My 2003 Summer Trip Journal

About this Journal…
In 2003 my wife Lisa and I quit our jobs, packed up our stuff, relocated our personal items to storage and hit the road for an extended trip. Leading up to the trip and throughout the trip we documented our adventures. The only entry missing is from our final adventure up the Grand Teton. That was an entry I started but never quite finished…I may post what I have of it here in the future. This was an online journal using some sort of free software program.


Monday, October 13, 2003

This is the final trip entry. The trip has been over for a while. We are home now. Read about where we went by going back through these journal pages. Posted by Aaron @ 10:04 PM CST

Monday, August 11, 2003

Things still aren’t settled here. Neither Lisa nor I have got a good nights sleep yet in the past week. It’s been weird sleeping in a bed. We were so used to sleeping on the ground every night.

We still have moved in to our new place. I’ve just been working on it for the past week. I don’t have any other job but the house right now.

I was going over everything we did on our trip and I think I’ll put together some statistics to post – you know, like how many miles we drove, how many campsites we stayed in, places we climbed, car wrecks we saw, etc.

And once we get moved in and our computer is set up I’ll be scanning in some pictures of the trip. Posted by Aaron @ 08:22 AM CST

Friday, August 1, 2003

Well, we are back!
Yes, we made the long drive from Ft. Collins yesterday. Today we began moving our stuff from our stuffed storage unit into a U-Haul. Unfortunately, we can’t move into our place in Norman until the previous occupants are out, which should have been TODAY but it wasn’t. Long story.
Anyway, the real moving (and cleaning) will be will begin tomorrow.

There’s still more to tell about the trip. So I’ll have the Tetons story written soon.

It’s nice to be home. There’s a lot to do to get settled back into “normal” life, “everyday” life, routine life. I don’t know if I’m looking forward to routine. Actually, I know…I’m not. But I’ll do it anyway and all the while I’ll remember you wonderful summer trip.

We’ve got a ton of pictures. I’ll be posting them on the website over the next month and filling in the gaps about different climbing areas, routes, etc. I’ll try to present all the juicy inside beta on some climbs you may want to do.

I’m looking forward to getting back out to the Wichitas. Even on the trip I was thinking about Oklahoma climbing….why is that? I guess it’s just engrained in me. Posted by Aaron @ 11:43 PM CST

07/29/2003 Entry: “Drawing to an end :(”

This past week (July 21-28th) Aaron and I have been working as camp counselors. We were working with students who are starting their Senior year this fall. They are competing for a full 4 yr scholarship to any school of their choice. This week long camp is the last of their many prerequisites to be chosen.
I had the opportunity to meet some of the most unbelievable young adults! Most all of the students are from single parent (some even had no parents) low-income homes. Part of our job was to help them with college essays and escorting them through campus from one class to another. Their day began at 8 am and did not end until 10pm. In the evening we broke apart into smaller “family groups” (10 students per counselor). There were 60 kids to keep track of but for the most part our “job” was easy. These kids knew this was their one shot to go to college, so they made sure to be at every event on time! I got to know several of the girls (& a couple of the guys) pretty well. I couldn’t believe some of the circumstance these kids lived in. THink of the worst childhood you could give a child. Now multiply it 10 fold. That may be close to some of the pain they had lived through. The most astonishing thing to me was how motivated they were with taking control of their lives. There were several students who had only been speaking english for 2 years! AND they had incredible GPA’s! I was so moved by the whole experience that I hope to work it again next year. It was a long and tiring week, but well worth it.

SO here we are….near the end of our 8 week holiday! I can’t believe time has passed so quickly! There
are a few things I won’t miss……..lack of showers and flush toilets for the most part. Overall, this has been one of the most enlightning, fascinating, humorous, and andventurous trips I have ever had the privilage of taking….For any of you who either don’t know Aaron or have never been on a road trip with him, let me tell you–his notion of “vacation” is very different than most. I have never been MORE sore or exhausted from a vacation. BUT I enjoyed every minute of it.
You learn alot about someone when you spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for 8 weeks with them (that’s 1,344 hours!) . I think all couples (married or considering) should do this. I leave this journey feeling even more bonded and in love with my husband of 13 1/2 months (remember we lived together for 3yrs before getting married–also highly recommended!) I also learned even more about myself. It was nice to have time to read and talk about the book we were reading at the time. I think we discussed and debated every topic you could imagine. I am so thankful to have been able to do something that felt so free and also to share it with someone so extraordinary in my life!
I do look forward to getting ourselves situated in Norman. Also, I am excited to start school this fall. SO this will probably be my last entry. Thanks to all of you for checking in on us via the journal. I look forward to sharing pictures and other various stories in person. Take care…
“Life is an adventure worth taking with someone you love”


Thursday, July 24, 2003

For those of you who haven’t been to Montana let me tell you – they should change the moto from Big Sky country to Long Road Land. You know when your are driving to Colorado, that stretch from Salina, KS to Denver, CO? It’s like that over and over again. The miles just keep coming. It’s Kansas with a curse. When you open up the atlas and you see that it’s a 2-4 hour drive between every major town it becomes clear how BIG Montana is. I understand why there were no speed limits in Montana for a while (I wish they still did that), it’s because it takes forever to get anywhere even if you are doing 150 mph.

At some point in our lengthy drive we found a campsite. Oh, that’s right. I was going to mention the National Forest campsites in Montana, yeah, they’re right on the road. Many of them are more like rest areas than camp areas and, of course, they expect a campsite fee of $15. Sure. Right. Whatever. Fifteen bucks for a bare spot on the ground, a pit toilet, no running water, and semi-trucks passing by every 5 seconds? I’m not paying for that. We drove past several camp areas just like this until finally we found one off the road a ways.

The next morning we continued on through Montana. And on and on. Finally we reached Yellowstone, the magnificient Yellowstone, the oldest of the National parks, our expectations high, our wallets nearly empty, our asses sore from sitting. We expected a lot from Yellowstone but we weren’t that imprssed.
Sure the geysers were cool – but does anyone metion that half the trees in Yellowstone were burned? Hillside after hillside is covered in matchstick trees. We saw Old Faithful….but it wasn’t Old Faithful that I remember so much as the crowds. There were so MANY people there. And I remember the roads, and the sidewalks encircling the geysers, and the rerouting of the streams, and the “Danger” signs, and the construction, and the Village area. Yellowstone is being strangled. It’s a prime example of one of our National Parks being loved to death and grossly mismanged by the National Park service. We were ready to leave.

After following a long line of RV traffic for a couple of hours…..

I’m going off on another tangent here….

I hate, despise, loath, Recreational Vehicles. They are a complete waste of resources; they use a ton of gas, they take up a huge amount of space, they are inneficient, they are expensive, and they are SLOW. Every one of them should be melted down into scrap metal and reused to make about 4 or 5 hybrid cars. I’d like to start a website called and see if anyone out there shares this opinion. There is nothing “recreational” about an RV. It’s a motel room on wheels! But no one simply parks an RV off the road and camps, NO, they have to park at an “RV-camp” and plug the damn thing in for electricity. They have to have a “dump station” to get rid of their toilet waste. They have to have water for their sinks and showers. So not only are they paying for the RV but they are paying for the site, with electricity, water, and sewer. And these things take up three times as much room as a tent site! Not only that, the majority of people who have an RV never leave the thing. They park it at a campsite and hang out in it.

Another issue: a lot of the people who drive RVs, especially the really big ones, are pulling something behind it…usually another car! For christ sakes how many vehicles do you have to have? Why not just drive ONE car and spend the money on a motel room? “Oh,” they say,”an RV gets me closer to nature.” Does it? Does it really? It gets you closer to the shoulder of the road, closer to concrete barricades in the highway, closer to bridge overpasses, and closer to near-misses with on-coming traffic, but RVs do NOT get you closer to nature. Here’s a way to get closer to nature – get out of the freakin’ vehicle and walk around.

Look at the statistics: most of the drivers who drive RVs get in some kind of accident – why? because the thing is too big and they don’t know how to drive it.

Another thing that irritates me about RVs, the names:
“Mountain Aire”
“Lazy Daze”
“The Expedition”
and the worst one I’ve ever seen: “Everest.” How ironic is that? You couldn’t get an RV within 100 miles of Everest basecamp.

They try to give “nature-like” names to these things as if they fit right in with the country side. Here’s some news for you: they don’t. No matter how fancy they are, they’rer still just a giant rectangular box on wheels – they’re ugly. And those stupid air-brush paintings they have on the back of them with the owners’ names (“Bob n’ Dawn”) as if it were some kind of sailboat….man, that bugs me.

But the single worst thing about an RV is getting stuck behind one on a two-lane mountain road. They are so slow and most of the drivers just don’t care. They won’t pull over and let traffic pass. They just continue chugging along like a train pulling into a station.

