Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Yosemite Trip Report

Well, we made it back with our bodies intact, but with our egos slightly damaged. Tangerine Trip was a bust. On the bright side we did a bunch of shorter climbs that I have had on my list to do for a while. Here's a quick day by day of our week:

Sunday, we drove up to the valley and then spent 6 hours or so carrying massive loads up to the base of El Cap. Ferrying loads to the base may be the hardest part of an El Cap ascent. That night we bivied right at the base in the dark shadow of big granite.

Monday we cast off on the Tangerine Trip via the beginning pitches of Lost in America and Virginia. I led the first pitch clean at C3+ (moderately hard and awkward, and with ground fall potential.) After Greg ascended the fixed rope up to the belay, he led the mostly free second pitch in good style. Meanwhile Trevor had followed and cleaned pitch one - a real challenge due to the traversing nature of the pitch. Trevor and I then followed the second pitch up to Greg and we decided that we were not moving quickly and strongly enough to realistically finish the route. We decided to bail, but I thought it would be fun to go ahead and haul our gear up to the top of pitch 2, set up our portaledges and spend a night hanging from the side of El Capitan. After hauling our gear up (no trivial exercise) we drank some much appreciated water, set up the ledges and had some canned raviolli. We decided to skip bringing beer to ease the hauling as much as possible, but I offered some Jameson to the boys. They must not be too used to drinking Irish whiskey because they both nearly choked to death trying to gulp it down. "These youngsters are going to need a lot of training" I think. I didn't sleep particularly well, thinking about the suspect flake that my portaledge was hanging from, but I got to watch the nearly full moon make it's way through the ecliptic as the sky cleared and came alive with stars.

Tuesday we rappelled down, carried our loads down (not as heavy, as we dumped most of our water) and secured a campsite in camp 4 before having dinner.

Wednesday we did the Jam Crack in the morning - Greg led the first pitch and Trevor led the crux 5.9 pitch - then I took the afternoon off to take a break from the boys' shenanigans.

Thursday Greg and I climbed the Royal Arches route. It was a nice long route with lots of fun climbing, great belay ledges and an easy 10 minute approach. The descent via the North Dome Gully was the crux of the day. It is a long way down and covers some super scary terrain with loose sand and potential for certain death falls in some sections. We were very glad to have light packs rather than our 80 pound haulbags! The new guide book said to expect up to 14 hours car-to-car, so we were pleased with our 7 1/2 hour time.

Friday Trevor and I got a nice pre-dawn start for Snake Dike on Half Dome (after the Canadians woke us up at 1:30 thinking it was 5:30 - they had already made breakfast before we convinced them that there watch was wrong. Ha!) We hiked 4 miles up the main trail to Half Dome, then 2 miles cross country and on climbers' trails to the base. The route had pitch after pitch of fun climbing on these wild, fat dikes that appear to bulge through the skin of Half Dome. I could do without the hellacious walk up the slabs to top out though. You walk several hundred yards up these steep slabs that get your calves just searing with calf searing calf-searing. (I don't know how else to put it.) That was my first time on Half Dome so I had to take the obligatory Visor Lip pictures before pounding the 8 miles back downhill and ordering a pizza in Curry Village.

Saturday we had breakfast at the Lodge, said goodbye to "the ditch" and I took a shower (my carmates refused one) before loading up and making our way back home.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Keep track of our climbing progress. Maybe.

Anyone who is interested in how my partners and I are doing on the Tangerine Trip may be able to get a quick daily update by Tom Evans. This guy is cool. He provides an amazing service to El Capitan climbers by taking their pictures with this insane telephoto lens from El Cap Meadow. If he can get in contact with the climbers he will give them their pictures basically at his cost for the film. He makes heroes out of us chumps by giving us cool pics to show off. Thanks, Tom.

Anyway, if you check the Supertopo Forum and look for posts by "elcap-pics", usually titled "el cap report d/a/te," you can read about what he has been seeing on the Captain that day. If he is still in the valley next week he will likely be reporting on our progress on The Trip.

Blogger isn't letting me post a picture right now, but I have a few that Tom took of me on my first El Cap route, solo on the Zodiac. With any luck, I'll have some from the Trip to post later too.

edit: Here's a pic that Tom Evans took of me on Zodiac.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

What's So Great About Christianity? ...well, it's better than NAMBLA.

