Thursday, March 29, 2012

España bound...

Squeezing in a short blog entry tonight after feverishly packing for our departure for Catalonia, Spain tomorrow. Once we arrive in Spain, Allison and I will be tourists for a few days in Barcelona before renting a car and driving around the Catalonia region of northern Spain mostly rock climbing in the world famous limestone crags of the area. Moderate climbers in the hard sport climbing mecca of the world. Needless to say we won't be hopping on Catxasa but it'll be amazing to see the areas and routes that are making the headlines these days. We bust out tomorrow, March 30, and return on April 13th. A quick trip for sure but we've found a couple of weeks at a time on holiday is generally more than enough for us. We're psyched!

From Hueco Tanks, Texas. 2012-03-23

Last weekend we had a super good time with ten fun friends bouldering and climbing at Hueco Tanks State Park, TX for a few days. It was our second visit there but the first time we really sampled the bouldering and tried hard. I didn't send anything harder than a V3 (hey, I admitted in the first paragraph that we're moderate climbers!) but sure had a blast on every problem we got on. My favorite problem of the trip was the last one we did before going home. Not sure what it was rated or even what it was called--we just passed by it while walking between areas and it looked intriguing. It had some tough body-tension crux that felt even more difficult given my tall, lanky stature. So I spent a couple times on it before figuring out some great "tall guy beta" allowing me to work past that crux with a big reach and send the problem. Fun stuff! The day before that, Allison and I climbed an very engaging classic roped route, Sea of Holes. 300 feet of heady, steep hueco pulling resulting in a very satisfying climb.

From Hueco Tanks, Texas. 2012-03-23

But, on a much more somber note, today was a tough day for a number of us at work. A great person and co-worker of ours, Cheri, passed away after a three-year battle with ovarian cancer. Cheri was a good friend and mentor to me. I owe her a great deal for where I am in my career at LANL and learned copious amounts of knowledge from her spanning from how to write code to how to deal with irate customers or difficult co-workers. She encouraged me to take the position I now I have at work even when I felt extremely under-qualified for it. Beyond work, Cheri was an honest, open-minded and caring person. I miss her. Cancer is bullshit. It's nasty and indiscriminating.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Well, that didn't go as hoped

Sunday night already. The weekend's passed and I'll I got was this lousy stomach flu. Friday morning Fritz and I drove down to Enchanted Tower for what was to be a weekend full of fun climbing and nice camping. We did get in some fun climbing and some nice climbing but only roughly 50 percent of what we had planned on.

We didn't get out of Los Alamos until late morning on Friday due to a server issue at work that I went in to resolve. But we still arrived at the Tower with plenty of time to get wiped out by the steep climbing and rough rock. The weather was clear and toasty down there with a high in the mid-60s. I was psyched to be outside, lounging in the sun in the remote setting of Enchanted Tower. Later in the day Allison and I got on the route she had been thinking about for a long while, Technowitch, and neither of us sent it that afternoon on account of being pretty pumped from other routes we'd climbed already. No worries, Saturday we'd be recovered and ready to rock. We pulled the rope and left the draws on the route, which would save us some work the next day, and retreated to camp for dinner, beer and a campfire.

Allison on Technowitch, April 2011

To give a sense of how steep the climbing on the tower is...

Well, at 2am that night I woke up feeling really bad. Turns out I came down with the stomach bug that Allison had a week or so ago. The rest of the night was no fun with me sitting around a campfire between trips to the bushes to, well, I'll spare you the details. I was able to sleep a few more hours between 4am and 7am but woke up feeling super weak. I didn't feel like eating anything but managed to down some black coffee before strolling up to the tower again to try to climb. That didn't work out but I did have a good morning belaying Allison for a few routes before she did send Technowitch for the first time. She was stoked and I was psyched for her! It's a route that had been giving her a hard time for a long while due to a pretty reachy-for-her move right before the top but after the normal crux. She looked solid, held it together and punched it through her crux using a smaller hold a few inches below the hold most everyone else can use. It was great watching her figure out something that worked for her and then execute it.
With Allison completely satisfied with the trip and me not being strong enough to get up a 5.10 route, we loaded up and came home later that afternoon making, of course, a number of stops at gas stations along the way so I could use the facilities.
Sunday turned out a nasty weather day around New Mexico so it was a good day for chillin' out at home. We did make a shopping trip to Santa Fe to replace our grind 'n brew coffee machine that died Friday. I know, big news right!? OK, in bigger news, for me at least, I bought tickets to go see A Day To Remember (with Rise Against and Title Fight) in April down in Rio Rancho. My brother, Dylan, and Andy will be going with me and I'm psyched. A guilty pleasure of mine is listening to hard-rockin' "cookie monster" music like ADTR. Sam G. came up with that term, "cookie monster music" to describe music with guttural screaming for vocals.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Logic Flaw

Whoah boy, good times. Last week was a good one around Los Alamos--great weather followed by a couple of small storms late in the week had me running in a t-shirt and shorts after work on Monday, shirtless during my lunch run on Tuesday and then backcountry snowboarding in 6 to 10 inches of new snow on Friday and Saturday. Sunday was spring-like weather again so we got out rock climbing at the Overlook before going to see an up-and-coming band called Electric Guest at a live show at Santa Fe Sol. Now that's a great week!

My evening run last Monday was a speedy new PR for me up my "backyard" trail, Mitchell Trail, to Guaje Ridge. This is a great course to gauge fitness and I was feeling pretty fit and speedy in my new Saucony Peregrine shoes. I ran the 2.45 miles/1,400' vertical gain in 32:52 which was definitely a PR. I descended swiftly too for a RT time of 53:26. I was psyched.

