On the Road to the Leadville 100 – Approaching Risk and Deflecting Doubt

Life is often lived in hindsight. In the moment of a big decision, it is often hard to fully understand all the factors that go into what you are thinking at the time. And it is nearly impossible to know what the impacts of any given decision will be until it plays out. You can research, plan, and try your best to predict all the possible outcomes. This is what one should do when taking risks. These risks are calculated, and not reckless. But with any big decision, there will be uncertainty and doubt.

I signed up for the Leadville 100 trail run.  Yes, I did this!  I was able to secure a spot in this race by signing up for one of the limited training packages, which also means I am working with a running coach for the first time in my life.  For those who may be unfamiliar, the Leadville 100 trail race entails 100 miles of beautiful, extreme trails in the mountains of Colorado, from elevations of 9,200 to 12,600 feet and a total of more than 18,000 feet of climbing – all in a 30-hour time frame or less. It is one of the absolute classic races of ultra-running. It is hands-down one of the biggest challenges I will be taking on in my running life, if not my life in general, so far. Did I agonize over this decision for days on end before I did this? No, I did not. Did I fail to think this through before I did this? No, I did not.  What I did do was make a conscious decision to approach risk, as opposed to deflect risk. So much of truly living, to me, is exactly that, approaching risk versus deflecting risk.

To me, approaching risk often looks like this: I get an idea. I get really excited about this idea (probably over-excited) and convince myself it is a good idea. I set a plan in action of how to implement or set on the road to making the idea actually happen.

Basically, when approaching risk, I decide to live my ideas.

Part of approaching risk is deflecting doubt. When the doubts are internal, I tend to try to talk to someone who can provide me with real-life experience on the matter. I often seek out someone I know who trusts my decisions and thinks positively.  And someone who really knows me and supports my BIG ideas. When the doubts are external, I recognize that it might be easier for some to deflect risk.  In most of the “unconventional” challenges I have taken on in my life, the majority of the responses have gone something like, “I would never do that ….How are you going to make that work?” In the case of the Leadville 100, typical reactions also include “You’re nuts” and “That sounds awful.”

These responses surprise me because challenges are exciting! And I can think of less responsible things than taking on challenges and following a passion through. In any event, anyone can do anything for a day or two! Remember, these risks are calculated, and not reckless. I clearly see the value in encouraging those taking calculated risks in our world…just the other day my friend said to me, “If anyone can conquer the unconquerable it is you!”  The outcome will remain unknown until the race, but I certainly appreciate such encouragement over the alternative.

The one thing you can never predict when approaching risk is the reality of how you are going to feel. This risk, the unpredictability of how you are going to feel, is the true risk… yet the one that holds the most potential for growth and rewards. All of the other risks are just doubts that can be resolved one way or the other.

I am sure the road to the Leadville 100 will be a true range of experience, both positive and not so positive.  The perfect opportunity to…

Approach risk.  Deflect doubt.  Live my ideas.

Ilene Bloom is an evolving ultra-runner, mother and lawyer who lives in Denver. In conjunction with training for the Leadville 100, she is raising money for the American Cancer Society at this link: https://www.crowdrise.com/leadville-trail-100-run-for-cancer/fundraiser/ilenebloom.  If you have any questions or thoughts about this article, Ilene can be reached at ilenebloom@hotmail.com.

If America’s public lands were a business, the GOP would be bungling the balance sheet

America’s public lands perform best when protected for recreation. In fact, the business of outdoor recreation, which relies heavily on public lands, supports more jobs (6.1 million) than oil, natural gas and mining combined. Americans spend more on outdoor recreation annually ($646 billion) than on electronics, pharmaceuticals or automobiles.

by Yvon Chouinard, for The Los Angeles Times

Every American citizen owns stock in 640 million acres of federal public lands. We hire public servants to manage our precious assets for maximum return. For decades, we’ve taken these sizable holdings for granted, assuming they’re in good hands.

But we’ve let the fossil fuel industry into the boardroom. We’re allowing gas and mining companies to boss around our elected officials.


Rather than harness the power of public lands for maximum benefit, some politicians on the right — including Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, Maine Gov. Paul LePage and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) — are trying to repeal laws that safeguard ecologically vulnerable landscapes. They’re working to roll back protections on some of our most special wild places, including Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in my home state of Maine. And they are pushing to transfer ownership of federal lands to states.

What right do the states have to assert control over land owned by every American citizen?

They cloak all this in an argument for states’ rights, but that’s baloney. What right do the states have to assert control over land owned by every American citizen? Selling public lands has been item No. 1 on Big Oil’s agenda for a long time. It’s a theft of valuable property owned by all of us.

Public lands already get used for drilling and mining and grazing and other kinds of development, which makes good sense. But some places are simply too exceptional to put at risk. That’s why both political parties have long placed trust in our federal agencies to make appropriate decisions about the best use for our lands. It’s not a perfect system, but it works pretty well.

These agencies, such as the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service, take into account the input of citizens, along with scientific and economic data, to provide a wide range of benefits from public lands.

