Sunday, August 16, 2009

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The City of Rocks

It's wild to think that The City was a landmark on the California Trail, and at one time may have been quite a busy city. Rumor has it gold is buried under some of the rock outcrops. Today, you need to reserve a campsite on the weekend and if you climb in the inner city you may not see anyone.

The City south of the Slabbage Patch formation.

Aaron enjoying Wheat Thin 5.7, a mega classic on Elephant Rock.

The Slabbage Patch has two cool 10a sport climbs on them, both put up by Canadian road-trippers in the late 80's. The better one, I Can't Believe It, has sweet patina face climbing with a nice roof at the top.

Our warm up on the third day, Tow Away Zone 5.10a. Aaron cruised it after I had my foot slip off and my blue Alien worked mighty fine!

The Animal Cracker formation has a huge flake which runs over half the face. The climb on the edge of it has everything from fingers to off-width.

Start of Animal Cracker 5.10a. Just above the finger crack the flake gets really thin, and sounds a little spooky. Then you get perfect hands to off-width which ends in a roof.

The overlooked Harvest 5.10d.

I was hoping the stance I'm going to would be a bit better, as the stemming section leads to the crux overlap, which is really steep.

Placing way too much gear was a mistake in this section, even though small stoppers and blue and green Aliens don't inspire great confidence. The insecure finger jams and slabby feet soon were too much for me to hold onto. After the fingers section there is a good hand jam before the wall gets back towards vertical and is easier. However, an awkward OW slot with a .75 inch crack in the back leads to the top. After a fall and one hang I got to the top happy to have tried a harder trad line.

On our last day we went to Elephant rock again and climbed Rye Crisp 5.8, overheard at the crag to be, "one of the best 5.8's in the Western Universe.", and Just Say No 5.9, 5 bolts in a 100 feet. Then we finished up a half day at the King on the Throne's, Stan's Roof. A short, but stout 5.10.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

2010 Census

With no jobs in town all winter, I was looking for anything. When I called the ad in the paper for 2010 Census takers I had no idea what I was getting myself into. The first thing I had to do in the interview, was take a basic skill test. I got one wrong of 30, with questions as easy as finding yourself on a map. A few weeks after the test I got a call about the job and had to turn it down because I was going to be in Connecticut. After being told there were no other training times, I got a second call telling me the opposite, and I took the job.

Having this be my first government job I had no idea how silly the system is. With our week long training we used one whole day to fill out paperwork and get fingerprinted for a background check. After four hours my hand was starting to hurt filling out what seemed to be the same document after another, asking for the same info. I don't think efficiency is a strong point of theirs.

Another four days of training let all of these wonderful items into our lives, and we finally figured out what we would be doing. We were to take a GPS point of everyone's front door, and mark down there physical address as best we could. This would enable them next year to sent the Census to everyone in the mail. The only problem in Teton County is that most folks have PO Boxes. They tell us that they don't need that info, but I know I don't get any mail that is addressed to my physical address.

The HHC, or hand held computer, the first of many acronyms I would learn in training. The training was very basic stuff and easy for me. I even had a chance to show the instructor somethings about using the GPS. I do think if the government is spending so much money on the Census that they should hire an editor for the training manual. I have never seen so many typos and contradictions in a manual like that before. It's kinda unbelievable.

Notice the small gold stripe at the bottom of the HHC. That is for the security access by fingerprint. Don't want people looking at a list of addresses now do we? The best part is the security question after you pass the fingerprint about a secure network! I can't wait for the 2020 Census, where rumor is, they have a retina scan in the works.

As a rock climber my hands take a toll. Having just climbed on the notoriously coarse granite at J-Tree, and sharp Dolomite of Sinks Canyon, my fingerprints are going away. Also, the fine grit abuse of the indoor rock gym, really helps wear the tips down. This all leads to me not being able to log into my HHC. It rejects me as invalid user, and after 5 attempts it logs you off for 15 minutes. Then every attempt after it locks up also. This has come to be an issue, because if I reformat my computer it will erase the hours of work. I can't stand that idea, so I been playing with it. After about 30 failed attempts I got in the other day, and managed to get some work done. Now it seems to be hit or miss until I finish this area and can send off the data. But today, with 30 degree temps and rain snow mix it's okay it won't let me it!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Joshua Tree California

As fall came on last year I started to think of Yosemite. While looking for partners I tried to convince my friend Leif to come along. Yosemite came and went without Leif being able to join me. This spring it looked like the tables had turned on me. Leif was heading to Joshua Tree National Park, and I was starting training to work for the Census. With only days left before spring break in Jackson Hole, where the town disappears and elk run wild, I had to join Leif on his trip to J-Tree. The six days in between training was plenty of time to go to California, especially with an $89 plane ticket. The 16 hour blast down there and the return travel from LA to Jackson was well worth the four days of climbing.

Leif walking up Double Cross 5.7+ on our first day. We had a mellow warm up of about a grade a day. My most desperate lead of the trip was my first trad lead of the season on a stout 5.8 to the left of Double Cross.

After our late night arrival, and brutally windy night at Jumbo Rocks Campground our first night, we found a sweet place at the Ryan Campground for the rest of our stay.

The next day we started off with a Walk on the Wild Side, a 5.7+, two pitch, slab climb. The spaced nature of the bolts, all placed on lead in J-Tree tradition, made for added excitement to the relatively mellow 5.7 grade.

There is something about slab that just doesn't feel solid, maybe it's the feeling you always have of slowly sliding down.

We picked it up a bit in the afternoon and climbed Touch and Go 5.9, and the classic Pope's Crack 5.9 in the Echo wall area. The main West face is one of my favorite looking walls at J-Tree.

In the desert I think everything is out to get you, especially the cactus. Who knows how the bat got into that situation.

The classic, but too short, Room to Schroom. It took us a while to get our bearings and find this climb, but after and hour and half of wondering we did it.

Even further back in the Wonderland of Rocks area, we found the non-obvious entrance to the Big Horn Mating Grotto, home to 4 star, 5.10 crack climbs. Our first route in the Grotto was the Dangling Woo Li Master. The intimidating route was all I hoped it would be, and left me laughing aloud as I made the anchor at the top, not even believing how good it was.

Next, Leif led Caught Inside on a Big Set. Steep crack climbing with cool footwork then a straight in hand crack, pretty ideal.

Three routes were enough for us for the day and on the way out we got a nice sunset.

On our last day we were tired, and decided to take a walk back to the Wonderland to avoid the crowds on a Saturday. We went out to Lenticular Dome and climbed Mental Physics 5.7+.

For our last climb of the trip was the Red Obelisk. We found the tower wandering around and had to climb it. The bottom of the 70 foot tower has a window through the rock you can look to the other side!

One of the cooler formations we saw in the Wonderland was the Freak Brothers Dome. A route called I Can't Believe its a Girdle traverses all three brothers.

Easter Sunday left me with a flight from Los Angeles to Salt Lake, then the drive to Jackson.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Colin and Marcella's Wedding

I have been back in Connecticut for my brother's wedding this week. Today Colin and Marcella are flying out on their honeymoon in Nashville. They are going to see Del McCoury at the Grand Old Opry, and then head to Graceland. They had a great wedding, and I am very happy Colin found such a great girl. Best of luck to them both.

Dave, Me, Mom, Aunt Debi, Petra & Casey

Colin & Marcella at the rehearsal dinner

CJ, Marcella's son

The Church

Just after getting hitched

Me, Petra, Casey, Dave & Uncle Gerry

Dad, Jim Tobin and his wife. I was given the family name.

Clicking on any photo brings you to my Picasa gallery with more pics.