Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Fourth-The Fest

We spent the Fourth of July at the Flaming Gorge reservoir with Kelby Scott and his family.  
It was a lovely drive through a green desert, and we only got lost once or twice!  The gorge is surrounded by nondescript dirt roads leading into camping spots, and eventually, Kelby had to come find us.  

But once we were found, we went boating, 

The big Wyoming sky at twilight.


The Kokanee Salmon were delicious!

Spear Fishing

The water was too murky for much fishing, but they sure do look good! 

Cornhole playing

Cody and I got schooled!

and firework watching.    

We missed our 16 layer jello, but it was a pretty fun Fourth nonetheless.  We headed to Lander, Wyoming for the Annual Climber's Festival next.  

The climbers festival didn't start until the sixth, but we like to get there a little early to get used to the rock and rope climbing again.  The first day we took it easy and did the usual climbs we had done in years past, took some practice falls and were feeling good.  The second day I tried a cool 5.13a called Full Circle that Brian Dunnohew talked me into.  I usually don't like really steep climbing, but the route turned out to be pretty cool. 
Brian Dunnohew pulling hard on Full Circle (5.13a).

 Later that day I decided to try a climb I have always wanted to do.  It is called Last Man Standing, a 5.13b.  I got on the climb and things were going well.  I was working on the crux move, which involves grabbing a mono (one finger pocket) and lunging to the next hold when it happened.  I dug my finger into the small pocket, adjusted my feet and threw for the next hold.  The only problem was that my finger stayed in the pocket.  We all heard a loud crack and I fell of the route.  Hanging in my harness I looked at my finger, it wasn't bent, or in any pain, so I thought maybe I just popped the knuckle, no harm done.  I was wrong, I pulled onto the route again and felt pain, and the swelling came shortly after.  My finger was not in good shape, maybe broken.  It's been about two weeks now, and the swelling has gone.  I have full range of motion, but if my finger is side-loaded at all in the direction of my injury, I feel sharp pain.  I'm going to take it easy for a while and let it heal.   

A classic mono move.  

 While Cody was injured, I had a belay slave at my disposal.  I made good use of him and got a lot of climbing in.    Last summer, my goal was to climb a climb graded 5.12.  I sent several 5.11d climbs, but could never quite make the .12 happen.  This year, I was determined.  I worked out the crux move to Tomahawk Slam, a 5.12a near Full Circle, and had worked out the top sequences.  I felt the butterflies that come when you realize that this time, it just might be possible.  You could send it, if you don't screw up.  I took a few deep breaths and tied in, fought the pump, pulled the crux, and before I knew it, I was clipping the chains.   I lowered down elated.  The send was made even sweeter by watching a tall man try to climb the same route, copying my method, and fail.  Repeatedly.  (I do the route much differently than most tall people do, and he just didn't realize there was another option!)   After some encouragement from Cody, I got on another .12a a few days later.  This one was called The Solace of Bolted Faces, and was much more suited to my style, despite the crux consisting of a long reach off a mono pocket.  After a day of work, I came back and sent.  It was a good summer for climbing at the Iris, as usual!  

Monday, July 11, 2011

Bright Lights, Big City

  When Cody got an email asking if he was interested in working with Vertical Solutions this summer, my first reaction was NO!  No, no no nonono.  We just finished working!  We're going to go have fun.  But I read on, and became a little more open to the idea when one of the jobs described was to erect a temporary wall in Central Park for a professional climbing competition.  That didn't sound too terrible.  We might be able to fit a trip to Manhattan (with complementary lodgings)  into our summer plans.  We hemmed and hawed on the question of whether I should accompany Cody- offsetting my plane ticket and cost of food/entertainment with his paycheck for the job.  We thought we could at least break even, so I went ahead and bought a ticket out to the Big City.

