I was interviewed for and REI article about plus size climbers, the article mostly focuses on Sam Ortiz though. You can find her on instagram @samoritzphoto or @climb.big
Why I haven't climbed in a year.
Short answer: life changes
Longer answer: First of all finances got in the way. The climbing gym is not cheap and for me and my climbing partners the cost got in the way. There were so many other activities we could do for less and we have all had challenges that restricted our budgets. So secondly, I didnt have climbing partners to go with. My husband was very busy with School, my dad had injured his shoulder, Lynleigh was busy with school and my brother and I financially couldn't justify it.
Third, my husband and I committed to more fertility treatments and I was in various cycles that made it hard to plan.
Fourth, I lived in the forest, remotely, working for Parks Canada all summer and so was not in the city. I am not really equipped for outdoor climbing.
So anyways, I miss it, I really do. And I think I will go back to it. But for now its not a priority. I do a lot of swimming and hiking and I will go back to work in Parks this summer and live in Banff.
We have officially finished with fertility treatments and now are moving forward with life, I go back to school in September and Im making some big changes.
I never intended to stop posting on this site, but this has been a hard year and I have just been more quiet than usual.
Hopefully you find my content helpful still, I invite you to read the blog in the past, try climbing!!!
The good news is there are more people doing it now and more resources to help you! And im still here, and if you want to contact me, please do.
In September I signed up for a 4 week class at the climbing center so I could build on my climbing skills and hopefully start to be a better climber.
For most of the time I have been climbing I have been more focused on getting to the top than on the way that I got there. And I realize the longer I climb that I am working too hard, meaning that I am using too much energy as I go and if I had more skill I could be more graceful and climb longer.
I dream of going outside and spending days out in the rocks with others and I want to be able to accomplish things when I do that. Solidly push myself into 5.9 gym climbing and probably around 5.6 outdoor climbing.
This class was great for this, every week we ran drills for a few hours to practice different skills. Working each week on one focus we moved from feet to arms to balance and then putting it all together. Each one of these classes I climbed on nothing harder than 5.4 but climbed up and down more than I every have in a single session and that was awesome.
What was also awesome is that my buddy Lynleigh took the class with me and also learned so much and worked so hard.
Examples of things we learned were: quiet feet, straight arms, rest positions, weight distribution, dynamic movements and static movements.
All of this and I am left feeling like...well like I have a lot of practice to do and a lot more to learn.
The next few months were filled with fertility treatments and ultimately a miscarriage and I didnt climb anymore in the fall. Now its the new year and Lynleigh and I have decided to take this same class again in February. When we take it I will try and blog about it better. Elaborate on the skills I learn and pass on what knowledge I can.
Until then, lots of swimming to get those arms stronger and back to the old pushups.
This blog has been quiet this summer as climbing has taken a back seat to some other activities. Its summer so getting outside and hiking, riding my bike, playing in the river and just all the other things that come with summer (BBQ's the garden) have kept me pretty busy.
But honestly there are two other major factors. The first is that it is hard for me to do activities alone, I just find getting motivated tough and I really dont like doing things alone so its less enjoyable. That being said, my usual climbing buddies have been very busy and also finding that financially its just not fitting in at the moment. Like many adventure sports, climbing is not cheap. Its a specialty sport that involves a lot of gear, guides for outdoor pursuits and specialty gym memberships. So it is something that we can prioritize but summer has brought many other costs with it and for now we have all decided to focus on strength building and other activities until fall.
I have now done 60 days of push-ups and am continuing to another 30 day challenge. My dad has been on board the whole time and is continuing on the next 30 days as well as I have another convert doing the old ups and downs with me.
I got a hang bar and resistance band so I can practice hangs and negative pull-ups.
I have been swimming lengths twice a week with a general average of 500 m each visit. My average time for a lap is about 30 seconds (a time i hope to greatly improve upon with practice) and i absolutely love being at the pool. Its reminded me that I like a great many activities but I am on a budget and I cant afford them all.
Even with hiking, a "free" activity with the mountains in my backyard, the cost of gas is high and it costs more than I like to drive there, so we have been walking in the city parks a lot more.
But summer is only half done and there is lots more fun to be had! I have a busy August planned, I will share it as much as I can.
My mental health is a bit taxed, so I am going to try and blog and update the social media but what I am most focused on is getting outside, moving, organizing and relaxing. I need to take care of myself and I hope you do too!!
Here in Calgary the new Calgary Climbing Center location (Rocky Mountain) and I was so excited to go. It does not disappoint, what a cool place.
