Monday, July 28, 2008


I met Mike Patz at the base of the Town Wall the other day. Index has some of the best granite I have ever climbed on and the Town Wall features a stock pile of line after line after line. Good stuff. I found a hat there, which was quite nice. It's striped, has a dragon on it, and is definitely a hip hat for a hip guy. For half of the day I wore it crooked, so the bill was pointing towards one o'clock. It was quite fashionable, until I realized that it's really hard to walk straight with a crooked hat. I ran into a couple trees and got lost on the trail to the Blues Cliff. That night, Mike and I stayed with my buddy Cole Allen. Cole's a classic character. We had to drive to Goldbar to get gas for his vanagon, as the fuel gauge on his clunker broke long ago and he'd used up all his unleaded. At the gas station Cole struck up a conversation with a woman who insisted she had been in Twisted Sister, the eighties glam band. She certainly looked the part.

I've been trying to work on an article about the bouldering here in Leavenworth. Max is going to have a bunch of pictures published in Climbing. Someone else is already writing the article but, I might try to submit mine anyway. I wonder what the protocol is and what the ethics surrounding it are.

I really need to buy a computer.

Last week, I ran over to Jessica's house, picked up some flour and a few of the Rainer cherries from her backyard, and made an awesome cherry pie. I wish I had pictures. It was inspiring. I really like baking. Pies are fun. I need to branch out and start baking some more difficult shit. Maybe croissants or turnovers.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Grapefruit Ankle

Friday, after Max and I climbed Shriek of the Mutilated, we climbed a really cool sport route called Das Muzak. We both managed to send the rig our second try. Then we rallied back to the Peshastin house, I showered, shaved, threw on a nice shirt and some black shoes and headed to an interview for a bussing position at Visconti's. The manager looked at my application and my resume quizically. "Don't you think you're overqualified?" Obviously, the manager had never seen me work. I swore up and down that I was not. Maybe I'll have a second job. I did some errands around town, and saw Isaac. We made plans to boulder and an hour later, he, Ryan, and I were at the Icehouse. We rocked out the boulders there for a bit before heading to Saul's Canal, where Isaac had just established some new problems. One was an extremely hard mantle clocking in around v8. Shit. He had his heel and his arm intertwined pressing the business out. Impressive stuff. Afterwards, we stopped by Safeway to get food for dinner. In the checkout line, the cute girl in front of me turned, smiled, and said "Hi James." It took me a moment to place her. She worked as the bartender at Visconti's. We never met, but obviously she knew who I was. We flirted in line. I thought about telling her what a big deal I am but decided to keep it cool. She encouraged me to go back to Visconti's and try hard to get the bussing job. Good stuff. Afterwards, Isaac, Ryan, and I made dinner, and I drank too much beer. What a rad day. There's not much better than having a lot of things go well in one day. Makes me not mind living in Leavenworth so much. I have been thinking about leaving lately, but I might just be able to stick it out up here.

Last night, I worked a double, which means 8 non-stop hours of bussing. I do not mind working hard. Don't tell anyone I said that. But I rarely walk around much outside of work. For the past three and a half years, I have avoided sligging, hiking, and general long walks. The impact makes the metal in my left ankle funky, and the whole rig swells up like a grapefruit. Yesterday, I hobbled to my car after my shift ended. I felt like a cripple again. Not cool. Learning to walk again was difficult. Limping reminds me of the pain.

In other news, I am going to see the Batman movie today and am very excited. I love superhero movies. I spend hours reading comic books. Yup, I dork out to The Amazing Spider-Man, and The Dark Knight, and the occasional Archie and Jughead comics. Who doesn't think Peter Park is the shit, or that Bruce Wayne is a badass, or that one day Betty and Veronica will kiss and make Jughead's day.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Shriek of the Mutilated

