2014 GOALS

I look up to my bookshelf, which is currently occupied by climbing books. My collection of books has grown in the past year, not because I visited more climbing areas … but for the reason I am a nerd and I love buying books. In this PDF flooded age of eye squinting nonsense, I will always appreciate ink on paper.

SO my goal for 2014 is to attempt to visit every climbing guidebook area that is currently on my shelf. The areas I haven’t touched before are:
- Bishop sport/trad climbing
- Red Rocks sport
- Tuolumne Meadows
- Lake Tahoe Bouldering
- Big Chief Area
- Williamson Rock
- Horeseshoe Canyon
- NYC Bouldering

I have a bad habit of calling myself just a “boulderer”. The truth is, I still have a fear of ropes since I witnessed a friend falling in a bad trad accident. That was years ago, and I need to get over it. So time to mentally train! It’s going to be hard to push myself mentally, but I will try to deal with it instead of numbing through the conflict.

I’m getting psyched flipping thorough the pages of areas I have not climbed at before. Which makes me appreciate all the hard work the authors put in to each and every book. Your research, scoping, and willingness to share information is greatly appreciated by the entire climbing community and me. So thanks Louie Anderson, Robert Miramontes, John Long, Eric Hörst, Alan Moore, Tom Slater, and so many more.

Who else is down with me!?
Climb on.

-Natalie Duran

My Religion…

Spent this past Sunday paying homage to the rock Gods with a day up in Idyllwild, CA. This quaint little town is home to Suicide & Tahquitz Rock. It’s a mini-Yosemite with mutipitch trad, and “sh*t your pants” run out slab routes. I went back to revisit one of my favorite lines up in Suicide Rock, Flower of High Rank.

The night before, I took roll call for my gear. It’s always good to occasionally clean and check your gear as the lot. Sadly, for some reason one cordelette and a locker was missing from my lot.

Even though 70% of my climb time consists of bouldering, I still have an unreasonable passion for plugging gear. I will have to admit that I am in no way an alpine endurance athlete. The 40 minute uphill hike to the base kicked my butt. It has been a while since I was back in Idyllwild. So today after the hike I needed a full days rest to heal.

Earlier this year a good friend and climbing partner got in a really horrible trad accident, while I was belaying him. Thankfully he is now fully healed. Even though I wasn’t physically hurt, it was mentally shocking experiencing it. It took me a while to ease back into roped climbing. Yesterday was my first time back leading up with gear. I’ve done Flower of High Rank late last year, and cruised up the thing. This time was different. I definitely had a different mind set while leading. I was getting frustrated with myself taking hangs, but I just needed time to ease back into it all. Thankfully I didn’t hit any freak out moment where I had succumb to bailing out. Eventually I finished the pitches, and gained that feeling of passion I’ve been masking with fear for a while. Can’t wait to get back out there and lead more with them thar widget wedges.

Keep a right mindset & climb on everyone!

-Natalie Duran

Repeating Happiness

I’ve seen it happen time and time again, my friends have fallen intto it… and so have I. There is no denying that all reached some kind of obsession in projecting & grade chasing in climbing. This obsession spreads mentally then physically like a virus. The single desire to send sets in. It is always important to step back from seriousness and just enjoy the pure movement of climbing. I am the advocate of always coming back to climbs. Just because you’ve done it once, doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye forever. Sending is always a great time. So if you feel like you’re in a slump, revisit nostalgia.

Declarative memory is in the medial temporal lobe and is responsible for the recollection of events and facts. Visual stimulation brings back these memories. Even further, putting yourself back in the movement of a previous climb will up bring memories from when you first touched that rock. Your cerebellar muscle memory is a form of procedural memory that is autonomous. When revisiting climbs you symphonise declarative and procedural memory. You are then flooded with consolidated memories from your previous visit, then merging that with your current state.

For me 90% of the time, all climbing trips are joyous ones. When I have allotted time, I always dedicate moments to revisit previously sent climbs. When temperatures eventually fall below the consistent 95F… I can finally get back out there. Creating new declarative moments, and revisiting others. The following are a few climbs I love, and will always go back to for their own special reasons.

10. Holcomb Valley Sport - I forgot the name of this climb haha. But I do remember this route being my favorite style of climbing. Vertical and small crimpy holds.

9. Acid Wash [V7] – Bishop – Low ballin’ all day long. Happies are my favorite area in Bishop.

8. Slot Machine [V6] – Tramway – This one is special because it was my first send of my first time ever at Palm Springs Ariel Tramway.

7. Heart of Darkness [11a] – Joshua Tree National Park - This one doesn’t bring back textbook happiness to my mind. It’s definitely special. I have a permanent scar on my right knee because of this climb. This was my first trad lead, and I fell few moves from the anchors and I gashed my leg into the only dish in the whole climb. Even though I injured myself on this climb, I fell in love with trad at the exact same time. I have a video of my first lead here.

6. Alexandria [V7] – Joshua Tree National Park – This climb is seriously a bitch to get to. You have to trek 45min (2hrs if you get lost) in an unmarked trail in the middle of nowhere Joshua Tree. If I somehow manage to get back to this climb, I guess I wouldn’t complain. Its my favorite style of climbing, and high up too!

5. Solarium [V4] – Bishop – How could you not love Solarium? Its a Bishop classic!

4. The Vampire [11a] – 400ft – Tahquitz – Highlight of this multipitch trad route is The Bat Crack pitch! This route is historical, the Stone Masters working their way up this route in the 70s amazed me when I got on this route. I would love to come back and lead up these pitches.

3. White Flight [V3R] – Palm Springs Ariel Tramway – My first “R” rated climb ever finished.

2. More Funky than Monkey [11b] - Joshua Tree National Park – This is the climb that made me fall in love with roof cracks. I just wish there were more roofs around! Don’t know where else in SoCal I can fully hang from my hands/feet for 20+ feet horizontally.

1. Pig Pen [V4] - Joshua Tree National Park – I’ve seen many hard bouldering crushers get on this climb and get COMPLETELY shut down. Something about, “I don’t know what this crack thing is all about“. This boulder gave me a taste of what crack climbing is, and I fell in love with it because of it.

> Well yea, THIS telly tubby is ready to get my climb & camp on! How bout you?

Stay Psyched & Climb on Everyone!

-> Natalie Duran