smith rock 2014

I just came back from an awesome rock climbing trip to Smith Rock in Oregon. My friend Martin mentioned the idea of going last November and I am really glad that it ended up working out perfectly!

The campsite even had a bouldering wall!

SMITHROCK-6 DSCF0044Warning: There are many pictures in this post because I couldn’t pick the best ones. There are also many pictures of silly people in tights. These pictures are a mix of all of our pictures.

Three days after Lauren got here and the day after I finished my last Spring exam, we were off! On the trip there was Lauren, my long-time friend Martin, two new friends Bengt & Andrew, and we ended up meeting up with Natalie from NZ! How this all ended up working out, with Greyhound buses and smushing everything into Bengt’s mom’s car.. I am not sure.

We were originally going to camp the first night on the Oregon coast, but the weather was incredibly rainy and windy, that we ended up forgoing that plan to drive all the way down to Smith Rock… without looking at the gas tank. FYI: All the 10 gas stations between Salem and Sisters, OR close at 7:00pm. So we ended up spending the first night in a “town” called Detroit in a teeny weeny motel room and cooked lentils on the floor on our camp stove. Haha! It was such a silly start to our trip. The motel only cost $75 including tax for us to all jam into one room…

Marty, Andrew, Lauren & Bengt

Smith Rock (once we got there) was incredibly beautiful and had lots and lots of (hard) climbing. The most memorable climbs I worked were Double Trouble (a 5.10b tricky arete), Cool Ranch Flavor (a 5.11a lead we did in a team), and Captain Xenolith (a 5.10a slab that I really enjoyed). We didn’t go on Monkey Face (a classic 4 pitch route), but guess that means we have to go back!

Lauren and me
Bengt on JT’s Route – Phoenix Buttress
Morning Glory
The boys on Bunny Face – Diehedrals
Cool Ranch Flavor – Morning Glory
Lauren and a chilly Rose
Monkey Face

SMITHROCK-4Before I go back again, I need to work on my finger strength (so many finger pockets), work out my toes (so many tiny rock knobs to stand on) and pace myself better!! I think I climbed a bit too much on the second day and was a blobular mess for the rest of the trip.

It was great spending a few days with Natalie on her short trip through California and Oregon!! It was good to see her!! The group also got along so well.. new friends! Very exciting. It was also nice to spend time doing fun outdoorsy stuff with Lauren again! (He totally told me to write that)

Me, Natalie and Lauren

We decided that colourful tights were mandatory for this trip, which a lot of other climbers there enjoyed quite a bit. One guy took an instagram picture of us: #brightandtight

Andrew, Bengt & Me
Oh dear…

SMITHROCK-0We ended up eating really well throughout the trip (lots of lentils, rice, curries, spaghetti, gnocchi, vegetables, beans, etc) and keeping the trip pretty cost efficient, though we did make mandatory junk food stops at Jack In the Box, Five Guys (so many french fries and so many toppings!!), and Salt & Straw (the ice cream place that Kat and Scott recommended). Mmm.. consuming all the calories we burned on this trip. We also stopped by REI where I bought a new insulating layer because mine is ripped and way too small. Primaloft!

SMITHROCK-8It was a lovely way to finish off the semester. Will post more about everything else in another post!



It’s good to be back home.

I have been sorting out a lot of stuff that I put off while I was away. Things that I have sorted out: cell phone, place to live for the semester, laptop, jobs (x2!), and catching up with lots of people. I feel like I’ve done more than this…..

Still working on: scholarships, loan applications, NZ taxes, photo & laptop clean-up, move, stock up for the semester, buy textbooks… I’m sure there’s lots more.

I’m moving into a house with 4 other people. It’s a pretty nice house, so I am excited for that. I’ve only agreed to the semester at this point, but we’ll see what happens. I put a sign at the climbing gym and that’s how I met one of the roommates. Everyone is working full-time and is in their mid-twenties. I am quite happy that it’s on a top floor (that doesn’t smell like bacon) and seems pretty bright and warm. Studying in a basement suite seems sucko.

I have been working quite a bit at the climbing gym as a belayer. The pay sucks, and the shifts are short, but I’ve been meeting lots of nice people and I get free climbing on the days I work (noice!). Given the prices of climbing in Vancouver, this is good… I hope I can work up to be an instructor. It’s a pretty good place to work because it gets busy when school is out and is less busy when school is in (how convenient!). I can also choose how much I work. It’s been a bit hard finding partners to climb with on the days I work, but I’m sure as I meet more people it will become easier.

