Monday, November 3, 2014

Making a Difference

Tomorrow is Election Day. It is important to vote.  The act of abstaining gives away your power as a citizen.  Even if you are fed up with the political rhetoric, corruption and game-playing, your vote DOES matter. Consider if you do not vote that you are letting others, who do, decide for you.  If you want to complain, use your vote. Take responsibility, make a difference, exercise your rights!

Climbers, make a difference by joining in the Access Fund's new initiative The Rock Project.  Commit to The Pact to be a responsible climber who lives by the guidelines of the pact and helps others to do the same.  Watch the video for an easy explanation of this initiative and do your part.

Spread the word any and every way you can.  This is just the start - but our climbing future depends on it!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Colors of Climbing

We returned a week ago from a 9 day trip to Denver, CO for a family wedding.  The first half of our trip was mostly consumed with family events. But I did get to sneak out one day with Randy to climb.  That day it was cold and rainy (even a few snowflakes) in the immediate Denver area. But the forecast looked good se we headed south to Colorado Springs for the day.  It was there that we both embraced the unique climbing experience at The Garden of the Gods. This city park boasts beautiful sandstone sculptured rock formations.  Rock climbers need only fill out a form for a free climbing permit and be on their way.  What I found most unusual was that other visitors and tourists are walking throughout the park directly beneath these formations some of which have climbers ascending them.  I couldn't help but think how dangerous that is for the folks on the ground - one dropped carabiner, belay device or a piece of broken rock could spell curtains!  Needless to say I was especially careful handling our gear.

Our first route was The North Ridge of Montezuma's Tower - this thin rib or sliver of sandstone rises about 120 feet from the sand floor. The route climbs along the rib or ridge - providing incredible exposure as you tip-toe along the balance beam with minimal protection opportunities.  The photo of Randy coming up does not accurately depict the feel for this climb.

Looking down at Randy climbing up the North Ridge of Montezuma's
After the wedding events came to a close, we headed to Shelf Road, a popular sport climbing venue near Canon City, CO.  Here the rock is limestone, a sometimes sharp and crumbly rock to climb on.  We enjoyed camping and climbing with Randy and Dan for 2 days there with unseasonably hot temperatures our second day.  I found most of the grades here a bit soft for what we are used to in places like Rumney.

What struck me most about the routes at Shelf was how many cracks had a line of bolts next to them.  Many of these routes were likely climbed on removable traditional gear in the past and could be today. Yet the sport climbing mentality has trumped tradition here in my estimation.

The evening view of Cactus Cliffs at our campsite at Shelf Road
Annie roped up and ready at Shelf

Climbing a bolted crack line called B & C

Our last rock venue in Colorado was Clear Creek Canyon near Golden. It was simply too hot to climb in Eldorado Canyon, so our tour guide Randy knew the cool spots to go not far from home base.  Annie was our "rope gun" the first day, putting up 4 routes in a row at the East Colfax wall.  The next day we climbed at The Canal Zone at the bottom of the canyon.  Great sport climbing with well protected routes.  Again, a little soft for the grade with a couple of exceptions.

Our rope gun at Clear Creek Canyon

We returned to mighty fine fall weather in Vermont.  While foliage is not at peak yet near home, it certainly is up north.  On Saturday we went back up to Groton, VT the home of Marshfield Ledge.  The 3 pitch route we climbed rewarded us with a view as magnificent as I have ever seen.  Words cannot describe it. See for yourself.

This is Marshfield Ledge from the flat road approach...

Pitch 2 of "Just For Goobs", Marshfield - just look down!

View west from the top of Marshfield Ledge

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

ADK Rock

I received our new Adirondack Rock guidebooks today.  Seems like not long ago the fab new guidebook came out on Adirondack rock climbing, but Jeremy and Jim have done it again.  The Two Volume set is so impressive I couldn't help but to snap a photo of it.  The covers and bindings are super sturdy and the artwork on the cover and throughout the books (illustrator Colin O'Connor) is delightful. They come with a slip cover to hold both books securely.  Color photos, color topos, history, new routes and so much more. It might take me all winter to peruse this one! Nice job guys!
The Second Edition of Adirondack Rock. WOW.

Monday, September 1, 2014

A Gift

Two days of spectacular weather. Sunshine, dry, 75 degrees.
North Conway, NH.
Cathedral Ledge.
Whitehorse Ledge, South Buttress.
Weekday climbing, no crowds, no lines, no waiting, no yahoos.

