Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Pregnant ... with project

At the canyon by slampoud
At the canyon, a photo by slampoud on Flickr.
“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds; Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be. “
– Patanjali (borrowed from Mayan Smith Gobat's blog)

So heart-full, and so much to catch up on, and how to put it in words?

A bit over a year ago a clock started ticking. I think of it as somewhat equivalent to some women's "biological clock": insistent, persistent, looming large. In my case the yearning was, simply, for a place of my own. And not just to own it, but to *own* it, to know every molecule, preferably to have been responsible for the location of most of the molecules! I am very fortunate to have a beautiful rented roof over my head, and my dream sailboat as my woman-cave. But I gluttonously craved a bit of outside, a dry spot under a big rock, a gazebo, a dilapidated cabin, a big hearty tree, *someplace* on dry land to call my own.

After about a year of searching, waiting, and hand-wringing, I finally took the leap. That's the spot in the photo. I knew it was the place the minute -- near sundown, in late winter -- I stepped out of the car and inhaled the view. My citicard's unreasonably high credit limit, and post-holiday 0% financing ("to pay for Christmas indiscretions") did the rest.

So this is my new obsession: a bit of dirt, and what to do with it. I've decided to build a "cabin" (a shed, really), and I've spent the last three weeks or so obsessing full time (though I've been obsessing part time since I bought the land).

So I know this blog is usually about climbing, but I think building a shed (close to one of the world's best climbing locations, the Needles, to boot) is also well within the "little did I know..." class of things for me. So in the next few days I'll be sharing some thoughts about how I picked the location (e.g. climbing considerations!), how I've been going about getting from 0 to 60 on the subject of sheds and building (with links), and other stuff along this vein.

And before I forget, an attribution for the quote: I was reading Mayan Smith Gobat's blog this morning, and she had this (and another quote by Leo Buscaglia, a favorite of mine!) on her "philosophy" page. It suits me very much at the moment!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Sherman Peak

Huckles on Sherman Peak by slampoud
Huckles on Sherman Peak, a photo by slampoud on Flickr.
This past weekend my goal was to spend some time hiking with my pooch, and to do it at altitude, so as to acclimate for an upcoming (I hope) high altitude ascent project a friend and I have in the works (wink wink!). Indeed Hucks and I made it up Sherman Peak, which is 9909 ft tall, via the 5 mile r.t., ~1000 ft elevation gain trail from Sherman Pass Rd. The trailhead was full of mountain bikers, so for a moment I was terrified it would be a very unpleasant experience, but they went downhill and we headed uphill and it all worked out! A big question in my mind was whether dogs feel altitude the same way humans do, and I think the answer is: yes. Huckles slowed down considerably as we progressed on the trail. I was huffing and puffing very badly myself. So now I have to think about acclimating the dog as well as myself for any future shenanigans.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Dome Rock & Kernville Slab

This past weekend my friend Jason, who now lives in the Bay area, and I were planning to spend some time plugging in gear. The original plan was to spend a day running up and down Tree Route on Dome Rock, then go down to Voodoo Dome and do Summer Sojourn, then further down to Kern Slab.

We met on Friday night at Quaking Aspen campground, which I'd always bypassed in years before. It turns out that campground is absolutely beautiful, and a great meeting spot if someone in the party has never been up in the Needles area before, and is arriving in the middle of the night.

The next morning we headed out to Dome Rock. I first led Tree Route, which is really as much fun as you can have at the 5.6 grade. We dilly dallied a bit on top, and then headed back down so that Jason could lead it, for his first trad lead. Unfortunately there was a slow party up ahead, who'd gotten some gear stuck at the first belay and were refusing to let it go, so we couldn't leave the ground. Eventually I yelled up at them that we'd bring their gear to them, if only they'd get going and let us climb! While hanging out at the base we met another party who started up right behind us and did Anti-Jello crack to our left, as Jason led Tree Route. He had no problems with the leading, except that the slab on the last pitch turned him off, so I finished that one.

We left for the low road around 4, I think, but when we got to about 5 miles before Needlerock creek, there was a sign on the road and a ranger in a truck, saying the road was closed due to a fire a few miles down. They could at least have put up a sign at Johnsondale, so we didn't have to drive the 15 windy miles to the road block!

At that point my mind was fried for dealing with logistics, so we headed down to my favorite brewing company in Kernville, for burgers, beer and internet access. We threw around a bunch of ideas -- Crystal Crag, Cathedral Peak -- but coming on the heels of driving to San Diego and back in a day, and the detour of Friday night (I-5 was closed), I was not really up for much more driving. We decided to bivy under Kern slab, and revisit the issue in the morning.

In the morning, since the slab was right there, and in shade, to boot, we decided to head up. I led the Lieback, which I'd followed twice before, but never led, with one take to rest up and make sure I don't blow the crux. It was one of the coolest leads I've done, even if, technically, it's the lowest rated one. That is the most ridiculous sandbag in the world! At the top of the Lieback we went right, and Jason led a little hand traverse + chimney to the anchors for Claustrophobia. Then we rapped down the slab. Then he led the 5.7 pillar section of the Chouinard Special, and we played a bit on the knife-thin crack below that anchor. Eventually it got really hot and we headed down to the river, stopped for Mexican food at K-ville and called it a trip, leaving a day early. My calves were killing me after 12 pitches! But, hey, this was an off-the-couch trip for both of us, and I'd call it a very successful one!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Kern Slabs

On the Kern Slabs by slampoud
On the Kern Slabs, a photo by slampoud on Flickr.

This weekend Dima and I stopped for some wine tasting (at Blair Fox and Sanford) on the way to the Kern Slabs. On Saturday we climbed the first pitches of the Lieback and the Chouinard Special, and TRed the Thin Cracks and Initiation Crack (which I still can't even start!). On Sunday we climbed Claustrophobia and TRed Dirty Dishes. Lieback and Claustrophobia have to be two of my favorite climbs ever!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


This season has been a JTree season, beginning with the 3rd annual #jtreetweetup, continuing with a pre-Christmas trip and, most recently, with last weekend.

The #jtreetweetup was, as always, wonderful. I drove with Chad and his little daughter, and we met up with a few of the old crew and many new folks, at Ryan Campground. We got rained on all Saturday, so we spent it working out the approach beta for Mental Physics, which was fun. Sunday was glorious, and I finally got to follow the two face climbs on the Headstone.

The pre-Christmas trip to JTree was marred by food poisoning, that I brought with me from SB. I spent a couple days sick as a dog, a day belaying only, and on the last day Dima and I went out to Mental Physics, where he led that, and we top-roped Dazed and Confused, to its left. Both were fantastic routes!

Finally this past weekend Dima and I drove out, stayed in Ryan and he led Light Sabre (in the Geology Tour area) and Double-Cross on Saturday. On Sunday we played on Big Bob's Big Wedge (as you can see from the video) and then climbed Tranquility, on the Moosedog Tower in Indian Cove. All in all, a great weekend!