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Thursday, November 1, 2007

My Dad, the Globetrotter!

So my dad is off on a wild trip indeed - to the exotic, beautiful, remote and COLD land of Antarctica this winter. He leaves in about a week's time for an entire summer (the seasons get reverse up there), about 3.5 months worth of stay. Pretty proud of him we all are, not to mention just a little nervous given that Antarctica is a little more than just another trip overseas. But hey, I'll shut up about it and let the man himself fill you in. Check his diary out at Wish him luck thru the next week of crazy prepwork.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Kathak with Tap Dancing!

Last month my friend Disha was kind enough to invite me to an amazing dance event called India Jazz Progressions. (More info can be found at Quite one of its kind, this performance consisted of an amazing 'jugalbandi', or fusion of sorts between Kathak, a very traditional North Indian dance form, and tap dancing, a fairly modern American style of dance. A little disbelieving that such different schools of dance could blend well, I decided to trust in my friend's smart taste and went along with some friends to see this performance.

I was blown away! There was such fantastic rhythm created between the metal tap dancing shoes and the ghunghroos (ankle bells) worn by the kathak dancers. The duets and solos showed amazing synhcronicity. Who would have ever thought? I'll definitely be in line for a ticket the next time this show comes to town. Here's to more such creative collaborations in the future!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Brush with Celebrity

About a month ago, the climbing movie King Lines premiered in San Francisco. The movie is incredible...the most slick, inspiring climbing footage I have seen yet. It's all about Chris Sharma though, which does get a little monotonous. I was lucky to actually win a prize during the intros before the movie actually started. The MC asked for Sharma's middle name. Before anybody had a chance to react, I leapt up and shouted out " OMPRAKASH!!" Dunno, if anybody else knew the answer, but I didn't get them a chance :) Chris Sharma was named by a Hindu Guru that his (hippie, and obviously enchanted with the mystic Orient) folks paid obeisance to in Santa Cruz, CA. More in Chris Sharma My friends are always surprised that the name Sharma is as common in India as the name Smith is in the USA. Anyways, I got a copy of the King Lines DVD and a yr long subscription to Urban Climber magazine for my efforts :) I also had a great idea for the 2nd event - doing a funny Sharma impersonation. But I thought I had had my share of limelight for the evening. Anyways later, my friend Tahnee was kind enough to shoot a pic of me with Sharma as he was signing a poster for me.

Talking of celebs...I managed to hang out, and watch some big guns climb at the RocTrip recently. More on that later.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The UN in rural Kentucky

That's right. During my week-long stay at the Red, I met climbers from Spain, Italy, the UK, Australia, Sweden, Phillipines, France and ofcourse from all over the US and Canada. Everybody who came was wowed. Including yours truly. Despite my limited experience with climbing destinations, I think I concur with climbing authorities such as Jens (owner of climbing megasite that the Red may simply be the best sport-climbing destination in the world. True the weather can be fickle, and rest-days are about waiting for the next climbing day. However if perfect diverse sport-routes, in all grades (from 5.8 - 5.14) are what you are looking for, then the Red's hard to beat. The New River Gorge comes close (given my bias towards the New), however I'm forced to admit that the Red is a more fun destination after all. My next entry will be a detailed trip report.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Jonesing for those pumpfests

So its Thursday morning...Mike and I fly out tomorrow night to Kentucky to climb at the Red River Gorge. Its going to be a long eye flight. Layover somewhere in the South, fly into Dayton, OH around 10 am Saturday...then drive 3 hrs to the Red River Gorge. But I'm sure not complaining, only too happy to escape out of silicon valley, to a familiar loved haunt in the South-East. I was talking to some friend last night and mentioned how strange it felt that a quick road-trip that I'd make on a whim when I lived in Charlotte, now took a few months of planning.

The rock climbing routes at the Red are long, overhung and pumpy (forearm lactic acid inducing). You fall not because you can't technically do a move, but you get really exhausted...sometimes to the point that your fingers do not close around the next hold. This pic taken of the Motherlode crag gives you an idea of how steep the routes can be. Stay tuned for more pics and stories of some pumpfests!

Last night I stayed back in South Bay and visited Planet Granite after a while. I would have gladly bouldered (since that is so awesome there) but I was lucky to run into my friend Andreas and got a partner to lead-climb with. All the routes at PG are hard! I got my ass-kicked on 11s and and a 12a. Mission Cliffs routes are definitely easier, I'd say by a full letter grade.

I'm in a work training class right now and better start paying attention.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Red needs your help!

I have always admired the the Red River Gorge Climbing Coalition (RRGCC) The RRGCC is an association of volunteer climbers whic manages, climbing access, crag development, bolt replacement, trails, and a bunch of other things that go into developing and preserving a world class climbing area like the Red (as its fondly referred) What's quite noteworthy is the level of activism and passion in the climbers and members of the RRGCC. All these people have busy lives, usually drive atleast a couple of hours to drive to rural Kentucky (where the RRG climbing area is at), and then recruit, engage and spend a lot of their precious 'climbing' time in maintaining the Red (as its fondly called).

The Red is situated in poverty-stricken rural Kentucky. Honestly, the contrast between us, selfish middle-class climbers who holiday at the Red, and the locals living out of their tatty trailers and eking minimum (or no) wages is huge. The climbers and the RRGCC undoubtedly (though indirectly) play a role in bringing attention and tourism $$ to this forgotten part of Kentucky.

Northern California, my home since last November does not lack its share of world class climbing destinations (WCCDs)...Yosemite is probably the most well known rock climbing area in the world. There are volunteer climbing associations in the San Francisco Bay Area. However, despite the sheer density of climbers in CA, and the general wealth here, I haven't seen quite the same level of passion and effort in maintaining access, replacing bolts etc. Maybe that's an ignorant statement, and I'll probably learn more since I haven't been here too long.

However this post is not about California, its about the Red. The reason I'm getting amped is that I'm visiting the Red next weekend for about a week-long climbing trip. Besides perfect fall weather (cool and dry) the Petzl Roc Trip happens at the Red this year. Petzl decided to join forces with the RRGCC, combining the RRGCC's annual Rocktoberfest with its internationally celebrated RocTrip, and host it at the Red this year More info is found here This event will help mobilize attention and funds from the world climbing community for the cause of the Red.

The Red follows a unique and aggressive climbing access model. To prevent crags from being closed to climbers by oil companies (rural Kentucky's actually oil rich) and other myopic groups, they have gone ahead and actually bought entire crags. As they like to say "If we buy 'em, they can't close 'em'! In order to meet their yearly mortgage payment, they need our help! I'm asking anybody who is reading this post to please consider giving a few bucks towards preserving access for current and future generations. Also for the Roc Trip, Petzl is making a 1 on 1 match for donations up to $10,000. Contributions can be made from the Roc Trip main page

I'm energized to see the Red being promoted by some of the world's best climbers. The Roc Trip will an amazing event. I can't wait!