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Posts Tagged ‘Climbing’

Best Laid Plans

Every now and then I try to video myself climbing, almost always bouldering. I went climbing with three guys two weeks ago who are about 30 years old, much better than me and working on a V-10. One of them almost completed it, falling after the crux (hardest part). I was working on a V-4 immediately next to the V-10 and completed it after about 4 tries. I was pleased with myself and thought I could do it again and video it. When I watched the replay I laughed quite abit. I showed it to the guys for a laugh. Check it out at V-4 called “Put Your Back Into It”

The sequence of photos below gives a vague idea of the process of working a problem. It’s about planning, cleaning holds, training for crux moves, practicing different sequencing, and trying again and again. It may take one session or several years. This group had already been working on it for several sessions. A week later the guy without a shirt completed it. Everyone progresses at their own rate. I guess that is why they put up with me and even cheer me on. There is considerable competition between these guys but they are more challenged by someone else getting to the top.

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Arrival Inspection

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Cleaning Holds

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Remembering Sequences

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The Bouldering Buddies

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Stack Carefully

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Photo Op before working the problem

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Some say, “Grow up”. Others say, “Never grow old.” If both are an attempt to bring balance to people’s lives then I say, “Work hard and play hard so you can keep balance.” I was privileged to go climbing with some friends on my birthday. I wasn’t taking the pictures so the only ones I got from the cameraman were all of me. The day was sunny and warmer than expected. An indication that climbing has gone mainstream is that a county park with paved trails and parking lot, bathrooms and picnic pavilion and ranger office are set up with bolted routes at an old quarry for rock climbing and families with small children climbing made up half of the crowd. 

Leading a 5.7 with an audience

Leading a 5.7 with an audience

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting in the Groove

Getting in the Groove

Beautiful Day for a Topout

Beautiful Day for a Topout

I am so thankful to God for friends to work with and play with and for work and play to do.

The key to usefulness is not to work harder, but work at what God has given you to do as unto Him and enjoy the gifts He has given with thankfulness unto Him. Oh that we would do so in this new year.

 

 

 

 

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I kept wanting to go to the mountains but people, responsibility, and other priorities kept preventing it. Seeing my repeatedly frustrated efforts my wife said that I should go tomorrow. I wasn’t going to second guess the cessation of chores and her encouragement to go. Besides, after taking a walk with her early on this August 1st I knew that it was an exceptionally clear, low humidity, and cool day. (65 degrees was enough for several people to say it felt like the first Fall day- wishful thinking with August and September ahead.) So a hasty breakfast and quicker packing job and I was gone. I like solitude but I like company, too, but the whole reason I was going alone was because I couldn’t find anyone and one had even backed out. 

I even enjoy the drive up on a very curvy rode in a small, good cornering car with a clutch and adequate power. The air was crisp, the sky totally blue, and my heart was light. Bouldering by yourself is considered to be quite risky by some, but I have observed others doing it with care. You only attempt climbs that are straight up over the pad with no barn door potential. The weather meant exceptional friction, almost unheard of in the humid South in the summer. I was climbing well, but I can’t say if I was climbing exceptionally well because I couldn’t try anything really hard because of the ground rules for climbing alone I’d set down. During rest breaks I took pictures of fern and tree leaves.

Rockcap Fern (Polypodium virginianum) I believe

Rockcap Fern (Polypodium virginianum) I believe

Frazier Magnolia

Frazier Magnolia

I set up several videos of me climbing (I just admitted to a selfie! I will not let this become a regular event and certainly not an addiction. I must keep this under control.) You may check them out by clicking on the names below. It will be immediately obvious that I’m no rockstar, but I enjoy the challenge, nonetheless:

Disc and Throw

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Trillium fruiting

Trillium fruiting

American Chestnut "bush"

