Tag Archives: leading

A glimpse into my life in Hood River: A week in August.

Week of 23-Aug through 29-Aug
I love living in Oregon so far.  Granted, we’re still in the sunny and beautiful months, so that’s definitely a factor that I should take into account: I don’t like long dark days, and I hear that we’re going to have a lot of those soon.
But thankfully, my current adventures are filling up my “get outside and rock out” tank, and I’ve got a whole new network of mountaineers to call on once it gets rainy, and my thoughts drift toward muddy hikes and bagging peaks.
So what have I been up to?  Well – let me give you a quick summary of an enjoyable week that I just had.
Monday, 24-August-2015
Interesting fact, the week officially starts on Monday, per ISO standard 8601.  I did not know that until I looked it up for this post.  I really thought it was Sunday.
I started the week, officially, driving from Portland to Hood River.  It’s an early morning drive; a side effect of Sarah having to wake up at 4:30 for her current project.  It’s nice though, because I’ve been regularly seeing something that I previously thought was only a myth: The sunrise.
And this sunrise is over Mt. Hood, through the smoke of the forest fires that’re burning throughout Oregon and Washington.  So the sunrises have been particularly pleasant recently.
Another advantage of being awake early: breakfast.  Stopping in for a good breakfast is an excellent start to the week, especially since it’s definitely a treat for me to be able to have a solid pre-work breakfast.
After work, Monday was a quiet day – my rest day for the week.  Cleaning the house, reorganizing my gear from the previous weekend, doing Laundry and making a big huge dinner so I’d have leftovers for the week.
Tuesday, 25-August-2015
The Columbia River Gorge is huge – 75 miles long, with an average height between 1500 and 3000ft.  There are 75 major waterfalls, and countless rock faces.  I have two books that show climbs in the area, and it will be years before I’ve explored all of them.
This week, Tuesday is a climbing day.  My coworker has been pestering me to go climbing with him, but I’d been dodging him in favor of trip prep and random other events going on the previous few weeks.  This week was finally open, so we left work a little early and headed to a crag that I’d never been to before, but that he’d climbed at once with some other coworkers of ours.
OH8 – Old Highway 8 – crag is a lot like… I don’t know, really.  It’s like itself – it’s got pretty solid Basalt rock, with tons of small fractures throughout.  Though looks can be deceiving, and the climbs had far fewer crimps and nubbins than I expected, going into it.
If anything, it’s like Quincy Quarries back east – semi-tall, good climbing.  Except that everything is Sport (eat your heart out, Daniel), and they bolts are well maintained, and there’re no heroin needles or huge graffiti tags.
So not like Quincy Quarries at all, I guess.  The rock is, though.
Climb #1 – Tidewater, 5.9 Sport, lead by Ben.  A fun route, though kind of run out.  Right at the crux.  With a ledge fall potential.  So… a little bit sketchy.  But not super tough for a 5.9… I’ve heard it called a 5.8, which fits more with what I’d rate it at.
Climb #2 – Sasquatch, 5.11b Sport, set up as a toprope from the top of Tidewater.  It’s a challenge… but a fun challenge.  I work up it twice; the second time I come close to doing it clean, except for the crux section.
Wednesday, 26-August-2015
Another quick note about Oregon – everyone is athletic here.  Like… my oldest coworker still goes free diving and spear fishing on a regular basis.  Portland has the highest population of interesting / adventurous people that I’ve seen so far, so it’s no surprise that there’s more than a few climbing gyms in the area…
Wednesday I run into Portland again – It’s a bit of a haul, but the only climbing gyms in the area are here, and the chance to climb and have dinner with Sarah definitely makes it worth the ride in.
And honestly, my road trip reminded me just how relaxing and calming driving is for me.  So the drive is a good chance to decompress halfway through the week.  Call some family & friends, maybe.  It’s nice.
So this week, we hit Planet Granite – versus the usual Portland Rock Gym.  In all honesty, I find that I like PG better than PRG; the routes are more toward my style of powerful moves, and the gym is a bit bigger, and so less claustrophobic.  PRG is still excellent, with much more delicate & technical climbing, so I’m looking forward to alternating between the two.
Sarah and I take our lead test, and then get on the wall for some adventure…
5.9, sport lead – this is where we take our test.  Fun.
5.10a, sport lead – a solid jug haul, with some good overhangs and committing moves.  Definitely my style.
5.12a, sport lead – Why did I get on a 5.12a, you may ask?  Because I’m trying to show off to Sarah, is what I’ll answer.  Also, I was curious… and it turns out that PG has very soft ratings… I nearly finished this route with only a single fall.  I wasn’t able to move past the crux though, but it’s a project that I’ll be working on.
5.11b, top rope – Again, proof that their ratings are soft… yet very fun.  I did this route twice in a row – only falling once during the second run.
From the gym, we headed back and made dinner – an amazing charcuterie plate and a bottle of wine.  Because Portland is a classy city, and we’re classy people.
Recipe: charcuterie plate
2 oz prosciutto smoked ham
1 Fuji apple, sliced thin
1/3 of a thick baguette, cut into medium chunks
1 pot of home-made fig jam (or bought, if Sarah isn’t around)
1/2 summer sausage, sliced
8oz Brie, thick cut and slightly warmed so it’s spreadable
8oz blueberries, in a small bowl
All served on a large cutting board, and artfully arranged with a selection of rock climbing gear (see picture)
Paired with Cabernet Sauvignon.  Because the bottle was interesting looking.
Thursday, 27-August-2015
Thursdays are my favorite day of the week.  You’re close to the end, but there’s still enough time to get everything done before the weekend.  And that ties in with both work and pleasure: At work, everyone’s relaxed because we’ve still got Friday to get those projects finished up.  At home, all I ever really have to do is some basic packing and prep work for the weekend.  So, by this rule, Thursdays have become my gym/gaming night.
Thanks to the fact that I stayed in Portland Wednesday night, I find myself in Hood River (awake) much earlier than normal – I’d love to say that I get into work super early and beast-mode the day, but… that just wouldn’t be even remotely true.
Instead, I head home and make myself breakfast.  I’ve done breakfast out on some of the occasions that I’ve driven down the gorge early in the morning, but it’s not really as excellent as I’d like… half the fun of a huge breakfast is knowing that you don’t have to go to work afterward.
So instead of eating out, I save a few bucks and stick with my usual smoothie.  I grab a quick shower, a less quick nap, and then head into work a little bit earlier than normal, as opposed to super-early.  It’s still pretty good though, and the day goes by quickly.  Especially since I’d spent some of the early morning making lunches, and so I had an excellent Brie & prosciutto & apple sandwich to eat.
Then after work, I bike over to the gym.  Very exciting.  I pick up some stuff.  Put it back down.  Pull some things, push some others.  You know, the usual stuff that a dude would do at the gym.  Flex.  Growl.  etc…
Leaving the gym isn’t particularly pleasant though, since it’s not actually the end of my workout… I still have to bike myself home.  Which isn’t generally particularly pleasant, at least after doing squats for half an hour.  But home means dinner, and dinner means happiness, so I push through and have myself a plate of delicious food ready before too long.
Then some gaming, then soaking in the tub full of salt water (Epson salt is amazing, and I’ll be forever thankful to my old roommate Lizzie for introducing it to me), then some more gaming, then a bit of packing for the weekend.  A simple and pleasant Thursday.
Friday, 28-August-2015
Friday’s are not my favorite day at work – but they’re almost always the best day of the week as soon as I leave the office.  That’s because, especially out here in Oregon, I get to go on some amazing adventure for the weekend. 
This weekend was originally going to be a pure climbing weekend – Saturday and Sunday at Smith Rock, trying to get a semi-insane number of climbs done in a rather short period of time.  Sarah was going to meet me in Hood River, and then her friend Josha would meet us at Smith.  Then on Saturday we’d start on a five-pitch sport route, then get two single-pitch routes done, then finish off on a three-pitch trad route.  Then I’d drop Sarah off for a mountaineering trip on Sunday, and Josha and I would spend Sunday climbing some lighter routes.
However, plans change… pretty regularly, in fact.
The forecast was for rain, so Sarah’s mountaineering trip was canceled.  Not a bad thing, since it meant we’d have more time to climb.
But then the back-breaker – Jasper (Sarah’s arthritic, geriatrically lovable dog) got sick.  Sick enough that he couldn’t be left home alone.  Sick enough that he had to go to the vet that evening, to make sure he was okay.
So instead of leaving the house early to drive down to Smith, I hit the gym on the way home.  Then, Sarah and Jasper drove out, we ordered some Chinese for dinner, and settled in to have a low-key rest weekend.  A nice change of pace, since I haven’t had a real rest weekend in over a month…

