Monday, November 24, 2008

Leaving the Bay Behind

I feel guilty. For the past eight or nine or eighteen hours, I have sat in on my brother's couch curled beneath a mountain of sleeping bags. I promised myself that I would leave Saturday to climb in Bishop. Then Sunday came and I did not leave. It is Monday night and I am cuddling with Ninja Mind Control by Ashida Kim, The Game by Neil Strauss, and my cell phone, which has been busy texting girls all day. I rock climb more than I work; I am a semi-professional rock climber. By sitting on the couch and not heading to the boulders, I am neglecting my work. I am getting fatter and lazier every time I read one of Neil Strauss's sentences. Shoot me now.

I have not hung out much in Bishop, though it is one of the most popular climbing areas around and I feel the same sort of guilt about not having climbed there as I do about curling up in my bed of down. There's so much I should be doing right now that I am not. I should write more, climb more, uh...Okay, I guess the list of things I should be doing is short but it's very important and very hard to get good at. One of the things I need to improve in my writing is my ability to write longer sentences. Writing concisely is important. Using a minimum of words helps the reader; it causes less confusion. At the same time, prose needs some length to spice up things between the short sentences. Here's an example:
The cat is red. The cat is dead. We are sad.
Having three short sentences in a row is too much. It reads weird. Better would be:
It saddened us to see the cat covered in blood. The cat is dead.
The latter example gives the last sentence more weight.
These are poor examples. I have been reading the Elements of Style by E B White and Frank Strunk. I reread the book occasionally and it always amazes me how much information is put in those 150 pages. I recommend reading it for a better explanation of how to express the sadness of seeing a red, dead, cat.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Man of the Near Future

I saw the post on Craigslist. Sitting around my brother's house in Berkeley with nothing to do but rest and get rid of my cold, I decided to check out the merchandise. The science major lived just east of the UC campus in a small house with a small door. I nearly ran him over when I walked in. He was small. He told me he had big ideas though. The project just needed some wiring and it would work. He spent most of his time studying and finding time to work on the electronics. I gave him 200 bucks and took the kit home. I now own a time machine. It can not go into the past. It moves into the future but only at a regular speed. I tried it out last night. I stepped into its metallic coffin and waited. When I emerged it was eight hours later and I felt surprisingly refreshed. I can move into the near future.

My throat itches, my nose is stuffed, and my head hurts. If a doctor read this she might say I was sick. I might agree. I decided to stay in Berkeley for another day and get rid of the itchy throat, the stuffy nose, and the headache.

I met with Greta this afternoon. We drank juice at Whole Foods.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

After Six

I stopped running four years ago when the doctors reinforced my ankle with titanium. The metal makes my foot heavy and the best I can do is gallop, stomping heavily into the ground. So I walk as fast as I can.

The night hides the exposure and I feel almost comfortable. It is easy ground and I am able to relax and enjoy the moment. I scramble up the granite formation. After Six was my first free solo. I climbed the route ropeless six years ago just before Thanksgiving. Now, it is the end of November. The days are short and the nights are long. At six o'clock, the stars come out and light up the rock below El Capitan. It is beautiful.

The moment I grab the rock I let go of my insecurities. Hesitation, a lack of confidence, kills people. My headlamp lights the granite and I focus on moving, forgetting about my problems.

For an hour and a half I am free. I return to my car and drive the loop back to the center of Yosemite. I miss soloing.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Long Road to Failure

My brother is sleeping. I am typing on his computer, being inconsiderate. The pounding of the keys is keeping him awake. The best thing about family is that you can be a dick and they still remain your family.

I am in Berkeley for the weekend. I am not sure why I came. The weather in Yosemite is perfect. I almost sent Shiver Me Timbers, falling at the gaston move a dozen times. I have hopes of going to Zion this week and try Moonlight. NOAA's forecast is grim. Tuesday through Friday there is chance of rain. Climbing wet sandstone lacks appeal. I have a few other doubts about the trip. Zach may not be able to go, which means no partner, just minitraxioning. I am not sure if I can send. That may just be my nervousness or my insecurity about my abilities to climb well. Whatever. It's a long drive to fail.

I dropped Michelle K off at the Greyhound the other day. She's Canadian.

Matt woke up and read over my shoulder. "I am not sure why I came!? James, you shitbag. You came to visit me." He scratched his balls and left the room.

There was a really funny joke involving the Canadian project and Tim. I asked him how the Canadian project was going. I thought I was being subtle asking him about Michelle K. He thought I was talking about bouldering.
"Well, everything got real hard and then everything got wet."
Funny, funny, stuff.

I climbed at the gym the past two days. I got schooled at Iron Works then went to the Presidio and got schooled on all of Lucho's routes. My biggest climbing weakness is my ability to gym climb. Well, that and my ability to boulder, sport climb, trad climb, and wall climb.

