November 29, 2008

On Spending Frivolous

Look at that, my little sister is all grown up. She recently moved to Portland, so my family broke its typical routine to spend Thanksgiving up north. That state is damn cold. And it has lots of hipsters riding around on fixies. Other than that though, Portland is alright by me. Oh, the rain too. I hate the constant rain.

We stumbled upon (can you stumble upon a place you plan on going?) a chocolatier, well not exactly, more like a chocolate boutique. The two of us spent an hour sampling various chocolates, from the bitter kick at the end of 100% cacao to the evolving flavors of France's finest. Here's the embarrassing part - I spent $15 on a single bar of chocolate...three times. But to my defense, it's damn good chocolate, and I've got some philosophical uses for it.

Left Portland for a five hour trip to Ashland, spent Thanksgiving there, then ended up back in Portland for a flight home today. More photos to come.

November 22, 2008


This is the hardest problem I've ever done on a boulder, my Yabo Roof, if you will. The journey started way back in March, but I've always cared more about the destination, so no more details on that. Suffice it to say that this climb has done its damnest to thwart my ego - good thing it's quite resilient.

Dave Struthers put up this climb in 2001, back when the Mandala was cutting edge. It was one of the hardest climbs in the country at the time, although his ascent didn't get the press it deserves. The moves are technical and body position is paramount - look how I crawl up this rock in the video. Having learned my lesson on Thursday, I set up the camera before my first try, and luckily one go is all it took. The season ends next week with the storm and my fingers ended when I topped out with holes, so one go was all I had.

This caps a productive season up at Black Mountain. I've completed most of the established hard climbs, and the era of FAs can begin. But no! The snow! My ambitious will have to wait for the Spring. Perhaps this is for the best, sometimes a forced hiatus is fitting.

November 20, 2008

Grades, Grades, Grades

I heart this photo, Tour de France (v7) at Black Mountain, 80s style. People have been climbing up there for such a long time - lots of history - it really makes the area magical. With any boulder, you never know if you're doing something new or doing something an old man ticked off years ago, without a pad. I keep waiting for the 80s to call and ask for their FAs back.

Today was far too short - I really can't stand this whole dark-at-five thing. I think we should have a lunar calendar. Would that even fix things? I don't understand. I quickly did a direct start to Buzz Saw at Black, starting on the waist high crimps behind the tree. Who knows how hard it is, probably about v10, like everything else. Does v11 even exist, or do they just jump from 10 to 12?

Then Amna and I headed over to the far side of the mountain. We split up for a bit, which seemed to work well since she sent Center Visor (v6) and I got Ex-Patriot (v10) while apart. We finished the day around Bang-On with back-to-back ascents of Adamantium Sit (v9) and Round Boulders Arete (V4). Btw, Adamantium sit is not the "Mandala of Black Mountain," as someone's 8a says, but actually kind of sucks in a sharp-owh kind of way. I also fondled Bang-On a bit, but no dice with that first move - hard hard.

I hate to say this, but I hate grade inflation even more. SoCal climbers can't rate boulder problems. I'm losing faith. Ex-Patriot is not a soft v12, but rather a mid-range v10. Adamantium is far from v11. When doing an FA, take a grade off of what you think it is, since you know future climbers will find better beta, have cleaner holds, be more motivated. End of story.

[UPDATE]: My original post was too mean and unjustly singled out one individual - I must have been on the rag or something. I abstracted and cleaned it up with a broom, so while not spotless, it looks nicer than before.

November 17, 2008

The Tulip Odyssey

For every good day of climbing, there are always a couple of shitty ones. Last week I suffered one of those. I fell on the top of Regeneration (v12) at Black, one of the hardest rock climbs in the history of ever. Later that day I did Tulip, only to later be told that I started one move into the problem. Similarly, Dave fell on the topout of the Tour de France Sit (v10) twice.

It was a day of misery depression, we both felt like hollow shells of men, and I only now got the confidence to discuss the issues. I got Tulip my next day on it, Dave sent Tour his next day, and all is well in Alan's world.

[OBSCURE UPDATE]: The trailer for Rampage shows Sharma on the Tulip for about 2 seconds at the 25 mark.

November 16, 2008

The Tulip

I have always accused arguments from intelligent design of succumbing to confirmation bias, so as proof there is no god, I give you the Tulip (v10), a great climb marred only by the fact that it is two feet off the ground. If there were a god, he would have made this boulder problem more aesthetic.

Sharma got the FA in the old Rampage video, calling it v10. Since then a hold has broken in the middle (listen for the BAH!), changing the beta and making it harder. Because it's such a damn low traverse and get's sun all day, it rarely sees the repeat. I think this is the second post-break ascent, the first was done by Tye Landman who called it v11 on his 8a with the comment "hard." Alright kids, let's be fair though - he also called Ubiquitous v11, which is not only wrong, but dreadfully so.

I've considered it a v11 for a while, but today it felt easy, so I feel a little guilty with the upgrade. I'll punt on this one - v10 for now, and perhaps there will be a revision in the future.

November 03, 2008

Tour de France Sit

While you turds were recovering from Halloween parties, sitting at home watching teevee in your underwear, I was recovering up at the mountains, climbing rocks. Sunday was the first cold and blustery day of the season, and lord knows I like it cold and blustery. Black Mountain was living in the clouds...

After warming up on a bunch of obscure problems I've always wanted to get on, I surprised myself with a quick ascent of Dark Horse (V10). It was the climb in the old Rampage video that some British stole the FA on, beating out Obi and Chris. Two of the most amazing moves you'll ever do.

Then I headed up to the Tour de France boulder, and here's a shitty video of my send from the sit. Garrett and someone else (Alex?) put up the sit this summer and called it v12. For some reason, they started on two horrible holds with their backs in the dirt. It look heinous (does this word still exist?). The climb is much easier if you use the good hold a foot to the right. Is that cheating, using the good holds? I say v10 - no more, no less.

The movements are phenomenal - check out that huge drop knee in the beginning. I know, I know, the quality is horrendous. But I was by myself in the eye of the storm. It was cold and I didn't care. If it makes it any better, here is a super rad bonus video!

Also, quick, check out Joe Kinder's blog before the effect is lost! Reading about the smashed bolts last night, at the bottom I saw the entry "Whaddup," for reelz! I thought it was a comment on his blog from someone making fun of his wigger-isms. But nope, it was Joe Kinder making fun of himself, although indirectly and unconsciously. Funnier that way, in a Palinesque sort of way.

I'll get some Halloween photos up I hope. I am was Sparticus! I'll just leave you with a photo of Nick, a cute little Canadian mountie. There's got to be a gay joke in there somewhere, but where? Help me out here.

November 02, 2008

A Road Less Traveled

In a little fit of rebellion toward the practice of updating classic literature into contemporary prose (especially when it was written in verse - what an abomination!), I wrote this years ago. A reinterpretation of Robert Frost, with the fat trimmed and a little teenage angst added to help the reader connect.
The Road Not Taken (A Traveler’s Torment)*
by Robert Frost
A Modern Translation by Alan Moore
I was walking in the woods and there was a road. I looked down it, and it looked nice. Then I walked down it, and it has made a big difference.
*This poem has been slightly abridged. The second road was left out because it was never actually walked down. This poem has also been translated into prose in order to make is more accessible.

Ewwwie! Gross! If you are barbarish and don't get it, read the original, complete with wrong title and misspelling, because I love the internet which can do no wrong.