Girl Crush: An Interview with Sarah Hay

Every so often, we’ll interview extraordinary girls doing extraordinary things: this is Girl Crush.  This week, we’re stoked to profile Auckland-based athlete Sarah Hay, who recently competed and crushed at the first two New Zealand National Climbing and Bouldering Competitions of the series.

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“Climbing has also taken me to places and countries I’d never otherwise have thought to visit and I’m lucky enough to have parents who live in Queenstown which is gorgeous and close to so much great rock.

-Sarah Hay | Climbing Athlete

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Bouldering Babes Bootcamp | Live in NYC 6/18 & 6/19!

Brooklyn Boulders Queensbridge will be hosting an exclusive Bouldering Babes Bootcamp – where extraordinary women create an encouraging space to connect withone another, and have a kick-ass time keeping fit!

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Join experienced female instructors Jeanne Fu and Joy Chen for two days of high energy and holistic fitness designed for women, by women. We’ll integrate female-focused bouldering techniques with high intensity interval training, core conditioning, and yoga.

We love climbing with hip flexibility, flawless footwork, strong core work, mobility, and balance to create fluidity with the wall, so there will be some of that. We hate injuries, so there will be none of that!

Bouldering Babes Bootcamp is all about taking women from ‘I can’t’ – which affects everything in her life, and how she relates to the world – to feeling 100% empowered.

Destination Climbing: Laos

Hidden in a small valley which ends in the backside of the beautiful Xiengliab Cave lies a climbing area called “Pha Tam Kam”, 12 km outside of Thakhek, Laos.

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The climbing is wild and jungly, and there are over 280 routes, 12m to 40m long, with tufas, sintering and face climbing ranging from 4 to 8a+ . The ginormous roof climbs (starting at 6b+) are particularly fun and challenging to get on.

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The Female Climber’s Guide to Having It All

From Sheryl Sandberg to Bey (as in Beyoncé), there is a certain sense of gravitas (and, quite frankly, privilege) that lends itself to the image of the woman who ‘has it all’.

For some, it is the quintessential model of balancing a happy home, healthy relationships, and a hearty career; for me, it has been about crafting what I call a ‘corporate bohemian’ lifestyle (or, quite simply, ‘work life balance’) to create financial stability while having the freedom to pursue all of my passions – most of which involve travel, climbing, or the optimal pairing of both.

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Admittedly, I’d been one of those nay-saying ladies in my earlier years, and just as I did not believe that women could have it all from a personal and professional standpoint (for reasons I won’t delve in here), so I did not believe that I could ‘have it all’ as a female climber.

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What Rock Climbing Can Teach Us About Life

We’re big believers that that rock climbing is perfectly suited as a metaphor for life, and Matthew Childs’ TED talk,  9 Life Lessons from Rock Climbingnicely encapsulates this view:

Rule #1: Don’t let go

Rule #2: Hesitation is bad

Rule #3: Have a plan

Rule #4: The Move is the End

Rule #5: Know how to rest

Rule #6: Fear Sucks

Rule #7: Opposites are good

Rule #8: Strength doesn’t always equal success

Rule #9: Know how to let go

At first glance, it might look like Rule #1 and Rule #9 contradict one another, and luckily Rule #7 helps to clear things up 🙂

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A Rocky Relationship: A Personal Essay

Climbing and I have a complicated relationship.  Sometimes my connection with climbing is tenuous at best, and though it may always appear bright from our shiny Instagram-filtered worlds, only I am aware of its lackluster days.  It is for these reasons that climbing has been my greatest mirror, and best metaphor for personal relationships.

It is the longest relationship I have had (outside of familial ones), and like all meaningful relationships, we find ourselves feeling accomplished, worthy, truly loved, happy, free and (literally) on top of the world at times, but it is not without its challenges.  In fact, it is this constant struggle that I have with climbing to continue to grow my physical strength and technique and emotional capacity to deal with failure and unforeseen situations that makes it a truly special relationship.

We all know the aforementioned positive emotions well – how freeing it can feel to be on top – whether it’s the first overhanging v0 we sent after repeat visits to the 45 degree wall, or the first rays of light we reach at the the summit after days of climbing up steep alpine terrain with unforgiving mountain conditions.  These feelings fuel our very being, give us life and light and hope.  But we speak less of the lackluster days – we know those well, too.  The ones where, despite days/weeks/months of projecting project X, we still can’t seem to nail that crux move, or we had to back away from the summit bid due to unforeseen circumstances (e.g. we simply ran out of time).  Or maybe it’s just that we had a bad climbing day – our heart wasn’t in it, we felt uninspired, and we simply didn’t want it badly enough.  Climbing can feel treacherous like that – one day we’re BFFs, and the next it’s like ‘hey, I thought we were friends, man – what’s up?’.  And we want to run.  Far away. From the flappers, shoulder tendinitis, badly chipped manicures, toe spurs, callouses, crooked bulging fingers, and lingering lower back pain.  But we can’t.  Because it hurts so good.

Am I advocating masochism here?  Surely not.  The pain to which I refer  is the pain of growth – of becoming.  And I think that all meaningful relationships to our personhood are like that – they’re rocky and beautiful, tense and intense and all-around awesome all at the same time, within the same hour of the same day.  They envelope us in their womb of loving kindness and shape us in ways we could not even imagine.  They stretch us to become the kind of person that we used to only read about in magazines and see in social feeds and never believed we could truly be.  Until we do.

And so yes, it’s been a rocky relationship, and I celebrate your rugged edges, Climbing.

Happy New Year.

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Love,

Jeanne

Destination Climbing: Wadi Rum

Wadi Rum is everything you’d expect of a quintessential desert: it is extreme in summer heat and winter cold; it is violent and moody as the sun slices through chiselled siqs (canyons) at dawn or melts the division between rock and sand at dusk; it is exacting on the Bedouin who live in it and vengeful on those who ignore its dangers

Lonely Planet Jordan

Wadi Rum in southern Jordan is home to some of the most spectacular desert climbing in the world.  Certainly for U.S.-based climbers Indian Creek, Joshua Tree, or Moab are much closer options with stunning canyons and desert landscapes, so why make the trek to the Middle East to experience Wadi Rum climbing?

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