Currently… (November)

currently - november /

…traveling! (literally! Typing this en route to Pittsburgh!)

…chuckling at having to list an ‘emergency contact’ for my pup at the kennel.

…drinking my coffee black.

immersing myself in my job and loving it.

…understanding what ‘not enough hours in the day’ REALLY means.

…realizing that less free time means spending that free time doing exactly what I want to be doing with the people I want to be doing it with. #lifelessons

…learning to knit myself a hat.

…grimacing at the new season of The Walking Dead (and not making the mistake of eating dinner and watching an episode ever again).

…making time to work out, despite busy days and evenings.

…planning 2015 races and feeling really excited about having a big fitness goal again.

…looking forward Thanksgiving Hut Trip, round 2 in a couple of weeks!

Getting Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable, Part 2

In recent weeks, I’ve been feeling comfortable with being uncomfortable, with sitting outside my comfort zone, with pushing my limits. I’ve realized that without being uncomfortable in a new role, city, hobby, etc, it’s hard to grow and get to the next level.

But late last week, I was feeling too uncomfortable. It’s one thing to feel challenged, it’s another to feel mentally exhausted and wiped out.

I realized that I’d spent a majority of my days in recent weeks working through lunch, staying late, sleeping through a morning workout because I needed that extra hour of sleep and generally doing a shitty job taking care of myself. I’d thrown myself into work – which I really enjoy! – but have been doing a terrible job balancing life things outside of work. Uncomfortable to the max.

It’s one thing to be uncomfortable but it’s quite another when uncomfortable becomes discomfortable.

So on Friday, I created a meeting invite for myself to get myself outside and run. No excuses, no impromptu meetings. 1 hour carved out just for me to get outside, clear my head and recharge.

Calendar Go Run! //

For me, I know that when I don’t get exercise and when I don’t spend time in the sun and fresh air, I get grumpy, no matter how passionate I am about the work I’m doing inside a building. And in that hour outside where I didn’t have to field questions or think about strategy or what’s left on my to do list, my heart was happy. I smiled at the last of the fall leaves blowing on the ground. I stopped at the river rapids to just take in the moment. I noticed the sunshine warming my back and the cool breeze blowing around me. With each step on the path, I felt the discomfort shake off and my mind calmed. I returned back to work happier, healthier and ready to charge ahead.

So sometimes, being TOO uncomfortable can be a bad thing. Challenge yourself but don’t lose yourself. There has to be balance and some let-your-hair-down-chill-out-time too or the uncomfortableness becomes discomfortable and instead of growing and learning, you burn out.

Don’t burn out. Take care of you, too!

(and now, I’m off my teeny tiny soapbox.)

Local Product I Love: Stonewear Designs

Twitter is a beautiful thing. I’ve met a number of ‘real life’ friends through tweeting. I’ve learned about breaking news from my Twitter feed. I’ve followed along and nodded my head in agreement with thousands of my closest friends during episodes of Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead. And I’ve discovered really cool, smaller brands with big personality on Twitter. Stonewear Designs is one such brand.

I can’t remember how or when I first came upon Stonewear – it was somewhere between devouring tweets about other people’s recent adventures and tweeting about devouring Dominos Pizza on a Friday night, I’m sure. #RealLife

What I first loved about Stonewear was their mission: a women’s clothing company designing functional and cute athletic clothes that made a gal feel GOOD about what she’s wearing. Stonewear clothes have a flair of femininity that I didn’t realize I wanted in athletic clothes until I put it on. I mean, why CAN’T my running tights have a reflective strip that’s also a pretty detail? Why shouldn’t my zip up jacket flatter my body rather than feel like it is boxy and too wide? Everything is made with high-quality fabric that has retained it’s shape and fit through many workouts and weekend trips.

The fact that Stonewear is also based out of Colorado, just up the road from Denver in Louisville, is another win for me. I’ve always tried to support local small businesses when possible and now, after working at a small business and living the blood, sweat and tears that go into creating a successful business, I am even more a champion for shopping local. I love knowing Stonewear clothes are designed in Louisville and manufactured in the USA.

Local Product I Love: Stonewear Designs //

You’ll be seeing a few product reviews in the future on some of my most favorite Stonewear items; right now, I’m totally in love with the hot yoga shorts. Super cute tie detail, no see-through fabric and withstands intense Corepower Yoga classes.