I didnt really realize it but Calgary is really a climbing city, I take for granted that we have some freaking top notch locations to climb here. I really dont know what is offered in other cities but I have this feeling that because we are beside the Rocky Mountains that we have more kick ass gyms than average.
This gym is huge! And a little intimidating. The tallest wall is 65 ft, I havent been on that one,I just tried the mini walls, 40 ft.
But I rocked them! All i am learning lately is really stepping up my game and making climbing a more thoughtful sport rather than just lugging my butt up the wall.
I didnt really realize this until late last summer, but I have been staying pretty safe in activities by really only doing them with people I deeply trust and feel comfortable with. There is nothing inherently wrong with this except for what has happened in the past month: my key people I train with have gotten very busy.
I dont really go by myself, I dont know why exactly, but something is holding me back lately and I really need that extra push of plans with another person so make sure I go. Accountability.
So I realized that I really need to go out and meet some people and just try training with them to see if we make good activity buddies.
Cue Big Girl YYC! I mentioned them in my previous post as they ran a beginner climbing class that I asked them to do that was a smashing success! This is a body positive come try any activity in a safe supportive space thats for women. Erin (who created and runs it) is so much better at this part of organization and reach out than I am. I can be a bit of a solo warrior, and as much as I like people I really need someone else to organize and recruit.
I havent' been able to go to any other events yet but I really look forward to joining them more in the summer and I plan on bugging Erin a lot to let me help her!
A little piece of my ego feels protective of being "the" fat climber and I think that was a reason I was avoiding this. I didnt' want to go with people that were so much better than me and I liked feeling special being the only big one there. I also didnt want to break down with strangers, or fail, or look weak in front of them. This monkey part of my brain that just jumps to insecure was taking over and keeping me alone and not doing the fun activities I love. My ego was telling me that my online persona would be de valued if i wasnt the best, or a least the most level headed in the group.
BUT THAT IS SO SILLY!!!
Sharing this with others has been amazing. I honestly tear up when I see someone else get that awesome feeling of complete overwhelm at what you just accomplished. Going with other people that I know want the same support I do is amazing. Through this group I have met two ladies who I have now gone climbing with and each session was really fun. I very much look forward to going out with them more and more.
Recognizing my ego and knowing its not my amigo is so important to me, in letting go of it I can accomplish so much more and make new relationships. Actually amigos.
These ladies likely dont know it but I was scared to go with them one on one. I almost cancelled. I didnt climb anything scary while they were there because I didnt want to fail in front of them. BUT next time we go ladies I am going to push it! Get ready to catch me cause I am going to try something harder and I will likely fall. I hope I push it till I fall.
Overall, like everything in this journey, this is a process. Its easy to hide behind the internet, post cool photos and leave it at that. Whats hard is showing up in person, owning your words, following through and trusting someone else.
Getting some new people climbing!
I was thrilled last night to meet a group of ladies who are involved with the group Big Girl YYC. I messaged Erin (who is the founder of the group) and asked if she was willing to host a beginner climbing class.
Her group is all about everyone is welcome and she puts together events that are safe and welcoming to all body types but especially to say "Hey big girl, you can do it! come play with us!!!" I know what climbing has meant to me and I really want to get more people out trying things they never thought they could do.
So last nigh 10 women were in the class and every single one just kicked ass! Im so freaking happy I was right and that there is a market of curious and excited people who are willing to put something unexpected and hard a try.
I hope I found some new climbing buddies :)
So it took me all summer but I finally took my beginner outdoor climber course!
It took all summer for a few reasons: and all the reasons relate to being busy, distracted and tired.
But finally my brother and I signed up for a two day class to learn how to lead the rope up the wall and how to assist a climber that is leading a rope up the wall. Some knew knots, a bunch of safety. Lots and lots on new information!
First day is an indoor lesson to prepare for a full outdoor day the next day. I was nervous, I haven't been climbing all summer. And again my same old insecurities played in but it was a good night.
Honestly I loved being back there, feeling more confident, learning. Its legit.
This is a sport that inspires so much in me and I just have to commit better to it to keep it in my life. Make a plan and execute because I know very well how easy it is to fall off the track and not notice how much time had passed.
So indoor complete and I home to fret and not sleep very much and then head out very early to the mountains
That was a little disappointing but this will not be the last time we go and I learned much about the skills that I am going to have to work on in the gym this fall and winter so I can get out there and kill it next summer.
Im so jazzed to get out there and get up some real rocks. Really push what it means to remain logical, trust the gear I set up and trust my partner and get to the top of a climb.
As per usual my shoutouts go to the Calgary Climbing Center for being amazing and welcoming. And to my freaking awesome brother who I am so happy to share this hobby with. This was his birthday gift and I was very happy to give it to him.