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Trip Journal

I Got An Elbow Tenotomy

By Climbing, Staying Healthy, The Interior, Trip JournalNo Comments

This won’t be a very involved or long post, because typing is really awkward. I just got out of my very minor elbow surgery, and I’m not supposed to really do anything for the next week or so with my right hand. It was performed by Dr. Chad Roghair with Cal Sports Sports and Orthopaedic Institute. Both my mom and brother have had their shoulders put back together at their office, so they come with plenty of trustworthy testimonials. The procedure went as well as can be, and in a week I can start what will hopefully be a pretty quick and aggressive rehab. Right now, it’s a little achey and sore, and I’ve got a sling to remind me not to do anything with it. Not doing anything totally sucks, but it’s quite precisely what the doctor ordered… I hadn’t really thought about the implications of a bum arm. I’ve broken my right hand a few times, so I’m pretty accustomed to brushing my teeth and wiping my butt with ol’ Lefty, but I didn’t really think about the fact that I can’t really wash dishes, or drive a stickshift. I guess I’ll be doing a lot of abs. As I heal from the surgery, I’ll start gathering some of the resources I’ve been looking at to gain a better understanding of the latest in tendon repair. Dr. Natasha Barnes, Dr. Carrie Cooper, and Dr. Emily Noe have all sent me stuff to look at, but it’s a lot…

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The Souls Linger at Soul Slinger

By Bouldering, Musings, Trip JournalNo Comments

It’s the year 2020, and I still can’t do Soulslinger. I’ve waged war on that thing, with fresh skin and good conditions, many more times than I can count. I’ve heard it called “soft” or “easy” 3 times for every time someone said they found it hard. It was my buddy Dan Kovner’s first V9, and he said he did it in 4 tries. I just learned it was Ethan Pringle’s first V9, and he only needed 2 attempts. I am certain that there is no climb V9 or below that I’ve tried as many times as Soulslinger without success. I won’t complain, because we’ve been resting our heads at an off-grid cabin near Mono Lake. The place belongs to a photographer friend who works almost exclusively from a small airplane, making beautiful and thought-provoking images of the American southwest. His name is Mike Light, and I owe him thanks for much more than a stay at the cabin. During a previous visit to the cabin, I grabbed one of the photography books off the shelf. It happened to be called Invisible: Covert Operations and Classified Landscapes by Trevor Paglen, and its pages depicted that which we–civilians–are not supposed to see: “black sites” in the desert, spy satellites in the night sky, and documents pertaining to CIA shell corporations. Mike told me that Trevor had used this very cabin to take images of the night sky for the book. It’s the year 2020, and it’s an election year. It’s the…

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As Years Go, 2019 Was a Bit Shite

By Musings, Trip JournalNo Comments

As most of you know, I love doing lots of stuff and then collapsing in an exhausted heap. Right now I feel like collapsing in an exhausted heap, but I don’t feel as though I did anything. It’s like the difference between swimming and treading water…2019 felt like a year of trying not to drown. OK, maybe not the whole year. 2019 began well enough. The trailer was parked near Hueco Tanks, plugged in to the grid at Gleatherland. We climbed a few things, made new friends, solidified old friendships, survived an Emergency at the Border, and we even got to take my parents out to White Sands in New Mexico. As spring began, we hitched up and moved back to Castle Dale, UT, so that we might do some climbing in Joe’s Valley. Mayor Danny invited us to park the trailer on his land, and the next few weeks passed in a blur of hiking, climbing, and planning the Joe’s Valley Bouldering Festival for fall. Tumors and Tendinosis Then my dad got cancer, specifically Angioimmunoblastic T-Cell Lymphoma (AITL). The disease first manifested in late March as severe back pain and night sweats, which were unexplained by any imaging or blood tests. After a month or so of worsening nerve pain and a loss of 30 pounds, they finally biopsied a lymph node, found the AITL, and began chemotherapy. On the day of his first round of chemo, my dad was barely able to stand without assistance. Already struggling with…

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John Sherman. Midnight Lightning. And me.

