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DIY ham radio antenna mount for Toyota Tacoma

These are pictures of my DIY ham radio Tarheel antenna mount for a 2004 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck.

I built this from steel bar purchased at Home Depot. The bolts are stainless steel one quarter twenty. I did not do a good job of painting it. Ideally it would have been made from stainless steel, but that is a bit harder to find. I have recently discovered http://www.metalsupermarkets.com/. They are an amazing chain of stores that sell all kinds of metal in small quantities for home inventors.

Notice the bare unpainted metal. I kept all the contact surfaces free of paint so there would be an electrical ground to the car body, from the antenna.

Here are the holes I drilled in my Tacoma pickup. I made a dummy out of cardboard to get the measurements right before I started cutting metal. When this antenna was mounted, I had scraped off all the paint where the antenna was mounted on the truck for electrical ground. I have since removed the mount and repainted the truck. No holes show from the outside of the truck.

If I remount this in the future, I will use a better paint. I hurried the paint job, and it peeled as you can see in the photos. I took my Tarheel antenna off because I got bored with ham radio. I sold all my ham gear and put the money toward my new hobby: DSLR cinematography.

 

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Had better weekends

I’ve been working on a glidecam/steadicam system for walking with a DSLR video camera. I’m getting close, but my machinist skills are holding me back. I’ve also started working on a DIY glide track slide cam. This last DIY project is coming together faster, though his copper rails seem weak.

I was standing at the Seattle gym Sunday. Marty fell and landed on top of me from about 15 feet up. It wasn’t really L’s fault. There is a lot of rope stretch on high top ropes, and I shouldn’t have been standing under Marty, I know better. I felt a bunch of cracking and popping in my neck as his rear collided with the top of my head. He said it was a glancing blow. He was already coming tight on L’s belay when he hit me, so it could have been much worse. But my neck is not real happy right  now.

Even worse, my son was skiing the trees at Baker Saturday. He had over tightened his bindings for jumping, it was the last run of the day, his partner had already quit, and he was feeling cocky, skiing carelessly through the trees. He hooked a tip in a tree, which stopped him fast since the overtightened binding didn’t release. He tore a bunch of ligaments in his knee, though we won’t know just how bad until he sees an ortho guy tomorrow.

Like I said, we’ve had better weekends. I can tell it’s getting towards the end of the quarter. A few days off will be very nice. I’m looking forward to capturing a lot of video.

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Scam artist working fraud on craigslist

I had a close call with a scam artist on Craiglist.

Canon 50D for sale
Canon 50D for sale

I’m going to post in the email exchange for your dining entertainment. I had listed my Canon 50D, body only, for sale for $670. I am new to craigslist.org, and made all the classic mistakes. However, the one thing I did right was to check directly with PayPal, instead of trusting that I had a live one on the line. The Nigeria address was my first clue that a craiglist scam artist was at work.

Here is the email trail, her letters to me are in blue:

———————–
Monica Smith; mstone.smith@gmail.com; via craigslist.org
Mar 1 (2 days ago)

** CRAIGSLIST ADVISORY — AVOID SCAMS BY DEALING LOCALLY
** Avoid: wiring money, cross-border deals, work-at-home
** Beware: cashier checks, money orders, escrow, shipping
** More Info: http://www.craigslist.org/about/scams

Hi Seller,It good to come across your item and i have interest on purchase
it.
—————

Mark Webster
Mar 1 (2 days ago)

to Monica:
Sure, give me a call at 253-123-4578.
thanks for your interest,
-Mark
—————-
I appreciate the prompt response to my inquiry,am much satisfied with
the condition and price of the item and i would like to make an out
right purchase immediately so i will advice that you withdraw the
advert from the web because I’m ready to purchase it and my form of
payment will be by paying you through pay pal email account,and i will
add shipping fee,was the item in good condition or is there any
scratch
– Monika
—————

To Monika:

There are two minor spots where the paint has worn off. Did you click the link in the ad to see the detailed photos? I will pull the ad when I see the funds in Paypal. Send Paypal funds to (email address) . I will ship to your address. Please add shipping cost.
– Mark
—————–
to Mark:

i will process with the payment shortly and i will get back to you as
soon as the funds is transfer..

