Sunday, October 10, 2010


I suck at poker because I never play. So I suppose I can’t say for sure that I suck at poker. But anything one can be good at without practicing is stupid. Although, I can think of stuff that’s stupid even if one practices it religiously. Anyways. It is my understanding a poker player can produce an advantage by stashing extra cards up his sleeve. When the time comes this player will augment his hand with a choice card, thereby stacking the odds against an opponent. Using this as a metaphor for my situation with my project at Mr. Lee’s I will say I have no more cards up my sleeve. That is, I’m hosed. I’m playing fair from here on out and the odds are certainly not in my favor. Of all the cards a climber may sneak into his hand while sitting across the table from his big project I have played them all. I suffered early-season volume days to set up a strong taper, I committed twenty-something days this season to dialing in beta, weather throughout the year has been extraordinarily good, weather last weekend was the best of the year, I’ve stayed healthy… All this amounted to about 18-inches of progress on Saturday. Now I’m trying to read my project’s tell and I think he’s holding a straight. Not cool, destiny. Now I’m playing even odds. Buddhist Palm WAS against the ropes. I’ve been laying into him with heavy hands for five rounds. He should be coughing blood but he’s whispering at me through his gloves like, “is that all you got?” And, yeah, that’s all I got. Now I’m exactly where I didn’t want to be. The climbing season’s ticking away and I’m locked in a war of attrition. There’s no hail Mary play in the works. The tactic now is to battle every inch between here and chains – the slow fight; the most tedious and miserable way to send.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

things (and stuff)

I didn’t have super great video of Micah campusing when I posted the last time, which was a shame because he was campusing way hard. Now that he’s laid up in the hospital again he’s found time to forward me this:

That’s 1-5-8 then 1-6-bump-7. There’s been some issue lately regarding proper dimensions on campus boards. The spacing is 22cm. That’s TWENTY-TWO CENTIMETERS (aka: THE STANDARD). Fairness cuts both ways so I will say the rungs he’s on are big, the biggest I’ve ever been on, and they’re huge. I believe this was shot on Micah’s iStoopid so excuse the “quality”.

He also reminded of this:

…and that Dre accomplished the hardest female ascent at Mr. Lee’s Greater Hong Kong when she cranked out Sea of Love (12c) in May:

I hate saying ‘female ascent’ but my thoughts on the topic are not yet fully formed so I will not articulate them at this time. Regardless, Dre is a rad climber and her hair is super long.

Phil and I were at Mr. Lee’s last weekend. Again. Projecting Buddhist Palm. Again. Motivation is proving a rare commodity as I approach this season’s twentieth day of work. Yeah.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Jews and Gentiles agree: legs suck and campusing is rad

It’s been about a year since the last time I posted anything to my blog. Not that I’ve had nothing to write about; it’s that I started this new job and I believe my boss has no soul. Actually, I know this. He is also the one who introduced me to Owl Tor. But I digress. My purpose today is to review for those who care the significant events of the previous twelve months.

Summer 2009 – Last summer saw Micah and me hanging out on the regular. We were climbing at all sorts of rad places like… the Splash Zone (to get there: look for the raddest Wu Bat ever).

And we were climbing a bunch at Mr. Lee’s Greater Hong Kong. Because it’s rad.

Micah is Jewish and his Mom hates when people make that distinction so this is the second of four times I will refer to his religion in this post.

We were all kickin’ it and stuff, climbing and getting all tan and junk – then Micah went climbing with Bob in Bishop and fell off this:

…and broke his stupid leg.


On Micah’s third day at Mammoth Hospital I got up early, called in sick, sent Smooth Criminal, then drove out with Bob to retrieve him. I dedicate my ascent to the Jewish faith:

This is the expression I have when I ridicule someone for being a pussy:

And sure enough, I fell off this two months later:

…tore stupid ankle ligaments…

…had surgery…

…and got to initial my own foot. I’d like to give a shout out to Dr. Pearson, who is truly rad.

Recovery sucked, as per usual…

For some reason people would think Micah and I had simultaneous skiing accidents when we crutched around together.

Fortunately we both had the foresight to keep our hands tucked in during our respective accidents, focusing the impact on our useless ankles to save our better appendages for future endeavors. Our arms were unaffected and probably a bit angry. Before leg rehab would glimmer on the horizon we were campusing.

We were campusing a lot. Micah got wicked strong and now cranks down 1-5-8 like it’s boring.

My trivial injury healed right up. For Micah the saga continues. Long story short, my Jewish friend got all emotional about life or something.

Now it’s like you can’t hang with just Micah. You have to chill with his stupid leg all the time too. Where before there was healthy flesh there has grown a parasitic personality. And while Micah sleeps I believe this conjoined entity talks him into thinking all sorts of feminine thoughts that make him sound like a little girl when he drinks.

I’m back climbing at Mr. Lee’s, projecting Buddhist Palm with Phil. Last Saturday was like the sixteenth day of work this season.

Phil’s still doing the same thing. He’s Phil.

Brian too has kept it real meanwhile:

"Climbing is like lifting weights in the woods." from Thrice on Vimeo.

Last Friday Micah moved up to Eugene to start an MBA program at the University of Oregon. I told him two years in the Pacific Northwest will make his hippie ass wish he was interning at a Palestinian meat packing plant, but no one listens to Elijah. Truth be told, I might maybe a little… miss his stupid ass.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

6 million ways to die

We are merely visitors to Owl Tor, but these bastards keep it real. They’re there all day. They’re there right now. And I know when I’m in the mood to have my face ripped off, they’re available. They are the critters of Owl Tor.

