Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A lot of happenings

Well, well, well. . . First off, I want to apologize to all my faithful blog followers. . . all 4 of them, HA! Its been over two months since I last updated from a variety of reasons ranging from computer issues to laziness. My computer LED backlight broke, although my computer still functions I have to use a headlamp or be in extremely bright sunlight to see the screen. A few rest days were spent in the coffee shop with headlamp in hand, headphones in ear, and other customer eyes fixed upon me staring at a black screen. Through a series of unfortunate events, my semi-broken computer screen indirectly led to coffee being spilled on fellow climber and traveler Thomas' perfectly functioning computer. We were stationed in the bustling and extremely happenin city of Price, Utah. My computer had indirectly destroyed his and I was tired of wasting headlamp battery while wasting time on the internet, so I tucked the computer into the darkest depths of my van and let it be. Last time I wrote was in Bishop, California and since then have covered some serious ground by air and road. I have traveled over 5830 miles in my van and there is no way I could possibly cover one tenth of the people, events, and climbs in one typing session so here are some pictures starting from the time I arrived in Boulder, CO on June 20th and I will try and accompany each picture with a short story. Feel free to read this in 1, 2, or 24 separate sessions.

However, first I want to thank the three unbelievably cool guys that have let me crash at their place the whole time I have been in Boulder. Most stories from this leg of the trip has involved 1 to all of them. Thanks to Mickey for letting me use his photographic documentation of my last month.

The two I have spent the most time traveling with. . . Mike and Tom sportin the short bus.

Charlie, thanks for letting me use your bathroom

JR visited in Utah, did his own thing, then met back up for a week in Boulder

Mickey, thanks for letting me use these pictures and thanks for increasing my volleyball ego.

Mark, thanks for the ride and buying me that salad at Wendy's. It was ok.

The Fourth was an extremely eventful day. We started off at the Boulder Reservoir with about 10,000 other people swimming, playing volleyball, and drinking. That night we spent most of the night on the roof of Mark's office downtown where we proceeded to drink more and watch fireworks

Endo Valley is a bouldering area in Rocky Mountain National Park with a lower concentration of problems but of excellent quality. I cleaned off an overlooked project I found right in the middle of a small concentration of problems. The problem is a dyno from two crimps to slopers and a difficult mantel. I have not done it but am way closer than I thought I would be initially and if I dont get it then atleast its cleaned off for someone else to do.

Emerald Lake in RMNP is one bouldering area that we have frequented. About a 2.5 mile hike lead you pass three absolutely stunning lakes all above 10,000 feet. On the way up, we usually have to explain the crashpads on our backs to atleast 100 hikers.

My summer long project. . . Whispers of Wisdom at Emerald Lake

The Kind traverse at Emerald Lake

The Kind Sit

The skies are pretty amazing here in Colorado, there are frequent afternoon lighting storms and one day Charlie, Mike, Mickey and I hiked near the top of Mt. Sanitas from their house with the dog Juneau and hung out to watch such a lightning storm along with the sunset. Juneau executed the greatest adherence to the "Come" command after she chased a deer straight to the bottom of the mountain and right before she disappeared out of sight turned around and ran straight up the mountain back to us after panicking breifly.

Saturday night lights knockout night, one of three volleyball courts that we have sampled, and Kevin winning the dunk contest due to lack of dunking ability from everyone else.

Rest days in Boulder are extremely different than most other rest days on my trip. Nearly every rest day is accompanied by any combination of the following
  • Knockout or Gotcha
  • volleyball
  • PBR's
  • billiards
  • trampolining
  • croquet
  • creating terrariums
  • talking about terrarium business plans
  • poker
  • talking smack
  • throwing football, frisbee, baseball, or other objects
  • drinking tons of coffee
  • owning Mike in Around the World through a chance everything philosophy
  • cruising in Charlie's old Volkswagen bug or Mark's MG
  • cooking casseroles
  • blocking Mickey and Mike's spikes
  • playing pocket 8's against Mickey
  • nothing

After the nearly hour hike out of Mt. Evans, we decided to hang out in an old pavilion while it down-poured and this is one of the pictures that came our of the situation.

