Climber Pickup Lines – Twitter Contest & Short Twitter Glossary

I guess Spring is in the air because in Spring a climber’s thoughts turn to pick up lines?

This morning I logged into Twitter and saw some of my Tweeps taking part in a discussion about hot climbers and geek climbers and I retweeted a line asking if it was a climber pick up line, which led to @theusualsuspect saying that he could see it as a contest. I thought, hey that’s easily done and so I replied with: “Ok new hashtag #climberpickup RT @theusualsuspect I could see a competition based on the ‘Twitterclimber pickup line’ :)”

I even pronounced @cragbaby @cupcakemafia and @katiebeth to be judges along with me and then went about my day.

I came back from a short bike ride to find that not only was it still going but it had picked up steam.

So… I’m going to make it a real contest.

To enter:
1. Get a Twittter account
2. Tweet your best climber pick up line(s) by Thursday, May 28th,  8pm Pacific Time and be sure to use #climberpickup in your Tweet

I’ll post all the entries and @cragbaby @cupcakemafia @katiebeth and I will choose our top three and hopefully overlap will determine the winner. EDIT: This just in, @cjedmonston and @theclimbergirl are now on the judging committee as well.

Winner will get their pickup line on a t-shirt from my store!

In the event of a tie we’ll do a poll vote off here on the blog.

My Twitter Glossary:

Twitter – a microblogging tool which limits the user to using 140 characters and makes your posts available for people to follow.

Tweet – 1. noun.  a mini blog post limited to 140 characters, originally used to answer the question “What are you doing?” 2. verb. To make a mini blog post using Twitter.

Tweeps – Twitter slang for “peeps” or people you follow and/or who follow your Twitter account.

Retweet – When a Twitter user repeats something someone else has said using Twitter, usually to share with more folks and/or to comment on the original tweet.

@username – A convention used by Twitter to relay messages to a specific Twitter account holder. In this case your Tweet would be directed to “username”.

hashtag – A convention of using the “#” symbol in front of a word to make it easy for people to search for Tweets on a given topic.

If Twitter still confuses you don’t worry, it happens to us all and frankly when I first joined it I didn’t see the point. Now, well, now you can see that it’s for doing serious things like this contest.  I’m kidding, if you can look beyond the silliness of the contest you’ll notice that there is a nice community of climbers who have found each other on Twitter — and that is never a bad thing in my book!

Costa Rica Trip Report

Why would a climbing couple go to Costa Rica you ask? Well even though we are both climbers, one of us (“him” she gestures with a thumb) had scheduled arthroscopic knee surgery a month before the wedding and another (“her” he gestures with his head) wanted to do something a little bit different than their usual roughing-it sort of trip and especially wanted to go somewhere within budget that they had both never been to before.

Costa Rica became the destination of choice since it had possibilities for adventure, wildlife viewing and even comfort as well as a chance to see an active volcano (something I have always wanted to see).

It did not disappoint.

Day 1: Travel Day. Los Angeles to San Jose, Costa Rica

We went from LAX to Houston to the San Jose International Airport in Alajuela to the Hotel Don Carlos in San Jose.  The flights weren’t too bad, we both had only carry-on luggage so we didn’t have to worry about our luggage being on the wrong plane, and we were pleasantly surprised that the “snack” on both legs of our trip was a hot chicken wrap with a cold side salad rather than just a small bag of peanuts. Arriving at the San Jose airport we had no trouble finding our prearranged driver who took us to San Jose and our hotel. The hotel was quite interesting, it was a former Presidential house and had a lot of history and a mish mash of original and historical art. Even though we were tired we quietly explored the hotel before going to bed.

Day 2: San Jose and Arenal. Travel and the Volcano.

The included breakfast with our stay was a continental breakfast buffet which consisted of fruit and a few other dishes. I made sure to try the pinto gallo which is a customary Costa Rican dish mainly consisting of beans, rice and some vegetables and spices, I think it was a little dry because of being out on the buffet table but I liked it. While eating we were alerted that our shuttle driver had arrived. He was early according to our itinerary but it wasn’t too much of a bother. We picked up a total of three more passengers. All of us were in Costa Rica for the first time and all of us were US citizens (us from Southern California, two guys from Northern California and one girl from New York). The New York girl asked if anyone spoke Spanish and I said I kind of did. Since it seems only one other person volunteered that he had taken it in school but had since tried to practice and failed miserably, the rest of the passengers decided that I was the unofficial translator. Our driver could speak a little bit of English so between his English and my Spanish we got a “tour” of things as we drove along. What we saw as we went up towards the mountain region were factories, farms, a palm plantation, many schools, soccer fields and houses. Unfortunately for the other shuttle passengers, they were dropped off before we saw some wildlife in the jungle right beside the road which included a raccoon type creature and a monkey in a tree.

Once we got up the long and increasingly bumpy road with “muchos huecos” to the Arenal Observatory Lodge, K and I checked in, got a bite to eat, decided to explore and ended up on the “Old Lava Flow” trail which we proceeded to take probably a little further than we should have.

Why do I say that? Well because we got pretty darn far up the volcano and then that night we watched the volcano erupting, which included some of the cooled boulders rumbling and cracking their way far down the mountain — certainly as far down as we had gone up (though it was to the west of the path we had taken). We watched the volcano until fairly late at night, the rumbling, cracking and pyrotechnics were quite mesmerizing: the power of the Earth and the birth of creation. You watch something like that and you don’t wonder why there are so many myths based on volcanoes. Watching the Arenal Volcano was the primary reason I had picked this hotel, but from all reports I knew that the volcano top was usually cloud covered and also that seeing it erupt was unusual. I had booked 2 nights to increase our viewing chances and it looked like my choice had paid off.

