon things are going to get real interesting. You can be expecting some sweet photos upon my return.

Before I head off on that excursion, I’ll be enjoying my first proper visit to Chattanooga for my 22nd birthday. Niko and I will be traveling to Tennessee this weekend to explore everything that the city has to offer. I’m most excited for the Tennessee Aquarium, which houses the largest freshwater facility in the world. Prepare yourself for an onslaught of photography loaded with creatures. They have a butterfly garden, free-flying birds, a large selection of frog species, enormous aquarium tanks and my favorite, an exhibit dedicated to invertebrates like jellyfish and cuttlefish.

Hoorah, adventure!

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October 2010 – Adventure Month!

Folks, we are only 11 days away from the best month of the year – October. Not only does this fabulous tenth month of the year contain my birthday, this October will be full of adventure. Great bands are playing, climbing adventures shall be plentiful and my birthday weekend will be celebrated with a romantic road-trip to Chattanooga! October is going to be jam-packed with new experiences and exciting ventures.

First in the month, we’ve got awesome bands playing at Florida State University back-to-back. On Wednesday, October 6th, the phenomenal band Foals will be playing at Club Down Under – for free! Then, on Friday the 8th, Yeasayer will be treating our campus to an outdoor performance on the green – also for free, and all ages. Other bands playing in Tallahassee during October include Mae, Matt & Kim and more. (And on November 19th, Iron & Wine will be jamming at the Moon!)

The rest of the month will be filled with road trips. During my birthday weekend in the middle of October, Niko and I are planning a trip up to explore Chattanooga, Tennessee. Niko found a ton of fantastic places that I’m dying to see. I’m really looking forward to Tennessee Aquarium, which currently features an exhibit that combines live jellyfish with the glass-blown art of Dale Chihuly – two of my favorite things. We’re also going to check out bountiful fresh produce and a free rock climbing wall at the outdoor Chattanooga Market. The next weekend, we’re heading to Horse Pens 40 with the FSU Climbing Club for our semester trip. I’ve never climbed at HP40, so I’m looking forward to getting outdoors in a new destination.

In the spirit of exploration and travel, I’ve harvested a handful of WeHeartIt images to arouse the adventurer in everyone. Whether you’re able to pack up and head out towards uncharted territories, or have to find adventure in your nearby backyard – get out there and experience what your surroundings have to offer!

“A man practices the art of adventure when he breaks the chain of routine and renews his life through reading new books, traveling to new places, making new friends, taking up new hobbies and adopting new viewpoints.”
– Wilfred Peterson

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