I also managed to get 1 full shift with PCRS, the non-profit I used to work for. They offered me a few more shifts but I was already busy those days. I signed up with them as an employee and I hope I can keep working odd days with them because that would work well with my schedule as well. A lot of the times too, it seems like if you’re covering desk it’s ok to do some reading (school work!).

I got to see my good friend Cassy a few times which was nice because she is just about to leave on HER adventure! It’s too bad our exchanges and trips are on totally different time frames because we only had a couple of weeks together in Vancouver, and she has already left for the beginning of her 8 month adventure. See you in August!!!

Did anyone notice that Jackie and I made the same holiday cards? hahahhahahaa oh the internet

a few goodbyes

The past week has been lots and lots of fun as Brendan was staying with us for the week before he flew out. It was nice having flatmates that wanted to climb/be active/cook great food/watch ski movies. I will be looking for similar flatmates when I am in Vancouver (who wants to be myyy roooommieeeee??)

Lauren belaying behind a native (?) bush at a post-work climbing session at Cattlestop crag:

IMG_0679I am going to miss that fella (Lauren has said this too). I wonder if he reads this? (hi brendan!!!) I met him in my first few days on the South Island as I was taking a bus from Christchurch to Nelson. We hung out intermittently while I was working on the orchard, for Christmas with Helenka, and then took two trips to Paynes Ford, one over New Years. We met up in February when him and his girlfriend Maureen were visiting Christchurch. Helenka also met up with both of them again when she returned to Nelson at the end of her trip.

But that wasn’t the end! As he was passing through Christchurch we met up with him again for a big Indian meal, and then we met up with him in Mt Cook while we were climbing. Then squeeze in a trip to Temple Basin to go touring and the climbing around Christchurch in his last week. It’s been great getting to know him and doing fun stuff, and I feel like when we see him again it will always be doing something awesome. See you in Chamonix!!!!!

Work at EY is finished which is a good change (6 weeks turned 13.5 weeks). I should work a bit more but have a few leads and still am keeping a couple of temp agencies hot. The plan is to go to Wanaka/Queenstown for the next week but the weather looks TERRIBLE!!! I was also planning on hut wardening in later October near Napier, but I realized yesterday that I have no way of getting to the trailhead from Napier. Oops. So much for planning ahead. EY was a lovely place to work and everyone was incredibly friendly. I look forward to meeting up with them soon, and hopefully I have convinced some of them to do working holidays in Canada.

Here are some pictures from Temple Basin. I had a pretty bad goggle tan line after that weekend.

IMG_0647 IMG_0649 IMG_0645And this is the group of climbers/audience that saw me ski into a hole. Whoops.


They are selling the house that we are living in in a couple of weeks so we have to move out (including our other flatmates). I think this is a good time to move on as well. Change is good! Lauren has been getting a lot of work through the health care temp agency with a pretty wide variety of clients. This week he did two night shifts, three day shifts, two short cleaning shifts and I might even be missing some. He crazy.

Hopefully it stops raining soon!!!! But meanwhile, here is a picture of a cool greenhouse:



This update is a while overdue.

For the past couple months, both Lauren and I have been contacted many times by other people asking if we are okay. The first one was the Canadian girl that got rescued off of Mt Rolleston while she was solo climbing. The second one was a British climber that fell quite far on a trip near Mt Cook. The third one was the Canadian couple that got swept away by the rock slide near Haast. And if you even want to be thorough, it went the other way around when I messaged everyone in Ottawa asking if they were okay after the bus/train crash last month.

Not last weekend but the weekend before, Lauren and I headed down to climb at a crag near Akaroa with our lovely Czech friend. Saturday we had beautiful day climbing filled with great routes, good fun and lots of wind. Sunday though, we took it quite easy as the weather wasn’t co-operating and none of us were in a rush. Our Czech friend ended up deciding to try a route, decided it was too challenging and decided to jump off onto his protection (all normal). Unfortunately two of his camming devices he put in popped out leaving too much slack in the rope (the rest of his protection and having someone belay now rendered moot) and he fell quite a large distance onto the ground straight onto his back.

I had my nose in the climbing guide at the time, and one minute he was climbing and the next minute on the ground. Yes, it was scary, but it really all happened so fast. Luckily we had cell phone coverage there and we could call the paramedics/rescue team right away, as we really thought that he had broken his back. They arrived quickly, gave him lots of drugs, winched him out and choppered him to the hospital in Christchurch. Amazingly, luckily, he is fine. He fractured some of his vertebrae but he will have 100% recovery 6 weeks after the fall. How he managed this, I am not quite sure.