Friday I got out for a 4,000' vertical day of backcountry snowboarding at our favorite local stash in the Jemez with Andy and Sarah. Roughly six inches of new snow on the good base made for some great turns. The turns got even better on Saturday during a big tour in the Sangres near Ski Santa Fe with Aaron, Andy and Bill. We rode some great treed lines in ~10 inches new snow. That outing had to be one of better Sangres backcountry outings ever. A great group of friends and perfect timing with the new snow. New Mexico's backcountry riding may be limited and often short with variable snow but when it's good, it's great.

Andy ripping a turn in our Jemez stash

Super sweet tree riding in the Sangres

Sunday's climbing at the Overlook was surprisingly warm after the two storms Friday and Saturday. It was the last day of climbing we'll have with our good friend Nat for a while. He left Los Alamos yesterday loaded up in his Toyota Sienna minivan for a year of living the climbing life with his first stop being the amazing Red River Gorge. Nat's a great guy and I'm psyched for his adventure.

Later that evening Allison and I met our friends Hunter and Allison for a very intimate (~25 people) music show in Santa Fe. There were three bands playing but we had interest only in the first band, Electric Guest. EG is a new-on-the-scene band that seems to be making some pretty good waves. They were some super cool, humble dudes to chat with and put on a nicely energetic show. Their four-song EP just dropped this week and the full length album is due out on April 24th. And they'll be on the David Letterman show in early May.

And after all this cool shit, now for a rant about some lame-ass shit that spurred the title of this post. Just this past Monday, my friend Brett and I went down to White Rock to descend a canyon called Pajarito Gorge. He's a big canyoneer and he really enjoys training in Pajarito Gorge and taking new partners down the canyon for canyoneering practice. He wanted to install four bolted rappel anchors in the canyon and since I was interesting in checking out the descent and have a lot of experience placing bolts in rock, I went down the canyon with him after work. We took my 36v power drill and bolts/hangers and webbing/quicklines for four bolted anchor stations. The canyon was a fun, deep-but-short romp and I enjoyed going down it and seeing the gorge from the bottom instead of from above. Sadly, though, local kids (and probably some adults) have found entertainment (and probably convenience) in tossing large amounts of household trash into the gorge. We saw tires, bicycles, microwaves, latex paint cans complete with latex paint streaks down the rock and even a snow blower down in there. Brett and some friends had hosted a clean-up day in the canyon last year and piled the big trash objects into nice piles (it would be incredibly difficult to haul most of that stuff out) which helps the atmosphere a bunch. Nonetheless, it's worth checking out the gorge if you like rappeling and canyoneering.

But now for the bullshit and my rant. Brett returned less than 48 hours later to find the third rappel anchor chopped. What the fuck? Some self-righteous MF seems to be pro-latex paint and pro-household trash but feels the need to remove a bolt anchor that actually serves a purpose and wouldn't even been noticeable to anyone walking along the canyon rim? That's just straight up backwards. This bolt chopper needs to get his priorities straight and perhaps do something about the paint on the rock or the trash in the canyon bottom instead of ruining the work of some people trying to make the canyon an enjoyable recreational outing for others to enjoy. Furthermore, the fact that this anchor was removed so soon after we put it means it was highly likely the dude was watching us put it in that night and instead of being open and honest and yelling down to us to state his objection, he chose the cowardly method of return after we finished to anonymously chop the anchor. Boo to anonymous cowards!
I just don't understand people who can view some issues in complete black and white without trying to exercise some reason instead of just saying, "all bolts are bad." I've got news for isn't black and white. Think about it. (And please return our hangers so we can go back in there and put them in again. Because we will.)

Sunday, March 4, 2012


The theme of this week was migration. At work we had the big cut-over day yesterday from the long-standing calendaring application, Meeting Maker, to the calendaring application in Exchange. I put in 8 hours Friday afternoon/evening, 16 hours Saturday and 9 hours Sunday working with our talented migration team to get all 7,000 users and 780+ room/equipment calendars migrated into Exchange. It's been a wild weekend for work. At times it sucked, at times it was gratifying and in the end we're all stoked to have it done. Now begins the's going to be a wild few weeks while everyone first hates it because it's different, then actually gives it a chance and then, eventually, realizes it's pretty damn slick. I know that's how it's going to be because that's how it was for me when I first got involved with this migration. Generally speaking, people just hate change for the sake of hating change. But once a person spends time with the new product, the attitude eventually changes. This will be "fun" to watch at work. So yes, I missed out on a couple of beautiful weather days this weekend while I was holed up in an windowless conference room huddled in front of a laptop eating junk food just because the food was there and what else was I going to do? But I did get out for a nice five mile run in a few inches of new snow on Friday morning before going up to Pajarito Mountain to hike a lap up Townsight for a snowboard run down in ~6 inches of new snow. That was fun. I was the first person hiking up that day despite my leisurely start to the morning and enjoyed first tracks down the run "Hedache". I took my Dad's Hero2 camera up and mounted it on the ski pole for this fun little video:

A solo hike and ride down Pajarito Mountain for my 63rd Pajarito hiked-for lap this season. Six inches of new made it nice.

Earlier in the week Allison and I nailed down a week-long apartment reservation at CampingBeta in Baro, Spain for our upcoming two-week trip there. That was a fun process communicating with the owner, back and forth via email, for a few days before going to our bank to figure out how to transfer money from the U.S. to a bank in Spain. (Hint: you need the bank account number as well as the "swift" (BIC) number for the bank.) So now we've got lodging figured out for all but two nights while we're there. We'll figure that out soon or just once we get there. That's the fun in the adventure. I had intended to continue my Denali 2003 journal entries this week but I'm pooped and tired of staring at computer screens this weekend so that will have to wait for another post. Stay tuned...the journal entries are about to get meaty and exciting, I promise. :-)