Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Hulk preview video

Dan and I on Positive Vibrations of the Incredible Hulk, September 15, 2009 (somehow the introductory text was stripped on export). We were an inch away from leaving the Hulk without an attempt, but we finally decided an effort like this was exactly why we were there and completed what I would call the finest route I've been on. It was an ambitious step, however, and our style suffered -- I downclimbed and hung at the crux, and our performance deteriorated from there. Regardless, we had a new alpine 5.11 wind at our backs that would push us to the next big reach.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Seminal Climbs: Granite Peak

Granite Peak, the highest point in Montana, had been calling my name for some time. I was still a novice climber (hell, I still am), but I had learned just enough to peak my interest in remote alpine objectives ... and just enough to be dangerous.

Granite Peak, 12,799 feet.
I had originally planned to climb Granite with my girlfriend, but by the time I was ready to start working on logistics and buy the plane tickets, she had become my ex girlfriend. I knew it would be futile to find a trustworthy partner on such short notice, so I didn't even try. Instead, I resigned myself to climbing it solo and considered it something of a penance for my sins against womankind.

My excitement grew as the departure date got closer. I was in good shape, I hadn't bought a pack of smokes in over a year, and my climbing had progressed by leaps and bounds over the summer. The climb would be a challenge for me, no doubt, but I was ready for it. It had been a difficult summer personally, and I was looking forward to some time alone and a good adventure to clear my head and consolidate the life lessons I had learned over the past few months.

I arrived in Bozeman to pleasant weather. Unfortunately, this was not the case in the mountains. There was rain, hail, and high winds in the Beartooths (Bearteeth?). The weather was "icing" me--I'd have to wait it out in Bozeman, just me and my nerves. This ended up being quite pleasant. Bozeman is a terrific town, with an eclectic mix of citizens. In fact, Bozeman may be the only place in these United States where you can drink a craft micro brew while conversing with a cattle rancher, a college professor, and a ski lift operator, and then buy a dime bag from any one of them. I had no problem relaxing while I waited for more stable weather, which was a good thing, because I had to wait for three days.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Theft at Seneca

We finished our day on the Seneca classic, Ecstasy, this past Sunday. Before starting the climb, a couple guys stopped to pick our brains on Candy Corner, asking whether it could be done with a rope that'd been chopped to 45 meters.

The guy doing all the talking was fat, sported tribal tats, a green plug earing, and a backwoods drawl.  I didn't see him climbing anything, let alone on lead. "Good for him," I thought.

He told us they had only a few black diamond camalots, a set of wired nuts and their chopped rope, all distributed between the several bags they were carrying.  I wasn't sure why he was telling us all of this. Meanwhile, the other guy smirked off to the side.

The thought popped in my head halfway up the climb, "Those guys are going to take our stuff."

We cruised the last pitches and rapped The Burn. I chanted in my head, "please be there, please be there," as I rounded the corner.

The scene was exactly as I'd feared. Camera, wallet, keys, ipod, climbing gear and shoes--gone.  My partner's pack remained, but they had taken his shoes.  They took our freaking shoes so we would be slow to follow.

I tore down the stairmaster, crossed the stream and sprinted, barefoot, into town.
The pain in my feet felt good and I couldn't wait to connect with the scum who took my pack.

Town was deserted. A girl walked out of Yokums and stared, no doubt wondering what this barefoot, sweat drenched, crazy-eyed climber was doing in the middle of the street.

Later I gave a police report and wrote notes for the guys at the Gendarme and the climbing school.

Much thanks to those at Yokums last night, and to the guys at the Gendarme who have been spreading the word.

Renters insurance covered everything. Then, the rotund thief and his banjo accompaniment were caught. Tim and I went to the station one Sunday evening on the way home from Seneca for the photo line up. To this day I get small restitution checks from the Pendleton County Police Station. Big thanks to trooper Ware who is the funniest/most intimidating officer I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.