Sunday, July 23, 2006

I will get to finishing the Wallface update at some point, promise. Just been busy worrying about other things, e.g. Stella and her recurring and persistent lameness in her gimpy back leg. It COULD just be arthritis from old age; she's had that before (when she was overweight). But it could also be a relapse of her Lyme disease, especially given that I did pull a few engorged deer ticks off of her a couple of months ago (after she finished her antibiotics for the last round of Lyme disease). Damn Frontline for not working well enough, damn the Preventic collar for not working well enough, and damn my vet for not suggesting the vaccine (which doesn't work that well, anyway, and can be harmful!). Stella's up in Keene with Joe, and I don't want to ask him to take her to the vet; a trip to the vet would probably be useless anyhow since doing Lyme titers (especially on a dog who's already had it) are inconclusive at best and misleading at worst. She should probably just go on a round of antibiotics just in case - unfortunately, those are only available with a prescription, which requires a vet visit, which brings us back to the problem of Stella being 5 hours away.

However, as it turns out, you can buy most antibiotics legally and cheaply without a prescription, and they apparently work just fine on dogs: you buy them for fish! Ampicillin, tetracycline, amoxicillin, etc, are all regularly used to treat various problems in fish, and you can get, 100 250mg tabs of all of those in the range of $15. I've found that you can also buy doxycycline that's intended for birds w/out a script, but I haven't ever heard of (or read on the web) of anyone using that for dogs, so though doxycycline is the preferred ab of choice for lyme, I'll stick with the amoxicillin. There you go.

For what it's worth, if you've got cats or dogs, please stop buying your frontline, heartguard, etc. from your vet or petco. Save tons of money and order it from, an australian pet pharmacy! I've been using them for about 5 years and they're fantastic. I can get those meds for about 1/3 the price I'd pay here - with only $7.95 for shipping! Also, please stop feeding your dog junky supermarket food. I feed Stella canidae and the difference it has made in her energy, coat, and weight are amazing (we tried iams, eukanuba, nutromax and nutro natural choice before that). It actually ends up costing less because you feed sooo much less of it- at her weight, she'd be getting 3.5 or so cups a day of nutro, but she's getting 1 2/3 cups a day of canidae. I supplement that with carrots and celery as snacks; she loves it! I also really like Wellness Wellbars yogurt and apple biscuits - they smell soooooo good I always can't help but nibble them myself. But really, they're a waste of money. Stella would just as well eat a green bean as a biscuit; it's all the same to her!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Now that the whining is out of the way (see post below if you care at all - and if you're at all like me, you'll read it even if you don't), on to my weekend. Thursday's drive was uneventful; went fishing when I arrived, stopped in town for a bottle of rum, and had a nice dinner with Joe up in the bivy (because, you know, that stove works whilst the one in the house doesn't... he should call the landlord!). Friday was brutally hot, but we went and worked on painting one of his houses until about half past 2, and then I napped in the back of the truck while he fixed the bathroom in another one. We went to his brother's house, a beautiful house on the lake with a private little beach and everything, and went swimming. Stella doesn't swim because her fur weighs her down, but she let me carry her out to deep water without struggling. Rocky, on the other hand is a big wimp, and he thrashed the whole way out. He swims just fine, but I don't think he likes getting his cute little face wet! We went to bed really early that night because we planned to do Wallface the next day.

The alarm went off at 5AM, but we didn't really manage to get out of bed until closer to 6. We had a quick breakfast of scrambled eggs and hot sage sausage on toast, and were out the door. We were going super light; we each had a small pack. Mine contained only the rack (selected stoppers, 0-3 TCUs, .5-2 camalots), my harness/shoes, an epi-pen, two deviled-ham sandwiches and 3 liters of water, while Joe carried the rope (one strand of my Mamut Genesis doubles), the draws (about 10), his harness/shoes, one liter of water and a bagel with cream cheese. No shells, no warm clothing, nothing extra. We parked about a mile up the road from the Loj (to avoid the parking fee), and started the hike in probably somewhere between 7 and 8 AM. It's about 6 miles from the trailhead to Summit Rock, and we were adding another mile on to that. We were quite concerned about it being far too hot out, but as it turns out we needn't have worried as it stayed largely overcast and hazy most of the day. The hike in was fairly uneventful; the only annoyance was the horde of black flies following me and biting me EVERYWHERE. I did take a couple of slips and falls on the hike up Indian Pass, but overall it was far easier than I expected; the hike is flat nearly the entire way. Wallface eventually started looming up above us to our right as we got up into Indian Pass, and though large, it simply was not as impressive as Whitesides down in NC was. It was kind of broken up and chossy looking, with lots of vegetation on it.