– Monica
——————
Email Title:
Payment Made::::::::::::Re: Canon 50D body only – $670

On Thu, Mar 1, 2012 at 7:41 PM, Monica Smith <mstone3893@gmail.com> wrote:
Hi Mate,
Am glad to get back to you in regards to the payment for the
item,this is to inform you that i had made the payment via paypal and
your money has been deducted from my account, which i believe you
will be contacted shortly.Moreover,i included the shipping cost of the
item to the payment. As soon as you received the payment confirmation
i want you to get the item shipped and make sure the item is shipped
via POST OFFICE, USPS Global Express Mail(EMS).My Son’s address
information is here below…..So here is my Son’s shipping address

Name :Michael O
Address : No 30 Olanipekun Str,Ososami road,
City : Ibadan,
State : Oyo- State,
Country : Nigeria,
Zip Code : 23402.

That’s is the shipping address and i want you to get back to me as
soon as you shipped out the item…

Thanks for the concept of the business.
– Monika
—————————-

Email title:
service@paypal.com© Payment Confirmation from PayPal

Dear mark@email.com,

This message is originated from PayPal regarding the payment of $820.00 USD which our Verified Buyer Monica Smith made into your account.The payment has been approved and confirmed by our accounting department.All necessary protocols has been cross checked through his account and found legit.We urge you to get the item mailed out to the provisional address and do get back to us with the shipment tracking number for proof of postage and quick accreditation of your funds into your account.

Thanks for using PayPal.
PayPal accounting department
———————

Email title:
service@paypal.com© About Your Fund : PayPal Safety Measures Agains Online Fraud

Protect Yourself From Fake Emails
PayPal is your partner against fraudulent emails.
Learn how to identify and avoid fraudulent—or spoof—emails and websites in PayPal’s Identity Theft Protection Resource area.

Dear mark@email.com ,

We have received an order from one of our customer to make an instant payment of $820.00 USD to your PayPal account. The payment has been made successfully and the money has been credited to your PayPal account but you will not have access to it. However, since this money is meant for a purchase or a service that involve a Shipping Company.We have to receive a confirmation that you have shipped the Canon 50D body only before the money will be available for spending. This is due to the large increase in the rate of the online scams recorded last year (2010). We have changed some of our rules and regulation to make sure our clients, are safe from scam, PayPal in conjunction with The FBI and The IFCC has invented certain preventive measure to ensure the safety of our customers.

Such measure are:

1. Once a payment is made, A confirmation Email will be sent to the seller that the payment has been made to state the transaction details which has been sent to you. Also a confirmation is sent to the buyer that the money has been deducted from his or her account. So once you get this mail,You should take necessary action and get back to us with the confirmation that you have sent Canon 50D body only. Once we have confirmed the information provided with the shipping company, the money will be available instantly.

2. Once a payment is made and it has been approved by PayPal, such transaction is Sealed (because both seller and buyer must have come to a conclusion before payment is made by the buyer) so therefore neither the buyer or seller can cancel this transaction or ask for the returned to the buyer’s account. Also, this is where we generate our income, because the more transaction made through PayPal, the more we generate our Income.

3. Failure to abide by these laid down safety measures by PayPal may leads to suspension from PayPal and further more invitation to an interrogation with the F.B.I

So can you see we are very considerate about the safety of both buyer and seller.

Note: The shipment tracking number most be provide.

Thank you for using PayPal!

Help Center – Contact Us

Help by Email

Our Customer Service team is specially trained to address all account inquiries. Send us an email and
we will reply promptly. Contact Customer Service fundsalertonline@accountant.com.

——————

Mark Webster
Mar 1 (2 days ago)

to Monica:
I’ve not seen the money in my account. Also, I just checked shipping
costs and it will cost $320 to ship to Nigeria. I’m sorry, I don’t
trust you.

I’m going to change the add so that it reads, local sale only. I want
to meet my buyer face to face, I will not ship.

