Friday, January 29, 2010

A guest post: Gender & climbing

Hi, my name is Kegan Allee and I'm a PhD student in Sociology at the University of California in Santa Barbara. My dissertation combines two great loves of mine: gender studies and climbing. I'm looking for female climbers to interview for my research. I'm trying to get as many different perspectives as possible with respect to experience, level of climbing, etc. I'm particularly interested in how women use their bodies and their perspectives on risk taking. The interviews, which have been lasting between 1-2 hours, have all been conducted in person so far, but I am open to doing phone interviews as well. I can drive to meet people as well. My goal is to produce scholarship that will be interesting to both the climbing community and the academic world, and which explores the similarities as well as differences between female and male climbers. Please feel free to send me an email (allee at umail dot ucsb dot edu) if you are interested in participating in my research or if you'd simply like more information about my project. Thanks in advance!

Note from the editor ... ahem ... Teri: I did my interview with Kegan this week, and it was fun and got me thinking about all sorts of interesting stuff! I highly recommend the experience, and I'm happy to discuss it if anyone has questions. I should point out that you may choose to remain anonymous (or have a pseudonym) in the reporting of the results, and that Kegan will run the transcript by you, to ensure it meets with your approval and that nothing you said has been misconstrued.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A day in JTree

Sunset Drama - Denouement
Originally uploaded by slampoud

D and I took off midday on Saturday and headed out to JTree, where Dima and Karen had grabbed the last available camping spot in Ryan. The sunset was mindblowing, the dinner amazing, and we got to use our dual Mountain Hardwear Cloud's Rest setup, which worked really well.

The gang
Originally uploaded by slampoud

The next day we got a midmorning start to Barker Dam, where I was hoping to get some time to work on Gunsmoke (having missed the opportunity during the #jtreetweetup). We enjoyed walking around and taking pics, and by the time we got to Gunsmoke there were a whole bunch of other people playing on it, so we picked a spot with some easier problems and clambered. The most memorable part for me was getting to work on the Chube, a V2 right-slanting crack. I have a pretty serious fear of being high off the ground unroped, so I avoid high boulder problems in general. Even without topping out (which I doubt I'm capable of, anyway), the Chube was higher than any outdoor problem I've worked. I really enjoyed the little bugger! I hadn't expected that.

Dima on the Eye 8
Originally uploaded by slampoud
When we got hungry, we headed back to the cars and ate, and then returned to the Intersection Rock parking lot to try our luck at the Eye (5.3). I led it, making three placements, with D on belay, and then Dima followed me. The Eye is a very dramatic-looking route, and, though it's an easy climb, it has many elements, like awkward moves and a little exposure, that make it exciting to a beginner.It was starting to get cold and blustery by the time we were done, so we called it a day for the outdoors and reconvened at Crossroads for some food.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Weekend fun at Echo

I've been trying to find some strong women to climb with, mostly because it's a form of climbing partnership I've never tried that I think would work well. So when the chance to head out to Echo Cliffs with Eileen (aka @rockgrrl), who designed the awesome bag I take to work every day, presented itself, I jumped on it. Ben and I had visited Echo last May, and it had been hot and oppressive. We'd ticked a few climbs in the Grotto and retreated. My friend Max, an excellent Italian climber, had raved about the place, but we hadn't had a chance to find the climbs he'd been raving about. In retrospect, they would have been in the sun, so it's just as well. Eileen, Kelly, Peter and I headed to the Java wall where we were joined by Matt. It was really crowded, but patience paid off and pretty soon we were nearly alone and enjoying ourselves. I followed Morning Glory (9) to get my head straight, then cruised Bushwhacked (8) and a B-line (10a). I was fascinated by Black Tide (9) on a black streak in a corner, and can't wait to go back and give it a go. It was a bit hot, and I was with new people so I didn't especially try to tick the maximum number of routes possible. Also Pete could use a ride back to Oxnard early, so I obliged. In any case, I can't wait to go back and jump on Black Tide, and maybe also work the 11s on the Java wall if someone can set the toprope. Eileen just posted a quick post with pics!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Request for Beta: Mt. Erasmus in Alberta, Canada

Mt. Erasmus
Originally uploaded by slampoud

Last fall I was in Banff for a conference, and then I took a couple days off and backpacked the trail to Glacier Lake. Just as you approach the lake, off to the right is this absolutely stunning mountain, which my map identified as Mt. Erasmus. It's really steep and seems to have all sorts of imposing dihedrals.

