Tag Archives: Adventures

25, 26 & 27-March; adventurous in Seattle! (Climbing at Vantage)

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Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 25-March through 27-March, 2016

 

We went to Seattle!

 

A friend of Sarah and I, Dave, lives part time in Seattle.  Seattle is a place that I haven’t been before, but that Sarah thinks is wicked cool (to visit, a little large to live in we think).  If it’s a place, and there’s a reason to go, and it’s only 3 hours driving away…

 

What I’m getting at, is we went to Seattle!

But this is about the climbing that we did around there.  Because I am me, and climbing is what I do.  So we drove 3+ hours North to Seattle, and drove 2.5 hours east to a place called Vantage, to climb at an area called Frenchman Coulee.

Yeah, that equates to “5+ hours of driving, to get somewhere ~3 hours from my house”.  Hush.  It was worth it.

 

Frenchman Coulee is in the Washington desert, on the side of a beautiful canyon.  We stuck to the main climbing area for our adventures here… not that the others looked bad, but just that The Feathers (the main section) was literally up the side of a tiny hill from the parking lot.  It’s hard to convince yourself to explore, when there’s climbing less than five minutes from you.

And the climbing five minutes from us was good.  It was really good.  Very bouldery and very reminiscent of gym climbing, with good hold spaces interestingly far apart.  I did a few trad lines up some really interesting dihedrals and crack systems, but we mostly rocked sport lines up the bolted faces.  I did get to save a cam for a group climbing next to us, which was a nice little bonus, but most of the climbs were pretty straightforward.

 

In total, we climbed two days and did maybe two dozen routes each.  Simple, elegant, and fun… even if the driving was a little excessive 🙂

My love of Yosemite National Park: Exploring, and the first climb on sacred rock

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My love of Yosemite National Park: Exploring, and the first climb on sacred rock

I’ve never been to Yosemite, but it’s been etched into my adult mind in the same way that the Titanic and Dinosaurs were etched into my young mind. It’s a myth, a legend. The greatest place for traditional rock climbing in the world, and arguably the birthplace of modern climbing itself.

Feats of strength and endurace took place here; first ascents of climbs that no one thought could be climbed by human hands..

Brilliance of engineering even happened; the creation of Cams, and many other unique pieces of protection.

Yosemite is greater than life, in my mind. But I’ve never been there. Until this trip.

Thursday, 11-June-2015

Today, I climb Yosemite.

I won’t climb the famous peaks. I won’t be ascending El Capitan, dragging two days worth of equipment below me. I won’t be sending a line up the Sentinel, or any other legendary face.

Instead, I’ve got my crash pad on my back, my shoes and chalk, and the goal of getting to know the rock of Yosemite. Learning the bouldering problems, and seeing how the rock forms holds, and how people move up the routes.

First thing I learn? Yosemite ratings are TOUGH. I can climb routes rated V5 at the gym back in Boston. And that gym is generally considered fair, as far as ratings go. Maybe a grade or two harder than outdoors. In Yosemite, I’m climbing V0, and flailing against V1 climbs.

But that’s ahead of myself – first I drove in, took pictures, and stopped in Curry Village. When tourists go to destinations, they get souvenirs. I am no different… but the souvenirs that I get are always climbing guide books. They’re useful, and I can keep them on my shelf to show off where I’ve climbed… and to tease myself about where I can go back to.

So I bought a book, debated getting some new trad gear (I didn’t, I stayed good) and looked for some early lunch… didn’t find any, of course, since it was only 10:00 and the grill doesn’t open until 11:00.

So that’s how I found myself at the Legendary (yes, capitalized) Camp 4. The home of American rock climbing. Seriously. There’s even a plaque saying so!

I climbed, and explored. I met a climber from Chile, who was looking for a partner to climb El Capitan with. Speed climb. With a random partner. Yep, he’s nuts.

We bouldered – watched someone flail at Midnight Lightnig (a V8 climb, arguably the most famous Bouldering route in the United States). We met up with some Brazilians, one of whom climbed at the same level as me – so her an I snuck off to fight with a V0 that took WAY too much effort for a V0.

Then I headed out on my own, looking for more adventure. I found some other climbs, did a bit of bushwacking, and forgot my bug repellent in the car (meaning that I hiked back out to get it, since I’d be dead and drained of blood if I hadn’t).

I loved every second of it.

Routes that I worked:

Honestly, I don’t really remember any specifics. The routes here are hard. The folks that I was hanging out with were pretty fun though, and they definitely made the difficulty more tolerable. I focused on the main “Midnight Lightening” boulder in the beginning, then followed the Chilean climber to a perfect splitter crack that I couldn’t do much more than start on.

I was able to bust out that pretty good V0 balancy route nearby though, after a fair amount of work.

From there, I hit up some smaller boulders on the walk out – much easier routes than the splitter that I had been working before.

Ohh! I do remember one! The Presidential Traverse, a V0 rated at four stars. It was really fun – just a long traverse from one end of a boulder to another, walking on big ledges and using huge flakes. Honestly, it was really easy… annoyingly easy, after the rest of the day.

Kayaking when the weather isn’t really the best…

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Sunday, 04-May-14

 

So a bit ago I got a full season membership to Charles River Canoe and Kayak.  I also bought a new waterproof camera as a prep-point for taking Spring Break in France.  Combining these two means that I can take pictures out on the water, and that I can get out onto the water for cheap.  So… why not, right?  It’s a medium-warm day in May, let’s get into the Charles!

 

  • Start out the adventure by texting everyone while I’m at brunch… btw, brunch?  Balling.  So good!  The brunch place that I usually go to upgraded its fare – they raised the price and cut out the menu options, but holy crap it was worth it.  Carving station, omelette station, extra snacks… yeah.  I enjoy going to the Foundry.
  • Emma’s the only one to reply, so we aim to meet up after I finish gardening
  • Finish gardening, get ambushed by neighbors (which is nice), and then meet up with Emma… late as always.  I’m sorry Emma!
  • It’s too cold to go in the water :/  Wait, they’re joking!  They call out to us as we’re about to walk away that it’s warm enough now!  Just barely… but they can’t rent to anyone if the water temp is below 55 Deg.F – and it just hit 55.5 Deg.F out.
  • They make us go through a whole slew of cold water release and waiver forms.  Emma’s a bit worried, but we get a really stable Kayak to make up for it.  Tie up the gear, get situated, and head out.
  • The channel is kind of choppy, but nothing too bad.
  • We’re about to get out into open water… Wait, the channel.  The protected, enclosed channel, was choppy.  Shit.  Now we’re out on the river itself…. The river?  3ft waves.
  • Emma starts to worry, but we’ve got this.  Water spraying as we bash through the waves, paddles straining deep.  Cue battle-music and some old grizzled sea-dog screaming orders over a hurricane.
  • We can’t work through these waves… we need to make a break for shore, so we turn toward the esplanade and make landfall on a small dock.
  • Beach in the esplanade, reorganize, and have a snack.  Give Emma my waterproof layer.
  • Now that we’re in the sheltered esplanade, it’s really nice!  We take our time and mosey through the small channels.  The trees are all in bloom, and it’s gorgeous with the cherry blossoms sprinkling down.
  • After we get to the far end, we turn around and head back.  Once we’re out into the river the waves aren’t super bad this time.  The wind died down, I guess.
  • Bike back, via the Harvard Square May Day event.  Listen to some cool music and roll out home
  • Have dinner, have a fire, and relax the night away.  Nice.