Funhouse>Black Lung>Upper Refuse>Lookout Crack (chat with tourists)....Pine Tree Eliminate...
Annie headed up Black Lung on Cathedral Ledge

Hotter Than Hell>Inferno (crack climbing on pitch 3!)
New friends, Kate and Natalia!
Pitch 3 of Inferno gives the gift of sweet (albeit short) hand jam crack

Contemplating a future blog post with some depth, as I consider the give and take of climbing...until then, climb on!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Echo, Echo, Echo....

I started out this post with my usual descriptions of the past 2 weekends of climbing. How great the weather has been, what climbs we did, who we met and climbed with, etc.  Yeah.  I had it all planned out in my head and as I was writing, I realized how boring it all sounded.  "We did this and we did that, blah, blah BLAH!!!"

Then I read Andrew Bisharat's piece in Rock and Ice magazine Issue number 220 (August 2014) and once again was impressed by this guy. His regular piece "Tuesday Night Bouldering" is a favorite read as it typically contains outstanding humor, all inspired by the real culture of climbing that presents itself in ridiculous fashion.  This piece, while not humorless, was much more meaningful (to me anyway), and I would like to ride his coattails a bit.

One thing climbing gives to me is a true escape from the UN-pleasantries of daily living - mostly my "Rolodex Brain" (a hundred thoughts fluttering about in my head , usually all the things I should be doing or have to do). And since my work is in the information technology field, I am constantly consuming and consumed by today's compulsory tech gadgets, communications expectations and social media hub-bub. When I took 3 months to drive X-country and climb in 2011 (the impetus behind this blog), I so enjoyed the simplicity of the climbing life.


Andrew describes his sentiment about escaping the "social-media trap" by bringing his reader along with him on some climbing adventures with an extraordinary pro climber (Hayden Kennedy).  Right after he hung up the phone making some climbing plans with Hayden, he "...started thinking ahead to the future, and the inevitable TNB I'd write, Instagrams I'd post, and Twitters I'd tweet, glorifying our weekend excursion, which hadn't even taken place yet."  Can you say "wake up call???  While I might not be writing the blog before I've gone on another adventure, I do understand this trap and feel my powerlessness to elude it.  This social frenzy that is confining and consuming us all is gnawing into my climbing passion and pastime as well.  I need to revisit my reason for blogging in the current style and how it feeds me (or not!)

Let this be my transition period.  Readers, give me some slack (pun intended) about just some images, links and words to capture the feelings of climbing the past 2 weekends.  It's far from the product I'd rather produce, but this will take some work - and some getting used to.

Hanna -  Big Bertha at Barkeater

Click here to learn more about D Acres Organic Farm

The Iriquois referred to the Algonquins as "Barkeaters" because they had to eat bark to survive. It was an intentional insult.

What matters in all of this climbing stuff we do?
The people
The places
A quiet mind (all internal noise vanishes)
The discomfort which becomes comfortable
The new experiences in familiar places

VH1 at Echo Crag - Yup, that's Annie
Skeletal Ribs - Jed is a superstar in my book!

Rocket - or an advertisement for the Black Diamond X4s?

Would you believe the name of this route is "No Pigs"???

"If you want to be celebrated for something goofy and pointless like climbing, how you treat others is actually what matters most." - Andrew Bisharat, from "Wild Things Gone", Rock and Ice Magazine, Issue No. 220, August 2014

Monday, June 2, 2014

Old and New, Tried and True

We took Friday off to get a 3-day weekend in at the Gunks and mother nature cast upon us a blessed 3 straight days of perfect early summer spectacular! Would you complain about mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s??? Never!

The plan was to introduce 2 of our climbing friends, Toby and Valerio, to the Gunks - they had never been there. The old gals from Vermont aimed to show the young'ns from New Hampshire the ropes.  They arrived Friday night to start their Gunks school Saturday.  Their learning curve was short as they ticked off one classic route after another with aplomb!  Here is a picture of Toby and Annie following their leaders up Jackie and Classic - side by side. Cute.
Annie and Toby discussing the meaning of life on their way up Classic and Jackie

By the second day they were sending exposed classics like High E and CCK.
Toby topping out on CCK. Sweet!