I'm going back to Banff in September 2011 and I thought that might be a good opportunity to try to climb the beast. So I've been searching for information, and, surprisingly, there's very very little to be found. My friend Alex helped me locate a reference to an ascent of the north face by Tom Thomas and Gil McCormick. There's is also a trip report on the Ayers/Oberlin route on, but we don't have the necessary membership to access it.

If you have a membership that could get us access to the above TR, or know anything about the mountain, or could put me in touch with someone who does, I would be very grateful! There are at least two very over-excited Southern Californians roaring to climb it!

Request for Beta: Thorn Point

Thorn Pt from Sespe Creek trail
Originally uploaded by slampoud

Alli and I recently went on a hike on the Sespe Creek trail, heading East from the Piedra Blanca trailhead. Since I have a new camera with a crazy zoom, I was able to satisfy my curiosity by taking close-ups of a crag Ben and I had noticed on that hike before. As seen from just past the trailhead, I believe that this is Thorn Point. It looks like a big white slab.

As you continue down the trail, though, its side becomes visible, and you can tell that the angle of the slab is quite low. Nevertheless, the stuff on the side of the slab, which in shadow in this second picture, looks like it might be tall enough to offer some climbing possibilities.

The map reveals that there is a fire watchtower at the top of Thorn Pt, and a ~3 mile trail takes you there from its back side. So I'm thinking I'll grab camping gear and scout it out, and, if it looks promising, come back and climb it some time. Does anyone have any information on the place?

Playing catchup on holiday posts -- Malibu Creek

I hadn't been to Malibu Creek since I was a beginner last year, so when my San Diego sport climbing buddies invited me, I was definitely game. As it turns out, the drive is only just over an hour long from SB, which makes it the closest quality crag to home. When I arrived at the park entrance, I stopped to pay the fee and stalled the car. Then I started driving away before getting my change back. On the 20 second drive to the parking lot I decided I probably wasn't in any kind of mental shape to be leading -- residual alcohol poisoning from New Year's Eve? Making the decision in advance helped keep the rest of the day enjoyable. My mentor from San Diego led everything and I seconded. We did a 9, an 8, a couple 10a's and a 10b. I was tempted to try the 11a on the Apes wall, but it was already getting dark by then. The next day my forearms were pretty pumped, which was new. I can't think of the last time I had sore forearms a whole day after climbing! In any case, I got my gym membership yesterday, so I'll work on remedying that.

Playing catchup on holiday posts -- Christmas

Christmas was unexpectedly awesome this year! Dan took 4 days off and we hit the Eastern Sierra. I was all for camping at the pinyon forest, but he doesn't have a winter down bag, and my 4 season tent is really a 1.5 person tent, which gets old if I run into real weather and have to not touch the walls. I have a plan for turning our 2-person 3-season into a 4-season, but in this case, we decided to be posh and get a room. After a bit of looking around, I decided we should stay at Tom's Place Lodge, halfway in-between Bishop (where my heart lives year round) and Mammoth, where Dan's interest in skiing was likely to be focused.

Dan wanted to get some skiing in. I, on the other hand, have never skied in my life. So I figured, we'd best get that out of the way and go on the first day. We headed up to Mammoth, rented skis, got lift tickets for three beginner slopes, and Dan taught me how to A-frame, make turns and all that good stuff. He started me out with poles, instead of without, which I'm told is the custom, and I think, in retrospect that was a mistake. When we tried a slope that was half a level of difficulty harder than the bunny hill before it, I got going too fast for comfort. Climber that I am, I figured I'd better fall. And fall I did, but I forgot one leg behind me and something on the back of my left knee (the one that messed up our trip to Bart Dome in summer? that one) popped. Nevermind. Got back up to try it again, same story. Fall I did, and this time my left wrist (the one that spent a few weeks in a brace over the summer? that one) got wrenched by the pole, which I tried to use to control my speed. At that point I decided I'd probably be paying for those two re-injuries for weeks, so it might be a good time to stop. Dan did a couple more runs and we called it a day, with me deciding that in skiing it's safer to keep going until you can slow down than to fall.

We had a great Christmas dinner and whole bunch more fun, which I won't go into details about. What does belong in a climbing blog, however, was the fact that I took us down the gully descent into Owen's River Gorge with snow and ice on the ground. We had no poles, and in retrospect, probably shouldn't have gone. It was quite slippery.

On our last day we decided to break up the driving a bit by stopping to climb at the Alabama Hills. We went to the corridors and did a couple really easy slab climbs on very very bad granite, and an arete 5.6 that I'd been warned was "spicy", but somehow hadn't registered the fact. It was a little worse than spicy, in my opinion. I'm pretty sure I've never had to take on a 6 before! In any case, it was a blast, and I'm stoked to have the "Bishop Area Rock climbs" guide book as a result!