Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Hi friends :)

Recently I've made some big decisions! As you may have seen from my last post, I am nearing the end of life as I know it. I am happy to say that after the summer, I will be moving to Montreal to go to McGill University :). Montreal is a little further away from home than I expected to go, but I am so excited to be going there to continue my climbing and education. This new chapter of my life also means climbing at new gyms. Currently I train at Boulderz Climbing Centre, a bouldering gym that my dad opened just over four years ago. I've seen the gym through all of its short lifetime and I think it will be really hard to say goodbye. Nonetheless, Boulderz holds a very special place in my heart and it will always be a fundamental part of who I am as a climber. I have a lot of amazing options for climbing in Montreal, with the added bonus of Rumney being closer than it is from here. I think for the first little while I'll be doing my own thing with climbing but hopefully in the future I'll have a team to call my own again.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying the rest of the youth season and trying to soak up as much time with Team Boulderz as I can. A couple weekends ago I went to Eastern Youth Regionals held at Altitude in Hull, Quebec. The comp went really well and I got to take away a couple of things from my experience. I think first and foremost I am continuing to understand how my motivation reacts depending on how challenging and fun I anticipate a climb to be. This can be hard for me sometimes when I don't feel really psyched on a qualifier or a semi-final route and it's necessary to move on to the next stage. Letting go of some of that emotion I believe would help me to see past what I don't like about it and see it just as something I need to do. I was also reminded of how important it is for me to take my time and be patient on the wall... Which happens a lot. I ended up coming away from the comp with the gold medal and the Regional Cup :). Big thanks to everyone who worked their butts off for that comp to run as smoothly and efficiently as it did. It was really cool. Congrats to Team Boulderz, coming away with six medalists and five regional champions!!!

I only have five more weeks of grade twelve before exams and two weeks before Canadian Youth Nationals. I have applied to be on the Canadian Youth National Team this year and hope to be representing Canada at World Youth Championships in August in Saanich, BC.

Up, up, up!


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Update from the RRG!

Hello friends!

It's been a while. January and February have come and gone and I have a feeling I'm in for a very fast paced year. I am currently in the Red River Gorge with my family and some members of our junior team. Sunday was our first day climbing and we went to climb at the Boneyard and Midnight's Surf. After warming up at the Boneyard I went over to Midnight's Surf and decided to get on A Farewell to Arms (13a) which is a really steep line on the outside of a big cave. I onsighted the route which I was really excited about. Then I got on its neighbouring climb Crucible (12c) and I actually enjoyed the movement of this climb a little more. I found that after a short boulder problem on the roof of A Falling of Arms, the movement was not as varied. On the Crucible, the moves were all different from each other and I found every move more challenging for me. Monday we went to Drive By and Bob Marley crag. Drive By was really busy because it was a rainy day but I got on a few routes that I would like to go back for. Tuesday we went all over Muir Valley but my favourite route was probably Prometheus Unbound  (13a). I onsighted the steep section and then fell a couple times on the more vertical section. I'd love to come back for that one too! I also loved Super Best Friends (12b), even though I was so cold my fingers felt like they had fallen off. Huge congrats to Lucas who onsighted his first 12  at Midnight Surf (Iniquity, 12b) and to Will who also onsighted his first 12 (Bullfighter, 12b) and to Andrew who flashed his first 10 (Waterfall Ballet, 10a). Today the plan is to go to the Madness Cave once the snow melts...!

In other news, I got in to my top 3 university choices - McGill, Guelph and Laurier. At the moment I think my preference is to go to McGill. Going to Montreal offers a great school AND a great climbing scene, plus a really fun city to live in. The down side is that it's a lot further from home. I've never particularly wanted to be away from my family. It's really strange to think that no matter where I go next school year, I won't be living in Toronto anymore.

The youth comp scene is also in full swing. Youth Bouldering Provincials took place in late February and it was hosted by my home gym Boulderz. The competition was really fun and it was super cool to see so many strong kids come out. I loved our problems and I can't wait for lead provincials in April.

