Monthly Archives: August 2013

Daniel’s Quarter-Century Birthday weekend

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02-Aug-13 through 04-Aug-13

Since it’s Daniel’s birthday weekend, we decided to work with his tradition of going camping in New Paltz, and doing some climbing at the Gunks.  This year it was just a small group of us climbers: Daniel, Erin, myself, and two new friends I’d met through my hunt for a roommate – Anna and Meghan.  The trip was clean and simple: drive up Friday, camp, climb, do dinner at a local brewery, and then climb some more on Sunday before driving home.

Friday, 02-Aug-13

  • Instead of driving into work and leaving direct, I got the chance to bike thanks to Anna and Meghan, who were driving out to New Paltz with me.  We were all meeting at my place around five, and for once actually got on the road fairly quickly – we didn’t rush, but still had the car fully packed up by 5:30, and we hit Route 2 by 6:00.
  • We take the simple road – Route 2, to 95, to I-90.  Clean… but kinda boring.  Thankfully the traffic is intermittent and sparse
  • Stopping for dinner… Ohh man.  We are not good at this
    • First attempt: Amherst exit.  Looking for a small-town diner style place… no luck.  Instead we find murdertown.  Seriously, pretty sure that this tiny random town is, in fact, named murdertown.  Because they’ll murder us.
    • Move on down the highway, and pull of at the next legit exit.  Find a cool pub-style place and go in.  Instead of normal food, it’s all seafood (Which the girls are not down with) and is entirely populated by 65+ year old people.  Singing Karaoke.  Singing karaoke poorly.  We bail.
    • We give up, and stop in at Friendly’s.  It’s not horrible, but after 20min we fall into the “friendly’s zone” where we can’t think, are tired and lazy, and are incapable of doing the basic math required to give a tip.  It’s horrid.
  • Finally get back on the road, but keep the top down due to the cold and the rain.  Booooo
  • The drive is long, and full of boring.
  • Finally arrive!  Run into (not literally) Erin as we drive into the campground.  Give her a ride to the bathroom in return for directions to the damn campsite.
  • Find campsite.  Set up tents.  Acquire sleep.

Saturday, 03-Aug-13

  • Anna had said that she would be awake by 6:00, and we would have all the breakfast we could eat.  She was not telling the truth.  We do all get moving by 9:00 though, and Daniel is kind enough to scramble up some eggs… after a bit of prodding and my promise that I’d brew tea.
  • Tea is sipped.  Eggs consumed.  A slow breakfast and morning is enjoyed by all as we pick what gear to bring, what gear to leave in the car, and what foods should be brought with us for climbing sustenance.
  • Finally move on the climbing – Meet Matt and Mike at the visitors center, pay for our day passes, and start up the thighmaster
    • Note: thighmaster.  When parking at the visitor’s lot at the Gunks, you must train on the thighmaster.  It’s a staircase.  That goes up a few hundred feet from the parking lot to the climbing area.  It’s horrible.  And amazing.  And now, after traversing it, I have thunder-thighs.
  • Daniel’s picked out a pretty solid place to start in on – some toproped 5.7’s near the beginning of the climbing area.  It’s a bit of a walk from the stairs, but it’s a good cooldown after the stairmaster workout.  I watch the gear while the rest of the crew goes up top to set anchors and rappel down.
  • Climbing on a Saturday!
    •  Katzenjammer (5.7) – Top Rope – this was a fun face climb… nothing too crazy about it, but it was a solid climb for people to really cut their teeth on.
    • The Brat, Direct (5.7) – Top Rope – Kinda straightforward if you’re used to the gunks… hellish if you’re not.  Daniel ended up speed-climbing it in 45s… some of the others didn’t even make it.  It’s kinda impressive how much technique and being used to a route helps!
    • Some random bouldering was had around the base, but nothing too much.
    • No Picnic (5.5) – Trad Lead – Daniel took this one as his birthday climb… and damn was it awesome!  Really good climbing with solid protection from what I could tell – really good juggy moves, though there was one big disconnected block halfway up that was more than a bit sketchy.
  • After a full day of climbing, we head back into town – Gilded Otter time!  Since it’s Daniel’s birthday, a few other people have driven up too; we all link up at an outside table and order up a bounty of food.  It’s amazing, and good times are had by all.
  • Shots are bought for Daniel.  Daniel consumes shots.  Daniel is either lying about his consumption of shots (doubtful, since we all witnessed it) or he somehow has gained a tolerance for booze.  Either option is concerning.  More shots are bought.
  • Dessert is eaten, plates are cleared and a bill is paid.  From here, some people leave for their warm homes, while the rest of us head back to the campsite.  Anna, Meghan and I stop for firewood on the way, but still manage to beat Daniel and Erin back to camp.
  • After arriving back at the camp, I set to the task of building an epic birthday fire… a first worthy of a drunken Daniel and a bottle of scotch.  I succeed, as one should expect, almost exactly as Daniel and Erin arrive and park next to the campsite.
  • We all hang out, relax, chat, and have a merry time.  Erin gives Daniel his birthday presents, one of which is a flask.  The flask is enjoyed in combination with my fancy bottle of scotch and a few oreo cookies before we all give up and go to bed.
  • Instead of sleeping in the tent though, I unroll a sleeping pad and sleep next to the fire.  It is perfect and heavenly.

