All paths lead nowhere, choose with heart

Mallorca with Boys and Team Christensen September 24, 2010

Filed under: Climbing,Picture Taking,Trips — sendann @ 11:06 am
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You know when you arrive somewhere, and it’s so obvious that you have dropped into the middle of a well-bonded group of people on a trip together? It’s a thing.

I left Rodellar on Wednesday and drove with the Christensen’s and Australian Carl to Barcelona. Carl headed to Seville for the next leg of his round-the-world adventure, a Flamenco festival followed by a hitch hiking expedition to Morocco. I think Australia’s primary export is dudes.

The Christensen’s gave me a ride to Porto Colom, where Gustavo, Matt Tscholl and some thentofore unknown dudes were staying. Andy hooked me up with them before I left, thanks Andy!  Turned out I know some of the other boys from Hueco, Mogli and Antonio. The guys have this huge apartment on the water. They’re deep into a month-long trip and are in that hilarious social zone where everyone has a nickname and there is constant singing and it is total boy world. After climbing yesterday we invited the Christensen’s to stay with us for their 3-day trip, and having Susie around has evened things out in the sense that there is slightly less farting and talk of ‘cougars’ who obviously ‘want [them]’ ‘so bad’.

It’s rainy here right now, and yesterday was cold and cloudy with very soggy holds and chilly wind. But we went out anyway and I was psyched to send a couple of hardish  lines first go, including several 11e’s. I tried a harder route called Stranger in Paradise, but even the approach was hard. I fell twice on the first big move. Here are some pictures of that.

This is the approach to Strangers. I know.

So far Mallorca is pretty awesome but like I said, conditions are a little rough. It rained all night, but the sun is out now so we’re hoping to go climb under the Lighthouse in Porto Colom. I think the whole approach setup is the toughest to deal with. It’s a lot of “jump in with a dry bag swim to that wet ledge and hang out then start the climb really awkwardly” and “downclimb a warm up and hang out on jugs then traverse over and do a route” stuff. I think we have the approach beta nailed back home with bow starts and cadillacs. Here are some more pictures of yesterday, taken by Jeremy, who is loaning me his computer after mine died its final death in Rodellar the other night, rendering my last two weeks a bit more stressy, work-wise. Thanks J!

Me, Susie Christensen and our trusty guide Antonio contemplating the approach to Strangers, where Antonio is brushing and drying the holds

Trying Strangers

Andrew Christensen on Tower of Power

Me goofing around at the Tower of Power area.

I got that bathing suit here and I am so psyched on it. Pink hot pants, friends. It is the future.

So I’m thrilled to be at the beach, with people who are very “home” feeling, and without a rope or draws. My brain is in a totally different mode too, and the things I’ve been mulling over for the last couple weeks have faded to the background a little. I think so hard about stuff, like money and relationships and the future and what to do next season, and I wish the whole time that I could just get over it and stop worrying, then suddenly I’m kinda over it and it’s like, dang, I feel a little lost without that anchoring duress. Oh well, to the lighthouse!!


The Limbo Rock August 24, 2010

Filed under: Climbing,Picture Taking — sendann @ 3:59 am
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After last weekend’s super relaxed and intimate Amistad trip with just AO and TV, I wrangled a spot on Armada 2.0 this weekend and made it down to the border one last time. I got to enjoy my last Texas summer weekend at my favorite place, doing my favorite thing, with some of my favorite folks. It was a large-type trip with Jennie and AO, the Brooks’s, Travis, Capt. Bastard and me.

First thing we did, before the other two boats got there, was help Capt hang a rope from his 100 foot (we measured) project, The Sanctuary, so he could suss out the top moves and film someone else climbing it.

He did great on the FA and got a good shooting position. Unfortunately, Travis struggled to get up as high as he had before, and I was terrified of the first high, honest move. So after he sunk a bolt, hung the rope, then did the dws/death solo (shown here) all we got was some epic falling footage.

Greg and Suzee rolled up while Capt was doing his FA, and were rather unsettled by the size of the route. Greg said he didn’t want to spent the weekend pulling his dead friends out of the water. I didn’t think too much about that. I knew, for one, that Capt was unlikely to fall from a dangerous height. Maybe I’m naive or something, but I’ve seen the him back off of stuff before because it seemed out of reach or dangerous. He wouldn’t, I thought and still think, be trying a 100 foot line he didn’t feel at least pretty sure he could do or safely bail off of. Also I didn’t really think at the time that it would be a death fall.

I usually avoid watching people soloing. I hate hate hate those Steph Davis videos, and avoid anything and everything related to Alex Honnold. I don’t hold it against anyone that they solo, but I don’t want to know them personally, or like them, or have any personal investment in someone who’s into that. Yet, it would appear that I do after all.

The rest of the trip was pretty good, climbing wise.

I sent an old line in the canyon that I had struggled on during my last few trips, so that was a great relief, and I got to a personal high point on this very hard, bouldery canyon project.