It’s outrageous that politicians would take away this oversight. But just as bad, these supposedly business-minded politicians can’t read a simple balance sheet.

America’s public lands perform best when protected for recreation. In fact, the business of outdoor recreation, which relies heavily on public lands, supports more jobs (6.1 million) than oil, natural gas and mining combined. Americans spend more on outdoor recreation annually ($646 billion) than on electronics, pharmaceuticals or automobiles.

Some argue that oil and gas jobs would multiply if more lands were opened for development, but in reality, those jobs are being replaced by robots. Because of automation, between a third and a half of the workers who lost their jobs after prices fell a few years ago still can’t find work, even as prices and production surge again. Those jobs have largely moved on to new industries, such as renewable energy. (Would you believe it?)

You can’t outsource the jobs of workers operating a roadside motel near a national park or automate the job of a local river guide in one of rural America’s many wilderness gateway towns. Public lands power a sustainable, homegrown economy. From 2008 to 2011, during the height of the recession, the outdoor industry grew 5% every year.

Areas in the West with protected lands consistently enjoy better rates of employment and income growth compared to those with no protected lands, a recent study shows. In the 22 years since the Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah was declared a national monument, jobs grew by 38% in two neighboring counties.

Some lawmakers are acting far outside the interests of the public land owners they were elected to serve. In the corporate world, we’d show them the door immediately. Of course, that’s not how our government actually works.

Some 91% of Westerners agree that national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and other federal lands are essential to their state’s economic prosperity, but Americans who support protecting public lands are badly splintered. Hunters and anglers love and value our public lands, but the “hook and bullet” crowd scares off environmentalists and some businesspeople. Environmentalists love and value our public lands, but hardcore activists scare off most businesspeople and some hunters and anglers. Businesspeople love and value our public lands, but lots of folks get skeptical when corporations are involved in advocacy.

We need to work together to protect our public lands. We all value access to wild places where our air, water and wildlife are safe from pollution and development. We all benefit from the enormous economy generated by the conservation of our lands. And we all hate getting ripped off by hucksters posing as smart businesspeople, threatening not just our economy but our American heritage as well.

Let’s drop the discord, start acting like owners and demand that our elected representatives start delivering the value we deserve.

Yvon Chouinard is the founder of Patagonia.

Source: If America’s public lands were a business, the GOP would be bungling the balance sheet – LA Times

In An International First, Surfer Chris Bertish Conquers The Atlantic Alone On A Paddleboard : The Two-Way : NPR

Chris Bertish set out from Morocco to become the first to make the crossing alone on a stand-up paddleboard. On Thursday, after 93 days, he paddled into the West Indies, with a whole ocean behind him.

by Colin Dwyer, NPR

In the span of 93 days, Chris Bertish crossed more than 4,050 nautical miles of Atlantic Ocean — and he conquered this lonely crossing standing up. When the South African surfer entered English Harbour on the island of Antigua on Thursday, he was riding the same massive stand-up paddleboard that bore him from Morocco’s Agadir Marina roughly three months ago.

Still, if Bertish’s equipment wasn’t much different from when he started, his place in the record books now certainly is: On Thursday, Bertish became the first person in history to make a solo trans-Atlantic journey on a stand-up paddleboard.

“Across the entire Atlantic Ocean and I am finally here,” Bertish wrote Thursday on Facebook. “I don’t need to be strong and keep it together any longer; it’s been 93 days and it’s done and I let it all go… I am home!”

By the time he made it to the West Indies, battling fittingly windy and rough conditions,” SUP Magazine reports he had already faced down “shark encounters, equipment failures, unfavorable trade winds, loneliness and huge swells.”

At one point, conditions were so rough — and rough for so long — that he and his navigational systems were “just really embattled to just make it through and survive,” Bertish told SUP Magazine in a phone call about halfway through his trans-Atlantic paddle.

“My craft was taking on water, I couldn’t open my hatches, I was underwater most of the time and I don’t think most people understand the severity of that kind of problem,” he continued. “I have a sea grass growing on my entire deck because it’s underwater the entire time.”

But it wasn’t all hardship. There were high marks, as well: Bertish says he smashed the records for longest distance paddled alone across open ocean, and for the longest distance paddled alone in a single 24-hour span — 71.96 nautical miles, nearly doubling the previous mark.

He says he paddled about 60 miles in his last full day on the water alone.

Now, as we noted in December, Bertish’s vessel isn’t exactly your granddad’s stand-up paddleboard. The 20-foot-long behemoth — which he calls ImpiFish — boasts satellite weather forecasting equipment, handheld radio and GPS, solar panels and a tiny cabin where he could sleep at night. And he’s been sure to relay updates to landlubbing supporters on Facebook.

A Surfer And His Paddleboard Embark On A Lonely Trans-Atlantic Voyage
Those same supporters helped Bertish in his quest to parlay his paddling into charity. He says that as of Thursday, his journey had managed to raise more than $490,000 for Signature of Hope Trust, The Lunchbox Fund and Operation Smile.

“Bertish aims to raise enough money to build at least five schools in South Africa, provide monthly dividends to feed and educate thousands of children and pay for surgeons to carry out life-changing cleft lip and palate operations,” CNN reports.

