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    21st Annual Hueco Rock Rodeo Recap & Video

    By Brittany Griffith


    “Hueco Tanks is the best bouldering in the world,” someone boldly posted on the encyclopedic climbing resource The best? Pretty strong words. I’ve been to a lot of famous climbing areas in the world and it was going to take more than a hyperbolic online endorsement to change my reservations (not the kind you need to climb here, alas, but I’ll cover that later).

    As a climber, I had obviously heard about Hueco. There’s no disputing that Hueco stands as an iconic place in American climbing significance. Like Yosemite is to big wall climbing, Smith Rock is to sport climbing, and Indian Creek is to splitter crack climbing, Hueco is to bouldering. And Patagonia’s presence at the 21st annual Hueco Rock Rodeo was the perfect excuse for me to finally make the pilgrimage to the famed bouldering mecca.

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    Deep Water Soloing on Mallorca

    By Brittany Griffith


    My ADD extends beyond the fact that I can’t finish vacuuming a room before checking my email, watering a plant or making fried rice from leftovers. It’s present in my climbing endeavors as well. But I do recognize what it is about, the different disciplines I appreciate most. My favorite thing about trad climbing: the adventure; my favorite thing about sport climbing: the movement; my favorite thing about bouldering: the no-hassle factor; and my favorite thing overall about climbing: it makes me try harder than anything else in my life. And yet, despite my love for all those forms of climbing that are typically found in the mountains or desert, I prefer to be on the beach. The seas and oceans somehow vitalize me more than the mountains.

    Enter deep water soloing on the Spanish island of Mallorca. It’s got it all: adventure, movement, low-hassle, you gotta try hard, AND it’s on the beach! After two weeks of climbing on perfect limestone above the sea I was hooked. Sign me up for Spanish classes, I’m moving to Mallorca. (Locals speak in Mallorquin, which is a form of Catalan, which, I’m told, is a mix of both French and Spanish. I speak French, so I figure I’m halfway there.)

    [Above: One of the first 7as we did at Cala Barques, Metrosexual, a classic line of jugs that's not too high above the calm sea. A perfect primer for the steeper, harder routes to come. All photos by Jonathan Thesenga]

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    Three Rooms – Packing 101 with The BAG

    by Brittany Anne Griffith


    This may sound weird, but I love packing. When essentials are limited to two 50-pound bags – what a van can carry – a 40-liter backpack, or even just a carry-on, the things you think you need to take versus the things you actually do take is a fun game for me.

    My most recent trip had a slightly different take on our typical domestic climbing adventure and my packing volume was restricted to a boatload – literally. We were going to take a boat down southern Utah’s Green River, camp on a sandbar, prepare Thanksgiving dinner, and climb desert towers. That’s a lot of shit to remember to bring, and it all had to fit on a raft. We would be somewhat remote, a day’s boat ride and drive from Moab, so forgetting an essential could range from a hassle to devastating. JT gave me his short list as he rushed out the door to work the day before we left: pruning shears, axe, hatchet, waders, two each of #4, #5 and #6 Camalots, and three cases of beer. I don’t know what concerned me more: the request for an axe or that we might be climbing something that would require all that wide gear.

    [Packing the boat along the shores of the Green River. Photo: BAG’s iphone]

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    In Dag We Trust – A Rock Climbing Trip to Turkey's Ala Dag Mountains

    by Jonathan Thesenga


    “You’re going sport climbing at Antalya?” That was the question nearly everyone asked me when I told them that Brittany and I were headed to Turkey for a three-week climbing trip. A fair assumption – you gotta dig into a third or fourth level of research before you read about any sort of climbing in Turkey besides the bolt-clipping paradise of Antalya. A cushy sport-climbing vacation to the Mediterranean coast, however, was not in the travel plans this time around – we were headed for central Turkey’s Ala Dag Mountains, a Teton-esque range of rugged limestone peaks, walls and spires.

    [All photos by Jonathan Thesenga (@jthesenga).]

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    Post RAGBRAI – Riding the Bike Ride I Didn't Train For

    by Brittany Griffith


    I was actually pretty anxious about going on RAGBRAI. I didn’t really know what to expect. I travel extensively to the far corners of the world, but always as a climber, with the security of other climbers and knowing, to some extent, what the climbing experience will be like. Editor's note: If you missed it, check out Brittany's pre-race training post before reading on.

    As I sat delayed in the Minneapolis airport awaiting my flight to Cedar Rapids staring blankly at the flight information screen, I started to fret. I only knew my uncle. Would the remaining 18 people that made up the Regulators (who were mostly cops) like me? Think I was an idiot (I still hadn’t sat on a road bike)? Go to bed at 8pm and wake up before dawn? Know that I have unpaid speeding tickets in three states? Would they make me wear a purple wig?

    Some of my fears were dispelled upon seeing the team’s bus. It was bigger than the Gypsy Van, had a full-sized storage freezer turned giant cooler, and stripper poles.