I took some scary falls making insecure moves on hidden crimps at the top of Blaine’s project, which AO finished last week. He named it Dolphin Power/ Poder Delfin. Hopefully next time I’ll send it first go, like that canyon line.

Not sure we’ll be going to Amistad much in October when I get back, but I have a feeling there’ll be at least one more trip before I head to Hueco on/about Halloween. I’m eager to boulder over land on the Pecos, swim in cooler water and be happy to bake in the sun. I got to spend so much time on the water this season! No matter what horrible drama is befalling me, everything looks and feels better on a boat, and I’m so thankful.

Oh yeah,  but then on Sunday morning, we found that AOs boat had sunk in the night. That was a big ordeal, but it turned out ok. I decided my skills were best applied to the situation by making coffee and Batter Blaster pancakes.

Now some pictures!

This trip I used an old Vivitar 19mm 2.8 manual focus lens that I haven’t used since I was shooting with my Nikon FM. It’s light and I love the wide angle, but the light meter in my D40 doesn’t work with it, and it’s pretty challenging to deal with. Also, the great Hitachi hard drive fail of July 2010 cost me Photoshop, so I’m stuck with the limited editing options in iPhoto. So these pictures are weird. Still, here’s what I got:

Even though it's just his back and hat, I think this picture is very "Travis." That's Capt Bastard cruising up my proud low angle slab FA from a few trips ago, "Die Diagonal". He took a huge backpack full of gear, and said it was easier than he'd expected. FBPA, FML.

The color balance was so frustrating in these images, so I just stripped this one hoping there was enough variation and contrast to be interesting. I love the expression, and that cloudy morning was perfect dws weather.

Greg on the canyon project. This is probably my favorite image from the weekend, and a rare decent climbing picture. I usually stick to boating and lifestyle stuff.

There was some nice video too, but it’s going into a large-type editing mill and won’t make it to the interweb until the fall.


Talkin with Chuy July 21, 2010

Filed under: Climbing — sendann @ 6:29 pm
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Here’s video Blaine took of my progress on my Point Cove project from the other night.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

I got mixed up like that a couple of times at the very top, but I’m not worried about it. I was mostly thrilled to get that up-down-up-down traverse stuff together. The starting roof moves are pretty easy, especially after AO broke a big jug off of it.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

It eliminated a good hang spot but also forced the moves to flow better, so yay.

Next time I’m going to get on it first thing from the start, rather than waste good dry skin time warming up. It doesn’t feel very hard anymore.

These shots are from after the lights went out. Blaine had the lamp he and Ellen used to keep their chickens warm, which is brighter and awesomer than our standard halogen bulbs for sure, and made for some eerie images, courtesy of Blaine.

AO with the chicken lamp

Makin moves on Jesus

More moves. I tied the headlamp up with my hair so I wouldn't lose it in the water. Tricky, right?

Capt. Blaine with the chicken lamp.


The Prideful Hitch Hiker’s Tale of Lake Woe July 20, 2010

Filed under: Climbing — sendann @ 8:29 pm
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AO on a 2010 lake project. His heel-to-face maneuvers are so inspiring. (by Travis Vincent)

In Austin in the summer there are two options (three if you count “Colorado” as one which I do not): Dawn patrol at Reimers Ranch, and the lake. The lake used to involve floating on a noodle and hiking up juggy caves and short, vertical walls at Pace Bend. A few years ago it started to involve aluminum bass boats and exploring coves all over Lake Travis. The first boating year I was not into it, mainly because I wasn’t friends with AO, and he was the only one who had a boat.

Then last year more people had boats, but I had a hard time getting out anyway, because the boats were always full and I’m proud and uncomfortable when it comes to asking favors. After  summoning my nerves and getting let down a couple times, I let myself get discouraged and stopped asking. Hence, I almost never got out.

Finally I stumbled into a boat relationship that worked, with a dingy called Bastard Craft. Last August, Captain Bastard and I discovered that we could both go out during the week and that we could for the most part tolerate each other. I never worried too much about having a spot in a boat after that.

Me helming the Craft while Capt. Bastard climbs on Lake Travis. (March 2010)

This summer was pretty much the same, until Capt. Bastard got benched, and now boat time has been harder to swing. But now I’m pushing myself onto boats without shame, constantly asking to go out, ponying up gas money, trying to nail down this one line before the summer ends and I leave town.

It’s this roof problem, probably like v4 or 5 but pumpy and tricky, that starts on a huge tufa and climbs out about 10 feet of jugs and slopers in a roof, then some traversing on smaller holds, finishing on a nice crimpy headwall. It was 40 feet tall last year when the lake was alarmingly low, but now it tops out just 10 or 12 feet off the water. When it was first done it was christened “Talk to Jesus” I think because it was so scary and highball. I’m gonna call the lowball version “Talk to Chuy” and see if that catches on.

Got a ride in Blaine’s boat tonight! I’m so psyched to get out and try my moves with the lake a full foot lower than it was last time I was there. I think the cruxy part for me – the traverse after the roof – will be easier with more air to dangle in. We’ll find out!