But don’t take my word for it! Head to Twitter tomorrow afternoon to discover a smaller, kick ass women’s clothing company, just like I did. Stonewear Designs is hosting a twitter party today at 11 a.m. MST where one lucky participant will win a Stonewear top or bottom. (If you win, I highly recommend the Sprinter Capri!). Just check in with @Stonewear and follow the #livestonewearadventures tag tomorrow to chat about solo adventures as a woman for your chance to win.

Catch ya on the Twitterz!

Getting Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable

Citadel/Pettingell Traverse Climb //

As I’ve gotten older, the lessons I learned in sports have come full circle to be applicable in my non-sport ‘real’ life. From years and years of playing volleyball, I’ve learned about fighting through the hard parts, supporting those around you, focusing only on what you can control.

Recently, another learned skill in sports has transpired into daily life: learning to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

This past year, I’ve been learning how to rock climb. Truthfully, I did not enjoy rock climbing at the beginning. The exposure made me nervous – despite being tied in, secure and safe. The exposure and heights – both indoors and out – made me incredibly uncomfortable. I felt panicky. My mind raced. My heart pounded and my hands sweat. Not awesome side-effects when trying to grip a rock to avoid falling.

But as I continued to climb, I started to settle in and accept that if I wanted to get better, I had to put myself in uncomfortable situations and learn to calm down and get through it. Initially, there were lots of tears and it was really, really hard to not let my mind get the best of me. But as I kept at it, the uncomfortable situations are becoming a bit more comfortable.


(Being in this situation would have made me cry 6 months ago. Now, no tears! #likeaboss)

In my new job, I’m uncomfortable everyday. I’m learning a new industry, working with new people and my company is navigating uncharted territory. For the first weeks, I felt panicky, like I was barely keeping my head above water in my work life and personal life. But just like rock climbing – as I’ve settled into my role, I know that growth doesn’t happen when you’re comfortable. Growth happens when you’re uncomfortable and working through new challenges and unexpected situations.

So settle into the uncomfortable and make yourself at home. Accepting that it’s going to be hard work to make progress, to reach the next milestone, to hit the next target opens a whole host of doors and new experiences. Whether it’s rock climbing, work, a creative pursuit or pretty much any other aspect of life, get uncomfortable. Grow. Thrive.

Showing My Momma A Colorado Weekend

This past weekend, my mom came to visit me and my brother. My brother, Chris, is only here for another couple of weeks before he and his girlfriend head back to Chicago. We jokingly asked if she wanted to try camping while she visited and, surprisingly, she enthusiastically said yes!

We planned to meet up with our friends, Lucas, Nancy and Justin, who spent Friday night in 11 Mile Canyon, a Colorado State Park 50ish miles west of Colorado Springs. We met up with them on Saturday morning at Elevenmile Dome in the canyon and harnessed up. We could not have asked for better weather – sunny, mild temps, slight breeze. We truly lucked out with another quintessential fall day in Colorado (see also: Boulder Canyon climbing!).

Climbing in 11 Mile Canyon //

We climbed Moby Grape, a really fun dihedral rated at 5.7, and Happy Trails, an interesting and slabby route rated at 5.6 (but feels like it should be rated higher). Lucas is the only lead climber in our group so he lead both routes and set up top rope anchors for the rest of us.

Climbing in 11 Mile Canyon //

Happy Trails

Climbing in 11 Mile Canyon //

Happy Trails


Climbing in 11 Mile Canyon //

Moby Grape

Climbing in 11 Mile Canyon //

Late in the afternoon, we broke for lunch and to wait out the overcast clouds that had rolled in. Lucas, Nancy and Justin found a solid campsite the night before and, because we were car camping, we arrived to camping luxuries like a real campstove, extra chairs around the fire ring and chips and salsa waiting for us in a cooler.

Climbing in 11 Mile Canyon // lgsmash.comClimbing in 11 Mile Canyon // Climbing in 11 Mile Canyon // We spent the evening playing with the slingshot, throwing sticks to excited pups and sharing laughs over beers around the fire. My mom, who’d never been camping, was a real trooper and had a great time in the great outdoors. It was really special to show my mom how Alex and I (and Chris and Jenna!) like spending our Colorado weekends – she sees all of our adventure photos online but having the opportunity to share the adventure with her was priceless.
Climbing in 11 Mile Canyon // In the morning, we iced the luxurious camping cake with pancakes, sausage and bacon for breakfast. Heavenly! More laughing in the cool October air over warm camp coffee was the perfect Sunday morning, in my book.
Climbing in 11 Mile Canyon // We packed up camp and headed back down the canyon soon after breakfast. Lucas, Nancy and Justin opted to climb a multi-pitch route before heading back to town while my family and I headed back into Denver to spend the last few hours of my mom’s visit doing things she wanted to do – eating meals as a family, hanging out and spending precious quality time together.