So here’s my thought…RV parks are fine. Keep them, I don’t care. RVs are fine on the interstate, at least you can pass them. But they shouldn’t be allowed in National Parks, they shouldn’t be allowed in most National Forest campgrounds, and they shouldn’t be driven on mountainous two-lane roads. And everyone who drives one should have a commercial truck driver’s license and specific RV driver training, including driving etiquette, such as using pullouts when necessary.
But that’s just my opinion.

Now….where was I? Posted by Aaron @ 10:54 AM CST

Crossing over the Canadian border to get home to the US isn’t hwat it used to be. I remember several years ago visting Canada on a different climbing trip that as we reached the American border we pretty much just had to roll down the window and say “we’re Americans, let us in” and across the border we went. Today, with the all Homeland Security Advisory Threat Level system at Yellow (you can figure out what that corresponds to if you want), we had to have our birth certificates. We’d tried to cross once before on a short journey back to the US earlier without our birth certificates and it wasn’t pretty. The guy at the border station was kind of a dickhead to us – he made us go inside and they looked up something on the computer, asked us where we were each born and made sure that our answer corrseponded with what he had on the screen. Lisa and I wondered, how much did he have on that screen? What all could he see about us and our lives on that one computer – it was a scary thought.

But anyway, back at the border this time, birth certificates in hand, we had no problems. Just motored right through.

Crossing back into Washington state the skies cleared; it was a sunny day again. We left the rains behind and headed south towards Mt. Rainer. Lisa and I both wanted to see Mt. Rainer on the way up to Canada but I was anxious to get to Squamish then so we didn’t visit the actual park. Now we had an extra day to visit so we drove through Seattle and southeast about an hour. It was late when we arrived so we quickly set up our tent. At that time we couldn’t see the moutain through the trees and darkness we’d have to wait until morning.

We awoke early and packed up quickly. Our first glimpse of the moutain up close revealled that it had tons of snow on it. Probably much more than usual for this time of year. But that didn’t matter, the climbers parking area was still packed. Part of me saw that full pakring lot and wanted to park our car and start hiking. It would be so awesome to climb Mt. Rainer! But that will have to be another trip.

It was early still so the visitor center wasn’t open. We took a few pictures and just stared at the mountain. We didn’t really have time to go hiking or climbing – it was more of a scenic stop. It’s always difficult for me to make those kinds of scenic stops at climbing areas. But I knew that the there was more awesome climbing opportunities for us waiting in Tetons as soon as we could get there so off we went. Posted by Aaron @ 09:50 AM CST

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

When I left left off we were about 400 feet off the ground on an awesome 7 pitch climb on the Chief. The final 2 pitches were great. At the very end of the climb was one steep section where the wall went slightly overhanging and you had to pull up over a bulge and onto a good ledge. Jody and I finsihed at 10:55 am – well before my estimated time of finishing. An hour later, John and Lisa topped out – John was right; we were done by noon.

The climb had gone more smoothly than anything Lisa and I had done earlier on the trip. Recall that we’d nearly spent a night on a wall in Red Rocks, hiked around aimlessly in Yosemite for hours looking for a climb, and clueless as to which route we were on in Tolumne. Now, everything had gone without incident (thankfully) but, in a way, I don’t know that our friends got the full extent of the “adventure” that we had endured on so many other outings. I’d hate to short-change them, they’ll have to do another long route with us sometime – maybe something with a good 7 or 8 mile hike in.

The hike down went as well as the climb up: no problems. It was an easy-to-follow trail through the forest and boulder field and it took about 20 minutes. Gezz.

We went into town to celebrate our successful climb. Afterwards, I made the unwise decision to do some more climbing. I don’t know why they let me talk them into it, in retrospect we would have been better off just going back to camp and making s’mores. Instead we went to the “Burger and Fries” cliff at the Smoke Bluffs. It was late afternoon and the rock was warm. There were a couple other groups climbing on the right side so we picked out the line on the left for which the formation was named: Burger and Fries. This route, a crack line which diminished into a slab at the top, had surely been climbed thousands of times before. While the normal rock color was grey, the line up Burgers was polished white and appeared glossy in the sun. Why did I pick this line? Because it looks easy, I thought. Because we’ve climbed a lot harder stuff than this and this route will be a cruise and, for Christ-sakes it’s only 5.7, it’ll be a cool-down climb before we head back to camp. So, I put my harness on, grabbed a few cams, some stoppers (I wouldn’t need many), tied-in, on belay, and started climbing.

My first thought: I’m kind of tired. My shoulders are a little sore, my legs, my feet, I don’t feel so strong, maybe it’s the burger and fries I had for lunch. But still, I climbed.

At the top of the crack I placed one good cam deep in the crack and headed left onto the face. The gear wasn’t looking so good now. I placed my yellow Alien cam (a small piece) in a flaring, not so good crack – I didn’t trust it at all. But it’s 5.7, I thought, this isn’t hard. Up I went. Above my last piece about ten feet I realized that this wasn’t going as I had planned – maybe I should have just top-roped this stupid climb. My legs began to shake – Elvis syndrome. What was happening, I was blowing it! My fingers tensed up to compensate for my poor foot work and jolting legs. Now I was getting scared that I would fall and the piece would almost certainly pop. I couldn’t bear the thought of a 20 footer on a 5.7 slab. This wasn’t happening. I downclimbed. That would be it for me.

In the process of my freaking out Lisa had hiked around to the top of the wall and her head appeared over the top. She encouraged me to climb off left where it looked like the line would let up. Sure enough I saw what I thought was a series of holds going left so I started in that direction. My legs had not yet recovered and the shaking began again. The further up and left I got the more I noticed that the holds disappeared and the wall became more feature-less. This was going well.
“Why did you talk me into coming this way,” I pleaded, more to myself than Lisa. The downclimbing was more difficult here, especially considering how tired I was. I nearly fell several times. Finally, arriving at my last piece, the yellow Alien, I found another placement to back it up and weighted the mess. I was lowered to the ground.

It was a sobering experience on an unlikely climb. I hadn’t expected it or I’d simply underestimated it. In any case I was done for the day.

The day after, we drove to Vancouver. It started raining. It didn’t let up for three days.
In Vancouver Jody and John talked us into going to this quaint little sushi place. Lisa and I aren’t really sushi eaters but we figured we could get out of our shell a little bit.

They suggested various things to order including eel, raw salmon, and many other things we had no clue about. The food arrived and we all started eating. I wasn’t sure wether the sushi was good or bad, to me sushi is in that category of never really being “good,” it’s always just sushi. Lisa didn’t like her’s, which was to be expected – she just isn’t into that kind of food.

I thought that the other two were enjoying their’s until John leaned across the table and quietly said, “This is the worst sushi that we’ve ever had.”
“It’s awful,” Jody added.

John had just finished choking down a piece of dark slimy eel wrapped around a white ball of rice. It looked hideous and when he so garciously offered me one I declined. I remember watching as he ate the last piece, his eyes went bloodshot like a cartoon character eating a food which turned out to be poison, his forehead tensed and sweated, he struggled with each bite and swallow but finally manged to get it down. Then, almost instantly, he sat back and said, “I feel really sick.”

It was all so quick, the turn-around, I mean. As if one minute we were eating sushi and it was fine and this was all normal in the sushi-world, the next minute, this was the worst place they had ever stepped foot in and we were lucky if we were going to get out alive without food poisioning.

We paid quickly and left. Both John and Jody felt sick. I felt fine but I wasn’t sure for how long. What was going to happen to us!?
“I see little red bumps on my cheeks,” John said.
“Me too,” Jody said.
Oh god!

Lisa was ok, though not too happy about the whole experience, at least she wasn’t feeling sick. I took comfort in knowing that I’d eaten camp food for a long time and maybe I’d built up my immune system – that’s why I’m not getting sick, I thought. Maybe that was it. We drove them back to their hotel to drop them off. It was a quick goodbye, the lesson being, climb smart and don’t eat bad sushi.

Arriving at our camp again it was raining steadily. All night it rained. The next day we woke up it was raining. Lisa and I decided to go to Whistler, where hopefully, it wouldn’t be raining. Sure enough, it wasn’t. We had a great day – Whistler is the ultimate ski town/bike town – a really cool place. I’d love to go back.

We decided after a few days of rain that we should leave Canada early – the forecast was calling for more rain and we felt it was in our best interest to move on. So to the Tetons we went!! Posted by Aaron @ 05:26 PM CST

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

As I left off: Lisa and Jody ran to the pit toilet just before our hike up to the climb on the Apron of the Chief. Jody went in first (she’s going to hate me for telling this story…sorry Jody) – evidently the smell was pretty bad. She used the collar of her shirt to cover her mouth and nose so she could tolerate the odor. As best as I can understand, she started gagging and then she couldn’t control it and threw up in her shirt. From Lisa point of view, standing outside the outhouse, she heard noises of coughing or choking and then a splat sound. Jody opened the door pulling her thrown-up-on shirt away from her skin. “I couldn’t help it,” she said to Lisa. Lisa wasn’t sure what she was talking about at first but then saw what she was talking about. Lisa hurried back to the car where John and I were still sorting gear. She said to me, “I need your shirt. Jody threw up in the bathroom.” At first I thought she was talking about MY SHIRT; the shirt I was wearing. Then I realized she was talking about the extra shirt that I had brought to change into after the climb.