“I pretty much ate exactly the same thing every single day for 93 days,” he told a crowd assembled to greet him Thursday, as he was settling down to his first meal on land in quite a while. “A lot of the kids we’re doing this for don’t even have enough money to go to school.”

Bertish added: “Every time I’d look down at the same packet of food I was going to have to eat another day in a row, I tell myself: ‘Shut up, you’ve actually got food to eat.’ These kids have nothing.”

He reminded the gathered crowd just how lucky they were to have anything to eat at all … until, his reminder spoken, the crowd politely told him to shut up and just eat his burger — his first after an ocean’s worth of paddling.

Source: In An International First, Surfer Chris Bertish Conquers The Atlantic Alone On A Paddleboard : The Two-Way : NPR

Anxious Recreation Syndrome Is Real | Outside Online

Anxious Recreation Syndrome (ARSe). Perhaps you’re familiar with symptoms such as dropphobia (fear of getting shelled), nerdphobia (fear of not knowing how to set up your mountain bike suspension), or the debilitating poseurphobia (fear of forgetting how to tie an improved fisherman’s knot during an active hatch). Whoops, I just pissed my waders.

by Marc Peruzzi, Outside Magazine

Cognitive behavioral therapists call it “mind reading.” You show up at a new group ride, ski tour with recent friends, or [insert your favorite pursuit here, but with strangers], convinced that your soon-to-be mates are judging you harshly. “I mean, look at the way he’s putting his avalanche transceiver over his midweight. What a worthless tool of a person. In the event of a burial, let’s all agree not to dig him out.”

This type of anxiety is common. Unless you’re blissfully un-self-aware thanks to an unpresidented [sic] case of presidential narcissistic personality disorder, you too might find yourself suffering from Anxious Recreation Syndrome (ARSe). Perhaps you’re familiar with symptoms such as dropphobia (fear of getting shelled), nerdphobia (fear of not knowing how to set up your mountain bike suspension), or the debilitating poseurphobia (fear of forgetting how to tie an improved fisherman’s knot during an active hatch). Whoops, I just pissed my waders. An indiscriminate neurosis, ARSe affects skiers, hikers, bikers, anglers, climbers, and backpackers in equal numbers. Newbies agonize over it until their bowels blow; so too with veteran outdoor athletes, despite their coiffed smugness.

Take it from a longtime ARSe sufferer like me. A chronic self-flagellator, the best example of me beating myself up quite literally involves me beating myself up.

This was 15 winters ago, in the Utah backcountry. While reporting a story, I toured with a famed local backcountry skier and avalanche observer named Bob Athey. Bob has husky eyes and a Gandalf beard, and he was and is one of the strongest ski tourers in the Wasatch. Naturally, I brought my heavy alpine boots and skis equipped with (stupid heavy) alpine-style touring bindings. One stale granola bar would sustain me for the 6,000-vertical-foot day of climbing.

Unprepared for the nearly vertical skin tracks of the Wasatch, I struggled to hang as Bob giant-stepped his way up cornices and ridges so steep that I was self-arresting with each tenuous step. I was cold, calorie starved, and gassed to the point of shaking, but somehow I managed to keep Bob from seeing me wallow.

On our final summit, my frozen gloved hand slipped from my climbing skin in mid-tug…and I punched myself hard in the nose. For ten seconds, blood fire hosed from both nostrils down my Gore-Tex shell, where it froze upon contact in the single-digit temps. Gripped by ARSe, I quickly turned my back to Bob and, grabbing the shell at the hem, snapped the hemoglobin slushie into the atmosphere.

In hindsight, my ability to make it sleet blood would have made for a nice moment of ridgeline levity. But ARSe makes you a bore. When you spend too much time inside your own head, you’re brushing with a metaphysical theory known as solipsism. A lighter, less-filling form of nihilism, solipsists deny the existence of other beings. Both are asshole belief systems, but solipsists are quieter about it. What’s the point in talking when only you exist?

I still flirt with ARSe-induced solipsism today when cycling in big groups. A half-dozen times a year, I roll up to a scary biweekly ride called the Bustop. Nobody organizes this unsanctioned street race, which starts and finishes at a strip club of the same name. And typically, nobody I know is there. It doesn’t help my confidence that I’m undersized compared with the powerful sprinters and rouleurs who show up to max their wattage on the flatter circuits.

In the tense moments before we depart, the mind reading sets in: Oh great, here comes the former Irish National Champion who is at least ten years older than I am but showing no signs of slowing down. He’s probably bummed to see a hack like me here. Is that an entire team rolling in? They’re going to break me to pieces. Are those strippers? I must look like a total dork. What am I doing here? Fading to black in the throws of ARSe, I solipsist up and go mute.