As usually is the case, saying goodbye early Monday morning was really sad. Family trips seem to feel shorter as I get older; like they say, you don’t know what you got till it’s gone. Or, at least, not living in the same city as you. Seeing my family less makes our visits that much more special to me and I savor the moments together.

Okay, sappy family stuff over, back to the canyon: I’m definitely a fan of 11 Mile Canyon and hope to get back soon for more climbing and camping. We just missed peak ‘leaf peeping’ season but I can only imagine how stunning the canyon is when it’s canvassed in golds and bright yellows.

Climbing in Boulder Canyon – Nip and Tuck

Boulder Canyon Climbing Nip Tuck //

Saturday was a perfect morning for rock climbing – crisp, chilly air in the morning that warmed by lunch, yellow leaves shimmering in the breeze, not a cloud in the sky.

We piled in OsCar the Outback and navigated towards Boulder in the morning, meeting my brother, Chris, and his girlfriend, Jenna, to bring them along with us. Neither had been climbing outside before and wanted to do it before they move back to Chicago at the end of the month. Lucas scouted out a route that offered routes with varying difficulty where the first-timers could learn, the intermediate (me) could be challenged and the more advanced (Alex and Lucas) wouldn’t be too bored.

We ended up at Nip and Tuck, 10.5 miles into Boulder Canyon. It’s a popular crag situated in the sun very nicely in the morning.  We set up a couple of top ropes and Lucas led a couple different routes over the course of the day. We moved to a new section of the crag when the third pair of climbers popped in, wondering if they could climb when we were finished.

A couple more laps on a really fun final route ended our day as gray cloud cover rolled in overhead. Beers and burgers back in Boulder and a quick stop in Neptune Mountaineering’s gear swap before we pointed OsCar’s wheels back toward Denver.

If there ever was a perfect fall day in Colorado, this was it. Spending the day outside, in sunshine, with some of my favorite people having the best time learning, teaching and challenging ourselves on a giant rock. Filing this Saturday in the memory bank under: A for Awesome.

(Routes climbed: Surprising Slab, Hare Balls, Dan-D-Line, Old Dihedral, Doc’s Route, Finger Crack)

Sierra Trading Post Opened Colorado Stores!

Cue the backpack-shaped confetti! Sierra Trading Post has opened not one but TWO retail stores in Colorado!! You guys don’t even understand how excited this little mountaineer is!

This weekend, the Fort Collins store opened this week and a few weeks ago, the Denver/Greenwood Village store opened. It’s no secret that I love the deals Sierra Trading Post offers or the people behind the brand. So when they invited me to come help celebrate the grand opening of their Denver store, I battled traffic and met a fun group of local bloggers at the store in the Tech Center for party time!

Sierra Trading Post CO Store Grand Opening //

The Social team – Heidi, Andy, Chris, Nick and Juliette – put together a really fun night for the night-before-the-grand-opening party. Heidi had split the group up into teams and were were tasked with 3 challenges: knot tying, gear shopping and tent pitching.

My group took on the knot tying first and quickly tied the 5 required knots.

Sierra Trading Post CO Store Grand Opening //

We then headed to gear shopping where we had to find our 10 essentials for hiking and backpacking throughout the store. Also not a secret that the 10 essentials are my jam so it was fun to frantically shop with my group, making sure we had the best shopping basket in the shortest amount of time.

Sierra Trading Post CO Store Grand Opening //

Then we moved to tent set up. Our mission? Set up and tear down a tent as quickly as possible. The group with the shortest time to complete got extra points so our team tried to buzz through our setup and tear down. Sierra Trading Post CO Store Grand Opening //

At the end of the night, Heidi tallied up the scores and the winning team was awarded Sierra Trading Post gift cards. Much to my surprise, my group was announced the winners! I promptly turned around and spent my gift card money on a new OR long sleeve Echo Hoody.

So how does a Sierra Trading Post retail store work? Exactly like their online shop – they offer great, high-quality gear at discount prices. Prices mirror what the product retails for online…but no shipping fees! And you get to things on first! It’s awesome.

Since the Denver store opened, I’ve been back shopping 3 more times, despite the 20+ minute drive out of my way. The deals are worth it!

