The last post went off about the past year for myself and my partner Mandoline. It was a challenging year work wise for me, health wise for me and finally in a deeply connecting the dots of life kind of way when Anik appeared on our scene. Time has passed, my heart has become stronger because of the patch and stronger still with my feelings for my little family, and a whole summer has flown by. I tried to work part time this summer guiding but unexpected Van breakdowns forced me to work a bit more. Had some of the absolute best private guiding days of my career this year including climbing some of the new and resurrected pitches at The Gobsmacking Wall at Shannon Falls, climbing Angel’s Crest with a high school friend and climbing Blazing Saddles, Borderline, Angel’s Crest and High Plains Drifter in a day swapping leads with a great friend and guest and watching him make some truly strong improvements. Through out the summer and into the Fall I applied to as many teaching jobs as possible but no dice. So what does that mean for a guy who wants to teach elementary school during the year but has no full time job and the guiding season is kaput? It means being a substitute teacher on call, doing some great dry sunny fall days guiding at places like the new Top Shelf crag and now hitting the road with my partner and daughter to go climbing, sun soaking and generally desert living in the sand and the dust and the prickles. Perfect.
Our plan is simple, Smith Rocks for a week or so to meet up with world famous Dad and Guide Jamie Selda and his even more famous wife Christine and their stunningly talented three kids River, Jasper and Cedar. This family knows how to introduce kids to that simple life we all know and love so much. After that a week sport climbing around the Saint George area with Canadian legends Jan and Doug with the chance of a Mike Doyle appearance. It will be plush there as D and J have rented a place. After that we head to Bishop Cali. to refind bouldering and crash in a little cottage rented to us by a kind and generous local. The bouldering is just a bonus as we are really just transporting lighting and sound effects equipment for Will Stanhope’s premier extravaganza happening in Bishop around the 9th of November. If you’re around, or even if you have to quite school and give blood to afford it, get to Bishop to see this show. Makes Canada’s Cirque Du Soleil look like a bunch of well trained and talented acrobats…
Anyways, we’re in Portland for the eve, Thursday Oct. 17, staying at the house Martin, Zepher and Lotti because of their incredible generosity. Anik was melting down through out the three hours of bumper to bumper traffic through Seattle to Vancouver Washington area. Now I remember why I don’t live on a city. Yeesh. Wish us luck. Jer
Well, we survived the drive to Smith with a 4.5 month old and spent a great week climbing in the Lower Basalt Gorge. Why there? Shade for us and the wee human, a good spread of grades from splitter 5.10 cracks that mum was warming up to to techy 5.12 aretes. We did get one day climbing around the Monkey Face, catching up with Sonnie T and Hayden Kennedy. Unbelievably, Hayden the climbing savant, had never been to Smith and Sonnie was giving him the royal tour. I rope a few top ropes up Rising Expectations, the incredible overhung finger crack left of Just Do It, Spank The Monkey wishing I had lead that, and the bottom pitch of the East Face of the Monkey Face. That line really nailed home a desire to pick up the performance pace and improve. I would love to climb that line. The concentration of routes, quality of the stone and shady made the Lower Gorge a winner of a spot. Anik, our little daughter, slept in a bouncy chair listening to the serene Crooked River flowing behind her. Two and a baby is NOT ideal for route climbing so luckily Hayden proved to be a self proclaimed Baby Whisperer. We also climbed with two friends from Squamish who we’re escaping a three week trip with three kids and two dogs! They pawned the children on Grandma and Grandpa and came climbing as well showing us that our situation was far from desperate. Camping was cold at night but Sonnie T graciously lent us his Circus Tent which he uses in the off season for his chainsaw juggling show. With this we had a huge warmer space for Anik and a happier week in Skull Hollow.
From Smith we drove to Saint George Utah to meet up with great friends Jan Black and Doug Orr, stay in their swanky Sports Plex Condo and climb on some of the newer limestone sport climbing appearing there. As the weather played out, we had some cold weather the first day and suffered it down at Sunset Alley, a newer limestone area with incredible rock. It warmed up and we spent a few more days at Sunset Alley enjoying some of the lines in the cave as well as the slightly overhung wall across from it. We also had a day of sandstone bouldering in Mo’s Valley which was actually amazing. Sadly our time flew by here too and the next thing we knew, we were driving to Bishop for the remaining two weeks of the trip.
Bishop is amazing, and will always be amazing no matter how many times I visit. We’ve come here many times and usually concentrated on the Buttermilks, being granite snobs. Well this trip we branched out because of a gale force first day and gave the Happy Boulders another nod. Strangely, the area grew on us, giving us many classic problems we’d never done and a warmer hang. We also, embarrassingly, made our first ever trip to Tuolumne Meadows when a Squamish pal visited and offered to help watch our Bebe. Tuolumne in November? As if. Well we drove up, jaws dropped at what we were seeing and found the toll gates unmanned, the services shut, park rangers packing up there AK47′s and closing shop for the winter. We found Puppy Dome in full sun, forests deserted, half frozen streams quietly murmuring, a 3 minute approach from the car and the rock in perfect condition. I’ve seen photos of Do Or Fly and Horseshoes And Handgrenades for years, always wanting to climb them among all the other gems in mystic Tuolume. We had a blissful day there and I think the term “waiting impatiently to return” doesn’t come close to what we are feeling about Tuolumne now. We’ve also been soaking in Wild Willys hot spring, also known as the Green Church hot spring. Perfectly clean, constantly flowing and with no sign of garbage, Wild Willys turned out to be a beautiful hang and Anik loved it as much as we did. Here’s a little tally, in order of our best picks, of the Mexican Food we sampled in Utah and California. After getting some local beta in Bishop, it’s no surprise that the most hidden, hole in the wall deli turned out to be the best on the list. The Chevron Mexican Deli in Big Pine, California: tamale plate, shredded beef tacos with beans and rice. The most homemade Mexican food we found. Not too cheesy and oily, but still rich beans and the tamales weren’t lacking seasoned filling. Homemade salsas with real heat also helped. Alberto’s Mexican Restaurant in Saint George Utah: Chicken Tacos, Carne Asada Plate, Chorizo Torta, Horchata: Number two on the list. Looked like a greasy American chain but turned out to me some of the best food. The amount of Spanish speaking in there was the first clue. Amazing whole fried Jalapenos, nice simple Asada and a Torta that was too big. My only complaint was portion size=ridiculous. The horchata almost made me diabetic it was so sweet. Rosa’s Latin Restaurant in Saint George Utah: Carne Guisada, Cheese/Bean Papusas, Chile Verde Huaraches, Wine Margaritas A real blend of Salvadorean and Mexican food, with amazing papusas. More light fare, like what I would cook instead of super rich beans, meat and less cheese. Salsa was not amazing. Neither were the wine Margaritas but the food had a definite un-Americanized feel to it. Las Palmas Mexican Restaurant in Bishop California: Chile Colorado, Enchilada Rancheras, Margaritas Of the places in Bishop Ca, my favorite Mexican restaurant. Lots of locals and a pretty charismatic staff. Great food and not too oiled up for the tourist crowd. Amazing salsa bar, always has been. Beans had a really rich pork taste but definitely weren’t light. Amigos Mexican Restaurant in Bishop California: Street Vendor Tacos, Shredded Beef Enchiladas A local hangout in Bishop but definitely filled with more white locals than Mexican. Too rich, too cheesy, greasy tasting fried Vendor tacos. Tasted like the oil needed changing. Enchiladas seemed to be their signature thing and were definitely better.