Max rolled a cigarette, letting a few shreds of Bali Shag fall into his lap. He sucked on the coffin nail, and racked up. The day before he removed an unecessary, and somewhat annoying, pin from the route. Two weeks before, he had tried the route. A year before he flailed on it. He finished his cigarette and stared at his rolling tobacco. For a moment I thought he would chain smoke another one. He reached in his pack, grabbed his lighter, and smoked some hippie lettuce instead. Nervous.
Shriek of the Mutilated climbs out a body length roof. Max moved delicately up to the overhanging section of granite, placed a cam carefully, rested for a moment then started into the crux. He bumped his hand out to the lip, stretched more, then popped to a small ledge. That's when he screamed. His feet cut. He dangled in space before quickly slapping his other hand around the lip, throwing his heel onto the rock, and pressing his body up to a tiny crack. He grunted heavily when he finally pulled over the savage roof. Tough guy, Max Hasson.
It was pretty cool to watch Max try hard on a route. Though an accomplished rock jock, with a one day ascent of Cerro Torre's Compressor Route, numerous v8 boulder problem sends, and 5.12+ sport flashes, he had not red pointed 5.12 on gear before today. So next time you see him congratulate him. Or better yet quote the Beatles and tell Maxwell Silver Hasson "Bang! Bang!"

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Project Perhaps?

In climbing, it is possible to climb very, very hard. Usually this requires a decent amount of effort. Some people project routes, working for long periods to send the rigs. Rob Miller spent two or three years on the Muir Wall on El Cap, leaving right after work in Santa Cruz, driving three and a half hours to Yosemite, hiking to the top of El Cap, and rapping down the face to work on the route. That's one type of projecting. Alex Honnold waltzed up to Jailhouse tied into his rope, and tried Flower Power, hanging on the bolts, and bouldering out the moves. He tried the route again for a couple days, complained about how hard it was, then sent the savage 14b in eight tries. That's another type of projecting.
Yesterday, a bunch of monkeys and I piled into my station wagon and bumped up the Icicle road to boulder. The Millenium boulder sits next to the river in a small opening, a single large granite chunk. A half dozen problems ascend the formation most of them involving sloping holds and heinously high feet. On one side of the formation there is the Millenium Traverse, which begins in a curvature of the rock, hits a sloping lip and moves left across the boulder to a large sidepull and a huge move to a good ledge. I climbed well on it yesterday and plan on going back to work on the problem more. Hopefully, it won't be a epic project but be something I can complain about for a few days, crush, and then spray about.

Monday, July 14, 2008


I wish I was an idiot savante, minus the idot part. Imagine being able to tickle the keys of any grand piano with Mozart’s 19th symphony or strutting into a Las Vegas casino, counting all the cards, and strolling out with millions or maybe Tom Cruise could be your brother. But I’m not Rainman, though I am an idiot savante, minus the savante part.

I try to picture myself inventing the paper clip, or perhaps the glue on the back of a post-it-note. That would be smart. I try not to picture myself with a paper clip, scrapping a tin pipe for resin, or sniffing a post-it-note’s glue to get high. That would be more realistic. I prefer to imagine the fantastic. Walking around the financial district of San Francisco with a leather suitcase filled with protocol pamphlets on Wells Fargo’s auditing department. That would be fantastic. Somewhere along the lines of Falcor, the luck dragon in The Neverending Story, a flying white Dachsun, who looks more like he should belong inside a hot dog than amongst the clouds. Sitting in my station wagon, stealing wireless from the local library, and looking for another job, more money to pay for another pair of climbing shoes. That would be realistic. Too bad reality can not become the fantastic.

I am epicing. I have no money. I am not working enough. The future looks grim. This is me festering.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Cleaning and Grinding

Today, we cleaned the Peshastin house. I took the time to scrub the counters with a sponge and soap instead of my shirt sleeve while Max swept. Hell, he even moved the furniture. After such hard work, we deserved some well earned sustenance. Max blended a creamy peach and banana smoothie complete with a healthy dose of Trader Darwin’s Whey Protein. This vanilla powder contains 16 grams of protein, 130 IU of Vitamin D, and 80 mg of calcium from the whey protein extract. Tired of all the jokes about how he jumared the Compressor Route on Cerro Torre, and got dragged to the summit of a first ascent on Fitz Roy, Maxwell is bulking up, moving from his current bantam weight class to one where he will not be considered so light duty. Good luck Max! After he finished his bulk fest, I used Max’s Cuisin Art to mix a batch of garlic hummus, which turned out quite well. Now, let me tell you something; I can blend. It’s a delicate art, this whole chopping and grinding business. Here are a few things I have learned over my years behind a blender.

1. Do not toss your ingredients in half-hazardly. Oh no! Formulate a game plan, starting with the items which will be hardest to chop and adding to this base ingredient.