What a worthless tool of a person I can be. All that anxiety is for naught. I learned to Nordic skate ski in my late 30s surrounded by statuesque European athletes from the university. One of the coaches once skied up behind me when I was clearly struggling. Mind reading again, I thought he was going to scream, “Track!” demanding that I pull over, but instead he courteously offered some helpful pointers. On that Wasatch tour, Bob Athey taught me how to clear ice from the frozen glue of my climbing skins and execute a safe ski cut in an avalanche-starting zone. When I see him at trade shows, he always invites me out to ski again. And the Irish National Champion? He broke through my cone of silence, too.

Two summers back, the Bustop peloton was strung out, battling a stout headwind up a false flat. With an echelon running diagonally across the full width of the road, I was the odd man out, dangling and exposed on the windward side of a line of riders. Too weak to chase down the small pack ahead and a minute away from getting jettisoned off the back, I was clearly floundering. That’s when the Irishman looked askance at me and, in a perfect brogue, said, “You’re a wee fellah like me, but you’re doin’ all the work.” He then slotted out of his position in line and invited me in before effortlessly closing the gap on the leeward side of the echelon. Last summer, he taught me what he calls the “suicide move” to stay connected to the pack in crosswinds and attacks. Next summer, I’ll catch his name.

Like most anxiety, recreational anxiety is self-inflicted. If we could actually read minds, we’d realize everyone is happy to share the world with us.

Unless you’re talking resort skiing, that is. All the nihilists on the chairlift are ridiculing you. That’s a given. Don’t be a dumb ARSe.

Source: Anxious Recreation Syndrome Is Real | Outside Online

Congress Rolls Back the Public Process on 245 Million Acres of Public Land — Outdoor Alliance

Minutes ago, the Senate passed H.J. Res 44, a measure also passed by the House a few weeks ago, to roll back the public process and progressive management on the 245 million acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. Congress used the Congressional Review Act (CRA), an arcane rule that allows Congress to roll back agency regulations within 60 days, to repeal BLM Planning 2.0. Planning 2.0 was a widely-lauded effort to modernize the 30-year-old rules currently governing land planning on BLM land and give it a better public process.

Planning 2.0 was a strong rulemaking, based on extensive public input. It made important changes to modernize BLM planning, including how the BLM handles data from uses like outdoor recreation. BLM Planning 2.0 was built in response to years of gathering input from local communities and diverse shareholders about how best to manage these public lands. The Planning 2.0 Rule would have ensured a better, fairer public process for the management of public lands.

Repealing Planning 2.0 guts the public process on public lands and also bars “substantially similar” rulemaking in the future. This means that the BLM will be stuck with an outdated process designed in the early 1980’s and will be unable to update it unless Congress acts to give the BLM the authority to make absolutely necessary modernizations to its rule.

“There were many great things about the 1980’s, but BLM land management rules were not one of them. Like the cassette tape, it was time for those rules to be updated and Planning 2.0 incorporated input from local communities to create more flexible, modern land management. Planning 2.0 improved how outdoor recreation would be managed on public lands, and the CRA sends us back to the 80’s” said Adam Cramer, Executive Director of Outdoor Alliance.
“Having a voice on our public lands is incredibly important to the recreation community and we’re disappointed to see this step backwards on the public process,” said Katherine Hollis at the Mountaineers.

“It’s disappointing to see a constructive planning process tossed out. Like never before, outdoor recreationists must buckle down and engage in the public process, developing the relationships that will highlight the value of outdoor recreation for quality of life and the economy,” said Aaron Clark at the International Mountain Bicycling Association.

The fact that Congress repealed BLM Planning 2.0 is a huge downer. But there is something you can do. Take Aaron’s advice and tell your Congressperson how you feel about rolling back the public process and the role of outdoor recreation on our public lands.

Source: Congress Rolls Back the Public Process on 245 Million Acres of Public Land — Outdoor Alliance

Grassroots Outdoor Alliance announces withdrawal from Utah

The June 2018 Grassroots Connect show will co-locate with Outdoor Retailer Summer Market at their new venue, as determined by their current search process.

Grassroots Outdoor Alliance will not hold an event in Sandy, Utah in 2018 as planned, the organization has announced.

Grassroots’ decision to withdraw is twofold, according to President Rich Hill.
“Our membership is unanimous in opposing Utah’s public lands policy,” he said. He also cited his organization’s desire to stay together as an industry. “The best idea that we’ve come away from the last year with is co-location with Outdoor Retailer. It’s critical that we work together as an industry.”

Outdoor Retailer announced last month that it will not be returning to Utah, its home for two decades, because it does not see eye to eye with Gov. Gary Herbert on the protection of public lands, including the designation of Bears Ears National Monument.

“It’s unlikely that there’s a bigger issue out there for Grassroots members and partners than preservation and access to public lands,” Hill said. “The outdoor community spends millions of dollars collectively each year to create and protect open spaces for outdoor recreation, and the aggressive stance of Utah’s elected officials on this front has our membership pretty fired up.”

The June 2018 Grassroots Connect show will co-locate with Outdoor Retailer Summer Market at their new venue, as determined by their current search process.

The variety of benefits from “co-locating” the two independent shows include providing Grassroots retailers, vendor partners, and reps with substantial financial and marketing efficiencies, as well as delivering a broad industry perspective that benefits each individual business.

