I’ve always loved cow paintings. They are such an integral part of our culture going back a thousand years or more. I’m mostly vegetarian, though I will have a steak once in a blue moon. I’ve been sticking with the Plant Paradox diet for a couple months and have lost 7 pounds, keeping it off easily, even when not climbing. It’s more of a sustainable life choice than a diet. I’m not starving at all.
I do have to carefully calibrate now much carbs I eat. If I’m climbing hard, I will supplement the diet with some canned black beans and tuna. I’ve had a few “diet fail” days at the crags where I just hit the wall (The Dreamer route at Darrington). I can’t climb on a brocoli salad.
Darrington for 3 days
September 9th, 2019
Hooked up with my old friend James for a great trip to Darrington. We left Wednesday at 2 and returned Saturday at 6pm. We did three new routes:
Urban Bypass 10b, 4 pitches on Green Giant Buttress, 3 hour approach up a vine maple avalanche slope, no trail for most of it, then 4 pitches of slab, 50 foot runnouts on the easy stuff.
Shake Rattle and Roll on 3 o’clock Rock, 4 or 5 pitches of super fun and casual 5.8 mostly bolts (rack of singles up to blue). Runout up to 20 feet.
Till Daylight, a lovely 5.8 expedition starting right of the big arch, then veering left above it. All shiny new bolts, singles up to yellow, doubles on purple, amazing chicken head climbing for days. A couple 20 foot runs, but I never slipped. Calmness and/or careful calculation is a virtue.
I made this video on my iPhone XS using the google photos app. It allows you to choose which photos and edit how much of the 3 seconds of video in each live photo will be used in the final edit.
Here are some of the original high res photos. Google Photos is good and convenient, but I’ve found a better, quicker way to get photos off my iPhone. I’m using the PNY duo link. No waiting for google photos to upload to the cloud. Transfer original photos from phone to flash drive, then from flash to laptop. I have to convert them from *.HEIC to jpg before uploading them to WordPress.
4 days in late August
September 3rd, 2019
Thursday Chris and I climbed all 7 pitches of Silent Running at Darrington. We left Tacoma at 6:30, hiked up the one hour approach and got on the rock around 11. She led pitch 1 and I finally mastered the runnout moves on pitch 2. The mid section has some blank, runnout 5.8 friction. It’s about 20 or 30 feet and I’ve backed off it before. This time I climbed the flake section on the right to a high black alien. Traversing from there felt 5.10 so I down climbed until I could step left onto the runnout section, more in line with the last bolts. From there I saw a pattern of very slight black friction dykes. With the top rope to the alien, it was easy to stay calm as I motored up to the next protection. I was glad she reminded me that if it feels like 5.10, it probably is, meaning I was off route.
She swung through onto the crux 5.9+ third pitch and did fine. About 80 feet up I heard her comment: “Uh oh, the bolts are getting close, it must be getting hard again!”
Pitches 4 and 5 were either easy and fun, or relatively well bolted. Following was harder than leading because we were dragging the 9.8 rap line. We should have put it in a back pack, with a pint of water. Chris could have used a long sleeve shirt. It goes into shade at 3: hence the name, 3 o’clock rock.
I sailed up pitch 6, slowing down at the usual places and Chris swung thru to pitch 7, leading it with one tiny slip, which I didn’t even feel. My feet were killing me following pitch 7, though I did it cleanly, no slips in 7 pitches, which amazed me. The rap down was long and tiring. We started out sharp, but by the 4th rap neither of us could remember which rope to pull. I’d get to the anchor where I needed to thread and holler up at Chris: “Which rope are we pulling, red or blue?” She was there, and could tell me for sure…since I’d forgotten. It was a long, but very fun day with one of my favorite climbing partners. Good, reliable and skilled climbing partners are hard to find. Mike is a lucky man.
I drove home, then met Fletch at his house at 7:30 AM to drive to Careno. I led two pitches on his 5.9 parkway route, then he worked on his new route, which may get named: “Mad dogs and Englishmen”. Saturday I led South Face of Jello, Short and Sassy and Angel. I don’t think I’ve ever climbed Angel clean, but it’s always interesting.
Fletch and I jammed two nights in a row. Ken and his wife, plus two random English dudes joined us the second night. It was fun having a crowd for our out of tune music. Sunday I got pitch 3 of Bale Kramer clean. Key seems to be committing to the under cling with the right hand, plus bracing toes in the crack off the the right. Once you do that you can reach out and sink the excellent hand jam.
Then it’s a series of jams up to the thin fingers section where a black alien goes in. Then you pull on the manky hand jam to reach past up to the first sinker finger lock. Sink in a purple and motor up to the hand jam, which takes a great red. There are tiny left foot crimpers and smears which helps keep the weight off the hands.