2. I once mistook peanut butter for tahini. Make sure to read the labels on all ingredients or your hummus may have a strange hint of Skippy.

3. The proper way to run a food processor is to add ingredient, close lid, and then blend, puree, or chop. Do not run the processor with the top off for two very good reasons.

3.a There could be splatter. I spent half an hour wiping garbanzo beans off my kitchen walls.

3.b The opportunity to put in some foreign object into the blender is way too great when the cover is off. My favorite wood spoon lost half of its curve and there is always a chance a finger could fall in. Neither splinters nor blood add a pleasant taste to hummus.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

On Bouldering and Awkward Conversations

Some days quick draws cover the ice screws. Other days, crashpads cover the ropes and biners. But on most days, piles of empty Olympia cans bury the climbing gear. A week ago, the boys of the Peshastin house dug the mountaineering gear out and made an epic slog up Mount Maude, a classic Cascade choss hike. For the next three days Max, Jens, and Dave sat. They barely had enough energy to scrap their pipes and take their hourly resin hits. I avoided the hike and stayed pysched on the local climbing, bouldering around the Tumwater and Icicle Canyons. Rad stuff. I took a day off and wandered the granite boulders to make a summer tick list. For the past few days, I have been attacking the list, checking out some of the harder problems and sending the easier ones. Two days ago, the monkeys and I rallied out to the Forestland to try the Ruminator, a classic Leavenworth boulder problem. The twenty foot highball begins off an undercling and follows a steep crack to an exciting finish. Sick. Real sick.

Jens and I drove out to Nason Ridge a couple days ago. The local choss pile features steep, crazy rock. Lots of big holds. Lots of loose rock. After warming up Jens started up a line in the left part of the cave. The climb follows easy terrain to a strange fin, which juts out at head height. The crux of the route involves hitting the fin and pushing against it in a sort of fucked up chimney move. Imagine reaching up and pushing off against the O on a stop sign. Jens fell with the rope wrapped around his leg, lowered to the ground, started back up and fired the route. I tried the route afterwards, did the move and entagled my arm in the rope. When I fell I managed to get a big burn across my arm just below my bicep. Ouch.

Yesterday, Max, Dave, and I met Joe out at Osprey Rafts, where Joe works as a white water rafting guide. The Wenatchee runs fast even through the summer. The class 3+ rapids crashed into our raft. Exciting stuff. Unfortunately, I was ignorant of how cold the run off of the Cascades is. That and the water was wet. Who knew? We barreled down most the river without too much trouble. The beer before the rapids gave us courage for the white water and the hippie lettuce calmed us down afterwards. Everything went well until the end when my b astard of a friend, Joe, flipped the boat. Max was livid and for good reason. Getting worked by waves sucks espescially when you swim like a stone. Scary stuff. Thank Jesus for life jackets.

In other news, my friend’s ex-girlfriend called me, seeking solace as to why her boyfriend ever left her. It was not awkward at all. I do not know what to say about this except that I need to screen my phone calls more, even if it is a girl.

Also, Jessica had a party at her house the other night. After bouldering, we headed up there, picked Rainer cheeries from her tree, gorged ourselves, and then settled back with a couple Olympias. A few hours later, some of the local Leavenworth kids showed up. One dawg wore a super sized shirt with a huge sequin dollar bill on it. He spent time in California before; he hustled outside Venoose, slinging Oxycotin for big skrilla. “Dollah, dollah billah!” He sprayed. Jens wanted to punch him in the head when he would not share his blunt. Max wanted to show the wiggah what was up for saying “dawg” and “skrillah.” Angry, angry monkeys. Funny stuff.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


I've never been one to like work. My distaste for the matter stems from my childhood, too many long hours shoveling goat shit, planting rows upon rows of silverqueen sweet corn, and chasing cows when they broke through the fences in Vermont. But, I need money to support my obsessive climbing habit. Shoes, ropes, and gas do not come cheap. Thursday morning, I will start working at a rafting company in town. I am torn between trying to find a second job and work a lot, the current position at Osprey only requires 24 hours of work a week, and just trying to get by. Less work means more climbing. More climbing now means more work later though. I would really like to have some money to move to Boulder in December and to take a few months of before going. I really want to spend a little time hanging out in Yosemite/Sonora area this fall as well as head down to Zion. I might have to find a second job.