Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Ladies take to the Hills

“We are now in the mountains
and they are in us,
kindling enthusiasm,
filling every pore and cell of us.”               
        - John Muir

“Mountains are not Stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve,
they are the cathedrals where I practice my religion.”             
       - Anatoli Boukreev

Under the shadow of the high sierras at home in the mountains. Here are a few photos from our recent trip into the playground that is Alabama Hills at the feet of some of the tallest mountains in the 48. Mount Williamson and Whitney loomed over our campground like sleeping buffalo. We actually had wild buffalo outside of our camp in Africa which was not quite as pleasant or comforting. I couldn't sleep, imagining all night a stampede charging my tent. Fortunately this weekend, we had Darwin the terrier to take care of any hostile threats.

Girl climbing weekend was a solid idea. We were preceded by a fresh snow in the hills that stayed only long enough to dust the mountains. By the time we got there, things were warming up. Even though it was chilly, we got away with pretty ideal camping weather. My camp mates might argue with me, but forties are not bad when camping in spring. I've stayed in this area and had frozen water by morning, so we got off easy this time.

Being the legitimate campers that we are, we performed the staples of outdoor living: fire, smores and esoteric stories of ghost, aliens, and coincidences. Stories must be told. And mountains must be climbed.

This is the Shark's Fin. It looks tiny from the road, but it is actually somewhere between 40 and 50 feet.. and look at the backdrop. Never gets old.
My first solo rappel.
Second climbing locale, still easy one pitch but from the top the view was outstanding. Then we got burnt, or at least I did.
one half of the view, looking east
Darwin; Ruthie took good care of him in the back seat. He was a pretty fierce guard dog, but has some emotional issues; I'll leave it at that. Leang's first time camping; and she's still alive.
Nupur drinks beer for breakfast. That's how she sends. And Leang eats 16 egg whites.
Signature stuffed pepper, not camping without them.
Darwin and his tongue. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

This African book

Slice of life from the sketchbook I kept on Kilimanjaro. Don't carry a sketchbook up the mountain, that was stupid.

Monday, April 21, 2014

nugget of pessimistic optimism

Kurt Vonnegut's MO, somehow he manages to be simultaneously jaded and giddy at the same time. He's just light-heartedly chuckling about the hopelessness of the human race. You know, that's all..

I read Cat's Cradle recently in which he makes up a whole religion that doubles back on itself. The first tenant being: “All of the true things I am about to tell you are shameless lies." I walked away with his point being that the lies of religion make people happier than the truth derived from science. 

I wouldn't say I agree, but I still think it is a sound argument. I see it like trying a case without a weapon, DNA, or witnesses. You put together the pieces as best you can, and it seems to make sense with what you have in front of you. But you are working with a short deck. There's this great book with thought-provoking ideas and reasonable assumptions based on a narrow scope of humanity, its actions and effects. Given what society works with, these ideas about religion and science sadly seem to make sense and I can appreciate the casework. But I do think the real picture is a much bigger mystery, outside of the scope of the duality of these two constantly warring sides - religion and science. The unseen knots that bind us, quantum physics, galaxies beyond ours, wave particle paradox and observer effect, the brain, memory, love. None of it can be explained away in terms of science or conventional religion for that matter. Though there may be answers in both, and answers enough for the individual, which is all that matters sometimes, especially if you think that we are only working with one lifetime. Those answers might be enough. For me though, there is comfort in all the questions. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

words from the past live on

He wrote this poem back in the seventies, when gang life was prevalent, drugs abundant and communities falling apart. I always thought that the most valuable thing Victor ever taught me was related to acupuncture and energetics. But there are stories he'd tell sitting around dinner or in his living room about the Civil Rights Movement that were so captivating and inspiring, I feel as if I was there.
Really miss those times.

And I miss these ideals.

As life moves on, the battle to live freely becomes increasingly more difficult. Responsibility, expectation and ambition wear away that lightness of being. You need people around you who see the world this way, who push you on when everything around you is defying your convictions...and that's yet another reason why Victor being gone is a huge terrible hole.

Gonna go eat some sushi tonight with his old buddies to soften the edges.2 years.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Climbing lately

Realized I haven't written about rock climbing lately, you must be biting your nails!  Let me regale you with some shots of our ventures around Southern California where the granite and sandstone run deep.

James and his lady friends at Echo. Learned to multi-pitch on this day! We got up around 150 feet over the beautiful Echo Valley.

Trad master T doing some uncharacteristic sport climbing

Done a couple days of bouldering at the legendary Stoney Point* just north of Los Angeles city. I'm still not very good at bouldering (Bouldering: climbing without a rope "short" routes, usually below 15 feet, usually big round rocks). I'm not muscular enough and falling is not an option once you get halfway through your route, ie when it gets hard. It is, however, exceptional for your balance and technique. I've free climbed things and then gone back to the high walls and been shocked at how much better my form was.

Hiking to Echo is a slug with the ropes and gear. Mostly we all complain the whole way and then eat everything we have the minute we get to the base of the cliff.

Are we there yet?

Made it. Oh, NOW we climb? pshhhh

Ash trying to retrieve gear on a tough route. 

We got the place locked down like a compound

Taking a break in a tree!
And Leang always looking like an REI ad. They should sponsor her.

Dylan and Nak hooking up some anchors at Stoney. He saw a huge tarantula, but I was too slow to get a shot.

I got a good perch to take some action shots.

Some not-to-be missed climbing links:

A nice little doc about Stoney
Climbing without a rope, in that dept. no one can touch Honnold