Thanks for your interest.
– Mark
————
Monica Smith mstone3893@gmail.com
Mar 1 (2 days ago)

to Mark:
what do you mean after i made the payment and the funds has been
deducted from my pay pal account and you are tell all this…i will
mail pay pal now..

—————-

Mark Webster
Mar 1 (2 days ago)

to Monica:
I don’t see the money in Paypal. If it does show up, I will have them
send it back to you. Frankly, I think you are running some kind of a
scam.

If you are honest, you will get your money back. Did you send it to
the correct address?
– Mark
————-

Lessons Learned:

Never ship at craigslist. Always deal face to face in a safe public place, like a starbucks, and accept only cash. Bring a friend with you for safety. If you see misspelled words in your email responses, this is a clue that you may be working with a scam artist. If they won’t call you, and prefer email…another clue.

If you got this far, you will understand that I am exaggerating a little for poetic effect in the following paragraph. YMMV [Your mileage may vary]  🙂

If craigslist customers come to your house, and this is sometimes unavoidable…it might be wise to invite Uncle Vern and a couple of his hunting buddies over. Have them clean their bear hunting bows on the kitchen table.

“Oh, yeah, this is my Uncle Vern…don’t worry about him, he’s harmless…so, did you want to look at the sofa?”

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5.11 on plastic

Lisa, Tim, Sue and I met Phil at the Seattle Vertical World climbing gym Tuesday after work. Tim had never climbed before, but he did great for a beginner. Sue had fun on some 5.8’s. Phil led a 5.11 stem problem in a corner. I watched him climb it and it looked like my kind of climb. When he offered to let me follow it, I declined and led it instead. I don’t climb elevens. In fact, I have a rule: “Friends don’t let friends climb elevens.”

But there I was, leading up an eleven. Granted, it was on plastic, in a gym with close bolts. But still, on-sighting an eleven is a big deal for me. I’ve not led an eleven on-sight, ever. But as Phil commented when he lowered me: “Dude, you totally hiked that thing!” Phil is a good influence on me. He is a very solid partner. He knows me so well that he can predict which routes I will do well on. We had some great days back at Edgeworks. It was so cool to hook up with him in the big leagues up in Seattle.

Hiking a hard route, in climbing lingo means that you climbed it so well that you made it look as easy as walking. A more common situation for me is to make an easy route look hard. Easy for my mostly younger friends anyway.

I’ve been investigating getting into video. Android App development was not a good fit for me. I tried it, but spending the time it required just didn’t fit my personality. But before I can get into video I need to sell enough things to be able to upgrade my camera to something with video capability. I’m leaning toward the Canon 7D, or it’s successor which will come out this summer. The 7D is a three year old camera, so it would be smart to save money and sell previous hobby hardware until it comes out.

I refuse to go into debt (put a new camera on plastic), so I need to sell things to pay for the new one. Ham radios going on sale soon. Clint just got a new phone. I hope he likes it. He’s never had a smart phone before, but most of his friends have them, they seem to be the fashion accessory of the upwardly mobile.

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Seattle Vertical World climbing gym

Seattle Vertical World climbing gym

I’ve been going up to the new Seattle climbing gym lately to climb their 55 foot tall walls. Fletch and I have been there 3 times in the last 2 weeks. Rather than talk a lot about it I will just show the pictures. It’s a awesome gym, run by a very well organized group of people.

Below you can see a climber laybacking up a great crack that acts very much like a real flake outdoors.

vbvb

Fletch leading an overhanging route on the 55 foot ceiling

Below on the gray wall you can see the 3 cracks side by side. All run the full height of the gym. They are top rope only.

 

 

This climber is about to fall. It's heady up that high.

Fletch and Vange showing their different finger sizes.
Fletch and Vange showing their different finger sizes.

 

Fletch and Vange demonstrating hand jamming in a concrete crack at Vertical World Seattle
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snowpocalyse 1-19-2012

Snowstorm 1-19-2012

Monday was a holiday for our college: Martin Luther King day. Tuesday it snowed a little so we started an hour late at 10. I had 4 students. Early Wednesday morning it snowed 4 inches and they cancelled college. I was suffering from cabin fever drove in and climbed at the gym with Sue and Fletch. Sue tried out Christines body harness but it wasn’t the “cure all” solution to her back problems.

