Alone, Not Alone

I gave a 25 minute slideshow about my Alaska trip to some middle schoolers out towards the suburbs.  I think it went well. I believe I told my story okay.

A colleague started the first half of the presentation describing the myriad types of climbing. I provided the ‘alpine mountaineering’ aspect in context of my trip in June 2011 to Denali. The students are reading a novel this Summer about a young mountaineer and his travails.

What stuck with me from my walk down the upper glacier from the camp at 14k feet was this feeling of ‘alone/not aloneness’. Going downhill is always relatively easy, finding comfort in a cold uncaring universe is certainly more challenging.

I was in a white-out cloud and the snow was deep, there were bamboo wands every hundred feet or so, I didn’t have a tent. Looking back I could see my tracks. Looking forward there was whiteness. I followed the wands. I found an old camp at 9,8k or so a few miles later. Ski tracks emerged. The crevasses began to show themselves more frequently. I spotted a camp on the lower glacier by the North East Fork. I had to jump a couple of questionable snow bridges. I saw a red tent, and another, they were speaking Spanish. By the red tent there were skis. I was on snowshoes. I would wait for the Tennesseeans. Eventually they’d be here. I would join their rope and cross the lower glacier before dawn.

A Bigger Cloud

Fathers and Sons

I was having a hard time finding a video from the Fathers and Sons Wall on Denali, and then I realized it was because the blog post I’d read (and subsequent video) was actually an ascent by Raphael Slawinski & Joshua Lavigne of ‘Common Knowledge’ (V, WI 6R) on the Washburn Face, across from Motorcycle Hill.

At any rate, it’s a good write up of their climb (here) and there is a nice photo of the Fathers and Sons Wall (here).

And I did find a couple of compete writeups from Alpine Journals by Ian Parnell (here) and a shorter writeup (here).

And the Z.IPA got bottled last night.  So that’s good.

 

All safe

Heard from L that B&K are safe save some cold toes. Will post some of my photos of Alaska to Flickr probably today.

Went running with M yesterday on the river and up the hill on my 1200m repeat loop. It’ll be nice to become a runner again. I suppose that’s the constant in this life, being reborn by trials of fire, or in my case pedestrianism.

My best to Evan on his XC two wheeled journey, I hope the weather stays clear and that it’s all downhill from Wyoming.

Alive in Alaska

So the good news is that I’m alive in Alaska in Talkeetna. I arrived via single prop Beaver bush plane this afternoon after a long night slogging across a thankfully frozen glacier with some Tennessean compatriots I met at camp 11k as I was hiking down.

Sadly, I have some sort of Bronchitis, which is what brought me back down here to near sea level. Ben and Koysta still hope to finish at least the Upper West Rib, hopefully sooner than later, though Ben has already soloed the West Buttress.

It is warm and green here which is a nice change of pace compared to burning glacier sun, hot/cold & snowing, & sometimes incredibly cold. Hopefully I’ll spend a couple of days here to recover from the grippe and be on my way back East, as I do miss my family and friends.

California Plate Tectonics

Day 0: Arrive SFO. C and I drink some beers with E overlooking the city, go pickup M, drop off E, go to bed.

Day 1: Wake up, it’s sunny in West Berkeley, get an espresso at Cafe Trieste, hike 8 miles with M on Sea View and Quarry trails in Tilden Regional Park. Call GTO. Run with GTO and his roommate up Strawberry Canyon trail up to MSRI, sunset over the bay, dusky redwood single track.  Roasted root vegetables.

Day 2: Wake up, sunny again, get an espresso at Trieste, M takes bus to the city. Run with GTO down past Berkeley Marina, past Golden Fields, out to the East Shore State Park with cool sculptures by the water, loop back via Cesar Chavez State Park. Dinner and drinks with E in the Mission. M doesn’t like Pirates, who does? He enjoys the ambiance of Latin American Club.

Day 3: Drive to Sugarloaf Ridge SP in Sonoma and hike for a few hours. Drive to Napa.  Buy a boat, I dare you.  Burgers & a bottle of Malbec at Gott’s Roadside. Ritual espresso from Oxbow Market  & a nice hand pour over Costa Rican single origin for M.

Day 4: Hike up to the Eucalyptus grove over the dirt track on Dwight with R&M.  Swung from the rope swing, hiked up then down from the insane house at the top overlooking Berkeley & the bay.  Colin Farrell is Crocket, living the dream.

Day 5: Pt. Reyes National Park with friends. Nice 10 mile hike down to the cliffs and shore overlooking the lighthouse. Drove to Marshall, drank Lagunitas, ate oysters, watched sunset. Land of milk and honey.