American Chestnut “bush”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After bouldering around until my forearms were quite tired, I walked up to the top of the ridge, sat down, took in the view, ate lunch, and read my Bible. Actually, when I first arrived up top I lay down on the bouldering pad a prayed for awhile. There was such a rest in telling my Father all my burdens about work, family, and internal stress. I have been enjoying, not just tolerating reading Leviticus and Numbers. Numbers 2 and 3 seem like lists of camp arrangement and numbers of fighting men, and numbering religious servants, but they reveal several things about God’s character. He is orderly and efficient and given to detail.  The arrangement of Levites reveals His concern for His holiness among the people and grace to not destroy them with His fierce justice. The taking of the Levites in place of the firstborn and the redemption of 273 additional Israelites by a gift of five shekels each reminds us of the depth of our sin problem and the gloriousness of God’s solution in salvation. The more I read the Pentateuch (Genesis to Deuteronomy) the more I feel like Jesus is repeating Himself when He points to God’s holiness and the Law. As a man did He have “aha!” moments of learning the Word from His parents or the synagogue teachers, moments when He said, “I remember saying that.”? All of His Word speaks of His character and what is important to Him. Are we bored with it because we have little passion for knowing Him and what He cares about? Knowledge of Him is our ultimate goal here. Beautiful days in the mountains and hard days of difficulty or frustration are profitable and meaningful if we allow them to direct us to knowing Him more. Yeah, I prefer one over the other but I am slowly learning to muse, “Hmm, I wander how this situation may draw me closer to Him?”

House Fly

House Fly

 

Evergreen groundcover

Shining Clubmoss (or Shining Firmoss) Huperizia lucidula (Thanks for the ID help Sister L)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The view up top increased my enjoyment of my time concentrating on God. He created all of the beauty around us to remind us of His beauty and the enjoyment we may have from these gifts from His good hand.

Left to Right: Table Rock, Hawksbill, Gingercake

Left to Right: Table Rock, Hawksbill, Gingercake

Exceptionally Beautiful August Day

Exceptionally Beautiful August Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About a year and a half ago in late August just before school started a newly hired teacher at my school was helping his brother move a heavy chest of drawers down a set of steps. The soon to be Science Department colleague of mine was bravely leading down the stairs backwards while his brother held onto the bottom plate of the piece of furniture, bent over double struggling down. Part way down the bottom plate broke off and the weight of the chest of drawers came down on the lead brother’s leg just below the knee, snapping the bone. Major reconstructive surgery ensued followed by 3 months in a wheelchair and 3 months on crutches. For a 26 year old who was used to running and was passionate about rock climbing it was a significant blow. School started the next week and he toughed out the first year in public school lesson preps, navigating among students in a wheelchair, severe pain, discouragement about the possibility of not walking right and not climbing at all, the humility of having to be bathed, and more. Not at all a quitter he began to do physical therapy as soon as the doctor allowed it. I can only imagine what kind of pain and discouragement he underwent to try and get his active life back. After he began to walk again just before Christmas, he also began to hope that he might climb again. His friends began to banter that they were training and would take him on when he returned to the rock because he had always showed them how beforehand.

Still not released by the doctor for full activity he longed to begin getting back in shape. I suggested that since I did pull-ups and hangs on my hangboard while waiting for the fire in the stove to get hot, he could join me. In January we started getting together to exercise and get stronger for climbing. The pull-up bar I installed in my basement is nothing more than a sledgehammer handle that had broken off. I mounted it to the floor joists:

AHT5As we trained each week we would come up with new ways to strengthen our core or work muscles we knew to be used in some movement in rock climbing. I installed a clamp to the joists beyond the sledgehammer handle so that we could raise our legs up to it for core development and keep our feet on it for horizontal pull-ups. Gimpy had to stay off of his leg early on. He kept trash talking with his buddies and began to tell them that he was training so that he could climb in the Spring. They wanted to know what kind of training he could be doing in his condition. He retorted that he was doing axe handle training (sounded tougher than sledgehammer handle) in the basement of a colleague (Old Man) and would be ready to take them on. Frequently as they texted or talked he would tout the merits of Axe Handle Training. First thing in the late Spring when he was able to get out climbing he did better than all of them. How could it be, 6 months out of commission after major surgery? They couldn’t believe it! He would just say, “It’s that Axe Handle Training. You should try it!” So one evening this last Fall during a session he Tweeted some pics to his friends of the Old Man and Gimpy hard at the training.