I'll be back from the RRG on Friday and then I'm back to regular team training and school work and preparing for university. This trip has really made me realize how much I value climbing outside and enjoying this environment with my friends and the people I love. At the end of the day, hunger for the rock trumps all and conquers even the worst screaming barfies.

Good day and happy dream chasing.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Happy holidays :)

Hello everyone!

The holidays are here and I'm reflecting on an amazing year. For the past few months I have been training with the Boulderz Junior/Open team in preparation for the competitions in the new year. It's been a really fun time so far and I can't wait to compete along side my teammates. School is almost done, just one more week of business until Christmas. The arrival of cold weather is bitter sweet. It means bundling up  with the people you love and celebrating another year past. It means saying goodbyes. It means almost every birthday in my family is fast approaching. So, I'm just going to take it with a cup of cocoa and enjoy the ride.

I am so fortunate to have travelled to new places and visited old ones. I've made new friends and old relationships have grown stronger. I've applied for university and I'm trying to fathom a life without my parents, my sisters and my friends around as much. I've worked hard, I've failed and I've worked harder. I've learned a lot and I've realised there is so much yet to learn. I suppose I have a lot to look forward to in 2013.

Happy holidays friends!
Sending you warmth and hugs :)


P.S. Check out my interview with Nathan Ng!
Part One:
Part Two:

And page 20 of the December/January issue of Gripped :D

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Lessons (re) Learned

Hi everyone,

I know it's been a while and many important things have taken place since my last post. I'm going to start with a couple of key events that I've recently witnessed. Though they aren't necessarily climbing related, I think they hold significance in the themes of my life at the moment. Curiously, they both took place on Sunday.

Sunday morning I had the amazing opportunity to join the Lululemon team at the 29.6 km mark of the Toronto Scotiabank Marathon, as well as watch Felix Baumgartner jump to Earth from the edge of space. Luckily, we arrived at the marathon early enough in the morning to cheer on the first, second and third little pods of runners. At almost 30 km through the race, these pods of three to six men (and one woman) were running, and running FAST through the drizzling rain. As they approached we yelled and screamed and danced and not one of them looked up. For a split second I thought of it as ignorance, and maybe other people did too, but I almost immediately changed my mind. They weren't being rude or arrogant, they just didn't need us. They were just there for their own reasons- to qualify for Boston, to win, to break a World Record. What I realized is that I could have cheered as loud as I wanted or sat there as if completely un-fazed by their power and prowess and they would have ran just as fast. Cheering or no cheering, rain or no rain, they weren't stopping until they reached their goals. Isn't that exactly what I've been trying to accomplish in my climbing at competitions?

Then, minutes after arriving home from the marathon, we were on the couch, watching a live stream of Felix Baumgartner. He was being hoisted up by balloon to the edge of space. Immediately I was back in cheering mode, but it was a little different. There was a definite, inescapable element of fear. Fear that the balloon would break, fear that something would go wrong, and fear that the dreams and hopes and even life of this man would be crushed. I was terrified. As he got ready to jump though, I realized that no matter the result, he had already accomplished more than many of us. He had conquered fear. He had made the decision to go ahead with his dream and he didn't let anything stop him, not even himself. Another aspect of my climbing I've been working on :)