Day 3: Arenal and Fortuna. Waterfall, horseback riding and ziplining.

In the morning we ate at the breakfast buffet (included) this one was a mix of fruit and hot food. We ate heartily and then went on a hike to a nearby waterfall where we went for a quick dip. After that we took a different and slightly more challenging path back to the hotel. Once we got on hotel grounds we checked out the small volcano museum on the premises before catching a ride into Fortuna, our departure point for a combination horseback ride / zip line experience. We had chosen that tour partly because, though K’s knee had performed pretty well during our volcano hike/scramble, he was quite tired from it and we figured horseback riding and ziplining wouldn’t be too much of a strain compared to another, longer hike we were interested in. Being climbers we didn’t expect too much from the zipline experience but since it was something Costa Rica is famous for and because I had hopes it would be a nice way to see the rainforest without putting too much strain on K’s knee, we went for it. Turns out there were only three of us who signed up for the tour that afternoon. K and I and Luis, a French Canadian who was on honeymoon but whose pregnant wife was staying at their hotel.  After being asked if we’d ridden horses before (we all had) we each got a helmet and a horse. We set off with our guides and let me tell you, it was no slow plodding pony ride. We galloped and trotted. We started off on a wide dirt road but soon rode on uneven ground then through a wide plain with hillocks and even did a stream crossing. Our horses also seemed to want to race each other. I had great fun though I must admit to not letting go of the saddle horn with my left hand and being a little concerned when my horse went up and down the hillocks. When we finally arrived at the zipline area we were able to have a cup of water and then get some instruction.

We were given Petzl harnesses and a curious sort of glove/brake thing which strapped on to our wrist so we could let it dangle when it was not in use. We were told we would only need to brake on certain ziplines. The ziplines were thick cables and we were attached on two points to a pulley sort of device which we had to weight and unweight by doing a pull up motion on the cable while a guide hooked/unhooked us. The day was gray and I wondered if it might rain on us, but the temperature was warm, perhaps around 80 degrees Farenheit. Right before the first zipline I got a little nervous since I’d seen the first guide take off in a flash, but once I was on it I found it to be a pleasant sort of way to travel and in fact not nearly as fast as I had expected (wanted?) it to be. We did 10 ziplines, sometimes having to walk up steep steps to the next platform. One of them had a view of Arenal Volcano. I made a game of trying to brake so that I’d land exactly at the platform though I didn’t mind if I had to pull myself along either. Our guides were funny and friendly, one even played video camera man and filmed for us. We rode the horses back and again they wanted to race. My horse, Rayo, seemed to like taking the less beaten path which involved a lot of hillocks. I had a lot of fun during the tour but I think it would’ve been more exciting if I wasn’t a climber and/or if the ziplines didn’t cross over some of the same ground. I guessed that the combination horseback riding / zipline was an idea of a landowner who had a farm so it was not a way to travel and sight see the way I had hoped it might be since we obviously could only go on his property.

Back in Fortuna, K and I walked around the town, buying snack supplies from a local supermarket, window shopping and strolling the main plaza park before we ate dinner at a local restaurant. We took a cab back to the Lodge for more volcano watching and were rewarded with another light show until thicker clouds moved in to obstruct the view at which point we could still hear the rumbling of the rocks and the humming of the rainforest at night.

Day 4: Travel Day. Arenal to Manuel Antonio. Travel and the Beach

We woke up early and had a slightly rushed breakfast due to some confusion about our shuttle pick up time. But our driver was nice about it and in fact we were on time to pick up the two other folks (2 girls from New York) who were also going to the Manuel Antonio area. It was about a four and a half hour drive with two official stops and one unscheduled one which I explained in Spanish to our driver on behalf of a female passenger in our shuttle. The temperature was much warmer down in the Manuel Antonio area, as we were right by the beach now. For this part of our trip I had opted for a hotel upgrade and we stayed at the Arenas del Mar, a very eco conscious hotel/resort with access to both a public and “private” beach. When we arrived we first were at one level in the jungle hillside and then were taken via electric golf carts to the real reception area. The strange layout of the place was due to the desire to not chop down native trees and the fact that the property was on a hill which overlooked the beach. At check-in we were given two non alcoholic ice blended drinks and then two water bottles which they urged us to use instead of buying bottled water (tap water is safe to drink in Costa Rica). The really neat thing about the bottles is that they are only good for 18 months because they are biodegradable! We checked in and found a gorgeous room with a great view plus a complimentary bottle of wine since it was our honeymoon (the Observatory Lodge had also given a bottle of wine by the way). We took off to walk down to the beach. We were at first planning on just exploring but K saw a few guys out with surfboards catching waves so he wanted to try bodysurfing. We gave our sunglasses and my shirt to the hotel guard and went off into the water which was wonderfully warm.  We live in California in a beach town but the water temperature is never very warm so this was still a treat for us. One of the guys surfing let K borrow his rental board but K only got to catch one wave because the guy had to return it. The wave he caught wasn’t that great but he was happy about the water temperature, there’s just something nice about being able to swim well after the sun goes down and still feel warm enough to air dry when you get out. At night we had a really nice dinner at the hotel restaurant which included a slightly more upscale version of a traditional “Tico” meal called “casada” which is also the word for “marriage”.

Day 5: Manuel Antonio. Manuel Antonio National Park. Wildlife and Humanlife.