Sunday, 04-Aug-13

  • We start the day out a bit later than previously – since we’re not meeting anyone at the cliffs we’re in no major hurry to get moving.
  • Camp gets packed while breakfast cooks.  It’s the usual eggs and tea, but Anna, Meghan and I head to the campground store to get us all some coffee… it’s much necessary, and quite nice.
  • Once camp is fully shoved back into the cars we get a move on – parking down at the visitor’s center lot again, and starting the long trek up the thighmaster toward the climbing area.
  • Today, we’re aiming for some of the routes we’d missed the day before, specifically…
    • Easy Keyhole (5.2) – Trad Lead – Daniel took this one… sort of.  He took forever.  It was sad.  But in all honesty, the route was kinda manky and strange… no really good holds from what I could tell (I never got onto it), and the gear placement left much to be desired
    • Black Fly (5.5) – Trad Lead – I lead this one… but not with our group.  We were next to a cool European team who ended up bailing off right near the end, so I was able to run up the bottom and finish it out, bringing their gear down right before some rain spatters hit.
  • From here, the rain pushed Meghan, Anna and myself to cut to the chase and head home – Meghan needed to be back before it got too late,  so we said our goodbyes and gave Daniel a final happy birthday, and then hit the highway back to Boston.

Return to Whitehorse Ledges, July of 2013 marks the full ascent!

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Return to Whitehorse Ledges

Weekend of July 26th – 28th

Friday, 26-Jul-13

  • Leave work early, so I can bike over to the RMV to get a renewed license
  • Renewal actually goes really cleanly… no trouble, nice person behind the counter.  I even get a massage in a cool massage chair while waiting.  Cost a whole buck.
  • Bike to Davis and grab a few steaks for the weekend – incentive to finish the route on time!
  • Bike home, pack the last few things, eat a bit and pack up the car
  • Drive onto the open road!  … Huh.  Not so open.  Traffic!
  • Finally break free, and after stopping for the rest of the food I finish the drive up to the Loj in peace and serenity… turns out the thing I was missing recently?  Driving fast down an open road with the roof down.  Really helps the whole “happiness” thing, heh.
  • Arrive at the Loj to a completely empty parking lot.  Drive the Mustang up to the LC lot, pull my gear, and start the walk up.  It’s nice… nostalgic and relaxing
  • Open the Loj up after seeing a terrifyingly low propane tank, but not a full open.  Windows?  Meh.  Stove, cocoa, and a fridge are all we need
  • Pack everything away and lay out for some more reading of American Gods ‘till Daniel arrives.  Once he does… we basically continue chilling and reading; crash early for an early morning.

Saturday, 27-Jul-13

  • Wake up early… like, normal working day early.  Maybe even earlier.  … I woke up at 7:00.  Daniel was cranky about it, but making breakfast convinced him to get his ass off the couch.
  • Scrambling eggs, eating apples and snacks, and making of lunches occurs.
  • After reviewing the route again, we roll out toward the cliffs!  Pack up the Mustang and hit the highway.  It’s a quick drive, but amazingly fun going through the mountains with the music blaring.
  • Arrive, park, pull gear, and walk over to the base of the cliff.  Racking up takes a few minutes, but it’s a good thing – there’s a team ahead of us, and we give them enough time to move ahead of us enough that we’ve got a good three pitches free ahead.
  • Move out!  CLIMBING!
    • (Official Pitch 1) walk up: we just walk up the slab to the Launch Ledge.  It’s a simple easy thing… I think it’s officially rated a 5.0, but since it’s such a shallow slab…
    • Pitch 1: I take the lead up to the toilet bowl.  It’s wet and gross, but a simple climb and an easy belay.  Daniel gets cranky about me getting his rope wet.
    • Pitch 2: Daniel leads the route over to the bottom of the Arch.  It’s clean and simple.
    • Pitch 3: The Arch.  My favorite pitch… super long, good pro, and fun moves.  I think it’s ~170 ft of climbing, but a low angle and with a big crack to the side.  FUN!
    • Pitch 4: I take the lead again, leaving the pinch belay and moving up to the Lunch Ledge.  I take a slightly non-standard route, but it’s fine and fun.
    • Pitch 5: The crux.  The evil pitch.  This is the one that’s stopped me in my tracks before… either by just being too hard, taking far too much time due to route finding trouble, or just generally being evil.  We had a choice: easy way that takes longer, or quicker hard way.  I decided to cut to the chase, and take the hard way.  It was terrifying; tons of thin moves on tiny holds, a good 700ft off the ground.  But I did it.  And soon enough we were moving onward again…
    • Pitch 6: Daniel led this one.  Sort of.  Instead of taking the well-worn simple way, he took the straight-forward way… which was quite harder.  Not due to the rock… but due to the massive amount of lichen encrusting the rock.  But Daniel beasted it out, and we continued climbing…
    • Pitch 7 & 8: We strung these two into one pitch, thanks to Daniels 70m rope.  Fun and simple – very run out though.  Like… this was a full 70m pitch (215 ft), and I had… two?  Maybe three placements?  Yeah.  Easy climbing, terrifying head games.
    • Once we finished up the route, we hung out with some of the folks we had met on the route – taking in the view and the beginnings of the sunset before starting the walk down the trail.
    • Guh… climbing is fun, but hella-tiring.  Walking off is almost worse.
    • The drive back to the Loj is epic – perfect sunset, just the right temperature to have the top down, and we get back to the parking lot just in time for dusk to finish falling.
    • Meet a few NUHOCers at the Loj who’re copying Mike and my “ninja camping at the Loj” weekend… but they’re not particularly good at it, because we meet up with them as they’re stealing firewood.  It’s all good though, and we hang out for a bit.
  • DINNER!
    • Porterhouse T-Bones, cooked cleanly with just salt and olive oil, with side dishes of garden-fresh (from my garden) tomatoes and some seared summer squash
    • Holy crap, so good.
    • And to top it off?  Mason jars full of Champagne.  Because that’s how we roll.  Also?  MaCallan 12 year Scotch.  Hell to the yes.
    • Relax for the night, and crash semi-early.

