Training and desert towers / by Mayan Smith-Gobat

Living in a true winter this year has made me realize how much I really do dislike the cold... It was snowy, with daytime temperatures well below freezing for almost a month straight. I struggled with short days, very little sunshine and it simply being too cold to go play outdoors. This made me realize how much I love and how much my general happiness depends on being outside in nature.  However, the positive aspect of this was that it really forced me to focus on training and spend time climbing at the gym, which I know is going to benefit me more in the long run... Yet, is hard to deal with at the time! My mobile home under Castleton Tower, Moab

I have been based in one place for about two months now - A record time for me in the last few years! Even though it has been difficult for me in many ways, I have actually really enjoyed being in one place and truly focusing all my energy on training. Now, without me realizing it, Grand Junction has actually become some form home for me... And with the days getting longer, spring on its way, and weather warming up enough to get out climbing a fair bit, I am actually really starting to enjoy being here. I just started my second training cycle and now that I have become a little more accustomed to it... I am realizing that I actually enjoy having this focus and structure in my life. My entire body is hurting more than ever before, but I love the pain and thrive off the challenge to push myself to my limit in every single training session... To make the most of the short time I have to dedicate myself to training - I want to learn and grow as much as I can in the next month, which makes every session a vital part of the whole.

Ahhh - Desert towers!

I am seeing large gains in my strength, power and explosive movement, which is motivating me to push even harder and to find a way to incorporate some blocks of structured training into my life several times each year. Also, with the weather improving slightly, I have finally been managing to explore the large variety of different crags around here... Limestone, granite and sandstone are all right within an hours drive. Exploring the desert, learning to jam in the splitter sandstone cracks and climb some desert towers were big parts of the reason I came to this part of the USA... Unfortunately it has been un unseasonably cold winter, so that did not happen at all until the last couple weeks. Now, I am trying to make up for it - Squeezing in as many days as I can!

Castleton Tower - The Ivory Tower is on the left skyline

Last week went down to Caastleton Tower to check out "The Ivory Tower" a relatively new route which takes a stunning line up a calcite coated arete. The day I went to climb it was freezing, so all I did was boulder all the moves on the crux pitch to see whether I want to invest time and energy into the route. Of course, the answer was "Yes" - It is one of the most beautiful lines with fantastic, technical yet at the same time kind of powerful face climbing. In a breathtaking location.

Looking up the stunning arete of the Ivory Tower

Also on another freezing adventure with Piz, we succeeded in doing a first ascent of a small, perfect finger crack... My first new route in the desert on sandstone. Now, I am making a brief transition into another world - I am on route to Beijing, China for the ISPO. Stay posted for some stories from China...