We got up and had a great breakfast (again included with your stay but this time also including a cooked to order item off of a menu as well as a fruit buffet). This was our day to go to the main attraction of the area, Manuel Antonio National Park. One of the smaller of the many national parks in Costa Rica, it was supposed to be one of the best in terms of being able to see wildlife. We decided not to sign up with an official tour (which would’ve included a taxi ride to the park’s entrance) but instead walked along the beach until we got near enough to the park to cut over, declining folks offering to be our guide along the way. Once we paid the entrance fee and went inside we saw a painted sign map and a fairly wide road going further into the jungle which seemed quite crowded and well traveled. We took a side path hoping it might be less crowded but were soon disabused of that notion and back tracked. We set off for a look out point instead. On the way there we saw some capuchin monkeys, unfortunately they were being fed by a German lady who was sitting at a table at what was obviously a lunch stopping point. Like in national parks back in the States, you aren’t supposed to feed the wild animals. One of the monkeys seemed to be upset at the woman and was baring its teeth at her. A guide came up the trail and told her not to feed them. She said, “Ok, ok”. But she didn’t seem like she was going to stop. The guide said, “I am sorry if he attacks you”. There was a tense moment where the monkey went closer to the woman but it then went back to the trees, perhaps because there more people around now.

K and I hiked on to the look out point, spotting a fairly large rodent type mammal on the way and then went down to explore the park’s beaches. After doing some traversing around a rocky point we ended up at a remote spot, just us, a big black spiny lizard (which we at first thought was an iguana) and many red crabs which skittered away when we approached them. The view was great but we didn’t swim very long there as the ocean floor was fairly rocky. K seemed to take a liking to the lizard on the beach and decided we should help feed him, we started herding crabs in his direction until he finally caught one. Then we went to another beach area we had passed along the way and started to hike out. That’s when we came upon two other tourists who were standing still because of capuchin monkeys on the path. We all watched them as they scampered across the trail, up into plants right near us. K swears one was putting on a show of looking forlornly at some leaves and then at us to show us he was hungry but I’m not so sure he wasn’t just anthropomorphizing the monkey’s behavior. It was still pretty neat to be that close to wild monkeys.

After awhile the monkeys moved off and we started out. We headed out of the National Park and this time walked along the street for part of the way back. We were pretty hot and had consumed all our water so we stopped to buy a liter bottle of coke in a drugstore. Unfortunately we had our first (and only) bad experience with a local. The counter guy tried to rip us off by shorting our change by $10 US. K had given him a $20 (US dollars are welcome and often used in Costa Rica) and he gave us change in colones, making a show to count out many coins… which were only worth about 50 cents US a piece. K called him on it and he at first tried to say he had given him a $10 bill but gave us correct change in the end and we went on our way. Back at the hotel we swam in the hotel pool (they don’t use chlorine by the way but some kind of environmentally friendly system) and then had dinner at the hotel again, they had local musicians playing who were pretty good.

Day 6:  Manuel Antonio. Rest Day, Beaches and Friends.

This turned out to be our rest day. We had hemmed and hawed about going SCUBA diving, K because he wasn’t sure his knee could take being restricted by a wetsuit and both of us because we had intended to review our PADI cd’s first but hadn’t gotten around to it. Well “non haste” made “waste” I guess. By the time I called the only dive shop in town they told me the dive was full. Strange thing was, I called them again on this day to check if they had a wait list for an afternoon dive but they told me they didn’t have an afternoon dive and asked me what time I had called when I was told this morning’s dive had been full. I got the distinct impression that the dive had not been full and someone had gotten their info wrong. It wasn’t a language issue as both folks I talked to spoke perfect English. We were asked if we wanted to dive on Sunday but we couldn’t because we were flying Monday. Oh well. We had a great time at the “private hotel beach” (all beaches in Costa Rica are public beaches but this one was in a cove which was more accessible by folks who stayed at our hotel).  K and I even got to boogie board a little because the hotel had free boogie boards to use. We also made friends with Rodbin, one of the electric car drivers who showed us some sloths which lived right on hotel property. He had questions for us about California and we had questions for him about Costa Rica.

Day 7: Manuel Antonio. Mangrove kayaking and howler monkeys.

With SCUBA not being an option, we had signed up for a kayak mangrove tour. It started raining before breakfast but we figured,  “what’s a little rain when you’re kayaking?” Apparently another couple did not have the same kind of thinking and they backed out so we had one very knowledgeable guide to ourselves. He even told us about the history of the small town of Quepos that we drove through before we got to the boat launch. The mangroves were fairly peaceful once we got off the branch that was right next to people’s houses, we saw a heron right off the bat as well as a small falcon native to the area.  The rain stopped which made it a more pleasant paddle. Our guide pointed out a peculiar spider and let us feel the strength of its web, which was surprisingly strong and not sticky. He said that it was being studied to possibly be made into a biodegradable material as strong as kevlar. I spotted a kingfisher bird on our way back to the launch. After the trip we went back at the hotel, freshened up and started to walk back down to the beach trailhead again. Rodbin saw us and we learned that we had missed some howler monkeys at breakfast. He saw our disappointment so told us to hop into his cart and drove us down to where they were currently hanging out in some trees. It was awesome. A troop of monkeys climbed over our heads, one had a baby which clung to her or went out on its own. Just as we were ready to go back to the beach trailhead we were stopped in our tracks by the woofing/howling of the monkey troop. Even Rodbin, who told us that sometimes he heard them as his “alarm clock” was smiling in delight as we listened to the slightly eery but awesome sound. We went back to the beach after that for low tide exploring, swimming and some beach bouldering (don’t get too excited climbers, it was crumbly rock). K was disappointed because the waves weren’t that great, he had been talking about renting his own surfboard until this point.

