Even after a huge feast of pulled pork earlier this week, I decided to make a ham last night. It came out great! 10 pounds of delicious delicious ham.
Now we have all sorts of leftover ham. And I’m excited to say that I’ll finally be able to dive into my new Asian cookbook. Tonight I’m going to pick up a few scallions from the food store on the way home from work and then I’m going to make some fried rice. It looks simple enough: egg, diced ham, brown rice, peanut oil, etc.
If I can remember, I’ll snap a few photos and post about it tomorrow.
In other news, this past Tuesday I hit up the climbing gym with Irene, Pete, and Jesse. While there I tried a frighteningly difficult climb that is rumored to be somewhere in the high 5.12 low 5.13 area. There’s one move near the top that requires a powerful left hand bump from one sloper to another. I tried the move about half a dozen times unsuccessfully.
This morning, two days after those 6 attempts, my left arm still feels destroyed.
*NOTE: IF YOU ARE USING INTERNET EXPLORER, THE FORMATTING OF THIS WEBSITE WILL PROBABLY BE SERIOUSLY MESSED UP*
I took the day off from work today (Friday) to head out to the gunks for rock climbing with Jesse, Kay, Devin, and Trainer.
This was a pretty big deal for a few reasons. First, I’ve never taken a day off from work in order to climb. Second, I’ve never been to the gunks… and the Gunks are huge. Physically and iconically. Here’s some info on the gunks.
‘Gunks’ is short for Shawangunk. The Shawangunk ridge is located in NY and is considered the premier climbing location in New England. According to Wikipedia, ‘Shawangunk’ has its roots from the Danish word for “smokey air.” There are a few theories as to why it was named in this way, but these stories are not nearly as exciting as the physical rock.
According to Trainer the ridge was formed when the North American Tectonic Plate smashed into the African Tectonic Plate. The mayhem that ensued resulted in a wall of fantastic rock jutting out from the otherwise flat terrain. Interestingly, Trainer also pointed out that when the rock, which had formed in nice horizontal layers, was violently pushed upwards, it tilted 22 degrees. So all of the faces and horizontals are 22 degrees off the horizontal (or vertical). The rock itself is a conglomerate of sandstone and quartz that overlays a bunch of shale. As the ridge was battered by the elements the shale wore away and the quartz and sandstone stayed… this resulted in wicked awesome overhangs perfect for rock climbing.
We left the House of Rock at about 5:30 and got to the cliff base a few hours later. The ridge itself was shrouded in fog so during our approach we didn’t have a solid understanding of how mammoth the ridge really was. While we lost the awe factor we gained the Lord of the Rings factor. The fog made the area appear quite surreal.
The veterans brought us over to a simple 5.7 and 5.8 to start. (The names escape me at the moment, but I’m sure that Devin will comment to this post and enlighten us all as to the names of all climbs climbed.) Devin lead route #1 and then dropped a top rope at route #2.
Now it should be said that Devin gets great pleasure out of setting up crack climbs. Cracks are deadly for the typical gym rat because most rock climbing gyms are not conducive to crack training. Gym climbers are typically much stronger at face climbing. Since I am just beginning to explore the outdoors, but can rock out on gym like face climbs, Devin enjoys stumping me with cracks. In the picture above the first climb we worked on drives straight up the center where the tree is. The second climb can be seen over to the right where the second rope is located.
Here’s a picture of Jesse rocking out on climb #2:
Jesse in action.
Once those two climbs were completed I lead my first route: a 5.2 (don’t laugh. leading is complicated). Leading is 50% climbing and 50% mind-game. With Devin’s support and the physical ease of the 5.2 climb, I could focus on the concepts of placing gear.
Leading was interesting. It will be a minor miracle when I can lead a 5.10. This is a picture taken from a ledge so large you could easily park four Buicks across it.
Mike’s first trad route, note the weak gear placement.
After whipping this out we played on a route with a sweet overhang also lead by Devin. Check it out:
Please note, the little blue dot in the upper left is me and the handful of little colorful dots at the base of the cliff are Devin, Trainer, and Kay. This route was pretty much as fun as you can get for a 5.7.
I finished up the day with one final crack climb that encouraged some funky finger jams. I ‘cheated’ on a few of the finger jams by retreating to the adjacent rock face and leaning back off the crack… using it more like an edge then a crack. I could feel Devin’s disappointment in me. Even still, it was a fun time.
Devin and Mike D, relaxing pre-crack.
