Denise Miller, a 36 year old school teacher in Forest Hill outside of Auburn, has been climbing for the past 9 years. A long time Sacramento Pipeworks climber, Millerâ€™s tenacity is well known in the climbing community. With a strong work ethic, Miller has successfully climbed many difficult rock climbs in California.
â€śFriends of mine thought Iâ€™d be interested in climbing,â€ť said Miller about her first time climbing at Sacramento Pipeworks. â€śI was hooked the first day I went. I thought of myself as pretty good at athletics. I got my butt kicked and got a membership.â€ť
Denise on Electric Chair (5.12d) at Jailhouse Photo by Ben Ditto
Miller and her husband, Rick have traveled abroad to Kalymnos in Greece but spend a significant amount of time at Jailhouse, the steep sport climbing crag in Sonora. Itâ€™s so athletic and challenging. Some of our best friends are there. It feels like home there.â€ť
Miller has become a permanent fixture at Jailhouse, climbing every weekend from September to June. â€śThe style of climbing is so unique even though itâ€™s beta intensive and hard to read. Itâ€™s really cool when you put something together.â€ť
Miller has dispatched a number of difficult 5.12s at the crag as well Cell Block 5.13- and Fugitive 5.13-. Miller has been trying Alcatraz, a classic 13b at Jailhouse involving technical refrigerator wrestling. Sheâ€™s progressed from hanging on every draw to two hangs on the route and solid redpoint burns. Denise likes projecting because of the mental aspects involved. â€śI like believing that you can do it- really pushing yourself and not knowing how far you can push yourself. Itâ€™s about overcoming all those mental challenges. Thereâ€™s a few tears shed here and there but itâ€™s great once you can link all the moves.â€ť
Denise working her summer project Warp Factor 5.13a at Star Wall Donner Summit Photo from the Denise Miller collection
â€śI visual the moves daily. Iâ€™m a lil obsessive but itâ€™s pretty fun,â€ť said Miller about projecting. â€śI donâ€™t climb for two days before going out there to make sure Iâ€™m not over training.â€ť Talking about the core strength needed at the steep crag and getting stronger, Miller said, â€śItâ€™s exciting to find a weakness because if you train it you climb so much better.â€ť
One of Millerâ€™s greatest strengths is her tenacity. Rock climbing is scary for many of us but Miller faces her fears well. She gets over her fears, â€śJust by taking falls, by facing phantom fears- the things I shouldnâ€™t be afraid of. The more I fall the more comfortable I get out there.â€ť
Miller has appeared in a recent issue of Rock and Ice, climbing Electric Chair a 5.12d at Jailhouse. Keep an eye out for her and her hard climbing husband at Sacramento Pipeworks and your local crag.
Tags: Ben Ditto, Denise Miller, Jailhouse, Sacramento Pipeworks
Past blog entries can be found at http://touchstoneclimbing.blogspot.com/