Day 8: Travel Day. Manuel Antonio to Quepos to San Jose to Los Angeles

I was sad it was time to leave. We ate breakfast, saying goodbye to a waiter who had vowed to speak to me only in Spanish once he learned I was trying to speak it.  We then had one last ride with Rodbin as well. Travel then was to the small Quepos airport. We had a flight with Nature Air, the “first carbon neutral airline”. They bought carbon offset credits. Since the alternative mode of transportation would have been a 4 plus hour ride in a car, I think this was a good deal for both us and the environment. The plane ride was short and unfortunately I was not on the side of the plane that overlooked the beaches, but it was still quite scenic. Upon landing we took a ride over to San Jose International and paid our departure tax. We ended up buying a few souvenirs at the airport since we hadn’t seen anything that really caught our eye in the towns. Then it was off for home.


We would love to go back. There are so many things that sounded interesting to do but that we didn’t get to, one of the formost was to go diving. Perhaps next time we might stay in the area more known for the diving spots though, down near Manuel Antonio is not the most known spot for diving which made the “full/not full” mix up easier to take at least. Another thing we missed out on was a spelunking tour, not sure how interesting it would have been but it sounded neat since they warned that your clothes might get ruined. River rafting was also a miss this time, due to time constraints and K’s knee condition, I think I even would have liked to have visited a butterfly and frog reserve as well. Then there are whole other regions of the country we didn’t get to as well. Still, we were quite happy with how our trip turned out, especially since K’s knee was not at a hundred percent. Being able to just kick back in a nice hotel and have room service is something I think everyone should experience at least once, even if you’re the most diehard of dirtbags and especially if you’re on your honeymoon.

Trip Photos:

Below is a limited slideshow of select pictures, move your mouse around the box area for more options and for a link to the full set of photos.

How to Marry a Climber

What’s the foremost question on a climber’s brain? Right, “How do I land one of these hunks/babes?” I thought I’d write a guide to answer that question.

  • Step 1. Become a climber on your own
  • Step 2. Get a boyfriend/girlfriend. If they are already a climber skip to Step 4. If not proceed to Step 3.
  • Step 3. Teach them how to climb
  • Step 4. Make sure they will be there to catch you when you fall
  • Step 5. Have adventures with them
  • Step 6. Get married and spring the news on your website/blog followers.

Alright, calm down, Rockgrrl isn’t turning into some odd version of Cosmo, and if you really do have “landing” a climber as the foremost question on your climber brain you really do need to work that out. As you may have guessed, this is not a hypothetical post. For those who follow my Twitter account and may have noticed that my climbing tweets got a little sparse and then I went off to Costa Rica… well, I was busy planning a do it yourself wedding and a Costa Rican honeymoon and this is my tongue in cheek way of announcing that I got married to a fellow climber!

Short version of our “Boy Meets Girl” story: We met at a fencing tournament where he took First in the Men’s Competition and I took Second in the Women’s (I could’ve taken First… but that’s another story). Our first date was me taking him climbing and then he taking me to sushi right afterwards. Our second date was a Yosemite backpacking trip.

We got married at a small ceremony with a lot of help (for example: his mom made the cake, the reception was at a client of mine’s restaurant, the wedding party wore their own clothes – though I did buy a new dress). Our wedding day splurge was to stay at a very nice hotel for the weekend which was also used for Bride prepping and for the photo shoot (see pic).

We’re looking forward to more adventures together and take inspiration from other married climbing couples. We won’t wear our rings when climbing but one of our wedding gifts was a pair of belay devices so we’ll substitute those  😉

Choose your climber carefully, they need to be able to catch you
Choose your partner carefully, they will need to catch you!

Packing Lists, Contact Lenses & Lasik – Packing Tips from a One Eyed Climber

I went on another one night/one day climbing/shopping trip to the 5.10 Outlet and Joshua Tree National Park last Friday – Saturday.

Deciding to go on the trip was last minute.  I had work I wanted to get done so I didn’t truly decide I was going to go with my friend until late Thursday night/Friday morning. Packing wasn’t done until hours before departure and it was more haphazard than usual because I had rearranged my camping stuff in order to do a practice pack for an upcoming trip to Costa Rica. Of course, I ended up without a few key things.

Mainly I did not pack a back up set of contact lenses (there is usually a pair in my car camping ziplock bag of toiletries but I had cleaned that out). I also did not pack my eyeglasses.

And I forgot my SLR camera because I had just gotten a new camera bag in preparation for the CR trip and I forgot to repack my camera body into my regular climbing/photo bag. I had my desired lens in there though. Ha, some photographer I am eh?

This packing fiasco was a lesson to me that even when I feel comfortable doing car camping trips, a list is still a great thing to have, even if it’s just for an overnighter.

In fact, I should’ve used fellow climber, Sudarkoff’s  ingenious and customizable packing list generator. His tool is

Pack Whiz List Generator
Pack Whiz List Generator

great because you can choose different travel variables such as domestic or international travel, weather conditions, activities you plan on doing, etc. Once you do that it generates a list of suggested items for you. You can then customize the list to your liking. Furthermore, you can choose to share your check list with others. I immediately saw the value in Pack Whiz for making a list for Costa Rica (my first international trip in a while)  but I overlooked the usefulness in just having a list for an overnight camping trip as well.

So what was the outcome of my trip?

All went well Friday. My friend picked me up late in the day and then we went to REI where we both picked up needed items, then went to the 5.10 outlet where I found a great deal on some Savants, amphibious hikers which I think will be perfect for Costa Rica waterfall hikes and for hot weather hiking in general.

Early Saturday morning is when the trouble began. Upon waking up for one of those oh-so-convenient predawn bathroom runs I noticed my right eye wasn’t clearing up from its bleary state as fast as my left.

