Archive for January, 2009
Wednesday, January 28th, 2009
Camping with The Fire Fly. We accidentally over-shot the dog camping area, but ended up with this prime location for a day.
HorsePens40 (HP40) is a premier South East bouldering destination known for its abundant sloping sandstone holds. It is the location for one of the three annual Triple Crown Bouldering Competitions, the other two destinations between Little Rock City and Hound Ears.
Best Time to Visit
HP40 is a cool weather bouldering destination making the best time to visit when the temps are in 40 – 60’s.
How to Get There
HP40 is located near Ashville, Alabama and is approximately two hours from Chattanooga, Tennessee. Once in Ashville, go north on US 231 for about 4 miles ensuring to look out for the HorsePens 40 signs. Turn right onto County Rd. 35 and go about 2 miles to County Rd. 42 (Hyatt Gap Rd) at the Horse Pens 40 sign. Follow it to the top of the mountain, looking for a rail fence and large HP40 sign on the right hand side.
There isn’t a guide book for the area besides the small Dr. Topo print out. I was fortunate and had a couple friends give me a tour, definitely the optimal way to understand the layout of the area.
I really didn’t spend enough time in HP40 to give a good list of classic problems, but a small handful include the following:
- Bum Boy – a definite area must do. Don’t be discouraged, because even though it is rated v3 – v4, it seems to take everyone hours to figure out.
- Centerpede – located on the same boulder as Bum Boy
- Millipede – located on the same boulder as Bum Boy
- Mortal Combat – aesthetic, yet scary, highball arete.
- Mulletino – roof problem
- The Crown – a fun climb with a dynamic move
- Hammerhead – a prow begging to be climbed
- Great White – beautiful line that you must at least look at, even if not climbing
There is camping at HP40, currently costing $10 per day. The campground is compact and social, lying adjacent the boulder field. However, if traveling with a dog (reference the dog section below) one must camp in a separate designated area.
Food / Drink
The closet restaurants are in Ashville, a 10 – 15 minute drive from HP40. Selection is slim! For better options, the best bet would be in Gadsden. HP40 does have a small store where food items, but not drink, can be purchased.
- Showers: HP40 has a good size facilities with many restrooms and a couple showers. The facility is clean, heated and has outlets.
- Laudry: I am unsure on this, but assume the drive back to Gadsden would be necessary.
HP40 is NOT dog friendly. They highly recommend you leave your pet at home. However, if traveling with your pet, simply ensure to follow their strict dog rules. The basic rules are dogs are allowed in one field (a very large field) and in the dog camping area. DO NOT even consider taking your pet into the boulder field. Please follow these rules as HP40 is private property and ignorance could threaten access.
Wi-fi is difficult to find in this area. The closest I found was back in Gadsden, an approximate 45 minute drive. The best location was either of the two Krystals as the hours of operation are long, the stores are open 7 days per week and wi-fi is free.
Rest Day Activities
I didn’t stay in HP40 long enough to check out rest day activities, but had initially planned to check out Birmingham as it was a mere hour drive away.
If you have additional beta, please feel free to email me or comment.
Wednesday, January 28th, 2009
I list this portion of my trip as a 2 week stop, but unfortunately I was only able to climb in HorsePens40, Alabama for 2.5 days as the rest of the time it pissed down rain. Blah. The rain was seriously such a bummer as HorsePens40 was hands down the most unique climbing destination I had yet to visit on this trip. The property was owned by a southern gun-toting family, the boulder field was accentuated by surrounding barns and sloping holds were in over abundance. Plus due to the sandstone slopers, it was not rare to see climbers with perfectly circular bleeding finger tips. Unique!
I have only a small handful of photos from my days there, none of which do HP40 justice.
Me “attempting” to send the hardest v2 ever. The name of the climb is Sandbox. Seriously… has anyone ever sent this climb? =)
A fellow climber on classic line Bum Boy.
Some friends working Mulletino.
John on High Life.
Thursday, January 22nd, 2009
Last week I made the 16 hour trek to my next climbing destination, Hueco Tanks, therefore loading up the iPod with numerous podcasts. I ended up listening to 13 hours of podcasts and learning many interesting facts and enjoying some fabulous interviews. One of my favorite podcasts was this essay by Jim Haynes on NPR’s This I Believe. I particularly liked the segment where he talked about the guidebook not written about sites, but rather people in those destinations who were willing to take in travelers. You can listen to his reading here or read the script below.
“Every week for the past thirty years I host a Sunday dinner in my home in Paris. People, including total strangers, call or email to book a spot. I hold the salon in my atelier, which used to be a sculpture studio. The first 50 or 60 people who call may come, and twice that many when the weather is nice and we can overflow into the garden.
Every Sunday a different friend prepares a feast. Last week it was a philosophy student from Lisbon, and next week a dear friend from London will cook.
People from all corners of the world come to break bread together, to meet, to talk, connect, and often become friends. All ages, nationalities, races, professions gather here, and since there is no organized seating, the opportunity for mingling couldn’t be better. I love the randomness.
I believe in introducing people to people.
I have a good memory, so each week I make a point to remember everyone’s name on the guest list and where they’re from and what they do, so I can introduce them to each other, effortlessly. If I had my way, I would introduce everyone in the whole world to each other.
