The Dog Jumps

Ask yourself and keep on asking until you find the answer...

The Passing of Ellie

You might know well, after looking at this blog, that Ellie is my Husky, or more to the point of this post, was. She had a series of strokes today and as a result the compassionate thing was to euthanize her. The need to make this decision for an animal that depends upon you is heavy and it was the concern of everyone involved that she not suffer. I am deeply appreciative of my mother, who tended to Ellie in old age. My mom was a trooper in helping Ellie up and down the steps, nearly weekly vet runs, and all the various chores involved in taking care of such an old dog. I do not know what else to say, except two core concepts to what it means to be me:

  1. Dogs give us this micro view of our own lives – reminding us always of the joy in the world, and the limit of our time here, which remind us how important it is to love as much as we can. This is why I love this article: The last word: Why old dogs are the best dogs
  2. In order to take on love you need to embrace the totality of the experience, which can, in this case, end in sadness. I wish there were a word for this sense I have, but I think of it like ying and yang makes a the whole.

I suppose if you read this or see my annoucements of her passing, and you want to do something, hug a dog, child, person or otherwise that you love.

Where to being with this one; it was another amazing trip at a time which caps my first year of climbing outside. A year with 40+ days at the Gunks, Katahdin, Whitney-Gillman, The New River Gorge, Indian Creek and Red Rocks. I have met some incredible people, had some amazing adventures, been scared nearly to the point of crying, and lots of cuts and bruises.

This trip, with Alex, to Red Rocks was simply perfect in every way; from the patience of Alex and his gentle “we have to keep moving” to the routes we picked and the laughing back in the hotel at night. I think one night we were laughing because we were both happy to have made it back. More on that later.

Day one: landing and we went right to the climbs, picking Tunnel Vision. A great multi-pitch at about 750 feet or so. Alex and I alternated leads with my leading the tunnel. This climb was really fun – I know that sounds lame, but the chimney, face, caveish, and crack climbing all added up to a really fun 5.7. I am convinced I did the crux pitch where there was a strange move from the face back into the crack. Maybe thiner people with no packs on might be able to chimney move of this climb. The tunnel was really fun with my laughing the whole time. It is really thin of pro, but I got in three pieces.

Day two: up CRAZY early, I am grumpy, and I accidentally break smash my bottle of bourbon on the floor of the hotel’s breakfast area resulting in us being branded as trouble makers by the staff. I think Alex has some photos of my trying to clean up an entire bottle of bourbon at 6am.


Pan of the Desert

The highlights and some good beta:

  • Tape gloves, make them, it is like climbing on sandpaper
  • BLM lands for camping are great, but be prepared to share with people
  • Camping meaning brining everything in with you, wood, fuel, etc…
  • Access Fund has put in a heck of a lot of outhouses
  • The common guide book is pretty crappy, we relied on Mountain Project on my iPhone. I cannot tell you how many times we said, ‘this guy never did this climb…’
  • Cell service is spotty/non-existant in the canyons, you will be mostly off the grid while there (which is cool, if you ask me!)
  • So you think you have enough gear? You dont, make friends by chatting people up and swap gear.
  • The best climbs are “unnamed”
  • Crack climbing is radically different then other kinds of climbing and there is almost no way to climb easier cracks, which is why most of the climbs are 10 and above.

The desert is stunningly beautiful.

Alex Climbing

Alex and I flew in late Wednesday evening, meeting in Denver. Be warned the flight from Denver from Moab (CNY) is a small 16 person propeller setup. It was not fun. Here is a lesson, maybe think hard about flying into SLC and driving down. The second reason for this is that the airline that flies this short route lost all of Alex’s luggage. We arrived in Moab on the most gear heavy climbing trip on earth and half our collective gear is MIA.

We decided to stay in a hotel in Moab and get some food, hoping the luggage would come the next day. It didn’t, it didn’t showed up until days later. We went to the local outfitter and got a sleeping bag, a stove, and a harness for Alex, because the rest of the stuff I had and we figured we could work it out.


