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A Girl Who Climbs

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A Girl Who Skates…Kind Of!

After watching ‘Whip It’ a few years ago I became pretty interested in roller derby. So last month when I discovered there was a local team taking on fresh meat new skaters, I signed up. It was a brave moment that quickly dissolved into panic when the first day of training came around! But like most things in an anxious mind, the situation is never as bad as you imagine it to be.
Skating is tricky and the training has been very challenging, I was not prepared! Yet I love it as much as climbing. Since skating is all about your leg and core strength, it’s easy to see how working these skills can benefit bouldering, and I have definitely seen some positive changes. I feel much more confident in my foot placement, especially with high feet. Plus I notice I can tense and steady myself if I pop off the wall on an overhang/roof problem, and bring my feet back up to carry on. Small things, but they have made some big differences. Also, I’m not familiar with having set times and days for a hobby, as with bouldering I just turn up and climb some stuff whenever I feel like, but I’m enjoying having a schedule. Once I get sorted I think I’ll plan fixed bouldering sessions too, as this has given me the motivation to start taking things a little more seriously.
I think joining roller derby has been a big confidence boost overall. I realise that this post is slightly off topic, but since it has had an impact on my climbing I figured I would share.
Feel free to leave any questions in the comments 🙂
Happy climbing/skating!
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Banana & Raspberry Crag Cakes | Recipe

A couple of weeks ago I posted about trying to make better snack choices when climbing, and it has all been going pretty well! Less fizzy sweets and more banana loaf has really made a positive impact on my sessions, you can catch that post here if you’re interested.

Now I’m always looking for different foods to take to the wall or crag with me, so when I saw this recipe I gathered all 3 ingredients and made these muffins right away. They turned out as great little crag cakes which are super tasty, plus so quick and easy to make!

Banana & Raspberry Crag Cakes

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  1. All you need is 2 eggs, 2 small bananas and some raspberries

2. Mash up the bananas in a bowl

3. Add the eggs and stir the mixture until it’s as smooth as you can get it

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4. Rub some butter on your cupcake tray

5. Add 3-4 raspberries to the bottom of each cake divot

6. Spoon equal amount of the banana and egg mixture over the raspberries until they’re covered

7. Put in a pre-heated oven at 200° for 12 minutes

8. Leave to cool and they’re done!

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Let me know how they turn out if you bake them!

 

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P.S  Here’s the original video

Bouldering Outside for the First Time

Sunday it finally happened, I got to climb outside on real rock for the very first time, and it was awesome. After watching the weather all week I was so excited to be able to head down to Pex Hill, which is the local crag I previously wrote a little post about which you can read that here.

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Me sporting the Mad Rock R3 crash pad. Do not fall over in this! #Turtle

Late morning we headed down to meet up with some friends. Having no idea what to expect I was scared at first because it was all outdoorsy and there was a much smaller crash mat under me than I was accustomed to. It took me a few tries to get use to holding rock instead of plastic, but I started to settle in and understand why there is so much love for climbing outside.

There was something so lovely about being surrounded by trees, the fresh air (or as fresh as Widnes gets) and having such a good bunch of people to share it with. As more people started to arrive the atmosphere became exciting but calm in the perfect balance. Maybe it’s because the quarry is sandstone but it was so much gentler on my skin, there’s just something better about climbing on real rock.

Getting some moves down on Pisa Wall

Other climbers were also at the quarry, and rightly or wrongly I was shocked to find our groups fusing as we climbed problems near one another. Crash pads and chalk was shared, along with beta and support. It was an experience I didn’t expect, but one I’m glad I was part of.

I only played on bouldering eliminates on Pisa Wall, and had a crack at Poor Leno, Trad Sit Down and Gorilla. After a while I just joined in with whatever was being climbed as the grade didn’t matter to me, which is probably a good thing as the problems don’t seem to correlate with the guide book.

The element I struggled with was foot placement, mostly because 99% of the handholds at Pex Hill are old bullet holes. It was tricky remembering to work my feet up, as I’m used to whacking it on a coloured piece of plastic. At the same time it was easier because I could find a small pebble to step on that others wouldn’t deem useful.

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Hands down that was the best climbing experience I’ve had to date, and has made me love the sport even more. I can’t wait to get back out there, hopefully with my camera to grab some footage.

Any questions or advice on where a newbie should climb next within the north west is very welcome!

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Small Victories

I find it hard to take compliments, so when someone tells me I’ve improved in climbing I just think they’re simply being polite, and I don’t actually believe them. I’ve posted about trying hard and noticing your improvements previously, you can read that here, so I feel that this is nice update on how I’m getting on. Got to practice what you preach!