Day 6: Run with GTO on a nice big loop up Dwight up and over back below Sea View in Tilden, down Quarry, and back around. About a two hour run.  G Bombed down trails at the end onto the Berkeley dirt track. Vietnamese dinner with E; last night in SF.

Day 7: Fly to SD. Climb with L&B at a giant new gym.

Day 8: Hike Mt. Baldy via the “Baldy Bowl” (elev. 10,064′), about 8.4 miles roundtrip, about 3,900′ gain most of it in the last mile up the bowl. Crampons and ice piolets recommended and used. Took a bit more than 4 hours car to car.

Day 9: Run along coast south through La Jolla down to Wind & Sea beaches and back, about an hour. Drive to Joshua Tree & camp under a full moon; hear coyotes yipping.

Day 10: Start day climbing by 07:30 at Hemingway Buttress (east face, right) B leads a hard 5.9 to warm up (‘For Whom the Poodle Tolls’) & then ‘Head Over Heals’. I pull the bolt, sadly no heel hook for me.  Go to Lost Horse and climb three pitch ‘Bird on a Wire’. Walked to Jimmy Cliff & climb “The Harder They Fall”, easy 10a, then B solos the ‘Aiguille de Joshua Tree’.

Day 11: It rains in Southern California. Drive to Mammoth.  It’s snowing in Mammoth.

Day 12: Snowshoed big loop around Mammoth Nordic Trails, Inyo Forest welcome center. Deep powder. About 7-8 miles total.

Day 13: Drive to Lee Vining. Deep powder still being plowed, we have one pair of snowshoes &  poles for 4 people. Hike into Power Plant takes an hour. Hike to ice climbing takes another two hours. Ice climb on far right flow, traverse left above & top rope some WI 3 routes on the Chouinard Wall. Hike back. XL pizza in Bishop. Long drive back to SD.

Day 14: Run from Glider Port down Black’s Beach (aka Naked Man Beach), past Torrey Pines, back up through the preserve, down to the beach, back up final cliff staircase up to the Glider Port. Met with K, discussed logistics.

Day 15: Surf in LJ. Get up on small waves with a nice longboard.  The water is cold.  Climbing gym again in the evening.  Flight back east.

NE Ice

Did some easy WI 2-3 grade stuff here, this morning:


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Borrowed an old Charlet Moser tool and a (not as old) Petzl Quark. The Moser had a nicer heft & swing to it but the shaft had less curve, putting your knuckles right against the ice. The Quark was easier to choke up on, curve was nice for coming up and over. The crampons I used were glacier style mountaineering crampons, not ideal but they worked fine. The boots were some old Koflach Degres, I believe, maybe a little narrow but I could’ve probably gone with thicker socks and pulled out the insole. The Scarpa Inverno/Vegas are allegedly wider, but I’m not sure I believe it after trying on the Omegas.

The sun has come out in full effect this afternoon and as such it’ll be a couple of weeks until the ice is back in thick.

Charlet Moser Ice ToolPetzl Quark
Koflach Degre

Climbing Crazy Horse in Chiang Mai

We got in a couple of days of climbing here in the 5th largest city in Thailand. The Crazy Horse Buttress is a local crag that’s been well developed by climbers from the city’s only climbing shop, CMRC. They run guiding services but also for 250 Baht they’ll shuttle you to the crag and feed you lunch so long as someone else is going that day.

The drive is not far, about 40km, but the first day climbing we rented a small 110cc Honda Mio scooter and returning in the evening with traffic was more excitement than Mark could handle. The food and the comfort of the back of the sangthaew (a covered pickup truck with benches) allowed us a much better second day of climbing, which included Zoe’s first real 6a (5.10a/b) sport lead climb. And the prepared Thai lunches were delicious.

The rock is the same Ratburi limestone karst found throughout peninsular SE Asia, however, without the salt sea air and the sheer amount of climbing traffic (as in Phra Nang) the holds are much more positive. There is even the odd off width crack climb. Mark’s father’s military climbing instructor would’ve proudly admonished “jam your hand in that crack!” and we did; it was overrated at 6c (5.11a, more like a 6b+ or 5.10c/d) called ‘Song of Stone’; we top roped it. Though Mark did lead a 6c+ (albeit hang dog fashion) called ‘The Tree Surgeon’ which was seriously pumpy on the back side of the Crazy Horse Buttress cave.

