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Monday, March 2, 2009

Jeff, get well bud!

So here's another 6-monthly update. Ha! Its terrible. So much has happened in the real life, and in the climbing life - so called, cause climbing can sometimes feel ethereal, somehow removed from the mundane inanities of the day-to-day.

This post is dedicated to my friend Jeff, currently recovering from a climbing gym accident. Read on.

Climbing outside is as precious as ever. The Bay area doesn't lend itself to quality and convenient outdoor climbing. But I can hardly complain. I had a luxurious 5 week break over x-mas and new year, the longest continuous time I've taken off from work since the summer after grad school (that was spent traveling around India, Nepal and Bhutan). This break saw me head East again, first to the sandy beaches and limestone cliffs of Railay in Thailand. Next to family in Delhi. Then finally to Hampi in South India. Hampi was etched on the climbing map by the ground-breaking bouldering movie - Pilgrimage, starring Chris Sharma and friends - filmed back in 2002 I believe. While getting to Hampi was rather painful (planes, bus rides), the destination was completely worth it. The 8 days I spent there comprised my longest bouldering trip ever, and got me psyched to get strong and to be able to pull on tiny crimps! Hope to make it back to Hampi soon.
View of Hampi from the Hanuman temple. Endless miles of boulders abound!

Thailand....what more can be said. Few things in life can compare to cooling down from a morning limestone session on the beach with a fresh som-tam (papaya salad), washed down with a creamy coconut shake, to the relaxing company of friends, old and new.

Getting back to the Bay area wasn't so bad. The weather was mighty fine, and San Francisco is a great place to come back to. I've made a home for myself here and there's always a ton of fun stuff happening. I made it out to one day outside bouldering to Sonora, and then last week I traveled over to Boulder and Austin.

The Boulder visit was to climb and hang with Jeff and Rebecca, my friends from North Carolina who recently relo-ed to Boulder. Jeff had a tragic climbing accident at the rock gym a couple of weeks before my trip. He was accidentally dropped by his belayer while close to the anchors of a lead route, and took a 40 foot groundfall. Diagnosed with ruptured vertebrae in his back, a torn ACL and a fractured heel, Jeff was operated the very next day for his back. After a couple of weeks of hospital stay, he came back home Saturday morning, just a few hours before I arrived. Given the severity of his fall, Jeff looked in remarkable good shape. He was already hobbling around on crutches and was in cheery spirits. Jeff is going to be out of climbing for a while but has found other uses for his irrepressible energy - that include practising his guitar, and downloading every movie know to man! I'll see you on the rocks soon big guy!

While in Boulder, I spent a quick session bouldering at a nearby limestone bouldering area called Morrison. A mere 25 minutes away from town, Morrison is one of the many little climbing spots around (damn you lucky Boulderites!) I had visited Morrison a few years back and had gotten spanked. This time I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the place. Part of it was the childlike glee of climbing on real rock after about a 3 week layoff. But more than that, the climbing was really fun! While the lines are not the most aesthetic, they do offer amazing movement, the likes of which are hard to find in a gym wall. They have a mix of pinches, slopers, heelhooks, toe-hooks, the works....on a15-45 degree angle. I worked on this classic called Helicopter which gets a (sandbagged) grade of V5. I did all the moves but then got too tired to link the whole problem. Dave was really close on Center Route (V10). I suppose he's gone back and done it by now. I wish I could go back too :) But that would be an expensive trip to climb one problem. Ha!

I then flew out to Austin for work during the week. We got trained on this new development tool which will be cool to use once we have it operational at work. Austin is a fun town. I didn't get time to check out the fabled live music scene, but dug onto some yummy Mexican (Austin is right by the Mexican border) and great Cajun food. I always over-eat while traveling. Good thing I don't travel much for work. I visited the local Austin gym as well, and immediately got transported to the friendly vibe that only a small gym can offer. Reminded me of Inner Peaks back at Charlotte. While The Austin gym while small, was no softie...the grades were pretty hard and I got schooled on V4s!

Dave on Center Route (photo credit: Scott)

Kush on Helicopter (photo credit: Scott)