“Co-location makes so much sense for our retail members,” says Hill. “It essentially saves retailers six to eight days per year on travel.”
That’s six to eight more days they can be in their stores selling.

“Trade shows are obviously a big part of outdoor industry life,” Hill said. “And while they’re important to everyone’s bottom line, the big opportunity is to use our gatherings to come together as an industry to recognize—and address—the headwinds that we are all facing.”

Source: SNEWS | Grassroots Outdoor Alliance announces withdrawal from Utah

Exclusive: FBI joins probe into Mo Farah coach Alberto Salazar

by Ben Rumsby, Daily Telegraph

The FBI has been dragged into the drugs probe into Sir Mo Farah’s coach as anti-doping investigators step up their pursuit of Alberto Salazar.

Telegraph Sport can reveal that the United States Anti-Doping Agency has enlisted the assistance of America’s national intelligence and law-enforcement service in what is now a four-year inquiry into the man who transformed Farah into Great Britain’s greatest ever track-and-field athlete.

News that the FBI, which brought Fifa to its knees, is working with Usada chief executive Travis Tygart, who brought down Lance Armstrong, emerged less than two weeks after a leaked report from the agency accused Salazar of “unlawful” conduct.

It also came days after it was reported Usada was seeking to retest Farah’s blood samples for the banned substance EPO, or erythropoietin, as part of its investigation. The 33-year-old, who vehemently denies any wrongdoing, declined to comment last night over the involvement of the FBI in Usada’s inquiry, whether he had been spoken to by agents, or whether he would co-operate if asked to do so.

Britain’s four-time Olympic champion has previously agreed to be interviewed by Usada investigators and last week declared himself happy to have any of his stored samples retested “at any time”.

Salazar, who also denies any wrongdoing, did not respond to requests for comment, while Usada declined to comment on the reason for, or the nature of, FBI involvement in its investigation.

The FBI, meanwhile, told Telegraph Sport: “We cannot confirm our involvement or the existence of an investigation.”

The bureau’s last major foray into the world of sport came when it conducted a four-year probe into corruption at Fifa that culminated in dawn raids of the governing body’s luxury hotel and the arrest and prosecution of several of its most senior officials.

Its involvement in the Usada inquiry will crank up the pressure on Salazar over a series of alleged anti-doping breaches, details of which first surfaced almost two years ago.

The American found himself in the spotlight again at the end of last month after the emergence of Usada report, leaked by Russian hackers Fancy Bears, which claimed he had “almost certainly” broken anti-doping rules and failed to provide an “acceptable justification” for possessing testosterone.

Athlete support personnel are prohibited from being in possession of banned drugs without “valid justification”, and Salazar claims he carries it for his own personal use due to suffering from hypogonadism – a condition that causes low levels of the hormone.

The Usada report dismissed this explanation, saying the documents he provided them “do not establish Mr Salazar has suffered from hypogonadism… or that he requires testosterone replacement therapy”.

The report added: “Despite Usada’s request that he do so, Mr Salazar has still produced no laboratory testing records, blood test data, examination notes, chart notes or differential diagnosis substantiating that Mr Salazar suffers from hypogonadism.”

Source: Exclusive: FBI joins probe into Mo Farah coach Alberto Salazar

Mental Training: In Search of a Free Mind | Heather Weidner

by Heather Weidner, HeatherClimbs.com

In a sport like climbing, so dependent on mental fortitude, where is all the information on training the mind?  I find it crazy how many resources there are about fingerboarding and campus workouts, but so few  on how to deal with fear and the ego?  Am I alone with these feelings of negative self-worth in the world of performance rock climbing?  What can I do to improve my mental strength?

Pro-climber and bold British badass Hazel Findlay feels similarly.  “I think climbers get totally bogged down in the physical aspect of climbing and never pay attention to the mental side of climbing,” she claims on her interview with the Enormocast.  “I mean, how many books and blogs are there about finger-boarding, about your weight, or like endurance training or something and there’s hardly anything about how to deal with falling off at the climbing gym.  It’s such a bigger hindrance to performance than whether you can hang on a mono with one finger.  I think people should pay more attention to it.”

I sat down with Jonathan Siegrist, one of the nation’s best sport climbers, during his stay in Vegas.  He had just been in Spain trying to redpoint Pachamama, 5.15a.  He put in 8 continuous weeks of effort on this single route without sending-  the most work he’d ever continuously put into a single pitch of climbing.  I was curious about his head space and how he dealt with this repeated failure.

“My first impression (of Pachamama) was simply that the route was too hard for me, especially based on my previous experiences with projects.  It took me several days to even do all of the moves, and weeks to begin to make significant links.  But I was making just enough progress every day to remain motivated.  In the end I got heartbreakingly close, but it took a month of beating my head against the wall to reach this point.”

I’d say the majority of us struggle mentally in the world of climbing- not to mention with work, day-to-day life, or in relationships.  In the face of repeated challenge how does one maintain a positive attitude?

