Getting into Rock Climbing in 2022

I’ve always loved the mountains. I also can’t get enough of a good view. There is something so majestic and regal about being on a snowy peak with weather happening all around, or on some giant mountain watching the clouds and the winds move. I grew up skiing in Lake Tahoe and fell in love with the cold and snow through those childhood memories of being at the summit of squaw in a blizzard and waking up at 6 to get to the ski area at about 7:30. I have very vivid memories of racing my littlest sister down the mountain.

Climbing seems to be the other half of all of those downhill sports. It is very difficult. Bouldering is especially challenging for me because it forces me to maintain core tension and that requires being thinner. Luckily, I practice lots of yoga so losing weight isn’t a huge deal, but it also forces a fairly strict diet to maintain a high ratio of strength to weight.

Sugar Loaf

Check out this fun video I made of a climb that Ronnie invited me to out in Sugar Loaf along 50 towards South Lake Tahoe.

This winter I have some goals. The first is to lose a bunch of weight. I don’t weigh myself on a scale, so its definitely more of a certain level feeling good. Climbing is obviously much easier when you weigh less.

I am also looking to get into avalanche training and awareness in the high mountains. That means spending some time up in Alaska or Canada. I’d also really like to get that first time of ice climbing in. Being an avid skier, I also will want to learn some back country skiing techniques, but for now I am content to try to be as safe as possible in the level of difficulty that I am in. Tahoe is obviously going to be a great place to learn things this winter; the snowfall is epic right now. I can’t wait to get back into woods that look like the picture to the right.

I took the photo that’s below at the Quarry Trail in Auburn a couple of weeks ago.

Learning Technique at Pipeworks

This year I have been thrilled to start climbing almost daily, a few friends got me going and I’ve been enjoying all the different kinds of climbing on rock. I am loving every second of sports climbing and have led some pretty fun routes, even a 5.10! Its a very difficult sport but about a year in I am starting to feel my fingers develop more strength and my arms are getting used to holding my weight when I am upside down. Bouldering has gotten to be kind of a passion of mine.

The gym I go to is in Sacramento, so normally I just go after work. It makes for a nice way to destress after doing a lot of manual labor. Climbing has totally changed up my workout routines and yoga as well. Ashtanga becomes a lot more useful when climbing because you can create the body tension necessary to do dynamic moves.

There are a few super important muscles used for climbing, mostly in the forearms, but also in the shoulders, core, legs and hips. The digitorum profundus is specifically very useful to strengthen for the grip strength necessary for climbing. That’s why hang boards are so popular, this one muscle group can get extremely strong!

It’s also crazy how important footwork becomes for higher levels of climbing. So I’ve been putting together strength workouts to get back into the best shape that I can to climb some big mountains.

This past year, I did some fun stuff. I got out to Shasta, Cody, Yellowstone, Hiked up Mount Whitney, spend 3 days in Yosemite in the Buena Vista Crest, and got up to Tahoe a lot to hike the Pacific Crest Trail and the Tahoe Rim Trail.

Here are some of my favorite pictures from hiking this year, there are most definitely some good ones in there!

The American River

Mount Whitney

Yellowstone

Emerald Pools

Yosemite

Same photo zoomed out

Plitvice National Parks

photo by Caitlin Telford

I feel like I’ve visited heaven. Millions of waterfalls, lakes everywhere, water so clear you could drink it, fish the size of your leg and so many trees, bushes so thick that you can barely see the water flowing down and out of them, and a wooden stair path floating above it all like you are in the Wookie jungle of Endor IV from the final episode of Star Wars.

The national park was epic in proportions that I am still just beginning to understand. 1.1 million tourists visit the park each year, but it is pristine; there are people walking around after tour groups to pick up litter, very few amenities in the park, and it is specifically designed to move tourists through the park.

The park was founded in 1949 in the heart of Croatia, near large mountains, endless nature, and is near the border of Bosnia and Herzegovina. All of the lakes are arranged in cascading waterfalls that flow down from the highest mountains into the lower basins and the park surrounds an 80m waterfall which is the biggest I have ever seen. The entire park is completely breathtaking; upon entering you feel that you have been taken into a different alien world, one which is natural and completely untouched, even by you and the hundreds if not thousands of tourists that accompany you.

There were probably close to 10 or 20 thousand waterfalls in the park; they littered the entire area and created somewhat of a fantasy world where after an hour they were completely commonplace. Each tier brought with it new wonder and beauty; as we got lower and lower, the waterfalls became more plentiful, bigger, and more powerful until our final arrival at the monstrous 80m waterfall at the bottom of the national park.

We didn’t see any animals at the park, most likely because of the massive tourist groups moving throughout the area in what must have been a daily occurrence. There were no shortage of tourists at the park, but insects and fish were everywhere; the water seemed clear enough to drink from, though it was all strictly regulated and controlled.

The Park reminded me a lot of Yosemite, though the water was far more prominent in the park. There was a massive underground cave system with some unique biological species and plenty of caves and pathways that I could have gotten lost in for a couple of weeks if I had the time. It was labyrinth of beauty and undefinable beauty; I can only imagine how awe-inspiring the park must be during the winter months. It beckons a return journey, as does the rest of the beautiful country of Croatia.

Tomorrow I will be spending another day in Split, after a very enjoyable two days in Zadar; though there seems to be quite a lot of hostility towards tourists in the town of Zadar, I haven’t experienced any discrimination in Split despite the increase in tourism here. We will be visiting a couple of islands on a booze cruise and I am immensely looking forward to spending the time with my family.

Stay tuned for more of the adventure in Croatia, until we move on to Italy, Switzerland, and I finally return to the gorgeous city of Paris as my final destination on the 5 month+ trip around the world.