Sunday, October 18, 2009


I'm pleased to announce: Twenty-one days into P'UP I topped my first route!

On Friday, I headed to the wall without my climbing partner, Ryann. She was in a shooting tourney in New York. I had spent the day working on an application for a position in my department, and meeting with students who had spent their conference time with me expressing versions of "... but English was supposed to be my easy class."

It was a long, grueling day - the kind that gives you cranky pants and a sardonic smirk. I grabbed my gear and headed to the Rec. When I got there, Kim and Tiffany, both staffers were chillin'. It was the first day of fall break, so I had the place to myself.

The Dolly Parton Project, the route I've been killing myself over for the past three weeks, stumps me every time at the crag. My mind goes numb, then my arms, and I can't quite get over it (or myself). After falling on the second attempt, I descended, frustrated. "Dolly Parton, you're a big boobed blonde and your music sucks," I fumed. I untied my "danish with cheese."

"Oh screw it," I said. "I'll try the other 5.6."

Tiffany, my belay, supported the change and reminded me I was there to have fun.

"Oh yeah," I said, "I forgot that part. Fun. Yay. Let's have some, dammit."

I tied in and Tiffany offered great beta as I reached past the bouldering line. And before I knew it, I had ascended the route, knocked on the pipe at the top, and shimmied on down with a big, goofy grin on my face.

"You rocked it!" she said, offering her hands up in a double high-five.

As we smacked hands (which, in retrospect, burned like hell), she smiled. "See what practice can do? You're awesome!"

I called Coach Ryann and left her a message. I called my friend Adam and did the same. For a long while, I sat on the bench and just looked up at the route, proud of myself. It amused me, too, that the one time I finally got UP, nobody was there to snap off a photo for the blog.

Those of you who know me already, my affection for the French language and Paris, will not find it too surprising that my first successful ascent was a 5.6 named, "C'est Facile."

That's French for "It's Easy."

I've climbed it clean twice more since, just to prove I could. Dolly Parton, though, she's all about Jesus and Gravity.

Well, I mean, first I say, "Jesus!" and then gravity sorta takes over. Mammary similarities aside, Dolly and I have nothin' in common. It'll be at least another 20 years before I have my own theme park.

So for now, I think I'll just celebrate my French connection and the fact that after all the hard work, doubt, mental ballet, and buckets of sweat, I've done it. I've gotten UP!

Rookie chillin' her hands at Thai Garden after her first full climb (PHOTO: Christina Nichols)


  1. Congratulations, Erica! I toasted a nice brew after the half to P'UP and P'SitMyAssOnTheGroundAndTryToNotPuke.

  2. Thanks, Adam. Dolly Parton is still kicking my butt. But I'll go back on Thursday when the wall opens again.


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