Saturday, March 26, 2011

Scout Camp Outs

What may be Eric's last official scout camp out came amid stormy spring weather. We backpacked up into a nice red rock area just north of St. George. I was looking for a spot somewhat close to town as Eric had a late Friday night basketball practice. The storm let up just long enough for us to hike in and set up camp and stay the night and then hike out. Then the soaker rain settled in. The scout troop is beginning to dwindle in size as the boys turn 14 and move on into the Varsity age scout group. Eric will join them in a few weeks. We had a nice evening around the camp fire and we got in some outdoor games and hikes before coming home to gather food from our neighborhood for the "scout food drive". I hope that Eric and I can continue to go on backpack trips even though his days in the scout troop have come to an end.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

3 Bars Black

Yesterday was Deb's 48th birthday. For her it was probably not very remarkable as we have saved the celebration and gift giving until the 20th when we will combine the party with Rebecca's birthday. But for me it was a major milestone in my climbing achievements. I finally red pointed (climbed it on lead without falling or grabbing the gear) the climb named "Three Bars Black" at Chuckawalla! I have been trying to climb that line for the last 2 1/2 years. The climb is rated 5.13b and is a local test piece for the best climbers. Since coming home from Thailand and having a great trip over there climbing many days in a row I have maintained my climbing endurance and strength. I have recruited several people to spend time belaying me as I worked through the various sections of the climb that were difficult. Finally a tip by my friend Todd (a 5.14 climber) on how to do the final "dyno" (leap from hold to hold usually involving having your feet swing in the air) move at the crux helped me solve the sequence. All I needed to do was link all of the sections on one flawless push. That moment occurred yesterday with my daughter Angie on belay. My first attempt of the day had me falling at the dyno. So close! I then rested for about 20 minutes, basking in the sun and chatting with Angie before I set off again. The temperature was perfect (about 53 degrees) and the wall was still shaded and with little wind. Physically I felt great. This time as I climbed through the lower sections of the climb I felt strong and the holds seemed a bit bigger than usual and I hit every hold and foot smear just right. When I made the dyno move my heart was pounding from excitement as much as exertion. My hand stuck on the hold and I paused slightly as I gathered the rest of my body in to complete the move and get to a more secure stance. From there it was patience and fighting the pump in my forearms as I moved through the less difficult yet tricky climbing to the chains. It is hard to describe the feeling at that moment. I was happy, relieved, and amazed all at the same time. I was glad to be able to share the moment with Angie. It had been my goal to red point this climb before I turned 50 years old. I now I did it! (Photo was taken during a working session and not the final redpoint)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Coyotes & Joshua Trees

Eric and I just got back from our spring break trip to Joshua Tree National Park. We camped out and climbed for 3 days. Except for some windy moments, we had good weather and did plenty of climbing. Eric was a good climbing partner and companion. We were disappointed to find our favorite JTree restaurant (Crossroads Cafe) to be closed for renovations. However, we did manage to find a little mexican dive that had delicious food in Twentynine Palms near the marine base. I became a bit tired on the drive home and wished Eric could drive a spell, but he still is only 13 years old, so I resisted the urge to let him drive on the lonely back roads across the southern California desert.