You’ve seen her at the gym, at a local crag and maybe even frolicking through the mountains with her little dog too. Get to know our girl crush, Andrea “Dre” Arends in our August Member Spotlight!
How did it all begin? What’s your story?
I grew up in Antioch and come from a small family. I also went to college locally at Los Medanos where I received my Registered Nursing degree. I’ve been working at John Muir Medical Center as a RN for six years now and specialize in the care of patients with heart problems that require monitoring. I’m certified to care for those who suffer from strokes. I’m currently back in school pursuing my Bachelors of Science in Nursing and I will be graduating in February 2016. WOO HOO!
How did you first discover climbing?
In 2009 I was taken to DRG on a date, I suppose you could say that’s when I had my first exposure to climbing. In 2012 I had been going to many other gyms, where I was training for figure competitions. After that lifestyle became less appealing to me, I went back to DRG and became a member.
When did you first join the DRG family?
I feel like I became part of the DRG family as soon as I walked through the doors and joined; I was home at last! It seems strange that it took me so long to find “my people.” I’d never much been into the traditional gym scene and was always much more about being outdoors.
How do you find the time to keep climbing?
I am taking full advantage of this time in my life as I am not married and don’t have kids. Unless you count my dog Bear who requires minimal looking after, as so many gym members gladly take him on when he comes around. In addition I’m fortunate to have a flexible career and work schedule that allows me to work hard and play harder.
When it comes to dedication, it’s not hard to do something that I love. It’s so encouraging above all and so rewarding to see and feel the advancements and improvement in my abilities as time goes on.
How do you train for your big climbing projects?
Having friends that climb that are strong, experienced and knowledgeable about safety is really helpful when it comes to training for projects. I like to learn as much as I can for those “what if” scenarios. My classic move is to invite myself to climb outside with people I trust. It’s in those moments that I absorb the most understanding of the foundations. For me personally, I feel strength can be easily worked on in my own time, but experience must be obtained by getting out with those around me who are willing to teach me.
In strength training I just try to stay consistent with my indoor climbing. I find it’s most convenient to train in the gym by leading hard things in a controlled environment. However, getting outside to the local crags and roughing up my hands is always helpful too.
There are also so many DRG classes that help me with my strength, but my favorite is Kate Douglas’s yoga class. I find those head games on the wall are strong and without breathing, grounding and true focus, I am ruined for those scary moves.
What’s your most memorable climbing experience?
I think still to this day, it was climbing in Tahoe at Lovers Leap on the classic route “The Line.” The Line, at the time, was the most exposed route I had ever been on, and had no idea what I was getting myself into. I was a follower in a party of three, and my leader, a very strong climber, was very sketched out, which did not make me very confident. I had never fallen before on trad gear, and, while I was basically on top rope, I still wasn’t thrilled on the idea. I had heard plenty of horror stories about gear failing!
Anyway, I took a fall, ending up 10 feet off the ground, and was thinking, “How will I ever finish this? What if I can’t get through a section? Will I strand my partners?” The insecurities poured out. Then my leader looked down at me and yelled, “Well, the anchor is good!” Haha, what a jerk! Needless to say, I didn’t fall again. It was an awesome climb and we all topped out ecstatic and loving every second of our victory.
Who do you share your psych with?
Such a wonderful family of DRG and Touchstone members, I know I share my psych with all of them. However the first creature I must mention who is always down to adventure is my ultimate partner in crime, my little nugget and fur-baby, Bear. Don’t let his curly tail and luxurious coat fool you! He may be vertically challenged but he has his own impressive personal records. His best altitude is currently at 12,500 feet and best round-trip hiking in a day at 16 miles. He’s the strongest boulderer/rock hopper I know on four legs, and we push his limits on every new adventure we go on. Also just like most dogs, he’s a wonderful companion, and I love him to pieces!
Flipping over to the human side, my climbing partner Kendall is my main “get psyched” chic! From everything to training hard in and out of the gym, to backcountry impromptu dance and singing parties dressed up in the most ridiculous outfits. I can’t complain!
What else do you like to do when not climbing?
I love to travel with Bear to different places that I can explore and adventure at. I especially love backpacking out into the wilderness in search of beautiful views and the perfect swimming holes. Did I mention I love eating wonderful foods, ALL the wonderful food!?
What might people not know about you?
I am a third generation Sicilian and was named after my grandfather, who is of course named Andrea (but with that Italian twist on it, where you roll your tongue lol). He grew up in the town Montelepre, from the province of Palermo, Sicily, Italy. No we are not gangsters, unless food hustling counts.
If you could do anything in the world, you would…?
This is a tough question, too many variables…I think…I would fly…like a bird, minus all the feathers…that would look weird.
What’s next for you (in climbing/ in life)?
I plan to do lots of altitude training to prep for more peak bagging and conquering as many 14ers as my little brain can handle. In climbing, I plan to keep getting out to new places on new rock. Also I’m working on training to lead climb trad routes. Speaking of, anyone want to take me out to learn more!? With travel climbing, I plan to get out to Colorado and plan to return to climb more in Utah and Vegas. I also would love to travel back to Thailand and Squamish, British Columbia to climb out there too.
Any advice for new climbers looking to expand their climbing horizons?
Do your homework, learn as much as you can about safety, ask lots of questions, and don’t be embarrassed to be extra safe. With that in mind WEAR YOUR BRAIN BUCKET! It won’t matter how pretty your hair is if a rock pummels you! Learn crag and climbing etiquette and respect the crags! Don’t climb with your ego leading the way.
Make friends, I’ve made some of my best friends by inviting myself to climb with them, which I find I still do all the time. Get outside and climb as much as you can. Trust your feet, and trust your partner can catch you if you fall! So maybe first start with a partner you trust! After you find them, practice taking falls in the gym, because the day will come that you will need to be prepared to do it outside.
DO HARD THINGS, whoot!
Anything else you would like to add?
Keep it classy DRG!