Monday, March 30, 2009

Provisional Climbs Now Online

I see that the Mazamas have posted their Summer Climb Schedule online.  In my bid to become a Climb Leader I have scheduled five Provisional Climbs.  As a Provisional Climb Leader I need to organize and led three climbs while a Climb Leader serves as my assistant, watching over me.  So I scheduled the following climbs this Summer.

My first bid will be Mt. Elinor in the Olympic Mountains.  Depending upon how much snow will be left in late June, this will take us up the Southeast Chute in the snow or along the trail.

Looking back at Mt. Elinor while traversing to Mt. Washington

Second will be up Mt. Stone in the Olympic Mountains.  Unfortunately the road is washed out 2.5 miles from the trailhead.  The Putvin Trail is a demanding approach, so I am expecting a very long day.

Mt. Stone - the ridge on the left is between the mountain and Lake of the Angeles

Next is the only climb that I have scheduled in Oregon - Middle Sister in the Central Cascades.  You may recall that I climbed up along the Hayden Glacier last year.  I had such a great time that I want to do it again.

Ascending to Middle Sister (on the left) via the Hayden Glacier

Then I will go to the Tatoosh Range in Mount Rainier National Park for the Castle Pinnacle Plumber Traverse.  While I have been up Pinnacle and Plumber, I have not been to the summit of Castle.

(l - r)  Pinnacle Peak, The Castle, and Plumber

And finally I plan on leading a climb party up to Old Snowy in the Goat Rocks Wilderness Area. 

Here I am in the Goat Rocks Wilderness  - Old Snowy in the center 

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Gear Placement

It was wet and cold when we huddled up at Rocky Butte Park for our first Advanced Rock field session.  The first piece of advice that we were given was that one should avoid rock climbing in such conditions at all costs.  However, we were not here to climb, but rather practice placing rock climbing  protection gear.  Between shivers we spread out along a vertical wall and practiced fitting various kinds of gear in the cracks of the wall.  The lead coordinator of the class is a big fan of the Tricam, so there was plenty of practice with that kind of gear.

I managed to work with the various kinds of protection gear and also practice building a couple of anchors.  I did not get to testing my gear placement by placing my body weight upon a attached sling.  Hopefully I'll have a chance to do so when I'm not cold and wet.

Next on the class agenda is anchors.  Stay tuned...

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Garden Update

Thanks to a little bit help from my friends, I now have a raised garden bed with soil.  I have been following (mostly) the recommendations of the Square Foot Gardening method.  The soil is a combination of a compost blend, peat moss, and Perlite.  Whew it was quite an effort, but I have put this chapter to bed.

Although it is hard to see in this photo, I built a vertical frame on the north end and laced it with nylon netting.  It is my hope to plant some climbers.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Gut Feelings

I have been interested in intuition for some time.  My interest peaked during a climb on the Brothers in the Olympic Mountains.  We were ascending a steep snow slope when an experienced member of our party stopped and confessed that he was experiencing irrational feelings of fear.  Moments later someone from a climbing party ahead came down and told us that there was a cliff ahead, which meant there was a dead end ahead. If that was a classic case of connecting to the whisper of ones inner wisdom, it was a powerful illustration of the benefit of developing intuition.  So when the librarian at the Saint Johns library handed me a flyer about a book group discussion about Gerd Gigerenzer's Gut Feelings:  The Intelligence of the Unconscious, I promptly signed up to participate.

Gigerenzer's book goes behind the science of intuition.  Part of me objected to the notion that intuition could be explained.  Perhaps I wanted intuition to be part of the magic of being human, not some algorithm buried deep in my psyche.  What I found in between the covers was testimony to the KISS principle:  keep it simple silly.  The author argued that our minds use simple rules of thumb which take advantage of the evolved capacities of the brain.  Rather than making complex calculations, our brain ignore useless information and focus on what really matters, even if it one critical piece of information.

The book group at the library was a join venture between the library and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.  The organizer had invited Professor Dalton Miller-Jones from Portland State University Department of Psychology to participate.  Interesting enough, most of the people in the group did not like the book.  Some were disappointed there was not more scientific research, others thought there was too much.  As usual, I enjoyed the forum, as it gave me fresh insights into the book.  I do not believe reading should be a solitary activity.

Anyway, I found the book gave me some good insights into intuition.  Just to be aware of the of the rules of thumb in my mind's toolbox will make me more apt to use them, whether I'm at the store or on the mountain slope.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Mazamas Advanced Rock

Tuesday was the first lecture of the Mazamas Advanced Rock class that I am taking.  This year the class is coordinated by Ryan Christie, who was a fellow Intermediate Climbing School student with me a couple of years ago.  The Assistant Coordinator is Eugene Lewins, who I climbed with up Mt. Washington in the Oregon Cascades this past summer.  This class is going to keep me busy this Spring and I am really looking forward to the upcoming lectures and field session.   

There was mainly an introductory focus for our first lecture.  Someone from Climb Max Mountaineering gave a talk on climbing gear.  We were encouraged from holding off on going on spending spree right away.  Instead we were advised to try out the gear the instructors have and then decide what kind of climbing rack to build.

The most valuable part was when Ryan reminded us not to let personal egos dominate our climbing.  I could see how it could happen in this activity, just as any other.  My main goal for this is to improve my ability to build anchors and learn how to place rock protection.  While I am interested in improving my ability to rock climb, it is not my main focus.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Adventures in Gardening

I have set the goal of putting in a vegetable garden in my backyard.  Ever since moving to North Portland I have thought about growing my own vegetables.  When I started planting flowers in my yard I discovered how much I enjoyed watching them grow and bloom.  Reading In Defense of Food further strengthened my resolve to enjoy the fruits of my labors.  So last September my parents helped me clear out the northwest corner of my backyard.  Since then I had assembled the building materials, all that I needed now was to put it together. 

Going for a hike Saturday was a calculated risk.  The weather forecast for the weekend called for sun on Saturday and rain Sunday.  I figured I much rather risk getting soaked in my backyard than in the Columbia Gorge.  As it turned out, it did get a little muddy and wet as I was assembling, but it wasn't more than I could handle.  The tough part was that the plastic recycled lumber proved to be tougher to drill than I expected.  This drained the batteries of my power drill faster than I could charge them.  Thankfully my neighbor Gene came to the rescue and loaned me his drill.  In the end I was exhausted, lining everything up by myself was a lot of work.  But I had successfully put this phase of my garden to bed.