“What? To clean up throw up in the outhouse?” I asked, slightly outraged. From my perspective I thought she wanted to use my shirt, one of my tried-and-true old-school climbing competition t-shirts, to clean up puke in a nasty bathroom. She wasn’t making sense to me – maybe it was because she was trying not to laugh. Finally, she couldn’t hold it any longer and she broke into hysteric laughter.
“No,” she said, “for Jody to change into.”

Then she appeared, pale faced, eyes watering, shirt bile-stained. She stretched the collar of the shirt away from her tyring to keep the wettest part off of her. By now we were all laughing, even Jody.

She changed into the clean shirt and placed the “soiled” one on the hood of the car to dry (cook?).
“Do you think anyone will steal it?” Jody asked.
“You think anyone will want a shirt that smells like that,” John said, “no one will touch it.”

We continued gathering our things together, still laughing but trying to hurry at the same time. The pit-toilet episode took a little bit out of Jody (no pun intended), her energy was a bit sapped, but we made the hike quickly just as we had planned the day before.

To our surprise there was only one group of two on our route. What luck! The others must have gotten lost, we thought. Sure enough, minutes after beginning the climb two more groups showed up. Our planning had paid off.

Our route was 7 pitches and followed a distinct dihedral up the middle of the Apron. The first two pitches were easy slab-climbing (but runout as usual). We linked pitches one and two and then did a short traversing pitch 3 to the base of the dihedral. The climbing was going very fast. We were divided into two teams Lisa leading with John following and me leading with Jody following. We quickly caught up to the team in front of us and had to hang out at the third pitch belay. Lisa and John waited at the top of pitch 2. The next pitches, 4 and 5, were the 5.8 stretches and were to be the most continuous and technical. Pitch 4 was great, longer than the previous ones and much more continuous with a great lieback crack. Pitch 5 was even better, slightly more exposed, but up the same good crack system and then underneath a small roof much like “The Dihedral” route in the Wichitas.

(to be cont.) Posted by Aaron @ 02:51 PM CST

07/22/2003 Entry: “To Be Continued”

SO We get up the next morning (Friday) totally exhausted from the restless sleep. We saw other parties heading up, and hurried to get going. I think we started about 7:30am or 8:00. We hiked up to the lower saddle-there were fixed ropes on part because it was really slippery from the snow and snow run off. The approach was very steep ( I think the ranger said you gain about 2500 feet in elevation) just to the base of the climb! The climb gains another 1500 feet to total 13,770 feet at the summit. The climbing was fairly easy and the weather was perfect! We summitted at about 2:15pm. The descent was fairly easy going we hiked and rappelled down with 2 other parties. It was a fun time! One party had actually hiked out that morning at 3am! That’s a LONG DAY!
We gathered the rest of our stuff at the camp and shouldered our packs for another 6.5 miles hike to the car…time was starting to run out on us. We wanted to be back to our car before dark. We hiked quickly across the snow fields and switchbacks. It seemed the faster we hiked, the faster it got dark. We practically ran the last 2 miles and made it to the car just in time! I did not want to be out there in the dark with the bears….(On the hike in the day before, several hikers warned us of seeing a grizzly and a cub near the trail). We (thank god) did not see any. Although we did see a couple of deer:)
I like deer….they won’t try to eat you 😉

We are now in Ft. Collins, CO. We managed to get a one week job! We are counselors for the Daniels Fund (scholarship fund) at CSU. The students just arrived today and I have already met so many cool people. I look forward to the activites at the end of the week! (Rafting and a dance). I never thought I would have to live in a dorm again, but it’s kinda fun! We have to head back and help them with an essay….I hope we get to have more entries now that we have access to a library anytime!
UNITL THEN 🙂 Happy trails to you….(you know the rest 🙂

07/22/2003 Entry: “The Grand :)”

HELLO 🙂 This has been an exciting week for us! We left Canada and drove around Mt. Ranier. We wanted to stay longer, but we needed to be in Colorado for a “job” on Saturday. (I will explain later) Mt Ranier was beautiful and I would like to go back again one day. We made it to Yellowstone on Wednesday morning and drove through the park. It was really cool. VERY TOURISTY though! We stopped along the way looking at the hot springs and of course we saw Old Faithful erupt. We were pretty dirty (since our last shower was in Canada when John and Jody left) so we snuck into a lodge and grabbed quick showers. After feeling revived, we decided we wanted to get on to the Tetons just south of us. We camped in an awful campsite right outside the park. I had a terrible night sleep and we didn’t want to pay so we jetted pretty early. We drove to Jackson to look for a Teton guidebook. It was a neat town and had one of the COOLEST mountain shops. We were contemplating climbing the Grand Teton the next day, but we weren’t sure if we would have time.
We headed to the ranger station to get a backcountry permit and wouldn’t you know we snagged the last two permits for the day!


So off we go…to climb the Grand Teton. We got our gear together and filled our packs. We were off…
About 4 miles into the hike I was getting pretty tired. It was a LONG UPHILL HIKE. I kept trudging on thinking did I really need ALL of the shit I am carrying? The hike was so beautiful. We passed huge mountain lakes and had to cross several fields of snow right next to a mountain stream and waterfalls.
We finally found a spot to camp for the night and tried to sleep. We didn’t bring our sleeping pads (trying to pack light) and I regret it. We were sleeping on peebled ground with the rope as our pillow. It was the most uncomfortable night sleep I think I have ever had. As soon as I would drift off to sleep, I was awakened by a jabbing of a rock in my neck, back, leg, arm….everywhere! Aaron seemed to be having just as much trouble as I was. The next morning we were ready to get moving and work out some of the stiffness. AND BOY DID WE EVER!

TO BE CONTINUED ..I am out of time sorry 🙁

07/22/2003 Entry: “Squamish”

Finally…back to the journal.
We are in Fort Collins now working at a summer camp for a week and living in the dorms at CSU. It’s a job we got through Adam a few weeks ago and decided we could really use the money before heading home.
There’s so much that I missed writing about…I’ll do my best in the next week to post some stories from our trip, you know, fill in the blanks a little bit.
So I’ll start by going back a couple of weeks ago to Canada….to Squamish.

Squamish has got to be in my top three favorite climbing areas that I have ever been to. Now, just to clarify, Squamish is actually a town located about an hour north of Vancouver. It is surrounded by mountains on the east and west and to the south is a sound. It is a very beautiful place. The granite monolith to the east of town is known as the Stawamus Chief, aka “The Chief,” and it towers a few thousand feet over the town and the Sea to Sky Highway below. The Chief has tons of climbing on it and boulders all around the base of it. Most of the climbing on the main headwall of the Chief are hard free and aid climbs but there are some more moderate climbs on the Apron, a huge ramp directly below the vertical faces leading to the mid-point of the main wall. There’s alos climbing at some other areas adjacent to the Chief: an area called the Smoke Bluffs is very popular because the routes are easily accessible and shorter.

Lisa and I spent our first few days climbing in areas all around Squamish. We went to the Smoke Bluffs the first day and climbed a couple of steep slab routes – one of which was a 5.10c we later found out. We also climbed several thin crack lines – Squamish is known for having awesome thin crack routes. We camped out in the climbers camp just below the Chief…only $7 a night. We strung up a tarp over our tent and eating area just in case the rains came. Most people have a series of tarps arranged and angeled in a pseudo-artistic array to keep the monsoon-like rains off their temporary homes. It’s kind of cool looking: all these green, blue, and grey tarps slanted from tree to tree, strung up by old climbing ropes, twine or webbing – it almost looks like an abstract art design display. Ours was poorly erected: four whimpy poles, one longer than the other, one very short, two white nylon cords from each corner staked to the ground or tied off to a tree branch or stump. It sagged in the middle so we put the middle pole in but it only got in the way of our tent. We just hoped it wouldn’t rain.

At our camp there were outhouses. For those of you who haven’t camped in a while or perhaps have never had the pleasure of using one of these I will briefly explain. Imagine a wooden coffin, now put a small metal trashcan in it turned upside-down and with the bottom cut out of it. Put a cheap plastic seat on it. Imagine this trashcan/seat thing over a 7 foot pit filled with *stuff* – there you go. They aren’t fun but they work.