Annie and I set out to try a new route we have never climbed before each day.  This year I am happy to report on 3 new routes I had yet to experience, all of which I recommend.

  • No Picnic (a challenging overhang crux for 5.5 IMO)
  • Red Pillar (a very worthwhile climb at the Arrow wall. Do it when all other routes are taken. Looks dirty and grungy from the ground but far better than it looks. Wild finish!)
  • Unholy Wick (P1 only accomplished, but 160 feet of quality climbing! A Dick Williams first ascent, 1965)

On Sunday, after dropping off the young'ns at CCK, we headed over towards the High Exposure buttress expecting to get on one of the alternative routes. The weekend crowds were so mellow and to our surprise no one was queued up for High E, so we grabbed it. There wasn't even a line at the ledge for the last pitch - smooth sailin!

The highlight was without a doubt meeting and talking with Dick Williams, Mr. Gunks himself.  Dick was part of a work crew building new stone pathways at the cliff base and he was delighted to autograph our guidebook.  It is always such an honor to meet the legends of climbing. It is one of the great things about our sport - the passion for climbing runs deep, so the old guys and gals continue to climb and give back to the climbing community through their entire lives.  There is no such thing really as celebrity status like there would be in professional sports.  We are all equals and it is easy to rub elbows with the legends.  Thanks Dick, for all you have done and continue to do for climbing!

The legendary Richard "Dick" Williams signing our guidebook at the base of High E

Sunday, May 4, 2014

I Got a "Misery"

Let's face it. After the longest, most miserable winter I can remember, our April vacation time was desperately needed and couldn't come soon enough!  March was a complete bust for climbing outside and although it is not considered a stellar month for outdoor rock climbing, I've always gotten out in March before. With the decision to stay east for climbing this year (no trips west for sun and fun),  I anticipated I would feel better once on the wonderful rocks at Seneca in West Virginia.  However, Mother Nature did NOT cooperate.  As the long range forecast for rain the entire week we were to be in Seneca became more reality, we contemplated a spontaneous decision to head to Red Rock, NV instead.  Scrambling for a decent airfare, motel and rental car became the new anguish - as if I wasn't already miserable and stressed enough planning, packing and getting last minute work done!  It was going to be expensive and we would get 4 days of guaranteed sunny and hot weather.  But really at what cost?  Red eye flights, rent-a-car hassles, baggage lugging, Las Vegas traffic and the mental and physical exhaustion resulting from all the the riff-raff. Ultimately, the personal and financial costs seemed too great to warrant 4 days - that would be better spent getting in a full week or more in a truly well-planned fashion. And so it was, our original plans to visit parents and friends and hopefully squeeze in some climbing set sail.

The driving was a misery.  We needed to be at various places in Pennsylvania and Maryland for visits with parents and a professional course Annie was taking in Baltimore.  We also had firm plans to be in Seneca Rocks, WV in time for a reunion/dinner party Sunday night. Each day we needed to drive to our destination was beautifully sunny and warm.  The forecasts were spot on with the rain beginning our first day in WV and lasting almost all week. The rain was spread about the entire East Coast, so there was nowhere to run.  Monday morning we awoke to cloudy skies so we zipped to Seneca as quickly as we could. We were successful beating the rain for 3 quick short single pitch climbs before the drops began to fall. Not a total loss, but a disappointment for sure.  I had a nice tick list going for Seneca and couldn't touch it.

Our delightful hosts in Petersburg, WV. Be sure to stay
 at the Fort Hill Motel when headed to this area!
Tell Sarah that Annie and Jean sent you!
We complained some - but then we knew better.  Complaining not only wouldn't change the weather but it would keep us trapped in our state of misery. The best thing to do is to make the best of it. And we did. We had a great time meeting new and old friends, spending some quality time with our parents and we were rewarded with a couple of nice weather days at the Gunks en route home.  We did make a promise to each other though - NEXT year we book a trip west to climb in the spring. Let the savings begin!

Seneca Rocks. A unique fin of rock known for steep exposed climbing "old-school style"

We got in 3 quick routes ground up before the rain started.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Winter That Never Ends

This has definitely been the longest and hardest winter I can remember since living in northern New England.  Thank God for indoor climbing gyms and friends, lest I go all the way to the funny farm!!!
Rosie, Terry, & yours truly at Evo in Concord, NH