So, with those two events in mind, I reflected on the past two competitions I participated in. The first one was the Summer Sweatfest Finale held at True North Climbing. This year, the organizers of the finale decided to add an element of surprise to the competition. The format for qualifiers and for finals were not to be announced until the day of the competition. The qualifiers went well, proving to be not as scary as anticipated, but the finals were another story. They consisted of four problems with 4+ minutes to complete each BUT after each problem the scores were tallied and the last person was eliminated. The last two people who remained entered a showdown on the final problem. It was a bit confusing and unfamiliar at first but after some help to understand it, I was comfortably warming up in isolation. At this point I had won all the Sweatfests I had competed in and I decided to go for the gold. Even with that little bit of added pressure, I went out feeling extremely calm. I went through the first three problems, remaining relaxed and composed. Being confident and sure of myself allowed me to have tons of fun. Like the runners, I felt like I was climbing for myself. By the fourth problem, Beth Vince and Marieta Akalski were eliminated so Alex Kuusela and I remained for the showdown. Our last problem was quite long with a few big moves on slopers to the crux where there were a couple of hard moves on small edges. With ten attempts to complete it, I was super psyched knowing that my endurance training would come in handy, in case it took me a while to figure out the problem. It turns out that ten attempts on any problem is a lot more than I thought. I had the sequence down by the third attempt and attempts three to six were spent doing the second last move. Then, attempts seven to ten were spent doing the last move. As psyched and motivated and confident as I was, I could not for the life of me manage to get that last move. I ended up beating Alex by only a couple of moves and we both finished the comp with bleeding tips (Alex's were cooler than mine). My boyfriend, Eric Sethna, also won which was great, and the competition was a huge success. Despite having a good result, I learned that the focus and confidence I had during finals was not only ideal for that comp but is necessary in all my comps to achieve my potential. Just like the runners, focus must be constant.

The second competition was the World Cup in Atlanta, for which I spent a lot of time preparing. I originally had a lot of nerves and anxiety in anticipation for the competition. I was nervous about the difficulty of the routes, not knowing what to expect and especially not knowing what to train for. It was my first Lead World Cup and I really didn't have much to go by. In general, I was fearful. Though I eventually became more confident in my training, I don't think my climbing at the competition reached my potential. I found I was still a little bit nervous and not as confident as I could have been. I wasn't plummeting towards the ground from 120, 000 feet but I was admittedly kind of freaked out. Despite a slip on the second qualifier, I managed to make it into semi-finals and subsequently attained my goal. I think I executed my semis route with a bit more confidence but I was still too anxious. I ended up falling lower than I expected on a move that I hesitated on. Nonetheless, I placed 22nd which I am very happy about. I think my main lesson there was that the fear I thought I had gotten over in the summer wasn't quite the same as the fear of the unknown that I experienced in Atlanta. It was intimidating and larger than life. Now, with that competition under my belt I plan to push forward, improve, and just like Baumgartner, embrace the fear of the unknown.

By definition, learning is the knowledge or skills aquired through experience or study or by being taught. So I've made this conclusion: We know lessons are learned everyday. However, as we grow and develop as people, surely some lessons need to be re-learned in various different ways. For example, maybe one year we learn to conquer fear best through experiencing it and then many days or months or years later we learn just as much or more from seeing someone else conquer fear. In fact, I believe it is essential that we learn through being taught, studying and experiencing, in order to master a skill.

So if there's one thing I've become familiar with, it's that a lesson may appear to be learned when in reality, becoming aware of the lesson is only the beginning.

Go learn something!
And then learn it again ;)


Next up, the Tour de Bloc makes its first stop of season 10 at Joe Rockheads, November 3rd... stay tuned!

Below are some photos (and hopefully video).

Me on the showdown problem at the Summer Sweatfest finale.

Getting inspired at the Olympic park in Atlanta :)

Me on the semi-final route at the World Cup in Atlanta (hopefully this link works...!!!) 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Back to School!

Hello :)

After a busy summer, I am finally back home for a little while to get myself established in my last year of high school. My summer was filled mostly with climbing. After Chicago at the beginning of July, I started training for the two competitions that I had my sights set on for September. 

My goal going into the summer was to train harder than ever before and reach a new level of climbing.  I thought it would be a great idea to have a day of two training sessions. So, dragging Eric into it as well, we began training Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and twice Sunday. I think the first week was the worst. To be honest, it got really fun after that (at least for me). I began to see myself getting stronger in the exercises we were doing and my motivation increased. Unfortunately, with grade 12 fast approaching, the idea of me missing the first full week of school for the World Championships in Paris became less realistic. So, I decided not to go to Paris but rather focus my efforts on the World Cup in Atlanta instead, which takes place at the end of September. 