We took a break when we arrived at Summit Rock; I ate one of my sandwiches as we contemplated the talus field separating us from the base of the cliff. There is a helpful cairn up on top of a big boulder across the way, so we decided to make for that; after a really steep bushwhack down the side of the talus field we realized that there was actually a trail; after we found that it was not much trouble to make our way down and back up the other side. It's pretty amazing how cool it is down among the boulders; I guess there are big cave systems amongst them so it makes sense. We came out somewhere around the base of Lewis Elijah, and so rather than bother with walking further over to the base of the Diagonal, we decided to just head up there. We ditched our packs and donned our harnesses; I had a waterbottle and my shoes clipped to my harness and I carried the rack, while Joe had the rope. We started up but quickly realized that the moves were a tad stiff and the rock a bit wet to really safely be scrambling up unroped, so Joe got tied in and on belay, and two pitches of 5.easy plus some cedar scrambling up the corner to the left of Lewis Elijah got us to the base of the Diagonal's ramp. I led one pitch and Joe led the other; it's all very low angled and well featured so though there's not a whole lot of gear it's fine; it goes very quickly. There is a set of slings with rap rings around a large boulder at the end of the first 160'ish ramp pitch; there's a set of bolts at the end of the second. Joe decided to climb past these for another 50 feet or so to the right and a clump of trees at the base of the last two pitches, so we ended up simul-climbing just a bit. I was praying for a breeze the entire time to get rid of the bugs; swatting the flies was pretty much useless, though I felt like I must have done SOME good by smooshing 100+ flies that day.

We had quite an audience watching us from Summit Rock down below by this point, and we ourselves had a pretty good view of the thunderheads that were threatening to roll through the pass. Nothing to be done about it but go up, though. On the way up, of course, we'd noted that the rap stations were set up for double rope raps, and we'd only brought a single. Oh well... In the interest of saving time with the impending rain, Joe went ahead and did the last two (short) pitches (the only ones really worth doing on the route). The first move off the ledge was a little strenuous, but there was nothing really too bad after that (and the first move wasn't even particularly bad; rather than go up the corner as Joe did, I went up over a bulge about five feet to the right). I was surprised that our audience remained even after the rain started, and a little irritated: since I'd been diligently chugging my 3 liters of water on the hike in, I needed to pee pretty badly by that point. After telling Joe to hang out for a sec, I went ahead and just went behind a cedar and did it into a little crevice at the back of the ledge. I figured that with the rain coming in, it'd be ok!

The rain started as I was finishing up the last pitch, which has a great traverse left on a beautifully incut ledge on steep rock. I was getting too wet and bitten up to really fully appreciate it, but the moves were really fantastic. At the top, we gathered up our stuff pretty quickly and set out to get off the rock, since the rain was coming down pretty hard and the thunder was really going. I carried the rope and some draws; Joe had the rack. There wasn't really any sort of trail heading the way we wanted to go (left) through the hemlocks, but at least up top it was fairly flat so it wasn't too bad; mostly just pushing the branches out of the way and occasionally pausing to unsnag the rope on my back.....tbc some day...
Warning... this is just self indulgent bullshit so you probably don't want to read it. I'm not even bothering to write it out properly - it's just what I spewed to someone who was unlucky enough to have sent me the first email I read after I got back home last Monday afternoon. By the way, my apologies to that poor person!
I JUST got home, what a disaster. My car's alternator is fucked (bad connection? Joe couldn't figure it out) so last night he figured I had enough charge to at least get home... nope. Made it to exit 12 around 8:30... and then it died. Luckily it died as I was stopping for Taco Bell, so I was in a parking lot. Called Joe; he said he'd get his brother to come help me since his brother lives about 6 miles away... of course, he's in Vegas now. So Joe grabbed his charger, loaded up his toolbox and came to my rescue around 10:30... Got the car started as the battery'd rested a bit; he thought we could get it to his bro's house... nope. Died on 87. Pulled over, pulled out the battery and ditched the car, left the battery to charge at his bro's house, grabbed a battery out of his bro's car, got my car back, and at first light this morning around 5 AM I left... made it to the last rest area on the Thruway JUST after hanging up with Joe and saying I thought I was going to make it... Got my mom to drive over with the thought of swapping batteries with her (she's got a volvo v70 xc too) but no, it's different and we can't. So we go off to try to buy one... NOBODY has one, which is retarded. Finally find someone to charge the old one, leave for a couple of hours, and eventually around 1:30 get my car started and hope I'll make it to my mechanic about 30 minutes away... The lights saying my battery was dying came on as I was turning at his exit, and my car gradually lost speed as I came down his block... about 2 mph about half a block away, had to turn into oncoming traffic, and at about .5 mph finally got into his shop... and then it was completely dead. It was amazing how close it was... but it's finally there. Meanwhile I'm covered in black fly bites and some fucking rash all over my legs from the hideous bushwhack we did trying to get off of Wallface on Saturday, and I feel sick and hot because it's 100 degrees out but I can't use the AC...
Black flies and prickers - I've got a rash all over my body and I'm miserable. Too exhausted to do a proper TR now but we did Wallface last Saturday... still recovering from the drive home...