On Wednesday our friends John and Jody arrived with expectations to climb something BIG. They wanted to do a multi-pitch climb, something which would challenge them, something which would get them higher off the ground than any other climb they had done before. We scanned the guidebook and found a good line: Diedre (5.8) on the Apron of the Chief. It was Friday afternoon and we decided that we better find the approach route before heading up to do the route in the morning. The parking area wasn’t far from the base of the climb but it was difficult to find the right path to the climb. We spent over an hour and even talked to a couple who had done the line before but still had trouble. Eventually we found two ways to the base of the climb. So it was set. We would wake up about 5:15am the next morning and race to the base of the climb in hopes of beating the crowds and being the first ones on the route. Lisa and I expected that the climb would probably take up most of the day: we’d done our fair share of climbs like these and figured that it would at least be afternoon before we got done. Lisa guessed about 5:00 pm and I guessed around 3:00. Jody guessed 2:00 ish and John, for some reason, was very hopeful and guessed noon.

We got all our stuff ready the night before: the gear, the food, water, etc. We were ready.

We all got up on time and scurried around doing our final preparations before leaving for the climb, that is, all of us but Lisa. She stayed in the tent slepping peacefully. I think it was Jody who first noticed it during her walk to the bathroom: the gate to the campground was locked. It couldn’t be, we thought. We wlaked to the little building at the campground entrance and started looking around for a hidden key to unlock the gate. Seven A.M. The gate wouldn’t open until 7:00 am! We were pissed. Now we were sure to not get on the climb first – if anything we might be last! There was no hidden key to be found. John thought of picking the lock but he didn’t have his “pick-set.” In retrospect, I’m gald he didn’t. We may never have gotten to do the climb if we’d been arrested for picking the gate lock. That would have sucked. All the while Lisa slept – she knew the gate was going to be locked. She rolled out of bed about 6:30, we’d been up for over an hour just waiting, wishing that we had slept in.

At 6:50 the ranger arrived and opened the gate. We rushed to the climbing area. The parking lot was filled. We started unloading the car, putting on our harnesses, and gearing up. Several people hiked off from their cars almost grinning, knowing that they would beat us to the base of the climb. My only hope was that they weren’t getting on our route – but I knew they were, I just knew it.

It’s always a good idea to use the bathroom before you jump on a long climb. Jody and Lisa went off to use one of the pit toilets………..(to be cont.) -aaron

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

I wrote for an hour yesterday only to have everything disappear as soon as I hit the “Submit Entry” button. I really hate computers sometimes. Lisa and I are in Yakima, WA today. Of course everything I wrote about Squamish and our trips to Canada yesterday has been erased. But I promise to make up for it when I get more time to write.

Seems like these library sessions are getting shorter – at this place you can only use the computer for 1/2 hour session. Sucks.

Canada was AWESOME. Probably my favorite climbing area ever. Squamish is a town nestled in the moutains surrounded by rock walls. In the distance are snow-capped mountain tops spilt by glaciers, streams, and waterfalls. It’s a climbers dream: surrounded by rock walls over a thousand feet tall and hundreds of possible routes to climb. There’s simply too much to do and see for one trip – for even one lifetime.

Last night we slept at the base of Mt. Rainer. We awoke early to avoid the campsite fees and headed south around the moutain to check out the view. It is difficult to visit such an amazing mountain and not be able to climb it. But we’ll be back: that’s what I have to keep telling myself, we’ll be back.

Lisa and I are headed east towards Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. We had to stop here in Yakima for some “business” stuff; you know phone calls, mail, laundry, etc. etc.

There’s a guy sitting next to me at a computer who is griping about how slow his computer is. He looks angry. “Oh, com’on,” he says. “Damn computer is filtering me out.”
Now his pen is not working. He’s trying to write something down and he’s shaking his pen trying to get the ink to come out. Poor dude. Just not his day.
Vacations are filled with moments like these: just noticing people. I’ve seen enough of Yakima, I’m ready to go. -aaron

07/14/2003 Archived Entry: “Canada, EH?”

I LOVE CANADA! This place is so clean (compared to the states). Aaron and I arrived Monday night (7/7). We didn’t see much in the dark, but the next morning I was in amazed at the amount of ROCK that is here. The town of Squamish isn’t much, but it’s nice and quiet (as compared to the masses of Yosemite). Aaron I scoped out some great climbing areas nearby at the Smoke Bluffs and Cal-cheak. We wanted to find a fun place to take our friends John and JOdy who flew in LATE Wednesday night. It was sooo good to see some familiar faces. I was starving for another girl to talk to. We drove from the Vancouver airport to out campsite (we moved our campsite from the base of the Chief to Alice Lake a bit north of Squamish). We wanted to have a bigger campsite for the four of us and it was nice to have showers (& flush toilets as well).
Thursday, we went to the Smoke Bluffs area and did quite a bit of cool route was the Mosquito (5.8) and then we followed a second pitch. John and Jody REALLY wanted to do some bigger stuff, so we decided to find a long pitch route for Friday. Aaron and I decide on Deidre (a 5.8 7-pitch slab/crack climb that is very popular here) We decided to hike to the base that afternoon, which was a VERY smart decision. After 2 hours of hiking endllessly into dead-ends Jody and I went off on our own to find it. (Aaron and John were off on their own as well)-we both ended up at the base! Now that we knew exactly how to get there- it was time to relax for the evening. AND make SMORE’S!

The idea for OUR big climb was to be the first group there. The plan- get up at 5 am and be at the base of the wall by 630-700am. Everyone (except me) was up at 5am. I was lying in the tent TRYING to wake up, but drifting in and out of sleep. I could hear everyone getting their things together and excited about the day ahead. FINALLY at about 6:15am they realized we were locked in the camp until 7am. (hee hee hee) That extra hour of sleep I got was SO nice.
We got the climb a little later than anticipated, but we had the approach nailed, so we beat a couple of other EAGER climbers to the base. Their was one party of 2 ahead of us. Team ONE (Aaron leading
and Jody following) went first. Team TWO (me leading and John following) went next. The night before I read the guide book and looked over the climb about a million times. This would be my FIRST time for
me to lead an ENTIRE multi-pitch climb on trad. I was a bit nervous, but excited, too! The hardest pitches were suppossed to be 3 and 4 (5.8). I was so focused on my climbing that I didn’t have any trouble at all- they actually seemed easy. The climb was a success! WE all had a blast and I felt extremely proud of myself. This trip has given me the opportunity to realize what I am capable of! I am looking forward to our next adventure and more trad leading. I think I have found my favorite type of climbing! John and jody left on Saturday, and it’s been raining ever since! BUMMER! WE are planning to leave today (Monday) because the forecast isn’t looking good. Until next time 🙂 -Lisa

07/08/2003 Archived Entry: “YOSEMITE!!!!”

First off, for those of you who have been waiting for our next entry – no, we are not dead. We are both alive and well. Sometimes it’s hard to find internet access…especially when you are in the middle of the boonies. And sometimes it’s hard to find showers – we’ve had a total of 2 in the past three weeks. Lisa said she’d never been without a shower for a week before, well, there’s got to be a first for everything. It doesn’t really bother me until I notice that my sleeping bag starts to smell like a giant dirty sock – I think the bacteria keeps me warm though.

Anyway, Yosemite was incredible. We stayed just outside the Valley at an area called Fish Camp. We might have stayed closer but the tourist season was in full swing and the campsites were packed. But our camp was nice and it allowed us to get away from the madness of Yosemite Valley at the end of the day. We climbed several routes and I’m telling you we tore up those 5.6’s and 5.7’s! We didn’t get on anything real hard – and as the days became warmer and warmer we thought otherwise about jumping on a big-wall. But everything we did was a classic and a multi-pitch climb so I was content with that. One of the walls we climbed at was the Manure Pile Butress (great name) and the route was called After 7 – but everyones’ comments were, “that’s quite a 5.7 pitch, isn’t it?” We took that to mean that it heavily sand-bagged; harder than 5.7.
The hikes in Yosemite to many of the climbing areas are difficult to follow, especially if you are not familiar with the area, so we spent a lot of time hiking and looking for cliffs. Case in point, Cathedral Spire – we hiked forever, trying to use the so-called guidebook as our means of directions but we couldn’t ever find the base of our route! So it was back to the Manure Pile. Another great route was on the Five Books wall called Mungellia – I think it was 5 pitches and it turned out to be an awesome line.
One day we hiked up the cables route on Half Dome. That was quite a climb in itself – I was surprised that so many people were backed up on the cables section hanging on desperately so they didn’t slide down the 35 degree slab to their deaths. On the way down we encountered an older man who was terrified. We couldn’t take the exposure. Someone had talked him into climbing the final cables section to the summit of Half Dome and then left him to get down on his own. Lisa and I talked him down. A couple of times he broke down crying because he was so scared. We saw him all the way to the base of the slabs. He was very grateful.
After a week in Yosemite we headed up to Tolumne Meadows – it’s a place that I love even more than the Valley. Sure, the valley has Half Dome and El Cap but Tolumne has solitude. It’s away from the craziness of the Valley, it’s more wild, it’s more open. Huge granite domes roll over open meadows and in between are streams and a large crystal blue lake.

