Archive for May, 2010

Bigtime Climbing

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

Started the weekend off with a bang Friday afternoon. Jason Brechko and I skedaddled from Glens Falls High School and headed straight for the Buck Mountain Trailhead off Pilot Knob Road. We made the quick walk in to Stewart’s Ledge, firmly intending to climb until we couldn’t grip any longer.
Jason started off with a quick lead up the 5.7 variation of Barking Spider. He lowered leftward, rigging a directional for a route that crosses the descent corner, then I cleaned his lead and we both TR’d that line, which goes at 5.10. We shifted the entire belay rightward to the anchors of Crackatoa and TR’d that line, then shifted farther right and TR’d the 5.10a Lithium.
After we both TR’d that line, I took the sharp end and led The Entertainer. Jason took clean-up, then we moved the belay over toward Dog Pounder, rigging a TR for the steep corner system just right of that route. That turns out to have a start that is somewhere around 5.10a, with another move that may push a letter grade or two higher. By then, it was dark. The mosquitos swarmed us during that last route, but otherwise the outing was pretty bug-free.

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 Jason leads up Barking Spider.

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 Jason works his 5.10 TR line left of the descent route.

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 We were not alone at Stewart’s Ledge. A bevy of Eastern Mountain Sports people and friends shared the crag with us.

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Yepper, a good time was had by all. 

Saturday, I made my last Census run, rounding up a few seasonal units before handing in my badge. With that load off my schedule, I could relax a bit, or at least use more time for climbing – which I promptly did, jogging to the Measles Walls for quick runs up Cracklosis, Trickagnosis, El Muerte Rojo, Hydrophobia, and Social Disease. No biggies: too many buggies.
After some socializing at Thurman Baptist Church, I returned to the mountain, this time heading up the trail. Running up Every Creature’s Theme along the way, I hustled to the top ridge, climbed Cornerstone, then ran over the summit and down to a nice clifftop sunset viewing point.

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The pics weren’t bad, but the sprint down the mountain was tiring. Returning home, I went to bed shortly afterward, and overslept longer than I’ve ever done before!

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Kevin mans the belay below Hydrophobia.

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The crowd at the base of the Upper Measles Wall.

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 Mike’s faithful partner Mammut.

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Climbing afficianado Mike Prince at the base of the Upper Measles Wall.

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Robin flashes Cracklosis. 

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 Portrait of the Climbing Couple at the Upper Measles Wall.

 After church, Robin and I walked out (in my case, back out) to the Measles Walls to reenact our ascent of Hydrophobia. We joined a growing crowd there, seven of us, TRing that route as well as several others: Full Moon Fever, El Muerte Rojo, Cracklosis, Run for Rabies, Scared for Life, Trickagnosis, and even an attempt on Resistant Strain. Whew! Good half-day of climbing.

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Tomorrow? Not sure, but maybe a drive up to Chapel Pond Slab for another day of climbing!

Hesitating on the Verge

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

I’ve had a whirlwind week. In brief:

  • Education: I now know how badly our government is screwed up. One word: Census.
  • Climbing: so busy with other things that it has been hard to consistently keep it up. I have managed to do so, but it hasn’t been easy.
  • Weddings: one I attended yesterday, and one coming up in my own family very soon.
  • Substitute Teaching: freshmen can be terribly cruel.

All that said, it’s Sunday evening and I have no work that “must” get done right now. I’m thinking about pulling Textpattern off the regular website. That will put me back to the old site (well, after I upload it again, anyway), with the same old problem of how to organize the directories and story structure and search through the mess. Assuming of course, that deleting Textpattern works.

The first step faltered quickly. I planned to import all my Textpattern entries to this blog before nixing the CMS from my site, but it appears 1and1 makes access to the Database rather difficult, if not impossible. Might still figure out how to do this. In the meantime, I thought, just copy all the entries and then paste them here.

I’ve not written on it for awhile, but when I went there to start the job, whoa. That took a long while, and I’m still not done. Forgot how much I had already put up there.

So my “regular” website is still a bit up in the air. If it’s unavailable for awhile, hopefully this will fill the gap, and more hopefully, the gap won’t last long.

In the meantime, stay tuned…

Climbing Afternoon

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

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 One of the silliest climbing pictures I’ve ever seen. Yep, double-barrel butt shot!

