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.

tuba buba

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.

 

A rear ender

June 26th, 2019

I wrote this in response to a story in the New York times today.

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.”

Sue in 79

Sue in 79

Sue in 79

Built a custom WordPress theme

June 19th, 2019

I teach wordpress at work, and last quarter I had a student who wanted a really fancy wordpress site. She didn’t like any of the free themes. I told her I’d been tinkering with a custom theme for a couple years, but had never tried to use it on real, meaningful content. I simply had too many questions about how a custom theme worked in real life.

She was willing to put in the time, and I was being paid to teach…so we chipped away at it in the afternoons for a few weeks. Her website ended up looking so good I decided to try my hand coded custom theme on my 9 year old wordpress site. You are looking at it now. It’s a reasonably close match to my main www.websterart.com website, which is all handbuilt, not using wordpress. I’ve yet to try getting the PhotoSwipe plugin to work. Well, I did get it to work with my theme, but it caused problems.

WordPress, by default, puts thumbnails in definition lists. But PhotoSwipe requires them to be in figure elements. And I’d like to style the figure elements in variable column-count columns. However, there is simply too much code going on with his switch from dl’s to figures, which happens in JavaScript. More on that later.

There is a lot going on here. As far as explaining it, I don’t even know where to start. I may write a tutorial on it later. If you’d like to get the zip file of the theme, it is here. Be forewarned though, a lot of what goes on is in the form of widgets, menus and plugins that get added after you activate the theme in the wordpress dashboard.

The Whippers

June 8th, 2019

“So Chris, you need to be ready, I’m probably going to clip the last bolt, climb up to the top and jump off.”

“Give me a lot of slack, like, have the rope practically laying on the deck. I don’t want it tight because I might whip into the wall.”

I carefully tied my knot with a very long tail so I could do a clean, half a grapevine back up knot. Before I pulled the figure eight tight, I clipped a round bodied metolius locker into the bottom loops of the knot. This makes a locked up knot easier to untie.

Bobbi saw me do it and gave me an evil grin: “I know what that means”.

Chris said: “I’m not really a huge fan of these intentional falls, seems like it’s needlessly stressing the system”.

“Bobbi can belay me, if you don’t wanna’ do it” I said.

“No, no, I’m fine”

“Ok, just be ready, and keep a lot of slack in the rope”.

“Ok, so if at any time you say you want to take or rest on the rope, I’ll just let you fall”

“Yup, that’s only fair” I said.

I climbed smoothly up through the dozen clips to the top of the wall, being extra careful to clip each bolt cleanly from secure stances. I watched each biner clip closed almost in slow motion, my focus absolute. I knew that I could not make a mistake. Every move was calculated and accurate.

As I clipped the last draw I still had some power in reserve on the steeply overhanging white 5.10. I climbed up to the top of the wall where the lowering clips were and simply grabbed on. I looked down at Chris, who I could clearly see was exactly where he should be, in brake position, with a long loop of slack.

I looked down at my tie in knot, with it’s backup knot to make sure everything was fine, and then let go. I quickly accelerated to a speed that felt far too fast, falling freely through the air at least 20 feet. I had very little panic, secure in the knowledge that the system was secure. As the rope caught me 30 feet off the ground, most of the people who were standing around on the floor jerked their heads up, sensing and hearing the noise of the draws banging on the wall as the rope came tight, and the body falling from high above.

Chris lowered me down carefully, to the watching climbers, who slowly turned away now that the show was over.

“I never would have guessed you had that streak of wildness,” he said.

“Yeah, somewhere inside me I’ve got a little craziness going on. But those whippers are really fun!” I said.

Bobbi: “I think it makes you a better climber,  you know you’re safe so you can relax.”