Cow Number 2

Posted by on October 28th, 2019  •  0 Comments  •  Full Article

I drew this a few weeks ago. I’ll let the work speak for itself. It’s 9 x 12 ink on paper. These climbing images are almost a month old. It’s Lisa and Pam following Plum pudding at the mid wall at Index.

50 years of working

Posted by on October 22nd, 2019  •  0 Comments  •  Full Article

Sue is retiring next year and it got me thinking about how long I want to work. I really like my job. Doing and or teaching web design has been my passion for almost 20 years. And that followed a 32 year career as a printer, starting in 1968 when I quit my paperboy delivery job to work after school at the Sherwood Press.


I got a lot of respect as a printing press operator. Printing back then was like nursing is now. You could work anywhere. I was never unemployed in 28 years of full time printing. I got fired or laid off a couple times, but easily found new jobs in a week or two. I worked at 9 different printshops, each one had either better hours, a better machine, or higher wages. We used to say that the only job security in printing was the skills in our hands. Similar to a gifted auto mechanic now, there was always work.

With all that being said, I still plan to keep teaching for a while. This job is so perfect! I love the passion my students have for learning web design. Even after all this time I still enjoy working on my website, and sharing that enthusiasm with my students is fun. I work every other quarter, and then have 3 months off. How cool is that? I typically play during my time off, but working part time somewhere is an option also.

I did seriously look for work recently during my quarter off, even had a couple of great interviews. But, sad to say, age discrimination is  a real thing. I think employers know that I could retire and live on my social security and pensions. They see my employment history and do the math. He doesn’t need to work! Why is he even at this interview?

So yeah, I’ve been daydreaming on the weekends about maybe getting a bigger car that makes road tripping less painful. I can road trip just fine in my little 2004 Tacoma pickup.  I love that old truck! With a canopy on the back it’s a hotel on wheels. But when Sue is with me, I think it’s reasonable to ask for a little more comfort. We are in our mid sixties after all.

I wanted to explore possible interior van builds on a used van we might get somewhere in the future. I’ve never done 3D modeling before so I watched a tutorial on about SketchUp. It’s super cool software, and the online version is free. Here are some screen shots of what I built. It can also do animated transitions and make an mp4 video. I built it all from scratch based on the dimensions of a high roof 148 inch wheel base Ford Transit. The figure, bags, faucett, bikes and chairs were free components I downloaded.



Smith with Chad

Posted by on October 22nd, 2019  •  0 Comments  •  Full Article

My best lead was Tammy Bakker face. I was terrified. Especially at the first bolt. It’s overhung there and only one bolt is keeping you safe 25 feet up. The stainless steel glue in ring bolts are at least as old as my daughter. They look perfect, but when you are rusty, one bolt that high up is just plain scary.

I had to stop and focus on calming my mind. Moving up was mostly irreversible, and the higher I climbed the bigger the fall. I told myself that I’d climbed it before and I was the same climber on the same moves. All I had to do was stay calm and be the best climber I could be. Those moves at the start are hard to read. It feels like a 30 foot whipper most of the time. We stick clipped the first b0lt. Most of the climbs rarely led to that feeling of “in the zone”. I got occasional flashes of grace,  but they were rare. I don’t know if it was a diet fail, or I’m just getting old. Tons of vans on display.  Very tempting to go down that path.

We saw some 25 year olds trying the 10a to the left of Phone Call. The girls were very bold, taking whippers casually. It was super awesome seeing them climbing something over their head with such confidence in the process. Normally on a 3 day trip I’m ready for Karate by day 3. It’s puzzling why it didn’t happen this trip. The only thing different was eating salads every night. I need to try a steak and potato dinner. This new salad diet is great at home, but if it messes with my climbing all bets are off.

Fall Climbing

Posted by on October 18th, 2019  •  0 Comments  •  Full Article

I’ve been to smith and vantage with Chad and James over the last two weekends. I wasn’t climbing especially hard on either trip. I did sail up Air Guitar and Whip Saw quite cleanly. I felt a little bit of the elusive ‘zone’ come over me on both climbs.

Air Guitar is always scary at the start. It’s tiny finger jams and crimps on the first move, but it quickly turns into friendly stems and huge jugs. There are just a few true crack climbing moves in the bottom 30 feet. After that it turns into one red hand jam which is easily moderated with good face foot holds. Then it’s all yellow hand jams to the top…with a few fists at the end. I felt entirely in control and very well protected as I climbed higher and higher toward to anchor.

Also got into the zone on Tammy Bakker. Getting there seems harder than it used to be. It might just be that weekending is much less focused than my longer summer trips.

I’m teaching WordPress this quarter for a few days. It makes me miss the years past when we could dive deep into the application over 11 weeks. It’s such a huge application and I know so much about it. For example building this custom theme was a lot of fun, and I’ve never taught it.

I’ve been looking into van life. It’s an interesting idea in that it would allow us to take painting-climbing trips more easily as we get older. But sleeping in my little Tacoma pickup these last two weekends reminded me that the vehicle I drive does not make me a better  climber…or painter. Getting more luxurious wheels might just make me soft.

This is a progression I’ve watched as  climbers get older and softer:

  1. instead of sitting on a rock or a log, they bring a lawn chair for the campfire
  2. they upgrade to a stand up tent
  3. They upgrade to a camper on a pickup
  4. They buy a camping trailer
  5. They buy a Winnebago
  6. They stop climbing altogether

It’s a slippery slope that all starts with a lawn chair. If roughing it in my little Bibler tent and or pickup canopy bed keeps me from getting soft, I need to forget about van life.