 

Old Man preparing to do an offset pull-up

Old Man preparing to do an offset pull-up

Old Man executing an offset pull-up

Old Man executing an offset pull-up

 

Moral of this story: Use what’s available, don’t give up,

work with someone else, work hard,

don’t accept the expected outcomes

 

 

 

 

 

Gimpy works his core

Gimpy works his core

 

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I hope that doing hard things on New Year’s Day will not become a trend. There was a white ash tree in my side yard that leaned significantly toward my neighbor’s house and about 25 feet away from the corner of his house. The tree had split half of its main trunk into our yard about 5 years ago during a drought. There was very little wind when it happened, just hot dry air. That left the other half of the trunk leaning predominantly over his house. Recently I gave him permission to take down the largest limb that extended halfway across his roof. I did not want to risk removing it and perhaps felling it on his roof. With three friends pulling on a rope he climbed 10 feet up into the first fork and fell the limb, completely missing his house. The tallest part of the trunk, some 60 or 65 feet tall still leaned over his house. The day he removed the one limb I noticed the end approaching. On one side of the bottom most fork were large white patches that I determined must be fungus eating away at the moist rot in the fork. If I didn’t take it down it would come down on his house for sure and the other half could reach my house as well. Weather and health and sons to help did not come available until 1/1/15. The most time consuming part of the job all the way through was getting rope over the appropriate forks for me to prusik up or for the truck to pull the branches down. The first two pictures show me standing in a fork about 40 feet up just after felling the first high limb successfully.

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I don’t know which makes me more nervous, getting involved with the chainsaw that is near or above my head or the limb that I’m removing with the saw. Two of my boys did an excellent job yanking the limbs away from me and my neighbor’s house and even the other trees in the yard. It took nearly 8 hours to climb, rope a limb, cut, move, and repeat, and finally descend. Proper tree climbing and removal equipment would, of course, make this all go more quickly with less risk. This is the third time that I have done this operation and almost certainly the most risky. I really think that should quit now. Coming down was fun though.

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We took down the main trunk just above the bottom fork before quitting for the day. That left just the left most branches. We took down the left most branch one evening after work. There was only this large, hard leaning middle branch on the left fork. I knew it would be hard. We planned and deliberated and tried the next Saturday. Notch, pull, back cut, pull harder, and then it fell on my house. The tops of the branches were all that reached but they could have done damage had it not been for the large limb on the Catalpa tree that took the brunt of the blow and eased it down onto the gable end as it came to the ground. No harm was done to the house but it uglified the Catalpa real fine. With the huge success of the first two days of cutting and the moderate success (no hospital, no repairs needed, no equipment breakage, just a branch down we hadn’t wanted down) the last day we only had the last 15 feet of double trunk to raze. Given the risks and the fact I like trees in my yard I had second guessed myself several times during this project, but when I fell that last trunk section it split in half when it hit the ground. Out came water and it was coated with mud inside. There was a reason for the fungus patches on the bark. We had with the prayers of friends and help of God, the pickup truck and my two sons’ help, and various pieces of equipment gotten the tree safely on the ground. Considering how ash splits when stuck wrong, it makes me wonder why bats are made from it. I guess I’ll have to research that. Perhaps I should take a easy stroll in the woods next New Year’s Day.

