On the Cover:
Alyse Dietel - An Op-Ed
The Super-Fast 12
Cover Date August 25th, 2015
Yes, you've seen that strong and beautiful climber on the cover of the venerated Rock and Ice magazine. We thought we'd let her share some personal thoughts with her fans through an Op-Ed piece with us, and then have her try out our special feature:
'The Super-Fast 12' so that you can get to know this amazing climber a little better.
Alyse Deitel - An Op-Ed
No Joke - Recovery Complete
"I have sent a few routes in my 14 years of climbing. I have conquered climbing plateaus and ascended to new grades. I have projected and despaired and overcome. But I have never felt what I did after sending No Joke, my first 5.13b. The day I saw No Joke, I saw a route way out of my league. I couldn’t do the first move, and laughed as I grabbed my draws and hung them on something easier. Still, the route compelled me. There was smooth flow, amazing movement, and small holds. Right up my alley. But it was a 13b, and at that time my proudest send was only 12c. I shrugged and tried to ignore the siren call of the route, but wistfully wished that I could actually give it a burn. That same evening, I hiked to the top of the crag and fell to the bottom, breaking my spine in two places, shattering my pelvis, snapping my tailbone, collapsing a lung, smashing a kidney and fracturing an ankle. The doctors weren’t sure I would ever walk again and I was wheelchair-bound for 5 months. I pushed myself every day in physical therapy and spent my free time trying to wiggle my toes. I was determined to climb again. I had a route to send.
Less than two years later, I was working the cruxes on No Joke. I was infatuated with the route, and saw sending it as a sign of fully overcoming my injury. My progress in climbing was like a very inconsistent ladder. In the beginning the rungs were very close together as I went from taking an hour to get up a 5.6 in the gym to leading 5.12s clean outside. I ran up the rungs, progressing quickly. Now the rungs were far and few between as I struggled on No Joke for months on end. I figured out my beta, waited for winter to thaw, and forgot my beta in the spring. It was a frustrating dance, a love-hate tango. Once the warm weather came in and No Joke was climbable again, I became obsessed. I dreamed of sending almost every night and drew beta maps in my notebook during class.
Every bit of free time I had I was in my classroom of rock, perfecting footwork and linking moves. The crux migrated up the wall as I fell higher and higher up the route. Finally, the crux was the last hard move on the route. The move involves cranking down on a 1/3 pad mono to a decent three-finger pocket then throwing, fully extended, to a jug. After you stick the jug, it’s over. I fell throwing to the jug three times. I was frustrated, discouraged, and just plain stressed out. It was starting to get cold again, and I was not about to wait for the weather again. So I changed up my mental game. I didn’t think about sending. I thought about the moves as I did them, not in desperation hoping I would stick, but in full appreciation of the movement itself. I danced, letting loose and just having fun while keeping my movements precise.
When I got to the mono, I didn’t hope frantically that I would stick the pocket. I assumed I would stick the pocket and instead thought about the delicate footwork necessary for sticking the jug. I thought of it as nothing, and it became nothing. I was a little pumped but nothing drastic. I was breathing hard, but steadily. My feet were exact. I stuck the jug. Barely. It’s a full extension for me and I was hanging on by my fingertips. I stayed calm, kept breathing, and pulled through the rest to the top.As I pulled through the last twenty feet to the top, things started to fall away. I grabbed a good pinch, and the pain of physical therapy seemed trite. My feet found a huge ledge, and the terror I felt while falling seemed far, far away. Curling my fingers around the third jug from the top, the sleepless nights spent relearning to walk seemed like a drop in the ocean. Clipping the chains, I felt weightless. Refreshed. New. I was reborn."
“Ah yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it, or you can learn from it.” – Rafiki, The Lion King
'The Super-Fast 12'
This feature asks our guest 12 questions that they have to answer, you guessed it: super-fast!
1. Your age when you first started climbing.
Alyse: I started climbing at age seven when my parents got sick of finding me in trees.
2. Route name, grade of first send.
Alyse: My first memorable send was at Pinnacles National Park, I was 11 years old and the route was P.O.D. (What that stands for entirely depends on who you ask.) 11d. It was memorable because I was the only girl in the group and I was the only one who sent.
3. Favorite climbers, name of your first climbing instructor.
Alyse: My three coaches when I competed were Albert Nugue, Ryan Wooley, and Jess McCauley. My climbing idols (other than my amazing coaches) were, Lynn hill, Beth Rodden, and Sasha DiGiulian, who I competed with but still looked up to. As you can probably tell, I'm into girl power!
4. 3 things you never go climbing without and if you weren't a climber, what would you have been?
Alyse: I never go climbing without Benadryl, an extra hair tie, and a couple packs of Justin's peanut butter and honey spread. If I wasn't a climber, I'd probably have been a downhill mountain biker like my dad.
5. All-time-favorite place to climb in the world.
Alyse: I haven't made it out of the country yet, but right now my climbing area of choice is Sedona, AZ. And I'm lucky enough to have it right in my backyard.
6. Favorite food? Tea or coffee person?
Alyse: I could probably live off sushi and iced Bhakti chai. No wait. I definitely could.
7. What kind of tunes are you rocking to these days?
Alyse: I listen to a bunch of genres that all connect to rock. I like classics like Rush and the Doobie Brothers, but also anything from Blink 182 to the Black Keys.
8. Are we doing enough on protecting our delicate environment?
Alyse: In my opinion, we won't be doing enough for the environment until we all live in tree houses and get ticketed for not riding our bikes on a beautiful day. We're doing some little things right, but that's not nearly enough.
9. Night owl or morning person?
Alyse: I'm in that phase in between night owl and morning person where I'm steadily making the transition to morning person. I try to be a morning person, but I'm sure my boyfriend will tell you that I'm not!
10. Favorite climbing movie (or any movie)?
Alyse: My favorite movie is probably "O Brother Where Art Thou". Or "Snatch". Or the original "Alien". I prefer books though.
11. What gift has climbing given to you emotionally? (You were born to climb, that's why we're asking.)
Alyse: Climbing has allowed me to push myself while accepting my limits. To try hard but also to be humbled. To accept failure and learn from it. This is always a hard life lesson, and I'm grateful to have learned it through climbing.
12. Any advice you can share with younger fans about climbing.
Alyse: For my younger fans: if you're not having fun, don't do it. People will tell you it's about the grade and sending hard. It's not. It's about being outside, respecting the great outdoors, and having fun.
Also, refusing a helmet or a knot check doesn't make you "cool", it makes you dead. Try to ignore your ego, and be safe and have fun!
Op-Ed © Alyse Dietel
Images © James Harnois