Category Archives: Rock Climbing

Stories from Rock Climbing, or something in that general area

Clinging to the rocks of Klinger Springs


Saturday, 16-June-2018

With her knee still injured, and outdoor adventures out of the picture, Sarah’s taken to living vicariously through me.  To do so, she’s been setting up play dates for me with various climbers that she knows.  This weekend was a climbing trip with two people she’d met during her Advanced Rock class with the Mazamas, on an adventure to a new climbing area that neither of us had been to…


The day started early, as it’s wont to do when Mazamas are involved.

I hadn’t met either of the two Patricks that I’d be climbing with today, but we’d been chatting on Facebook for a while, discussing plans and coming up with route ideas and gear selection.  It was good – we were pretty ready, and while it was going to be an early morning, climbing’s one of those things that I’ll very willingly wake up early for.


We met up, piled into Pat’s (one gentleman was Pat, the other was Patrick) Subaru, and hit the road!  It was going to be a long drive – just about an hour and a half – but that’s the price we pay here in Oregon to find good rock.

The drive?  Simple, enjoyable, and finished before too long.

The parking?  Kind of sketchy, since it’s just a tiny pulloff on a winding road East of Mt. Hood.

The approach?  Tough.  I packed too much, and don’t like hiking straight up the side of a mountain.  I lived, though.

The climbs?  Well…

  • Blue Grouse – 5.9, Sport, Top Rope – Our warmup route, this one was really fun and pretty straight forward.  I enjoyed it, even though it was sport.
  • Belly of the Beast – 5.8, Trad, Lead – This one was glorious, if a bit tough for me.  I haven’t done much crack climbing since breaking my knee, and the movements are still a bit tough for me.  But I pushed through, slammed gear in, and safely made it up to the top.  I loved the top of it, specifically, traversing out from under a roof, and clipping an anchor out on the face.
  • Ourboros – 5.8, Trad, Lead – This was around the corner from Belly of the Beast, on the far side of the huge basalt column.  I liked this a bit more, since it was a little cleaner and had some better placements, but honestly it wasn’t super different from Belly of the Beast.  The real challenge was remembering when/where to traverse around the arrete to get to the anchors.  I caught myself before I went too far, but poor Pat had to downclimb nearly 6ft to get back to the anchors.
  • Shaken (not to be confused with Shaken) – 5.8, Mixed, Top Rope – this route… was a bit contrived, if I’m being honest.  It looks like a really hard finger crack, but Mountain Project called it a 5.8, so we jumped on it.  But it’s literally 2ft right of a 5.10 sport line.  So… you can easily clip bolts everywhere.  And while the crack looked good… well, this route was really just a face climb with a tiny crack that you could sometimes place gear into.  Meh.

We started up one more route, but unfortunately the rain started seriously threatening almost immediately after Pat headed up.  By the time Patrick was on his way to clean, it was sprinkling… and when he was down, we had rain.

So, we packed up and headed back.  The drive was pretty clean, though I’ll be the first to admit that I had a bit of trouble staying awake for all of it.  I didn’t fully nod off, but I definitely zoned our pretty regularly.

But hey!  That means we went hard!  And I got to explore a new area, so… that’s pretty rad, right?

Spring Break 2018 – West Virginian adventures, Other Galleries



Interestingly enough, I wasn’t the only one on this adventure.

And, thankfully for everyone, some of the other adventurers are excellent photographers.  You may have noticed that, while leafing through the various pictures that I posted, I don’t feature in a whole lot of them.  Funny, that.  Turns out that being behind the camera (or cell phone, in this case) is pretty non-conducive to being in the photos themselves.  I tried for some selfies… but let’s be honest.  The front-facing camera isn’t really doing my beautiful face justice.

Thankfully, those other excellent photographers also had cameras.  And some of those cameras are really good!


So please.  Sit back, relax, forgive us for any repetitions that you might see, and enjoy Daniel’s rather massive photo gallery.



