Cragmama "Not all who wander are lost…" JRR Tolkien

NRG Boot Camp: A Story about the “Why”

(AKA…The Comment That Risked Our Marriage But Improved My Climbing)

Last week I officially opened registration for an NRG-specific training workshop I’ll be doing later this month. I wanted to use this space to tell you guys not only about what to expect from the workshop, but also to tell you why I’m so passionate about geeking out about NRG specific training!

My hubby and I have been climbing at the New since 2007. My 12yo son spent his first night under the stars there in 2010 when he was only 2 months old, and before my now 8yo daughter had turned one, she had hitched a ride down the Endless Wall ladders in our backpack carrier. We have created so many family memories at this place that it feels like a second home to all of us!

“The move” on Flash Point (Momentum + Power!)

And as far as our climbing journey goes, the New has been our greatest teacher. But by “great teacher” I don’t mean in a fun-loving, whimsical Mary Poppins sort of way. I mean more like an Albus Dumbledore, “you’ll learn the most when you are placed in situations where you have to figure it out for yourself” sort of vibe. In fact, our very first trip to the New was the weekend of the ’07 New River Rendezvous, and I remember being worried that we wouldn’t even be able to make it thru the 3 day event. We had never climbed back to back days before b/c we were still in that novelty phase of getting SO SORE after a day outside!

But eventually we got over that, and the New quickly went into our rotation of weekend warrior crags – along with various NC crags, Obed, the Red, and Hidden Valley once it reopened. As the years went by, we progressed thru the grades and started seeking out harder routes. Eventually though, I started noticing a disturbing trend. While my “crew” all climbed more or less the same grades at most places, I was finding myself getting shut down more and more at the New, while everyone else was still enjoying the same success rate. Since ALL of my climbing partners were tall dudes, I initially assumed that all the harder routes at the New were just “height dependent” and there was nothing I could do about it. Playing to my case were the numerous instances where I would struggle on a section that was literally a non-move for everyone else. (“How did you do this move?!?” “Uh, I just grabbed that hold.”)

Now, most everyone who’s spent any length of time at the New is probably aware that there might be a grain of truth to PART of that statement. Though the term “height-dependent” might be a little strong, the New IS known for it’s “reachiness.” The rock is bullet hard and there are often sections where the wall just doesn’t have a lot of features, even at the moderate grades. But that’s where the truth part ends, and the choice to accept or reject a limiting belief begins! Because the idea that nothing could be done to improve my plight was completely FALSE, though unfortunately I bought into it for longer than I’d like to admit!

This is where the comment that risked our marriage but improved my climbing comes into the story. It all started with Flash Point, a tall 11d on perfect stone right smack dab in the middle of Endless Wall. There are 3 distinct cruxes, each one requiring a slightly different skill set, but all with one thing in common – the moves are looooooong. On my first attempt that day, I confidently set off thru the opening moves, and quickly found myself staring down the first crux – a big deadpoint to a decent ledge. I then proceeded to flail about for at least 30 minutes. Up, down, finagle a weird body position, up again, down again, take a fall. Dangle, look, listen to all the guys saying, “Just go for it!” Up again, down again, AD NAUSEAM.

Eventually I just came back down, too frustrated to even get back on it again. Later that night, as my hubby and I were debriefing back at camp, he looked at me and dropped the bomb.

Tipped out on the high crux on Flash Point (Lockoff + Tension!)

Him (casually): “I was kinda surprised you gave up on it so easily…”
Me: (side eye)
Him (a little more hesitant): “…it kinda looked like you weren’t really even trying.”
Me: (more side eye)
Him: (perhaps wishing he had kept his mouth shut)

My first reaction was that of indignance. I thrashed around on that ONE MOVE for 30 minutes! How could he possibly accuse me of not trying?!? But then I went back and watched some video footage. IT LOOKED LIKE I WASN’T TRYING HARD AT ALL! What was the problem?

Later that week it hit me like a ton of bricks. I realized that while yes, I WAS giving 100% effort, I was giving 100% effort to the WRONG type of movement! When moves got big, I had one go to – high foot, hips in, and lock off for all I’m worth. A very valuable strategy, (and DEFINITELY SKILLS THAT WE WILL DISCUSS IN THE WORKSHOP!!), but the problem was that when that beta didn’t work for me, I had nothing else in my toolbox to try, so my only option was to flail around til I was exhausted and then give up, defeated.

And now for the teachable moment (picture Harry Potter suddenly realizing that HE is the final horcrux). Maybe the problem all along wasn’t the New and it’s “reachiness.” Maybe the problem was…me and the fact that I was a one trick pony. (Cue Taylor Swift, “Anti-Hero”)

From that point on, I went on a quest to become smarter about my try hard. I learned how to climb with momentum. I learned how to use body tension to my advantage. I lifted heavy. I intentionally chose projects that exploited my weaknesses. And the next time I came back to the New? I sent Flash Point in fine style. And as an added bonus, I quickly realized that by working on all these weaknesses the NRG had called me out on, I actually had improved my climbing EVERYWHERE!

I’m not gonna lie…the Flash Point story happened 10 years ago. And though I have seen steady improvement, even eventually working my way up to 5.13 at the New, I still run into long moves I can’t do on the regular. But the difference now is that I’ve got a whole arsenal of movements I can tap into, depending on what kind of try hard is needed. And if I still get shut down?!? No one calls me out on not trying hard anymore!!!

So how is this story connected to the NRG Boot Camp? It was the catalyst for 10+ years of training specifically for weekend warrior projects at the New with my whole family in tow. And while I’ve seen a fair amount of success (42 NRG sends from 12a -13a), I’ve also made a lot more mistakes along the way than just the one in this story. My goal with this workshop is to share all that I’ve learned in the hopes that others can find success (and maybe learn from some of my mistakes rather than having to make them all themselves!)

Now that you’ve heard my “why”, let me tell you the details of the “what” and “how.” This workshop will be a 60 min deep dive that first breaks down NRG climbing into specific skills and concepts, then provides tangible ways to improve upon those skills. I will be sharing the movement drills, strength and mobility exercises (both on and off the wall), and projecting tactics that I regularly program for both myself as well as other athletes that climb at the New. By the end of the 60 min, you’ll have a whole host of practical ideas to add to your sessions in the coming weeks as you prepare for spring season. And if you have a question specific to YOU and the NRG, there will be a Q + A afterwards. The entire workshop (including Q + A) will be recorded and sent out to all registrants afterwards, so if you can’t make it live, you can still participate. That said, there will be a special incentive in the form of a giveaway for those that attend live, so stay tuned for that! In the meantime, here’s the link for signing up (after which I’ll email out the link for the workshop!), and feel free to hit me up with any questions you’ve got!


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“Not all who wander are lost.” —JRR TOLKIEN