Saturday, February 16, 2013

Catching up with photos

Well, I haven't climbed outside much lately.  But "not much" is not "none," so I'll try to catch you up.  

This is me at the top of Seneca Rocks in roughly 08.   

This is me (and Kerry's shoulder, I think), someplace high up.

And this is me on a route I have no business on, in Linville Gorge.  My brother & I hired a wonderful guide (at Footsloggers in Boone) & had a fantastic day. 

Sunday, March 23, 2008

the outdoor physical challenge town

There are towns where almost everyone you work with is like this: they have the Bachelors of Something -- they prefer business -- and in most cases they have or are working on the Masters of Something -- MBA, ditto. Their current job meets their criteria for their current stage or they're looking for something else; the type of car is crucial; and the serious relationship; upcoming are spouse and kids; and after that all one's goals transfer on to the unsuspecting shoulders of said tot, who grows as fate, his parents' teaching and genetics determine. These people do that 'digging the rows their parents plowed' thing, and their purpose seems primarily to be to populate the planet.

That's the entire Midwest in a nutshell.

In a few rare cities, your coworkers have forgotten all of their evolutionary purpose and are instead hoping to try a new drug or sex with a new person (or maybe a new TYPE of person), or to write a play, poem, novel, performance art piece. This type of place doesn't exist just to shock the baby-makers (or to define evil) in the rest of the country: the real idea, from my perspective, is to experience life and leave a more personal mark on it.

That describes Brooklyn & Leipzig to me.


There is another kind of place. I must have known this type of place existed but it seemed kind of ridiculous until recently: the Outdoor Physical Challenge Town. Everyone here wants to bust out of the office and test his or her body against the forces of nature.

In my town there is a small group of people like this, and they hang together. You don't see them at mass, or at the parent-teacher meetings, and on holidays they're at off in the woods.

In Denver, it's almost everybody. Everywhere you look there's some wack hairy dude with five panniers racked to a fixed gear bicycle, pedaling casually uphill, three quarters of the way up a mountainside or on the edge of a freeway, or a skinny half-naked woman climbing rope-free up a seven-pitch crack in full view of a class field trip, or carrying skis up a tree-infested cliff just to try to wend back down on them without dying.

I am not sure why this sort of place exists.

Okay, that sounds hypocritical as hell, plus I'm guessing about my explanations of the attitudes in other sorts of places as well, but my guesses there at least don't suck. Adventure City? Why...? Is it just some strain of contagious testosterone poisoning?

I could try to explain why I// love to climb, but I'm not entirely sure myself, and anyway even if I could say exactly why I do it, that doesn't explain why a whole city would have what is essentially an irrational urge.

The only thing I can think is that that it's the view. I'm thinking other people's behavior might be somewhat different if out of their office windows were a towering naked cliffline instead of a row of hopefully-closed curtains in the Marriott Hotel. To paraphrase Mallory very badly, it could be that we climb the mountains because they taunt us. "I am here," they demand with a defiant finger toward the sky. And we listen, because the mountains' grasp on being is firmer than ours. I mean, rock fall might tear off a mountain's digit here or there, but 10 thousand years from now, Hallett Peak will probably still be proudly, silently dicking with the minds of whatever creatures live nearby. But we little humans? Where will we be?

It could be that people who have to look at the mountains everyday feel compelled to go to the them in order to attempt to share in that more permanent type of existence. To rub up against it. Call it a religious experience if you like, a la Mohammad and Moses, but it feels more like a dare to me. We pit ourselves against the mountain. If we survive, we prove for the time being that we deserve to exist. That we have as much right to be here as the jagged rockpile we came safely off of. It's a temporary sort of proof, and failing to get it is disastrous, but I have felt that way myself.

How weird.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Tonya took me! This is Tonya resting on the hike up.
And this is me. The approach involves crossing the Red River on foot -- and I don't mean by balancing on an enormous dead tree -- and then slogging up a soft, muddy, steep hillside covered in leaves. Tonya brought wading sandals, but I just soaked my sneaks right through. We were obviously too excited about the climbing to be upset by the lack of a trail. But it does surprise me that public parks would be so poorly taken care of when Muir Valley, which is private, has some of the best trails around. Hm.
This is us after our first ascent of Diamond in the Crack. I was too scared to lead at first, so Tonya had gotten the rope here for us.
...but after Tonya convinced me that it wasn't too difficult or scary (and we ate sammiches at the top, ogled the view & wrote in the log), I led the second pitch and then the first. It was terrific.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

summary of july until now

my cat is snoring on his bed/scratching post. i think he has sleep apnea.

so i forgot my camera on a few climbing trips, lost my camera on a Dip Wall (RRG)trip, went to Colorado with an iPhone & two disposables, came home, climbed either with no camera or with the iPhone, and finally bought a new camera. but the real issue is that i am a captioner more than a blogger, and picasa is meeting all my needs right now.
Here is my public page on Picasa.

besides Dip Wall, i have been to the Motherlode to watch the Roc Trip comp (yay, Dave Graham), to Pebble Beach, Muscle Beach, the Wall of Denial, Left Field at Prendergass Murray and Muir Valley.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

July 1st, Fun at Fortess

So I missed a key event. I caught a cold and while I was down with it, Alice had her first lead. TRAD. Bill took her to Tower Rock where she led a 5.3 on gear.