The Mall at lovely summertime Central Park

Since Cody was flying with the rest of the crew, and I was on a different flight, I had planned to take our only cell phone.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take it from him when I dropped him and the rest of the crew at the airport.  He realized my blunder and stood outside, waiting for me to come back for the phone, but I didn't realize until the next morning.  Oh well,  I thought. I'll just call him from a pay-phone when I get there.  No biggie.    I arrived in New York's LaGuardia airport, found a phone and some quarters only to be sent straight to voicemail.  Oh No!  I was so prepared-  I packed the charger in my bag,  and the phone must be dead.  Okay..  Deep breaths.  You can just find a computer somewhere, find the contact information for Vertical Solutions, find a payphone, call Dustin, and meet up with them.  Hopefully.  

 Fingers crossed and heart rate a little elevated, I took a taxi into Manhattan, asking my driver to take me to the Mac store, or somewhere where I could use the internet.  Did he know if the library was open on Sundays?  Lucky for me, Abraham from Egypt (my cabbie), was very helpful.  He took me to a corner in downtown with a Best Buy,  close enough to the library so I could walk there if need be.  I was able to use a tablet computer on the demo counter to find the contact info I needed, and headed out into the street to locate a payphone.  I asked a pretzel vendor if he knew where one was, and he offered me his cell phone.  I called Dustin, who, by some miraculous act of fate, was two blocks away.  I bought a pretzel and thanked the vendor profusely, and practically skipped down to the corner where Dustin met me in a cab.  We were whisked uptown, where we met the crew and checked into our apartment.

Park Avenue and 89th Street

New York is full of wonderful food-  13,000 restaurants, according to one source.  Cody and I had delicious thin crust New York pizza, loaded with mushrooms, just plain cheese, sausage...  We drank Papaya juice from the famous Papaya King,  just a few blocks away from our place.  Hot dogs, Gyros, pasta, bagels and schmear, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Italian...  There was a great deli across the street from our apartment that had fantastic salami and cheeses.  The boys worked late a few nights, and I laid out a midnight snack of peppery, thin cut salami and some aged parmesan for them.  The cutting board was all but licked clean in the morning.

The view from Above

Since the boys were working for several days, I had lots of time to see the sights on my own.  I ended up buying a CityPass booklet, which included tickets to the major museums, as well as the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty.  I wandered museums on my own for the first several days, losing myself in ancient Greek and Roman Sculpture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in the incredibly lifelike dioramas of the Museum of Natural History, (especially the Hall of African Mammals, and the Hall of North American Birds),  and wearing myself out walking all over the Park and the City.

Peregrine Falcon diorama at the Museum of Natural History
Temple Offerings in The Hall of Pacific Peoples at the Museum of Natural History
I'll never understand Modern Art.
A blank Canvas at the MoMa

The Competition went extremely well.   It was well attended, the walls looked great, the competitors climbed hard and interesting routes.  The New York Times even covered the event! It seemed really short to me-  it began at 2pm, and was over abruptly at 5pm.  Putting up the wall seemed like a lot of work for a three hour event!  The boys stayed late again that night to take the wall down.

Men at Work.  Cody is second from the left.  
The Famous Flat Iron building
We celebrated Cody's birthday the way he wanted to;  which is to say, simply and inexpensively.  We went to the top of the Empire State Building,  walked around the City, had a good dinner in Chinatown, and went to bed early.  We had attempted to get tickets to Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, but the show wasn't filming that week.  The next day, we headed down to the Financial District, saw the place where George Washington gave the first Inaugural Address,  the Bowling Green, the New York Stock Exchange,  the big Bull sculpture.  We rode the free ferry out to Staten Island, which passes right by the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.  We went home and rested, had dinner, then took the subway to the Strand Bookstore, where we perused thousands of books.  A milkshake was a perfect way to end the night, and to try to shake some of the humidity that lingers into the nights.

On top of the Empire State Building.
I flew home early the next morning.  Sarah (and little Fisher Bell)  picked me up in SLC, and we had lunch together and hung out until I had to go pick up Cody late that evening.  We slept hard that night!
We spent the next day in Salt Lake,  then headed up to Lander, Wyoming, for the 18th International Climber's Festival.  But that's another story.   Until then...  I hope you all are living your dreams.