We did a climb on Lembert Dome called the Northwest Book, I think it was 5.9, which followed a series of cracks and dihedrals to the top of the dome. We didn’t have a guidebook and we didn’t even know what route we were getting on, we just saw some other people climbing this route and decided to follow. The descent was down a slab that ran for hundreds of yards from the summit of the dome to the parking area.

I’d love to have more time to spend at Tolumne. It would be great to spend a couple of weeks there and just hike and climb.

After Tolumne we made our way to San Fransisco and spent a day there exploring the city. Chinatown is a pretty cool place. All these people crammed together weaving in and out of marketplaces and open-air stores. Fresh fruits and vegetables, live fish, raw meat hanging in the windows, and many items which must have been food, that I’d never seen before – and couldn’t imagine eating.

We drove over the Golden Gate bridge and headed towards the coast and another unknown campsite. We ended up on a beach somewhere. We could hear a fog horn in the distance and barking sea lions. We woke early to avoid the campsite fee (a common practice in our book) and headed north on Hwy. 1 until we hit the Redwood forests.

The Redwoods were one of those places that I’ve always wanted to visit. You see pictures of these enormous trees, one after the other, as big around as a truck, but when you finally stand next to one you realize really how big they are and how little you are. You realize how long they have been there and how little a time we have been here. The forest is filled with more than big trees though, it’s really a rainforest filled with ferns, and rhododendrons, and other plants hiding in the shade of the big evergreens.

By this time I was anxious to get to Canada – I wanted to see the coast, I wanted to see all of Washington and Oregon but I really wanted to get to Squamish, BC. Plus the windey route of Hwy. 1 was getting to Lisa – we had to move inland to the efficiency of the interstate. We drove to Portland, OR the next day up I-5. It was our anniversary and July 4th so we decided to live-it-up and get a hotel room. A good decision on our part because we both needed showers again. Never had water felt so good. They had a pool and a hot tub. The first thing we did was went swimming. I think I saw a oily film settle over the surface of the water when I jumped in.

We spent the 4th in Portland and enjoyed the fireworks show over the river. We had a great place to view the action right along the edge of the pier. Others had gathered in the lawns surrounding the pier area. They had blankets laid out and picnic-dinners set out. Some guy was even taking a nap until the fireworks started, which was about 10:00pm. I’m telling you this because just as the fireworks started so did the sprinklers! You can imagine the surprise of everyone as cold water blasted into their comfortable little viewing areas. People jumped up and scattered like rats grabbing kids by their shirt-tails and yanking them towards the sidewalk. Soon after the sprinklers went off on another lawn. I was gald we had the spot we did. That night we caught two shows: the fireworks and the water show!

Washington was next. We arrived in Seattle late in the day and got caught looking for a campsite at night. Just as we thought that we would be sleeping in the car we found a site. Pulling into a campsite at night is a little scary sometimes because you never know what you are going to wake up to the next morning – maybe you’ve camped in the middle of a junkyard, maybe a river bottom – who knows. But this place turned out to be perfect. It was a camp area about 30 min. east of Seattle on I-90. It was set in a beautiful forest similar to the ones we saw in the Redwoods area. We stayed here for two nights. The camp host was a friendly guy named Lanny. He had family from Oklahoma and he wanted to tell us all about it. He did. The next day he visited our campsite again and I made the mistake of asking him a question about Washington. He told us about the state, and all the towns he’d worked in and what he did in each of those towns, and then he went on to tell us about other states he’d been to and ex-girlfriends, and on and on. We thought it might never end.


Typed at Squamish Library – max time limit = 1 hour.

07/08/2003 Archived Entry: “TOO many stories for one entry!”

So now that we saw one of the coolest climbing areas in the was time to move on.
We got to San Fran and saw the city. We tried to get a tour of Alcatrez but they were ALL booked for through the next week…. We walked around the city visiting Chinatown (I actually felt tall there!) and other neat places. We drove over the Golden Gate Bridge and took pictures….but we got tired of the
city pretty quickly. That night we camped on the beach. The next morning we were awakened by
the barking of seals across the beach! It was really picturesque with the lighthouse, crashing waves, and marine life all around. That day we spent hiking in the Red Wood Forest (SO AMAZING) and drove along the shoreline into Oregon. We camped outside of the Redwoods in a nice campground filled with HUGE TREES! The next day we decided to get to Portland and drove across beautiful Oregon. There were so many TREES and hillsides! There were HUGE fields of grass with these enormous boulders sitting sporadically througout! Once we were in Portland we decided to SPULRGE (being our 1 year wedding anniversary and all). We got a great room at the Comfort INN (newely built) with a pool, hot tub…the works! Most importantly a BED! It had been a while since the ground wasn’t our bed. We watched the Fireworks (for the 4th) over the river in Downtown Portland. We really enjoyed it.

IT was a mad DASH for Seattle the next day…Aaron was getting more and more anxious to get to Canada. We saw the Space Needle and MT. Ranier (from a distance). We are going to stop by on our way out of Canada. We drove into Vancouver Monday (7th) and on to Squamish. (It’s so WEIRD here because it doesn’t get DARK until 10:30pm!) The days are REALLY long. This morning we drove into town to convert some money over and NOTHING opens until 10am! It’s like no one wakes up unitl noon.
We climbed today in an area just north of town called Smoke Bluffs. It was really great!
While we were in town this morning we noticed film trucks and streets blocked off…They are filming “Walking TALL” starring “THE ROCK” here in Sqaumish.
WE stopped and watched three takes of “the Rock” doing a scene for the movie! I sneaked a couple of pictures too!
Tomorrow our friends John and Jody are flying in to spend theweekend with us climbing in Squamish. WE ARE SO EXCITED TO SEE SOME FAMILIAR FACES! We can’t wait!
I am really enjoying this time with Aaron and feely extremely fortunate to be able to do this. I think it will be one of the BEST learning experience of my life!!!
I miss all of you!! -Lisa

07/08/2003 Archived Entry: “Canada eh?”

We made it into Canada! It’s absolutely BEAUTIFUL HERE! Everyone needs to come here at least once in their life.
Aaron and I really enjoyed Yosemite. We climbed some COOL routes and got to experience it all! One of the last days we were there we decided to hike to the top of Half Dome. It was a steep 8.2 mile hike just to the summit the last 1/4 mile (the steepest) you actually walk up the face with the help of cables that are bolted into the rock. Once we summited, we got the awesome view of the Valley and Toulomne. WE took pictures and started to head down (it was getting late in the day and we didn’t want to be caught in the dark). As we inched our way down the cables, an older man was “stuck” . I asked him if he was alright, and he replied “I would REALLY like some company”. He had made it up, but coming down the realization hit him of how HIGH he was and he started to panic. Aaron and I assured him that we would not leave him and would assist him down the cables (basically “talking ” him down). His name was John, he was 60 and an x-marine from Modesto, CA. He had a few “moments” on the wall but Aaron and I really worked with him to get him to come down safely. Once on the ground, he hugged me and shook Aaron’s hand, telling us MANY MANY thanks, and that he would “pray for us”. He was extremely grateful for our help. The BEST part of this story is the reason this 60 yr old man was doing this. His wife who had recently passed, loved the outdoors and “loved this kinda stuff”, so in her honor, he wanted to spell her name out on the top of Half Dome. (“ANNIE”) I was so touched by his romantic and sweet gesture, even now it brings a tear to my eye:)

After Yosemite valley, we went on to Toulmne. Another area in Yosemite but North of the Valley. We found a GREAT campsite in the mountains. There was a beautiful mountain stream that ran right by our camp. After about 8 days without a bath, I was in desperate need of washing my hair… Aaron and I headed down one morning with shampoo, soap and a bowl. It was the most painful, yet invigorating bath! I would bend my head over and aaron would dump the coldest water you could imagine over my head… It felt like millions of tiny needles puncturing my scalp! It hurt, yet it felt good to feel clean. After I had washed my hair, Aaron decided his hair was fine!! BUT I WOULD HAVE NONE OF THAT! I had to get him back! As I poured the water over his head I couldn’t help laughing hysterically. I knew EXACTLY how it felt….now Aaron has ALOT less hair on his head than me, so his pain didn’t last as long.
We got to see alot of Yosemite and I definately want to go back there. It was one of my favorite stops SO farr………………… -Lisa

Monday, June 23, 2003

Well, I have certainly enjoyed our stay in Avila with my Aunt and Uncle. They have been so wonderful!
We learned alot about the area where we are staying and the neraby town San Luis Obisbo (“SLO” as it is commonly referred to here). We have eaten some of the best food of our trip here! The food is worth coming here for…although the view and weather is pretty spectacular as well!! It’s truly like paradise here!