Jonathan explains, “In all honesty I don’t always maintain a positive attitude.  There are always downs and this is just part of the process.  I think it’s unrealistic to feel optimistic all of the time, and stoked about negative progress or bad conditions or torn skin.  I just try not to sink too far into that space, and let those low moments pass over me.”

I know that dark space, and it’s tough to avoid.

For the past five years I’ve set one big climbing goal for the year, usually around the holidays.  It’s typically been a big project that I’m not sure I could actually do- a climb that is close to my physical and mental limit.
These goals have allowed me to send my hardest routes over the years- but not without significant sacrifice.

My achievement-based motivation often led to frustration and stress.  These projects would sometimes take months- if not years- to complete and involved a large amount of failure.  Dealing with that repetitive failure led to an ego crush- I never felt good enough.  Ultimately, my negative self talk and self-loathing behavior advanced to the point that it affected my relationships.  And sometimes climbing just felt like work.

“Once I get in too deep I think the reality is that I need to step back,” Siegrist explains.  “Take a break, go back to training or change the route or the environment. I’m learning the hard way but I think it’s better to avoid trying too much for too long.  Get some other sending under your belt and lift your stoke levels up before a strong return.”

I needed to step back, too.  The kind of relationship I had developed with myself and climbing was not sustainable.  I had to change something about my redpoint process.

So this year, I have a different goal, and it doesn’t involve climbing (at least directly).  Instead, my goal is a mental goal- to develop a free mind.

What is a free mind?  In sports it’s that magical flow-state you get when you’re fully “in the zone” on a rock climb, or when you’re immersed in painting or playing music.  Time seems to go so fast and you’re completely in the moment, free of distractions.  There’s no inner voice nagging at you or thinking about what you’re going to eat for lunch or that you’re not strong enough or smart enough.  Just you, your breath, body, and laser focus. (For more details on free mind visit:  http://warriorsway.com/the-ultimate-goal-a-free-mind/)

This mental-driven shift started for me shortly after running into Arno Ilgner, author of The Rock Warrior’s Way at the OR show last summer.  I had just sent China Doll, a send which I felt was my proudest accomplishment as a climber, and I still just didn’t feel “good enough.”

Arno was interested in picking my brain about my redpoint processes and putting together a mental plan for more advanced climbers, Arno hopes to develop mental training programs for elite rock climbers in the future, expanding beyond one of the main focuses of his clinics which is catered to more moderate climbers tackling the fear of falling. In return for working with Arno I would benefit from mental training directly from the warrior himself.

Since last fall, every week or two Arno and I are in contact.  He has given me mental drills, such as meditation, journaling, and intentional breathing to name a few.  We talk on the phone about mental processes, what I’ve been up to, and how my drills are going.

Because I’m in the thick of these exercises and talks with Arno, I honestly don’t have an answer to the most common questions I get from climbers like, “what is the point of all these drills?” and “is it working?”

What I know is that my awareness has increased tremendously.  I can’t say I never get upset when I can’t do a rock climb or that my feelings of self-loathing magically went away.  But I can say I notice my inner voice more, and I now have some tools to use in order to deal with dips in self-confidence and worth in the face of climbing (and life) challenges.

Setting a goal centered around mindfulness instead of achievement- like a specific climb- is a big change for me, and honestly it’s scary.  After all, we live in a world where great achievements are highly praised.  Will I get worse at my favorite sport?  Will I lose motivation?
Creating new habits in the face of mental addictions feels like work.  For me, focusing on being attentive to the learning process has been the key to sticking with my mental training every day.  In this way, it is quite simple- but certainly not easy.
Siegrist believes, “To be critical and open-minded is most important.  Write things down, speak with others around you, and try to be realistic about your experience. Try to be humble to the process and recognize a learning opportunity. I think everyone could benefit from carefully considering their climbing attitude…

Every time I go climbing it is mental training!”
And maybe that’s why- in part- we keep coming back for more.

Source: Mental Training: In Search of a Free Mind | Heather Weidner

American Woman Reaches a New Milestone in Rock Climbing

“It goes, boys”

Nineteen-year-old Margo Hayes has taken a huge leap in shrinking the climbing world’s gender gap.

by Andrew Bisharat, National Geographic

Throughout the 1980s and much of the 1990s, when rock climbing was very much a fringe activity, women were rarely spotted up on the rock. Even fewer were performing at a cutting-edge level.

The notable exception was Lynn Hill, who in 1993 became the first person (male or female) to free climb the 3,000-foot Nose of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. Free climbers ascend without falling or using gear to rest or aid upward progress. Hill’s feat cemented her status as an action sports legend and proved in the biggest way possible that women could climb just as hard as, if not harder than, men.

“It goes, boys,” she boldly stated after her big achievement.

Before climbing the Nose, Hill became the first woman to climb a route with a difficulty grade of 5.14a, which was considered a world-class level at the time. In 1990, Jean-Baptiste Tribout, the leading French sport climber of the time, infamously stated that year that “no woman would ever climb [a 5.14a].” Hill proved Tribout wrong that same year by completing a 5.14a sport climb in France called Masse Critique.

Best of all, she completed the route in fewer tries than Tribout.

