Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Lynn Hill & Katie Brown video

I watched this video on youtube and absolutely loved it! It's really cool to see Lynn Hill's particular style of mentorship, which is very much like my own towards younger women in my line of work.

This belongs to the Patagonia collection of climbing videos, which represent fantastic production value, in my opinion. More of them can be found here.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Lie detector is full of crap

This weekend Ben and I hit Mission Gorge and Mt. Woodson to take in the local cragging scene. At Mission Gorge we climbed close to Lunch rock, doing a 5.8 crack to the left of it (with a hilarious name which is now eluding me), and then moving to Lunch rock proper. I led Lunch rock left, then we toproped the crack that runs up its middle, then the arete and then Ben managed the face on the right hand side, while I only made it halfway up.

Yesterday we returned to Mt. Woodson to visit what's becoming a new obsession, the Robbins crack. It was initially occupied, so we sent a 5.8 off-width problem behind the painted boulder first. It was near there that I had an unexpected encounter with a very very large and very pissy rattlesnake. We returned to the Robbins crack, which Ben aided up. Then I toproped it cleanly all the way up, to my great surprise, and, of course, so did Ben. We threw the rope onto the other side, which features Lie detector, a crack that starts as 12b fingers (if that) and continues as a 10b fingers-to-hands. We aided past the 12b section and both toproped the top section. In the beginning of the top section the crack was chock full of bird or rat or something shit. It was really nasty, because it smelled, and there was absolutely no choice but to stick your fingers directly into it. I frankly found the whole climb really hard to do, because, after aiding up 15 feet, and sticking my fingers into shit, I just couldn't wait to get off the damn rock! We then moved up the trail a bit to the Baby Robbins crack, a 20 foot tall 5.9 thin hand crack. For whatever reason, I decided to lead the thing, this being not only my second trad lead ever, but also a grade up from any serious sport leads I'd done (excepting Malibu creek). The feet were really bad in the lower section, so I hung, thought about it, restarted it from the ground and eventually led the whole sucker. It wasn't led in great style, but it was a legitimately hard start, so I'm proud of it anyway. We wrapped up the day by free-soloing a couple very short 5.8 cracks around the corner from Baby Robbins.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


When you're in grade school, maybe even high school, you have that nightmare where you're naked in class. Then you get older and you think it's over, but you go to college and get the one about having registered for a class and then forgetting about it, and getting an F at the end of the quarter because you never showed up. Then you get even older and start climbing and as a follower you get the one about the stuck cam. Motherfucker won't come out! Then you start leading and you think, smooth sailing from now on! But no! Then you get the one about, I bought new cams but do they come with biners? Do we have enough biners?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

New toys

Excited about the upcoming trip to Indian Creek, UT, I went on ebay last night and ordered a set of 7 used rigid stem friends. Fingers crossed that they'll arrive before we leave for the trip.

In the meantime another couple highly anticipated pieces of gear have arrived: my Marmot cloudlight jacket, and my icebreaker 200 leggings. I've been wanting these for months!

Ben got a couple rigid friends on ebay as well, but, more importantly, he's managed to borrow what sounds like a veritable arsenal of cams. When I asked him how on earth we'd carry 500 lbs of gear to the cracks in IC, he replied something to the effect of that's why he loves me. Hah! He's got another thing coming!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Jtree and the first trad lead

Little do we know...
Originally uploaded by slampoud
This past weekend saw another successful JTree climbing expedition. We met at the park entrance on Thursday night and snagged the last camping spot at Ryan Campground, after finding Hidden Valley full.

On Friday morning we visited white lightning on the Hemingway buttress. This was a route we'd intended to do with Dima in the summer, but it had been mobbed then, so we had instead done Feltonean physics. This time we made it there before anyone else and Ben led right up. As we were coming down to toprope poodles are people too, two guys, one with a stereo playing Bob Marley in his pack, free-soloed white lightning behind us. Ben did fine on the poodles, but the crux defied me. Given time I would have gotten it, but I wanted to move on and also into the sun, because it was quite cold in the shade. So we moved on to mindless mound and got on Maggie's farm. We unanimously decided it was awkward. We got the rope stuck rapping down to the right of the route, but were planning to go up rainy day women, anyway, so we left it there. This was a straightforward route except for one spooky long move at the end. Anyway, we retrieved the rope and got off the mindless mound. In the future, I'd really like to do don't think twice, a beautiful 5.9 crack in a dihedral, with a little roof, to the right of the two routes we did. We called it a day after that, and gobbled the chili I'd brought from home back at the campground.

On Saturday we decided to head towards dappled mare, a 3-pitch route on Lost Horse Rock, that we'd heard was really high quality. But then we opted for a 5.7 alternative called the swift to the left of that. As it turns out, we did the first pitch of the swift, but then accidentally went left instead of right in the second pitch. That means we did the second pitch of altitude sickness. After that I claimed we should go left, but Ben, being in the lead, decided to go right. As it turns out, the route to the right was a 5.10a, which Ben aided up. When it came time to clean it I was cursing and hanging and trying to pull the dozen pieces he'd placed. The climbing moves were not that hard, but hanging off a tenuous left arm while trying to pull out gear with the right, and no feet... not so doable. Eventually I decided "fuck this rigid friend" and climbed up. I sent Ben down, only to find out that, "oh, that.... that's fixed gear, it's not mine". I swear, I could have dropped him right then! Anyway, he toproped that section and agreed the climbing wasn't that bad, but both leading and following it was a pain. The view from the top of Lost Horse Rock was absolutely stunning, so we hung out up there for a while. We then got to the base, took a short nap, and decided to visit an old nemesis of mine, music box at Belle campground. Ben led this cold, miserable crack in so much style! When my turn came I remembered why I hated it so much: the thing is completely off-every-limb-I-possess. I was camming my wrist and jamming my arm and trying to grovel up that bastard, but the rope ran under a cam so Ben couldn't take very well, and, well, I just gave up after falling a couple times. That crack is a fucker! Pissed as hell, back to dinner at the campsite and everything felt better.

On Sunday we decided to play around the jumble of rocks at the base of Headstone Rock near the campground. We first did the two short classic cracks on the Eastern side -- tall boulder problems really, just like finger food. While we were setting up toprope anchors for those, I accidentally dropped Ben's water bottle down a crevice to the left of the climbs. I was going to leave it there, but I had 5 minutes to spare, so I went hunting for it. After much grunting, dirt and mouse poop in the face I found not only Ben's, but also Ethan's water bottle, three BD bent-gate biners and an original Chouinard oval biner! Booty! Anyway, after enjoying those two cracks, we moved clockwise around the jumble to two more cracks and the face between them. After that we decided to have proper lunch for a change, instead of the power bars of the previous days, and, let me tell you, that made a huge difference! From now on I'm doing real food for lunch while climbing! After lunch we sent a 10 second wonder scoop-to-crack problem on the west face of the Headstone jumble, and then rambled on to the East towards several other rock outcroppings and the ruins of the Ryan ranch. After circling those to no avail we decided to head to some slabs to our south. When we got there we found a couple vertical but not very worthwhile cracks, and one big arcing traverse. I decided this would make a reasonable practice trad lead for me, since the climbing would not amount to much, thought the granite was granola, and the pro placements should be straightforward. So I borrowed Ben's rack, and I led that thing. It went well, and I belayed Ben up and we sat in the wind and setting sun and enjoyed the high of a big first for me. If that route doesn't already have a name, I think "solar ecliptic" would suit it.