Monday, January 30, 2006

(Photo from kungfuclimber!) Jennifer and I drove up to Keene on Saturday night; I picked her up at Penn Station directly from the bus that dropped her off after her interview down in Philly. My one-hit-wonders playlist lasted us the entire drive up, which took about 4.5 hours including dinner stops and whatnot.

I'd spent all day Saturday at the vet (another big bill for bloodwork for Stella), borrowing climbing boots for Jennifer (I had to drive about an hour back out of my way after waiting for an hour where I was supposed to meet my friend who was lending them to me, and dealing with stupid Manhattan traffic going down to Philip's to borrow his ice screws (I've only 5 of my own...) I love driving and all, but when we finally rolled in around 11:30pm I was pretty ready to just go to sleep. I slept on the floor because I forgot to bring a pad for Stella and I let her use mine. She tried to steal the sleeping bag, too, but that wasn't going to get over.

The plan was to get out relatively early to Chapel Pond and do Chouinard's, and then depending on what time we finished, go find something else to do. We got up around 7, and after mucking about making breakfast and stopping at Stewart's for dog food (forgot Stella's), we didn't get to the parking lot at the pond until some time after 8. As we got to the base, there was one party of 3 just starting up, so it didn't seem like a bad idea to wait.... the incident with the slow fellows on Sisters Left over New Years should have taught me that the answer to "how long can it possibly take" is "ridiculously long", but I never claimed to be a fast learner.

Turns out it was the leader's second lead ever, so she was predictably slow. She was on doubles, and she brought up the seconds separately. One seemed pretty new so he took even longer than the leader did, and then the third was fine and fast. I don't carry a watch with me when I climb because waiting like this inevitably depresses me.

I headed up after they got to the first belay (in the trees, right?) only to find that she'd built a little screw anchor in a wall about 15 feet below the trees. Because of where they were situated, I couldn't climb past, or around them. Eventually, after about 15 minutes of standing around, I ended up making an anchor next to them (3 screws AND a tree!), but again, because of where they were I couldn't really bring up my seconds while these guys were still there. Probably another half hour or so later the second in the group ahead of us started up, so I felt okay letting my party (we picked up some random guy that morning who was pretty desperate for partners after having spent the previous day soloing - we're both too charitable; we let him join us) start to climb.

Jennifer'd never climbed ice before, but she did fine; the ice was so wet and soft and stepped out (can something so rampy really be "stepped out"?) that she didn't really have to swing very much. Once again, we had to wait around at the belay for the next party to finish the second pitch (by this time, Mike R. and his group had already climbed dogleg and the first pitch of Chouinard's right - though to be fair we probaly didn't start climbing until they were onto the second pitch of the left side climb). This pitch took me marginally longer as I went straight up instead of dodging around all the vertical bits but it also went just fine and I don't feel that I was particularly slow. Only one little "oh god" moment as I was topping out and the entire top out began to crack and dinnerplate off...

The second party managed to get their ropes stuck trying to pull after their rappel, so after I got to the rap station on the right side at the top of the little wall, I agreed to head over to the left side to unstick their ropes. It was pretty evident that stuck ropes would be a difficult problem to avoid (big rope eating crack in the rock) so I wanted to rap from the lower station; this meant that after my party came up I had to do some downclimbing/rapping back over which was a PITA. I rapped first, followed by Jennifer - I'd set her up with an extended rap backed up with a prussik at her waist; she's rapped this way a dozen times before when we're been rock climbing and it's been fine. However, the other guy that we picked up took it upon himself to tell her after I'd left that it was wrong, and make her clip her belay device (still attached to the sling) to her belay loop (where the prussik was also atatched). I wish she'd have been more assertive in telling him that she had rapped this setup many times before. Painful. The prussik kept getting sucked into the device and her rap took ages. The guy was just like oh, it was right? I've never seen that... By the time we got down, packed up everything, had a bite to eat and got back to the car, it was... 4 pm. Ridiculous. A good day, but ridiculous.