Soon I realized my lens for that eye had either fallen out completely or moved off of my iris and was caught maybe in the side of my eye. I wear extended wear disposable lenses and have for years. I have not had one just fall out while sleeping before, usually it’s because of eye rubbing or water splashing, etc. This was my first time trying a new brand though and this new brand felt so comfortable I thought there was a possibility that the lens could be in the side, top or bottom of my eye and I was just not feeling it.

I searched my tent in the light of my headlamp while waiting for dawn and when when I heard my friend moving about in his truck to ask him if he could see a lens in my eye. He thought he did but after a minute of me trying to get at it we concluded that he was mistaken. From experience I know that even if I had found my lens by then it would be a brittle, possibly cracked mess which would not do me much good.

That left me with one good eye and one extremely blurry eye with -8.0 vision. -8.0 vision roughly means that I can hold my hand about 5 inches away from my eye and it looks reasonably clear, anything beyond that and things go from very blurry to, “Ooh look at the pretty color blobs!” This also meant that a headache might be imminent and the loss of binocular vision and thus depth perception was immediate.

I had volunteered to do some rope gunning for a group of climbers which included beginners but instead I just followed climbs all day, sometimes being the person in the middle and doing the clip/reclip thing or tailing a rope, but still not helping out in the lead climber / follower ratio.

It was still a fun day though. Despite getting a headache after following up Double Cross which went away after I consumed a lot of water, I didn’t get a headache the rest of the day. I spent some of the day partially covering my bad eye with my hat or just closing it so I think that helped.

As for the climbing, most of the climbs were ones I had done before so I was fine not being able to see on one side of my face. However, I was on the small edge/friction part of a 10c I had never done before which I felt was made much harder because of the depth perception loss , “Gee is that an indention in the rock or a flat colored spot?” and because I was constantly trying to turn my head around so I could see with my good eye. I ended up not finishing the route. I did end up cleaning on Toe Jam twice with no problem, however it’s a route I’ve led before so I was familiar with it. All in all I just enjoyed making new friends and overcoming my one-eyed disability.

The hardest part in regards to my uneven eyes was probably just scrambling, when the lighting on the rock left no shadows it was sometime hard to tell how steep the slope was. My new Savant shoes performed wonderfully, by the way, they have a bit of C4 Stealth near the toe.

My boyfriend used to say something like “Adversity is good for you” or maybe it was “Adversity is fun”. I think he was sometimes joking when he talked about it, but I think I know what he was getting at, a little adversity can add some spice and help prepare you for new challenges.  So on a trip where I was only going to get one full day of climbing in – and then I find that on that one day I am faced with a handicap, I just said to myself, “I’m going to make the most of it and be the One Eyed, Pig tailed, Pirate Climber. Yarr!”


I’ve been wanting to get eye surgery done for years now. Obviously if I had had it done before this trip I wouldn’t have needed to pack back up contact lenses or bring my prescription eyeglasses.

When I first heard about eye surgery, it seemed radial keratotomy was the only option, and it seemed to have draw backs that made me wary. For one, I heard that it did not do well at altitude. I’m not sure if that means Everest altitude or just any altitude above 10K (which is when altitude sickness becomes a possibility).  I also heard that color perception might be affected, graphic design is my primary job, so that concerned me more than it would the average person.

Well it seems Lasik eye surgery has advanced and proven itself for a long time now,  so finances willing I hope to get surgery in 2010 or perhaps 2011. I’ve talked to one climber who had it done who had to have a follow up operation, he said it was painful though his eyesight ended up being great and still is great years later. I will not be going to his doctor.  Others I’ve talked to (some climbers, most not)  seem to have no problems, though at least two of them have mentioned seeing slight night halos. If anyone would like to share their experience with Lasik and an outdoor life, please share!

JetBoil Product Recall

You have probably heard about how the peanut recall affected many food products including Clif bars, but now JetBoil is doing a voluntary recall of some of their products too.

Jetboil has utilized three different gas valves (the “A”, “B” and “C” style valves) in the production of its Personal Cooking System (PCS) andGroup Cooking System (GCS). PCS and GCS units utilizing the B style valve were shipped to US retailers between July 10 and September 9, 2008, and sold through retail since July 10, 2008.

My boyfriend recently bought a JetBoil and it was on the recall list. Fortunately, even though I borrowed it for my past two trips to Joshua Tree (intending to do a review on it), I ended up not using it on either trip because folks just kept offering me their hot water.

Sounds like generosity and chance may have saved me some grief:

We have determined independently to undertake this process after receiving reports and returned units from a very limited number of end users who have experienced leaking gas and subsequent ignition of the gas leak. No injuries or property damage have been reported by these users.

Please go to this site for more information:

Jetboil Recall

The 5.10 Outlet in California – Great Deals

Last Friday I finally got to go to the 5.10 Outlet store in California. My local climber friends and I had been hearing about this shop for awhile and we talked about stopping by on our way to Joshua Tree, but there was always this one catch…

It’s only open on Fridays, it’s only open from 1PM to 6PM. That’s it. 

5.10 Outlet is Open!

Well, one of my friends was finally fed up with missing the store, he announced that he was going out on Friday, going to REI and the 5.10 outlet, climbing in Joshua Tree on Saturday and coming back late Saturday night (he was busy Sunday). I decided to tag along.

The details:

The 5.10 Outlet is hosted in the front room of the 5.10 distribution center.

Address: 1419 W. State St., Redlands, CA 92373

Phone:  (909) 798-4222. 

The Layout: 

The small store is set up with shelves and a few bins lining a room about 25 feet by 40 feet with a few free standing shelves in the middle and a sitting area to try on shoes. They also have some climbing holds along one corner of the room so you can test out climbing shoes on it.

