Author Archives: perfectusvarrus

About perfectusvarrus

I am an adventurer. I've been many things in my life; a machinist, a mechanical designer, a training coordinator, a facilities consultant, and a seasonal construction worker. But through it all, I've kept my love of adventure and exploration strong, through rock climbing, backpacking, cycling, exploring, and trying new things. The rush of adventure is intoxicating, and the thrill of discovery and exploring is unbeatable.

The Battle for Bolts – A rock climbing endurance epic

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The Battle for Bolts – A rock climbing endurance epic

Saturday into Sunday, 30-Sept-2017 & 01-Oct-2017

 

Summary: Sarah and I climbed for 12 hours straight, climbing 63 routes total and earning ourselves a solid second place overall in the competition.  That’s right – 7 months post injury, Ben placed 2nd place in a climbing competition.  With Sarah, since it was a team comp.  Where Sarah won most of the points.  But still!  Ben was on the team that came in second!

 

Today, we battle. 

We battle not for ourselves, but for climbers everywhere.  

Not for climbers everywhere, per se, but climbers in the Northwest.  In Oregon.  At three crags in Oregon, specifically.  We battle for climbers there!  Sport climbers.  Not trad, since trad doesn’t need bolts.

Today, we battle for a very select group of climbers!  Huzzah!

 

A few weeks ago, Sarah and I heard about a climbing competition coming up, and got really excited.

We got excited because it was pretty far removed from the ridiculous chaos of the previous competitions we’d been to.  It hit all the nice things we’d been hoping that a competition would hit: a cap on the people allowed to compete, It was held when my knee wasn’t broken, and it was roped climbing instead of bouldering.  Basically the perfect comp.  It wasn’t free, unfortunately, but the proceeds went to a climbing access fund that replaces worn bolts at crags in our area (see the opening poem thing), so that was pretty cool.

We planned the competition out, and arrived with our heads full of schemes and our packs full of gear.

This wasn’t a straight-up, who can climb the hardest route, competition – instead, this was an endurance comp.  Which meant that we’d be climbing for 12 hours straight, and that the number of routes we put up was going to be more important than just how hard those routes were.

Because of that, we had plans.  We’d packed a full meal (spaghetti and chicken), as well as a few thousand calories worth of snacks, bars, cookies, and coffee.  We also had a rough timeline for ourselves – how long we’d climb, when we’d nap, and how long we’d nap for.

We expected the napping to be critical – you can’t crush climbing routes if you can’t think, so we aimed to take at least two naps throughout the night.  The food we’d eat about halfway through, right before a napping cycle, and the snacks & coffee we’d spread out throughout the night.

For routes, we planned on starting easy, then quickly going toward the harder routes.  Then we’d taper off toward more moderate routes for most of the evening, before finishing strong with some of the hardest climbs of the evening in the last hour – since the last hour gained us 2x score on any routes climbed.

 

 

 

We arrived right before the start at 8:00 in the evening on Saturday; just in time to sign in, stash our gear, and hang out for a bit before the staff went through the rules and discussed the timetable with us.   That part was pretty entertaining… mostly because the staff wasn’t much better informed than we were – this comp was run quite loosely, which worked perfectly with the small group of people that were competing.  In total there were 6 teams, 12 people total… a bit less than the cap of 100, but still enough for some pretty stiff competition for top spot.

Then we climbed!

We stuck to our plan pretty closely, not pushing ourselves too hard and climbing routes that worked best to our skillsets.  Sarah climbed strong crimpy routes, and I danced up delicate slab routes.  We took breaks, snacked, and even played some of the games that the staff put on – Crate stacking and donut eating were the  best, though playing Ninja was definitely a good time as well.

Napping was definitely helpful too… but a bit frustrating since people kept stealing the beds that we’d made.  See… when you combine Sarah’s skill at making nests from her time on Grimm with my not-caring-about-stuff, we came out with some really nice beds.  I’d grabbed 10+ bolsters from the yoga room, which we then combined with a few blankets and some yoga mats, into glorious full double beds.

First nap, we made one and napped luxuriously.  Then when we went to our second nap, someone had stolen our first bed.  So we made a new one.  When the same thing happened the third time (both our previous beds were occupied), we did get a bit cranky, and may have made a little extra noise while making our new bed.

 

Anyways, we did well.

When the time came to tally our score, we’d come in cleanly in 2nd place!  We’d won with 4,200 points, roughly, where the next team had just over 3,900 points – so about two of our hardest climbs worth of points.  We did a grand total of 63 routes, with Sarah earning the lions share of our score.  But hey – for a guy with a recently broken leg, I think I did pretty dang well!

Smith in September

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Smith in September

 

Monday, 25-Sept-2017 through Thursday, 28-Sept-2017

 

It’d been a while since Sarah and I had done a dedicated climbing trip – we’d been kind of hesitant, since we weren’t really sure what my knee could do, and that hesitancy had bred just enough inertia that we’d become complacent and okay with sticking in town and playing on the plastic of the climbing gym.