When I heard about her lead (and the epic that was Caver's Route) I was amazed, and asked Alice when she learned to place gear. She asked me what I thought she had been doing all this time and pointed out that she has been cleaning our placements for a long time. Pulling them out is the inverse motion of putting them in. Point taken!

Thinking that Alice might want be able to lead a 5.4, we went to Fortress. American Crack is a 5.4.

A scary, old fashioned, sadistic 5.4. I led it again that day. By modern standards it is at least a 5.6, and unlike other easy trad climbs, it has bits which you can't turn into a face climb, no matter how much you hate tearing your skin off in a crack. So Eric convinced Alice to wait on her first "5.4" lead. But she at least got to practice placing on it. And there she was thinking about it...

Bill was amazed, but a little mad that she didn't lead.

I practiced placing a big bro here.
I failed to follow Bombs Bursting the first time I tried. There's a bit where your hands disappear and it's jam or stem with the feet. I refused to jam (center of gravity issues) and couldn't get anywhere near that overhang.

But damn. Isn't that rock amazing?

Eric showed us how it was done. Then Alice did it too, laying back the difficult bits like a she-man.

Then, out of sheer humiliation, I got it clean. Meanwhile, Bill (my hero) led BLUE RUNNER, which has to be one of the best routes at the RRG.
Okay, I have only climbed on the order of 50 routes at the Red, but I'm guessing that if I could climb all the thousands there are, Blue Runner might still be my favorite. Here is Alice following it. She didn't realize at first how difficult it was going to be, but she had committed to cleaning and I was a rubber girl after following it (just before she did), so she pushed on through. She rocks.

And this is the all-important gear sort.

June 17th, Pebble Beach

I led Arrowhead for the first time! There were a couple of nerve-wracking sections where I couldn't stop for placements, and one bit where the horizontals just didn't offer anything worthwhile, but in all it wasn't too bad. It has a top out, but I couldn't belay from above the anchor, so I set up a hanging belay just to be cool. Here I am belaying Eric. I think the crooked helmet is an especially nifty touch. Rakish, eh?

Eric & I had both led Razorback before, but he decided to do it again. Here he is thinking about putting in his first piece. (Bad ass.) He put two more in, got tangled in rhodos and fell. I looked up when he said "Shit!" and saw him fall at least 12 feet onto that last cam. All his placements held (phew!) but he twisted his ankle when he came in contact with the rock.

Here he is with an icy nalgene treatment.
And this is me, looking wanton with the nut tool in my mouth. (Actually, I was trying to extract the cam that Eric fell on. Bill had to finish extracting it for me.)

Sunday, June 10, 2007

yosemite follow-up

Here is a close-up of one of the shrubby things that I thought were so odd. My sister says they are called Manzanitas, which means 'little apples' in Spanish. I saw no evidence of apples anywhere near these babies, but it is only June. And check out that beautiful bark.

Stacey (and others?) thought the pic I had of me with my tongue sticking out was ugly, so I counter-balance now with the one Mary says should be on You be the judge.
Did I mention that I hiked up this little hallway? Look at how precariously the roof -- the Boulder of Atlas? -- is perched. I understand the concept of tricams and all, but damn. Scares me to look at it.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

not climbing in yosemite

i visit california about once a year, but never with climbing people. people occasionally ask me about yosemite, but i never saw the point of going before. i figured it was a long drive to someplace i wasn't good enough to climb and didn't have a partner for anyway -- plus there are already conflicting demands on my time while i'm in california.

this year, somehow, a new climber-friend got me thinking about going. he thought i was good enough to climb there, and told me that lots of folks would be looking for a partner.

i don't get excited about the idea of climbing with a stranger, and in this case i was likely to be the less valuable climber of the pair in terms of gear (wasn't bringing any) and ability.

but then i thought, 'do i have to climb to enjoy it? wouldn't it be awesome just to see it?'

it was.

that's camp four. i was in awe of camp 4. dirty but serious climbers everywhere.
i think those are bridalveil falls. whoa. god lives at yosemite.
i scrambled around the giant boulders where i'm sitting. so i did at least get to put my rock shoes on!

i kept seeing these thingies. the wood is smooth and reddish -- we do NOT have them in ohio.

i stalked some craggers and saw a few routes. how'd you like to stick body parts in that?