Wednesday night I got an automatic text from college saying classes had been canceled. The mailman had just brought the kids Christmas presents from England (peacock handwarmers). These handwarmers, invented in World War 1,  run 24 hours on lighter fluid. They run so hot that they ship with little cloth pouches to prevent burning your skin. I texted Clint and asked him if he was still going skiing the next day. He said yes.

As it happened, his Christmas present to me was a free ski lift ticket. I checked Sue’s job, and her school was also having a snow day. Family ski trip! It was ironic that both our jobs were closed due to bad driving conditions…so what do we do?  We drove 3 hours into the mountains through increasingly bad roads to go skiing in 14 inches of powder.

Though I now have a 4 wheel drive car, and the best studded tires on the market, I still drive like an old lady in snow. I learned to drive in my 1975 Gremlin, may she rest in peace. It  was a rear wheel drive sled and the lessons I learned about snowy driving seem stuck in my brain. I had to keep pulling over to let people pass me at 50 when I was driving 30 and 40. I don’t trust our RAV4 to be able to stop in a hurry if I come around a corner and find someone sideways.

I did get better on the way back. The road to Stevens is sooo long. Eventually I stepped it up to 50 and kept up with the prevailing traffic. On the slopes, the snow was very forgiving and I didn’t fall for the first couple hours. We got there at 2 (Clint works swing) and skied until 9, though the last hour I was so tired it wasn’t too much fun.

Clint took me through some tree skiing, but you have to turn very quickly…basically on a dime, and my telemark turns aren’t there yet. I had a great time out on the open slopes, powering through my tele turns. I’m tempted to try out the new downhill ski’s the kids have bought recently, but I don’t want to give up on my new tele gear. I only bought it last year and have a long way to go before I have it mastered.

When we got home the power was out and Puget Sound was in the grip of a “snowpocalypse”. We were driving in ice and snow all the way to Clint’s house. There was 12 inches of dense snow in front of his apartment and I was very glad I had my four wheel drive RAV4.

We woke up to an icy house and a 12 hour power outage. I slept in while early bird Sue started the wood stove. I’m sitting on the couch by the warm stove as the trees dump huge piles of snow on the ground outside. A huge 4 inch branch, what the loggers call a widowmaker just landed on the driveway. I went outside to move the car to a safer location between trees and it felt like being in the middle of a mortar attack. I guess it’s melting a little but it doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon. A huge branch just took out our Comcast cable internet line…funny, it still works even though it is lying in the snow on the ground. Sue says the barometer is over to “storm” again…the snowpocalypse continues.

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55 foot indoor climbing walls

Seattle Vertical World

Fletch, Sue, Craig, Lisa, Julia and I drove up to the new Seattle Vertical World Indoor rock climbing gym Sunday and Monday. The walls are 55 feet tall, and when you climb up to the top, you feel like you are on a real climbing cliff, not just inside a building in Seattle. Those tall walls make our little gym in Tacoma feel very short indeed. We have lots of fun in Tacoma, but there is no  mistaking the fact that higher walls make for more fun. Plus they have 4 cracks in Seattle which range from a long layback crack, to a handcrack, to an off hands crack and a finger crack.

The cracks are beautifully made and super fun to climb. The finger crack may be the best “all fingers” crack in the state. It is consistently perfect fingers for 55 feet. The lead climbing area is  amazing. They have routes starting at 5.8, and some of the nines go completely horizontal when they reach the ceiling, which means they are longer than 55 feet once you add 12 feet of ceiling climbing. When you fall from up that high and drop into air…it’s scary, but fun. I can’t wait to get back up there. It might be as much fun as going to exit 38, since they are both bolts, and the routes are about the same height.

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Good night at Edgeworks gym

Edgeworks climbing gym

When I got back from vacation I was climbing poorly at the gym . This is typical because climbing outside uses different muscles than climbing indoors on plastic. Last night I was on my third session, and while my hands weren’t much stronger, my overall balance, power, strategy and grace were showing the effects of two weeks of full time climbing.