Sunset concert at Vantage

Posted by on September 22nd, 2019  •  0 Comments  •  Full Article

Fletch and I drove to Vantage Wednesday night and stayed through Saturday morning. I had just been there on Tuesday with Christine and Emily where I led Steel Grill cleanly and followed Bob’s Your Uncle, with one fall.

Fletch and I climbed Pony Keg, Air Guitar, George & Martha, Seven Virgins and Ride Em’ Cowboy. It got so hot we almost fell asleep resting in the chimney after the Virgins route. I walked out into the broiling sun to switch out my climbing shoes for boots but quickly retreated back to the cool shade of the chimney where Fletch and his dog Winston were zoning off.

I brought my second 40 oz water bottle back to the shade. As I took a sip of the almost empty bottle Fletch asked if he could have some,  that he was out of water. He’d brought one quart for both him and the dog.

“Dude, I depend on you to be organized and have extra water!” I joked. Later we hiked out dry through the sage scented air, enjoying the endless views of the mesas and cliffs surrounding Vantage. The weekenders had begun to show up, it being Friday night and our neighbor was running her minivan to power an electric pump for her 10 inch queen sized air mattress.

She had 3 kids who were climbing at the Feathers with her brother, plus a little girl who was still wearing her homemade swami harness made from 1 inch tubular. The full size standing room tent and air mattress made it clear she wasn’t a regular climber. We don’t bother with all those luxuries. Still it’s always great to see people enjoying the outdoors though the droning of the air mattress pump was annoying.

We were surprised to see her suddenly in our campsite holding out two cold beers.

“Hey guys, sorry about my dog and the dumb air pump. Here’s a couple beers for your trouble.”

“Oh, jeez, you didn’t have to do that, but thanks a lot, we forgot to bring beer, this will help a lot!” we said.

She was super friendly and a very fit young mom.  She hung out with us for a while, talking climbing and where we were all from.

“Don’t worry too much about the noise,” I said, pointing at our two guitars, “We’ll be making some noise of our own after dinner. But don’t worry, we won’t play late.”

“Oh, no worries, we’re not going to bed early, we’ve got teenagers.”

Fletch and I had forgot to pack a can opener so I had to jab my can of beans with a bendy knife and saw it open. By the time I’d done that to my tuna and black beans I was so hungry I decided to eat them cold. As Fletch said “Why heat them up? They don’t taste any better and it’s more dishes to wash.”

As we sat there in the fading light, eating dinner out of our cans I got out a small brick of greasy sun warmed goat cheese. Every couple bites of tuna and beans I took a bite off the cheese. Fletch noticed my eating process and commented that we were really living the dirt bag life. We didn’t  have camp chairs, just sitting on boulders strewn around the fire pit.

Fletch the (fire whisperer) soon had a nice fire crackling and we broke out our guitars. We started with a couple songs on which I could add harmonica: “To make you feel my love” (Adele & Dylan) and “Sweet Carolina” (Ryan Adams).

As we finished Carolina, we heard applause and saw 5 of our neighbors lined up nearby, watching us play and soaking in the vivid red sunset over the distant hills above the Columbia River. We’ve worked hard over the last 12 years refining and polishing our sound. We’re far from great musicians, but for a couple of old climbers we have a decent sound.

The brother walked over with his teenage son: “That was awesome guys, I love that song! We really hit the jackpot with this camp spot. Spectacular sunset and live music!”

We thanked him and continued through our usual routine, playing all our favorites as the evening light faded into darkness lit only by our little fire and headlamps. Fletch had seen Elton John at the Tacoma Dome two nights before so of course we played Your Song & Goodbye Norma Jean. We knocked off when the whiskey ran out around 8. I’d only brought a little hip flask…just enough to warm the belly.

We talked quietly for a while after that, discussing all the usual topics climbers yarn about: the meaning of life, hard climbing moves, future trips, etc. Soon the stars were out in all their glory, lighting the way for a half moon.

I crawled into my old Bibler mountaineering tent feeling  thankful for good friends and amazing hobbies. At 65, I know I can’t keep climbing forever. There is an end game coming where my body will start objecting to pulling hard on 5.10 crack climbs. It seems to take a little longer each year to warm up.

I’ve spent 5 days drawing cows with pen and ink. I’ll post them later. It’s more fun to show my drawings in person. When my friends see them online first, their reactions are  muted on seeing them live.  They’ll say: “Oh, yeah, I saw that online, very nice.”

I love that expression of wonder in peoples faces when they see my artwork for the first time live and in person…especially the good stuff. I’ll never sell a cow drawing, but the experience of watching it come to life under my hands is worth all the trouble. There are moments with a great drawing or painting where I can step outside myself and simply stare in wonder. This latest pen drawing might be my best work yet.


Drawing a cow

Posted by on September 13th, 2019  •  0 Comments  •  Full Article

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

Posted by on September 9th, 2019  •  0 Comments  •  Full Article

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

Posted by on September 3rd, 2019  •  0 Comments  •  Full Article

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

Posted by on August 24th, 2019  •  0 Comments  •  Full Article

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

Posted by on August 21st, 2019  •  0 Comments  •  Full Article

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: