Sunday, June 28, 2009

Mt. Ellinor

With the celebration of my nephew's baptism completed, I set out for the second event of the weekend.  Sunday I would lead my first provisional climb for the Mazamas up Mt Ellinor in the Olympic Mountains.  

I chose Mt Ellinor because it was not difficult to ascend via the SE Chute.  However, by the time my Advanced Rock field sessions were finished, I expected the snow would have melted out.  So I told the members of our team in advance that we may take the trail to the top.
Sure enough, the day of the climb the trail and the SE Chute had melted out, so up the trail we went.  We decided to start at the Lower Trailhead, which proved to be a wise decision.  The extra 1.6 miles along the pleasant forested ridge made the hike worthwhile.  At the Lower Trailhead there is a trail that leads down to Big Creek Campground.  The idea of hiking from the campground to the summit intrigues me, perhaps another year...

Friday, June 26, 2009

Long Live the Paella King!

My weekend started off with the celebration of my nephew's baptism.  Since he is half Spanish, it seemed fitting to serve Paella.  While we have cooked Paella before, this time we left it in the hands of a pro...the Paella King.  Watching this master at work was as much fun as eating the Paella itself.  I delighted savoring the aroma as he worked through each stage of his craft.

He started by cooking the prawns, thus seasoning the oil.  He ended by placing in the mussels and clams into the rice.  It was like watching an artist working on canvas.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Roosevelt High School Cleanup

Driving through downtown Saint Johns yesterday I took a quick glance at the community reader board.  I saw that there was going to be a cleanup of Roosevelt High School, which is about 5 blocks south of my house.  Ever since moving into the Saint Johns area, I have looked for opportunities to participate in my neighborhood.  This seemed to be a good way to spend my Saturday morning.

Upon my arrival I found out that this cleanup was organized and sponsored by Southlake Foursquare Church in West Linn, Oregon.  After four hours of asking, I did not find another person that lived in the area.  I was amazed that a church near 25 miles south of here has taken an active role in supporting this high school. 

What was also amazing was the number of people involved - there were about 1500 volunteers.  I spent the morning on the east side of the school pulling weeds, edging the lawn along the side, and spreading bark.

I noticed there was local media coverage at this link.

Often I would think back to the days when I had organized volunteer projects for Hands on Portland.  It felt good to perform community service again.  Don't get me wrong, I consider the volunteer work that I do for the Mazamas a contribution to my community as well.  This type seems to make more of a direct improvement to my neighborhood. 

Monday, June 15, 2009


Today I harvested the first Kohlrabi from my garden.  When I started planning this garden there was no doubt in my that I would plant this vegetable.  Not only do I love to eat them raw and savor their crisp taste, but they trigger fond memories of my childhood.  I am always reminded of visits to my Granny and Granddad's house in Salem and eating the Kohlrabi from their garden.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Moscow on the Crooked River

I was about to lead the third pitch of Spiderman, located on the west side of Smith Rock State Park.  This would be my final Smith Rock climb as a student of the Mazamas Adavanced Rock class.  My first move involved stepping out of the security of the belay ledge toward a narrow crack that ran upwards to a overhung rock ceiling.  Below the crack there was a intimidating drop off to the ground.  I was struggling to commit to the first move.   Not only was I afraid of the exposure, but of swinging too far forward as I moved into the crack.  I told my climbing partner Ron that I could not do it.  He told me that I could and pointed out a foothold that I had not seen.  It took a little while, but the moment that I had been working towards all of these months realized itself.  I made the committing move forward and found a good foothold.  Trusting that my feet would hold I found that the crack offered great handholds, allowing me to place a piece of rock protection.   My confidence kicked in and I knew I could climb this crack.  Another illustration of the first step being the hardest part.

The day before I had returned to Smith's Red Wall and climbed the Moscow route (below).  This time I was followed by coordinator George Cummings.  George is one of the pioneers of Smith Rocks and has made several first ascents in the park  Part of the appeal of the Moscow route is that it was a pure traditional route, meaning that there were not any bolts to build an anchor.  So when I realized that I had climbed past the ledge which is typically the end of the second pitch (whoops), I just started plugging in rock protection into the crack and built an anchor there.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Smith Rock : Part Two

Some of you may recall that I climbed the first pitch of Super Slab on Smith Rock State Park's Red Wall in March 2008.  Well, on Sunday I returned to this route and lead all three pitches.  Thankfully it did not hale on me this time.  Near the top of the third pitch I was able to place my trusty pink Tricam in a little pocket hole, giving me the confidence to make the final effort to complete the route.

On Saturday our coordinator Ryan Christie took us up the Sky Chimney route.  Here I lead the first pitch, while Ryan led the final two as they were too difficult for me to lead.  This was the day that I realized that I climbed more confidently along cracks, as opposed to climb up just the face of the rock.  Sky Chimney has a long double rope rappel, a portion of which is overhung.  That had me rappelling though the air, slowly spinning in circles.  Here is how it started out...

When I returned home I discovered that I was not the only one climbing.  One of my green bean vines had started to climbing up the trellis in my garden.