The Selection:

It’s a 5.10 outlet so they mainly have climbing shoes but you can also find approach, hiking and even casual shoes. Additionally there were two bins of sample shoes and empty baskets which I believe must have had more sample shoes in them at one time. They have limited shoes in “the back” but  I asked for a  size check on two shoes and they didn’t have it, a store guy said mostly what they have is out already. They also sold a small selection of t-shirts and climbing gear ( for example, they had a Petzl GriGri there but it was regularly priced).

Shoe racks by size

When we went there the sample bins consisted of men’s size 9 shoes (no climbing shoes in there)  and a bin of size 7 women’s shoes (which I didn’t really check through as that’s not my size). My friend wears men’s 9 and he picked up some unusual water hikers from the bin for $15.  The store guy didn’t even know if they had a name as  they weren’t a line that went to mass manufacturing. Unfortunately my friend tried them out in Josh the next day and “fell” out of them. They have neoprene as a lining and the shoes stuck on the rock but his feet (both of them) slipped out as he tried to step up.

The Deals:

I was charged with finding climbing shoes for a beginner who wears a Men’s 9 and picked up some Spires for $60 (retail around $95). I was also charged with scoping out what they had for Men’s size 11. I got Anasazis for $60 (retail varies with sales but I think normal price is around $90), a pair of Anasazi VCSs (the newer and more agressive version) for $70 (retail around $135), and a pair of Prodigy hiker/approach shoes for $45 (retail around $95).

For myself (being on a limited budget at the moment) I got one pair of women’s Insight’s for $45.  These were similar to a pair of shoes I saw on sale for $60, regularly priced around $100. 

While we were there, another group of 3 climbers were also shopping and I noticed they all went away with a pair of climbing shoes each.

All in all it was a fun experience, the staff was friendly (one even apologized for “the mess” of shoes in the racks) and I got a great deal on shoes I needed.

If you’re shoe shopping in the Southern California area I highly suggest stopping by this shop. It’s still over an hour away from Joshua Tree National Park but if you can work it into your route (it’s near the 10 and 210 Freeway intersection) it’s quite worth it.

When is a 5.7 Not a 5.7? – Joshua Tree in January Conclusion

“You’ll have too much drag!” Dave shouted up to Luis, who was scouting around a round cap formation near the top of a trad climb on Chimney Rock.

As his belayer, I was standing in a position about 50 feet below and to the left of Luis, unable to see what was going on. I could; however, agree wholeheartedly with Dave. Luis had asked for some rope earlier and I had given him the slack, yet he wasn’t able to feel it at all.

“What about that crack over there?” Dave shouted again.

“It’s nothing, it just flares.”

Eventually it was decided that Luis would just belay me up to a spot on a ledge more in line with the rope than the false crack. We should, Dave said, be able to downclimb a chimney from there to another ledge and be able to go to the back of the formation to some rap rings on the other side.

The original plan had been that I was going to tail and reclip a rope so that others in our party could also follow the climb. That plan was smartly scrapped and I was just going to do a straight clean.

As I waited to make sure I was on belay I contemplated the 5.7 rating at Joshua Tree National Park and recalled a conversation I had had earlier during this trip.

“That one says it’s a 5.7” a climber had asked me.

“5.7 trad climbs here are unpredictable. They vary a lot.”

“Yeah, why is that?”

“I think some of them were rated with old school ratings, when 5.10 was the hardest there could be. That and maybe vet climbers doing a climb, just cruising, thinking a climb wasn’t too hard and shrugging that ‘we’ll just call it a 5.7′”.

I got a smile at that and continued, “There’s a climb in my old guide book that’s rated a 5.7. In the newest guide book it’s a 5.10!”.

“Belay is on!” Luis called. We did the rest of the command exchanges.

I started climbing.

Typical J Tree 5.7The climb I think we were doing according to my old guide book is West Face Overhang, 5.7 1 star. We (Luis, Dave and I) had studied it from the ground, comparing it to their newer guide book (I had left mine at the campsite). It looked like the first part was an easy, lower angle, walk up between two small cracks which then led to a chimney climb topped off with a boulder-like chunk which looked to us to be the crux of the climb to get over and/or around.  The finish of the climb had looked like a crack to the top of the formation set in another large boulder like shape above a ledge. That part is what Luis had called “nothing”.

I was on the lower angle part now – the part we had thought was going to be a “walk up” but at which Luis had already told me, in his accent, “That part is a little bit scary”. I could see how it would be a surprise on lead. The cracks were nice but the rock between them protruded outwards, keeping you a little off balance.

The next part was the chimney, it was a little bit too off width to do text book chimney moves, but it wasn’t too bad. I had noticed that Luis had gone straight up, following a crack rather than going around the roof part but I stepped onto the block instead.

A few more moves and I was at his belay. There was a small ledge which I could walk around the corner. Though I didn’t walk right to it due to rope drag, I could see what Luis had meant about the “crack” we had thought was the final part of the climb. It was not too much more than a scoop out of the rock towards the top, it might make a fun boulder problem if you could stem your way up, but there was no way to place gear at that part, and we were rather high in the air.

From the ledge I looked for the chimney area Dave had mentioned and saw it. It would be an interesting downclimb just get into place for it. As I got a closer look I didn’t necessarily like it. “So, we go down there?”

“Yes,” Luis said. “Or… you could lead up this,” he indicated a crack in the boulder like cap, which started at the ledge I was on and went all the way to the top. It was not tall at all, maybe 15 feet or so? Maybe 20 at the most.

We moved towards the downclimb but before I was about to cross I decided I wanted to lead the crack instead. I told Luis, “I’m like a cat, I like to go up more than I like to go down”.