Spring Break 2018 – West Virginian adventures, Friday, 01-June

Spring Break 2018 – West Virginian adventures, Friday, 01-June

A West Virginia adventure – Spring Break in the New River Gorge, 2018

Saturday, 26-May, through Saturday, 02-June, 2018


Life is old there, older than the trees. Younger than the mountains, blowing like a breeze. Country roads, take me home… to the place, I belong! West Virginia, Mountain momma… take me home, country roads.”

I’m pretty sure that the first real spring break I ever had was with Daniel, years ago, when we drove down to the New River Gorge to climb, and attend the New River Rendezvous. Since that year, we’ve done our best to always link up and go on some glorious climbing trip on or around Memorial Day. This year was a tough one, with Sarah breaking her leg, but she insisted that I go anyways, and let her live vicariously through me as she convalesed at home. I’d already cleared the week as vacation with my boss, even before I was hired for the project, so I was free and clear for a throwback adventure…





Our last full day dawned, and we gorged on bacon, eggs, and sausage. Tradition is comforting, especially in the face of imminent flights, long drives, and significantly decreased climbs per day. Breakfast was no exception, so we helped ourselves feel better by having a glorious spread to put on the table.


Our goal for the day was Orange Oswald, and some hiking afterward – We’d been to Orange once or twice, depending on who you’re talking to (twice for Brian and I, once for everyone else), but the combination of hard routes and interesting moderate routes was perfect for us… and the fact that it has a max-rated 5.10a was definitely a pretty major draw for us. It did take a little bit of convincing for the group, since everyone was pretty tired out after a full week of adventure, but hey. That’s totally fair, and in the end we had a plan that everyone liked.

We drove out! In two cars! It… wasn’t that exciting, I’ll be honest.

Then we parked! With two cars! It also wasn’t particularly exciting.

The hike in was also non-exciting. It was more exciting than the driving or parking though, so… that’s a plus? Also, definitely a good warm up before climbing.

Which… it turned out we sort of needed! Because rain!


Daniel was already on the route when the skies opened up. I was racking up and getting ready to start onto my route. He was on a powerful 5.9, and I was on the highest rated 5.7 in the New. Daniel kept going, but I was unsure… climbing in the rain is pretty difficult and unpleasant at the best of times… leading on these routes was definitely a daunting task.

For me, at least. For Daniel… not so much. Maybe he’s a badass. He was halfway up, so maybe he just figured it was better to press onward. Either way, he battered onward, ignoring the rain and pulling through powerful move after powerful move.

Do you think I stood back, and let him show me up like that?

Absolutely. I was scared. Rain is scary when climbing, man. But after a minute or two the rain started noticably tapering off, and that was the sign that I needed. I don’t like letting Daniel one-up me if I can help it, so as soon as I felt positive that I could climb the route safely, I was blasting off trying to catch up.


The route honestly wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected – the rain had been pretty heavy, but thankfully hadn’t really seeped into the rock, and since it was partially shielded by the foliage that left me with very climbable terrain. Very enjoyable, even though I’d already done this exact route four times earlier in the trip. Just because you’ve done a route before, doesn’t make it any less fun.

The rest of the climbing was even better – the route Daniel had set up was a super fun challenge, with big moves on a really interesting sequence. And that’s even before we got to climb the namesake route for the wall, Orange Oswald…

  • Hippy Dreams, 5.7, Lead – Yep, the same route as before. Still super fun, even in the rain.
  • Chunko Goes Bowling, 5.9+, TR – This route was glorious. Interesting start, powerful moves, and a wandering sequence led to sustained, super pleasant climbing. It was tough going for everyone else though, so definitely a route that takes a lot of power.
  • Orange Oswald, 5.10a, TR – Ohh man. The samesake for the wall, this route was tough and fun. I’m glad I didn’t lead it… but ohh man I want to lead it.

The climbing did take a while, but after everyone got their fill of pulling on rocks, we packed up and headed toward our next adventure – actually hiking the endless wall trail that I had aimed for the day before!


Since everyone was pretty exhausted, we hadn’t planned on spending the whole day climbing – as a trade to accommodate low energy reserves, we rolled out, parked, and headed in to finish up the hike that I’d started yesterday.

We didn’t go directly though – we did stop in at the visitor’s center first. Originally just to grab some more water and use the restrooms, but after looking around for a minute we decided to spend the 11minutes to watch their history of the Gorge video.