I have been climbing in the past couple weeks, but both Lauren and I have noticed we have been triple-checking our safety each time. Our friend has over 20 years of climbing experience including using this gear which is definitely eye-widening. His equipment did not fail, he most likely just didn’t put the cams in correctly. If used correctly, these should hold the weight of a car. A falling car.

New Zealand is great for accident cover. Normal travel health insurance doesn’t cover high-risk activities (i.e. rock climbing) but ACC (in NZ) does for locals AND foreigners. Whether you are at work, in a car, at leisure, or fall off a cliff, they will pay for EVERYTHING. That is amazing, New Zealand. You rock!!! The amount you have to pay to go to the doctor here is not as painful when you know about how subsidized drugs are here and about ACC.

Phewf! Well that is over. I have some more blogging ready about more cheery subjects (like how I am done work for now, wee!)

cattlestop, gibraltar, sebastapol

Climbing! Climbing! Climbing!

These past two weekends have been filled with sport climbing, trad climbing, gym climbing, slab climbing, crack climbing, face climbing.. climbing climbing climbing! Thus, this post is going to be a bit climby heavy. I have included an infographic at the end in case this all sounds like rocket science. I also have a lot of pictures but I’ll have to upload them another time.

Last last weekend, Matt (American masters student at Canterbury), Lauren and I discovered that the seconds bakery we went to in the summer sells monstrous bags of slice for $2. It was awesome sharing it with everyone at Cattlestop Crag, though it may have led to my inability to complete a top rope on Shimmering Jelly (20, highly recommended). My belly felt like shimmering jelly. I’ll have to go back sans-slice (no way!). I also did my first ‘real’ trad climb on a 14 crack at Gibraltor Rock (Coup de Grace, 14). I may or may not have had a meltdown in the middle of the climb. You can ask some of Lauren’s friends if that happened or not.


Gibraltar Rock climbing,Jan 12th 2012 001

This past weekend we did an extended weekend near Mt Cook at Sebastapol Bluffs. I was planning on going there in the summer last year on the way from Queenstown to Christchurch but didn’t make it as the girl I was supposed to meet up with changed plans (needless to say I got to spend a couple more days with the crazy Germans/Austrians I travelled with and instead went towards Otago Peninsula & Dunedin, so that was fine too). It is known for it’s long/tall bolted slab climbs.

We had beautiful weather all 3 days. There wasn’t even a cloud in the sky. The first day we ran into Glen & Greg, who I climbed with last summer in Wanaka. The plan too is to go down to Wanaka towards the end of September to climb for a while again. We also met up with Craig one evening, who is down south ski touring. I travelled with him and Pia from Takaka to Wanaka. AND EVEN (!!!) we met up with Brendan, who I spent a lot of time with/travelled with around Nelson/Takaka. He’s been spending the past month being extremely hardcore (12 hour scree walk? no thanks) and ski touring up around the mountains near Mt Cook. We knew he’d be in the ‘area’, but it just so happened that he walked out the day before we got there. It’s too bad his feet hurt too much to climb.

Anyway, the climbing! We tried to hit lots of the recommended and highly recommended climbs. The first day we climbed on Red Wall: Red Arete (15, 4 pitches, 90m) and Shark Attack (17, 3 pitches, 87m) which are two of the most well-known climbs. It was a good introductory day.

Seb Bluffs

Red WallThe second day was a shorter day and we went to Kingfisher Slabs. There I led a Keep Left Arete (18, 35m) and Serias (20, 35m). Serias is the best lead I have done yet. I really love slab climbing and this was by far the hardest as it was really long and the holds were so small. I had to take a lot of breaks. We also walked up to the viewing point of the rapidly retreating (very muddy looking) Tasman Glacier.

KingfisherThe last day we climbed at Poo Pond Crag (named that as it is right behind the sewage ponds, haha!) where we climbed a funny arete called Scorpio’s Sting (16, 25m), The Snout (14, 22m) and Poo Pond Slab (16, 2 picthces, 50m). This area was very vegetated/mossy.

I’d love to go back to the area because it’s absolutely BEAUTIFUL. Not sure if it would be more rock climbing focused, but maybe more tramping/moutaineering/skiing focused. I want to go back.

Other then this, been up to the usual shenanigans. We had a charity bake-off at work last week for CureKids so (with Kat‘s suggestion) I made an oreo cookie dough cheesecake. Everyone LOVED it, it disappeared like wild fire and I won the cake category. It still gets mentioned once or twice a day. I think that’s why they keep extending my contract.

Oh! Monday I met up with Kevin who is my (fellow exchange student) friend John’s identical twin. John is from Iowa and goes to school in Colorado. That was really neat. I’m hoping to see Kevin & Cam again this weekend.