Today was a feast of fat. Breakfast was a typical buffet: eggs, potatos, cream of rice… Lunch consisted of a Royal Red Robin Burger, whose toppings include bacon, lettuce, a fried egg, and grease. It was delicious. Dinner was a new york strip steak with a side of spinach and pecan pie for dessert from Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. Wow? yes. steak served in a platter of sizzling butter? yes please. in regards to food, today was ideal.
In regards to work, today was not ideal. I did very little. Really, I did nothing at all outside of move some wires in a terminal block and dust off our equipment. A few of our team mates weren’t ready for us yet, so I paced from about 6am to 4pm. Tomorrow should be better.
Also, check out Pete’s climbing pictures from our adventures at Main Cliff.
I am down in the dumps! and it stinks!
The reasons for my current downedness are as follows:
1. My Advanced Dynamics Class final is next Wednesday and it will be Brutal
2. Texas looms
3. The next nine days are already scheduled to the brim with mandatory activities.
Sander comments that I really can’t complain because the classes and such are my own decision. He has a good point and I’ll do what I can to limit my whining.
< whining >
Didn’t we all complain about undergrad though? we didn’t really have to take those classes either.
< /whining >
Basically what I’m trying to say here is that I’ve decided to buy a full rack of rockclimbing traditional equipment. What better way to lighten my mood then to buy hundreds of dollars worth of climbing equipment?
click more for the plan…
This weekend was A+ and not just because it contained nearly 10 hours of rock climbing.
Saturday I hit up the rock gym with Mechanical Pete and Simon the German. My arms were miserably sore from a Friday workout, but my hands were steel traps. I attempted a few 12′s, but didn’t have nearly as much success as last Thursday. I did come to a major realization regarding the 5.12 with which I have been struggling.
There is one particular move which is so perfectly awkward that it’s nearly impossible to do slowly. I’ve found that the discomfort level increases rapidly, almost to an asymptote, at that one move. See red line on graph:
The only way I can get through the crux is if I ride the comfort momentum and swing through the moment of difficulty, not unlike bridging the current spike on a MosFet. Note the blue line on the graph above. With this realization, I expect little difficulty in the future.
Saturday night I checked out Big Shot (a billy joel cover band) at the bar Rookies in Cromwell. I wasn’t entirely impressed with the bar, but the band was top notch. Their sound was so perfectly full. The singer sounded exactly like Billy Joel and the bassist had the most unbelievable look of apathy for most of the show.
Sunday, I zipped over to Main Cliff at Ragged Mountain and played with the routes Y.M.C. and Carey’s Corner. Devin, Irene, Mechanical Pete, Tony, Paulette, and Nick were there. It was a climbing party.
Carey’s Corner is a route that follows two unpleasent offwidths. An offwidth is a crack that is just a little too big to use a hand jam. Instead, you kind of have to stick half your body into the crack and torque your body to push against each side. Then you inch your way to victory any way you can.
It was a great weekend.
If you want to see extremely awesome bouldering, check out this very well produced video of a climbing competition at a gym in Salt Lake City.
It really captures the adrenaline and power of the climbers.
1. I took a vacation day today so that I can study for an advanced dynamics mid-term that I have tonight
2. I went climbing last night… and had the most amazing climbing night.. of ever. After warming up and stretching out, I tried the 5.12 that has been royally kicking my butt. It defeated me. Now usually after I try that climb my fingers have turned into a soft putty and are unable to lift even the lightest of objects, but yesterday… yesterday my fingers were showing unnatural resilience. So I jumped back on that thing and failed again. Even after two attempts, my fingers were stainless steel, so I tried a third time. As I reached the final move, my left hand gripping an awkward block, my right hand clenching a tight crimp, I realized… my fingers are not the least bit tired. I finished the move and rejoiced at my accomplishment.
But I wasn’t done. I felt strong.
So I jumped on another 11d/12a on a different wall that I had been unable to successfully climb. I smoked it. No problem. Then I jumped on a third 5.12 that is known for giving young children wicked nightmares of inadequacy. I reached the very last hold before falling from the wall.
Five 5.12 attempts: two first ascents, three darn close.
The night was marvelous.
I’m relatively happy at the moment. And while I’m not sure why, it probably has a lot to do with a hearty rock climbing session last night. Jesse and I worked laps. What a rush.
In just 20-30 minutes our hands were reduced to silly putty… barely able to hold onto a grip the size of a telephone handset. Our forearms pumped and expanded to near Popeye proportions.
When you do laps usually by the last few your mind isn’t really thinking much. Instead, your body just performs the moves. It’s crazy.
I’m headed to Atlanta, Georgia for a week long exposition. I should be returning next Thursday evening… at which point I’ll probably just get up and leave for a week in Texas. I will do what I can to post regularly or semi-regularly.