Unknown CrackThis is true but I’m not sure why I felt so confident I could do this climb as an onsight. The crack looked lovely, hand and fingers, yet I really don’t have too many trad lead climbs under my belt, and even fewer done as an on sight. Climbing had helped me realize something though. I am good in a tight situation, between a rock and a hard place (forgive the pun), or even just an uncomfortable place.

I have been called a “rope gun” only a few times in my life since usually there’s always a better one in my group, but if one was needed, I’d step up. When I know something needs to be done and I can do it, I will. No complaints, no backing down. This situation on Chimney Rock was not dire as, say, my unexpected lead of part of Open Book (5.9 trad in Tahquitz) but it was just more convenient if I were to lead this and… I thought it would be more fun as well.

A few days before this trip my boyfriend told me of this crazy theory he had which basically said that I am like a hobbit. Yeah, a hobbit, from the Lord of the Rings. I didn’t find this flattering but he explained himself. Looking at a hobbit you wouldn’t expect them to be tough, but they came through and could kick butt. So he was saying I am tough and good in tough situations. I thought about The Open Book epic and other climbing situations I’ve been in and decided not to throw something at him. Still, I’d much rather be an elf, than a hobbit, for those keeping track.

I thought about that incident right before I started up the crack. It was fun, not as easy as I had thought, but fun. Luis had put a piece in at the bottom for me, he took it out after I had placed one of my own and passed it up to me to place again. I think I only put one more piece in. Just before the top I found that the crack widened. “I’m a little scared now, the crack widened,” I said to him.

“You are good,” he encouraged.

It was silly to tire myself out just hanging there, “When in doubt, run it out!” right? So I moved up and finished.

There were bolts at the top and rap rings. I happily told Luis.

When he got up I discovered I’d been climbing with my Flip MinoHD in my pocket so I took a quick video.

I gave Luis a high five.

The story of the 5.7 wasn’t over yet though. We rapped down to a ledge of sorts on the other side but not to the ground. I could see rap rings on a rock face through a chimney crack. We ended up going up and through this chimney, at first not knowing if we could reach the rings.  When we made it to the ground I gave him another high five.

This is what I remember about my early trips to Joshua Tree: a 5.7 can take all your strength and then send you on an epic downclimb (though in this case it was easy once we saw there wasn’t a chasm between the chimney and the second rap rings).

So, when is a single pitch 5.7 trad climb not a 5.7? When it’s an old school Joshua Tree 5.7 that’s when. Then it can become a route finding surprise 2 pitch climb with an unknown way to get down. The funny thing is, I know this about the 5.7s, yet I keep trying them anyway, a girl’s gotta have some unexpected fun doesn’t she?

Feel free to add your own “5.7” stories!


You can also read a trip report from theclimbergirl (no relation, though we should be huh?), she posted about a hard 5.7 as well (and was in the park just days after I left from this trip).

Links to my other articles about this particular Joshua Tree trip (January 15 – 19, 2009):

Joshua Tree in January Part 1 – Campsite Conflict

Joshua Tree in January Part 2 – Climbers

Joshua Tree in January – Trip Photos

Joshua Tree in January Part 2 – Climbers & Climbs

It was late for winter campsite hours, past 9pm, on Sunday night. Luis, Peter and I were walking the Hidden Valley campground loop trying to find our friends who had taken off to visit a campfire to which we’d all been invited. The directions at the time had been, “We’re at the really big bonfire”.  Problem was that there didn’t seem to be any “really big” bonfires left. Luis and Peter had taken awhile to get back from their errand so we had started off late, we figured the “really big” part might have burned down to “moderate sized”.

Still, we walked along, looking at the stars and checking out campfires. We got to one that two guys were near, their backs partly facing towards us. “Dave and Eric?,” we asked, pretty sure it wasn’t them but feeling like we had to say something since we had obviously been walking towards them.

“Yeah?” One of the guys said, “We’re Dave and Eric.”

“Wha?” Peter said.

I took a step closer to get a better look at their faces, I really didn’t think I was wrong.  The other guy who hadn’t spoken yet said, “Hey we know you, from Thin Wall.”

The first one added, “And we watched you climb Sexy Grandma today!”

I finally got a good look at the guys, It WAS Dave and Eric — just not the Dave and Eric we were looking for.

We all had a good laugh about this, and I thought it was a great example of just how social this particular climbing trip had been.

I love climbers. In the span of 4 days,  between the comings and goings,  I ended up meeting 14 people for the first time, some of whom I shortly there after put my life into their hands and vice versa. And that’s not counting some folks we met at the ranger sponsored “Climber’s Coffee” on Saturday morning or the party of three who we saw on Sail Away.

When taking off for this trip all I knew was that Peter and myself were going with 100% certainty (my boyfriend couldn’t make it because he had to work). I also knew that some climbers who did not lead trad were coming up one of the days and that on Monday Peter wanted to climb with a woman he had met previously. My only expectations were then centered on me following routes, putting up some sport/ top rope climbs and maybe doing repeats of trad leads I had done but Peter hadn’t. I also expected it to be very cold, day and night, for the entire trip.

My weather expectations were a little off, it was cold at night and in the shade but on Saturday it was so warm that the guys took off their shirts and Nicole and I went down to tank top / short sleeves layers.

My climbing expectations were also exceeded. With the addition of Eric to the mix I got to follow a 10c friction climb that I would not normally have done (leading a run out J Tree 10c slab climb just doesn’t appeal to me at this point in my climbing life). I also got to try a 10a friction climb that Dave (from California, not from Arizona) put up and then I got to follow Luis (who I had just met that day) on a 5.7 trad climb which turned out to be much trickier than you’d think… and also turned into a 2 pitch climb in which I led some unknown crack climb to the summit as an onsight.