A Roadtrip to the gunks: Climbing! First Trad of the 2014 season!


A beautiful Sunday, 06-Apr-14


Daniel, Erin and I woke up… not early, but not late.  After a quick breakfast and packing up / cleaning the Hostel, we were tearing down the road towards what we expected to be a rather empty parking lot.  But instead…

Butt tons of people.  Seriously, how were there so many people climbing?  I mean, I know that it was perfect and amazing and gorgeous out, but… it was raining the day before!  That means I get the whole wall to myself!  No!  Stop climbing and having fun!  Give me back my walls!


Ribs (5.5 PG)

Pitch 1 = Daniel took the lead here, and I’m glad that he did.  While the moves were clean, everything was just… kind of thin.  Not positive, and a lot of sloping holds that would have kept me shaking.  So Erin followed him, and I cleaned the gear while making my way to the first belay ledge.

Pitch 2 = From the ledge I led onward, into a route full of pumpy and slightly overhanging moves.  It swung up on huge blocks, with many fair placements, and a lot of exposure… basically exactly what I love climbing.

At the top of the route, we set up an anchor and prepared to rappel down on our double-ropes… when another team came up from the right.  We helped them clip into our anchor, saying that they could drop down our ropes first, since they only had a single rope that would require two rappels.

Then another team showed up from the left.

And then a fourth team came in from the right.

And then a fifth team rappelled down onto us from above.

Seriously.  Our belay ledge was POPULAR.


Black Fly (5.5 PG)

We’ve done this one before, and it’s somehow always sketchier than it should be… a single pitch, and I took the lead on it.  Overall it was clean, but I had a bit of fun with the route-finding about halfway up, and hit a real nasty patch about 10ft from the top.  It was good though, and I’m glad that I took the lead.

However, we ran into trouble on the top rope.  Erin took the second ascent, and took a short fall about 3/4 the way to the top.  A short fall… but just long enough for her foot to get caught on a small ledge.  Sprains-ville, population: Erin.

The solution to this problem was, of course, to give Erin a bit of time to self-evaluate, and make sure it was actually a sprain.  Daniel burned up the climb quickly to get the gear back, and I did a bit of first-aid on the offending ankle.  From there – escape from the crag.

Escape revolved around me moving very quickly, and Daniel being burly.  So we both won in this situation.  Hell, Erin won too, because she got to get carried out by Daniel.  Who was also carrying his own gear.  And my gear.  And Erin’s gear.  Like I said, burly.  While he was flexing and grunting though, I was trail-running to get the car, and then driving at speed to meet up with them in the upper parking lot.  Like I said, moving fast.

Sum total: Enjoyment for all, and Erin was recovered safely.  Just in time to get dinner at the Gilded Otter…