September 30, 2007

SoCal Polish

When I think socal, I think refined, I think sophisticated, so this place just fits right in. Still, I've got to admit that when I saw this sign I pretty much wanted to vomit. What is up with puns for pet related services, they have this knack for coming up with the gayest cutesy names I've heard, like "Dogma" in San Diego. But I suppose that the type of person who would take their pet to a day spa is probably the type of person who would think "pawlished" is clever. God, I've got to get out of here.

On a brighter note, I came up with a sweet title for my MA Thesis - "Moral Responsibility in an Irresponsible World." I don't really know anything about moral responsibility, but this title just popped up in my mind and it sounded too smart not to put on my resume. Is it a bad idea to write a paper based on a title? I think I can convince myself that it's not, actually I'm pretty sure I can. I'm getting a job teaching GRE test prep at Kaplan to pay off some of my summer debt. I owe $100 here, $150 there, you know.

Also, and this is a big one, I'm working on a jacket design for my first book, bearing the title of my MA Thesis. It's like a 16 year old who already has her wedding gown picked out, but more smarter and intellectual. I pretty much think it will revolutionize philosophy of action, if only I can make the cover aesthetic enough. Or better yet, I'll just hold out for the inspiration to come, like the 16 year old waiting for prince charming. Life is much easier when you don't make any decisions one way or the other.

Bringing the arc back down again, imagine that the US won a race, but instead of a race it was just the way things are, and instead of winning it just sold a shit load of weapons to developing countries. Way to go, I need one of those giant #1 foam arms to shove down my throat.

September 25, 2007

Culture Shock

Oops, the shock has reversed itself on me, so I do the best to transport my thoughts to more comfortable times. A few final photos that I never got around to posting. You've got Abi Poppins there, sailing through the air on the Moon Swing using merely an umbrella. I totally didn't doctor it. To do the swing you have to climb Moon Walker (12d/b), I was short on draws so I onsighted it with just four. I think there are over ten bolts on the whole thing. I may have also been wearing a cowboy hat...not sure on that one.

While it's the Abi show, here she is on Flashdance (10b?), her first first ascent, completed in style. Abi you're a rock star, or maybe something else that rocks out, like an aerobics instructor.

Then we've got this guy, who is doubly chinese by the looks of things. He has a tattoo of himself on his chest. Notching up the class a bit, a suit photo, Jake in action. Walking to an interview? Hi, I'm here for the job. No? Then a business meeting?

I had to sit still in a class for four hours today. I don't know how to do that anymore. I've been checking travelzoo five times a day, waiting hoping for divine intervention to send me some cheap airfare out of this place. Weekend in central america repeat? Or perhaps the east coast for some sailing...

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September 22, 2007

Peaced on China

I'm finally out of that benighted country. The real turning point for me was last week when I woke up to my landlord smoking a cigarette in my apartment. No knock, he just used his key to unlock the door and strolled in with his smokey friend. Can you imagine waking up half naked to that? There is no concept of workers rights in China, so why should there be any tenant rights. He wanted to take our TV because we stuck it in the closet, so I had to watch it for a half hour to TV block his snatch. I'd be damned if he was taking my TV I don't use.

The goodbyes were some of the best I've ever had. Lots of baijiu was involved, like anything else we did. I met some great people over there, it's already sad not to see them everyday. Jake and I left our marks on the ceiling at the Karst Cafe, looking the next day I'm just glad I spelled my name right. So long Echo and your mom's rice wine. I'll be brewing some of my own soon, let's just hope my body can take baijiu after a month hiatus.

An entirely miserable day of traveling ended us up in Hong Kong, staying in an apartment that belongs to the father of one of Jake's old John Hopkins buddies. While it is definitely the ballenest flat I've ever crashed, it might just be the ballenest flat I ever will. I tip my hat to the generosity of Joe. Check out the view from the 25th floor. It was such a relief, after a full day of carrying all of our gear through buses, trains, and the metro, to have two bellboys haul the shit to the elevator. We then played tennis in the rooftop court and swam in the waterfall pool. Oh to be well off, but perhaps you can take it a little overboard.

If you are staying in such an apartment you must look the part, so Jake and I got a couple of hand tailored suits. A three day process, check out Jake during the first fitting. I'm impressed when someone makes pancakes from scratch, let alone an entire suit. While in Hong Kong we thought our threads looked normal, it wasn't until I got back and saw everyone's dress in Cali that I realized what we got exactly. Once you go custom, there's no going back.

Yesterday I drove a car for the first time in two months. I also wore a seatbelt for the first time. I suspect there's going to be a little adjustment period...

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September 16, 2007


A few days ago I got the third ascent of Lighting, probably the hardest climb ever FA'd by a Chinese. My god, time to move on past this climbing thing. I was on the route one day over a month ago when I first got here, then once again weeks later. I had to go back to get my draws off, and snuck away with the blase redpoint.

Here's a video of Abon on the second ascent, one day after Aqiang got it, courtesy of Tyson and Colton. It's actually an interesting story. Neil Grisham bolted the route for Abon last year, but after six months passed without an FA, Neil opened the climb up to everyone. Aqiang and Abon were then working it together, and Abon finally got day after Aqiang. God damn, that would piss me off, but it goes to show the power of the send train.

The grade originally proposed was 14b, I thought it was more like 13d, I think the new book may call it 14a. Can the world be built on a compromise? Who knows these things anyway?

Pirate Party

Chinaclimb sent us off in style yesterday, perhaps a pirate party? That hat you see is a cowboy that I had modified by some dude with a hand crank sewing machine by the river. But this is what I don't get, in the last week I've purchased six swords and then when it came time to party pirate style they were no where to be found. My epithet, Alan Red Beard.

