Thursday, December 20, 2007

Don't Know Until You're There

Had another great day out at Finely creek today. This time I found a partner! I woke up this morning disappointed to see it raining out side. Kyle was still enthusiastic about climbing so I hoped the climbs were at en elevation were it was snowing. As we got near the trail head, the rain sure enough turned to snow. Excellent. There was no way I was going ice climbing in the rain. Kyle hadn't climbed much there before so we decided to start out on Grain Eater. A 200 ft WI 4. In the posting below, its the climb just left of what I soloed. Ice conditions were great. Just enough water content to make the ice elastic but not too much to make it a wet climb.

Next we decided to step it up a little. We headed to an area known as the Daggers gully. The route Truckers World was in good conditions so I felt obligated to climb it. Again the ice was in excellent condition. The curtain wasn't running with water but had enough water content to allow it to be safely climbed. With the remaining day light we had, Kyle and I headed home.

Here is an old photo. Truckers World is the left most line of icicles.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Right and Left Hand Belay

Had a nice day out at Finley creek today ice climbing. It was a quick trip though. Just one climb. No one was available to climb with so I decided to go on a quick solo mission. The temps were slightly warm so I anticipated good ice conditions. Nothing better than burying your picks in hero ice. When I got to the base of the climb, I saw it dripping with water and knew my guess was correct. Gitty with anticipation I started climbing. A little rock climbing gave way to the ice which accepted my picks nicely. I thunked away at the ice and within a few minutes was on top. I rigged the rappel and was back to my pack in no time. A quick hike to the car and I was on my way home. House to house in 4 hours with 200 feet of climbing. It was a great to-the-point kind of day.

At the base, Approaching, The climb (right side)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Dust on Crust

The last two days I spent up at Lolo Pass doing a little skiing. Conditions are great for this time of year. There is an awesome base set up and about 8 inches of powder on crust.
Karl skining up the ridge

Friends and I had a blast skiing today, but unfortunately we had a little mishap. At the bottom of our first run, I came to a stop just below my buddy Bob. As I was doing so, Karl's dog Finbar, slipped on the crust and slid into me. I was worried that I may have skied over his leg, but Finbar let out no yelp nor did he act hurt. We continued on and started to skin back up the slope. As I followed the trail, I notices blood all over it. I figured one of the dogs must have ripped a pad open. No big deal. As I approached Karl, he told me that Finbar had a cut on his leg but couldn't tell what size it was. I figured it had to have been from me. The blood trail continued to the ridge top where we finally had a chance to look at the damage. What we saw surprised that shit out of us! Finbar wasn't just cut, he was filleted open. The gash was about 1.5 inches wide by 4 inches long. The entire length of which we could see the tibia bone. A quick wrap on the leg and we were back skiing again. This time to the car. The day was over.

View of the Bitterroot Mountains

Finbar seemed to manage just fine the rest of the day. After some beers, we were heading to Missoula and Finbar to the vet.

Poor Finbar

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Back to the GNP

The temps have been cold and ice is forming once again. Unfortunately it hasn't been cold for long enough in Missoula to form up the local ice to climbable conditions. So Jeff and I decided we'd start the season off full steam ahead. Glacier National Park!

Climbing in Glacier is always a major adventure no matter how you break it up. Fortunately over the years, we have become more savvy and learned how to make the experience more pleasurable. That's not to say we don't get our asses kicked still. It just doesn't sting as bad.

The road was still open to Avalanche lake so we thought we'd take advantage of the conditions and climb there. The approach to Avalanche starts out with an easy two miles on a nice trail then becomes one of the most awful bush wackes one could imagine. Unfortunately or fortunately, how ever you would like to look at it, we seem to forget about the latter portion of the approach.

6:00am the alarm went off. We woke in the bed of Jeff's pick-up to wind howling outside. A Starbucks frapaccino, some pop tarts, and we were off. When we reached the lake, we were meet with horizontal snow. The wind was blowing about 30 and gusting to 45. The day appeared to be over as quickly as it began, but we decided we ought to hike to the other side of the lake before making any decisions. One foot in front of the other and before I knew it we were rounding the crag ice and heading up the slopes to ice. Now our favorite part...the bush whack! After crawling over bushes, that's right, over not through, we reached the final drainage/terrain trap below the ice. We ditched our trekking poles for ice tools and started climbing. The occasional whomp of the snow pack kept us on our toes. Once at the base of the ice, we could begin having fun.

Looking up at the climb (The Pig)

The climbing was great. Nice ice conditions that accepted our picks and screw with minimal plating. The route took two rope-stretcher pitches to put us on top. It turned out to be a very fun warm-up route. The day wasn't over yet though. We still needed to get the hell out of the there.