No more.  No more would we be captives of our own inertia.  No more would we be slaves to complacency.  Instead, we would blaze a trail of adventure and excitement!

 

So, a quick summary:

Monday

Arrive mid-morning, after depositing our finally-returned security deposit from the house in Hood River.

Crush a few routes in the more popular areas, since they’d be empty mid-week.

Side note: Ollie was amazing.  She hasn’t forgotten her crag-dog training, and relaxed like the best pup.

Head back to camp, and make a group dinner with the friends who we were meeting up with.

Sleep like logs, and start to fix our messed up circadian rhythm.

Tuesday

Wake up, have breakfast, and do some hiking.

Tuesday was a relaxation day – I read, Sarah painted, and we wandered around with the puppy.

Hit some quick climbs at the waterfall slabs, just to keep energy up.

Glorious dinner and gloriously early bed.

Wednesday

Dawned hot… hotter than expected.

Bust out a climb at the Dihedrals… then skip out to the shade.

Climbed at a new area… new to us, at least.  Sarah led a 5.10!  Ben followed!

Read and draw some more, climb a little bit more, then another early dinner.

Super early bed – we were seriously in the tent falling asleep by 8:30.  What.

Thursday

Pack up, head out back toward Portland.  Get coffee a few times on the way, because we missed coffee shops.

 

 

Climb details:

We honestly didn’t climb as much as we’d expected.  I guess that inertia that I mentioned above still held sway over us… But hey.  We hadn’t been out on a trip like this in a while, and we needed the chance to re-connect to our more energetic selves.  This was the perfect opportunity too, since the park was nearly deserted, and the weather was glorious the whole time.

What we did climb though…

 

Monday

5 gallon buckets, 5.8, Sport.  Sarah led, Ben seconded.

Left Slab Crack, 5.4, Trad.  Sarah led, Ben seconded.

Easy Reader, 5.6, Sport.  Ben and Sarah led.

Tuesday

9999, 5.6, Sport.  Ben and Sarah led.

Amelia Dearheart, 5.7, Sport.  Ben and Sarah led.

We also did a few variants of each, for giggles.

Wednesday

Purple Headed Warrior, 5.7, Sport.  Sarah and Ben led.

Nacho Libre, 5.6, Sport.  Ben led, Sarah seconded.

Float like a Butterfly, 5.10b, Sport.  Sarah led, Ben seconded.

How low can you go?, 5.7, Sport.  Ben led, Sarah seconded.

Rope de Dope crack, 5.8, toprope.  Ben and Sarah climbed.

 

What else… The trip was excellent!  We had a great time, enjoyed cooking food over a fire, and doubly enjoyed the pizza and mozzarella sticks that we had on the last evening we were there.  We climbed well, hiked well, and felt really good.  My knee didn’t give me any trouble the whole time, and actually felt better than it had in a long time.  I think that means that I’ve been under-exercising it, which is definitely good to know.  Means I can push harder, and maybe even start doing heavier lifting… deadlifts, here we come!

Exploring Portland – Roses and Bunnies.

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Thursday and Friday, 07 & 08-Sept-2017

 

Thanks to the Columbia River fires, we couldn’t really take Daniel around to the wilderness hikes that we’d planned on.  We went to a few spots West of the city (see previous posts), but we still wanted to do some exploring… so why not explore the city itself?  We spent both days exploring, but a few of the more unique bits are below…

 

The Rose Garden

Sarah and I have been to the International Test Rose Garden a few times, even once to watch the sunrise recently, but it’s always an extra treat to take friends there.  Daniel loved it, as far as I could tell… the flowers, the photography, the story about two high school girls commandeering Ollie for their graduation photos, and the Shakespeare garden.

I think he less enjoyed my impromptu dance recital on the amphitheater stage, and I’m quite certain that Sarah wasn’t super stoked (at the time) about my awesome waltz skillz.

For my side though, I was disappointed that Daniel didn’t do a soliloquy.  So we all came out disappointed.

 

Hoppy Hour

Daniel had asked us about going on a “catio tour” of Portland.

Turns out, some people have special patios that they’ve made for their cats.  Cat Patios.  Catios.

Needless to say, we absolutely did not do that.  I mean, partially because Sarah is allergic to cats.  Like, super allergic.  But also because that’s silly talk.  Why would we go see cat patios?

Why would we see cat patios… WHEN WE COULD GO PET BUNNIES AND DRINK BEER?!?

Yep.  Heard right.  Pettin’ buns.  Drinkin’ beers.  Hoppy Hour.  Hops in beers, hops from bunnies.  Perfect.  Combo.

Down the street from our house is a Rabbit Rescue operation.  They take in stray bunnies, and bunnies that families can’t keep anymore, and give them homes.  Some of those bunnies actually go through a special training / certification program to become therapy bunnies.  One of the bunnies is even part of a meditation group that uses her as a “physic focus to the mountains of Nepal”, since she’s a Himalayan bunny.

And on Fridays, for a donation of $5, you can come in and pet the bunnies while being served beers.

We went with that option.  It was just as awesome as one would hope.