In a similar breakthrough, Margo Hayes, 19, of Boulder, Colorado, has achieved a new milestone in the sport. On February 26, 2017, she climbed La Rambla, a sport climb in Siurana, Spain, that is rated 5.15a. This achievement makes her the first woman to reach this level of difficulty, which is very close to the highest levels ever achieved by top-performing male climbers.

“Over the last few years the gender gap has really narrowed,” said Hayes in an online video interview last year. “There’s going to be a big change—there’s more women and more young girls coming up in rock climbing. Watch out, boys!”

La Rambla is a 150-foot tall yellow and blue limestone route. It overhangs by 30 degrees the whole way, making it an unrelenting challenge. It has been climbed by only a few of the best male climbers in the world and is considered solid for its difficulty rating.

The holds on La Rambla, particularly on the blue patina of limestone near the top of the route, can be razor sharp, making the climbing not just difficult but downright painful as the rock chews through fingertips like dog toys.

“Margo’s effort was unprecedented,” says Jon Cardwell, a top American sport climber and one of Hayes’s climbing partners during her historic trip. “She was bleeding from her fingers every day. That route is a bloodbath now! But never once was this an excuse. Extraordinary character in that girl.”

One sign of the changing times in rock climbing is Hayes’s presence at a world-class crag in Spain with perhaps the two strongest American climbers right now, Jon Cardwell and Matty Hong—all of them climbing as equals. The three live in Boulder, Colorado, where they climb and train together.

Hong, in fact, successfully completed La Rambla just two days before Hayes. Cardwell, who is also “projecting” the route, is expected to achieve his own success any day now.

“I am overwhelmed and humbled by the support I’ve received from the climbing community, and my family and friends near and far,” Hayes wrote on Instagram. “None of us achieves our dreams alone, we do so together, and build on those who have come before us.”

Indeed. The question of whether a woman would reach 5.15a was never one of “if” but of “when” and “who.” Over the last decade, the best female climbers in the world have been pushing right up to that 5.15a level.

Climbing grades are subject to a community-wide consensus of difficulty, so women have climbed routes that were first considered to be at a 5.15a difficulty level but were retroactively downgraded after consensus was reached.

With those shifts in mind, the climbing community has awaited a female ascent of 5.15a sport climb that is widely agreed to be a benchmark for the grade. Hayes’s ascent of La Rambla meets that criteria.

Here’s a timeline of top achievements in female sport climbing that have led up to this moment:

1990: Lynn Hill climbs Masse Critique (5.14a) in Cimai, France, a route that J.B. Tribout once said “no woman would ever climb.” The route takes Hill fewer tries than Tribout and her ascent makes her the first woman to climb a 5.14a.

2002: Josune Bereziartu, a Basque climber, becomes the first woman to climb a 5.14d when she ascends the Bain de Sang in St. Loup, Switzerland. At the time, the hardest route in the world was only one grade higher at 5.15a. She was also climbing two or three grades harder than any other woman.

2004: Bereziartu climbs another 5.14d: Logical Progression in Japan.

2005: Bereziartu achieves her hardest route yet: Bimbaluna in Switzerland. The route is given a “slash” rating of 5.14d/5.15a, meaning it might not be difficult enough to be considered a full-fledged 5.15a, but compared to all other routes with 5.14d ratings, it’s a tough one.

2011: French climber Charlotte Durif climbs PPP (5.14d) in Verdon, France. Some European climbing magazines dispute the veracity of her claim and refuse to publish the news.

2011: Sasha Digiulian, from Virginia, climbs Pure Imagination (5.14d at the time) in the Red River Gorge, Kentucky. Subsequent ascents of the route, however, land the consensus grade at 5.14c.

2012: Digiulian climbs Era Vella (5.14d), in Margalef, Spain. Again, subsequent ascents suggest the route might in fact be slightly easier.

2013: Murial Sarkany, from Brussels, Belgium, climbs Punt X (5.14d) in Gorges du Loup, France, at age 39. This makes her either the second, third, or fourth woman to reach the 5.14d grade after Bereziartu, depending on whether Durif and Digiulian’s ascents are considered valid.

2015: Mar Alvarez, a full-time firefighter, climbs Escalatamasters (5.14d) in her home country of Spain.

2015: At age 13, Ashima Shiraishi, the phenom climber from New York City, takes a spring break trip to Santa Linya, Spain, where she climbs a potential 5.15a called Open Your Mind Direct. However, other climbers agree to a consensus that the route is, in fact, only 5.14d. The community still awaits a female ascent of an undisputed 5.15a.

2016: Margo Hayes climbs Bad Girls Club (5.14d) in Rifle, Colorado.

2016: Laura Rogora, a 14-year-old climbing prodigy from Italy, climbs Grandi Gesti (5.14d), in Italy, making her the second youngest person to climb that grade.

2017: Rogora continues her tear and climbs another 5.14d: Joe Blau in Oliana, Spain.

2017: Margo Hayes climbs La Rambla (5.15a), becoming the first female climber to reach this level.


