Friday, November 28, 2008

Trophy II.

We're definitely not doing the pyramid approach of sending a lot of 5.11s before embarking into 12-land. Hulk-like Shawn seems to be getting stronger by the minute so not sure he needs this. One evening, he confided in me the secret to his success: a steady regimen of beer and masturbation. And all the while I thought it was his 4x4s and sick campusing at the climbing gym!
Shawn finishing the first crux of The Trophy, a burly traverse through a roof.
Shawn after the roof, setting up for another crux, similar to the one on Keep your Powder dry, but harder. Stem, right hand on bad hold, dyno to flat block.

To wrap up: Congratulations to Shawn on his first 12a!! He will have to re-send for the cameras though. I was feeling lazy and didn't want to watch the show through an LCD screen so it was partially my fault there's no evidence of the historic moment. Of course a tripod would have solved that, but that would have required forethought and planning.

Day's summary:

Coyote Moon 5.9 - Lead
Keep your Powder Dry 5.12a - incomplete

Keep your Powder Dry 5.12a - Redpoint
The Trophy 5.12b - incomplete

Coyote Moon 5.9 - TR

Keep your Powder Dry 5.12a - incomplete
The Trophy 5.12b - incomplete

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Trophy.

I like this pic Pilar snagged of John on Coyote Moon with the pine tree encasing said climber. It reminds me of those chinese nature paintings where the human figure is but a small background element of a much vaster and majestic Nature in the foreground. I also like the fact that John is employing a "toes in" approach to the slab, which is not only better technique than the novice "frog-legging", but more photogenic as well. When mentioning this to John, he scoffed at my half-baked climbing technique theories but was happy to look good for the lens.
Pilar on Coyote Moon 5.9. A fun route, but a little too easy for P-Money.

Clark Gable of the belay. He lounges about wearing the desert like his leisure suit, offering a safe yet silky belay to those willing to deposit their trust into his golden carabiner. Clark Gable's belay is a hard habit to break, just ask Shawn. Below is me on the crux of Keep your Powder Dry 12a.
Below, Shawn gets psyched for the Trophy with his trademark eccentricities: A little dancing and prancing, a pink windbreaker by Pierre Cardin (which he kept calling "Pierre Claire" for some unfathomable reason), all the while singing Madonna's "Express Yourself". The white man's ritual must have worked because he crushed the beginning overhanging traverse into the crux.

NYC cont'd.

Why, indeed? An amusing piece of graffiti at the West 4th street station. Simple and to the existential point. Much more appealing than the usual expletives that find themselves scrawled in places of public transport. I was feeling contemplative, listening to Jonathan Richman sing about the moment being like bread - we gotta eat it now. Day old bread just won't do.
Finally went out of my way to satisfy the craving for Men Kui Tei. Sapporo, Nira Reba, and Tonkotsu Ramen were ingested. Forced to sit at the bar because it was typically crowded, I realized that the bar is how ramen is meant to be eaten. That thin sliver of an excuse for a table, with only enough room for a bowl of ramen and tiny manga comic book. And the one grumpy japanese man tossing hot oil and soy sauce into a wok burnt to a crisp surrounded by latinos of indeterminate origin (mexican? ecuadorian?) making the best ramen in NYC. The bar brings you closer to the steam and the action. The one thing that always takes me off guard is that they always serve the appetizer after the ramen. So you get your beer, then your ramen (entree), and then the appetizer.
Sunset at Newark airport.
Back in Vegas, it rains the day before Thanksgiving. The rain penetrated the office cubicle and starting dripping on my prematurely balding head. The water stain made an interesting pattern; a stark contrast to the man-made 90 degree angles of the ceiling structure and the vent.

Friday, November 21, 2008

NYC: Sachiko's

The best sushi ever. Why?
- Sachiko herself
- two sushi chefs: middle aged japanese men with huge heads and huge hands. Fingers like D-batteries. Makes a nice contrast as these apparent cro magnons in chef attire apply the most delicate cutting and shaping of primo sushi.
- Original David Hockney photo montage of monks at the rock garden of ryoanji (i think) made by David for Sachiko.
- Outstanding service.
- Really important: presentation. It's all about presentation. I'm all about presentation (not my own self presentation though; I haven't had a haircut in ages.) Note in the photo the added touch of a red maple leaf. A far cry from the fake green plastic grass that accompanies lower and even middle tier sushi presentations. Additionally, the entire space informs the design of internal objects: a narrow and long space contains low and long tables, elongated windows, and a super wide David Hockney (2 x 6?) It's not Frank Lloyd Wright, but I believe he would approve.
- Temperature: the sushi seems to always be at the ideal temperature for maximum flavorliciousness. None of the warm and dry "i've been sitting out for awhile" or the super cold flavorless crap.
- Sapporo on draft and frosted mugs. So much better than the bottle. Could they be slipping msg into the beer? Or is msg just dispersed in aerosol form via the air conditioning so that as soon as you enter the restaurant, every inhale says "Delicious!" But seriously, Sachiko's would never stoop (i think) to msg ... which usually gives me a pounding hammer headache.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Phalanx of Will.

