Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Potentially Boring Update

To our loyal followers! We have not updated too recently- this is mostly because we haven't done anything particularly exciting. But there have been several small things that can perhaps be added up into one somewhat entertaining blog post. Since the Needles, we climbed one day in Tuolumne with our friend Josh. We tried to climb OZ but were rained off and headed to a more craggy area where I took this hilarious (I think) photo of Josh. Then, on the 13th, I ran from North Lake to Pine creek and missed my turnoff adding 3 miles to a 26 mile run (so discouraging!). Then, at Pine Creek, I hopped (ok, stumbled on) on the bike I had stashed there and rode 18 miles back home. I didn't bring a camera, so you've just got to believe me. The 18-20, Jed and I headed to Idyllwild to recertify our Wilderness First Responder certifications. Jed and I have been doing a lot of guiding lately. He did an awesome trip on the Palisade Traverse with a client. He also took another guy up the Third Pillar of Dana and the Dana Couloir in a day. On the 23-24, I guided Whitney, then we both headed to Tahoe to guide the Stanford Business School on a day climbing trip. Then this past Monday I guided Mt. Goode with a very regular client of SMG who has a size 16 shoe! I also just met a guy in town who is teaching Crossfit for free. I am on my way to becoming hard to kill. Oh, speaking of hard to kill, Jed just won the monthly peak baggers challenge for Sage to Summit! Go Jed! Whew- that is about it. Lets cross our fingers for something more entertaining next time.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Addicted to Needles.

September 6th marked the one year anniversary of mine and Jeds wedding day. Jed and I were not only ready for some time alone, and not only ready to climb our butts off, but we also are required to celebrate on this special day. Our solution? The Needles, California! The Needles are these towering needle-like spires of granite covered in lime green lichen way in the middle of nowhere on the western side of the Sierra. They are said to be steep, stout, and a little run-out. To make a long story short, this was probably the best climbing trip of my life. Steep? Yes. Stout? Solid. Run-out? No. We spend 4 days in The Needles; two of the days in the popular area doing "hard" climbing and two days taking turns mock guiding on bigger, more adventurous routes. For those who know the area we climbed: Thin Ice, Fancy Free, Spooky, Igors Revenge, White Punks on Dope and Strange Brew. All of them were incredible. On our anniversary we climbed a 14 pitch route (Strange Brew on the Magician) that took us to a fire tower where there was a ranger who was rumored to bake cookies for climbers on Sundays. Well- the rumor is true, and they are not just cookies, they are the best cookies I have ever had. After our climb and cookies we headed out to a creek to rinse off and then had dinner at a little lodge down the road from the climbing area. After our burgers and sodas we drove to Dome Rock, a prominant make out point with a grand view of the Needles. Up there we carefully unwrapped our lovely champagne glasses ettched with our names and wedding date and partook of a sweet bottle of Dom Perignon bought for us by our dear friends Steven and Lauren with the strict instuctions to drink it on our 1 year anniversary. It was a lovely day to celebrate a lovely promise.
What gnat to do:
Now that you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, I want to tell you about the bad part of the trip. On the last day we decided to drive to the um...other side of the Needles to try a classic route called "White Punks on Dope." The only thing that got me through the day was the following mantra: it will make a good story. it will make a good story. it will make a good story. First off, you should know that I suffer from a very serious condition called the Alpine Memory. This means that I can expereince the most heinous shit in the mountains and totally forget by the time I get home and may even feel like going to do whatever it was again despite how miserable I was at the time. Such is the case with this climb but I will do my best to remember the horror of it all.

Now, most of you know that I am no stranger to discomfort. I have slapped at mosquitos in the Arctic, I have bushwacked with the best of them in Alaska, and I have scrambled and climbed up countless scree, moraine, and talus slopes. Perhaps it was the fatigue of climbing for three days but there was nothing that could have prepared me for this. Enter the gnats. Enter the heaps of dried leaves and pine needles. Enter the steep slope. Enter the 90 degree heat. Enter the shrubbery. Exit the sanity. There is nothing quite like making your way up a trail-less slippery slope where every step you make you slip back one. There is nothing quite like having about 500 buzzing gnats desperately try to gain access to every hole on your head. The thing about gnats is that they don't seem to have a purpose in life but to annoy you. At least mosquitos take some blood to be able to pass on their genes (AND they are polinators). In my most zen moments I realize that mosquitos probably don't want to annoy you, perhaps they even hate the taste of blood but they just can't go against their biological directions. Who could blame them really? But gnats? They are just evil. Anyway, as you are sliding your way up this slippery slope, and the gnats are trying to get in your face holes, you have to remember that it is also hot out so you are sweating and when you sweat, you get sticky, and when you are sticky all of the dirt, leaves, needles, and dead gnats stick to you. Oh yeah, to keep the gnats from entering your earholes you might wrap your shirt around your head. This makes you hotter of course and then occationally as you are wrestling with a tree of shrub, a branch may decide that it is a funny joke to pull your little capilene turbin off your head so that the gnats can instantly fly and buzz their little anoying laughter at the funny joke in your ears. Deep breath. Internalized scream. Frantic swatting at the air. Repressed anger upon seeing that Jed is not nearly as annoyed by the situation. Why doesn't he go join a monestary somewhere? Deep breath. So by the time we get to the climb, I am over it. Jed mock guides the whole thing. Every wonderful pitch of different sized cracks, and clean face climbing, all the way to the beautiful summit will not do much to make that approach worthwhile unfortunately. On the way down we found an entire rope at the base of the rock. Perhaps someone had a worse time than we did. This makes me feel a little better. Plus a breeze has picked up a little. My advice? Don't approach from the "other" side.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Goode for girls.

Just a quick update. Jed is off guiding the Thunderbolt to Sill portion of the Palisade Traverse. The owners of our company, Howie and Neil have dubbed Jed the Palisades Expert. This is sort of a big deal and means that Jed is every bit the badass that I think he is!
Anyhow, in my quest to expand my climbing partner list from basically just Jed and Vic, I have been climbing with our good friend Beth recently. We started in Tuolumne on bolted run-out face climbs about a month ago. Our next outing was a new 6 pitch 10b route in Pine Creek. We did well on that and the day went really smoothly. So on Monday we set our alarms early and headed up towards Bishop Pass on our way to climb Mt. Goode. Goode has a reputation. It is reputed to be not only big, but loose, and hard. It is usually a climb that diehard sierra climbers sort of save for last, and this was the case to us. I was pretty sure that the whole thing would be made of slick black obsidian and would be the coldest spot on the eastside. Well, it isn't made of obsidian, it is made of beautiful golden Sierra granite (go figure) but it is loose, and it is sort of steep, and it did require our very best alpine skills. I had a great day, and Beth is a lot of fun to climb with in addition to being a totally solid climbing partner. I have never really climbed with a girl before and was stunned at how different the experience was compared to going out with the boys. Overall I can say that to climb with another girl has a similar feeling to have soloed a route. I felt like, damn, we did that all by ourselves. At the top when we got a little confused as to where to go, we figured it out. When clouds started coming in, we decided it was ok. When decisions were made, WE made them. It was a really great feeling overall.
The route however, was not very good. In fact, I can honestly say that it was my least favorite Sierra climb so far.
Also, we forgot the f-ing camera and it was probably the most asthetic day I've had in a while given the two smokin' hot babes climbing a sexy looking piece of granite. Oh well, this photo pulled from Summit Post will have to work.
Over and out.