Back to Beginner Land: Part 1

Midway up the Grand Wall, Squamish, BC. Arjan de Kock photo. When I began climbing 15 years ago at the age of 9, I hated climbing outside. I much preferred the colorful variety of plastic gym holds to the helmets, queues, and pre rigged top ropes I found outside at youth team outings. Instead, competitions drove me to train harder and pour my time and ...

Pumped. The Painful Kind.

The Portal (V8), Estes Park, CO © Shannon Forsman Staring down at my forearms, I’m appalled by what I see. They’ve wasted away to average looking sticks. These days, when I tie into a rope, I return to the ground with a dreadful sensation in my forearms. It’s as if the volume of blood rushing to feed my muscles is too much for the vessels, or the ...

How Do You Define Victory?

vic·to·ry noun  \ˈvik-t(ə-)rē\ : achievement of mastery or success in a struggle or endeavor against odds or difficulties One of the first times I ever tried climbing, I wanted to hop straight on the overhanging roof in the Estes Park Climbing Gym. When you’re nine years old, you ignore the suggestions to try the easier wall, and you jump on that roof ...

Operation B.O.

Body odor. Not the topic of this post, but c’mon people – showers aren’t the end of your calluses, so let’s try to keep things fresh. Branching Out. My dear friend Lisa, aka Queen Crimpinista, introduced me to Operation Branch Out in the year 2010. Lisa is one of those friends whose laughter, wit, and inextinguishable smile spill over into the ...

Just Do It

[Just Do It (5.14c). Photo by Sierra Schneider] I remember the first time I ever tried hard. Like really really hard. Hard as in you know that in one single moment, every molecule of your body has aligned to give you superhero abilities. It was 2010 during a day of rock scrambling at the Monastery with Jonathan Siegrist, who I actually credit for ...

Claassen Family Vacation – South Africa

When my younger brother Sam chose to spend a semester studying abroad in South Africa, I was elated. Sam is willing to try anything, and I knew South Africa wouldn’t disappoint his adventurous spirit. Selfishly, I also hoped I could sneak in a return trip to one of my favorite countries to visit him. Two weeks after returning back to the US from Lead Now, I ...