So – Denver and Fort Collins friends: stop into the new stores and say hey to the STP folks! The Fort Collins store is partying it up this weekend at there newest location. If you’re nearby, swing by and join the fun!

Gear Review: Brooks Ghost 7 Ombre Running Shoes

**Disclosure: Finish Line sent me these shoes to review at no charge with no promise of review and no compensation. All opinions, thoughts and photos are my own. **

For the past couple of months, I’ve been running mostly on roads and ‘urban trails,’ as I like to call the loop around the park. Thanks to a new daily schedule and earlier sunsets, trail running opportunities have been limited recently.

Brooks Ghost 7 Ombre //

While I’ve definitely been missing #trailtime, running in these new Brooks Ghost 7 sneaks have made running in the city more fun. And so much more comfortable than what I’m used to.

Brooks Ghost 7 Ombre //

When Finish Line asked if I was interested in testing a new pair of Brooks shoes, I signed up. I’d never run in Brooks and all the chatter I’d seen online was people either LOVING or HATING their Brooks so I was pretty curious which camp I’d be in.

I haven’t run super log distances in these shoes – no more than 6 miles at once – but have run in them 3+ times a week, 3+ miles at a time. So I can’t speak to long distances but I can speak for shorter miles and for my shorter runs, I’m definitely in Camp Love-My-Brooks.

The Brooks Ghost line is designed for neutral runners and offers a light, bouncy and balanced ride for runners. Comparing these against my usual running shoes, I felt these were super supportive and definitely had more ‘bounce’ than what I’m used to. As someone who’s had multiple knee surgeries, I welcome as much comfort and support when pounding the pavement. My little (er, big) tootsies have felt super comfortable and happy. Brooks has claimed the phrase #RunHappy and I have to say, my feet, joints and miles have definitely been that…happy.

Brooks Ghost 7 Ombre // Brooks Ghost 7 Ombre //

As I mentioned, I’d never run in Brooks before so I can’t speak to former versions of the shoe but I can tell you that, per their website, the Brooks Ghost 7 has bigger lugs in the forefoot to offer a more responsive shoe. These have felt really responsive on my runs but, again, can’t compare to a different pair of Brooks. Brooks Ghost 7 Ombre //

I also really liked the full-ground contact of the Brooks Ghost 7, too. I’ve been running in these Brooks almost exclusively in the city but, this morning, decided to give my ‘old’ shoes a try to have an immediate comparison in my mind and immediately, the Brooks feel more supportive and stable – part of which I attribute to the full-ground contact. When I run, I tend to collapse my knees  toward each other (thanks to multiple surgeries) but feel like I do it less in the Ghosts.

And I can’t write up my thoughts about these shoes without acknowledging the awesome colors! The ombre coloring gets so many envious glances and comments which, for right or wrong, I enjoy. It feels neat to be trendy for the first time ever in my life!

Brooks Ghost 7 Ombre //

So when the time comes to replace my road running shoes, Brooks are definitely on my (very) short list. I’m looking forward to putting some longer miles in on these shoes but even if they stay ‘short run shoes only’, I’m okay with that, too.

Lowa Cevedale Pro GTX Mountaineering Boots Review

Mountaineering boots are EXPENSIVE. For a reason, but they’re expensive.

Before Basic Mountaineering School, I knew I’d need to invest in a pair of mountaineering boots but I wasn’t too keen on spending $$$ when I really had no idea how I’d be using the boots or what would be important to me. I’d been hiking and backpacking previous to the class but wasn’t entirely sure what true ‘mountaineering‘ entailed.

So I kept my eyes on Sierra Trading Post and snagged a pair of Lowa Cevedale Pro GTX mountaineering boots for a steal. They had positive reviews, satisfied my requirements (stiff sole, crampon compatible) and were reasonably priced. When I brought them to the first day of mountaineering school, I got push back from my instructors that these boots wouldn’t work, that crampons wouldn’t stay on these shoes because there was/is too much flex.

Inspired by my instructor’s doubt, I filmed a (very elementary, not polished) review because I used these boots throughout my entire class – hiking, scrambling, rock climbing and couloir climbing – with no issues. No crampons popping off, no slipping, no blisters, no hot spots. I probably wouldn’t take these ice climbing as they’re not insulated but for the other 3 seasons? Hell yeah!

In a quest to get better at being comfortable on a video and at vocalizing gear reviews, I enlisted Alex to help me film this back in June. We made this video when 1) I was brain fried from our High Peak Couloir Climb (so you’ll hear ‘these boots these boots these boots!) and 2) we were still figuring out how to meld our creative visions. So it’s not the best video but I really love these boots (these boots!) and hey, every YouTube star started somewhere right? (to note: YouTube star is not on my bucket list.)