So, I am waiting to hear from Zach. Maybe we'll go to Zion. Maybe I'll go to Bishop. Or maybe my brother will put on some pants and stop reading over my shoulder. Who knows?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Death in Yosemite

According to John Dill, the head of Yosemite National Park Search and Rescue (YOSAR), over 100 climbing accidents occur yearly with 2.5% of the accidents resulting in death. The granite walls, the Sierra storms, and loose rock kill unprepared climbers. Far more dangerous are visitor interactions with local wildlife. Three hundred fifty pound black bears reside in the park as well as 7 foot long mountain lions. The majority of accidents occur in the park due to the mule deer and not the rocks or bears or lions.

The largest of the Odocoileus genus, the mule deer, measures 40-42 inches at the shoulder, reaches 80 inches from nose to tail, and weighs from 100 pounds for females to 300 pounds for males. Most casualities involving the deer come from visitors attempting to feed the wild animals. While the deer are normally passive, they can become aggressive, rearing on their hind quarters and stomping down onto the ground. Fifteen years ago, a young couple from New Jersey took their toddler for a stroll through the Awahnee Meadow. A group of mule deer grazed the tall grass there and the couple stopped with their toddler to take a few pictures. Noticing the calm nature of the deer, the wife approached a small buck and placed her child on to the deer. The couple took a few pictures but the deer became aggravated quickly bucking off the child and stamping the toddler. The buck put its hoof through the child’s cranium. Park accidents like these are easier to avoid than storms, rock slides, and mountain lions. Be mindful of the animals in the park. Luckily, this story had a silver lining. The New Jersey couple sold the photos, covered the costs of the funeral, and broke even in the end.

Tim thought this story was fantastic. He came up with the last bit and nearly busted a gut when he told me about it. I laughed too. Maybe it was the dope but the story seemed pretty humorous so I told the story to a few people in the camp four parking lot. The joke bombed hard. I will have to remember not to listen to Tim’s jokes so much or just make sure everyone is stoned when they hear it.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


It's been a little more than a week since I started my little climbing trip. On Sunday Rob and I escaped bad weather to climb at Jailhouse. I got super worked there, falling on a couple routes I had wired, and only doing 5 and a half pitches. I went back the next day and shook my way up the warm up before quitting. The day after that I headed up, fired the warm up, tried a harder route, fell in the middle of it, smoked a bunch of dope and drove straight to Alex's house. The Dirty Bird, Alex Evans, lives in Curry Village over on the east side of Yosemite Valley. When I tracked him down, I convinced him we should go climb a wall. We could do the Prow on Washington's Column in a day. He was excited. He photocopied the topo, got his thick lead line from his storage unit, and was amped to get pysched. I racked everything and waited to meet the Dirty Bird last night. He went off to a dinner party with a girl named Dance Dance 2000 and did not make it back until rather late. We passed out with our alarms set to 5 am. I never heard Alex's alarm ring. He turned his off as fast as it rang. Mine woke me up. I got out of bed, woke the Dirty Bird, and threw the rack into the car. It was early. Actually, it was very early. Justin Wood and Ben Ditto slept on the floor, ignoring our early morning clamber. The Dirty Bird looked at them jealously. They slept warmly in beds of pillows and down.
"Want to go back to bed?" Dirty Bird asked.
I laughed. "Sure." I wanted to go back to bed. I also wanted to climb the Prow. I headed off to use the bathroom and when I came back to the cabin, the Dirty Bird had laid out my sleeping bag and pillows, and was hiding under his down comforter.
"Are you bailing?" I asked.
The Dirty Bird glared at me. "Let's go back to bed." I laughed and went back to sleep.
Most walls go like this. Getting to the base is always the crux. I would like to climb a wall soon. My hand started to hurt again after climbing at Jailhouse so now I do not know what I should do. My hand's still sore from the bouldering this morning.

Friday, November 7, 2008


A few notes of interest:
I headed down to the clinic with Noah this evening. A patient messed up their shoulder and Noah anticipated having to pop the bone back into the socket. I followed Dr. Noah to hold the patient down while Noah slid the bones back into place. Unfortunately for me but fortunate for the patient, their shoulder was broken in the clavicle. I only got to look at the x-rays. Bummer.

I bouldered another long time project of mine today. At the Camp 4 boulders there is a striking arete called Cocaine Corner. I have tried the problem a lot over the past three years and did it today. Yeah! Clear blue skies and sunshine for me right? Well, not entirely. Later in the day I went out to the Woodyard to try the Woodyard arete. I stuck the crux move, slapped, the next hold, and got ready for the big move to the horn and then dropped. "I'm scared." I told Siemay and Noah and Dave Nunley. I was scared. I was pumped. Committing to the highball finish meant forgetting about the fact that I do not have health insurance, that destroying my ankle would send me into a dark spinning depression. I'd like to say that my mind was preoccupied with these thoughts but in all honesty, it was not. I am just a big old scaried cat.