Davis Holland at Index
August 24th, 2019
Chris and I climbed first two pitches of Davis Holland, then hiked down and climbed GM to Heart of the Country. I hung all over second pitch of DH. Have no idea how to unlock the mystery of green hand jams though it’s only a 14 foot section. I can only get half of one manky handjam in that whole section. The lower pitch continues to frustrate me too. Something about that route is both appealing and frustrating at the same time.
I probably needed to have a reality check. I was climbing so strongly in Canada that I was getting over confidant. Going to the climbing gym two days in a row before climbing at Index was not wise. Still it was an awesome day with two great friends. Today I’m going to take it easy. My couch looks very appealing.
Canada on an expired passport
August 21st, 2019
I got my passport out of the safe the day before going to Canada. It was expired, by 5 days. A google search revealed several people who had blithely gone thru the border and back with only a friendly warning.
My experience was that no one even mentioned it. I’m guessing that it must be because 10 years is a long, long time. Who keeps a calendar that long? Google calendar hasn’t even existed that long.
My first day I met B and P at Neat and Cool. I followed that little finger crack on the trail in hiking boots. The next day we went to Octopus and I led all my standards cleanly, easily, including the nine on the right. Tuesday we went to Penny Lane which P led.
It was an impressive lead because they’ve not been climbing much due to B’s shoulder surgery. She led that pretty much off the couch, on sight. We met Albert there and he followed us the rest of the day over to Quarry Man which we both led. I sailed up Quarry, must be warmed up from The City and Middle East Wall at Vantage. I also led Ronin’s Corner and the 10c Frog route, with one fall. B and I jammed until 10pm that night, earning a honk from a car.
Next day they left but Albert and I spent a morning at the bluffs. I led Flying Circus and S&M’s Delight very cleanly. I actually ran out both of them at the crux, instead of a sew up job. Albert is only doing 4 routes a day, so at 2 I lost my partner. I posted notes on Mountain Project and FB but got no response.
I hung out for a while watching the kite boarders…I really want to try that sport! Sue was texting me and saying I should come home, and I eventually decided she would be more fun than begging for partners.
Because you can’t take food thr0ugh the border, I dumped $40 worth of food (eggs, brocolli, blue berries, cauliflower, dressing) in the garbage can at Murrin Park. I figured I was already in for a grilling because of my expired passport, no sense making them madder.
30 minutes down the road Cole called me and said he also needed a partner and could climb for several days. I turned around and we did first two pitches of the Smoke Bluff connection, sleeping below Rock On.
In the morning Cole and I climbed Calculus thru Karen’s Math. I’ve never done Karen’s that cleanly, every move felt solid…only a little unnerving at times, but quite safe, with good rests. I drove back to Rec Center, but it being Friday night it was jam packed. Drove up to Cheakamus and it was over flowing too because of a Netflix movie being filmed. I parked in the “Crew Parking” area, side of the road, right next to the security car and slept peacefully. In the morning he was too tired to climb. These young guys have no stamina. I can climb 15 days in a row, dawn to dusk, and have many times.
Anyway, there went another partner. I dumped another $40 worth of food at Murrin and this time no one called as I drove home to Sue. Her dad’s service was today. The Army played taps and gave Sue’s mom a flag. They were married 78 years. Barb, Tom, Debbie, Aaron, Jason and family, Clint, Sue and Jamie were there. And Claire in the casket of course. He was a very good man.
I remember 19 years ago when I was getting dizzy spells. I called Sue for a ride home, I couldn’t drive. She was home with the kids, who were too little to leave at 11pm on a school night. Claire and Barb came into Tacoma and drove my car and me home. They were so kind….really lovely people. Getting old just sucks, but it’s part of life. You get the young fun stuff, and then you get the old sucky stuff, then it’s someone else’s turn.
Do it yourself DIY passport photos
I’ve been learning a lot about Passport photography. I’m going to film a tutorial. Bottom line is, take a tiff to Walgreens. They are much higher quality than Target. In the tutorial I’ll spell out how to start a new 300 dpi 4 x 6″ document in Photoshop. Set units to inches, and crop the images to exactly 2″ inside the 4 x 6. Whatever you do, don’t take a pdf to FedEx. They gave me halftone dots! Not acceptable.
The background behind the head has to be pure white, so plan to do some selecting work if your background shows. Better yet, borrow a green screen and use that with “select color range > color adjustment layer > hue/sat > desaturate > lightness to white. I won’t know for a month if this worked…government is slow.
Got it back in 6 days!!! Here is how the photo looked on passport:
Harmonica Holder review
July 28th, 2019
HarpArm EZ-Rack Pro Magnetic Harmonica Holder – Review
I play guitar and harmonica together, Bob Dylan style. I’ve had harp holders since 1972. Up until yesterday my best one was a $50 Hohner harp holder, but the screws kept falling out of it, rendering it useless.