    Above: Tony and Dean load the rig. Photo: BAG iPhone]

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    Training for the Bike Ride I’m Not Training For

    by Brittany Griffith


    Bleeding sunburns and limping – those were my earliest memories of people returning from RAGBRAI. What’s that? You don’t know what RAGBRAI is? (I’m just as shocked when people don’t know what RAGBRAI is as the Canadian who realizes that Americans don’t know who Terry Fox is.) RAGRBRAI is an acronym for Registers Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa. Yes, that’s right – a bike across the entire state of Iowa. RAGBRAI is a non-competitive bike ride that starts on Iowa’s western border by dipping a rear tire in the Missouri, and ends, approximately 475 miles later, on the eastern border, after dipping a front tire in the Mississippi. The ride averages around 70 miles a day. Currently, close to 10,000 riders participate in this every year. If you are from Iowa, you have to do it at least once in your life to be considered a true Iowan. Or at least house, feed, shower, or cheer on a rider.

    RAGBRAI stops at eight host communities along the way with the route changing every year. The whole state awaits the announcing of the route, which happens in March. Trust me, it’s a BIG deal in Iowa if RAGBRAI stops in your town. The whole town goes ape shit and it’s all anybody talks about for months.

    [Above: If you don't like the way I ride, stay off the sidewalk! All photos: Brittany Griffith Collection]

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    Heroes - Part Two

    by Brittany Griffith


    [Catch up with Heroes - Part One] We were in Manzanares el Real for less than an hour when a keen local showed up, in the middle of a Wednesday afternoon, driving 45 minutes to meet us and show us around. Which was great and very helpful since La Pedriza is an extensive labyrinth of granite domes, small outcroppings and boulders. Finding the nuggets would be hard on your own; it’s kinda like a cross between Joshua Tree and Little Cottonwood Canyon.

    It never ceases to amaze me how generous climbers are, no matter where you are in the world, to complete strangers. Our new friend, Aitor, took us to crags he’s no doubt been to hundreds of times yet with the greatest enthusiasm. He offered up new projects of his to Arnaud and patiently and encouragingly belayed me as I clawed my way up treacherous 5.10 slabs. When they said it was going to be slab climbing, they meant slab climbing – as in 60-80 degree slab climbing, as in holdless friction slab climbing. My pecs ached every night from the desperate squeezing required to adhere to the immaculate granite and my calves bulged like ripe pomegranates from footwork-intensive sequences.

    [Above: Me putting the new Patagonia approach shoes to the ultimate test, walking up a rappel line. All photos: Arnaud Petit]

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    Heroes - Part One

    by Brittany Griffith


    I don’t have many heroes – Julia Child, Nakano Takedo, Florence Nightingale… and Arnaud Petit and Stéph Bodet. If you haven’t heard of Arnaud and Stéph, just Google, “World’s Most Adventurous Climbing Couple.” From Morocco to Algeria to Venezuela to the climbs of Ceüse above their self-built house, they’ve done first ascents in more countries than states I’ve been to in America (I still haven’t ticked New Mexico). They’ve traveled the world together, doing their climbs with style, with commitment, with an eye for the absolute best line. They are my climbing heroes.

    [Stéph Bodet floats a 7c+ slab arête just before sunset. Photo: Arnaud Petit]

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    Tortilla Español

    by Brittany Griffith


    Here’s a recipe that every dirtbag should learn to make; it’s exotic sounding, yet relatively simple to make from basic, easy-to-find ingredients. Also, since it requires nothing much more than a fry pan, spatula, bowl, and plate, this one can be made in your van or campsite.

    I first became familiar with the ubiquitous Spanish omelet (aka, Tortilla Español) on a climbing trip to Spain (surprise, surprise). This delicious, versatile, Spanish staple was offered in nearly every tapas bar we experienced. They even sell them in the grocery stores, sealed in plastic wrap. Tortilla Españols quickly became essential crag food since they pack easily, have lots of protein and can be enjoyed warm or room temperature.

    I’m going to use my climber friend, Andy, as my subject for the following reasons:

    1. He’s a dude, and, like our young friend Hayden from the Secret Weapon, is always looking for a way to impress the ladies with his cooking.
    2. He actually has his own chickens in downtown SLC and provided the eggs for the recipe (impressive, right ladies?)
    3. I love men in aprons.

    [Andy subscribes to Backyard Poultry Magazine and cans his own tomatoes. Photo: Craig Armstrong]

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    Confessions Of A Yoga Non-Believer

    by Brittany Griffith


    It started off benign enough: Walker sent out an email to all the ambassadors inquiring who did yoga and would be willing to test out Patagonia’s new yoga line. Of course, I bristled at this. Yoga? That’s for girlfriends. I’m a climber, have a black belt, and have raced on the professional downhill mountain bike circuit. But, that noted, I’d be damned if one of the other ambassadors was going to get to test out the newest bra top before for me just because they “yoga’d” and I didn’t.

    So I responded to Walker’s email that yes, I “yoga” and in fact hold bi-weekly yoga classes at my house – which wasn’t a total lie. My neighbor, Porter, who had attempted to espouse the benefits of yoga to me countless times and try to get me to go to a class with her, would come over to my house a couple of times a week for living-room sessions of grammar school PE-style sit-ups and push-ups, and loosely follow a late '90s Rodney Lee “Yoga for Athletes” DVD (fast-forwarding through the parts I didn’t like). No “Oms” or “Namastes” with Porter and I – just general rants about life in SLC (like the local hoodlums’ uncreative tagging of garbage cans, fences and the nearby Mormon church’s dumpster). This was my yoga. No need to pay someone to show you how to stretch, breathe, and recite poetry while you lay on the floor. [Above photo: Porter Teegarden]

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