Looking down from the ice

The goal is always to try and make it to the lake by dark. Of course it never happens. A storm had settled in the cirque and we new it would be getting dark early. Some rappels, down climbing, and nerve racking snow travel put us back at our trekking poles. A few hundred meters down the slope and we lost our precious light. Head lamps on, we continued to bush whack and stumble down the rocky slopes. Trying not to break our legs in the horrible terrain, we made quick progress. After many falls and a few branches thwacked us across the faces, we found ourselves at the lake and on easy ground. Ipods were turned on and the death march began. Twelve hours after leaving the car, we caught sight of it again.

We had a wonderful first day out. The climb wasn't anything difficult, but there is never a give-me in the GNP. No matter how savvy and efficient we can be, that place always kicks our ass!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Power Trip

Monday I was once again on another quick trip with Jeff, which as usual, included lots of driving with minimal time to have fun. Of course its always worth it. This time we headed to Salt Lake. The plan was to fly Monday evening on the North side at Point of the Mountain, hang out with our friends Jeff and Amber, fly the South side Tuesday morning, then head home stopping in Logan on our way to pick up a Peregrine falcon.

Provo Canyon

As we neared Point of the Mountain, flags around Salt Lake indicated we had proper wind direction to fly, but not the velocity we needed. Jeff and I head up to launch anyways to check things out. After standing around for awhile, we accepted that flying wasn't going to happen that evening and decided we ought to salvage what daylight we had left.

Shapiro skimming the ground

O'Brien with a slider landing

We decided to go hiking in Provo canyon and check out Bridal Veil falls. It was a short hike, but enjoyable scrambling around the cliffs. The falls were nice and we got the opportunity to see two goats. Amber and Jeff met up with us on the trail and we spent the evening catching up with them.

Shapiro putting it on a tip

O'Brien soaring

Since Jeff and I were on a tight time schedule, the two Jeffs and I had to get up early Tuesday morning to fly the South side. We got to launch around 7:30 and at that point, there were already paragliders in the air. Conditions were weak, but soarable. The next few hours were spent racing around the hill, dogging paragliders, and playing with touch'n goes. It had been a log time since I had been in the air and it was just what I needed.

By noon Jeff and I were headed to Logan for his bird. She was a sassy bird, but a beautiful one. After the short stop we were back on the road.

Jeff and his new bird

About 16 hours of driving for around 12 hours of fun. It was worth every minute of it. Not every day can you soar through the air like a bird, hang out with great friends, and get to touch and interact with a Peregrine falcon.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Back To Normal

Sorry I haven't posted anything recently, but not much has been going on. After my surgery, things didn't go as I expected. I came down with a low grade fever which plagued me for about a week and a half, then developed Strep throat which worked me over for another week. All the while I was still dealing with a slightly sore incision site. After four weeks now, I'm finally feeling back to normal.

I've spent the last couple weeks slowly (most people think too quickly) rehabbing myself trying to return to my previous fitness level. Limited workouts at the climbing gym and home have helped me return to normal. This last week I have finally felt like myself again.

Kootenai creek

The week started off with a hard session at the climbing gym. Even thought I felt weak I still climbed well and most importantly had a great time. The next day I headed out side to climb with my friend Levi. I was a little hesitant since I hadn't been in a harness yet, afraid that it may pull at the incision site. After warming up, I realized that the harness shouldn't pose a problem. Levi did some work on another route and we decided to climb it afterwards. I had this overwhelming desire to lead the climb. Nervous that a lead fall could tear my stitches, I thought this could be an expensive gamble if I lose. I lead anyways. I pulled as hard as I could though the crux but fatigue got the best of me and I whipped off. "Sweet no pain. I'm back to normal", I thought. Back on the route for a few more tries, each one ending the same way. I was thrilled to be back in climbing shape.

Levi moving a bolt

Levi on Hilty Traverse 5.13a

Later that day I went hunting for some elk and had a chance to watch a herd of them. With no chance to hunt them, I enjoyed watching their activities into the night. The next day was consumed by some organized hockey. Boy was it nice to get back on the ice. All the sprinting caused me no discomfort and I knew I was truly back to normal.

Ninepipes wildlife refuge

Wednesday night I worked and had a nice surprise. Jeff was reading through one of the better hang gliding publications; Cross Country, and pointed out that I had a photograph published. I didn't even know about it. My first published photo. I was very thrilled. That morning Jeff, an ER doc (Mike), and I headed North for some pheasant hunting. Jeff and Mike each got a bird and I was too clumsy to take advantage of my opportunity. Oh well.