Colton went all out on this one, which tattoos are real and which were for the party? Here is Claire and Jake with the baijiu, I don't think I will ever love a woman half as much as I love my Baijiu. By the way, Chinese moonshine party in SoCal in about a month, as soon as my homemade rice wine cures.

I'm not entirely sure about this, but I think the most fun thing I've ever done is run through crowded streets in China brandishing a sword and yelling yelling aarrrrr. Ever.

So the shot of me and Abi, and then my favorite photo, Alan Red Beard and some blond head.

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September 15, 2007

Shattered Teeth and Broken Bones

Yesterday Jake and I finished up our projects at Odin's, so it's time for a break from the rocks. Jake got the FA on Death by the Sword (12a), what is that...his first first ascent? Since we are out of here, Jake regretfully handed off his other project to me. He said it felt like he was giving me permission to sleep with his sister, so I gave him a hug and then treat her right? I just want to put this out there, but my god I love tufas. Tufas and feet popping off. Put it together and you get Shattered Teeth and Broken Bones (13a), the raw materials from which Odin created the world. I had a crazy night of Chinese clubs the night before (congo line? Limbo? wtf?), so I nearly passed out in the heat and the hangover when I sent. My eyes were bloodshot and my face was red, I thought I was going to die. But nope, didn't happen.

Good bye Odin's Den, my second home. I hope these Chinese are as good to you as I was.

By the way, I took this photo just now. This is where I am, this is China.

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September 11, 2007

Cowboys and Climbing

What a party, rednecks and white trash. Jake here was a rockstar, with the hat and the cig and the gun. Watch carefully on the left side, quick. These guns are toys, they cost about $5, but they are made of metal and feel too real. What's more fun than shooting your friends after a night of drinking. Uhh...nothing, except maybe looking at this photo of Sheila. She pulls off the look a little too well.

Five bucks rented us this moped. It's hard to imagine how hard it is to care about anything here when it all costs so little. Jake and I got a beer each for the night ride back, what's more fun than drinking and scooting? Until...the scooter died a mile from town, so we had to jump off and push when it got a little steep. The Chinese love little as much as seeing two westerners do what they do everyday. It's like the infatuation we have with reality tv, but less high tech and more likely to break. We held the moped for ransom until we got a refund, it took only half an hour of haggling.

Ways we've gotten home from Moon Hill, about a six mile drive: taxi bus, single bike, tandem bike, moped, mountain bikes from some French girls we met on top, a police escort, some random car, and a ride from some Chinese dude's motorcycle. Yea, that's three men and two packs on a single small bike, two of us drinking beer.

A few days ago I finished the first route at Odin's Den, Lesser Deity (13d). It's a powerful 70 feet of climbing, but that's nothing compared to its greater extension. See that cave, yea...the extension goes nearly to the top. My motivation is far too low this trip to give it a serious go, so Yangshuo gets a new open proj. Have I mentioned that I'm so over climbing right now? It all comes down to cleaning my draws off nearly 5 climbs. More like work than anything else.

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September 05, 2007



Everyday I wake up, this is the view from my apartment. It's going to be hard to leave Yangshuo.

A night of baijiu (say it like "bye Joe") is such a special Chinese experience, you can't say you have truly been to China if you don't know the jo. The locals call it rice wine, a name far too innocent for a spirit at 90 to 120 proof. You really can’t mix it in any drinks, the only way is shots. But the cool thing, baijiu is the cheapest alcohol in the world. There is a shop in town that sells the Beijing special for 45 cents a bottle, easily enough to make you go blind for the night. Not that I often had to pay for it, the bars in town have a tendency to give their baijiu away. How could anyone take money for it in good conscious?

This is china, so you never quite know what you are getting into when the baijiu begins. Is it mass produced or local moonshine? Is it straight or cured for months in fruit or snakes? Echo’s mom at the Karst Café makes the best baijiu in town, and Echo has a tendency to poor it down my throat, look what happened during the ghost festival.

A bunch of us from chinaclimb went mud caving yesterday, the best cure for a hangover I've found. No great pics here, but jake and I went in wearing nothing but a loincloth and brandishing fearsome swords. Everyone was scared, I bet you can imagine why. Even after three showers I still have mud in a few special places.

I think the motivation to climb is entirely gone. I've only climbed two days in the last week, and the weather has finally cooled off. I hope I can get some of these climbs I've bolted before my time runs out. If not, eh, I'm not even sure I care anymore.

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September 03, 2007

Odin's Den

I feel a little like Vasco de Gama after discovering a new cave, dubbed Odin's Den. Just look at those tufas! Judging from the amount of naughty jungle we had to hack through, we are likely the first westerners in the cave...ever. It took me and Jake four days to get to the top of this 200 ft wall, four days weathering Odin's plagues. First he sends choss, the nastiest 5.11 trad climb I have ever done, one of the worst climbing experiences of my life. Then he sends the storm, just as we are about to top out the rain and lightning made us retreat. Finally, he sent the biajo, the local rice wine that has captured my heart and soul at 110 proof. The hangover kept us from the top a number of times.

But then we made it, and what a beautiful cave she is. We spent a day putting in nearly thirty bolts, and with a little help from Colton (with the goatee), we've got about six routes on the wall. None of them have been climbed, it's all so new. Check this out, Colton is the first one ever to climb this.

This cave was used as a hideout from the Japanese during WWII. There is a cool stone wall, you walk through a sweet arch to get into the cave.

So yea, China isn't too bad I guess. Check out my hat, $2 is all I spent. I'll lose it soon, but who cares.

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