RTW Ruminations: Jan 19 – 2501/26/2015
Mon – Flatiron Classics Scrambling (4:31, 6000′)
1st Flatiron->3rd Flatiron->Morning After->Green Mt Pinnacle West Chimney->Challenger->Green Mt->Angel’s Way->Achean Pronouncement->Primal Rib->Satan’s Slab->Tomato Rock
After a month away from any serious scrambling it was a real joy to get out for an extended session on the rock today. The First and Third were basically dry, but the initial slab on the Morning After had many small rivulets of water that spiced things up a bit. Surprisingly, the roof crack crux was completely dry, as was the West Chimney on GMP. On Challenger, for variety’s sake I climbed the beautiful fingers-to-hands crack on the lower left side of the east face for the first time. A couple conglomerate pebbles ease the face moves that connect the bottom, wider crack to this higher crack. Worth the extra time I’d say.
From Challenger I headed to the top of Green where I bumped into Peter Bakwin, fresh off his six-week trip thru-hiking the length of New Zealand’s South Island. I thought that maybe I’d gotten my fill of rock for the day, but when Peter asked how I was descending the mountain I spontaneously answered that I would be heading down to Skunk Canyon in search of some more dry rock. Which is what I did.
After making the traverse on the first pitch, the first half of the long crack on the Achean Pronouncement was completely full of ice and snow, which slowed things down a bit, but then the arete and the Primal Rib were all in good condition. After slaloming down through the snow back to the base of Skunk Canyon, I finished up with an ascent of Satan’s Slab, having to pay special attention at the beginning due to more meltwater on the face. The most convenient way back to Chautauqua (I think) from the summit of Satan’s involves hiking a couple hundred feet more up to the base of the Fist, then descending down the south side of the Fifth Flatiron to the Royal Arch. From there I continued descending down to Woods Quarry to avoid the crowds on the RA trail—that were out enjoying this most beautiful and warm MLK Day—before running back down to Chautauqua.
Tue – Allenspark Skiing, 3 Laps (3:31, 6000′) + Climbing Gym
I awoke this morning to an unexpected skiff of snow covering everything in town—including the Flatirons, my planned activity for the morning—so quickly changed plans and headed up to Allenspark for some skiing. It was a good outing there, bolstered by about three inches of powder at the top of the hill that made me finally realize why people get so excited about this stuff—creamy, floaty turns are a lot more fun than scraping and skittering down crusty old snow. Immediately afterwards, I headed to the climbing gym for a session with Timmy and Joe.
Wed – Allenspark Skiing, 3 Laps (3:30, 5000′) + Climbing Gym
Headed back up to Allenspark with Joe and Timmy this morning just as the snow was starting. By time we got to the trailhead, it was a full-on powder day with a few inches of fresh on the ground and tons more dumping down. On the second lap I whacked my left thumb (right at the base of the digit) on a tree hard enough that my initial reaction was that I broke it. It calmed down enough to where I mostly forgot about it for the rest of the outing, but then later in the afternoon when Joe and I were at the climbing gym it somewhat unexpectedly flared back up with a vengeance while I was trying hard on a big, open-handed squeeze hold. That abruptly ended the session for me and I spent the rest of the evening with it in quite a bit of throbbing pain, making it uncomfortable to even touch it.
Thu – Green Mt. (1:38, 3000′)
My brutalized thumb from yesterday was still extremely painful this morning. With poling out of the question I decided to test the shin with a run up the hill from my doorstep. It was 100% painfree and a real pleasure to be out making strides in the fresh snow and brilliant sunshine. If I can keep up a 3x/week running, 4x/week skiing schedule for a while, that will make me happy.
Brendan from Semi-Rad published a nice piece today giving perspective on “pointless” activities, such as free climbing Yosemite’s Dawn Wall. I don’t get especially worked up about this kind of stuff, probably because over a decade ago, when I was studying for a degree in Philosophy, I found myself mostly in agreement with the notion (with significant encouragement from the likes of Kierkegaard, Camus, and Sartre) that the universe is basically an indifferent, meaningless place.
On the surface, this can be a frightening prospect, but it is also a freeing one in that it accords individuals with the responsibility and agency to create meaning. Instead of allowing us to devolve into non-stop pillaging and murdering (as it seems some would have us believe is the logical conclusion), I think it instead suggests that it is incumbent upon the individual to go out into the world full of curiosity, searching for experiences and emotions and knowledge and in the process inevitably happening upon instances of beauty and joy, and maybe even moments that feel disturbingly close to something like truth. But this takes constant effort and work and initiative—no matter the arena where one decides to apply oneself—especially when ideology and commandments are removed from the equation. But, in the end, that’s really all we have, so, as Camus concluded, one must imagine Sisyphus happy. And climbing a big rock in a satisfying, rewarding style seems as arbitrarily valid as just about any other pursuit I can think of.
Finally, in what seems to be the increasingly ironic culture that we live in, I think it takes a fair amount of courage to so unequivocally and publicly care about something (e.g. climbing a big rock), especially something with such a high probability for failure. I’d venture to guess that a lot of the people that find climbing El Cap irresponsible or pointless or selfish have probably never cared that much about almost anything, ever. Otherwise, they’d get it.
