Wednesday, October 29, 2014


San Andres Fault runs through this blog post. Ever wonder what that actually looks like. I have, ever since this song at camp when I was a wee one. And I am pleased to announce it's not a giant soul echoing abyss. There is the opportunity for soul searching in the presence of these unusual rock structures. Jetting out of the fault's fissure, they are at least menacing enough to earn the name Devil's Punchbowl. 

Trekking down one side of the hill into the bowl, you can actually intimately hear what's happening on the other side. I could hear a guy's heavy breathing from probably half a football field away. On that note, why do we always use football fields as yardsticks? Like this game is that entrenched in the common psyche. I met a Texan who called me a liar when I said I didn't watch football. I guess I do, I just don't know it.

The best thing to do in this punchbowl is not listen to heavy breathing, go to the library for that. *
Clearly the Devil has designated this area for rock climbing.

Sandstone is a little blah. The slab walls get mentally challenging, but the grit of the sand gives you enough sticking power to surprise yourself.

Meanwhile the shoes are getting sanded, which is cruel and unusual.

The funniest thing about climbing here is the natural stadium seating across the way on the hiking path. Hikers enjoy watching the climbs and clap when you get to the top. Gives you that extra feeling of heroics.

This corner route was an excellent place for trad newbies like Aric and I to practice gear placement. It's a mixed route. There are bolts along the wall, but they are around 10 to 20 feet apart, so if you fall it would be a long way down. Placing the spring loaded cams in the cracks, puts the protection closer together and if you place them wrong and fall, the backup bolts will catch you to prevent a complete free fall. Anyway, that sounds pretty horrific I'm sure to a non-climber, but a good relatively safe stepping stone for someone wanting to climb in the Sierras. That's me.

BHD getting over the crux. Coming on the face of this was so hard, because there was nothing at all to hold on to.

Back tat ... off.

That's proof that I was there pulling the rope. Actually this was the most nerve wracking part of the day. We had two routes set up side by side. We were cleaning up for the day. I taught Aric how to rappel down on one rope, so he went down. Then a hundred feet up, I had to get to the other rope to take it down, but I had no way to get over there. So I had to suck it up and climb over without any rope or anything attached to me. Hope the mother isn't reading this.

(pics & *miles)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Alex Honnold

If you have watched 60 minutes or any sensationalized TV news recently, you've probably heard of Alex Honnold. He's the super mellow, Sacramento-native, who's been living out of a van for years, climbing the vertical cliffs of Yosemite... without a rope. In the rock climbing world, he's like a demigod. Even the people who hate him are in awe. They think he's not long for this world, and man I hope they are wrong. But what human never makes a mistake. How long can you continue to gamble on absolutely zero human error at 2000 feet?

Vertigo about ready to commence:

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

the art of ice climbing

see that double entendre there.

With the season change, I keep thinking about getting back up to the mountains. Before the leaves are gone, we must get one more camp, one more cold morning around the campfire.

Ice climbing season is coming too; time will tell how warm of a winter it is, but if the falls are frozen, we are going to strap up. Maybe these sketches will get you inspired for some cold weather adventures. What is endearingly called: a suffer-fest!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

maps, polar exploration, and scurvy

I've been back at my map series, just finishing my latest on polar exploration after reading: Albanov's journey, Shackleton's voyage (even though it was the Antarctic), Nansen, and seems like there was one more. This map is lightly based on those journeys on foot around the polar areas of Franz Josef Land, Svalbard, Novaya Zemlya in the Barents Sea.

I posted this picture on instagram and got linked back to all of these awesome maps! Map heaven. Indulge me.

From left to right: @jenmfarrell_, @patriciacrowther78, @all_about_them_books, @seannasbooks,, @lilyandbooks, @travel_books_life, @bookswithdylan, @ughfiction