Northern Spectacled Anaconda 

Homodo Dragon 

Greater Beige Belly 

Kissing Viper 


Owl Tor is named for the owl who used to live there. We still hear him sometimes but his precise residence is not known. Other birds are all over the place though – vultures, hawks, starlings, crows, etc. There’s also bats but the last two times I saw them I was too busy peeing my pants to take a picture. Take a run on Fallopian Tube if you’re curious.

Some variety of furred critter resides in the grass above the cliff proper. I think I saw one once and maybe have a picture but I couldn’t find it. I assure you they are there though. While topping out on Shatter Hand last weekend I utilized their dirt chambers on the mud/grass headwall. They’ve really undertaken an impressive drilling operation – we’re talking miles of tunnels on super dubious terrain.

Oh yeah, and ‘wormies’ – I saw them once and wouldn’t sit on the rocks at Owl Tor for an entire season for fear they would invade me via rectum. Wormies had gone decades without a sighting and, as far as I know, have not been sighted since. Believing they had the Tor to themselves for the duration of the rainy season, I surprised the wormies one damp day with my girlfriend at the time. This would be Evelyn’s first time climbing/belaying and my first encounter with the critters I now call wormies. I had forgotten my rope at home but I’ll never forget what I saw in the water that day: foot-long tape worm-looking things writhing around in the putrid pee bath that constitutes Owl Tor’s intermittent water source. And no one believes my account. They’ll believe me when a wormie climbs out of the hell nectar to make a run at some poor soul’s colon.

Be careful out there.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

the week in training

My spring climbing season is going approximately as planned. I’m campusing decently, bouldering sufficiently and have managed to put in a few good days on Strictly. Saturday was my sixth day of the season at Owl Tor and my third day on this year’s redpoint route of focus, for which the campusing and bouldering is supposed to provide adequate power. I burned three attempts on the lower section of Strictly Ballroom and two from the ledge to the top, strategically splitting the route into two obvious sections. I’m still concerned with the difficulty of the mono to the crimp at the first bolt, although this day I made progress, hitting the crimp maybe three times. It’s going to take more than a few more hard days of work before I’m approaching legitimate redpoint burns. On a positive note, my timing has coincided perfectly with Lizard mating season. After making moves on a local lady, this guy dominated my shoe.

From Wednesday’s session at the Shed, 1-4-7 on the mediums:

The campus board at the Shed is built to standard specifications: rungs are spaced 22cm, 15-degrees overhanging. The left rungs are the only set to come from a manufacturer – Metolius mediums. The right two sets are my own creation and are considerably smaller.

And for some Thursday climbing action, Micah and I went to Upper Gibraltar to get on a couple of the most mediocre routes in town. This photo is of Micah leading A Route Runs Through It (5.10c) with his pack on to facilitate a quick exit in fading light.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

the first day of the rest of my life

Saturday was my first day of the season on Strictly Ballroom. She’s still an angry route. So much anger. Things went OK though, I think. I expected it to be hard. My biggest concern at this point is the mono move at the first bolt. The start is about V9 to the second bolt, I would guess. The crux of this section involves a mono to a bad crimp that I’ve never actually done. Beginning a project on which I haven’t done all the moves is a bit ambitious. But that’s alright – I expected this. The rest of the route isn’t so bad. From the second bolt to the chains is probably 13c, so after a good rest I expect it’s manageable. My two-finger strength felt good. There’s two two-finger pockets at the start and three consecutive two-finger pockets higher up that comprise some hard sequences. All five two-finger pockets felt about how I thought they would, which is to say good, considering I usually think moves will feel better than they actually end up feeling. All in all, it’s hard for me to make a prediction for my chances at a redpoint. This is a new level of difficulty for me. The really interesting part is: I know I can redpoint, but I probably won’t. Physically, there’s no doubt I can adapt. Throw in other factors like the stress of pushing back the inside of my performance envelope every training day, while at the same time staving off injury, and I don’t know… maybe.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

commence Operation Don't Suck

I'm back from a one week trip to Henderson, Nevada for my bi-yearly commitment to bettering myself professionally, namely the CCIE written exam, and I'm fully focused now on the coming summer's climbing goals, that is: don't suck. This weekend saw a refreshingly populous crew of Santa Barbara locals for the season's third day at Owl Tor. We included Justin, Andy, Skip, and myself. Micah, Elhanan, and Phil were noticeably absent. They each cited respective excuses - Micah's benched with shoulder issues, Phil was in Vegas, Elhanan is fat - like the Tor cares. The Tor remembers these indiscretions with the intention of jarring our memories in December, as the monsoon season steals any opportunities for progress, so that we may realize why we've failed on our projects. She reminds us we have indeed failed and who we may blame for that. Surprise, Tor: we're already failing and it's only April. I'm too old for this. I'm going to push hard for a redpoint on Strictly Ballroom this spring. One of us is going to lose here. Either I'll clip chains despite Owl Tor's best attempts to maim me, or I'll flail pitifully for 7 months at Central California's answer to Mordor. Whichever the outcome, I'm ramping up for an entertaining go of it, and so is everyone else. Justin redpointed Auto Magic on his second day of work this season, his second season climbing; Andy did 11 laps; and Skip is squeezing blood from mud. I had one good burn on BTL then flailed the rest of the day.

da routes:

  1. Power of Eating (5.11d) - redpoint
  2. When the Sea Doesn't Want You (5.12a) - redpoint
  3. Chips Ahoy (5.12d) - redpoint
  4. Better Than Life (5.13c) - ground to the sidepull after the 3-finger after the fifth bolt
  5. Shatter Hand (5.12d) - fell at the last draw, worked out the top
  6. White Cougar (5.12b) - falls at the top
  7. Auto Magic (5.12a) - redpoint
  8. Anchor Punch (5.12a) - 1 fall
  9. When the Sea Doesn't Want You (5.12a) - 1 fall