20 October 2010

My First Whipper

This summer I took a Whipper.  As defined in this previous post, Whippers are NOT awesome.  Mine was no exception.

On July 30, I headed out to Exit 38  to meet some members of The Group for a little Friday-after-work climbing action.  I was traveling with Jere, one of my more experienced and most-definitely awesome buddies.  We met the group around 2ish, climbed for a bit, then headed east to Vantage

Here's Jere and Tony showing their best "hip-pop" stance.  Or they're just checking out the route.  You decide:

Jere leading the 5.9.  Really fun climb. 
Me leading the 5.9 after Jere, technically I'm on Pink Point: when you lead a climb, but the draws are already in place for you to clip into

Vantage is about 2 1/2 hours from Seattle and is a series of hexagonal columns which make for some very fun climbing.  It's pretty common to drive out, camp, and climb the next day. Jere and I arrived after dark, but we were greeted by clear skies and an incredibly warm evening.  We each pitched our respective tents, and when he decided not to put his rain fly on, I thought "wow, what a FANTASTIC idea, that way I can look up at the stars as I doze off!" 

Yeah.....that turned out to be a bad call.....I awoke about 12:30 to an awesome display of lightening DIRECTLY ABOVE MY FACE!  I realise I'm prone to exaggeration, but this was the biggest lightening show I'd ever seen.  I was so scared to be in a tent, but I was scared to get out of the tent, so I just laid there, watching the lightening creep ever closer.  Finally, I made my move to the car!  I sat there for a while, until the skies opened up and it started pouring rain!  Jere finally dove out of his tent (he had been in there laying awake, apparently Googling "is it safe to be in a tent in a lightening storm" [the answer is no]) and hopped in the car. He was seated for no longer than 30-seconds when it REALLY started to rain.  Then he dove out and grabbed his and my stuff from our tents and saved us from being completely demolished.

It rained for another hour or so before we were able to extract ourselves from the car and dry out our stuff.  There was at least 2 litres of water in the bottom of my tent!  Ugh!  We dried off as best we could, but my sleeping bag was in pretty poor shape, so it was a long, sleepless night for me.  Luckily, in the morning we were greeted by Vantage and all it's beauty.  We were out by 8am to climb.

View from the top of 'Clip 'em or Skip 'em", 5.8 
Looking down at  Jere
Sending like Pro's

We did a few routes in Vantage, then decided to leave becuase it was just too damn hot.  Plus another Thundercloud was looming, so we didn't want to push our luck.  We took a quick dip in the river, then hopped back in the car.  We had friends climbing at 38 again on Saturday, and we thought it would be pretty awesome to hit up three different climbing spots in 24 hours, so before we knew it we were back on rock.

By now you are wondering, when am I going to get to the Whipper story already???  Right NOW!  We walked up to Neverland wall and met a few members of The Group.  I was feeling strong, and decided to start off on this 5.9 slab climb. 

Here I am starting off
I should have spent more time studying the climb, but was just too darn excited to be climbing again.  Somehow I got off route.  I went left when I should have gone right. 

You can see here I'm about 4' up and 3' left of my last quick draw here.
Then disaster struck!  I reached up with my left hand (below) and all the sudden I was upside down!  My hand just completely came off the hold, and the momentum propelled me backwards and upside down.  There was some debate as to if my foot got tangled in the rope, but I didn't have any rope rash (which I would have gotten), so we decided the rope was just running under my foot. 
At first, I only felt like I had knocked my head a bit (this is why I wear a helmet, probably saved my life!) and twisted my ankle.  Once I righted myself, Jere lowered me down and I felt mostly fine, but everyone was really concerned.  Only then did I realize that I was covered in blood! It was all over my arms and legs, on the rope, on my harness, and on my shirt...not to mention on the rock!

Somehow I had put a pretty major gash in my elbow and it was bleeding like crazy (warning, gross pictures coming up).  Thumbs down fo sho!

But, I am also someone who is strangely proud of my injuries.  I like that I'm smiling in this one...
 The elbow didn't really hurt at the time, to be honest, but it certainly was very sore for the next few weeks.  The picture below is of one week after.  As you can see, there was TONS of bruising, and I probably should have gotten stitches.  Oh well.  It's now three months later and I still have a pretty impressive scar =)
I must say a BIG thank you to Jere for doctoring me up after my Whipper, and for expertly cleaning the route like a champ after witnessing, what I am told, was a pretty horrendous looking fall!  Thanks Jere!

Also, just as an FYI, Jere's car was broken into while I was busy taking a whipper.  We were very fortunate (if you can call it that) that the theives only took his rope and my bag of clothing.  They DIDN'T get either of our tents, our sleeping bags, or our various other items worth $100's a piece!  Just a reminder, when climbing secure your stuff!  Hide it under a blanket if you have to!  As always, safety first!

19 October 2010

Australia/New Zealand - I'm coming for you!

It's official, I booked my trip to NZ for this Christmas.  I'm leaving December 15 and flying round trip through Sydney.  I arrive early AM on the 17th, and leave around 11am on January 9th, and get back 30 minutes before I left!  Crazy time travel!