My moves were sure, powerful and directed to optimize my reach, as in: leading with the hip, crossing through, getting in the zone…all the skills I normally forget about in city living. I was climbing with a new partner, and we were doing the top rope routes. There are some very good TR routes. They feature cerebral climbing, as opposed to just crimpers and muscle moves.

I’m also feeling the urge to paint again. I watched a movie about an art student called Cashback on netflix. It was your typical frustrated young art student film, but with some strange plot twists involving the ability to stop time, and then walk around in the moment while everyone is frozen as in a life drawing class.

The concept was original, but what moved me the most was when his friends set him up with a false gallery interview. He shows up to the gallery with his drawings, only to find his friends had set him up as a prank. He says: “You mean I don’t have an appointment?” The gallery owner says: “No, but as long as you are here, what do you have?” Which leads to a big one man show.

I need to start painting again.

 

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Joshua Tree Christmas 2011

Joshua Tree Christmas 2011

December 31, 2011 Site 27, Joshua Tree
December 31, 2011 Site 27, Joshua Tree

Here I sit at this big glass screen, pushing on these little plastic keys. How can this compare to the happy go lucky life of a dirt bag rock climber? Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the climbing life.

We went down to Joshua Tree for the holidays. Do you know this Joni Mitchell song?

“It’s coming on Christmas they’re cutting down trees 
Putting up reindeer and singing songs of joy and peace
I wish I had a river I could skate away on.”

If you know that song, then you will understand when I say that Jtree was my river this year. I drove down with Merica and we climbed for a week in puffy weather. I exchanged Merica for Randy and Sue on Christmas at the Palm Spring airport. Craig, Ashlie, Michael, Ammon McNeely, Vladimir and Des also showed up and stayed for all or parts of the trip.

Merica and I got down in 23 hours, arriving at 6 AM Sunday. We crashed in a vacant site until 10 and then got up and climbed the bong.

Merica and her climbing rack at site 27
Merica on Intersection Rock, Joshua Tree
Merica on Intersection Rock, Joshua Tree

Merica on Bat Crack
Merica on Bat Crack

On the walk back through the campground, Merica saw some climbers leaving site 27 and we snagged it for the duration. On Monday we were climbing at Quail Spring Picnic Area and Craig walked up, having driven down in 19 hours, including a 3 hour nap. That means he shaved 6 hours off our time. He says he just drove faster, but that doesn’t seem possible. I think he got abducted by aliens.

Ashley showed up in a few days with Michael and  Ammon McNeely. Ashley, Michael and Ammon are all living and working in the skydiving industry in Lodi, California. Ammon has been called the best aid climber in the world and a google search will return many great stories. He is a master story teller. We spent many nights around the campfire listening to his adventures on El Cap, and his close calls base jumping. His best story was about the time he and two others jumped off a 500 foot electric power transmission tower.

Here is Ammon’s story, as remembered by me:

———

They had a less experienced jumper with them who had not bothered to pack his chute. He was supposed to hold it in his hand until they flew through the wires, and then release it for inflation. Instead, he released the chute early, before they had fallen through the wires.

His chute partially inflated and the lines caught in Ammons shoe. Ammon says he thinks he saved the guys life because Ammon pulled him away from the powerline. But then they were both falling toward the ground, and neither could open their chutes due to the tangle.

Ammon was frantically trying to pull his foot out of the other guys chute lines as he watched the ground rush towards him at terminal velocity. Finally he pointed his toes and his foot popped clear. The other guys chute was able to open and Ammon pulled his rip cord…at 55 feet. He said his chute popped, he flared, and he landed, all in about 2 seconds.

His first thought on the ground was: “Oh my God, I almost died. But…that was so cool!”

——–

Ammon had many other stories, too many to recount here, but I will say that the story about his  80 foot rope solo whipper, and the denied rescue attempt on El Cap was fantastic. They told him to hold up two hands for no, and one for yes.