Haven’t downloaded the pictures yet (Edit: now, I have), and took all too few of them, spending more time climbing and showing other folks around. Something strange happened today as I walked out to the Measles Walls to meet Mike Prince and his Facebook Adirondack Adventure Group climbing event. As I turned the corner of the Lower Measles Wall, I met two climbers just packing up. The strangeness was that I didn’t know these folks, nor were they connected with the group I was heading to meet. They were…two climbers, climbing at the Measles Walls, because they were in the region, did a Web search for local crags, and came up with this. John and Adrienne (sorry if the spelling is off) are from downstate, visiting for a day or so. John may well have made the SA of I Am Lesion; not sure if anyone else has bothered leading it or not since last September.

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Adrienne enjoying the MW toe-hop.

Having satisfied their roped desires, they wanted to do some bouldering, so I showed them around the untouched potentials at the height-of-land. They worked those for awhile, while I went back down to the Upper Measles Wall to climb with the gang. Mike, Garth, and Cody were TRing lines there: Hydrophobia, Full Moon Fever, and El Muerte Rojo. This was Cody’s first day climbing, and he was doing very well, though the spotty toe-hopping of Full Moon Fever gave him a lot of trouble. That is, of course, a bit rough for a first-day climb.

 

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Mike Prince (foreground) and John, from New Paltz.

During a lull, I grabbed Mike and tied on for another attempt at the unled sport route between FMF and Hydrophobia. John and Adrienne came down and joined the TRing options, and a couple of their friends walked in after hiking the mountain, so it was a busy place suddenly. I didn’t scamper up anything, and often I was a hair’s breadth from giving up, but the crowd support helped motivate me to hang in and press on. Finally, I was in reach of that hitherto unreachable last bolt. Ahhh, CLIP. Done deal. Cat Scratch Fever joins the bevy of Measles Wall toe-hoppers, at 5.9 one of the harder ones.

John, Adrienne, and friends had to head out, and Mike and gang wanted to go to the Black Arches Wall, so I said good-bye to one crew and accompanied the other westward. I had an idea, a route I had done just yesterday, that seemed exciting, yet not too difficult. It would be a bit tricky, with four people, but I was too enthused about the route to let technical difficulties dissuade me.

We climbed up the crux section of E-Stim, then traversed left to the anchor above Recuperation Boulevard. Cody came up second, then Mike, and things got crowded at that semi-hanging belay. Mike didn’t care for leaving Mammut, his Australian shepherd, alone on the ground, so he opted to descend. Garth came up afterward, we sorted out ropes and other details, then finished by traversing over to Carpenter & Das and climbing up that way, using the “without” variation. Cody made every move on his own, no falls; excellent for a first day out. Garth did as well, even taking on the overhang directly (5.8). 

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That’s the author’s head on the skyline, Cody on his first day climbing doing multipitch, Dad Garth awaits his turn.

The shadow of Crane was creeping over the world to the east, and it became a bit chilly before we all stood on the ledge by the rappel anchor. A quick lower for Cody and a double-rope rappel brought us all safely down to Earth, where we called it a day, packed, and trekked out. Now this was a good day of climbing, enjoying good company, good rock, good times.

Sunset Scenics

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

It rained hard Friday morning, enough so the cliffs stayed damp into the evening. Other than a scary wander up a nondescript slab, a quick run up Cornerstone, and another terrifying wallow up a moss-choked slot, I didn’t do much climbing. I went up the mountain seeking pictures instead. 

My neverending quest for mountaintop sunset pics continues. Last night was a bit better than usual, though not topnotch. Can’t complain. I did forget my headlamp, so the race against darkness down the mountain was exciting. My knee is squealing this morning.

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Typical view from the western edge of the main summit ridge cliffs. 

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 This is the all-too familiar mtn-profile-with-sun-streaming-behind-cloud picture. Obviously, I like these.

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 That’s Snowy Mountain the sun is setting behind.

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Looking away from the sunset, the cliffs had that alpenglow tint to ’em. 

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Going,…

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 …going,…

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GONE!

Visiting the Viewpoint and Moseying to the Measles Wall

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

Our friend Val came up today, ready to give rockclimbing another go, after a long period of rehabilitation. She has made a few forays indoors and one aborted attempt a month or so back, but today was her first step up outdoors. We hiked up to the Viewpoint to see how things would go.

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We began on Puzzle, the easiest route here. Like most of the routes at the Viewpoint, the difficulties come low on the route; in this case a tricky step up to get started and another one traversing left just before reaching a good ledge. After that, it’s typical Viewpoint sketch slab. Val struggled a bit on the hard parts, but soon joined me on the ledge where I belayed, then ascended with little pause at all to the top.