 

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We had said that when they settled into a house we would give them my father’s piano. We wanted to visit children and grandchildren anyway, but delivering a piano via the back of an open pick-up truck in winter north of the Mason-Dixon Line is a challenge, especially when it is fine mahogany and the forecast calls for intense rain. We made the first leg of trip and got the instrument under cover for two days of intense rain without any hitch, visiting with my daughter, grand-daughter, and son-in-law. We started off on the second leg of the journey from Virginia to Pennsylvania thinking the rain was over and met with some light showers but the covering repelled and the padding softened. It was good to hear it sing again at the hands of my daughter-in-law and their church pianist, albeit out of tune from the long temperature, humidity, and vibrational changing delivery. We had all of the family present but the youngest who was at the a Georgia beach with his girlfriend and her family. The possibility of getting them all together in one place at the same time diminishes as the years pass. On Tuesday my second-born son and I went to Chickies Rock on the Susquehanna River. Afterwards we went down to Muddy Run Preserve and walked around the lake. On Christmas day I ran 9 miles, the most distance for a continuous run I have ever done. I may be able to run a 1/2 marathon in the Spring.  The next day we had a totally unexpected snow of 2-3 inches that was only forecast to be a snow shower. That prevented a trip to Gettysburg but we went to Reading Rocks indoor climbing wall in the afternoon. The next day we visited Valley Forge and many of the historic sites downtown in Philadelphia. Before the day was over we collected two pieces of furniture from my son-in-law’s grandmother to take to Virginia on the way back home. On Saturday we had all of the family, save the youngest son as I have said, over for lunch and a visit. On Sunday after church we visited with some friends, a family of 11 children. They are so pleasant and well behaved. In the evening the pastor, who is also my eldest son’s father-in-law, and several of his children came to visit. It was a full but enjoyable day. I was able to run several times over these days and my second son gave me a Garmin satellite watch that I can register distance, pace, course, and time. The watch is fun and allows for further goal setting but all of this technology reminds me how easily we may be watched. I am thankful that my Father up above is watching, directing, correcting, and providing. Submission to such a kind and benevolent Authority is restful and I wander why I ever resist it. I desire to submit and succeed by His grace in the coming year. A blessed New Year to you all.

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Chickies Rock

Chickies Rock

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Muddy Run Preserve

Muddy Run Preserve

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Washington's Headquarters at Valley Forge

Washington’s Headquarters at Valley Forge

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Great Blue Herron

Great Blue Herron

Washington Memorial Chapel

Washington Memorial Chapel

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City Hall

City Hall

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Christ Church

Christ Church

Ben Franklin's Print Shop

Ben Franklin’s Print Shop

Carpenter's Hall

Carpenter’s Hall

Independence Hall

Independence Hall

Liberty Bell

Liberty Bell

Philadelphia Train Station

Philadelphia Train Station

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Full On

Recently I posted a reflection by my son called “Bouldering is Like Life”. Discussion of this reflection in my family prompted them to ask why I had never written a poem about climbing. The answer is “I don’t know”. I took it as a challenge; this is my first attempt. It is in no way intended to be an answer to my son’s reflection which is far more profound and in freeform. Rather it gives voice to two of the ways I like climbing- challenge and rest. It will not be of much interest to those who do not climb since the jargon will confuse and the draw of climbing will perplex, but perhaps climbers may relate.

Hang on the crimpers
Smear on the face
No place to rest
The challenge embrace

Gastones and side pulls
Muscles opposed
Fear a whipper
Relish how exposed

Arêtes and corners
Barn door and stem
Build up your core
Engage every limb

Hand jams, finger locks
In off-width cracks
Knuckles may bleed
Struggle with lay backs

Overhung boulders
Then feel the burn
Heel hook, mantle
The hard moves not spurn

Balance on tiny
Friction toe hold
Body tension
Feel the flow, don’t fold

Sequence and effort
Focus so hard
Worries all gone
Against stress you guard

So I like climbing
Work body tone
Relax the mind
Challenge full on

 

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