I did a search online discovered the new magnetic harp holders. But it was $50. I went to Guitar Center and decided it was so close to my broken Hohner holder that I could do some modifications and save money. Because it was only $24, I bought the Harp Arm Magnetic Mic Stand Harmonica Holder.
I removed the broken missing screw parts from my Hohner, cobbled together some wood and aluminum and built a Frankenstein holder that seems quite good.
MacGyver’d Magnetic cell phone mount
I have wizgear cell phone mounts on my dashboard, but they depend on a plastic ball joint on a plastic neck. My recent vacation driving bumpy dirt roads broke the plastic neck. My solution? Remake the ball joint and neck from 9/16″ aluminum rod.
July 27th, 2019
I finished my second tuba sketch. As usual it has a problem. I couldn’t seem to get the pipe coils wide enough. When I drew them as wide as they were, it made the valves too narrow. I could have drawn the valves oversize, but that looked off. Something is wrong in my drafting, but I can’t fix it and decided to move on. Perfection is overated.
In other news we had sort of a guitarbcue at a friends house. It’s right on Puget Sound. Imagine a full size wood stove on a wooden deck and a glass window in the floor looking down at the tide water.
Thursday I tried to paint the mountain but couldn’t make it pretty. I couldn’t seem to find the color scheme. I started with a purple underpainting instead of blue, and the whole thing looks far too red. Might be able to save it. It’s odd how my sense of color can get so miss-guided. Probly need to paint outside more often. Duh.
Friday Lisa and I climbed at 38. She didn’t have time for Index due to an early shift the next day. I was dragging on Friday from the Thursday 50 pound backpack on Rainier. Now it’s Saturday and I’m enjoying some couch time. May do the gym later if I get a second wind. Without further adieu here are the photos
Ultimate climbing phone case
July 18th, 2019
Here is version 3 of my climbing phone case. My goals in a DIY phone case were:
prevent dropping phone
make phone photography quick, easy and safe
protect phone both at belays, mid-pitch shooting, and in offwidths
Be durable and light
protect phone in a fall
Not sound like a noisy cowbell
During lead climbing, I clip a locker thru the top, so it’s sealed like a grigri.
When shooting, I move the locker from the top aluminum tabs to the nylon cord.
If I stop shooting, I drop the phone in the case. If I need more security, I can snap on the bungy cord closure. This is also how I carry it in my backpack.
If it rains, I can carry the phone case upside down in my pocket or pack, it’s waterproof.
This was a full day of work, plus 3 hours of welding. My buddy C is a nuclear qualified welder…he works on submarines. I can’t afford his rates so I agreed to give him one of my 3 hour plein air paintings in trade.
I need to find a way to make them from ultra durable, crush proof plastic.
City of Rocks 2019
July 17th, 2019
Alex, Kristi, Chris J. and Pam all spent some time at the City of Rocks with me over the last two weeks. I got there early and sketched for a couple days.
I did three pen sketches and two oils. We did a lot of the usual stuff on Elephant rock and the Breadloaves. My four days with Pam were the best as we are both hard core climbers, dawn to dusk.
Alex did do a hard lead on Crack of Doom 11c. I couldn’t get past the boulder move. I also got up Mystery Bolter with one hang. That thing is so intimidating. Those run outs are terrifying, yet the climbing is fine and quite sticky. You just have to stick to the main line, even left a little, as you pass the second to last bolt. Past the last bolt it’s dead easy right up to the anchor. We were surprised to find we could rap off with a 60 meter.
My hardest lead was Aspen Leaf 10a at the upper west breadloaves. I hung all over it, blew all the delicate stem moves. What’s weird is I think I led it clean with Julia ten years ago. Because of my constantly changing partners I never got on some of the harder trad lines like bloody fingers and private idaho. Still, two weeks of climbing in the city may have given me a good start on the rest of the summer at index.
There is a fine line between hitting on someone and simply being social. Beautiful women of any age get hit on so regularly that I feel like my safest choice is to ignore them. Later, if and or when we become friends socially, they’ve told me they thought I was shy, or awkward.
My wife used to complain about all the men hitting on her. She has always been very fit and curvy. One of our climbing friends used to talk to her, but he would rarely look in her eyes, preferring the view of her chest. Guy was a jerk, but we put up with it because he and his wife were reliable climbing partners.
And yet…one of her proudest moments is when she was in her twenties with a new pair of rollerblades. She was skating on a bike path next to a road in Seattle wearing her favorite pink running shorts. A car slowed down to enjoy the view. She turned to see who the creeper was, and watched as another car slammed into his rear end, causing a bad accident.
Now that she is in her sixties, when someone hits on her it makes her day. “I was getting my coffee and this old dude started talking to me. He was totally hitting on me! But he was really nice,” she’ll tell me later, with a big smile. Beautiful people of either sex are lovely to look at, like a rare sunset, or a rainbow. But as my wife frequently reminds me, “It’s ok to look, just don’t stare.”