Last week I was bouldering at my local wall, just wandering around chatting, and casually trying a few problems. The gym was quiet, there were about 5 or 6 people floating around, (not literally as that would kind of take the fun out of climbing) but it was a nice, chilled atmosphere.
I meandered over to my friends, as they pondered and messed about on a problem they were setting I decided to try a climb nearby. I’d previously had a few attempts at this but not completed it. Somehow I managed to get up the problem easily and as I was a couple of moves away from the finish, I unexpectedly noticed the normal chatter and background noise had stopped…which meant people were watching…they’re watching me climb…this is weird…oh hey gravity!

Previously I would have got anxious of people watching me and mostly likely just jump off. However, as gravity dragged my butt to the matting I realised that I wasn’t bothered I had fallen, because it was just the result of me actually trying to make the move.
It was nice that my friends watched me really put effort in, and I guess their silence was a mixture of their surprise, and not wanting to spook me! That was the moment that reinforced my acknowledgment of my progress, well that and the fist bumps. I don’t think they had really seen me push like that before.

It made the session rewarding as for the first time I realised I had gained some confidence, and made some improvements.

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New Year’s Eve Thanks 

I’ve already started the preemptive cringing for the “New year, new me!” posts that are about to blow up social media. However after thinking it over, what’s so wrong with that really? Yeah it’s a little cliche to join the gym, start a diet or quit a habit, but these big changes are usually a shock to the system and hard to keep up with. So why not plan to make some small improvements instead, as little things can add up to a big difference over time.

It’s pretty incredible how much blogging has helped me. It has without a doubt, completely changed my mental approach to life and bouldering, to the point were others have also noticed. Obviously there are still bad days when I want to hide, eat and sleep, but they are much fewer and far between. I can’t think of a better way to start the New Year than by thanking you, yes you! Whether you’ve liked a Facebook post, Instagram picture, or visited this blog, you’ve made a positive difference to my day at that point in time, and I can’t begin to explain how it feels to have possibly done the same for others.

So my New Year’s resolution is to not really make a resolution, but instead keep doing what I’m doing. I know that there are a few things I can improve to make myself a better human and climber, so I’ll be working on those. 

Thank you and I hope 2016 is full of everything you wish for.

See you next year!
  

A Christmas Climbing Wish List

Dear Santa…

I think I’ve been fairly good this year besides missing a few training sessions, so I’ve prepared a wish list of my ideal Christmas climbing gifts.

(see visual aid below)

I know you’re really busy all year and Christmas Eve must be especially tiring for you and the reindeer. To help you reserve some magic I’ve bolted the side of the house for you, I hope Rudolph can belay. The drop down the chimney should be okay, sorry I can’t be there to spot you but I’ll position some crash pads at the bottom. It’s an easy climb back up, mostly bridging, but the top out onto the roof could be a little tricky!

Christmas Wish List

I’ll be sure to leave some carrots for the reindeer, and a Clif bar with a cup of gingerbread coffee for yourself.

Merry Christmas!

– A Girl Who Climbs

Planning for the Outdoors

I am what some climbers would call a gym rat because I climb inside 98% of the time, and I’m okay with both of those things, but I would like to venture outside. Part of the reason I’ve not gone out is down to me being a newbie and feeling safer indoors, and some of it is down to me being uneducated on my surrounding outdoor area. We aren’t blessed with the most inspiring climate in the north west of England either, but there is still plenty of opportunity to climb some real rock and I want to start seizing it. I feel pretty lucky to have such easy access to Pex Hill as my local crag, and what better place to start for my first outdoor bouldering experience. I guess it could be considered a crime that I’ve not climbed here yet, in fact I hadn’t ever visited, so I recently ventured up there for a look around to get a feel for things. Afterwards, like all good bookworms I headed straight to the library internet and purchased ‘Cheshire & Merseyside Sandstone’. Teamed with some online research this has given me a good base to start understanding Pex Hill, which I shall share with you now.

 

The quarry has sandstone walls which were used for target practice in WW2, particularly Pisa wall. These bullet holes are now used as hands holds (more like pinky holds) , so needless to say climbing here will give you very good finger strength. It holds over 160 climbs of which 40 are boulder problems ranging from V0-V10. It seems to be the place to go for practicing crimping, endurance, finger strength, and nifty footwork. So basically everything, as there are plenty of traverses on offer too. As the walls are so high there seems to be a cross over between some boulder problems and routes, making them too long for one, or too short for another. This means the grading can be complicated but that doesn’t bother me personally. I feel getting caught up in grading and ticking off climbs isn’t always the best for my mental game, but I understand how it gets others motivated or psyched.

All that aside, plans are in the works and I’m excited to go grope some real rock, and experience climbing/bouldering as it was intended by nature. Just me and the rock…and my Anasazi boots…oh and a Mad Rock R3 crash pad, because safety should always come first.

I would very much appreciate any tips or real rock wisdom for bouldering outdoor for the first time! Please feel free to share.