Anyway, for those of you good at math, you realise that leaves me with almost A MONTH.  I plan to fly directly down to NZ once I land, and head back up to finish my trip in Sydney.

So now I need your help!  I'm traveling alone, and would like to do some camping and climbing and experience general awesomeness while I'm there, but otherwise I don't really have any concrete plans.  Help me plan my trip!  Where should I go, what should I do, where should I stay????  Any and all tips are 100% welcome!

13 October 2010

Monica's Wedding!

On July 22, 2010, my little sister Monica got married to her long time sweetheart Timothy Kittle.  I wrote all about their wedding details on Monica and Tim's Wedding Website, but in case you missed it, here are some highlights:
  • The wedding was held at The Woodland's, a perfect, picturesque Montanan barn in the heart of Cottonwood Canyon. 
  • Monica did much of the wedding planning and prep herself, with lots of help from friends and family of course.  This included making the flower centerpieces out of paper.  
  • We had tons of beloved friends and family there, and we are so thankful to all of you who traveled far and wide to be a part of this special event.
  • The day was absolutely perfect; Monica of course looked stunning, the ominous clouds managed to not rain a single drop on us, and the photographer took some truly amazing pictures.  For details to see them all, check out this post on Monica's site.
I traveled back and was in Montana for a week to enjoy the festivities.  Here are my favourite pictures from the week:

Hiking with GrandBob
Climbed this outcropping with Ralph
Rehearsal Dinner at my Madre's
Have I mentioned it's BEAUTIFUL in Montana?  Shots from my backyards' (Mom's then Popi's)
Day trip to Big Sky!  It looks so different with no snow!
 The Lexinator
Wedding Prep - Carload of paper flowers
 Cake!  Yum!
 Getting Ready
 Seester Face!
Working it down the Aisle
I've posted the rest of my favourite photographer pictures on Monica's Site, so go check those out too!

10 October 2010

Summer Adventuring

This summer hasn't been all about weekend trips away to epic places like Smith Rock.  There have been plenty of hiking and after-work climbing trips as well.

I want to go on the record as saying I am so thankful to climbing because it has enabled me to meet a fantastic group of people who all love life and are actively living it.  This summer I have met many new friends who I hope will continue to put up with me for years to come.  In fact, there are so many of us who love to climb together these days that we have named ourselves "The Group".  Very original, I know.

During the peak of the summer, The Group took many after work trips out to the Exits, which mainly consist of Exit 32 and Exit 38, which are 32 and 38 miles from Seattle respectively.  We also hit up Index, where you have to be a pretty wicked awesome climber to even make it up a 5.9.  If you can climb an "Index 9", you can climb a 9 anywhere!  Finally, there's Marymoore Crag, which is an outdoor cement park.  It's not great climbing, but it is a great place to take new people to practice safety techniques.  It also happens to be where I did my first climbing, so the towering cement blocks have a special place in my heart.

Occasionally, I will also hike.  Here are shots from Mt. Pilchuck way back on June 12.
 Don't ask me to identify any of these mountains....I just don't know
 Razor Edged Ridge
 Glissading Tracks on the way down
 Looking West.  There's an ocean out past those mountains!
Me and Guthrie, View from the Top (a sweaty view)
 We slid most of the way down on our butts :-)

Here are shots from epic climbing at Index.  Most of the climbs are Trad, so I'm pretty lucky to have some really great "rope guns" (people who lead so the rest of us can top rope) in the group who will put up some sick climbs for me to play on.

Allen topping out
 Looking across to Mt. Index
 Me and Jere hanging from a pretty standard belay station.  Actually this is a "roomy" belay station.  Sometimes it's near impossible to get two people at one set of chains!
 Flaking out
 The walls at Index are GIANT.  This is me on "Japanese Gardens. 
 Rock Bite
 Losing fingertips on tough rock is pretty common

This is Gritscone Wall at Exit 38.  This is "Flexy" Hexar putting up an 11a on lead.  I like how the sun behind him makes it look like he was sent directly from the heaven's to send this beast.

On another day, we headed out to the World War Walls off of Exit 32.  I really liked the climbing here.  

What?  Don't look at me weird just because I'm eating pita bread and nutella!
Duffy leading the 10c to start.  I really love this shot.  The wall looks so massive, and Duffy's just all relaxed.  Thanks Rope Gun!

My mom came to visit a few weeks ago, and The Group headed back out to Exit 38.  In all, we had 14 adults and 4 kids!  Pretty crazy turnout!

Here's Nicole showing her Awesome on an overhangy 10b!  Nice moves!
 This is a "heel hook".  More like a calf hook. 
Finally, here are some shots from Marymoore Crag.  This is another 'sent from above' picture, this time with little Mason, aged 4. 
 Here's New Brad.  He joined our group after he and I met running.  He's a natural climber, even on cement walls.
 Sarah sending the spire
 While we were climbing, a photographer was taking pictures, and somehow I ended up as his "model".  His name is Patrick Bennett and he is working on a project related to the Washington Scenic Byways new book.  There's a possibility I could be published in the newest edition!  Here are some of Patrick's best shots:

Thanks for checking out my blog!  More to come soon!