And honestly? I’d recommend it to anyone visiting the New River Gorge. It was partially propaganda for the forest service… but hey. They made the movie, I can’t blame them. The rest was really interesting and informative though, specifically about the origins of the Gorge, industry, and how it was settled.


With the movie fresh in our minds, we headed out onto the hike to get some good views of the entire area. I’m still a bit unconvinced that USA Today is right about it being the best hike in the US… but hey. The trail definitely had some pretty impressive overlooks, so that’s pretty cool, right?

Honestly, the hiking was pretty straight forward. We descended the ladders once as a group, but since Daniel and I were the only ones really interested in the cliffs, he and I were the only ones who descended the second time, after the overlooks.

I should quickly mention the photoshoot that occurred a the overlook, though… It was pretty impressive. And it happened twice, since we found two really beautiful overlooks. Now, don’t think that we didn’t enjoy the views! We definitely took our time appreciating the impressive panoramas around us! But we did also take time to pose. Repeatedly. A lot. Everyone. Like… just… so many poses.

It was really fun.

But yeah. Descending. Daniel and I did that. Erin, Lauren and Thomas continued on while we descended the Honeymooner’s ladder, with Brian hanging out at the top taking pictures and keeping watch (Against bears? I assume?). But that meant that the three of us were pretty far behind the others… which clearly meant that we needed to run!

And you can’t run without singing cadence, right? Right.

But… none of us have been in the military. We don’t actually know any cadence songs.

So, instead, we made stuff up. They were great. I’m not going to admit to any of them here. But trust me. Great. Super intelligent, and not poorly rhymed at all. Just trust me.

Once we caught up, it started raining. I mean, not immediately after we caught up, of course, because that would have been creepy. But pretty soon after. So we threw on what rain gear we had and hustled out.


Why did we hustle?

Well, we didn’t want to get too soaked… but let’s be honest. If you’re more than 10min from the cars, you’re going to get as wet as you can get, and hustling won’t help you one way or the other.

The real reason was dinner. Once we were in the cars, we could drive home. And once we were home, we could get changed. And once we were changed… well, once we were changed we could drive to eat BBQ!!!


Our goals always involved getting good BBQ – from the first time Daniel and I visited West Virginia, this has always been pretty critical to our trips. And back then, we’d found the ideal place to go; it was a shack by the side of the road, with a few beat up smokers outside slowly cooking away next to an old truck or two. And it was called Dirty Ernies. So, you know. That’s the kind of place that you can trust to have some legit, down-home delicious BBQ.

Dirty Ernies had closed, though.

Instead, there was Firecreek BBQ and steakhouse.

Firecreek was… well, it wasn’t Dirty Ernies. The pictures looked upscale, and the website made it look like the place you’d go to on a Sunday night after going to church. But as they say, it was the only game in town… so we all got dressed up and headed over for our last night in the West Virginian mountains.


Ohh my lord did we eat. While Firecreek doesn’t quite have the je ne sais quoi of Dirty Ernies, it still had damn good food. I ordered the trio: brisket, ribs, and chicken, and I absolutely didn’t regret it.

  • The ribs were some of the best baby back ribs I’ve ever eaten, no exaggeration. We’re not talking “fall-off-the-bone”, we’re talking “try to pick up a bone and it cleanly slides out”, tender.
  • The brisket was glorious; not over seasoned, but perfectly flavored. Not as impressively good as the ribs, but still amazing.
  • The chicken… ehh, it was BBQ chicken. I’ll be honest, after the other two it was definitely a let down. It was a bit dry, and not super flavorful… but that might just be because of how good the other two were.
  • Brownie a la mode – YUP, we had dessert. It was awesome.
  • West Virginia Mule – Like a Moscow Mule, but with Bourbon. It was awesome.


After gorging (heh, gorging in the New River Gorge), we rolled our way home. We were supposed to make an early evening of it, just packing up and going to bed, but ended up staying awake a lot longer, just hanging out and talking.

Trips like this are always too quick; no matter how much time we spend exploring and adventuring, it never seems like enough, and I always leave wishing that I’d been able to hang out with people a bit more.