Climbing in San Francisco!



So I landed. Finally. I had napped a bit on the flight, but thanks to my adventures with evil hotel ghosts (maybe not evil, but at least mean and scary) I was exhausted and desperately needed coffee. Or maybe meth… something to wake me up. A lightening bolt would have been perfect, actually. But thankfully I was smart enough not to try licking the third rail on the train, and safely navigated myself to meet up with my cousin and her boyfriend in the Mission district of San Fran.

Once I got there Emma proved herself to be an awesome cousin by not only meeting me with a car so I wouldn’t have to carry my pack up the insane hills, but also serving coffee and granola yogurt breakfast! I had eaten my BLT already, but I figured that some more fuel for the Ben-Engine wouldn’t be a bad idea, especially considering the lack of sleep, so I drank and ate up while we waited for the other folks to show up. It took a little while, but after about half an hour the whole crew was at Remy’s (Emma’s boy) house, so we packed the crash pads into the car, topped off our chalk bags, and headed onto the open road.

We headed onto the open road a bit quickly though, apparently, because a cop appeared to show his displeasure with our rate of progress down the highway. In short – Remy got a really BS speeding ticket. In long – the cop pulled us over for going 82 in a 65 zone, while we were actively being passed by tow trucks. Seriously. A tow truck had just passed us like 10s before the cop started rocking the lights and bullhorn. And let me tell you, that bullhorn messed with me… I am not used to hearing a cops voice while still driving. Anyways, Remy got the ticket, we pulled back into traffic, and were able to get to the climbing spot without further incident.

By the time we actually arrived at Vacaville, the bouldering spot about 1.5 hours from the city, we had already met up with some of Emma’s other friends and picked out a pretty good spot to climb – everything from V0 through V6 was in this one small area. And the area itself… wow. I mean, wow. I am not used to rolling open hills like these, but I really think that I could get used to it. Especially when said open rolling hills are strewn with amazing climbable boulders like these. We spent the day climbing and moving around between spots, taking a quick break around one to have a relaxed lunch.

The climbs themselves were a really good and diverse lot; Vacaville had just enough of everything to keep me very happy. The rock itself was Basalt, and reminded me a lot of the pudding stone of Hammond Pond, though it lacked the many small stones and plethora of foodholds. Instead the Basalt gave us some really good rails that led to long horizontal traverses, and a few pretty easy jug-hauls up to the top. We even tried one high-ball crack climb that got the best of me; I made it up about 10 or 12 feet before bailing off… I don’t mind heights, but high bouldering problems just mess with my head, especially when I’d be trying to land on a tiny little crash pad. I blame my broken arm – that one accident drastically increased my caution… I’m still on the fence if its a good or bad thing though.

Once the sun started setting we packed up our crash pads and backpacks, changed back into our normal shoes, and started the short trek back to the cars. I couldn’t help but remember that scene from Lord of the Rings when the Fellowship is walking through the mountains, and I got a few really nice pictures showing the line of climbers hiking through the rolling hills… damn but I can’t wait to go backpacking in New Zealand! Anyways, we packed up the cars, washed off our hands, and started the drive back to the city itself in record time, though our efficiency really wasn’t too helpful once we hit the traffic into the city… I ended up napping through a good portion of the nearly-three-hours-long drive back in.

Once we got back to Remy’s place the rest of the folks in our car went their separate ways home, and Emma, Remy and I started the debate as to what to do for the rest of the night. In the end we went with an amazing Mexican place for dinner (yay Taco’s and strawberry smoothie!) and Howl’s Moving Castle for the after-dinner entertainment. It’s a movie that I’ve been meaning to see, and I can definitely understand why people hold it in such high regards. The plot itself was really… Japanese, for lack of a better word, but I actually enjoyed it a lot, especially the cool animation and crazy machinery. A mechanical engineer to the end, thats me. Heh. Emma ended up crashing about midway through the movie, and I’ll admit that I passed out pretty quickly too, less than 20min after the movie was over.

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