Sunday, 28-Jul-13

  • Wake up… meh.  Nah.  I’ll get up when I feel like it.  Have a few good dreams before finally getting mobile and making up some breakfast
  • Relax out on the back porch and read, nearly finishing up American Gods.
  • We debate going out to Rumney… but it’s one of those “I just… I wanna relax!” sort of days.  So we do.  Instead of rushing out we take our time closing up the Loj and packing everything… finally leaving around one or two.
  • Drive down 113, taking in the scenery and scouting out a few places to do some climbing later on in the season
  • We take the Kancamagus highway back toward I-93, grabbing a bite of dinner/lunch before taking the main highway all the way back through to Boston.

Surf and turf adventures, on a weekend in July

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Surf and turf adventures, on a weekend in July

19, 20 & 21 July, 2013

 

Friday, 19-Jul-13

  • Meet Alex at her place
  • Roll out to Boston Rock Gym
  • Climb!  Climb semi-weak, but not too horribly.  Lead a few fun ones, and rock out the roof
  • Head out, get dinner at TGI Fridays ‘cause we’re classy like that
  • Explore old castles and boulder on the walls
  • Home james

 

Saturday, 20-Jul-13

  • Wake up a bit early and start the day off… slowly.  Breakfast in my usual way
  • Chirag calls, he’ll be late.  Mike calls, he wants me to pick him up.  Fine, w/e.
  • We roll out @ 14:00, instead of 12:00
  • Grab some quick snacks and lunch along the way
  • Meet Alex in Rye at 15:45, instead of 2:00, but we’re not too bad off.
  • Grab the Kayaks and head into the water!  The ocean water!
  • Kayak out to a small spit of rock, and hang out there for a bit
  • Chirag gets dunked while trying to save the Kayak.  *My hero!*
  • Head back inland… urg.  Ben is getting sick
  • Bring the Kayaks in, hang out a bit
  • Alex’s dad gives her permission to hang out all night
  • Drive back to Cambridge Via backroads and Methuen
  • Park @ Mikes, hang out.  Order pizza.  Get beer.
  • Sarah and James show up, we all chill and smoke Hookah for ages.  Fun.
  • Keep chilling and shooting the breeze
  • Alex and I head back to my place, hang out on the roof for ages, just chilling and stargazing
  • Sleep

Sunday, 21-Jul-13

  • Up early… way early… 8:20 early.
  • Make some breakfast and read for a bit.  Get stuff done around the house.
  • Meghan arrives a bit after 12:30, Alex gets in around 13:00, we pack up the car and ROLL OUT
  • Drive to Crow Hill… I love my convertible.  It makes drives amazing
  • Grab some lunch at the grocery on the way
  • Get there, walk in, meet tons of people nearby
    • One team of three is there before us, so we move onto the unoccupied climb:
    • Layback Crack (5.6 + Trad) – aptly named, it’s a straight-up layback.  Pretty clean and simple, and I move up it without much trouble
    • Tom’s Dilemma (5.6 Trad) – not really much of a dilemma, this is one of my favorite climbs out there.  Alex took the lead, but ended up having to bail off it after running into some head-game issues.  I cleared it out and we spent some time playing on it.
    • From here, we rolled on.  The two climbs took a while to work through, since we weren’t in any rush and we spent a bit of time exploring variations to the main routes.
    • All that was left was the long drive home… but thankfully, it was a perfect evening and route 2 was perfectly open… a long and empty highway just waiting to be driven.