Merica and I had to wear puffys and carry my handwarmers to stay warm, but we had a great time warming up on the many easy Joshua Tree rock climbs. By the time Randy and Sue arrived Christmas weekend I was starting on the 5.9’s. Joshua Tree has old school ratings, which means that you may find, as I did, that you can get gripped out of your gourd on a 5.5. Double Dip is a case in point. I led Merica up that one thinking it would be a cruise. I got totally bugged out at the 30 foot runnout. The fall would have meant a hospital stay. My friction skills were rusty and climbing up those friction holds with the bolt gettting further and further away was unnerving. I don’t know if it was the weirdness of the climbing, or my whining, but Merica didn’t want to climb anything else there after Double Dip.

We left and headed over to Toe Jam, which she liked a lot better. I also took Merica up Bat Crack. Bat is a long 5.4 that goes all the way up Intersection Rock in one long pitch.

Merica on Bat Crack
Merica on Bat Crack

It starts out in a cool  body slot chimney, passes a 10,000 year old car sized pile of bat dung, traverses some thin face climbing and finishes with 30 meters of wide crack. It’s a very lovely pitch. Merica climbed it in her puffy coat.

Because it gets dark and cold at 5 there is a lot of time to kill each evening. Dinner and a campfire is nice, but wood is expensive so we went out exploring in the desert on night hikes. A prime hiking destination from Hidden Valley campground is the famous Iron Door cave. Legend has it that a frustrated parent locked his developmentally disabled teenage son in the cave back in the last century. He would shove food in through holes in the sides of the locked cave and then leave. Craig and I tried to find it one night and gave up after wandering around in the desert for two hours. We stayed warm, but never found the Iron Door cave despite my having been there before in the day light.

Ammon took 4 of us there a couple nights later and he gave me landmarks as we walked, which burned it into my memory. Here are photos of us in the cave:

Ammon McNeely in the Iron Door cave, Joshua Tree
Ammon McNeely in the Iron Door cave, Joshua Tree

 

Ammon McNeely in the Iron Door cave, Joshua Tree
Ammon McNeely and Michael in the Iron Door cave, Joshua Tree

I captured this photo by having Craig sit in the cave with his red headlamp shining on the door. It set my Cannon 50D on a rock with a 10 second delay to about a 5  second exposure. During the exposure, I painted the rocks with my led headlamp, hence the blue coloring. I did not do any post processing in Photoshop. It came out of the camera like this.

Iron Door cave by moonlight, Joshua Tree
Iron Door cave by moonlight, Joshua Tree

 

Iron Door cave by moonlight, Joshua Tree
 Ammon at the Iron Door cave by moonlight, Joshua Tree

After hanging out at the Iron Door cave, Ammon offered to take us to the Hobbit Hole. These pictures are from our first visit to the Hobbit Hole:

Ammon, Craig and Michael in the Hobbit Hole, Joshua Tree
Ammon, Craig and Michael in the Hobbit Hole, Joshua Tree

Red headlamps make cool lighting! I believe Ammon might have been smoking some of that wacky tabacky. I was glad to get out of there…the smoke was getting thick in that tiny little cave.

 

The girls had wisely decided not to accompany on our first night time hike. After leaving the Hobbit Hole, we headed back through the dark starry night towards the campground. Ammon, our guide, had imbibed rather heavily and was unsure of the way. All the desert mounds look similar at night and we soon realized we were lost. I located the north star and thought we could simply walk south. We would be bound to eventually hit one of the roads leading out from Intersection Rock. But after wandering south for a while, Ammon came to life and decided we were too far East. He took the lead again and we walked South West for half an hour until we saw a white spot reflecting light on the horizon.

It turned out to be a 25 MPH speed limit sign on a road…but what road? And which direction should we walk on said road? We turned right and walked for 10 minutes but decided it was the wrong direction. We turned around and walked the other way, eventually spotting the campfires of Hidden Valley campground. I was completely turned around by that time and had no idea where we were until we walked into the actual campground.

The next day was windy so we drove down to Indian Cove for warmer climbing, food and showers.