Friday, July 07, 2006

Some people are FUCKED UP. And it's the animals that suffer. FUCK YOU PEOPLE. It's really really really unbelievably hideous what some people do to animals. And people wonder why I'd rather be a DVM than an MD?

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Good god... how am I going to remember everything we climbed? I met Joe up at the base of the stairmaster last Thursday around 3:45, and we figured we'd get a few climbs in. We didn't have a guidebook, so we just started walking, contemplated Snooky's (Joe hadn't done it and he said it looked "hard"; I couldn't convince him otherwise), and finally ended up on Raunchy (consensus: 5.6. Dick gives it 5.8). We then wandered over to Triangle, though Joe was convinced that Triangle was further down. Apparently the route is named for the big rock flake at the base of the climb, but I always thought it was for the triangular shaped pod at the right of the overhang...consensus: 5.8. Dick gives it 5.9-. Damn we suck!

We had a couple of end of the day drinks in the lot when we were done, went over the Brigid & Yves' place to leave a car, and before heading out to dinner, had a couple more drinks (well, not me, I was driving!). Tried the Otter, just to mix it up a bit. It was okay, but a bit pricey. Grzregorz and his friend met us there and after a couple of pitchers, we went back to Brigid & Yves'... much drinking ensued, including some killer polish vodka that gzreg had. We didn't get to bed until after 4AM. I was up at 8, ready to go, but nobody else was... wandered over to the deli (Joe, you want anything? I just need another hour of sleep), came back... sat around... finally roused Joe... oh I just need food... oh I just need a nap... ended up going to split rock with the dogs and taking a 4 hour nap while being chewed up by bugs. We didn't do ANY CLIMBING! We went to Greg & Jen's that evening after a funny dinner at the Brauhaus, where Joe's friend Andrew met up with us.

The next morning, we decided to head down to the Sleepy Hollow area, and we got a ride in the back of the ranger truck, which was killer. Joe did Casablanca (5.9) while I did Emilio (5.7+); Yves, who'd walked from his house, showed up just in time to see me blow the crux. It's basically a deal where you step up on some big ledges and have a big reach to a very good but scarily thin flake way out on the roof above you; you then have to get up onto a bulge that is to your right. I managed to reach over and clip a draw onto the fixed pin on top of the bulge, but trying to step up on to it I got totally pumped and was trying to downclimb - which is very difficult as you need to blindly reach down and jam your hand in a horizontal, but as to do the move up to the flake in the first place requires a bit of a leap and a slap, it's not really possible. Thankfully I'd traversed under the bulge and clipped a fixed angle that's under there, otherwise, my other gear would have been a couple of feet to the left and a foot or so further under the roof so my fall would not have been quite so clean. My first lead fall; now I just need to take a whipper on gear I've actually placed! I hopped back up and noticed a chalked up hold low down on the edge of the bulge I was stepping on to; the trick was to stay low, step around to the front of the bulge and then climb up it, rather than try to rock on to it from the side. Oh well. After that, we went over to the CCK area, where Joe & I did the first pitch of Erect Direction (5.8) and the second of CCK (5.7+), while Greg and Andrew did the first pitch of CCK and the second of Updraft. CCK was good; I just wish we'd gotten on it earlier, while there was still light hitting the face so that we could have gotten better photos. After we came down, Joe led the first pitch of Keep on Struttin', which was a reasonably good. We had a really good dinner at Greg and Jen's that night, with Jamaican jerk kebabs, cabbage and mango salad, spicy string beans, cheese and crackers, rosemary potatoes and far too much alcohol. I was the hungover one on Sunday morning, but to my credit I did not waste the entire day the way Friday was wasted!