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DIY | Climbing Balm Recipe

After a good climbing session my hands definitely feel like they need a spa break, and a beer or three. The thought of having to hold anything at that moment in time fills me with fear, especially when I can still feel the burn from pulling on holds, and I’m mourning the loss of my fingertips. I imagine there is a debate on whether to moisturise your hands after climbing or not. Does it help, or does it ruin the calluses? I guess it’s down to a personal preference and I think it’s nice to be nice to your hands. There are plenty of climbing balms out on the market to help soothe these pains. The good ones are around the £6 – £10 mark, which I guess wouldn’t break the bank, but why pay that when you can make your very own?

DIY Climbing Balm

hand balm

Equipment
– Heat proof bowl and pan for double boiling
– Spoon or something for stirring
– Moulds, jar, tub or container to store balm

So to make a solid balm the most important ingredient is bees wax. There’s bound to be somewhere near your home that sells it, which is nice because it’s naturally made by your local bees, but if not then Ebay is your friend. Some kind of oil is needed too for moisturising, you can use olive, avocado, coconut, or whatever oil you have in your cupboards. I’m fairly sure you could stop there and it would make a decent, solid balm. On the other hand the list is kind of endless for what you can add in like essential oils, herbs, dried petals etc. The recipe below is a pretty basic antiseptic one, which I chose as it is extra effective on cuts and grazes. Just remember to have equal parts of everything, and 1 drop of essential oil for every 2g/ml.

Ingredients
– Shea butter – 25g
– Bees wax – 25g
– Tea tree oil – 12 drops
– Olive oil – 25ml

1. Fill the pan 1/4 of the way with water and bring to the boil. When it’s boiling, reduce the water to a simmer and fit the bowl into the pan. The bottom of the bowl should not reach the water. Add the Shea butter and bees wax and let them melt, stirring occasionally.

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2. It takes about 10 – 15 mins, but once the butter and wax have melted together, take it off the heat and add the olive oil and tea tree oil, gently mix it all together.

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3. Quickly pour your mixture into the container/mould of your choice. I tried to make a wick with string for in the container to make it easier to remove from the tub, but as you can see it didn’t work. I think if it had something to strengthen the string it could be a option to get the balm out of the container in one piece. However, the silicone cupcake mould worked great to make a loose bar, so I recommend using these or something similar.

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4. If you get impatient and prod your balm before it has set like I did, you can heat it back up in the microwave if the container it’s in is safe to do so. It will liquefy again and you can fix it back up. When it has cooled down for about 20 minutes, you can speed up the setting process by popping your balm in the fridge for another 20 minutes.

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5. Once it feels firm and has completely set, you’re good to take your creation out of the mould and marvel at what you’ve made.

I found that you only need to use a little bit of this balm as it starts to melt on contact, and after about 5-10 mins it has all soaked in leaving a lasting feel of moisture. The loose bar is easier to use than the broken pieces, but they both get the job done and make your hands feel great.

Let me know if you try this and what ingredients you use!

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Weird Things Climbers Do

I’ve been to a few different indoor gyms now and I’ve noticed habits that seem to be universal in the climbing world. It’s funny because they’re pretty odd quirks when you think about it, but I’m not sure you would notice them after a long time in the community. As a newbie I have noticed, observed and acknowledged these traits, and in the process realised that I have also started to do some of them!

(Not 2 or 3. Just to be clear.)

Weird Things Climbers Do

1. Looking at their hands when they fall off a route/problem, as if their hands magically teleported them to the floor without the climbers consent.

2. Climbing shirtless to try harder, not because it’s too hot. Is it a psychological thing? Maybe the t-shirt is too heavy? Who knows. So far it’s only guys I’ve seen doing this, but it still confuses me when I imagine applying this to an everyday life situation…

3. Getting undressed in the middle of a climbing gym whilst holding a conversation. Like it’s normal to strip in a public place and have a natter about the weather. (Also mainly male climbers, sorry guys!)

4. Constantly chalking hands when talking, looking at route/problem, watching others climb, deciding what to climb. This is a contagious habit!

5. Refusing to hold everyday objects like a normal person. Got to open hand the shopping bag and gaston that sliding door.

6. Comparing holes in finger tips and calluses on palms. Gross, but I guess it’s kind of a rite of passage when you get your first callus.

7. Plotting a route on anything, anywhere.  A clothing fixture in a shop, a large vehicle in a car park, the neighbour’s dog.

8. Groping everyday objects that they think would make a good hold e.g credit cards, vases, light switches. Then also voicing the discovery of it excitedly in public.

Some of these habits and scenarios I have witnessed first hand, as my partner and most of my close friends are climbers. I don’t mind though as I seem to be picking up some of these habits too. (Again not 2 or 3. Ever.)

Climbers are a weird but wonderful bunch, and I’m happy to be part of the community!

Do you have any of these habits? Please say yes.

A Girl Who Climbs

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