One day Shawn calls up. "Let's go to Dutchman's Draw. There's a limestone tower in the middle of nowhere. I can't find it on google earth or google maps. It should be cool." The next morning we depart in search of a four-sided pillar of limestone located in Arizona by way of Nevada, Arizona, Utah and then back into Arizona. Shawn navigated flawlessly even as we entered an hour's worth of off-roading through a wash in the first off-road test of my 2001 Toyota 4runner. It performed admirably; if I only had a one inch lift, I think I could have exited unscathed. As it stands, I dented my bumpers, scraped the under carriage, chipped some paint, and smashed the light covers embedded in my front bumper. Above is a view of the 4runner from the cliff (taken from the first anchors.)
Professional "chert climber" Shawn cleaning the first pitch of a two pitch 5.11 "chert" climb. This shaded wall was covered in fragile chert, which is some sort of red/brown layer in the limestone. Each of us broke holds with hands and feet. Side pulls snapped off. Jibs disintegrated. It was like climbing on ceramic. There was a huge bulge we had to maneuver and it was completely hollow. A mere fart would have sufficed to dislodge it.
Above, the Phalanx of Will strikingly protrudes from a hill above the wash. The golden side you see facing the wash contained the hard stuff, starting at 5.12. We tried a gently overhanging 5.12c that followed a beautiful crack. Almost perfect except for the crumbling footholds and everything being covered by thin film of sandy dust.
On the way out, Shawn declined to drive. "I assume responsiblity when I drive other people's cars." I suppose nothing less was to be expected from somebody who refuses to cheat at the stein holding contest at the Hofbrauhaus. On the way home, this honest fellow was driven crazy by the music on my zen stone. "It sounds like it was made by trolls in a cave." Not sure that's how I would describe Gram Parsons, Chet Atkins, or Nina Simone, but everybody is entitled to their own brand of madness. Finally, Gloria Estefan danced her way into our car via the fm radio just in time to sooth the raging Shawn in dire need of 80s pop music.
Not sure if we'll be back soon... just not worth it because of the 1.5 hr drive from Vegas + 1 hr of slow off roading + the drive back listening to my "troll music." I think it would be great for a solid 5.13 climber (which neither of us are) but if you're struggling on 12s I would think twice on the trek. If you go, leave early to give yourself time because you don't want to exit in the dark.

Friday, November 7, 2008


Once a year my friend Andrei shows up from NJ and invites me to take long walks into canyons and artfully place shiny metal objects into the rock wall.Above, Andrei sits before an inviting canyon and a dissipating rain cloud. Day 1 - First Creek Canyon: Romper Room Area: Doobie Dance 90' 5.6. I led this to a bolted anchor. Andrei was quite ill and vomited several times on the approach. An inauspicious start...
Day 2 - Pine Creek Canyon: Spectrum Area: Birdland 560' 5.7+. 6 pitches. Andrei led all but Pitch 3, which I led. All anchors were bolted, which made for a much quicker ascent/descent. Except for the fact that there were 3 parties ahead of us. So we ended up waiting at the several anchors for parties to rap through. We were the last party on the route and exited in the dark. At the parking lot, a rescue helicopter was busy fetching lost hikers from the back of the canyon. Day 3 - White Rock Springs: Angel Food Wall: Group Therapy 755' 5.7+ 7 pitches. Ben the mountain goat showed up and gunned most of the route for us in his approach shoes.Ah, the joy of rope management.
Trust your life to any one of these biners. I did. My single brown Black Diamond positron screwgate can be seen way at the bottom center.
Below you can see 1. a trad climber 2. Turtlehead peak 3. the trail into the canyon from the parking lot. It's hard to show scale with a small digital point and click.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Can't stay away from Mary Jane.

We found ourselves on a tired Sunday morning wanting to take it easy. So MJ at Charleston it was. We all took turns on Pine in the Ass 5.10b. The above photo is me on the crimps right after the crux. Best part of the climb.
Pilar "P-Money" grappling with the crux.
Above, Shawn making it look easy.
You know Shawn is strong (suffers from burlyitis*), but did you know he's also 50 ft tall? Above, Shawn about to eat a lilliputian climber.
After imbibing aforementioned climber, Shawn, like Alice in Wonderland, took on tiny proportions himself. Above he looks a little bewildered by his newfound stature.

*The ability to pull super-hard moves while contemplating totem animals.