It was also snowing. We stopped by the bivy to grab our stuff, and by the time we got back to the northway about an hour later (stuck behind a car going about 20 all the way there), it'd probably snowed a good inch and a half. The snow didn't really let up too much until we got down around Albany, by which point it was mostly rain. The roads were crap, the visibility was crap, and I was really craving Burger King, which also pissed me off. Finally caved and stopped in New Paltz for BK, but I got a salad with grilled chicken (do you know how much crap they inject into those chicken breasts???) so I don't feel toooooo bad about it.

The weekend was way too short. One day in the Adirondacks is just not enough.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

You can go suck it, Alex Trebek!
I do believe trivia is happening tonight in the village. 7.30. Be there!! It may happen tomorrow at 7.30 or at 9.00 as well, and definitely at 9.00 on Thursday at Rocky Sullivans.

Came in third at Rocky Sullivan's last week - if only my teammates had believed me when I told them Sumo was the national sport of Japan and Longfellow wrote the song of Hiawatha... stupid little bankers!

Friday, January 20, 2006

I forgot - I went to Hawaii in Decemeber, and New Zealand in August, in case you didn't know. Hopefully this link will work; there are lots of other photos from other trips there, too, so click around.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Since I'm sick of typing it up for everyone... what I did last weekend...

Left Manhattan around 7.30 Friday (why is it that I seem to only be late when picking up Philip for climbing? I'm usually so good about being on time) and headed up north; considering a stop for breakfast we made decent time and got up to Chapel Pond around 12.30. There were a couple of parties over around Chouinards, but by the time we geared up and walked across the pond, there was one party that had just gotten down and the leader of the other party was nearly to the first belay.

It was well into the 40s, and the top 8cm or so of the lake was basically slush, with a thin layer of ice over it so that your feet sank down and you could watch the cracks spiderwebbing out. Good stuff!

Chouinard's was just fine: wet, totally stepped out, but plenty of ice. Several uprooted trees with rap stations on them including a fairly substantial looking one and a really measly looking birch. It's fun to think that you're rapping off of trees that are anchored into maybe 20cm of earth...

Since Saturday morning was supposed to be in the 50s and raining, climbing seemed pretty much out of the question and so after a couple of drinks (Philip brought up a case of wine from work, and I brought up a bottle of good shochu) and a rollie circle that left my shoulders sore until Tuesday, we headed off to see Andy Kirkpatrick speak. His slideshow lasted about an hour and 45 minutes and was nigh impossible to follow as he kept jumping from one expedition to another, but he was quite funny, the photos were quite cool and I spent a long time reading his website and fine that I agree with most of his opinions about gear and how/what to use.

Later that night, after a fair bit more of wine, considerably more shochu and a good number of swigs straight out of the Wild Turkey bottle, I was challenged to a game of "bet you wouldn't eat" by Joe... well, I bet I would - and I won, the winning item being compost. You need to figure, there's nothing in compost that's going to hurt you that badly (I mean it's got to be all organic matter right?) so down the hatch it went. I think I picked up a tea bag, as there was a bit of paper and a bit of grittiness and a great deal of dirt taste. You simply can't challenge me to something and expect me not to do it. In the end there ended up being some value beyond drunken pride to my having won, as I ended up not paying for the two nights I stayed at the bivy (gas money!). Of course I spent that money I saved on a Grivel Candela but as I'm assured that Andy Kirkpatrick endorses the product, I am sure it was a good investment. Come on - it empties ice screw cores, threads abalokovs AND can cut cord.

