Category Archives: Rock Climbing

Stories from Rock Climbing, or something in that general area

Volunteering with a summer camp and Teaching people to climb again!

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Friday, 28-June-2019

It’s been so long since I’ve taught someone to climb… I think the last time was sometime back before I came to Oregon, maybe?

I forgot how fun it can be!

I even learned that the age of the new climber doesn’t matter – previously, I’d mostly taught mid-20s people the ins and outs of climbing… Today, I taught kids age 4-10 how to climb!

Or… more accurately, I just made sure they put on harnesses safely, and then belayed them as they scampered up the walls like spider monkeys, and gave out more high-fives than I’d given out the entire rest of 2019.

Let’s go back to the beginning – Sarah’s working for a summer camp this year as their resident climbing coordinator, and I came to help belay on my Friday off.

It was a more complex process than I’d expected, but it’s good to know that working with young kids not only requires the usual belay checks, but also a full background screen. Trivia fact – not a murderer, still.

It’s my Friday off, but we’re still getting going early. A quick breakfast, then off to the Mazamas Mountaineering Center to set up for the kids. Harnesses get laid out, ropes uncoiled, and crash pads are put out below the routes.

It’s incredible how different the Mazamas gear room is from the NUHOC gear locker. They’re so much better funded, and so much more climbing-focused… They have two entire rooms dedicated to rope storage – two rooms, each one bigger than my entire gear locker!

With all the glorious gear laid out, we gave belay tests to the other volunteers, and braced ourselves for the swarm of campers… The schedule was oldest to youngest, not that it really mattered though.

I belayed, gave encouragement, and high fives. At one point some kids tried blindfolded climbing, and then we evacuated after an attempt to clean the blindfold set off a fire alarm.

Trivia fact: microwaving a wet hankie for 10min can start a fire.

Second trivia fact: kids love fire fighters. We had a good time.

Aside from the fire fighters showing up, the day was pretty chill. I particularly enjoyed climbing with the youngest kids though; we had extra volunteers, so I was able to climb up to the top and provide encouraging high fives to everyone who topped out!

Daniel’s bachelor party – a Richmond Adventure

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02-May through 05-May, 2019

Richmond, Virginia

A weekend party.

Daniel’s getting married over Memorial Day, and since we’re all smart enough to know that a good bachelor party will leave bruises we knew that this weekend was the closest that we could be to the wedding, while still giving him time to recover enough after the adventure.

Thursday, 02-May-2019 into Friday, 03-May-2019

I did that thing, again.

You know, the thing that I almost always regret? Where I take a red-eye flight, so that I don’t have to burn an entire day flying from coast to coast?

Well, this time I didn’t regret it!

I landed in Richmond at 8:30am on Friday morning. First things first, I grabbed a coffee.

Then, a Lyft, and then I called Brian, so that he could be ready to let me into the room he’d rented in the Richmond Hostel.

Our goal of the day was to, first, wake me up enough that I could actually be useful. So we went to a diner, we all ate excellent diner food, and I drank a lot of coffee. With me awake, we could now head to the real target – Manchester Wall.

Manchester Wall has nothing to do with the city of Manchester – instead, it’s a series of pillars that once held up a bridge across the James River in Richmond. A bridge that no longer exists, because the Confederate army destroyed it right before Richmond was taken in the Civil War. And now those pillars are bolted, and available for climbing!

(Editors note: the above statement is not quite accurate, as Daniel has informed me. It turns out that the South side of the river James was previously a city called Manchester. And, as such, Manchester wall is the piling of the Richmond-Manchester bridge, on the Manchester side. THANKS, DANIEL)

After climbing we needed food – a brewery called Legends Brewing happened to be right nearby, and also happened to be amazingly delicious… both excellent qualities for a group of sun-drenches, dehydrated, hungry creatures such as ourselves.

*** Honestly, the rest of the weekend was amazing, but I never had a chance to write up a full story about it. Now it’s July, and I still haven’t posted anything… so please forgive the brevity, and enjoy the photo gallery in place of a long winded storytime.***

Friday: climb, legends brewing, traditional southern restaurant for dinner, first Friday, Tom Petty coverband

Saturday: breakfast, go-karts, little ceasars, paintball, showers and painkillers, BBQ, drinks drinks drinks! Small breweries, Tang and Biscuits, barcade, some rooftop bar, regret.

Sunday: regret. Some food, some napping, breakfast, regret, flying home, regret.

Joshua Tree, March 2019 – Rock climbing

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Thursday through Sunday, 21-Mar to 24-Mar-2019

Ohh man, we’re going climbing!!!

It’s been ages since Sarah and I were able to go on a dedicated climbing trip together – with the New Year successfully rung in, vacation days saved up, and strength and health in our limbs, it was time to get back on the plane and get some rock under our feet.  I set up flights, rented a truck, and we set off toward Joshua Tree…

This post will be broken up into three sections: Joshua Tree itself, Climbing, and the superbloom.  We took a lot of pictures, so… trust me.  This is for the best.

 

Just a quick listing of the routes that we climbed on Friday and Saturday, along with a few dozen pictures from the ascents!  We stuck to the fairly easy routes, though next time I think we’ll start into some of the slightly harder lines.  Climbs in Joshua tree aren’t easy – they’re not super hard, but they’re quite different from what we’ve gotten used to here in Oregon.

The rock in Joshua Tree is amazing granite, high friction that allows for a lot more delicate friction movement.  Cracks and friction are just a bit different than the small nubbins and ledges that we’ve got here in the PNW, so it definitely took some getting used to.  And some bleeding… off-width climbs (cracks that are too big to jam your hand in, but too small to shove your whole body into) are rough on the skin.

 

Day 1, Friday

  • SeCoVar (SouthEast COrner VARiant) – 5.5, Trad, 2.5-pitches, Ben leads – This was excellent, and a really pleasant start into Joshua Tree climbing.  A little wandering, a little off-width, and a lot fun.  It even has a tunnel half-way through that you have to walk through!
  • Mike’s Books – 5.6, Trad, 2 pitches, Ben leads – I did the direct start of this, which is a 5.8!  But I also pulled on gear the whole way because it was hard, so… not 5.8.  This was an excellent route, though the top was pretty hefty on lead.  We both loved it.

 

Day 2, Saturday

  • Beginner’s Three – 5.3, Trad, 1 pitch, Sarah and Ben both lead! – Sarah’s first outdoor trad lead post-injury!  This was excellent and pleasant, and Sarah crushed it!
  • Bat Crack – 5.5, Trad, 2 pitches, Ben leads – A very fun route that I remembered from the last time I was in Joshua Tree.  This time I took a variant to the first pitch though, climbing the bottom of “Billabong”, a 5.10 route that has a super-fun and easy start.
  • The Bong – 5.4, Trad, 1 pitch, Ben leads – This route was a ways away from all our other climbing, which is why we made a point to check it out.  Seeing another side of the rock formation was great, and this was a truly spectacular crack to cruise up.