We trained for four weeks like that and then I went on a family climbing trip to Rumney, New Hampshire. Unfortunately it was mostly rainy and we often found ourselves at the arcade or hiding out in our apartment. Luckily we had been once already and knew the best areas to visit, which made the time we actually got to climb much more efficient. I got on a couple classic routes which were really fun and left with some projects to go back for. 

We had hardly arrived back in Toronto when Eric and I left for Lion's Head for the long weekend. Lion's Head was a brief but fantastic trip. I've always been a little bit intimidated by big, white, exposed rock faces. I'm not really sure why... maybe because I don't have a lot of outdoor experience or maybe because I don't like feeling vulnerable. Either way, I think I conquered that fear when I got on The Victim. It's a beautiful line that starts with a very technical traverse along a white rock face and then goes vertically into two very big moves and some more shoulder-y sequences to the top. The moves were so fun that I didn't even notice all the things that intimidated me before. By the time I was at the top, my perception of bigger walls had completely changed. I didn't send the route although I got all the moves down on my first try. I fell at the second throw twice which was frustrating. Either way, I was happy to even get to try such an amazing route. I will definitely have to get back up there to give it another burn and hopefully send it. Also- my insane boyfriend had his first 13c flash, which was so exciting to watch!!!

After Lion's Head my family, Eric and I went down to Georgia for a reconnaissance mission at Stone Summit :P. The gym is so big and SO cool. We trained there for three days and had a really great time. We were very tired afterwards, so our week long vacation on Tybee Island was much appreciated. It was our third time going down to that area for vacation at the end of the summer so it felt cozy and familiar. We went swimming and dolphin watching and ate some huge crab. It was really nice to relax after such an intense summer.  

Now I'm back in Toronto and about to start my first full week of grade 12 at Harbord C.I. It's nice to sleep in my own bed and be back training in my home gym. I'll be training with the Boulderz team this year, which I am very excited about since I trained mostly on my own last year. Though decisions about university are fast approaching, I'm trying to stay relaxed, focus on my school work and training and take everything in stride. 

Next up is the Atlanta Lead World Cup on September 29th and 30th. Stay tuned for results! 

Until next time :)


Me on The Predator in Rumney, taken by Mike Makischuk.

Me and Eric in Lion's Head

Training at Stone Summit in Atlanta

Our beach pyramid, photo credit to mum

Sunday, July 1, 2012

That's a Wrap!

Hello from Chicago!

Every year at the end of the school year my family and I go on a short weekend trip. This year we are spending the long weekend here in Chicago with some family friends. The purpose of this trip is just to get together with family and friends and be together after the end of the year rush. I'm trying to get my summer training going as soon as possible, so I decided to visit the gym here. Saturday morning I arrived at Vertical Endeavors to have a brief two-hour session. I was pleasantly surprised by the route setting and great vibe at the gym.  The people are great and I'll be sure to go back when I'm in the area next. We also got a chance to go eat some deep dish pizza (!!!...A Chicago classic :) ), as well as visit the beautiful Bah'ai temple, the bean, the Buckingham fountain, an art show...AND do some shopping. It's been a great time to reflect on my failures and successes during this past climbing season and school year. This year taught me a lot and I'm so excited to apply my learnings to my summer training.

Though I'm not dedicating a post to my experience in the Vail World Cup, I will write a little here. The competition definitely didn't go as well as I would have liked. There were a lot of factors that could have affected my performance at the comp like no altitude acclimatization and a lack of knowledge of the wall but really it boiled down to my lack of an open mind and clear head throughout the comp. It was clear afterwards that I had to make the decision to either dig deep and work at improving my climbing and (more importantly) my mindset in preparation for September OR to continue training as I was and not put in the effort this year to go to other World Cups but rather to make long-term goals for next year. The decision really wasn't very hard for me. The experience in Vail was useful and fun and it definitely made me want to do more World Cups. I know I have the tools, time and motivation to work hard this summer in preparation for (hopefully) two World Cups in September. Climbing is such an essential part of my life and the opportunity to go further with it is always welcome. I am super psyched to start my training program Tuesday and see where it takes me. The Summer Sweatfest series also happens during the summer which is held by gyms around Ontario. This series for me is a fun way to have the chance to practice flashing problems and work on my comp mentality. When I'm not away, I'll be competing in as many of these as possible. I can't wait to see what the summer holds!

