Girl Crush: An Interview with Alyse Dietel

Every so often, we’ll interview extraordinary girls doing extraordinary things: this is Girl Crush. This week, we’re stoked to feature recent Rock and Ice cover girl Alyse Dietel.

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Alyse had been climbing for 15 years before she  fell off a cliff during her first month of college and was paralyzed from the waist down for 6 months.  Despite being confined to a wheelchair, she defied her doctors and re-learned to walk, and then to climb.

She sent her first 5.13b a year later after intensive training and rehabilitation. Now she has sent more 5.13s and has taken up trad climbing with her boyfriend, Tim.

‘Climbing is everything to us, and we plan on doing it as much as possible while inspiring others to push their boundaries to do what they love. ‘

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Girl Crush Guest Post: The Process of Projecting by Cat Suen

Every so often, we’ll feature extraordinary girls doing extraordinary things: this is Girl Crush.

Cat Suen makes us smile. We first met through mutual friends on a girls only climbcation, where we were blown away by her dedication, kindness, and warmth, and quickly developed a girl crush.  When she’s not projecting 5.12’s in her home crag in Squamish, she enjoys climber family potlucks, other people’s dogs, patio gardening, fly fishing, and surfing.

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“I am just a girl who loves to climb! I did not heel hook out of the womb, but I was born to climb.  Climbing is my oxygen and I can’t live without it.  I am afraid of heights, but I am not afraid of the places it takes me. Nothing compares to getting to the top of a climb and breathing in all the beauty that surrounds me. These mountain top moments make my heart smile. Climbing makes my heart smile.”

-Cat Suen

Something pretty magical happened recently: I sent one of my hardest routes to date.  After projecting  Rugmunchers (5.11d.) for about a month, one night it all came together.

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Transform Injury into Opportunity

Two nights ago, we sprained our left ankle after slipping and falling on uneven pavement while crossing the streets of New York City.

We immediately knew that our ankle was no bueno for climbing after feeling that all-too-familiar sharp shooting foot pain, and our acupuncturist doctor confirmed our fear the following day.  She prescribed R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, and elevation), and no climbing/hiking/biking/yoga/any dynamic activity that could further exacerbate the tendon tears in our poor bruised, swollen ankle.

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One of the toughest things to do as an avid rock climber is to rest. Fortunately, we’ve had a lot of experience with climbing injuries, and learned over the years that in addition to occupational or physical therapy,  one of the best things you can do for your body is to rest.

‘Ok, great, but then how does one keep sane once one’s happy place has been compromised?’, you might ask.

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Gear Talk: Climbing Shoes for Every Occasion

When it comes to crushing, climbing shoes are a girls’ best friend.  It can make the difference between sending and slipping.  In our Women’s Bouldering Clinics, we’re often asked: what kind of climbing shoe should I get?

That depends – what kind of climber are you, and what type of routes are you planning to get on?

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We’ve compiled a list of our Top 5 climbing shoes for every occasion – whether it’s gym climbing, outdoor bouldering, trad climbing, or sport climbing, We’ve also included our favorite all-round shoe for those who are looking for a multi-purpose solution that fits their budget and needs!

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Progress Equals Happiness

Progress moves us forward, even if it’s tiny. It may sound self-helpy, but even reputable academic sources such as Harvard Business Review recognize the key role that progress plays in feeling good:

Consider, for example, how progress relates to one component of inner work life: overall mood ratings. Steps forward occurred on 76% of people’s best-mood days. By contrast, setbacks occurred on only 13% of those days.

The Power of Small Wins, HBR

Rock climbing is like that. We’ve often felt happiest in our climbing when we are making progress (whether it’s sending harder routes, leveraging better technique, or getting stronger). Recently, we’ve overcome a decade-long plateau and are climbing harder, faster, stronger, and better than before, and have felt more connected and joyous with climbing than ever. It’s all upside, baby.

Photo by Eric McCoy

Photo by Eric McCoy

Now the burning question: How?