I doubt I will be able to get through the whole thing. I was really excited to read about the science that Francis Collins praised about:
Assembling arguments from history, philosophy, theology, and science--yes, science!--he builds a modern and compelling case for faith in a loving God.

Alas, I haven't been able to dig quite deep enough to get to the good science, but I have read enough to get a taste of what D'Souza is getting at. In part I he tries to scare you into believing that there is a liberal conspiracy among the academics to indoctrinate your children with atheism. It's really quite funny. Here's a typical excerpt:
So, the secularization of the minds of our young people is not, as many think, the inevitable consequence of learning and maturing. Rather it is to a large degree orchestrated by teachers and professors to promote anti-religious agendas.
Consider a timely example of how this works. In recent years some parents and school boards have asked that public schools teach alternatives to Darwinian evolution. These efforts sparked a powerful outcry from the scientific and non-believing community. Defenders of evolution accuse the offending parents and school boards of retarding the acquisition of scientific knowledge in the name of religion. The Economist editorialized that "Darwinism has enemies mostly because it is not compatible with a literal interpretation of the book of Genesis."
This may be so, but doesn't Darwinism have friends and supporters mostly for the same reason? Consider the alternative: the Darwinists are merely standing up for science. But surveys show that the vast majority of young people in America today are scientifically illiterate, widely ignorant of all aspects of science. How many high school graduates could tell you the meaning of Einstein's famous equation? Lots of young people don't have a clue about photosynthesis or Boyle's Law. So why isn't there a political movement to fight for the teaching of photosynthesis? Why isn't the ACLU filing lawsuits on behalf of Boyle's Law?

This guy is unreal. If teachers were explaining an alternative theory to photosynthesis that was based on some nomadic tribe's mythology and not on science, then, yeah there would be -- and should be a movement to stop the teaching of that theory and to start teaching some real science! And, I actually might call the ACLU if a teacher claimed that Boyle's Law was "only a theory" and that the relationship between the pressure and volume of a gas is better described by how much you pray about it, or is dependent on what the eagle whispered to the coyote, or is controlled by the Flying Spaghetti Monster. (Well, actually if she brought up the FSM I would cheer for her.) Anyway, I don't believe he doesn't get it; I think he's just full of shit.

In part II he explains how Western culture is entirely based on Christianity (at least all the good parts) and that the ancient Greeks and Romans gave us nothing except pantheism and homosexuality. I'm not kidding at all here, he equates Greece and Rome to NAMBLA. Then he goes on to describe how Christianity invented "romantic love" and a whole bunch of other steaming, squishy stink.

I probably won't read any more, so you'll have to take that as my review for now. The good news about that is that I already wrote more than you wanted me to about it. The bad news is that you are now welcome to have the book yourself to read or to do anything else with that you see fit.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

What's Going On

Yes, I have been hiding from my vast internet audience. The pressure of enlightening and entertaining all of my readers becomes too much for me sometimes. Here's what's been going on:

I participated in the Bike Tour at the Long Beach Marathon this last weekend. [I'll edit in a picture or link later.] I slept in my truck in downtown Long Beach Saturday night so I could roll out of bed and ride straight to the starting line. I finished in the time I wanted to and was drinking beer (well, a sort of synthesized beer product by Anheiser-Busch) by 8:30 a.m. My friend, Shayna did the half marathon (not on a bike) and exceeded her goal by coming in under three hours -- much more impressive than riding your bike along the beach for a couple hours.

This weekend I will be headed to Yosemite for a trip up El Capitan -- Tangerine Trip to be more precise -- with a couple pals. If all goes well we will be on the wall for about five days, plus a couple of days getting us and our gear to and from the route. If things don't go well we will be home either much earlier or much later. One thing is certain: there will be some very tight man-man-man sleeping arrangements to look forward to. There will also be some gourmet wall cuisine being consumed, i.e. cold canned chili and week-old bagels.

In the mean time, there is a batch of IPA in the fermenter looking to be ready for consumption mid November; and there is a book "What's So Great About Christianity" that I got from the editor to review. Dinesh D'Souza wants to give us some answers besides the obvious "not much." It smells like a steaming pile, and so far tastes like one too.