Saturday, January 30, 2010

Mara Mugs

Kathy like these mugs. We now have six of them: four of the bigs ones and two smaller ones. We like the big ones the best. Especially if they have turtles on them. If you want to give Kathy a birthday present (it's her half-birthday today, by the way), then you should find her one of these.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Ouray Ice Climbing

I took a little vacation to Ouray, CO with Kathy and our friends John and Samantha to go ice climbing for a few days. If you ever want to learn how to ice climb, then the Ouray Ice Park is the place to go. We climbed for two days, and would have stayed a little longer, but John scored us a really sweet place in Telluride, so we decided to spend a couple days over there as well.

You want to go ice climbing but never have? If you have rock climbed before and know how to belay and set up an anchor for a top rope, then you have the skills to go ice climbing in Ouray. Here's how:
* find 3 or 4 friends who also want to go
* supply everyone with crampons (steel, not the cheap aluminum ones), rigid boots (I have plastic boots) and a helmet. And a belay device.
* bring a couple ropes and a couple sets of ice tools (assuming 4 people in your party).
* bring a few ice screws and a half rope (30 meter 9mm or thicker) for anchors, as well as a few cordelettes and several locking carabiners. The amount of gear you bring obviously depends on the number of ropes that you want to set up at a time. We tried to set up two ropes side by side so that we could all climb together and switch back and forth on a couple different climbs.

The Ouray Ice Park is just a two minute drive outside of town in a canyon that is 20m - 50m deep. Sprinklers line the edges of the canyon, and every night they are turned on in order to build/rebuild all the frozen waterfalls that hang over the edge of the canyon. We climbed in the areas of South Park and New Funtier, which tended to be 25-30m deep and have slightly easier climbs than further down canyon, just about right for toproping on a 30m rope. A trail runs along the top edge of the canyon, and there are several access points where you can scramble down to the bottom. Most areas have trees growing somewhere near the canyon edge, which are good anchor points for a toprope. If the tree is close enough to the edge, you can use a cordelette to help build the anchor; otherwise, you can use the 30m rope as a super-long cordelette, running it from the tree to the upper edge of the climb. We liked to put an ice screw in right next to the main anchor point and clip it into the system as a "just in case" something happens to the tree or 30m rope. Rarely, a climb may not have a tree near it, in which case you may have to build an anchor completely from ice screws. Always have at least two anchor points in your system. If I were climbing solely on ice screws, I would put in three, but with our 30m rope, we were always able to find a tree that was within range of were we wanted to climb.

After setting up your topropes, you can hike down to the bottom of the canyon (or rappel your rope, but I avoid rappeling unless I cannot avoid it) and start ice climbing. It is like rock climbing at the gym, except that you have really sharp points in your hands and on your feet. Don't hit the rope with the sharp point and you should do fine. OK, maybe there are a couple more things to learn than "don't hit your rope with your ice tool", but the Ouray Ice Park is definitely a great place to learn and practice how to ice climb, and I highly recommend it.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Tribute to the Trails - 2010 Trail Running Calendar

I know that I should have mentioned this earlier, as your probably sayin' that your favorite loved one has already given you a 2010 calendar for Christmas or whatever, however....

Go out and buy the "Tribute to the Trails" calendar. Not only does this calendar feature a very small picture of me, but Glenn Tachiyama has created this calendar as a fundraiser to Washington Trails Association, so you can help build trails while hanging pretty calendar art on your wall.

I am the guy in red, way in back as usual.

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Years Resolutions 2010

With the new year here already, I have decided to list a few things I'd like to focus on this year.

New Year’s Resolutions 2010

1. Support my community: We often take for granted many of the activities that we do without realizing the incredible effort taken by those behind the scenes to make these things happen. I would like to do what I can to support the activities that I enjoy.

2. Be more inquisitive: As I walked behind someone the other day, he stopped to look at some kind of plant or flower. I wondered what he was looking at as I walked past. Maybe I should have asked. Almost everyone is interested in sharing their interests, even with a stranger, and I would learn more about the people and the world around me.

3. Plant a garden: I want to connect with the earth and the growing world around me, and then I want to eat it. I promise to leave some space for Kathy’s Japanese maple in our yard.

4. Connect with friends and family more: Give at least one person a day a compliment. Reconnect with friends to whom I have not talked in a while. Reach out to new acquaintances. Visit family, especially if they live in a place where I can go ride the Slickrock Trail before breakfast.

5. Find a dream job: My dream job includes 52 weeks of vacation a year, by the way.

6. Cook: Try new recipes. Try new food combinations. Eat lots of greens. Eat healthy.

7. Vacation with Kathy: Kathy has 48 weeks less vacation than I do. If she wants to go somewhere special in those 4 weeks, I should fit that into my schedule.

8. Seize the day. Do lots of fun stuff. OK, maybe that is not a resolution. Who doesn’t want fun?