We are off today! Heading to Yosemite to “rough it” for a while. I am looking forward to climbing again.
I hope the bears keep to themselves out there! -Lisa

06/21/2003 Archived Entry: “Southern California”

Well, it’s nice to be in a cooler climate. California has been wonderful so far. We drove to San Diego from Yuma early last week and made our way up to Los Angeles. There we did the Hollywood thing and caught the movie premiere of Charlie’s Angels 2 – we sat right above the red carpet and watched the cars pull in and drop off the stars (all of which Lisa named in her entry). I could only think – I will be walking that carpet one day for a movie which I write. I was as impressed by the number of photographers as I was the celebrities – I had no idea there were SO many – I’m talking hundreds of them all jockying for the best position, all yelling stars’ names trying to get their attention for the best photo.

It was strange to go from the glitz, glamour, and lights of Hollywood Blvd. to the serene atmosphere of Malibu Creek State Park in the same evening. To think that here we were going to camp in the hills after being feet away from people who would party all night and fall asleep in multi-million dollar homes that night was a little unusual. While they would fall asleep dreaming of how they would look on Entertainment Tonight we were pondering if a bear would stroll through our campsite again.

Friday we drove up the coast from Malibu to Avilla Beach, just outside of San Luis Obispo, stopping along the way in Ventura. In Ventura as we were passing through I noticed a building off the highway; Great Pacific Iron Works Patagonia. I was so excited! I’d forgotten that this was the founding place of Chouinard Equipment, Inc. which later developed into Black Diamond Climbing Equipment. This was where Yvon Chouinard hammered out his first pitons and this was where Patagonia clothing and surf boards began. We quickly turned around to check it out. I got a picture standing beneath the sign that says Chouinard Eqiupment, Inc. and the little metal shed where it all started. The store itself is really cool too, built in an old slaughter house. It’s a place I always wanted to visit so it was pretty cool.

For the past couple of days Lisa and I have been living in paradise with her aunt Joie and uncle Hans in Avilla Beach. This place is like a resort! The coastline is so beautiful here and the weather is cool and sunny all day everyday. We’ve seen sea lions, seals, otters, dolphins, many different brids (lots of pelicans and seagulls) – and, Lisa would add, rabbits. The folliage and topography is so diverse here – in one minute you can be in a dense forest of Eucaliptus trees and palms and then the view opens to rolling golden hills of grass and then sand dunes running parallel to the beach. The hillsides are generally steep but somehow they manage to build homes in the steepest of places which makes for some spectacular views from their back porches. I’ve never seen homes as amazing as the ones along the coast of California. It would be great to live out here but few can afford it because the cost of living is so high; most of the homes go for several hundred thousand dollars to well over a millon. But for a location like this it is probably worth the money. Hans was telling us about a mobile home on the hillside overlooking the ocean that was over 20 years old and was valued at around $400,000 – can you believe that?

The shoreline is divided by rocky outcrops and calm inlets where beaches nestle. Most people prefer the beaches where the waves roll slowly into shore and the foaming sea water crawls up the sand. Here people can lay out and relax. I find myself more drawn to the rocky outcrops, the hidden coves, the needle-hole features and the caves where the waves are more erratic, more dramatic, more violent. The water turns corners, splashes into rock walls, spills over into tidepools and sprays into the air a salty sea mist. As each wave approaches it is like watching a new show. First there is the anticipation: will this wave be as big as the last one? will it wash over into the higher tidepool? will it reach where I am standing? Then there is the crash as the wave hits the rock and explodes and rinses away evidence of the previous wave and all that matters, all that is there at that moment is the water from that wave – and then it happens again – and then again and so on. It’s more mesmerizing and fascinating than anything I’ve ever seen – there’s really nothing else like it. I could sit for hours, maybe even days, and watch waves on a rocky sea shore.


On Monday we plan on heading back inland to Yosemite. There the climbing part of our trip will take over again. I hope it hasn’t been too long for me with climbing. I’m feeling out-of-shape again on my climbing and if there is one thing that Yosemite can do to you is put you in your place – the climbs out there are stiff. Out there, that’s where it all started, that’s where climbing began – and it doesn’t matter what the rating says in the guidebook you either can climb cracks or you can’t. And I’m scared to death of Yosemite cracks right now. I’m hoping I will get used to them real quick or else it will be very frustrating for me.

After a few days in the Valley we may be ready to head back to the coast – we’ll see. I may have to give up this climbing crap and start surfing. -Aaron

06/20/2003 Archived Entry: “Califonia Coast life”

We haven’t had a chance to update our journal this week. Here’s what we’ve been doing!
We spent last weekend with our friends Ann and Don (and their son John-he’s 9 months) in Yuma, Az.
It was really good to see them. We rarely get to because they live SO far away! I couldn’t believe how hot it was! They said they rarely get visitors in the summer ( I know why!). We took off to the coast on Monday and went to San Diego. It was a pretty cool city, although it was very gloomy and cold. We only got to walk on the beach. That evening we camped in the National forest. The campground was beautiful!
Tuesday we found a great climbing area and spent the day climbing…as we were hiking in we saw a bear cub! AN ACTUAL LIVE ONE! He was about 100 feet from us, but we didn’t stay around to find the Momma…It was so cool though! That night we camped in the Angeles National Forest area. We were awakened by a bear scrounging through the area for food…He woke us up because he was actually on our tarp that lies beneath our tent! It was a little frightening!
Wednesday we headed to LA! We saw Hollywood and we were fortunate enough to be there while the premiere for Charlie’s Angels 2 was going on!

We found an awesome spot to watch the stars walk down the red carpet. We saw: Demi Moore, Bruce Willis, Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Lucy Lui, Ashton Kutcher, Bernie Mac, MC hammer, Samuel L Jackson, Carmen Electra, P. Diddy, and many other people! Those are some of the big names! We also got pictures…we are going to try to post some that we have taken.
Thursday we headed up the coast on Hwy1 (SO beautiful) to Ventura and Santa Barbara! Those are pretty cool cities, I wouldn’t mind living there. I told Aaron that Colorado was cool but California is WAY cooler! I would prefer to live here! The average temp is in the 70’s. You can climb, surf, bike, golf, kayak, sail, all the stuff we love to do and you can do it YEAR-ROUND! It’s amazing!
We are spending the weekend with my Aunt Joie and Uncle Hans in Avilla Beach. They have a great house near the ocean. Today we are going hiking in the mountains the surround there home. We are looking forward our weekend here! I miss everyone! -Lisa

06/12/2003 Archived Entry: “Money stolen and epics abound”

We called the bank on Tuesday morning to find out how our budgeting has been going. We’ve done a good job so far keeping track of our spending, keeping our receipts, really being as cheap as possible. We were surprised to find our account balance $1500 less than what we had anticipated. Someone had been stealing from us! I still had my check card but somehow someone had the card number or had somehow made a card and was running up charges at grocery stores across Vegas. After calling our bank we tracked the first illegal charge back to June 5th, the day after we arrived in Vegas. We narrowed it down to 2 locations – Wal-Mart or the hotel we were staying at, Lady Luck (oh the irony). We spent all day Tuesday just feeling like we had been completely screwed – money we had worked so hard to save was gone. We filed all the necessary paperwork with the bank to be reimbursed and even went to the police station to file a credit card fraud report. So hopefully we will get our money back in a couple of weeks so that we can keep our vacation plans. Both Lisa and I are ready to leave Vegas – I’m pretty sure she never wants to come back. Me? Well, I don’t know – I like the climbing here but I have to say the city itself sucks. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be. But back to the climbing – we did Tunnel Vision yesterday…

got a late start because we knew the route wouldn’t come into the shade until about 2:00 pm. So in the morning we climbed at the Sandstone Quarry area (third pullout) on the Mass Production wall. At about 1:00 we started hiking out towards Tunnel Vision. I should have known it would take us a while to climb it – it was a route neither of us knew much about but I figured we could make it without too much trouble and we’d probably be down by dark. I was a little off. By 11:00 pm we made it back to the car to find a $50 ticket on our windshield for being on the loop road past closing time.

Climbing the route went smooth. I decided to take double ropes just in case we had to retreat but I knew that likely we’d only need one rope. Climbing with doubles is always tricky especially on routes with deep cracks – and man were the cracks DEEP on this route. The first pitch I stopped short on because both lines were getting hung up in this chimney. I managed to string together the top of the first and the entire second pitch to make up some time. The second pitch was great, an easily protectable chimney. I was learning that this line was going to have a lot of chimeny climbing – and chimney climbing doesn’t usually get to me unless it is super exposed and hard to protect. The third pitch was super exposed and hard to protect. It kind of got to me. But I would say, in retrospect, that it is probably the single best chimney I have ever climbed. It started off real deep – like, there’s no way you could fall out of it deep – falling into it was a different story. If you slip on a chimney as deep as this one you would become a permanent human chockstone. Future climbers may be able to use your skull as pro. This chimney pitch was tight enough that I had to take my helmet off because it wouldn’t fit. There was no protection for the first 30 feet but then I found a thin crack in the back. Another piece several feet higher protected the truly exposed part – stepping out of the chimney. There’s nothing like being on the outer edge of a chimney with the wall sweeping away beneath you to make vertigo set in. I was happy to reach the belay at the top of the third pitch. I quickly lead the 120 foot fourth pitch knowing that we were pressed for time. Lisa had said that she wanted to climb the dark tunnel pitch (5.3X) – Yes, the X means no protection. I don’t know how she kept it together enough to do it – I was so impressed. The tunnel pitch was dark, very slick, and the route finding was difficult. When she made it to the belay I was so happy – it was her best lead yet. And a note to those who think that 5.3 isn’t much – this was a sandbagged pitch if I ever saw one – I’d call it 5.6- maybe even 5.7 – and remember – it was dark!

