International Superstars

Twin Gate Mountain -Yangshuo China

Twin Gate Mountain -Yangshuo China

We had a few onlookers for our climb today at the ‘Twin Gate’ crag which was among the fields but much easier to find than yesterday (yesterday we set out to find ‘The Egg’ but a new road had been paved rendering our directions useless, and after getting lost among the mandarin orange orchards and wading across some streams with our bicycles we ended up at ‘Low Mountain,’ an entirely different crag a few kilometers away).

The farmers mostly just glanced up briefly as they walked by, though an elderly woman settled down to watch as she wove flower garlands to sell at a local park and another stopped to sell us dried persimmons.  A lone Chinese tourist came over to ask us “where you from?” When I told him America he got very excited. “NBA!” he exclaimed. “Kobe Bryant! Barack Obama!”. It was nice to finally meet someone who was enthusiastic about the US of A.

On our way back to the main road we passed villagers returning from the park (site of a 1400 year old banyan tree and a major tourist attraction) with small trained monkeys, some wearing bright orange outfits with tall pointy feathered caps – a new source of nightmares for Mark.  Dinner was stuffed eggplant and sautéd bok choy at the local restaurant across the street from our hotel, where Westerners get their dishes sterilized and shrink wrapped. It was delicious, we are going back for the snails which is what everyone else seemed to be eating.

The Mandarin phrase of the day was hot soybean milk (rède dòujiāng in Pinyin) which is my new breakfast staple. Mark is going through coffee withdrawl again as while you can pay extra at the Western style restaurants for “Yunnan coffee,” it’s only marginally better than Nescafe. That being said, there is no shortage of green tea here in China.


The term comes from the standard film industry practice at least here in the Northern Mid-Atlantic of starting a Friday as a split day after 12:00pm.  Twelve hour days are standard so at minimum the day will go until 1am Saturday morning thus the term Fraterday.  I had the pleasure of working on an out of state picture that was a reverse-split on a Friday evening.  So we started at 7:30pm with the last of the daylight HMI’s shifted to tungsten for the overnight stuff and then when the sun came up at 6:30am we broke out the big daylight HMI’s again shooting until 10:30am.  Super fun stuff.  Similar to a job where we shot for three weeks of overnights in an underground bunker in the Bronx Armory.  Get it?  There was no sun shining and yet we started every day at 3pm.  Good stuff, good stuff.

Our kickball team lost our first game Sunday evening.  It was ugly.  They were a better team.  They put the ball where they wanted.  We did not. I went climbing last week to Stover aka High Rocks, Pennsylvania.  It was sweet dirty red shale with cliffs uphill from a clean fast running river.  It’s always surprising when you drive two hours from New York City and people start talking about “swimmin’ holes” and “the crick”.  But I shit you not that’s how they roll in Stover and it’s a pleasant albeit slick (as in the clay rock becomes greasy) climbing spot with plenty of good hard roof problems.  Erik and I met our match on a couple of 5.10d roofs on top rope.

I’ll probably work a couple of days in the city this week.  Josh and I climbed at Cat and Rat Rock today and I proved my fingers again on Felix, LOTR (aka Scratching Post), and finally completed Tweaky Shit (or whatever the name for the sit-start variation is) clean.  Good stuff.

More Ocean State

So we went to a wedding in Newport and we somehow avoided traffic in both directions, perhaps in part due to the off season, perhaps because we left the city at 12:30 on Friday afternoon.  It was beautiful; blue skies, cliffs, mansions, and more nautically themed bars than you can shake a stick at.  Lots of Zoe’s sailing buddies were in attendance. Zoe and I woke early on Saturday to get a few hours of bouldering in at Lincoln Woods Park (not Casino) just north of Providence.  The rock was a rough sharp granite, it was a cloudless 75 degrees, and we met a few New England climbers (they say “cah” not “car”).  There is a large amount of climbing within the small park boundaries and it was free.  In the ‘Gunks we pay at least $15 for the privilege.  To me it felt a bit like Rumney, only without the tall sport climbs and 4 hours closer.

The ceremony was at St. Mary’s and the reception at the Astor’s-Beechwood Mansion. We drank dark and stormies at the Black Pearl on the wharf during the intermission between the church and the mansion.  Lots of men in faded Mt. Gay Rum hats, but it seems the big money won’t come into Newport for another month or two.  The reception was black tie optional and Zoe did her part wearing a slim black spaghetti strapped cocktail dress while I wore a blue pinstriped suit and a silken yellow paisley tie from my father’s collection.  The live band, chosen at random by the planners, was surprisingly good and kept everyone dancing from the first dance onward.  For a party at a mansion that specializes in historical re-enactments, there was quite a bit of dancing.  Also there was a chocolate fountain with marshmallows and strawberries, which was pretty amazing.  I think we went to bed at exactly 00:03 as we were exhausted from both climbing that morning and drinking in the afternoon sun.  Newport is every bit as beautiful and rich as anyone will tell you.  And not a bad place to get married either.

Here’s the link to the NY Times wedding announcement and video from this weekend.

Tiny little chair
Natalie and Zoe
IMG 3368
Cliffs aft.