My photo is on the contents page

Since I'm feeling great again, I should have plenty of things to post about (I hope). Sorry for the delay, but I'm back at it now!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Under the Knife

Well, I experienced my first surgery today. A right inguinal hernia repair. A real son-of-a-bitch since it was something that just randomly occurred. I don't remember any specific moment when I thought, "something is just not right." It actually started off so small that I thought it may have been a pulled muscle, but when it slowly grew in size, I knew just what it was.

The surgery was pretty simple really, as far as I can guess. Some Versed and lights out. When I awoke, 45 minutes later, I was a little groggy and cleaned up like a porn star, but feeling just fine. I was moved to the post op room, completely woke up and finally got something to eat. I'm a big fan of breakfast so I wasn't happy with the idea of not eating in the morning. It wasn't long before I had to take a leak, a good thing since the alternative is a catheter. No way in hell I wanted that!

By 11:30 I was home, only three hours after the procedure began. Now I'm just sitting around with a pack of ice on my junk bored out of my mind. I don't have the right personality for this. Its only been four hours since I got home and I'm already going crazy. I'm not quite sure how long the recovery should be, but I do know it will be over a week. Yikes. I'm so screwed, ha.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Back On-line

The Internet has been disconnected at the house for quite some time due to procrastination. Oops! I'm back in business now so I thought I would give a quick update to what I've been up to.

Here is a photo of Bob and I on the summit of a peak in the Purcell mountains of Canada. Not a care in the world except for the turns we were about to get. Standing there, neither one of us ever imagined that 4 months later Bob would be diagnosed with tongue cancer.

At the end of August, I headed out to Seattle to help out the family and support Bob through a few of his final radiation treatments. I spent the time visiting and doing what I could to help out my Aunt Heather. Washing some dishes, a little cooking, and some straightening up. I had a great time, but all the while I wished I could do more. It was very difficult to see my uncle in such a condition. I wished I could lend him my strength, both mental and physical, but all I had to offer was my presence. So that is what I gave.

Bob and I in Seattle.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to stay for his final treatment. Work was calling me back. Bob has been on the road to recovery for a few weeks now and thing are looking good. I look forward to our next trip and when this will all just be a memory.

Not much going on since Seattle. Same old story; climbing, flying, hunting, and work. Here are some recent photos:

Spiders around my uncle's house

Sunset over Lake Washington

Sunset after a hunt

Heather's flowers

Some bouldering at Kootenai

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Blodget Day

It was Melissa's last day in town before returning to Detroit so we decided it would be fun to climb Shoshone. For those of you who don't know, Shoshone is a 600' granite wall an hour south of Missoula. The approach is about 3 miles and the climb consists of five pitches of 5.8. I brought my camera in order to well document the climb since it was Melissa first time on it. As expected, since I now shoot digital, I went over board and took about 200 pics. Thought you can't get that one good picture if you don't try a lot. Here is what I thought some of the better ones were:

Melissa starting the approach

Our objective; Shoshone (the middle one)

Top of pitch two.

Mel topping out on pitch four.

Top of four.

Melissa nearing the top of the route.

Final moves to the top.

Summit photo

One last photo.

Evening lighting on Nez Perce

Thursday, August 9, 2007

A Good Day With an Old Friend

Jaime is in town for a few days and today she dropped Trigo off so I could spend some time with him. I took him out to Kootenai Canyon so I could go bouldering and then take him for a walk. He sure has mellowed out. While I climbed, he just found a nice spot and laid down. It was nice not to worry about him running off. I once lost him in the canyon for a few hours. When I was finished climbing we went for a walk and checked out the creek. We came across a few people, some with dogs, and he barely even turned his head. I think he was enjoying himself at his old hangout. I sure enjoyed the worry free time spent with him.


Kootenai Creek

Playground in the sky

Yesterday Bill and I met Ron at Tarkio for an evening flight. Conditions looked good for a glass off, but thermals were still cycling up launch late in the day. Bill hooked in, launched, and went straight up. Ron and I followed. The flying was butter smooth and effortless to stay up. I had put the camera on the glider so I raced around trying to get good pics of Ron and Bill. It was like a playground up there. Racing around the mountain with friends, occasionally getting close to one another, I couldn't help but laugh. After two hours we landed. A wonderful way to end the day. Here are what I thought the best shots of the night were.

#1 Circling over Ron

#2 Alberton in the background

#3 Cruising above Bill

#4 Bill in the background

#5 Turning over the Tarkio ranch

#6 Coming in to land