Saturday morning was a little drizzly but it cleared up fairly quickly. Unfortunately for me, I woke up around 7 AM with a pounding headache and stumbled downstairs around 9.30 and started making breakfast. I went outside and vomited a few times, and finally got around to sheepishly asking for some naproxen of Philip, who was somewhat (but not really) understandably disgusted with me. I went and laid down for about and hour and around 11.30 Doug Millen did an impromptu slideshow of his trip to Patagonia which we watched. Around 12.30 PM, we set off for Lake Placed (there WERE people climbing that day, but I guess it just wans't happening for us. It's not like we'd planned on it anyway), had a bite to eat and watched Chronicles of Narnia (disappointing). Venison sausage that my brother made was dinner, and as everyone had trundled off for the Full Moon Party, it was a quiet night... until Joe came busting into one of the bunk rooms around 2 AM demanding to know where his fireworks were... and when they were later found downstairs, he set them off outside. He managed to break the door in the process so the next morning there was insulation and drywall all over the floor...

We got up early on Sunday and since it seemed that everyone else was heading off to the North Face of Pitchoff, we decided to go check out Multiplication Gully. We pulled into Wilmington notch at 9.08 AM, and there was already a car there; two guys were just setting off to do the route. -3 degrees and crazy windy... brrr. With little desire to wait out in the cold and the knowledge that anyone else trying to do the climb would have to park where we were, we decided to get all our stuff ready to go and then just wait in the car. The base of the route is fully visible from the parking lot so we would be able to assess their progress. We waited about an hour or so, at which point another party drove up and expressed their intention to do the climb. Apparently they'd slept in their car in the pull-off to make sure that they'd get on the route in the morning, but they'd gotten so cold overnight that they'd gone off to have breakfast. Too bad! But with this pressure upon us, we decided to grab our stuff and head up. Out of the wind, it wasn't too bad, so we got up to the base of the climb and settled in for a wait. The gully is quite narrow, so pretty much any and all ice is sent straight to the base where a belayer would stand. For the most part, you would not want to climb until the party ahead of you has finished rapping. However, by the time midday rolled around, we were bored, cold (Philip had put on a belay jacket over his belay jacket that one of the men in the other party had left behind), and ready to climb so off we went. The original plan was that I would lead, but given the cold Philip was reluctant to belay a slow, new leader like me, and so he set off. The ice was bullet hard and brittle, and belaying super sucked. I took a pretty big hunk of ice directly on the head which I laughed about at the time. But when it came time for me to climb, I was starting to have a slight headache and was feeling quite nauseous. I climbed in my belay jacket and belay gloves and managed to drop a screw while. The party ahead of us was also rapping at this point, so a fair bit of ice was heading towards my face. By the time I got to the belay I was feeling cold and stupid and my mouth was salivating the way it does before you vomit. I'd also dropped a screw, and since Philip had used two to make his anchor, he was left with only 5 for the second pitch. While he contemplated the situation (I suggested a v-thread but the longest screws we had were 15cm) I curled up on the ground to try to keep from vomiting and crying. I don't know what the problem was but I felt pretty miserable and I guess I looked it, as Philip didn't believe me when I said I was fine to go on. He wasn't feeling too happy about the situation either, so we decided to bail. He lowered me down to the rap station at the tree, and then downclimbed to the tree while I belayed him down off of a semi-v-thread (more or less a small hole through a curtain; the first two attempts at making it resulting in shattered ice).

Stella refused to leave the car (too cold for her, smart pup!) so we packed up, stopped for hot chocolate and whipped cream in Placid, stopped for pizza at Phat Shannon's (mediocre at best but great after being freezing for so long), stopped at the Mountaineer, and 4.5 hours later we were back in the city. Overall, not a lot of climbing, crappy weather, but a generally good time.

**multi gully photo blatantly stolen from - not mine!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

this is an audio post - click to play

So this is a test... can't see myself ever actually using it.
I may start blogging again, because I just told about 5 different people essentially the exact same story about what I did over the weekend, and I'm sick of typing the same things over and over. Also, I was reading over previous entries and was reminded of things I had completely forgotten about; it's kind of interesting. Just as an FYI, if you look through the archives, you'll find a post I made about getting my new Frye boots, and a post I made about how my footwear is always a few years ahead of trends. Well, there you go. Frye boots are all over the place now.

Anyway, I may only blog about climbing, I may blog about food, or I may not blog about anything at all. We shall see!