Sandy Knocks Out aquaDRAMA

A quick note to let everyone know that aquaDRAMA was devastated by the week long power outage. Let me be clear, this is the only thing that happened to me, otherwise I am perfectly fine and INCREDIBLY lucky compared to many. Having my tank die is nothing compared to having no home, a family member lost, etc… If you can help people who are badly off, please go do so.

As for the tank, I have rebooted it – drained it, removed all the dead animals, cleaned the sump, and filled it back up with good water. I then seeded it with a started culture to help the cycle restart and I am hoping it will be good in a couple days. I will post more as this unfolds. I am also going to install a new sump, replumb, and install a new UPS to help make the tank more stable in the future.

aquaDRAMA 4.0 - A 90 Gal Oceanic Reef TankFor those who do not like the metal cables to the ceiling; aquaDRAMA got a new lighting setup over the weekend based upon 2 EcoTech Marine Radion LED fixtures mounted lengthwise across my 90 gallon tank. There is one small issue, the controls of the lamps are right next to the mounting hole and it makes it harder to push on them. Honestly, I am not sure how often you would need to touch them, so I am not too perturbed. If I were the solution is simple, buy slightly higher risers and longer bolts. The whole mount was less then 100$ and was able to order the parts precut from Esto Connectors.

109150-AB 1″ SQ. .A.A. TUBING .065 (BLACK) 4 lengths @ 5 inches
109150-AB 1″ SQ. .A.A. TUBING .065 (BLACK) 2 lengths @ 45 inches

I also ordered 4″ and 6″ risers just to be safe. EcoTech sugests the lamps be 8″ off the water and I wanted to be able to adjust as needed.

The bolts I used are listed on Amazon as “Metric Black Oxide 12.9 Alloy Steel Socket Head Cap Screw, Hex Socket Drive, M5-0.80, 40 mm Length”. I bet you can find them around supply shops without buying 100, but oh well. Again, if you want to be able to touch the controls use longer bolts. I also put in small rubber washers between the bolt and the rack.

As for the holes, find a drill but a drill press is better. Measure the middle of the 1″ tube, and then space them out as much as you like. The mounting holes are 9.72″. I would not cross beam the rack as it doesn’t need it, and that just makes for more trouble in lining up the mounting. The units are only about 3lbs each, so weight it not an issue at all.

If you have any questions, let me know.

So, listen my children and you will hear of the weekend of your protagonist – and if you can name where that opening live is from, then you are from New England for sure. It was the best of all bests lined up for a great time.

The ingredients; some off width madness as seen on the internet, amazing weather, some old friends and some new ones, good conversation, a little whiskey and a little less skin on your protagonist this morning, who by the way, is enjoying writing Saramago-esqe, massively joined sentences, while rocking out to Led Zeppelin on the the PATH train, with a huge smile on his face, as he realizes that life is just about as good as it gets, which is pretty damn good; there Saramago, do I need to bring life to a dog character, oh wait, I have. Whoa, even my digression is a little off today. It is going to be a good day.

Left Knee

Back to the tale at hand; the pack forms mid day and decides to remove the metaphorical flesh on Disco Death March, Nathan Named ‘Disco Death Match’. I give it this name because it isn’t a march, it is a match between you and some awesome crazy off-width mess that makes the mind light up and the abs hurt. Up, kneebar, out to the left, up around a crazy corner and, I mean, I have no idea what you call this move; body jam, skin removal, agressive dermabrasion?


It was early Sunday morning, I was with Paul at The Gunks and the climb we wanted to do was occupied a couple parties deep. I am bad at recalling what they are named, because most of the names are a little dated, so I tend to make up new names that are close. This was one was dubbed Snookie’s Revenge, her revenge being that she turned being a loud mouth into a career, just like my Governor. Next door is a 9 that I believe is called Friends and Lovers, “Nathan Name” Wake Me Up When It Starts, also in contention is Paranoid Delusions of Grandeur. Why these names?

I will explain, I mean really, you can see this post goes on, you had probably assumed I would explain, no?