Craig at Indian Cove, Joshua Tree
Craig at Indian Cove, Joshua Tree
Craig and Merica at Indian Cove, Joshua Tree
Craig and Merica at Indian Cove, Joshua Tree

 

Craig and Merica at Indian Cove, Joshua Tree
Craig and Merica at Indian Cove, Joshua Tree
Craig leading at Indian Cove
Craig leading at Indian Cove
Merica following Toe Jam, Joshua Tree
Merica following Toe Jam, Joshua Tree

 

Merica following Double Cross, Joshua Tree
Merica following Double Cross, Joshua Tree

Craig at Double Cross, Joshua Tree
Craig at Double Cross, Joshua Tree
Merica and Ashley
Merica and Ashley

 

Merica and Ashley
Merica and Ashley

Craig and I had an awesome day during the first week where we ended the day with half an hour of light left. We realized we just had time to sail up Damper over on Chimney rock. We hot footed it over there and he led it with just two pieces of gear. I raced up it quickly thanks to my fat feet and hands. At the top we had time for a exactly 4 photos before the sun dropped below the horizon and the temperature dropped 20 degrees. There is no anchor up there, and if you don’t know your Joshua Tree descents it can get desperate. Someone had rapped off a brand new yellow Metolius cam and Craig snagged it. If only I hadn’t blown the rock paper scissors that cam would have been mine.

Craig the thinker atop Damper, Joshua Tree
Craig the thinker atop Damper, Joshua Tree

 

Me atop Damper, Joshua Tree
Me atop Damper, Joshua Tree

Friday night was Merica’s last night before her flight home. A couple Swiss guys joined the 7 of us for a grand tour of the night time hotspots. We headed towards the Iron Door cave again, this time with me in the lead. Ammon walked behind me double checking my navigation in the moon light. I nailed it first try, he was a good teacher.

The Iron Door cave is only an 8 minute walk from the campground if you know the way.

Starting from the left  is Michael, who works as a sky diving instructor in Lodi. Second from left is  Ammon McNeely. Ammon and Michael know each other through Base Jumping. Ashlie is also trying to break into skydiving as a career and knows them from Lodi. Merica, my climbing partner is in the blue coat is surounded by  the two Swiss guys, whose names I don’t remember. They were super nice guys, and very talented climbers on a 3 month climbing trip between college and career.

Iron Door cave Joshua Tree
Iron Door cave Joshua Tree

Friends in the Hobbit Hole cave, Joshua Tree
Friends in the Hobbit Hole cave, Joshua Tree
Friends in the Hobbit Hole cave, Joshua Tree
Friends in the Hobbit Hole cave, Joshua Tree

The seven of us were packed like sardines in the tiny Hobbit Hole cave. There were so many of us in the tiny cave that it actually started to warm up the air. Ammon and Michael kept passing around some kind of wacky tabacky and the smoke got so thick I had to leave them to it for the fresh air outside.  

 

We found our way back to the campground successfully that night. I was ready to call it quits as I had to pick up Sue at the airport the next day but everyone insisted I couldn’t break up the team…so we headed off for the Chasm of Doom. This is normally done without headlamps as a sort of exercise in trust. You are supposed to climb through it with a guide in pitch darkness, holding onto the person infront and behind, with each person telling the next where to place their feet and hands. The Chasm starts at the bottom of a rock tower and climbs up though the center of the tower in a hidden tunnel. It’s a bizarre formation that has occasional glimpses of the stars over head, but is mostly completely enclosed by overhanding boulders and huge slabs of rock.

With headlamps it’s a lot safer and we made our way quickly up through the chasm until  the birthing canal. This is a body sized chimney that ascends to the balcony overlooking true hidden valley. A fall here would not be pleasant and I was wishing I had not worn my chaco sandals.  The drop down the chimney is about 35 feet, and it would take some caving specialists to extract you from a fall at the wrong moment.

This is Merica in the easy part of the Chasm.