Hello Again

By Climbing, Trip JournalNo Comments

I don’t really know what to say here these days. It’s been so long since we regularly updated, and it seems like so much has been happening that even the thought of sitting down to write about it feels like a distraction. I’ve also fallen out of practice when it comes to writing, which makes this here blog editor a downright daunting place. So I’m writing this post for the sake of writing a post, and I don’t really know where I’m headed. When I feel like I’m done writing, I’ll throw a few pictures in or something. Let’s see, I’m back to climbing again. The elbow is still quite limiting, and I have finally made an appointment to have it looked at with imaging and all. While I can climb most things that I could a year ago without really noticing any pain, certain pinches and narrow compression moves can really piss it off. While I’m happy to be climbing again, it’s been a long time since I could train power at 100%, and I’m not really enjoying the long plateau. That said, since we’ve been in the Bay Area for a while now, we have sort of embraced the weekend warrior culture and gone on little weekend jaunts to Yosemite and Kings Canyon. Some cool climbing-related things: Verm was back in the Valley trying Midnight Lightning again, this time coming back from a torn Achilles. It’s impossible to overstate what a dream it is to be invited to…

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Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to work they go...

Sloughing the Slumber

By Birthday Challenges, Climbing, Trip JournalNo Comments

It’s July. It was April when we last checked in. How’s it going?  Today is Decaf: Day 2 (or rather, it was when this was originally written), because my birthday challenge this year includes a “dry July” and no caffeine, so I’m a little out of it. Mostly I’m wondering what the hell it is that people do when they get out of bed in the morning, if coffee isn’t part of that routine.  Life took one of those turns for us, and we now are settled in the Bay Area for the rest of the summer. I may get into that story, but it’s a long one, and doesn’t yet have a conclusion. At least things are stable for now, and we’re slowly but surely getting back into the groove. We left Utah at the start of May. A week later, Vikki was flying to South Korea to film for Arc’teryx (film should be complete in the next few weeks, stay tuned folks). At the end of May, I flew to SLC to read a teleprompter for UTopia, and then drove the truck from Castle Dale back to California. The purpose of the trip was to retrieve our hard drives, clothes, climbing gear, and computer. I ended up driving 950+ miles in a 14-hour push, making a slight detour near Ely to check out Lamoille Canyon. The Summer Outlook The first thing you should know is that my elbow is a bit of a mess. I knew that the…

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The Past, Present, and Future of Joe’s Valley and its Bouldering Festival: From the Mouth of Steven Jeffery

By Bouldering, Climbing, Stuff We're Psyched On, Trip Journal2 Comments

Politics. It’s just a word, but these days it’s not a word that is positively associated. Politics have never been pretty, but the 2016 campaign season felt especially traumatic for our country, and no matter how you feel about the outcomes, I think it’s fair to say that the ends (putting a candidate in an office, also known as winning) did not justify the means (amplifying divisions). The seeds of polarization were sown a long, long time ago, but 2016 was when a storm of perverted incentives caused our divisions to shoot skyward and blot out the light. So we reaped.  America the Colosseum, Blue Donkeys vs. Red Elephants, winner take all. No Purple Allowed. One could imagine congressional leaders announcing that “It has become necessary to destroy the US in order to save it.” Polite disagreement and nuanced reasoning were unfashionable. Like stepping into a very loud tavern, my friends and I agreed that sobriety was of no use. If we were going to keep our heads, when all about us were losing theirs, we would need strong drink. A lot of it. A bender, if you will. I do loudly and un-proudly declare that, like many in my cohort, the daily outrages produced and perpetuated by pundits and president alike provided easy excuses for apoplectic paralysis. Hence the aforementioned bender (which, I should mention, is more hyperbolic than alcoholic…don’t try to make me go to rehab. No, no, no!). What to do, then? I’m still drinking (for health…

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Acknowledgement…of Rad and Bad

By Musings, Trip JournalNo Comments

The truck wouldn’t start the other day. I needed to go into town to run errands before picking Vikki up from Riverton. It finally started after a half-hour of coaxing and cursing. The thing about living on the road that you have to watch out for, is that your vehicle is your life. Since we opted for the truck-trailer combo, we do have a little bit of separation, but the truck is still pretty frickin’ important. Thankfully, Bert’s been a rather reliable bloke, and, 6.5 years after the fact, I still marvel at our luck in finding a 7.3l International Powerstroke engine in such good condition. So do most of the mechanics we’ve taken it to. Thing about diesels is, they’ll give you no trouble if you keep them happy, but they do need a little more preventative maintenance than, for example, my old Honda Accord. Diesel engines need to be warmed up before they work properly, so when starting up, there’s a whole system of electronics that heats the engine cylinders before the starter gets them pumping. The glow plugs, as they’re called, aren’t necessary when it’s hot out, but the truck won’t start without them in winter, as Vikki once discovered on a frigid morning in Rocktown, GA. Anyway, the truck had a bad glow plug relay, which is the part that controls the flow of electricity to the plugs themselves. It’s been bad for a while (by the way, I recommend everyone get one of those little…