Speaking of dark – by the sixth pitch I knew we were in real trouble. I saw the headlights of the last cars nearing the end of the loop road below and I knew that the ranger would be following shortly. I hurried through the last pitch fighting the rope drap as if I were a competitor in a strong-man competition forced to pull a locomotive. The ropes tugged at my waist so hard I thought my harness was going to slip off. At the top of the cliff it was dark. We had two headlamps so we started down. I thought at first we would have to spend the night but Lisa would have none of that. My eyesight is terrible at night – terrible. She lead the way on the descent. We made it safely through a free hanging 60 foot rappel which nearly scared us both to death. We managed to find our way around the mountain and back to our packs. The descent had taken over an hour. With our packs on we had only to hike down the steep red dirt slope and up a hill to get back to the car. We were completely alone in the desert now.

I anticipated having to set up our tent and sleep in one of the parking areas because I thought the exit gate would be locked. We were happy to find that there was no exit gate but tire shredders instead which allowed people to exit but not enter.

At midnight we pulled into Del Taco and had dinner. What a day it was.

Tomorrow we leave Vegas – we are both happy to be moving along. We are actually going to some place even hotter – Yuma, Arizona to see some friends of ours. We’ll take a short break from climbing. Posted by Aaron @ 05:37 PM CST

06/12/2003 Archived Entry: “Leaving Las Vegas…Finally!”

Hello again…
We were having such a great time in Sin City until it got the best of us. We were the victims of credit card fraud! You always think it will never happen to you. We thought we were doing everything right! keeping track of our receipts, a log of every penny we spent and checking our account routinely! We met our match here. The scarey thing is we still have the card and NEVER lost it. The number was taken and they got us. Got us GOOD! This is a hard lesson to learn when you are on vacation with a set amount of money. We are getting Traveler’s checks for the rest of our journey. (Note to parental units: yeah yeah we know)

To redeem our saddened state we spent the day (enjoying 95 degree weather for once) climbing at Red Rock Canyon. Everything was giong so well….until the sun starting creeping behind the mountains and we were still VERY HIGH from the ground! Our decent from “Tunnel Vision” (supposedly 15 mins with a rappell) took us probably 2 1/2 hours. We luckily had two head lamps so we could halfway see down.

I will say this, it takes ALOT to scare me and that was the scarriest thing I have ever done (so far). Rappelling into the darkness of the night is not on my 10 things to do in life. For that matter, neither is hiking down the side of a mountain into the dark knowing if I took a step in the wrong direction I would have fallen VERY far! (Aaron didn’t even have is glasses so I lead us down-stopping every 2-3 feet to look back to see if he was there)

If it weren’t for Aaron (and the wise words of my father repeating over and over in my head “Control the situation, don’t let the situation control you”) we would have spent the night on top of that rock! (Although, the view of vegas from where we were was incredible!) All in all, we MADE it to the car only to find we have a $50 fine to pay for being in the park after hours!
I have seen enough of Vegas and I will be so Happy to leave it behind.
I hope our luck changes SOON! Posted by Lisa @ 05:15 PM CST

06/08/2003 Archived Entry: “VEGAS – Red Rocks”

Here we are in Vegas. This is the first I have been able to write. Lisa and I are taking a break today – I’ve got an hour on this public computer at the library. We’ve climbed the past three days and each day has been over 100 degrees! It’s damn hot out here and it makes for some sweaty and heat-exhausting climbing experiences. The first day at Red Rocks (Thursday) we hiked out to Pine Creek Canyon at about 6:15 am thinking that we could jump on Dark Shadows before the day got too hot and the sunlight too unbearable. When we reached the base of the climb we found that it was in full sun – the wall was already scorching hot. Lisa racked up (a total of 2 draws and a couple of cams) and cruised up the first pitch without any problem. When I reached the top of the first pitch we were both burning up – I’d never felt so hot and exhausted. Sweat poured off my head and into my eyes – I felt this odd sensation like I was in a fishbowl looking out, I felt disconnected and light-headed; we decided to rap off the first pitch and wait until the wall was in the shade. Five hours later…..

shade hit the upper pitches. We’d waited on the boulders below, sheltering ourselves from the brutal sun underneath some trees and drank half our water. We must have looked at the sky a thousand times and said, “Come on sun, move!” The shadows slowly took over the wall but the temperature had climbed past 100 by then. The time looked right so I climbed up the first and continued climbing through the second pitch. I wasn’t feeling so great. The dihedral, which was varnished smooth, was slick and greasy – I was happy to find three stuck cams along the way and gladly clipped them. Top of the second was a good ledge. Lisa followed with our second rope for rapping – she was tired. I started up the 120 foot third pitch but when I got half way up to a small bulge I realized that I didn’t have nearly enough stamina to finish the route. We bailed. We were both disappointed.

The next day, Friday, we decided to take it easy, climb some shorter stuff, get used to the rock, the heat, the climbing. We sought shady areas all day, climbing at the Magic Bus crag and the Black Corridor. It was a fun day and farily relaxing. Once the day heated up and the shade was creeping away from the walls we headed back to town.

Saturday – didn’t think we were going to be up for another hike back into Pine Creek Canyon but we went for it anyway. We determined that the wall would be in the shade by 12:30 pm so we’d time it so that we would be there then. On the way past the Red Rock’s entrance gate I saw a folded bill blowing in the road. I casually opened the door as we past, reached down and picked it up – it was $20! Alright, a sign, I thought, this would be our lucky day. On the hike in some clouds were building in the distance – SHADE! maybe even a little rain! more luck. The hike was quick, the climb was in the shade – everything was going great. Lisa wanted to climb the first and second pitches this time – the second pitch would be her most difficult trad lead to date. She climbed straight through without any problems! It was looking good. I lead the long third pitch easily this time and even picked up a stopper we’d left on the previous attempt.

The fourth pitch was awesome – a steep arching crack on a headwall directly beneath a huge roof. From the belay station it looked like it was going to be strenous and hard to protect but it turned out to be as easy as the previous pitches – the only difference was the exposure. Amazing exposure! Lisa followed soon after and we set up the rope to rappel. I realized that the rappelling part is one thing that we still need to get worked out better – there were no hang-ups but it was slower than I like.

So after a previous attempt on Dark Shadows we’d made it – it was a great climb and I’d love to do it again – next time under cooler conditions.

Today is Sunday and we are taking a rest day – the temperature is going to something like 105. One good thing is that we haven’t had to compete with any other climbers for climbs – we’ve only seen 4 other climbers. No one climbs here in the summertime. I’ve begun to notice different variations to heat. The heat in the city where there is asphalt and concrete everywhere is the worst. It just radiates off the roads and buildings – you feel like you are being baked in a convection oven. The heat in the desert is different. If the sun is on you you get this frying sensation on your skin but if there is some shade or even a nice breeze the heat is not so bad. That’s a big difference between Oklahoma-hot and Nevada-hot. In Oklahoma the heat is there if you are in the sun or not. It doesn’t matter if you are hiding under a tree somewhere – you’re still going to be exhausted by the humidity. Here in the desert if you can escape the sun exposure you can manage a little better. But if you are in the sun for a long time you are dead; heat exhaustion sets in and that’s it. You have to be careful out here.

Our plans to do certain routes really have changed depending upon if the route gets sun or not. We are still going to try and do Chrimson Chrysalis if it gets some shade during the day.

I think Lisa and I are both looking forward to getting to California where it will be a bit cooler.


What’s the cheapest room you have stayed in? $40? $30? $25 $19 – how about $12.95! That’s what we are paying at the Lady Luck hotel in Vegas – that’s only $3 more than the Red Rocks campsite, which, by the way, is closed for the summer.

It seemes illogical to complain about a room which is so cheap but let me try. It’s about a 1/4-mile hike from our car to our room. Here’s what we have to go through: we park in the parking garage across the street from the casino, usually on the 3rd level because the other spots are taken by valet parking (?), we go down the stairs or an elevator, cross the street to the casino, hike all the way way through the casino, take an elevator to the “second floor,” walk across a bridge walkway to another set of elevators, take an elevator to the 11th floor, walk down the hall and there’s our room. When we first got there we had to make three trips to the car and back in order to carry our stuff in – it was a mess weaving through slot machines, bumping into old ladies, dodging cocktail waitresses and getting glares from pit bosses. All of our clothes were in Rubbermade buckets so it made it all the more interesting.