Merica in the Chasm of Doom, Joshua Tree
Merica in the Chasm of Doom, Joshua Tree

 

Craig on the Flake, Joshua Tree
Craig on the Flake, Joshua Tree

 

Craig on the Flake, Joshua Tree
Craig on the Flake, Joshua Tree

 

Sue on Black Tide, Joshua Tree
Sue on Black Tide, Joshua Tree

Towards the end of the trip Craig and I were getting warmed up. He towed me up Bearded Cabbage, and I led Vladimir up Orphan. Craig also followed me up Dandelion which I had never climbed before. It is a lovely 10 left of Toe Jam. I also led Craig and Randy up Papa Woolsey. I didn’t serve my usual apprenticeship over at Echo slab, choosing to focus on crack climbing, instead of run out slab.

Sue showing off her down booties at site 27, jtree
Sue showing off her down booties at site 27, jtree
My wife Sue, and Randy atop the Bong
My wife Sue, and Randy atop the bong
Someone gets an offer in site 27
Hot Springs tonight?
Chimney Rock before the rangers busted the bluegrass hoedown
Chimney Rock before the rangers busted the bluegrass hoedown
Me by the fire
Me by the fire

On the last day we tried to lead O’Kelley’s crack, but couldn’t get past the bouldery start. We should have just done a hand stand, or climbed Wangerbanger…but decided to go do something we could easily get up before starting the epic drive home. We found this little outcropping at the Lost Horse road intersection and we all led some moderate climbs followed by this finger eater.

Craig on a 10d
Craig on a 10d on our last day after getting shut down on O’Kelley’s crack.

 

Finger sizes: Craig on the left, Randy at top, me on bottom.
Finger sizes: Craig on the left, Randy at top, me on bottom.

 

Joshua Tree sunset
Joshua Tree sunset

On the drive home, we missed some turns and took a tour of Riverside on highway 60, and Stockton on highway 99. It’s strange how you can be driving those LA freeways and completely miss a critical exit. You suddenly find yourself miles from the correct road, with no way to turn around. We had three gps’s in the car, but thought we were smart enough not to need them…wrong.

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12-7-11 Vantage in the winter

12-7-11 Vantage in the winter

Drove over to Vantage with my friend Crystal. I met Crystal 3 years ago in Joshua Tree. She was with Brett and Ondi and we spent  half a day climbing together. Later she became friends with Paul and Craig and we all climbed together at various points and places, including Yosemite. She was in town to interview hospitals for her general practice residency which will start in March.

After 7 years of college, including 4 in medical school she has a lot of integrity. We had some great conversations around the campfire, sitting on big rocks in the dirt around our underperforming campfire. Her friend Will showed up at 9 PM saturday and joined us for the second day down at sunshine wall. The weather was perfect with temps around 50 which allowed us to climb in sweats and shirts.

Will is an interesting character. He was raised on a cattle ranch, but sells Comcast door to door in Seattle. At only 21, he has a lot of life behind him, a great job, and a ton of talent on the cliff. I’ve never seen anyone stem those Vantage columns as wide as Will. I hope to be able to hook up with him for some climbing trips.

Good partners are hard to find. Crystal has already left town for medical school in Florida. I’ve got partners scattered all over the country, but finding one right here can be challenging. I miss the easy communication of facebook. I don’t miss facebook, but I miss the ability it has to get you in touch with climbing partners.

I led the spl. beaver route 5.9 and George-Martha 5.10a, both cleanly. G&M was quite easy at the bottom. The off hands jams seemed very solid. A couple were awkward sidepulls, but I never felt I was going to come off. The pro is perfect in there if you have purple, green and red camalots, doubles at least, and triples in the green.

At the wide top section of G&M I went up and down a couple times. It turned out to be a layback with high toe jams and double fist jams protected by a 4 and 5 camalot. I didn’t even grab the flake in the back this time. I just grabbed the ledge above and pulled up into a knee jam. Not graceful, but it got the job done.

I am watching some lynda.com videos on how to develop Android apps. It’s very slow going as I keep getting distracted by work and climbing. The videos require you to download a lot of strange files, and nothing works quite as well for me as it does for him on the videos. Still, this could be something very big, and possibly even something we could add to our curriculum as part of the web programming classes.