Saturday, December 06, 2008


We all need inspiration. I find a lot of mine outdoors, from friends and family, but also in music and reading. If you're looking for some inspiration here's what I've been abusing my ear drums and eyes with:


Raw Shark Text: This is about the weirdest thing I've ever read, and one of the best. There's this idea that words can become alive, and eat us as "sharks." Brilliant stuff, I wish I were half as smart as the author.

Five Novels: Phillip K. Dick. This guy saw the world so very differently. I picked this lunker of a collection up in some airport on the way to Europe because it had the most words per Euro of anything on the rack, and it then took over my mind. Dick defined so many pre-cursors to things we take for granted today (cyber punk, the ascendance of the electronic over the physical, viruses, electronic propaganda, etc. etc.) up to 50 years ago. Cool read.


MGMT: Evil good pop.
Buck 65. So many good lines... 
Old Crystal Method: I was playing some of this in the office today after a good Nordic workout when my daughter wandered in and started grooving like a glam queen. Hard to argue with that, I was too.

The reason I'm thinking about inspiration is that I can sense it's time for winter climbing to change for me again. Ice climbing isn't going to look the same in 20 years as it does now; sometimes climbing evolution is incremental, other times a new idea comes along that completely shakes things up. Mixed climbing did that for me, and changed the sport around the world pretty dramatically. Standards on both ice and mixed have shot up massively in the last five years, and that's cool. I saw that yesterday while teaching a clinic; two guys I didn't really know came into Grotto and climbed brilliantly up the ice. Their technique was obviously refined well past the usual "X and grunt" method of ascending; nice body position, safe, fast. It would have been impossible to see that 20 years ago as that technique didn't exist. Now the question is, "What next?" I need a shot of Phillip K. Dick's futurecasting to find the path of most interesting resistance and drop into the groove of new possibilities.

Training: Did some more icicles of late, having a ton of fun just climbing ice with the odd mixed bit throw in, plus it's the start of the ski season. Nothing like pounding for an hour with a 30-pound kidlet on my back, killer workout and fun for both of us.

Give 'er.


Tuesday, December 02, 2008


There's finally enough ice and time to get out, yeah! Last Wed. I headed up to the Stanley Headwall with my favorite philosopher, David, who moonlights as some kind of oil-patch bidness man and general outdoor organizer. We've been climbing and attempting to climb together for over 20 years, so it's always good to get out with him. Anyhow, we left the car kinda late (8:40) with vague plans to do Killer Pillar, but there was a party on that. Plan B was to do Suffer Machine, but there was a party on that. Plan C was to climb anything without people on it, and somehow that made Nemesis the goal. Nemesis is one of those all-time classic ice routes, something that novices wonder about, up-and-comers epic on, and the experienced tell two-beer stories about. It's about 160M of very steep ice, and back in the day it was a very long day at best and a bivouac situation. Times change.

At the base David was looking nervous about the time; I'd had to stop and duct-tape my heels together (first time skiing in ice boots that season, joy) so now it was going on eleven, and David had to be back in Calgary to give a slideshow that evening. My wife, Kim, had done the route pretty fast with Scott S. back in the day, and we had 80M ropes so I figured we could do the route in two pitches (normally 4). We wouldn't be slowed down too much by placing protection as I'd kinda only brought eight screws, a bit light. I know David can move, so I semi-jokingly said, "We'll be back at the packs in under three hours, no problem." I figured we'd probably rap from the first anchor but what the hell, I'd never actually done the climb (put me in the "up and comers having an epic back in the day" category for sure) and really wanted to!

Swing, kick, swing, kick, kick, kick, gee that screw is a long way down there, anchor 80M later. David raced up despite somehow taking a softball sized chunk to the helmet; I know how big it was 'cause it left that sized dent in his helmet. He wasn't feeling too hot but was still game, so off to the top, crux move fighting through the soft slab and finding an anchor, back down at the packs in under three hours, David made his show and reportedly did well despite the head injury. Sure was a nice day, thanks!

Also had fun at Hafner yesterday; I love thin ice climbing, the kind where it's just thick enough to hold your pick but thin enough to show the first tooth. This type of climbing is just provocative, like a strip tease show but more interesting; what you can't see is what it's really all about. A nice day out with old guard again. I like going climbing with people who have a sense of humor as black as their coffee, plenty of both going around. Nice crowd in Hafner despite the fact that it rained all the way from Canmore to about 10K from Hafner. I was sure we were on a drive to a coffee shop with a detour toward a climbing area but the temps and ice were fine if a bit wet. There is just nothing like pulling the crux of a climb with a shower of ice-water in your face and running down your neck, I will NEVER whine about the temps while sport climbing again.

So the season is on around here, lots to do, yeah! And today there is snow outside my window and the temps are down to -10 finally, I was starting to think global warming had finally arrived.

Training: Yep. Had a wicked session with Dr. Simon in the gym the other night. 15 minutes of big offset pulls and front levers turned into something more than that, thanks for the motivation. Today I took my kidlet to kidlet gymnastics (she's going well!), and managed to almost hold a front lever on the rings for a second. It's coming! My workouts haven't been perfect, but they have been as regular as I can make 'em, and the results are starting to show.

Hope you're having fun outside wherever you are!