We met an Australian couple at breakfast/on the crag that recognized us from Tonsai where we had stayed at the same bungalows. They are traveling the same route we are, hitting the major climbing destinations between Thailand and China, only for them this is just the first few months of an 8 month trip as they move on to France and then Africa. In another coincidence, they have also been looking up Avatar showtimes at cineplexes across southeast Asia, but like us have yet to make it to a showing in theaters (we both passed on the Russian bootleg copy they showed at the bungalow restaurant in Tonsai).

Next up for climbing and culture: Laos

Still Not Ice Climbing – but lets build a MythTV!

Sadly my Saturdays and Sundays have not been filled with ice climbing trips to hidden frozen waterfalls of the Northeast.  My hand feels better despite having a small gash where it hit the edge of the BMW car door. I imagine I’ll be able to go back to the MPHC climbing gym soon.  

I miss the outdoor rock.  Ryan, Josh and I went on a few climbing trips before it got cold and before weddings and Texas.  Ryan has photos of us climbing in the Gunks and Brewster, NY available here: http://picasaweb.google.com/ryanwesleywebb these are just a sampling.

 

Peterskill - Mark, Josh

Peterskill - Mark, Josh

Ryan in Peterskill

Ryan in Peterskill

Ryan, Ice Pond

Ryan, Ice Pond

 

Mark's hand Ice Pond

Mark's hand, Ice Pond

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I spent most of yesterday reading about MythTV.  If you feel like setting up an open source home DVR (TiVo like) then Mythbuntu or KnoppMyth seem to be a couple good stable options for creating a home Linux TV recording solution.  Obviously this will only work if your signal is “free and clear”. Dish, DirecTV, ComCast, Time Warner and basically any cable or satellite provider, encrypts all premium content.  So on the one hand, local network channels and basic cable should be “free and clear” (over digital cable local channels are usually free using QAM) but with satellite it’s more likely you’ll need to rent the DVR from them.  The only reason I’ve been considering it is because I’ve needed some sort of iTunes server back-end (see my Firefly MT-DAAPD post) and it might as well DVR network HD shows we want to watch.  Also, our ATSC tuner is old (2nd or 3rd generation) and I think the latest 5th or 6th gen tuner chipset should allow us to get all the local HD broadcast channels without fussing with the antenna. 

There are three parts to most MythTV setups, which could all be integrated into one system or distributed into three smaller systems:

  • The back-end is your dedicated server which should have low power and processing requirements.  I’ve been looking at the MSI Wind ‘Nettop barebones PC (MSI’s product page) which sells on Newegg for like $139.99.  It uses an intel Atom 1.6GHz processor with minimal power draw, I think around 35 Watts max, but you could probably optimize it to use somewhat less than this.  Obviously, HDTV content takes up a fair amount of disk space, so for starters lets say a 1.0 Terrabyte hard disk drive.
  • The actual TV tuner (which now ‘a days will need to be digital ATSC HDTV compatible, unless you still have analog cable) could be as simple as a PCI card in the back-end but something even cooler is the SiliconDust HDHomeRun.  This product is two ATSC tuners in one.  It transfers HD broadcasts from over-the-air (or QAM) to your server via ethernet.  It requires DHCP to obtain an IP address, but otherwise it’s just a little box with one 10/100 ethernet jack and two antenna inputs; ATSC to IP as it were. Your back-end will recognize it as two tuners in the setup. You could watch one while the other records or both could record simultaneously.
  • The front-end will be how you actually watch the content you have archived. Say you ripped all your DVD’s and you’ve been time-shifting several seasons of Top Chef, the “front-end” is what will do the heavy lifting of playback depending on the bit rate and resolution of the video.  It should look just like any other media playback menu.  From my reading, MPEG-2 is the optimal format to save content to (thankfully DVD and ATSC signals are already MPEG-2 so no transcoding is required) and MPEG-4/h.264 require more horsepower on your machine to playback smoothly.  My MacBook Pro Core Duo 2.0 GHz would be a fine front-end however I’d need to plug it in to watch shows.  I’d be able to watch live TV wirelessly on the laptop anywhere in the house though. Note: the Elgato EyeTV is another option for Mac OS X HDTV time shifting however it doesn’t have the front-end/back-end model, your laptop has to be on and plugged into the tuner to record.
Yup.  So that’s where I’m at.  I’ve already wired the 1GigE cable to the bedroom.  I still need to do a cable run to the kitchen, but that’s not really a priority.  I think having a small machine like the Wind PC in a closet would be a nice way to have both an iTunes server and a DVR.  Apparently MythWeb allows you to easily setup recording from your web browser, so you just login and set the shows you want to watch for the week and let the back-end do its job.  There are ways to “Sling” content to yourself if you’re out of town or something, but personally I think I could wait until I’m home, and besides most of the content by the big networks is instantly available online now for free viewing.