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After a short rest, we rappeled down and climbed Every Creature’s Theme. This went even better; apparently Val just needed some stretching to get under way full steam.

Back on the top, we ate lunch and considered our options. The steep hike up, added to what we had already done to get here, didn’t seem wise, considering Val’s state of recuperation. She was doing well, but not enough to risk the entire hike. I suggested we go down and see how she felt at the trailhead; if she felt good enough to go on, we could wander out to the Measles Wall.

That’s what we ended up doing, though I could see Val wandered a bit slower on the walk out there. She didn’t complain or seem to be in pain, though, so we just took our time and arrived without incident. I showed her around the place – it has swollen with strangely-named crags: Lower, Upper, Over, Under, Top’o’ the Measles Walls; it has all become a bit ridiculous, but the place has a charm all the same, despite being quite short.

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We settled on top-roping Hydrophobia, the route Ra & I put up Easter weekend this year; and that went very well. This route is pretty easy, but the moves are aesthetic and require thoughtful climbing instead of bullish thrutching at holds. Val liked this one a lot.

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It was time to head home after this; a big half-day of climbing was enough of a trial run to say Val was up to climbing once again. Welcome back!

Hustling a Few Minutes

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

The last few days have been spent in a flurry of plain old-fashioned butt-ugly tasks. Work, for one. Yeah, gotta do that one. Compared to other tasks, the work was actually pretty good.

The car was the thing. Good as our Elantra has been to us – and make no mistake, it has been fantastic – the rear brakes were shot. They held up for 129,000 miles, so I can’t complain. But they had to be fixed. I hoped this would be quick-in, quick-out; but memories from the days I used to do those sorts of things whispered “no way,” and those memories were right. I spent the day in Glens Falls. The folks at Garvey Hyundai did great, and in the end it cost me less than expected. Not cheap, mind you, less.

Well, it took most of the day. I spent some quality time at Crandall Library, catching up on the latest Climbing magazine (40 years! Congrats, folks), digging around for more CMS information, picking up a few good books. I ate horrendous junk food for lunch. Ate something worse for dessert. Back to the library for awhile. Finally, the car was done. I paid my dues (both places) and hurried home.

A few phone call chores and I could roll up to the Measles Walls and sneak a bit of climbing in. The weather forecast called for rain, and it had, early this morning, but it looked pretty good when I arrived at the cliffs. First up, Run for Rabies. Downclimb Measly Little Corner. Up Cracklosis. Down MLC again. Over to the Upper Measles Wall, up Hydrophobia, run around, up El Muerte Rojo. One last chore: I had a few quickdraws stuck on H1N1. They came down today.

200′ of climbing in an hour. That makes it a good day.

Winter, Once Again

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

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The weather turned nasty over the past two days: first, a rain-filled Saturday, accompanied by a declining thermometer, leading to the second, a cold, blustery, snowy Sunday.
Scheduled to work in Lake Placid, I made the drive this morning ambivalently. It was cold at home, not just windy-cold, but low-temp cold as well, and the farther I drove north, the worse it became. The high peaks were swathed in white from base to peak. Soon, the roadside was, as well, from exit 30 onward, snow covered the ground. Cascade Pass was cloaked in a thick crust of ice, the road was downright hazardous. My ambivalence changed to pessimism. Practise Slabs? Nope, wet and icy, and worse, the wind was outrageous there (no surprise, that). King Philips Spring or Deadwater Cliffs would be the only options I could conjure up any hope of climbing.
I arrived at the store as the manager, Dennis, was opening up. We chatted as he did his morning tasks and I prepped for a guided trip I wasn’t even sure would happen. Just in case, I called Matt, who was indeed on his way. I would have to think of something. Turns out Matt is from Saratoga – should have asked him earlier! Knowing the Measles Walls would be out of the wind and get any sunshine the day might offer, I suggested we head right back south and climb on Crane today.
Away we sped, both of us back in the direction of home. An hour and a half later, we were hiking out to the Measles Walls. We climbed Cracklosis, both variations of Scared for Life, then moved up to H1N1, and finally over to Hydrophobia. Matt flashed Cracklosis, struggled on the variations but made it up both of them, torqued his toes past tolerance on H1N1, then sailed up Hydrophobia. Not bad for his first day outdoors, especially considering the chilly temp and frequent bouts of sleet we climbed through. We ran a couple rappels on our last route and called it a day. Walking out, we noticed the wind increase as we neared the Boulderwoods – the Measles Walls really do provide foul-weather harbor for desperate climbers – then Matt said good-bye and headed homeward. I finished organizing gear and did the same. The wind blew, snow swirled, the mercury plunged, but we had made the most of the day regardless.