Source: American Woman Reaches a New Milestone in Rock Climbing

Embracing the Alt-Ride 

by James Herklotz, special to CMBA

Some new to Colorado and the Front Range may not realize what our wonderful warm spells – otherwise known as Indian Summers – actually mean to our trails and our ability to enjoy them responsibly. When the sun is out in February and temperatures are pushing 50 to 60 degrees after a big snowstorm, it’s very tempting to ride. Often, the snow melts within a day or two, so Green Mountain, North Table Mountain, The Hogback and the various parks that flank and ascend the foothills proper might be calling out to riders.

What you will often find, however, is that the sunny, seductive siren’s call is a lure into a trap – a corridor of gooey, peanut butter that will clog your derailleurs, choke your chain and even stop your wheels. Just 10 feet up a trail like this can make your 20-pound carbon bike weigh 50 pounds, and it’s going to be a chore getting it cleaned up again. Worse still is the damage that it does to the trail. Ruts are ugly. They dry and make for wheel catchers that slow you up and slap you down. Water loves ruts, though, and when it rains, it runs down that trench, cutting it deeper and washing the trail surface down the hill.

Furthermore, it’s human nature to avoid mud and go around it, which only serves to widen the trail, destroying vegetation that has a hard enough time holding on in our arid climate. All of this necessitates volunteers and staff devoting hours (and funding money) to restoration work where it might otherwise be used to further new trail development.

So, the best thing you can do is to network with your friends and other trail users to find out trail conditions and ride elsewhere as needed.

Plan an Alt-ride! There are lots of routes and options to enjoy limited portions of our parks. Here are a few basic Jeffco-centric ideas:

1) Hit that bike path! The C-470 path is long and you can avoid cars on it. You can link it to other paths, hit up a brewery along the way, find some crushed gravel paths and generally explore the west metro area and beyond, largely without traffic to negotiate. Go south to Chatfield and then up the South Platte to Strontia Springs Dam. You’ll probably see Bighorn Sheep in the canyon, and it’s one beautiful, car-free canyon any time of the year.

2) Ride the Morrison/Genesee backroads. A short four-mile ride up Bear Creek to Idledale leads to a nice steep dirt road called South Grapevine Road. You can grind up this guilt free in the mud and get yourself to Genesee where you can either explore the neighborhood roads, turn it around and bomb down the dirt and canyon pavement, or take the I-70 frontage road for a ripping descent to Highway 93. From there, a right turn south takes you to the entrance to Red Rocks, which is a delight to ride through on any bike. Next thing you know you are back in Morrison where a nice smothered burrito awaits at the infamous Morrison Inn.

3) Ride the tops! Did you know that there are upper parking lots for Mt. Falcon, Apex and White Ranch? While this is no guarantee that you will find good winter trail conditions through an extended stretch of Indian Summer like we’ve had, often the top of the parks have acceptable conditions of hard-packed snow and/or wet, but firm soils. The clay soils found on the lower portions of our foothills often change to a mix of decomposed granite and loam (think pine needles and dirt), which does fairly well when wet. Generally, you can ride a loop on the top of the park and skip the descent to the lower trails and leave with both a clean conscience and a clean bike. Be prepared to turn around if you are encountering poor conditions and beware of ice that forms in the shady north-side trails that stays for months.

4) Bang out laps on Dakota. Dakota Ridge, perhaps Jeffco’s most technical riding trail, is also well anointed with sunshine and rock and is typically one of the first trails to dry. There will likely be ice and some mud in the middle saddle between the two knolls that define the route – and the Zorro connector is often not viable due to mud as water seeps down the slopes of the ridge, keeping the trail wet, but much of this challenging route sheds its moisture in the heat of the glaring winter sun. (So too, avoid Mathew Winters without good information. It is slow to dry) At just a couple miles long, Dakota can go quick if you are a banger, but it’s a short ride up 93 to get back on the trail for another go. This will hone those skills for Fruita and Moab like nothing else on the Front Range. It’s not for beginners.

5) Get a Fat Bike! It’s a growing and vital winter option that should be considered. Above 8,000’ along the Front Range, the trails tend to stay snow covered (this year being an exception near Evergreen and Conifer which have seen inconsistent snow fall and much melting) or even frozen through the winter. Learn the game though, before you show up and hit the headwall of deep, untracked powder, or you butcher somebody’s hard trail packing work by flailing along. You can’t ride everything just because you have that 5” tire bike with a pie plate for a rear gear, and you will know that soon enough. Howeve, when things are dialed in and conditions are right, the experience is sublime!

That said, networking with your friends and others – being willing and able to share the status of a trail whether good or bad – is one of the best things you can do to help keep our trails the beautiful corridors of joy that they are. See you on the trails – or off, as conditions require!


James Herklotz is the founder of the local Facebook Group 303 Trail Monitor, with a membership after only two years of more than 6,000 mountain bikers, runners and hikers. It’s a friendly way to learn more about what is happening with the trails throughout the state (303 representing the original area code for the state of Colorado) and even a little beyond. Feel free to join!

Source: Embracing the Alt-Ride | Colorado Mountain Bike Association