I'll be sure to update the blog as I go along, so stay tuned :)

Alright folks, that's a wrap!


Below are some photos from my time here in the Windy City :D

Climbing at Vertical Endevors!

My contribution to the graffiti at Gino's East Pizza (Top right of the bench!...and my sister's on the left :) )

Family and friends at the Bah'ai temple!!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Canadian Youth Nationals write up :)

Hello :)

I have just returned from Canadian Youth Nationals that took place in Montreal, Quebec.  My youth season was pretty minimal this year as I was mostly focusing on open bouldering. I did a few youth roped competitions and then competed at Eastern Youth Regionals, allowing me to qualify for my fourth Youth Nationals. I decided that I wouldn't be applying for the National team in March, so my plan was to go to Nationals and have fun.  I trained routes a little in advance but I didn't pressure myself with expectations. I was really happy to be seeing my friends from across Canada and to get back on such a nice wall.

We arrived in Montreal Friday night after a long car drive. The first two qualifying rounds were on Saturday, the semi-final Sunday and then the final Monday. On Saturday I was first in the running order for the first qualifier. The route looked balance-y and hard and a little out of my comfort zone. I had also never climbed first on a qualifying route before. My nerves were more intense and prominent than usual and I was a little shaky at the bottom of the route. I ended up topping the route which put my mind at ease. The next qualifier was much more suited to my style, on the large overhang with big moves. My bad nerves had subsided and I was super excited to try the route. Just as I expected, the route was fun and fit my style well and I topped more easily than the first. In isolation on Sunday I felt good and ready to go. The semi was another technical, balance-y route with bad slopers, tiny crimps and no rests. Unfortunately I got really pumped about two thirds of the way up and fell making a move that should have been more controlled. Regardless, I was moving on to finals the next day.

Monday morning I sat up in bed and immediately tweaked something in my back. Soon, my left arm started going a little numb. The rest of the morning was spent massaging and stretching and trying to make the pain go away (thank goodness for my awesome team of parents and siblings and friends who helped). If worse came to worse, I would sit finals out. I started warming up about 15 minutes before I was supposed to climb. The adrenaline started kicking in and minutes before I went out to climb my arm was feeling fine and I had almost no pain in my back. The final route looked AMAZING. I was so excited to try it. It was on the big overhang and had big moves on small holds up to the roof where there were a couple of big volumes. After the volumes were some powerful moves up a long, steep face to the chains. I got on and into my rhythm, and ended up falling on a big move on the last face. The route was pure fun and I climbed to the best of my abilities. I am so happy to have had the chance to climb that route. Climbing the highest earned me my first National title...!

In the four times I've competed at Youth Nationals, I've never felt less prepared than I did going into this one. Every other year I have felt capable of climbing my best and winning. Whether it's been sickness, injury, or misreading the route that has held me back in the past, I've tried to press on with the desire to win. Monday I learned that that desire doesn't even matter. No matter how much pain I'm in or how badly I screw up the sequence, there is nothing that gives me the will to continue and succeed more than the desire to experience the next hold, the next move, the next climb. In retrospect, even if my determination to win had lead to a gold medal in the past, I wouldn't have been any happier winning than coming in second or third or last. My true disappointment comes when I forget why I'm there - to climb. 

Thank you to all the amazing people who worked at organizing yet another extremely successful event. The people I got to climb with this weekend are inspiring, motivating and so much fun. Congratulations to everyone else who competed this weekend (especially my little sister Estella who won silver in speed and bronze in difficulty!). I will be posting photos and videos soon. Good luck to all my friends going to Singapore to represent Canada at Youth Worlds :) Next up, the World Cup in Vail... Wahooo!!!

Happy climbing,
       and press on... for the fun of it.