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Destination Climbing: Las Vegas

Half an hour away from the Las Vegas strip lies a desert paradise, strewn with fascinatingly beautiful and strange rock formations.

There are pockets of zen to be found all over Vegas – from the tranquil rooms of the Canyon Ranch Spa to Red Rock Canyon’s Black Corridor, where climbers crag to seek refuge from the scorching desert sun.

The rocks are reddish and time erodes them into the pinkish sand that covers the trails.

But perhaps the best kept secret of Vegas is Mount Charleston, a sanctuary located just 35 miles northwest of Sin City.

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Welcome to Charleston!

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Getting Out of Your Head: How to Conquer Climbing Fears

Rock climbing isn’t exactly the most intuitive sport or hobby that one picks up. That’s probably because there’s a whole host of fears (falling, heights, exposure, and injury) we need to conquer first before most of us can even fathom climbing.

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Our onsight of Sixish (5.6) variation in the Gunks yesterday – a short, steep, and sweet climb (with some headiness thrown in for good measure)

Or not.  I’m always inspired and impressed by people who haven’t yet conquered their fears and take up the sport anyway; this is badassery.

Part of what makes climbing so challenging (and addictive!) is how it constantly pushes our physical and psychological limits. In climbing,  we’re confronted with our insecurities,  frustrations, and ego. Up close and personal with the voices inside our head that tell us ‘you can’t do this’ or ‘what the heck are you thinking doing this?’

I call this our climbing head, and getting out of our head is key to conquering our climbing-related fears.

Easier said than done, right? Case in point, I returned to the Gunks (a popular trad climbing destination near NYC) after taking nearly 2 years off of trad climbing due to various injuries.  I hopped on a route well below my climbing ability, and even though I have all the technical skills, eight years’ worth of outdoor climbing experience,  and a full leader’s rack, my climbing head started to kick in, and hard.

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Trad is rad.

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Climbing Across Continents

Some folks travel around the world; we prefer to climb it.

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Seasoned rock climbers know all about the limestone cliffs of Krabi, Thailand, or the ’14 pitches, bitches’ of Portero Chico, Mexico. But oftentimes, it’s worth discovering new and beautiful places, full of phenomenal rock, ice, and snow to climb.

Here’s our list of world-class climbing all over the world, so read on and climb on!

AFRICA
Lukenya, Kenya: there’s nothing quite like camping and climbing in the African bush – waking up to a sunrise where you can almost see the faint shadow of Kilimanjaro lingering in the background, basking in the scorching equatorial sun as you route find and lead your way up V Diffs whilst battling the thorns and bushes of various vegetation. Located just 30 miles south of Nairobi, Lukenya is a Kenya climbing scene favorite – but you must join the Mountain Club of Kenya to gain access to climb there (do it, they are good peoples!)

ASIA
Cat Ba, Vietnam: sport climbing and gorgeous limestone tuphers – ’nuff said. Make sure to check out Asia Outdoors, a solid guiding service who will certainly lead you in the right direction as far as bar, food, and routes beta are concerned.

Chiang Mai, Thailand: same, but different.  Superb sport climbing in a concentrated area that is lush and green and known as one of the ‘world’s greenest mega-crags’.  You won’t regret trekking out to this jungle to send, but don’t leave your bug spray in the hostel.

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How to Rock an Overhanging Roof

Getting over overhangs might seem scary at first. After all, no one likes hanging upside down (unless you’re a bat), and falling off an overhanging roof while bouldering or on lead can be pretty precarious, and downright frightening. World-class climber Steph Davis once said,

“The hardest thing for new female climbers (especially those of us over age 12) is building upper body strength in proportion to overall strength/weight ratio.”

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There’s a common misconception that climbing overhangs is all about upper body strength. Steph is definitely on point about overhanging climbs being more difficult for women due to our needing to build more strength/weight ratio, but the secret to rocking overhanging roofs is employing a total-body strategy:

  • Avoid an arms-only strategy.Don’t campus it up, as tempting as it looks to pull your entire body weight up the entire wall. You will pump yourself out doing so.

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