Thursday, July 24, 2008
So you can now find us at our new home on Wordpress.
I was able to move everything over quite easily, including comments. Also, posts are now categorized as "News", "Notes", "Trip Reports", "Tips", and "Guest Blogs", in addition to having all the tags that we already had on Blogger. Hopefully this should make it easier for you to find a specific trip report (just in case anyone does that) if you want.
We're also now burning our feed on feedburner. Click here to check it out and subscribe.
So check it out, change your feed/bookmark, and enjoy the new site!
Friday, July 18, 2008
The video shows 2 ways of lead belaying with the GriGri without taking your break hand off the rope. It also shows a 3rd method, which I think the majority of people I observe at sport crags generally use, where the break hand is taken off the rope to let out slack when the leader needs to make a clip. I think this was the way I was taught to lead belay with a GriGri and I have passed plenty of lead belay tests without being reprimanded, so my impression is that this is a generally accepted method of using the device.
The problem is that it isn't really an acceptable way to use the device. It fosters bad habits - I've seen plenty of belayers not returning their break hand to the rope, even when not letting out slack. It encourages the idea that it's ok not to hold on to the break rope, which is a bad habit to pick up if you also belay with a traditional (non-auto-locking) belay device or in the unlikely (but still possible) situation that the leader falls and the auto-locking belay device does not engage.
The reason I bring this up is that I recently heard of a bad climbing accident that occurred due to similar misuse of an Edelrid Eddy, which is an auto-locking belay device similar to the GriGri (it must be "pinched" so that the cam will not engage and slack can be let out). A climber was leading a sport route in Maple Canyon when he took a fall. The belayer did not have his break hand on the rope at the time. The Eddy did not catch on the relatively new 9.2mm rope and the belayer did not manually arrest the fall. The climber therefore took a 50-foot fall to the ground and suffered serious injuries, although luckily a full recovery is expected.
The moral of the story is clear: although auto-locking belay devices are great and make the life of a belayer much easier, they cannot be trusted absolutely to catch any fall. They do not grant the belayer the freedom to let go of the break rope.
When I encountered the discussion on the Climbing Narc's post, I was initially unsure that I even could change my method of belaying (I used to use the "bad" method, #3). I have quite small hands and I like to wear belay gloves, so I was unsure that the rope could still feed easily through my break hand while I was simultaneously pinching the belay device. However, Luke and I have both adopted method #2, which in fact works quite well, even with small hands and belay gloves. It requires a little more rope management so the rope will feed easily, but I think the increased safety is well worth this extra effort. I would never want to drop a leader because I was being a lazy belayer. I also think it's important, since I use a Reverso (just got the new one!!!) just as often as a GriGri, to foster good belay habits (i.e. not taking the break hand off the rope) rather than bad ones.
So to make a long story short, I wrote this post and brought up the video again because I think the biggest problem with auto-locking belay devices like the GriGri or the Eddy is a lack of knowledge. People just don't know that these devices are not a substitute for belay skills and safety. So now you know. Please think about the friends that you're belaying and make sure you're being a safe belayer.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
In case you didn't know, I LOVE TREES. I think they're pretty much the best thing ever. Apparently not everyone there loves trees quite as much as me, so a lot of the favors were left unclaimed. After already collecting my tree and Luke's tree, I decided to grab another two because I'd hate for these trees to go to waste (i.e. not get planted). I'm pretty sure I ended up with 3 western red cedars, my favorite tree ever and native to the wonderful Pacific Northwest. The 4th one is some sort of pine and it may have to grow a little larger before I can figure out what it is.
The main issue at hand: I live in SoCal. It gets to be over 100 degrees for several days in a row. It never rains. I don't think my Pacific Northwest cedars would appreciate this weather. So they're going to be indoor trees for now. I got each of them an 8-inch pot, filled it with soil, and arranged them in front of the window on my desk. Hopefully this should be good for them - moderate temperature inside my room, regular watering, and indirect sunlight.