This was in addition to some of the more expected climbs, for example, Peter got to lead Sail Away for the first time (I’ve led it in the past so opted to second it so we could more quickly get out of shade that day).  That same day I did however,  get to lead a 5.8 crack climb on Thin Wall (which is when we’d met Dave and Eric from Tucson).

Eric making eye contact with his belayer
Eric making eye contact with his belayer

The people were as diverse as the climbs. Dave (the California one) is an architect and an avid mountaineer, he is in training for Mt. Ranier and has been up Mt. Shasta and I’m sure a number of other peaks. Eric was currently on his 8th month of being a climbing bum and had started his trip climbing in Croatia. He also had a neat camera gadget which he used to make some cool climbing videos. Eric from Tucson, did his first 10a trad lead on No Calculator’s Allowed but unfortunately hurt his finger pretty badly the next day, which went along with his partner Dave twisting his ankle. Peter P. (who we met at Echo Cove) is originally from Munich and had a dry sense of humor, his friend Brian from New Jersey is a newlywed and seemed happy to be out enjoying West Coast weather. Risa and her friend James are in the Military. James is an airplane “operator”, he flies unmanned aircraft and told us that therefore they don’t call themselves pilots. Luis came to the US from Spain three years ago and is a math teacher in the LA Unified school district. I liked him immediately when, after doing a section on the 5.7 trad climb which we had all eyeballed from the bottom as being the “easy part”, he said, “That part is a little bit scary”, in his Spanish accent.

To me anyone who is willing to admit they are scared in front of some girl they don’t know is alright by me. I’d rather know what I was getting into then have some guy hiding it because of bravado.

As far as the “usual suspects”, Peter can’t hear from one ear, lives on his boat and is the oldest of our bunch but is in crazy great shape, Matt is, well “Matt”, if you meet him you’ll know what I mean (he and Eric really hit it off well). Michael is a very “zen” climber who is into martial arts and also does movie effects related work. Nicole and Casey are great climbers and a lot of fun, they just aren’t keen on trad so much (yet),  and me well, I’m just a generally laid back climber who is also a bit of a geek and photographer.

Next time you’re out at Josh perhaps faced with limited options due to weather or partners, look around. Try going around yelling, “rockgrrl!” or Dave, Eric, or Peter and maybe you’ll get a holler back.

Me, Luis, Peter, Dave, Nicole, Casey - Saturday Group
Me, Luis, Peter, Dave, Nicole, Casey - Saturday Group

Joshua Tree in January Part 1 – Campsite Conflict

Sharing campsites
Peter at camp

My first trip to Joshua Tree was when it was still a National Monument. I arrived late on a Friday night with a crowded car of climbers there for our first time. It took us a moment to figure out that the “furry trunk” trees lit by our headlights were the giant cactus namesakes of the park.

This past Thursday through Monday, was my umpteenth trip to the climber’s playground now known as Joshua Tree National Park but it was my first trip there during the month of January.  A few weeks before my departure I had seen pictures of Intersection Rock and the surrounding area covered in snow. I was prepared for cold days, colder nights and setting up ropes for some newer climbers who were going to join the group.

As usual, J Tree surprised me and taught me again that you can never really know all there is about a place,  a group of people, yourself or your climbing abilities. Like Joshua Tree itself, my trip report will be structured a bit unconventionally and sometimes jump in time.

Matteo and Oberto

My friend Peter and I arrived in the park around 1AM, glad that we knew a campsite had been set aside for us by a friend. But when we got to our spot we were quite surprised to find a stranger’s car parked in the middle of two spaces, another campsite ticket placed over ours and a tent in the spot.

My stomach sank. It’s one thing to ask folks if you can share a site, but to take up all the car spaces AND put your ticket OVER another person’s ticket? That meant you had to have seen that the site was already taken. I really didn’t want to have to search for another site so late at night, and my friend Peter was also concerned because we were expecting more friends to arrive at this particular site the next morning.

Peter parked his truck on the side if the turn out, we set up our tents in another part of the same campsite and went to bed. Peter had read the ticket and told me that the guys were from Italy.  I started reviewing what little Italian I knew and wondered if I they would understand a very bad Spanish explanation of camping etiquette. I thought idly that if it came to it, a ranger could check the payment box and see who had paid first.

It was a cold night but I only woke up once to put more clothes on.

The next morning I opened my eyes to a warm, partially sunlit tent. I heard some voices outside and waited a little bit. I was chicken to be the first to step out into a possible confrontation and was still drowsy from the 1 AM arrival.

Instead of a dreaded Italian curse, I heard an accented voice say, “I’m sorry” and then heard Peter say something about it being ok but he’d be right back.

Turns out the Italian guys, Matteo and Oberto, had also arrived late at night (though obviously not as late as we had) and had thought our site was just going to stay vacant. They were very friendly and were from the Dolomites area in Italy. They had come to the US and bought a used car to travel in, hoping to sell it back when they were done. We swapped climbing route recommendations and cultural stories.

The $50 Ticket

“… I got a $50 ticket… they took my plates… $50!” I was half awake Sunday morning when I heard those words. From what I could hear through my tent and in between drifting off, someone had been reported on by some fellow campers, been forced to move to a different campsite, had their driver’s license plate number taken down and been given a $50 ticket.

I got more of the story from another climber who knew the person who got the ticket. Turns out there was a debate on who had gotten a site first,  a ranger than asked some folks in the site next door who had gotten there first and the neighbor incorrectly said the other guys. Ticket, etc ensued. All of this is third hand information, but I had clearly heard the unpleasant results in the morning.

Joshua Tree lesson learned: don’t prejudge a situation and don’t bring anger to a discussion if you can bring understanding.