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The Muddy Waters of Trailer Insurance

By Food for thought, Trip Journal3 Comments

We haven’t been able to leave Berkeley yet, solely because we don’t have our trailer insured yet. Since we’ve run into significantly more trouble than we imagined trying to get our trailer insured, I figured I’d write down what we’ve learned so other people might avoid the same pitfalls in the future. The details: We now have a converted cargo trailer. The trailer is a 2002 Pace American cargo trailer  (14-feet total in length, including the nose, and 8-feet wide). Although it was already converted into a livable space before we bought it, we completely gutted it to fit our needs. What’s the problem, you ask? AAA: we went to AAA first because we’ve been with them for years. Since we had an itemized spreadsheet of everything we bought for the trailer – they said they could insure it, if it was stationary at our home address for over half the year. Well, that’s not going to happen. Next… Progressive: they are the #1 major RV insurance company, but a converted cargo trailer is a dealbreaker for them. At this point we asked — who should we call next?! Farmer’s Insurance: a quick no – because it’s a converted cargo trailer. The problem, it turns out, is these major companies will happily insure a travel trailer that you have customized – but it has to have started as a travel trailer. The fact that our trailer was a cargo/utility trailer in a previous life does not jive with their policies….

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Renovations

By Trip JournalOne Comment

When I was in high school, I got my driver’s license in secret. After I passed my driver’s test, I went over to my friend Ari’s house, where we’d often gather to beat each other’s egos senseless at the foosball table. I’ll never forget the joy of being able to smugly suggest that we drive down to 7-11, at which my friends’ faces became a hilarious melange of excitement and indignant frustration that I’d managed to keep a secret for 6 months. The thing about talking too much about plans is, you lose lots of time and energy building a castle in the sky, instead of just building the damn castle. As Reinhold Messner famously* stated, “Every word a castle builder speaks is a brick that could have been laid.” Anyway, remember when products would come to market, instead of half-baked ideas coming to Kickstarter? I’m a little hesitant to talk about our latest mini-proj, the build-out of the new trailer, but I saw something awesome today that I wanted to share in the form of a blog post, and I can’t really give an update without mentioning it. We’re building out the new trailer. If you follow our pictures instead of our blogwords, then you already knew that. 400 amp-hours, y’all! Anyway, the awesome thing I saw was on 8a.nu this morning. A Japanese competition climber, who started climbing on real rocks only a few months ago, just did an 8C/V15 in Japan. He says he trains very intuitively:…

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Our Latest Release – Pottery?

By Adventure, Trip Journal3 Comments

If you had shown us this video as we were preparing to go on the road back in 2011, we would be very, very confused. We would have had no reference points for anything contained therein. I don’t think we even knew what “micaceous” meant.* If you told us 6 years ago that we would be the ones to make the video… I’ve pointed out in the past that climbing is a wonderful way to access adventure. I’m trying to sort out how I feel about the fact that climbing in general, and our own climbing in particular, has played a diminishing role in our adventures per se, lately. But that’s for another day’s musings. Today, I want to tell you about the guy in the video, Felipe Ortega. He is: An Apache medicine man Recognized by the Smithsonian Responsible for reviving the Jicarilla Apache tradition of making bean pots from micaceous clay A widely sought-after teacher of said tradition, who charges $1500 for his tutelage A brilliant and wonderfully articulate cultural interpreter (Link is a PDF) Humble, and utterly hilarious, when the mood strikes A cancer patient in a grim situation That last one is pretty significant. Stage IV prostate cancer¹ had him with one foot in the grave, but when we met him in the fall of 2015, he had jumped right back out and was as vigorous as a man 20 years his junior. Since then his condition has oscillated between what might be called “fair,” and…

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