I can't stop thinking about this girl. Damn.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My Crazy Family

The other night I stayed in Portland with my second oldest brother. Justin lives just outside of downtown in a two bedroom house with a woman named Sarah. Sarah has glaucoma, a complication from her type 1 diabetes. In the past year, the doctors performed a few eye surgeries and her right eye still barely detects light. Justin takes care of her, in Justin's sort of way. He also attends school at one of the local community colleges. He's getting a degree in kineseology so he can become a personal trainer or something like that. Justin, Sarah, one of Sarah's friends, and I went to the bar near there house. We played pool. My acting skills are always put to the test when I play pool. I will hit a ball in and then have to act like I'm not surprised. Hard stuff.

The next day I drove down to my youngest brother's house. Nick works as a landscape in Red Bluff, a town of 5000 people and 4000 tweakers. Nick likes drugs. I ate some dope brownies at his house and melted into the couch. The intense amount of THC tingled through my body, which was nice. It also kept me awake til late, which was not nice. I festered for quite a bit and even came up with some real intense thoughts about rock climbing. How I should approach it. How I could perform better. How it could be more meaningful for me. They were great thoughts. Too bad I was too stoned to remember them in the morning. As an additional note, Nick and I did some other baking. Yeah!

My mom recently got on Facebook. Apparently my aunt told her I was on the internet vortex. My mom sent me a message immediately wanting to see pictures and chat and all that shit. Fuck. Hopefully she doesn't find this blog. Sorry Mom if you did. Check out what she wrote about the recent election on her Facebook status: "Marian : After this election, nothing in American life will be the same. I ask that my children remember their roots when the time of persecution comes." I'm not sure if she's angry because Obama is black, because he's pro-life, or because he's not a "god fearing man." My mother's always insisted that the apocalypse will come when the anti-christ rises to power and who makes a better anti-christ than a black Muslim. Balls. Watch out everyone. They'll be tatooing the number of the beast onto your foreheads soon.

I'd also like to say that I'm severly disappointed in the outcome of Prop 8 in California. Why the fuck shouldn't gay people be allowed to get married? People like my mom claim "God made Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve." This measure goes against our Second Amendment rights. I am infuriated. I do not understand why people want to impose a law that does not affect them in the slightest. It's obvious bigotry. If I wasn't so mad about it I may come up with solid evidence supporting my claims but for now I'll just say, "Hey fuck all you white bread dicks."

One more note, I made it to Yosemite. Sick. The weather's good. The climbing's polished. I am really pysched to be here.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


I left Peshastin in the early part of the afternoon. It rained the day I returned from Squamish. It rained the day after that and the day after that. I did not get a chance to climb in Leavenworth again. I drove to my eldest brother's house in the rain leaving behind a few projects. I had been working the Millenium Traverse before I left and managed to nearly send it one day before work. I pulled onto the stepp piece of smooth granite, tossed my heel on to match my hands, and then unfurled and campused across to the last piece of the problem. With a high left foot, I locked off on the large flake and reached for the finish jug. I stopped on the intermediate two inches from the finish. I tried to move to the jug. My fingers came up a quarter inch short. I screamed. I tried harder. I reached a little further. Then I fell. Sad. Sad. Sad. I hoped to get another go on the problem before I left but then there was the rain. I feel bad leaving behind unfinished business. Plus, Thomasina might head back to Leavenworth and I'm already gone. Damn.

On Wednesday I'll be in Yosemite. On Friday I'll meet Rob and boulder. Hopefully, I'll be able to do some bouldering with Siemay too. I have a small tick list of problems that I would like to send. The Woodyard Arete, The Hexentric(might be unreasonable), the Cathedral Arete, Cocaine Corner, Cross Roads Moe, and the Cookie Monster. I have a few weeks so maybe I can get all those done. I will also be spending a fair bit of time in Sonora. I would like to do the Jailhouse five- Iron Junkie, Misdemeanor, Fugitive, and Insecruity in a day. Maybe Alcatraz too. Whatever I do there, I do not want to project much as projecting blows hard. It's really depressing. I always send better when I'm already sending. Climbing with Honnold taught me that. It's better to do things that you can do quickly than project stuff. You lose a lot of strength projecting.

In other news, My oldest brother, Chris, his wife, Kat, and my niece, Graylin, and I went to Pure Sports in nearby Redmond. One of the perks my brother gets is free membership at this super fitness mall. Pure Sports contains half a dozen tennis courts, five squash courts, four pools, two cardio rooms, Botox injections, facials, a few saunas, and a lifetime of spa treatments. Microsoft graciously paid the $10,000 dollar initiation fee and pays for my brother's membership. It was pretty crazy being there.

Tomorrow, Portland. I hope it stops raining.