Steph Davis on Freerider
First of all, congratulations on the ascent, Steph. I guess you find it your best ascent in the Valley to date…
I get excited about every climb I work towards, and this was definitely the biggest one for me in Yosemite so far.
Let's talk about your training for the route. You went for 50-kilometer runs in preparation for this climb. I know Lynn Hill also ran long distances when preparing to free climb The Nose in a day. Do you think running such long distances can really be a good activity for climbers, or do you treat it a bit like a different discipline?
I love trail running, and at times my motivation is stronger for running than for climbing. Running feels so pure, just a pair of shoes and my dog. Because I am just a recreational runner, it is an escape from things like ratings, comparisons, achievements, etc. Having tasted it a little, I realize how incredibly demanding ultrarunning is, and I really admire people who run huge distances. In general, it's hard to put the two things together, because running makes it difficult to climb at my top ability. Usually I have to do shorter runs when I am climbing a lot, for example, an hour and a half on trails, three days a week.
In the article on the Freerider ascent you mentioned yoga twice. Practising yoga seems to be very important for you and Dean...
I started learning yoga about two years ago. At about the same time, I became a vegan (don't eat any animal products, or refined sugar). Physically and spiritually, these two practices have changed my life, and brought my climbing and running to another level.
Your Freerider story says that when preparing for the climb you concentrated on two quite different traning activities: running, which was already mentioned, and bouldering. What is your bouldering level? Do you ever take it seriously or do you treat it only as training? How hard problems do you do?
When Dean and I were much younger, before bouldering became as popular as it is today, we spent our winters living in Hueco Tanks. We were really fanatic about it, and focused a lot of energy on bouldering. Then we started going to Patagonia in the winters, and got more passionate about the mountains. In my early twenties, I was bouldering V8, which was a respectable level at the time. Since then, I still really love bouldering, but have not gone through a really intense period of it as in the past. I tend to shy away from things that are "trendy", and I have to admit that the huge popularity of bouldering has made me less motivated for it than I used to be!