But I know – it’s cheap – what can you expect? -AARON

This is the 7th day of our BIG roadtrip! Aaron and I are having a great time! The Grand Canyon was pretty incredible! If you havn’t been you should try to see it one day! We got to hike down one of the trails –talk about feeling SMALL!
We got to Vegas on Wednesday! The weather here is almost unbearable..but we are getting used to it. We have been climbing everyday (except today). We pretty much have the whole park to ourselves…I guess we are the only idiots to want to climb in 100 degree weather. Oh well 🙂 We don’t mind!
Take care everyone! -LISA

Monday, June 2, 2003

Ok – we are off.
We’ll try to keep everyone posted.
First stop is the Grand Canyon – on Wednesday we’ll be headed on to Las Vegas. Posted by Aaron @ 08:02 AM CST

Sunday, June 1, 2003

We are heading out 7 am toward the Grand Canyon! We are very excited and plan to update often! Posted by Lisa @ 11:45 PM CST

05/27/2003 Archived Entry: “Vegas baby, yeah!”

I’m already getting used to being unemployed. Our trip begins on Monday, June 2 when we will leave for Las Vegas. We’ll make a short stop at the Grand Canyon just to make sure it’s still there. Lisa hasn’t seen it before.

We’ll be in Vegas for about 8 days climbing exclusively at Red Rocks. Man, I can’t wait.

We’ve been busy this week packing up our stuff getting ready to move. Friday, May 30, is the move date. Everything is going in storage in Norman for 2 months while we are away. So far on the list we plan on hitting Red Rocks, Yosemite, Squamish, and the Tetons on the way home – big areas with big climbs. I like the climbs that get you off the deck – that include more than just climbing but an entire adventure.

We’ll see how things go but we are gearing up to do a big-wall. Not sure which one or where – just kind of playing it by the weather and how we feel.

04/21/2003 Archived Entry: “Running it out on bad gear”

Leaning Tower Direct (LTD), located in the heart of the Narrows of the Wichita Mountains, is not considered to be that difficult a route but it’s got something on it that makes it – well, kind of scary. Poor pro and a run-out.

The first pitch climbs up a left leaning ramp against a large dihedral. It is sometimes tricky to figure out whether you should be climbing on the slab portion or the face to the right. Either way – the only place to protect the route is on the right. The beginning of the route is pretty easy, good holds and ok gear. Then comes the crux, you place a piece up high in a small crack behind a flake. (Not to go off on a tangent – but something has to be mentioned about the rock quality in the Wichitas. The rock can go from tombstone hard to chossy, flakey, broken crap in a matter of inches – I don’t really understand it but I’ve seen it multiple times on climbs throughout the area. It makes it frustrating when you reach up for a good handhold and it crunches in your hand – this section of LTD was just like that.) I placed a yellow Alien behind the flake – already I wasn’t feeling good about it. I stood up higher and found a small stopper placement behind questionable rock; a flake that was an inch thick. I could practically see the flex when I tested the placement with a tug. No time to worry, I’d just climb on. A few moves into the next section and I realized that would be my last gear to place before about 15 feet of climbing. My feet weren’t working. I was nervous about the gear. My head just wasn’t in it. I backed down.
I wish I had kept climbing, that I hadn’t been intimidated by thoughts of “bad gear” lurking in my mind – I wish I had concentrated on MY FEET! But it was too late now, I was standing eye-to-eye with my manky stopper. Another survey of the wall revealed a vertical crack that would solidly hold a number 4 metolius cam – but it was not in the best position. Still, it was all I could find and much better than anything else I had. I climbed up and placed the cam. The placement was high enough on the right wall that I’d surely take a big swing if I blew the move – but I was sure that my gear would hold now. So up I went again – then came my nerves again – nerves – nerves – nerves. Damn!
“Lower me,” I said. I weighted the rope and the stopper pulled. I dropped a foot or two before the metolius cam caught. Glad I didn’t trust that stopper, I thought.

Encountering situations like this makes me think about climbing this summer and how I need to forget the gear and just keep going! Easier said than done sometimes – even on easy routes.

Friday, April 4, 2003

I have it.
I think I got while roaming around at the Vice Grips area on Sunday – but I really don’t know. I tried to avoid it as best as I could – I know what it looks like but early in the season sometimes the leaves are not visible, only the vines. And to those of you that didn’t know you could get it from the vines, well, I have proof that you can. It’s all over my arms, the back of my leg and — well I guess I must have scratched my ass because it’s there to. Yeah, laugh it up. That’s funny right? So now I’m scratching my ass all the time.

I’m not really sure what the best way is to treat poison ivy. I hate putting on all that medicine and crap. I’d rather just scratch it until it bleeds. Then scratch off the scabs until it bleeds some more. I’d rather deal with the pain than the itching.

It brings to mind that book by Jon Krakauer, “Into the Wild,” where he follows a young man, Chris McCandless, into the Alaskan wilderness. At one point Chris gets a horrible case of poison ivy – if I remember right, it made him very sick and nearly killed him.

I know there’s a pill you can take for poison ivy – but it takes a while to kick in. And I just don’t have the forethought to consider getting such a pill – the last thing you think about in the winter is expecting to get a poison ivy rash in the spring.

So here I sit, crusty yellow-puss scabs on my arms, legs and butt – trying not to scratch myself. Hope this doesn’t detract from my concentration on runout Quartz Mountain slab routes. But I guess if I take a fall I’ll just hold my arms against the wall and use the granite as a giant emery board to ease the itching. Posted by Aaron @ 10:04 AM CST

Thursday, April 3, 2003

Months ago Lisa and I decided that if she got into her graduate program and we had to move we would take the opportunity to go on an extended road trip. Well, everything has worked out so far and the plan is to start our trip the beginning of June 2003. We are quiting our jobs and taking off for the great American west! We hope to hit several major climbing areas along the way with our ultimate destination being Squamish, B.C.

Our first stop? The Grand Canyon After that is Red Rocks in Vegas, then J-Tree (maybe), then Yosemite, then a wonderful relaxing drive up the coast through Oregon and Washington and into Canada. On the way home we’d like to go to Yellowstone and the Tetons.

So – this journal (of sorts) is for rest days when we are exhausted from climbing and can find a public library that has internet access. I’m going to be more focused on keeping a written journal and taking photos and drawing – not even worrying about civilization – but those days when we have to get indoors I’ll give up-to-the moment accounts of where we have been and what we’ve been up to.

I apologize ahead of time – I’m not trying to make anyone jealous – I just like to keep my firends and family posted on how everything is going and the adventures we are having.

No one likes to be called a quitter. Until now.
There is something empowering about quitting a job. It’s early April and I am anticipating the day I walk in and say, “I’m giving my notice.” So you can see, I am doing it the right way. I am not burning any bridges. Not giving anyone the finger as I walk out the door, maybe indirectly I am, but not in a mean way. No – I need to be able to put my work history down on an application and know that if they call my past employers I won’t get trash-talked. I mean, sure, I’m quitting, but I will have to find a new job at some point.
But quitting….
It can be a wonderful thing. It lies at the essence of freedom. To not be tethered to a job, to a paycheck, to a schedule, to unnecesary paperwork, to undo stress, to “lunchtimes” and “breaks,” to deadlines, to timelines, and to phonelines. A wonderful thing.
To quit is to say, “I am taking full control and responsibility of myself…I am choosing to be irresponsible!” YES!
But it begs a larger question. What is life? Is life work? Do we live to work? Is this what our entire lives are supposed to consist of – work? Waking up at 7am to be at work by 8:00? Is life the file room in the opening scene of JOE VERSUS THE VOLCANO where the florescent lights are sucking his eyeballs out? Is life the confinded cubby-hole offices like those in BRAZIL? Does life consist of the constant mechanistic pressure and movement of the underworld in METROPOLIS? Unfortunately, yes – it’s all part of the human experience. But how long are we to stay in these places and under these conditions? For me – not long. I can’t do it. For others, maybe they like work enough to stay there. Or maybe it’s just habit. Maybe they’ve gotten so used to it they wouldn’t know what to do without it – like Milton in Office Space.
I think it’s good to quit sometimes – to do something different – keeps you from burning out – keeps you from wishing you had done something later.
Go ahead – quit – go on holiday. Posted by Aaron @ 12:07 PM CST

Today I am introducing the journal page to the site. Posted by Aaron @ 11:05 AM CST

Wednesday, April 2, 2003

Well, I think I am going to stick with this program for the journal. It looks good. It’s simple. Posted by Aaron @ 01:57 PM CST

This is just another entry that I wanted to test out because I’d like to see how this thing is going to archive.

Related Images:


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.