And just so that my trees don't feel too out of place growing up in SoCal, I gave them names reminiscent of where I would find their wild relatives: 3 of my favorite PNW climbing towns for the cedars - Squamish, Index, and Mazama; and my new Washington home town for the fir, Poulsbo.
So hopefully I can keep my babies alive and plant them some day (when we live somewhere more appropriate).
Go hug a tree,
The first hard moves went well (photo below) and in no time I was resting below the crux bulge. I started off into the crux sequence and then the rope got stuck on my harness buckle while I was trying to clip. I dangled from the two handed jug and waved my legs around. Helpless to change it I heel hooked above my head and clipped. Energy sapped I forced my self to continue and made it through to the next ledge rest. Commitment and fast movement would be key for the last hard move. I crimped hard with my left hand committed and a few moves later found my self clipping the anchors.
Next I lead Flyin’ Hawaiian which was just as hard as I remembered and Lizzy and Rebecca top roped it. They both found it thuggish and fell at the tricky moves that gained the upper dihedral. Hoping to get in some more enjoyable for the girls we headed over to Orange Crush. This wall is steep at the top but offers some nice vertical lines in the middle of the cliff. I had hoped to link the full Black Mamba which Adam and I had done in two pitches but the top section was seeping. Technical moves on beautiful black rock make this route one of the best 5.11's at Rumney. The vertical small hold climbing allowed the girls to use their balance as they danced up this route. Rebecca enjoyed it so much she did it twice. Both Lizzy and Rebecca vowed to lead it when they return.I had time to finish up one more project and got on Captain Hook. It was a bit warmer and more humid at Orange Crush which was less than ideal for the small crimps on this route. After hanging the draws and remembering the beta I was able to send on my second try. The first crux deadpoint was much harder than I remembered but I was in control and only mildly pumped at the top crux. Also I found a left kneebar that allowed me to easily clip the anchors.
We were all tired and it was getting late so we got pizza in town. A nice treat after a long day of hard climbing! It was great to get back to Rumney and I cant wait to return!
- United: It's surprising how often they lose them. Once when my family was traveling back to Seattle from Florida our bags ended up in New Jersey. New Jersey!!! I've also had to physically GO to the baggage office to pick my bag out of a pile because they couldn't seem to find it there.
- Alaska: Has never lost my bags. (Knock on wood)
- United: There is none and when there was, it wasn't very good. Although this seems like an airline standard these days.
- Alaska: When they gave real food, it was great (like a piece of good coffee cake on a 1hr flight from Seattle to Portland). Now, even though you don't get much, they do give you milk and a warm (yes, warm) cookie on later flights.
- United: Although the occasional flight is on time, everything else is almost always late. Flying through Chicago generally guarantees you will be late.
- Alaska: More often than not, I arrive early. (Although I'm usually flying between SoCal and Seattle, which makes things a little easier.)
- United: Over 50% of the United planes I get on are delayed at least a little by them fixing some mechanical problem. More than once I've had to get on and off multiple planes as they change their minds about whether or not they could fix them.
- Alaska: Maybe once or twice. I've never had to get off a plane to use another one because they just couldn't fix it.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
It happened on July 11, 2006, and it was The Very Bad Day.
Summer 2006, I was living in the house of my friends John and Olivia, who run a guiding service called Northwest Mountain School. At this point in my life, I was still keeping alive the dream of becoming a rock guide - I had plenty of experience from guiding students in my high school and being a camp counselor at Camp Sealth, and I had my WFR certification. So I was trying to live the dream, living in Leavenworth, hanging out with the guide crowd, and not working... Luke, meanwhile, had decided to take a job in Bellevue, so we were both in Washington for the summer! (Although we were 2+ hours apart, which seems to be a common element...) Luke had spent the weekend with me in Leavenworth and had gotten up early (5:30ish) on Monday morning to drive to work in Bellevue.
En route to Snoqualmie Pass, Luke had just driven over Blewett Pass when a deer ran out into the road. The collision of the deer and Luke's beloved Justy totalled the car. Via a variety of phone calls from passersby and a state trooper, I got the message that I needed to go pick up Luke because he'd had an accident. I didn't realize that he had no cell service where he was, so I was terrified that something really bad had happened.