3 of 3 picture posts: charleston & punakaiki

I am pining for when I’ll get to go back to Charleston! Dry weather is rare on the west coast, so I’ll have to keep crossing my fingers.

The swell was big when we were there.

IMG_0547 IMG_0549 IMG_0554What happens when you stand too close to the swell:

IMG_0568Baby’s first trad climb!

IMG_0560In general, it was very nice there (except for the sand flies).

IMG_0562 IMG_0569 IMG_0565 IMG_0555And the Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki. We wanted to make pancakes AT pancake rocks, but couldn’t find any pancake mix on the west coast. How strange. Guess we’ll have to go back (to try whitebait as well!).

IMG_0571 IMG_0570 IMG_0572





mt hutt, okonomiyaki & charleston

As Kat mentioned, I have been attempting to master the office-weekday, outdoor-weekend routine! This past week was the first time since I left Fiji where I actually felt warm outside. The adventures are multiplying!

Last last week, I kicked off the weekend by dragging my coworker Andrew to the rock climbing gym with Lauren & Natalie. He said his arms were very sore afterwards. One thing I love about gym climbing is that you can do it with anyone! We also had delicious pizza at the Brewery (one was minced lamb with a yogurty sauce, and the other was blue cheese, meat and pear). I would like a stone oven in my house. Beside the food laminator (hehe).

Saturday involved treating ourselves at the market (duck eggs have massive yolks!!) and my friend Kota’s goodbye evening. We met at a bar and then went to a nearby asian restaurant. I had mapo tofu and it was SPICY!!!!!!! This restaurant is becoming quite a frequented place as it’s open really late and pretty cheap. And spicy. Then we went back to Karim’s house and tried many of Kota’s latest brewings (cherry, honey and passionfruit!) That was probably a bad idea. Sunday I went to Mt Hutt to go snowboarding! I had been warned that the ski fields here would be a bit disappointing, but I wanted to get out. The season has been very warm here and only one big dump of snow, so there snow machines have been working over time. I opted to board, and not ski, because it really doesn’t matter about the size or number of lifts because I spend half the time sliding down the hill on my face. I am a lot better at snowboarding now, and I didn’t fall off the charlift the entire day! I can go down blue runs, but only really slowly. I can connect about three turns and then I get too scared about how “fast” I am going. The snow was ok in the morning but got really yucky in the afternoon. That was okay though because I got really tired quite quickly.

I haven’t introduced Karim & Natalie yet – they let us stay at their house for a week when I first arrived in Christchurch 7 weeks ago. Natalie is a singer, and she’s awesome (and Australian-born). (some shameless promotion) She’s on the radio! (cool) This is a bit confusing because I also have a friend named Natalie, who is t at the uni. Karim is a school teacher and half-Kiwi, half-French. He’s a great cook.

The week was pretty regular, but I have to say I am climbing better than I ever have before! I’ve been doing better and better every week and I almost can do a pull-up (maybe I can now!! I haven’t tried in a couple weeks).

Thursday night, we had our last-last hoorah for Kota and Karim & Natalie made okonomiyaki, hijiki salad, a pickled vegetable to put on rice, and japanese coleslaw (except I forgot to try it because I was too busy stuffing my face). It was incredibly delicious!!! I am still dreaming about it, I think I may have to make it this week (time to buy another cabbage!). Then singer Natalie had a small gig, so we all went to that.

Theeeen this past weekend, Lauren and I decide evade the horrible weather in Christchurch and went to the west coast. (Easy peasy, narrow-New Zealand!) We packed the van with the destination of mind as sea cliffs in Charleston (just south of Westport). It was an absolutely beautiful area with the waves crashing against the rocks. You have to be careful though, don’t climb the rocks that are being crashed against! The swell was absolutely massive (3m!) so quite a bit of the climbing was off-limits and both of us, while belaying, got an ocean-shower by a rogue wave. You anchor yourself in at the bottom too so that if that did happen (unlikely) you won’t get washed away to sea. That’s not cool.

Lauren took a lot of time to teach me how to traditional climb (where you put in your own placements instead of clipping to bolts). It was easier and harder than expected. It made me think a lot. I successfully led a few climbs, the hardest one being an 11/5.4. In rock climbing language, this means flat. Here is an infographic where you can learn about climbing!


We also visited the pancake rocks in Punakaiki and watched the blowholes (where water gets pushed through tunnels and splooshes up in a geyser-like formation), and camped beachside each night.

I took a lot of pictures so hopefully I can post them up soon!