Saturday, May 30, 2009

How Green is my Garden

It has been a brilliant sunny Spring in the Pacific Northwest the past week and my garden has been soaking up the sun.  While the radishes have been disappointing so far, the spinach has been growing like crazy.  I am certain that I have been getting my daily allowance of Iron.

I am also starting to see Kohlrabi starting to form.

The Kale is growing like a champ.

And the Swiss Chard is looking very colorful.

The Zucchini and Green Beans are going strong, hopefully I will be able to guide them up the trellis soon.

Now if I could just figure out how to thwart whatever is nibbling on the broccoli and cabbage leaves without using a pesticide.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

City of Rocks

One of the things that delishts me about my participation with the Mazamas is that it takes me to such wonderful places that I did not know existed.  Memorial Day weekend was a case in point as our Advanced Rock class went to City of Rocks National Reserve in Southern Idaho.   It certainly was worth the eleven hour drive.  The City is a cluster of granite spires and monoliths that resemble a silent city.

It was amazing to climb on the granite.  The surface of the corse rock really gripped my rock shoes, allowing me to effectivily smear the soles for good footholds.

I spent most of Saturday with James Jula, yet another Mazamas Climb Leader who has given me plenty of feedback and encouragement.  I would lead the pitch and then belay James up, who would evaluate how I did.  I ended leading four pitches that day, enough to finish the second of three evaluations needed to complete the class. At one point we had to put our climbing plans on hold as an afternoon lightning storm broke loose.

Sunday morning started out with rain, so we did a little hiking.  When the skies cleared up I put my climbing harness back on for some top roping.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Smith Rock State Park

I have returned from the first of three field sessions at Smith Rock State Park.  As our lead coordinator said, these are the meat of our Mazamas Advanced Rock class.

The weekend was an excellent opportunity for me to distinguish between things are and are not within my sphere of control.  The last minute cancellation of my carpool, coordinators (who were supposed to shadow me each day) that were no shows, the closure of an area I wanted to to climb in were all outside of my control.  With each of these we simply adapted.

During the weekend I lead pitches at Round River, Flunked Out, Left Side of the Beard, and the Bowling Alley.  I discovered that I was very comfortable placing the passive protection (nuts, tricams, and hexes) while at times I'm not sure how to judge the quality of the Spring Loaded Camming Devices (aka cams) placements.  I am finding that the belay station is a tricky place for me as I'm trying to find a balance of speed/efficiency and safety.  I am also noticing that my efforts to prepare for this class have been paying off.  I felt comfortable clipping in the carabiners thanks to the Leading Clinic that we took at Club Sport.  I had also noticed improvements in my climbing.

Belaying my climbing partner Lief up Left Side of the Beard

Working my way up the crack in the Bowling Alley

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Rooster Rock Lead

Sunday afternoon I was covering new ground, even though I had ventured to this place before.  The place was Rooster Rock, a basalt pinnacle that rises about 120 feet about the Columbia River.  I had climbed here two years ago with the Adventurous Young Mazamas.  The big difference was that then I was tethered to a fixed line that someone else had put into place.  This time I was the one putting in the fixed line.  This was my first traditional climbing lead.  Down below, anchored into a couple of bolts, John Meckel was belaying me.

I remembered the discomfort with the drop off that I felt two years ago at that same set of bolts.  I noticed how much more I felt comfortable today with the exposure as I glanced down to assess how far since I had put in my last piece of protection.  The line of the rope as it dropped down looked good to me.   I focused on placing my cams and stoppers.

Leading up Rooster Rock gave me just what I wanted, a lower fifth class climb to assess my skills and feelings just before our Advanced Rock class went to Smith Rock.  I also got some great feedback from John and I helped get five other Mazamas up to the top.  Check out the smile on Justin as he approaches the summit.
To descend it was a long, double rope rappel.  I was the one who tossed the ropes down, thankfully they did not get caught on anything, because I would have to been the one to free them mid-rappel.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

First Harvest

Thursday evening I picked the first harvest of my garden.  I filled a basket full of spinach and there is plenty left in the garden.  My plan is to cook the spinach with garbanzo beans using this recipe.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Advanced Rock Compentency Test

My Advanced Rock competency test at Horsethief Butte did not start out well.  I just could not place the six pieces of rock protection within the allotted time frame.  At one point I hung my head, discouraged at this bad start.  Then something in me clicked and I rallied.

The point of the Competency Test was to see if we were ready to lead climb at Smith Rock in two weeks.  We were tested on placing rock protection, building anchors, and protecting a traverse.  We would also have to do a lead climb, with the coordinators climbing up after us evaluating the protection that we placed.  We also had to set up a multidirectional anchor and prepare ourselves to belay a climber up after us.  Everything was timed.  We would have the chance to retake a portion if need be. 

In the beginning it looked like it was going to be a rainy day out at Horsethief Butte.  But the sun came out and we had a brilliant day.  Perhaps that is best how to describe how my day went.