PG Sunnyvale strongwoman/marketing maven/knee-bar aficionado, Stephanie Ko Pound, puts to rest the venerable dessert debate and tells us all how to climb 5.14. Plus, check out this awesome trailer Dead Point Magazine’s Anthony Lapomardo put together, in which she discusses a topic we all struggle with – self doubt. You can check out the full feature on Dead Point Magazine’s Stash – a subscription based collection of videos.
Tell us a little about your experience on The Juice (5.14a) at the notoriously hard Jailhouse. What was your process for this route?
Over the last few years, I’ve worked my way through the one-pitch classics at Jailhouse. I started working The Juice in the fall, not expecting to even have a chance at sending it before the rain hit. Luckily for me, we have had the driest season ever!
When I first attempted it, I wasn’t sure I wanted to give it another go. While it has great knee-bar rests, the moves in between are really big and require a lot of core tension, neither of which are my style. This was the first route that I’ve tried where I couldn’t do the moves between bolts my first time up (or even second or third!).
While I am working a route, I don’t alter my “training” in any way. I just keep climbing during the week and try to head out to my project as often as possible. Once I start one hanging the route, however, I focus on hitting my peak performance that day. Typically, that means 2 days of rest prior to climbing, eating a solid breakfast, and unfortunately, reducing my sugar intake.
What does your week usually look like during the typical climbing season?
I climb 3 times a week. Twice in the weekday mornings: bouldering on one day to maintain power and routes on the other. My weekday route climbing is a bit more regimented – I climb in sets to maintain endurance. I climb 3-4 sets of 3 climbs at a time. The weekends are for getting outside, or if it’s not possible, then having a long session inside.
For those of us who aren’t down there regularly, what’s the scene like at the Sunnyvale gym?
The scene is great – it’s one of the many things that drew me into the gym here. Everyone is psyched and super friendly, regardless of the grade they are working. I love that. Plus there is a very dedicated Tuesday/Thursday bouldering crew – and while I’m not often able to join them, when I can, it’s always a ton of fun!
How do you balance overseeing a gym with finding time to climb?
The key is planning and organization – and flexible climbing partners. I work out in the morning because it’s much simpler to squeeze in a fast workout early in the day. I’m also very lucky to have two very dedicated partners who also have flexible schedules. We usually have a scheduled time to meet, but if something comes up and I need to switch my day, they can easily accommodate.
I’ve bouldered with you in the Valley a couple times so I know you climb more than just routes. How do you balance the two disciplines and has it shifted throughout the years?
I initially started as a boulderer, but always dreamed of sport climbing. About 4 years ago I injured my left shoulder – an overuse injury from climbing too much without enough rest. I went through 7 months of physical therapy and started back on really easy routes with no dynamic movement to my left hand. It took about 2 years to gain my full strength back, and it still tires more easily than my right side. This was the main driving force for switching to routes – though admittedly, I have always dreamed of being a route climber, even as a boulderer. During my recovery, I took up trad climbing and toured around many of the short one-pitch classics in our area. I can’t say that I excel at it – but I definitely dream of doing some of the classic Valley climbs some day! Now, I combine the two. Bouldering keeps my power up, but my heart definitely stays with routes.
What were the highlights of the 2011 season and what are your goals for 2012?
In spring 2011, a girlfriend and I traveled to Indian Creek, which was a blast! We were there before the season really started – so think freezing cold nights and only climbing in the sun – but it enabled us to project the more popular climbs. It was my first trad-climbing trip and it was amazing! That summer, my husband and I went to Maple Canyon for two weeks. Typically, I am hesitant to try 5.13s on a short road trip, but I set a goal that this time I would. I ended up sending 3 on that trip! Then in the fall, we headed over to the Red River Gorge, a place I always wish I had more time to visit. Usually, I only have about 5 climbing days when I go there. My goal for that trip was to try to send 5.13 in a day. I was pretty psyched that I was getting past the last bolt on nearly every one I tried on my second go. Finally, on one very cold day I did my first 5.13 in a day, in the snow!.
As for 2012 – I’d like to finish Big House, my most recent project at Jailhouse. I’d also like to try some of the classic extensions there. Also on the radar are a bouldering trip and some long Tuolumne routes this summer!
Finally, cake or pie?
Stephanie recently turned the reins of PG Sunnyvale over to the capable and handsome, Mike Abell. She now heads up all things marketing at Planet Granite. Special thanks to PG SF’s Jason Crase for this interview!