Fri – Allenspark Skiing (2:19, 4000′)
Today was frustrating. On the very first descent I decided I’d branch out and start the run from the top via the trees instead of just taking the road back down. Due to my bumbling, flailing ways I ended up nearly ripping the sleeve entirely off my shell, which put me in a foul mood, and just when I’d calmed down a bit and was starting my second climb back to the top of the mountain Joe informed me his skins weren’t sticking so his day was done. Bugger. I’d had the same problem on my last lap on Wednesday, so I could sympathize, but driving 1h30 roundtrip for only two laps doesn’t really balance the equation for me. So it goes sometimes.
Sat – Allenspark Skiing (5:42, 10,000′)
With the Flatirons still (somewhat) cloaked in snow and ice, I opted for skiing again, and was looking to get in a big day after the last two abbreviated outings. With it being the weekend, there were a fair number of cars at the trailhead but puzzlingly not too terribly many people actually out on the route. The tracked, off-road vehicle that we’d seen yesterday was back out today, too (hauling a couple of snowboarders back up the hill), and its tread did a nice job of basically grooming out the road, making for efficient skinning and speedy descents.
Sun – Allenspark Skiing (4:17, 8000′)
With forecasted brilliant weather for the next couple of days, I decided to get one more day in on the toothpicks before scrambling flatties next week. I got a nice early start, which means I had two laps done before anyone else even showed up, and in general I just found a really nice rhythm today on both the uphills and downhills. Alas, I bonked pretty hard on the final 2000′ ascent, and was sort of kicking myself for not eating breakfast and/or not packing a cookie or croissant or cheeseburger so that I could get in one more lap. As it was, I rounded out the week with 25 and a half hours and 42k’ vert. Starting to build a little bit of fitness I think. Lovely day to be out in the mountains.
This definitely made my week as a whole, better.
Of course, the irrepressible Ty Segall already has a new EP out this year, too. It’s pretty fun to be a fan of an artist with such a large, consistently excellent (and ever-growing) catalog of material.
Good stuff, man. I’m enjoying reading your stuff and your general point of view on things. I look forward to more.
Anton, have you ever read any Levinas? Your ruminations touch on his philosophy a bit, or at least I habe had similar thoughts as you, which Levinas’ writings resonate with for me.
I think you’d dig it if you ever feel compelled to pick up some philosophy and haven’t read him yet.
Hey Tony just out of curiousity are you guys currently working on a 110v3? I miss the 1st version and the 110v2’s upper is already shredded due to my postholing antics.
I hear this phrase daily
“you like running huh? I dont know why you would run 30 miles for fun!…what are you running from?…I dont get it! why don’t you get a second job instead of running so you can pay off your college debt?”
Id say 95% of the population doesn’t have the chemical that gives passion to something. Maybe I am wrong…but we wouldn’t have planes, trains, automobiles, the united states, nike shoes, coca cola, or anything else without that 5% that cares about their little piece of heaven.
Hey Tony, I’m sure you saw, but Rubblebucket is going to be at the Fox 4/1. I’ve heard they put on a great live performance. If only they would play with St. Vincent, that show would be interesting and pretty good.
Re your 1/22: From someone whose writing I have admired since my teens.
“The climber is captive of his own body and, figuratively a projection of his mind. Climbs mainly reflect him back on himself… The climber is balancing beliefs as much as balancing on a hold, trying to harvest straight-on as well as peripheral satisfaction, in part a kinetic pleasure while learning something of his own nature – his potential and limitations.” Pat Ament Mountain Magazine No 79 May/June 1981.
Good to see you “get it” Anton.
Keep on doing what you do and telling us about it. And keep on reading what you can find from Ament, Kurtyka and the others who have gone before you and have been brave enough to share the inner peace that comes from moving through the mountains.
I can send you a Pdf of the full Ament article if you cannot source it.
If you haven’t already; H.W. Tillman, The Seven Mountain-Travel Books.
Was wondering if you re planning to race UTMB again this year ?
I m sure you can win it.. it was too easy for François last year 😉
PS: Please, tell NB to bring back that good ol’ 110 (or start working quick on v3 right now!) !!!!!!!!
Hey Stef, I only know cause I asked him but here was Anton’s response in another post:
01/20/2015 at 2:41 pm
Hi Erik, I definitely won’t be at Leadville this year. Like the last two years, I’m planning on being in Europe for all of August and September; I’ll run UTMB if I’m feeling recovered from Hardrock. If I’m not, I’ll stay and run the Ultra Pirineu 110K SkyUltra Final (formerly Cavalls del Vent) in Spain three weeks later.
I’ve booked hotel and flights so going regardless lol 😀
Alright ! Thanks Dave !
What are you skiing on? Tele? AT? Split board?
Dynafit PDG boots and planks. Amateur skimo racing set-up.
I actually teared up for a second when I hit this line “Otherwise, they’d get it.” And that Rubblebucket video is fantastic. Led me to buy the first full album I’ve purchased in a while. Thanks as always for the inspiration.
What is your mileage like on a 25 hour week like this? If Las Vegas had enough trail systems,I’d finish all of Nietzsches work on audio books, in a week!
Rich – this week was 103mi. But, you know, that’s on five days of skiing. For instance, Saturday’s outing was 27 miles, half of which were hiked uphill with boards strapped to my feet, and the other half were slid down on said boards. Roughly, my skinning/skiing rate is 1hr for 5mi, 2k’ of ascent and descent, and transitions (removing and applying skins/clothing layers).
That’s still a gnarly amount of miles. I’ve only hit a triple digit week a few times and can’t again until training for Tushars starts(coaches orders). I must admit, this is my first time on your site. Hugely motivational.
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