We warmed up with Joe leading Snooky's (see, told you it wasn't difficult), and then, because Friends and Lovers was taken, we walked down the path to Gory Thumb, in the process discovering that the unknown route Joe and I had climbed on Thursday was Raunchy. Greg and Andrew did Raunchy, while I followed Joe up Gory Thumb (5.9); it was a very nice route with very slippery feet up the crack. I was feeling quite a bit better by this point, so I racked up with Greg's rack to do Absurdland (5.8) while Joe did Never Never Land (5.10a). I ended up wasting a lot of energy dicking around with the gear, trying to figure out which pieces were which size (I don't own any DMM cams, and only one alien; Greg's rack was almost exclusively these pieces), and by the time I grabbed the wrong biner of nuts and had to fiddle with placing one sideways at the top of the bulging face, I blew too much energy trying to get it set right and had to hang on it. After I regrouped, the rest of the crux went no problem. I then popped over the Never Never Land and after some beta, figured out how the crux needed to be pulled - only to have my left hand rip off the crimper and tear my middle fingernail in half. I did get it second time around, and "twinkle toed" up the rest of the route. I think my small hands were an advantage, up top, where Joe'd backed down several times before finally making the move with a bit of a slap for a hold, I was able to find a couple of intermediate crimps and haul myself up relatively gracefully. We met up with my brother and sister and their significant others, and then went down to finish the day on the first pitch of Birdie Party, which was quite nice. There was a big party in Gardiner that night that we popped over to afterwards; lots of wine and champagne and about 20 different sorts of pasta salad, and a calypso band doing lots of fun covers. I passed out almost immediately upon returning to Greg and Jen's.

Monday was again a very mellow start day; we got up late and then had breakfast at a diner. Bisuits and gravy were not on the menu, but they had them when Joe asked, and the waitress suggested a double order... three huge biscuits each, smothered in sausage studded flour gravy... one order would have been plenty! Properly weighted down with breakfast, Joe, Andrew and I started walking, until we came to what Joe was convinced was Sixish. Having don ethe climb a dozen times in the past I knew it wasn't; some passersby settled the debate by telling us it was Asphodel. I led it and was surprisingly perplexed by a move in the middle of the first corner, but the rest went off fine except for a few rope management issues, and it ended up being a reasonably nice climb. I very much liked the face up top; very easy, but for whatever reason (north facing?), the nature of the vegetation and the rock just seemed a little different from a lot of the rest of the gunks. Joe then decided that he was going to do Le Teton as a single pitch... and failed miserably. He got up to the crux, and went up and down half a dozen times before retiring to the belay ledge, making an anchor and bringing up me and Andrew. It was a combination of the weight of the ropes, and the newbie belaying by Andrew (eg pulling in teh rope when he should have been feeding out slack, etc.) that did him in, I think. After we were there, he gave it another couple of goes before figuring out the sequence and firing the rest of the pitch. The problem is that the crack wants to draw you right, and there are really good chalked up holds straight above...but there is nowhere to go from there. Rather, you have to get a nice right hand jam at the top of the crack, keep your feet low, and stretch out to the horizontals out left. A short hand traverse gets you to a huge horn, a nice pin, and big feet. The rest of the climb is spectacular - huge jugs, but really really steep, taking you straight up the prow of the arete. Really fantastic. Andrew wasn't able to do the crux pitch, so we left him at the belay and collected him on the way down. As a warm down, we ran up Apoplexy back at the uberfall, had the requisite fish and chips at Bacchus (but no tacos for Joe this time!!) and I said my goodbyes to Stella and Rocky and drove home. I'm working today... think I'll be able to see the fireworks out the window at the hospital!

But honestly, I feel like saying screw this vet stuff, I want to be a climbing bum for the rest of my life....