Trip Report: Mt. Bancroft East Ridge

Back in June, I skipped out on my Routefinding field day with my Basic Mountaineering School class. I had a flight for a business trip that night and made the choice to stay home instead of participating. I knew I’d need to make up the trip in order to graduate and this past Saturday was makeup field day.

Our objective was to summit Mt. Bancroft, a nearby 13er, via the East Ridge route. Bancroft sits at 13,250 and the East Ridge is an interesting scramble, much like Kelso Ridge without the knife edge. In June, too much snow on Bancroft meant the team snow climbed up a gully to the summit but in late September, we enjoyed a beautifully rocky East Ridge.

Mindy and I carpooled from Denver and met our other 4 members at Loch Lomond, a lake at the base of Bancroft where the team camped. A note to other non-high clearance vehicles: The dirt road to Loch Lomond is very rocky! It was do-able for my Subaru Outback for about 1+ miles before I found a pull off and parked; we hiked the remaining 1.5 miles to the lake.

Mt. Bancroft Trip Report //

Just after 7:30 a.m., we met our team, threw on our packs and headed up the mountain to gain the ridge we would follow to the summit of Bancroft. Because this was a student-led trip and I was technically the only student (the others had graduated), I was responsible for route finding. Instead of taking the trail to the southeast of the trailhead, I opted for the direct route…straight up. We bushwhacked through literal bushes and ~.25 mile and 600 vertical feet later, we were on the ridge.

Mt. Bancroft Trip Report //

Mt. Bancroft Trip Report //

And then….the scrambling began. Holy moly did we scramble!

Mt. Bancroft Trip Report //

It was mostly class 3/3+ scrambling that was very doable. Nothing too exposed and hand/foot holds were ‘bomber’, in climber lingo. We scrambled until we hit the infamous notch.

At the notch, climbers must rappel 80+ feet and then climb a 30+ foot headwall on the other side. There are a few obvious places to build a rap station as webbing from previous climbers has been left on boulders. We built our rap station and sent the team down, one by one. Note to future climbers: beware of loose rock on the rappel and at the base of the rappel. Lots of chossy, flakey rock. Also note that once you start the rappel, you have no bailout option except to finish the route so be sure you have time and energy to press on!

Mt. Bancroft Trip Report //

On the other side, Sylvia lead climbed the headwall and belayed the rest of us from above. It was a short 5.2 climb with plenty of holds but, again, be sure to check the rock first.

Mt. Bancroft Trip Report //

The rappel and headwall climb are definitely the crux of this route but most trip reports I read failed to mention the additional, exposed class 4 scrambling after the notch. Note to future climbers: way more scrambling ahead!

Mt. Bancroft Trip Report //

Mt. Bancroft Trip Report //

The next section of scrambling was a bit more intense – definitely class 4 as we climbed along the top of the ridge. Without a cloud in the sky, we took our time and carefully moved across the ridge. Three or four false summits later (I lost count), we came out of the rocky scramble section and finally reached the grassy, ‘mellow’ hike to the summit that I’d read about online.

Mt. Bancroft Trip Report //

And then, the summit! We did it!

Mt. Bancroft Trip Report //

To return to the trailhead, we followed the southeastern ridge back to Loch Lomond. It was full of boulder and talus fields because what’s the fun in an easy, mellow hike out?!

Mt. Bancroft Trip Report //

In total, our hike was 5.5 miles from trailhead to trailhead (does not include the 1.5 mile hike to Loch Lomond) and took us 7.5+ hours.

Mt. Bancroft Trip Report //

lgsmash-created caltopo map or our route

actual garmin stats of our route

actual garmin stats of our route

Mt. Bancroft Trip Report //

Looking back on the East Ridge route

Overall, I really enjoyed this climb. Definitely, more experienced climbers will move on the East Ridge much quicker than we did but with big blue skies and no threat of storms, we took our time and enjoyed the spectacular September day. This is what living in Colorado is all about!

I couldn’t help but notice how much I’d grown as a mountaineer on the East Ridge…where I would have been close to tears and battling with my mind to stay focused on the task at hand (and not jump to worst case death scenarios) in previous field days, I remained calm and steady. Not once did I feel panicked or anxious – just mentally and physically exhausted. I felt truly proud of myself and enjoyed every sip of my post-climb celebratory beer.