Vantage and Smith with Dave

Posted by on March 26th, 2024  •  0 Comments  •  Full Article

I’ve been slacking on regular entries. I do like to write, but I’m often too disorganized to post up through WordPress. Truth is I forgot my password and digging it out of my password manager is a pain. Why are browsers so intent on forgetting passwords?

Lately I’ve been doing random writing in my Notes app, which I used to replace Evernote. Evernote was essential when I was working, but now it’s not worth the price…same story with Photoshop.

Anyway, here is a month of random writing:

March 10

Handsome Dave and I sat on the Air Guitar ledge in the warm afternoon sunlight pondering our next move. On a lot of trips, it’s go go go all day long. But after the long cold and wet winter that desert sun felt amazing. And we had been climbing steady since leaving the parking lot at 9AM. 

I also love the view out over the Columbia River gorge. From our ledge on the cliff we could see for at least 20 miles. It’s completely wild with no sign of civilization in sight, other than the distant abandoned highway leading down to the river.

So far that day I’d led Party in Your Pants 5.8.

Dave had led George and Martha 10a, to start his day off easy. I’d followed like a fish out of water, complaining at every missed jam and side pull.

Next I’d led Clip ‘em or Skip ‘em….barely. My power drain was ugly. All those sessions at the gym were for nothing. Looking up at the bolt spacing…twice the gym spacing, was scary. My eyes kept locking onto the razor sharp dinner plate flakes waiting to cut my rope in a fall.

But I managed to cop a few one hand shakeout rests. And the thin spots are thankfully short, always followed by huge jugs.

Next Dave led Stroken the Chicken. I was surprised to find it to be very similar to Pony Keg, but with better rock. I’m thinking it could be safe with 3 yellows, 5 blues and 4 fours, plus a normal single rack down to half inch. Those were some stellar moves above the chockstone. Practically offwidth stacked hands. 

Speaking of the chockstone, our rope got stuck. And it was only a 50 meter, so our options were limited. Dan Kerns was there: “Looks like you guys could be done by dark?”

I was very uneasy about rescuing the rope. We needed to lead Whipsaw 5.9 in order to get above the chockstone, then swing down and over-around an arete. I’d barely got up the much easier Clip ‘Em route. Dave got the rope down and then it was my lead.

The temps were perfect. Shirt sleeve weather, 6 knots of wind. The views out across the desert were lovely in the alpen glow. We were sitting at the base of Pony Keg 5.9, which Matt had just led. I lead it every trip to Vantage, often using it as a warm up. 

But I was tired, and I didn’t know why. PMR is always with me, but I’d also taken ibuprofen, so that wasn’t the real reason for not leading it. I started talking out loud, trying to sort through my conflicting feelings. Climbing is dangerous, and attitude is huge. 

I don’t like gear at the bottom, the rock is really shattered. But those shattered edges are good hand and foot holds. 

There is a good purple, green and red in the bottom 25 feet. After that, there is a stem rest, followed by a short section of “go” before a sketchy yellow, quickly followed by even better edges mixed with the beginnings of hand jams. 

After that the jams and gear get much better because there is less shattering. 

Plus there is that lovely line of solid bolts protecting Whip Saw. I can reach out and clip or lower on them at any time.

And you are down here to rescue me if I blow out and can’t finish it.

I should just do it. What’s the worst that could happen?

Now Mark, you should never ask your climbing partner that question.

Alright. I’m not feeling it but I’ll start up and have a look see.

In the event, I mostly kept my cool. We won’t mention the 3 bolts I clipped because I didn’t trust my cams. I found a bunch of thin but workable stem rests due to wearing my newly resoled custom built green and yellow shoes. When I got to the fist section, I endured the painful jams long enough to walk my blues up. There are always more hand jams even though it’s fists. You just have to reach farther in where it narrows.

I kept finding stem rests, even as I was fighting the sections where it was too big for hands, but too small for fists. Those diagonal fists are awful. I kept going past the Whip Saw anchors and found it harder than described. It was fists in semi shattered rock. And it didn’t lean over as promised. There is 20 new feet up there now for which I had no muscle memory. But the new bolted anchor is awesome. 

I’m still trying to figure out my calorie needs for climbing days vs days in the city. Starting with lunch and dinner the day I left town, I ate normally. Though my dinner was a Fred Meyer Super Salad and three chicken breasts. Way back in the day when we were mountain climbing we were taught that pizza was the best dinner for the night before. Ton’s of carbs and protein.

Anyway, in the frigid 25 degree morning I had two yogurts before Dave rolled in. I ate a chicken burrito for lunch and was hungry for more but didn’t have anything.

Driving back I ate a wine sausage and some popcorn. I coudn’t stop for better food because there was already too much solo driving in the dark to get home for Sue’s stupid Will appt. the next day. You don’t get to enjoy your new will until you’re dead, so that was not a fun way to spend $650. She ponied up the funds.

I waited a day to weigh and found that I hadn’t undone all my progress. I was still at 168.  We did our usual routine of playing ping pong and pedaling the hills while I continued on with my intermittent fasting mostly vegan diet.

Yesterday, I got really hungry at noon. I sort of hit a wall and had to break my fast, snacking on some peanut butter and a banana. Then a mid afternoon snack of almonds and I even broke down and had a slice of bread and butter. The body wants what it wants.

So this morning I was afraid I’d be up to 170 again…since I’d broken my fast early and all. But I saw 166 on the scale. I guess that punching through the 168 plateau wasn’t a fluke. Instead of sitting on the couch I rode my Schwinn Aerodyne while watching the State of the Union rebuttal speech. That woman was an alarmingly bad speaker. And her facts were scrambled. Politics in general suffers from a lack of integrity. I miss Obama, or even the Bushes. They had charisma and could speak well without sounding over the top. 

So Mister 166 pedaled to the gym today. I was there until 5:30, still fasting. But more surprising: I climbed strong. I got up the hard white on the left with the sculpted door knob holds. Craig got it onsight clean and we talked about why I have to work up to that kind of power while he climbs off the couch. Youth and natural ability is remarkable. I also onsighted the new black in the SE corner, and the ten plus red in the SW corner. It’s the stem box with the big gaston holds. It’s very tenuous making the moves on half inch hands and feet.

March 24

I just got off my unicycle at Cheney Stadium. This is my third ride of the year, having cut back due to my ongoing issues with long covid – joint inflammation – PMR – old age…what ever you want to call it. I still have some grace…but it gets overwritten by sheer terror. The damn uni is so unstable it feels like I’m going to tumble off and break a hip any second. I’m bullheaded enough to keep trying, which is both brave and stupid at the same time.

I’ve given up on the unassisted standing start, but it’s in my future. I need to study some tutorials again.

My homework

I met Dave at Smith Friday through Monday. He had up to 6 Bend locals joining us every day. He says they all met through Cass, who has dropped off the radar. And I think I introduced him to Cass, which is weird. 

We started with Dragon, Mandy, Chris and a few others at the Cinnamon Slab 5.easy routes. That was a perfect way to get up to speed on the welded tuff nubbins.

Animal sounds from my climbing friends

We started at Phoenix buttress on Hissing Lamas:

I hung twice on this thin 5.8. Chris and Carly were a lot of fun.

Then I led did Wannabe Llamas with one hang.