Both of these pictures are from a V6 at Mt. Evans called the creative name of Trailside 6. One of my favorite problems on the trip, and a truly aesthetic setting for such a problem. Its isolated from all other boulders and in a field of wildflowers and fallen trees.

At Mt. Evans with Mike Packard, freezing and unprepared

Seven of us huddling under the Dali boulder at Mt. Evans, CO after a torrential hail/rain/more hail storm. When the hailstorm started I had just hit the crux of the problem Dali for the first time from the bottom and ended up sending. No doubt, the craziest boulder problem I have ever climbed. All of our stuff was instantly soaked and because of my inexperience in high altitude, I brought no rain gear or warm clothes (notice the other three guys with a rain/warm coat and me with my cotton flannel) and have since learned my lesson.

Now for some other happenings the past month. . .

From June 7th to June 12th, I flew to Seattle and met my girlfriend Stephanie and we drove to Squamish to boulder for 3 days. By far one of the most beautiful places I have been to with a super cool town to match. Perfect weather and a perfect time. I lost a crucial bet multiple times to Steph, ate the best meal ever at a Lebanese restaurant in Vancouver after we met the chef bouldering in Squamish, then proceeded to get lost several separate times creating an extremely flustered Steph and a uncontrollably laughing me. It led to an immature remark to the Border Patrol by my girlfriend of me being a "fruit". We returned to Tacoma at an extremely amazing hotel on the bay for two nights where I lost in pool to Steph on the only game I bet on, and ate the best piece of salmon I have ever tasted.

A few days ago, I managed to slip on a waterslide of a rock which propelled my hand which was holding my coffee thermos into my mouth and chip my front tooth. This was after I bragged about my thermos, how great it was, and how I have yet to use it on this trip because I never wanted to make two pots of coffee in the morning.

My trip is over in almost three weeks. I have four real good friends visiting me at the end of this month to the beginning of August, then Steph will ride shotgun on my way back to Georgia. Not sure what will happen then, but I'm excited to find out.

Friday, May 6, 2011

problem and solution

So I have been camping here at the buttermilks for close to three weeks now and I have been dealing, well I have not really done anything about it so dealing is the wrong word. the better word would be I have had a mouse problem at night. Two nights ago the mice seemed to be causeing more noise than usual. Despite my attempts to scare them away, they persisted and kept me up nearly all night. It sounded as if they were a milion of them and tehy didnt seem scared of me or my attempts to make a loud noise, so i downed some nyquil and fell asleep. The next morning was business as usual, eggs coffee, orange juice. . . more coffee, then pack up to go bouldering. I arrived at the first boulder and set my crash pad down only to see a lone mouse next to the pad. It seemed unaffected by my presence, and I thought it was odd that a) it was not scared and b) it was out during the day. I said scram and it seemed to understand. We both seemed to be confused but it seemed as if I won and got my way. Moments later, I looked down and there was another mouse in my crashpad, only this one lied motionless, lifeless some may say, dead most would say. Again, I thought this was odd. Why was there a dead mouse in my crash pad, how did it die, was it linked to the other one, do i bury it. i decided that it was linked to the other one, died of natural causes and I flung it off into the bushes with a ong enough stick. Finally I could proceed with my climbing. I reached for my shoes and was about to put them on when i looked down at three sets of beady eyes glaring up at me. It seems as if a family of mice had relocated their home to my warmer, cozier, and most definitely smellier climbing shoe. I shook them out eventually after they put up a good fight, holding on to the inner velcro like their life depended on it. After calling a local frined/climber/nurse he advised me that as long as i dont lick the inside of my shoes, I should be alright. And as for my feet, for anyone who knows me and my feet, I dont believe they could get any worse. This little event during my day ended up being a blessing in disguise because last night was silent. I seemed to have relocate a whole family unknowingly and was able to fall asleep quickly and without the help of nyquil.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

stuck in bishop. . . kind of

Still in Bishop, by choice yet not by choice. I have to stay here until I get my renewed license tag in the mail. so until then I guess I have to soak up the perfect scenery, the perfect boulders, and the just nearly perfect time. . . so unlucky. For the first time since the beginning of the trip I am not traveling with someone, and it is a kind of nice change. I am able to just relax, soak it all in and really be gracious for everything I have. I have gotten alot of reading and writing done and find myself sitting for hours just looking around, more like gawking at the place that I call home at the moment. I get up early and climb when it is cool outside then soak the sun up during the middle of the day, then around 4 I venture back out to the boulders and climb for another 4-6 hours. I feel like I have perfected the living in the van thing, and for the first time on the trip I have realized that my bed, maybe half the size of a twin bed, is my room. My office is the fold up chair outside my van/home. My kitchen is as organized as it has ever been, my pantry is full of good food after the unbelievable markets in Berkeley, and I have facilitated life by sucking it up and cleaning my dishes right after cooking and eating, which is easier said than done, at least for me. I have no address, and no where to be, but yet I feel like I have so much to do, and the chunk of time I allotted to myself for the trip suddenly feels like not enough. I worked to live, and now I am living my life as I believe I should live it, at least at this point in my life. I truly believe I am supposed to be right here right now, but I can admit that it may be different 5 years from now, but I see no point in stressing about 5 years from now. . . right now. I have met people that I will know forever, from all over, and have seen places that I would never have seen if this trip never materialized. This way of traveling doesn't make me feel like a tourist, which I love and have realized that even though I would love to travel the world in the same fashion as this trip, that there is still so much to see, to experience in this country. There are cultures within cultures within this all encompassing American culture. I know everyone does not have the opportunity to do what I am doing, but I want to encourage whoever is reading this to travel which is different than vacationing. Don't stay at a resort, or pick up the tourist pamphlet at the destinations gift shop. Get a bike or walk around wherever you are. Rent a car and drive until you see something you like and want to experience, and don't just do what some travel expert, or concierge told you to do. Experience the culture, meet the locals. Its way more challenging, and may even be more work, but it produces stories. And stories are the only thing that we can share with others from our experience, anyone can pull up a google image of just about anywhere or anything, especially if its a vacation hotspot. As you tell these tales more and more, you will get better at telling them, and maybe influence others to do the same thing you just did. If everyone does this, maybe 100s of years down the road we will have a society that doesnt just live to work, but works in order to fund their amateur storyteller profession, to experience as much of the world as they can in the years given to them, a more understanding, aware, real world. You shouldn't have to work for a year to only buy a bigger TV that does the same thing as the smaller one, or a brand new car that still gets you from A to B. I'm not saying we shouldnt buy nice things but I definitely think money earned should be used to experience life, not stuff. I think 50 years later when that car is dead and that TV is dead as well, the stories you have accumulated will be all you have and will make you smile. And I think everyone can agree that its better to smile than not to.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Back onward. . . to the bouldering motherland. . .

I decided to take a vacation within a vacation, and visit my good friend Daniel Sherer in his quite "Dan" home in Berkeley, CA. . . with "Dan" meaning the quintessential home. . . simple, colorful, comfortable, and the best patio I can imagine. Quite conveniently, my good friends JB and Sarah were flying into San Francisco and a backyard cookout was quickly planned yet unquickly prepared for, just a little southern pace on the West Coast. Fleet Foxes were played just loud enough that the neighbors would not hear and burgers were consumed. Sarah, JB, and Dan left at 3:30 this morning for the climbing motherland which some may know as Yosemite. I am heading back to Bishop to meet up with two friends, wait for my renewed tags to come in the mail, and most importantly climb some more of the best boulders in the world.

I was taking picture of absolutely everything on Dan's back patio

The well executed barbeque

Cricket pondering the meaning of life

Longboarding down the gateway to the Buttermilks

Jesus in Heaven. . . Ha

Last but not least. . . I have made a short video with roughly 3.2% of the climbing that has been done here in Bishop, fortunately I brought my camera to two of the best problems

BISHOP VIDEO---------> >--- > >->>---- --- ->>---->------ > here or here or here

Thursday, April 21, 2011

This past week has been as about as good as it gets. Before I get going rambling about a few of this weeks "eventful events" (is that even possible, could it mean the most eventful or is that like a double negative and it means it was uneventful, Im going to assume the former), I want to talk a little about what drives me, about inspiration and not climbing aimlessly. Climbing aimlessly to me means climbing without being aware of everything else that it entails: the people, the process, the setting. The boulders here are enormous, and climbing them seems like David vs. Goliath. Sometimes, I boulder and it seems like a David vs. David fight. I dont necessarily think this is because of the difficulty, physical or technical, of the boulder problem, but the mental aspect of the climbing here. The rocks, as I said, are enormous, and the lines (the certain way up the rock) are obvious and proud. The Sierra Nevada mountains abruptly begin at the boulders here. There are no foothills to gradually introduce you to the harsh terrain. Storms constantly roll through unexpectedly, hidden by the peaks to our west. These boulders seem like they were designed to be climbed, but at the same time it seems as if they were not. The vast open space and enormous mountains all seem to downsize the boulders that we aspire to climb daily. It is as if the landscape brings the boulders down to our level, so we climb them. We are David and they all are Goliath.

The Buttermilks are the most inspiring boulders I have climbed on. Climbing these big lines requires not only the physical capabilities, but a certain mindset, a confidence in yourself, your pads, spotter(s). The end result is a complete satisfaction. I pull over the last hold and I feel utterly drained, in every way possible and I know that that moment is why I climb, to test my physical and mental capacities, to initially have doubt and channel it into confidence, to initially feel fear and use the inspiration all around me to change it to courage. The end result is nearly as good as it gets, atleast in the realm of bouldering.

As for eventful events, I just decided to put pictures up since a picture is worth a thousand words and I would rather put 10 pictures up at this point then type 10,000 words. Also here is my last memory of my Bishop, CA trip from two years ago with 4 friends from Athens. That trip was the first time in my life that I realized that I wanted to, and could, travel the country and climb. It was a major factor in molding me into who and where I am today which seems to be near perfect.

It was the last day of our nine day bouldering trip from our home in Athens, GA, an adventure by every definition, and we had already climbed 8 of the days. Our stories were piling up as we practiced telling these adventures nightly in anticipation of rehashing them later on to those who did not make the pilgrimage. We arrived at the starting hold at dusk. End of day sends sent screams across the road from the more accessible boulders across the road. The sun was setting over the Sierra Nevadas, something our clan always managed to pause and watch, being as different as we could ever imagine from the older and seemingly wiser Appalachians. These mountains seemed as if they were young and fearless, like a 16 year old on a joyride the night after they received their license. Being so different, something still felt incredibly comfortable, being so far from home.
We began deciphering the beta, and placing pads haphazardly. Our fingertips screamed for a hiatus from the relentless granite, and begged for the southern sandstone and foliage padded ground they were accustomed to. We were as full of fatigue as we thought possible, but this line was the one from our dreams, and I had to try. After one unsuccessful attempt, and one successful break, I clenched the starting hold of my last problem in Bishop. We would leave later tonight, meeting the now setting sun farther east the next morning, and the next. My feet left the earth, and began to dance across the rock in unison with my hands. I passed my high point three moves in and continued to negotiate a checkerboard of patina. It seemed as the beauty of the moment fueled my desire to extend it. For a brief moment on this linear timeline we call life, I could redefine what gravity is. I was at my limit on a not so well-rested, but well-fed day. I was one move from the final hold, 15 feet from the ground. I harnessed all the energy I had left and placed my fingertips just over the edge of the final, just far enough away jug. Then, I fell. I tried one more time and the same result occurred in the same spot. Any other outcome would have been just another send, but this failure created a memory, a story. This is why I climb, for the possibility to limit what is impossible while constantly searching for the unlimited possibilities.