A bit of background, Gunks climbs are old, most of them, the majority of them and were graded in a time when there was nothing higher than a 5.10. This results in most climbers saying things like “A Gunks 9″ or “Historical Grade” with more than a few climbing veterans telling tales of what a 9 used to be like, etc… I get it all. I love it all. Nothing is static, this is all impermanent, even grades are impermanent. Again proving climbing is the embodiment of enlightened philosophies on earth.

Hitting up a 9 at 9:30 am on a Sunday might seem like a good idea, might seem like a bad idea. I like to climb harder grades in the morning, cooler, rested, etc… and it mostly seems like Paul prefers afternoon, so I lead morning, he leads afternoon. Perfect!


Wandering About Climbing

A quick update so you know that at some point I will get my life together and work on some blog updates. I mean if it would rain or something then I would have a home day and get caught up…but…as I was told last night, “you are a real climber now, when you are in a different crag each week…” So I suppose that running around from The Gunks,  to Cannon, to The New (um, we raised some cash for AAC), to Maine, to Rumney, to Maine, back to The Gunks, and maybe CO before the end of the month means what? I am crazy, perhaps… I like to go with adventurous and it is summertime!

When I have a moment, I will buckle down and write up something about each of the trips. I do have notes. The bottom line is that I am having an awesome time and climbing grades I didn’t think were possible, meeting a lot of great people, and spending a serious amount of time outside!

More To Come: Pan From Eaglet

I am working on a full post about my recent trip with Paul to NH for a long climbing weekend. Here is a teaser, the view from on top of the Eaglet Spire

The trip was amazing and I learned a ton about Apline climbing! As I read this week…

One could be forgiven for thinking that climbing is supposed to be fun, but something beyond pleasure drives people to push themselves to exhaustion in such a hostile environment.

Climbing Tips From The New Leader

It has been about 8 months since I start climbing outdoors and started leading as well. In that short time I have learned a few newbie tips that I thought I would share:

  • When placing gear and giving it a tug to check if it is in snug, do not do this towards your face.
  • The sling loop that you attach to your harness can be clipped between your legs to keep it out of the way. I have one from Metolius 
  • When cleaning/following try to clip the protection to your harness or sling before you remove it from the rope, this reduces the chance that you will drop it.
  • Slings are your friends, you need them to reduce rope drag. Be thoughtful about making the rope in as straight a line as possible underneath you. This can be hard, but practice it as rope drag really, is, well, a drag :). I use the Transformer Sling from Mammut
  • Put your rack together with bent gate biners towards the rope as they are much easier to clip. I really love Petzl Spirit‘s as they have a smooth feeling and close actuation, which makes clipping super smooth.
  • You are going to want to wear trad shoes, not some crazy bouldering shoes. Look for a comfy flat slipper type shoe. I wear La Sportiva Mythos and notice that about half the people at the Gunks have this shoe on. I also like the Millet Yalla, but the pair is taking a bit of time to break in.
  • Make sure you practice rappelling setups on the ground, you need to feel solid up there when doing it. You can never practice too much. There are some good how-to’s out there on using an autoblock system that is much safer.
  • Ropes are obviously needed in climbing, I would check out the Mammut series of ropes, they have all variation, dual sheaths for knowing the middle, and all kinds of useful information on rope types and handling.
  • A handy blog post about twin/double/single ropes.
  • I am sure there are lots of great brands out there, but I go with what I know: Patagonia, Black Diamond, Petzl, Mammut, Metolius.
  • Lot’s of people talk about how they dislike the Gri-Gri, dont listen to them. The thing works and works well. It is just heavy so lugging one on a 2 mil approach might not be a good idea when you have 50 biners, 20 slings, 2 ropes, etc… and you are looking for ways to save weight.
  •  There are lots of great packs out there, but this one really is the best I have found – it is rugged, has good capacity, and is not too expensive: REI Pinnacle 
  • Try to avoid telling guides what to do, they don’t like it.
  • Remember that most people are not scientific about information, therefore take everything anecdotal you hear on the wall as a story not fact. Always back it up with real research from trusted sources.
  • If you want to have some fun, tell boulderers to “get a rope” when you walk by them. :)