So I drove up to Blewett Pass and picked up Luke, who was safe and uninjured if a little shaken. We headed back to J & O's place in Leavenworth so he could make some calls to his insurance company and his mom.
The Justy, post close encounter of the deer variety
I said, "This is a very bad day." Then Luke helped me push open the driver door and we climbed up and out (a weird thing to do indeed) of the car, with me shouting at Luke to take out the car keys (something I'd remembered you were supposed to do), triggered by the eerie sound of the CD player still playing Jason Mraz.
I don't really remember the order that the next series of events happened, but I know that we were trying to take everything (all my climbing stuff and some of Luke's climbing stuff) out of the car, I was sitting on the gravel on the side of the road, shocked and crying, and Luke and a series of helpful people were putting out my car (yes, the engine was on fire).
Some important parts appear to be bent.
Notably absent from this group of people was that car that swerved before me, which sped off after the accident. Maybe they thought it was their fault, but whoever you are, you lost a LOT of karma points that day.
So ended the wonderful service of Luke's Justy and my '97 RAV4. Although we were sad to use them, we also felt incredibly lucky to be alive and, even better, uninjured. Luke got a little piece of glass in his knee from the broken passenger window, but that was the only injury. To this day Luke still gets extremely nervous around deer and I still get probably even more nervous around semi-trucks, especially on hills. Apparently accidents like this are not rare - plenty of people have been killed by accidents caused by tires coming off semi trucks.
So I guess the moral to the story... beware of deer during the pre-sunrise and sunset witching hours and GO AHEAD AND PASS that slow stationwagon in front of you instead of trying to be conservative - it could save you and your car.
Safe driving, everyone.
We were able to see my mom in Boston on Wednesday for dinner and then drove up to Rumney Thursday morning with Rebecca who flew in from Detroit. A nice storm on Wednesday night dropped the temps about 20 degrees and made the summer a bit more bearable.
It was still a bit humid during our day in Rumney with a large helping of bugs. Regardless it was a great day of climbing and I was able to finish off some projects. More posts about that later once we get all the photos together.
The wedding up in rural Maine was spectacular and it was good to see many friends from Bucknell. We are scattered all over the country now and it is tricky to get everyone back together. From California to Texas, Maine to Michigan, Massachusetts to North Carolina, everyone has spread out from humble Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.
I just wanted to give my best wishes to Adam and Kearah Donato who are off in Hawaii enjoying the Sun, Sea and Sand!
You two are great and I am sure the years to come will be amazing!
Monday, July 7, 2008
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It's pretty crazy to be so close to a fire - we could easily see the big plume of smoke to the south and I'm sure Margee at the fire lookout has been busy with updates.
In other news, the Brickyard, a popular bouldering area in Santa Barbara, is also burning. Hopefully the fire won't cause too much damage for the climbing up there.
The next morning, we packed up the gear and water and headed off on the long approach (the first hike is always the hardest because there are more hills on the way in and you have all the gear the first day). Luke and I left with a little headstart so we could rest and wait at the base of the Fire Lookout stairs.
Stein, Traian, and Olivier on top of the Sorcerer.
Beautiful view on the hike back to camp.
On top of the Witch after climbing Witch Doctor.
View just before sunset from the top of the Charlatan.
Overall, it was a pretty good weekend. I didn't end up doing any leading, which I think was due to me being especially tired from the altitude and the hiking and especially intimidated by the Needles (I do hate being so easily intimidated - I really need to work on this), but I had a lot of fun on the routes we did.
Also, I recently got a new camera to replace my dropped Olympus. I got a Canon Powershot SD1100 IS Digital Elph (in pink!!) and a sturdy waterproof and shockproof hard plastic case for it (the kind they make for kayakers). Although I still have some work getting used to the camera, we're pretty happy about the quality of the pictures we took. Hopefully this camera will accompany us on many adventures to come.