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Oops, saved this at the wrong size. Looks like no biggy? Matt is at the top of Scared for Life’s left variation. The picture links to another that puts him in perspective. 

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Crane Mountain saves the day. This place is truly amazing.

Another FA Day on the Summit Ridge

Friday, May 7th, 2010

Bruce Monroe made the long trip up today for another visit to the summit. By lunchtime, we were staring at the cliffs looming above the short ladder. I had climbed a nice route on one of the longer bits, and wanted to try a harder variation to start the day.
That went well, though the bottom was odd, and took longer than expected. We rigged a rappel and went down to look for another possibility. Bruce’s turn: he wandered eastward, ending up about 60′ right of Dividing Line, at a left-facing corner slanting left, with a thin shelf of rock at the bottom that made a good starting platform. We looked at it and thought “maybe 5.7.”
Bruce racked up and began leading the route. The first five feet went easily enough, then suddenly progress came to a halt. Standing below, I couldn’t figure out what Bruce’s problem was. It looked simple enough, just grab that hold there, stick your foot there, and budda-boom budda bing, done. It was dirty, perhaps that was the problem, but he certainly was struggling a lot more than seemed necessary.
Repeatedly, he tried the move, backed off or fell, returning to the ledge just over my head. “I can’t reach the next hold,” he would gasp, looking up above the bulge. It took awhile, but gradually he worked out the sequence, going from static attempts to dynamic lunges. Finally, he pieced it all together and pulled through, not gracefully, but free and successful at last. A short traverse led to an easy-looking exit onto lower-angled climbing out of sight. He called out “Off Belay” and it was my turn to show off my stuff.
Hopping up those first five feet was easy. Reaching up to that hold there was straightforward, pulling up and reaching for the next hold was…
Whoa.
I couldn’t do it. Shakily, I downclimbed to the ledge.
It took a lot of tries, and a lot of ups and downs. What had looked simple enough earlier turns out to be a bit harder than 5.7. More, in fact, like 5.10a. I had to lunge for that hold, had to lay off and rotate, bump the right up, bump the left to another hold, bump the right to a side pull, and finally find a stance. The traverse wasn’t bad, the face above pleasant enough, and a good belay tree stood at the top of it.
We had to recover our rap anchor, so I led one more route to get to the top, after traversing up and right off the top of Bruce’s Breathe Easy, the hardest find of the day, and a lead to be proud of. Crusty is barely worth mentioning, another short 5.6, but it adds to the route-count, and with a little scrubbing, might even be worth repeating some day.
After looking around at some of the other routes in the vicinity, we hiked down, just as a few scattered sprinkles began to fall. Once again, I realize I am so blessed to be living here at the base of this incredible mountain. Bruce had that long drive back to his home, but no doubt with a celebratory cup of coffee and the memory of a challenging FA day on Crane.

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A Few More Summit Pics

Friday, May 7th, 2010

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 I love bluettes, I remember they grew all over our yard when I was growing up. This is a full-size crop of a shot taken in macro-mode with the E-620.

Some more pics, mostly scenics from Crane Mountain’s summit ridge; they link to larger images.

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This one is taken near the latest routes done here, it may even be taken right on top of the route.

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This is taken looking westward along the ridge. The outermost buttress of rock is Gunga Din Chin, behind it lies the Firecamp Wall.

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This is looking down the major drainage corner near the Rockfall Area. That’s Hershey Pond (called “Little Mountain Pond” on topo maps) in the background.

Summit Obsession

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

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 Egad, I went back up there tonight, not, this time, for climbing per se; but because it looked like the combination of clouds and clearing skies might make for great sunset pictures. It was not to be, the clouds cleared out so there was very little to lend photographic character, the pics came out blah.

I did meet a fellow hiker, heading up the mountain. In his case, it might take a year or so:

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I did (of course) do a little climbing…

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Then I did a lot of waiting, while the sun sank low and the wind did its best to tear every living thing off the mountain. Man, it was cold up there! The wind served its purpose however, it dried the cliffs so I could climb a bit, and kept the blackflies at bay the entire time I was up there.

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