People are the most important thing in my life. Many travelers go to see things like the Tower of London, the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower, and so on. I travel to see friends, even—or especially—those I’ve never met.
In the late ‘80s, I edited a series of guidebooks to nine Eastern European countries and Russia. There were no sights to see, no shops or museum to visit; instead, each book contained about a thousand short biographies of people who would be willing to welcome travelers in their cities. Hundreds of friendships evolved from these encounters, including marriages, and babies, too.
The same can be said for my Sunday salon. At a recent dinner a six-year-old girl from Bosnia spent the entire evening glued to an eight-year-old boy from Estonia. Their parents were surprised, and pleased, by this immediate friendship.
There is always a collection of people from all over the globe. Most of them speak English, at least as a second language. Recently a dinner featured a typical mix: a Dutch political cartoonist, a beautiful painter from Norway, a truck driver from Arizona, a bookseller from Atlanta, a newspaper editor from Sydney, students from all over, and traveling retirees.
I have long believed that it is unnecessary to understand others, individuals, or nationalities; one must, at the very least, simply tolerate others. Tolerance can lead to respect and, finally, to love. No one can ever really understand anyone else, but you can love them or at least accept them.
Like Tom Paine, I am a world citizen. All human history is mine. My roots cover the earth.
I believe we should know each other. After all, our lives are all connected.
Okay, now come and dine.”
Jim Haynes was born in Louisiana, ran a bookstore in Scotland, created a theater company in London, launched a newspaper in Amsterdam, and taught media studies in Paris. Guests to his Sunday dinners have included Allen Ginsberg, R. Crumb, and Molly Ivins. Contact Haynes about his Sunday salons.
Monday, January 19th, 2009
As many of your readers know, I am quite passionate about volunteering and being involved with small events that can potentially make a big impact. And today I stumbled upon a great idea organized by a fellow climber.
Laura Fitton, known online as Pistachio, is a social media consultant, mother of 2 plus a climber. She focuses her business efforts on using micro strategies to achieve macro results and over the holidays created the Well Wishes campaign, an effort to raise $25,000 for Charity Water in order to build an entire water project for a school or hospital in Africa through the simple asking of her online audience to contribute $2 each. You can read more about what she is doing here. Or if interested in donating, she is gathering donations mostly through TipJoy (for us Twitterers) or through credit card / paypal on her Charity Water page. If she raises $12,500 by january 21st (her birthday), she will receive a $5,000 match (equivalent to another village).
Saturday, January 17th, 2009
As I am reading through my Google Reader today, I thought I would do some link love in order to share some great blogs and posts with you readers.
I read a handful of blogs, but some of my favorites include the following:
This week there were many excellent climbing blog posts that I wanted to share with you readers.
And other notable news..
Saturday, January 17th, 2009
Little Rock City was one of my very favorite climbing destinations on this road trip. The bouldering area is compact, the sandstone problems quite easy to locate, but mostly there are numerous aesthetic, classic lines.
Best Time to Visit
Little Rock City is a cool weather bouldering destination making the best time to visit when the temps are in 40 – 60′s.
How to Get There
Little Rock City is very easy to locate as the boulders surround the Montlake Golf Course. From downtown Chattanooga head north on US-27. I believe I used the exit for Chickamauga Dam and then followed the signs for the golf course. However, the google map instructions differ slightly and can be found here.
How to Receive Access
Currently only 35 climbers are allowed into LRC daily, with 20 parking passes given out. To climb there, you must do the following:
- The day prior to climbing, create a log-in on the Southeast Climber’s site.
- The day wanting to climb, WAKE UP AT 5am (no later!) and log-in to the site. Click “Get a Pass” and state if you need parking or not. (Note: I was visiting the area during Christmas break so perhaps there were more climbers than usual. All I know, is there were days when all the climbing passes were taken by 5:12am.)
- Park at the furthest side of the parking lot (furthest from the boulders) as this is the climber parking area.
Rumor on the street is the golf course is going to start charging $5 per day per car in 2009. The registration process will still be necessary and supposedly they will not be increasing the number of climbers allowed in daily.
There is definitely NOT any camping around LRC, but possibly some in Chattanooga. I was fortunate enough to have friends to crash with while in the city. If not as fortunate, it looks like the following campgrounds are located in Soddy Daisy.
There isn’t an official guidebook to the area, but there is a Triple Crown Series comp guide that is available in the club house. I might scan a copy and put it here on my blog, but I don’t have an access to a scanner at this time.
Internet Access can be found at a handful of locations in Chattanooga. I usually went to GreenLife as their wi-fi is good and they have excellent, healthy food.
Rest Day Activies
Rest days are easily filled with Chattanooga site seeing.
- Tennessee Aquarium – this aquarium ranked as one of the best I had visited in the US. Current cost is $20.
- Walnut Street Bridge – this pedestrian bridge is located on Walnut Street. Take a couple minutes to saunter across as it gives a great view of downtown and the riverways.
- Civil War Sites – Chattanooga was a key city during the Civil War, resulting in many historical sites.
- Restaurants – there are a good amount of great restaurants in Chattanooga. For hamburgers, definitely hit up Tremont Tavern as it is far superior to Hair of the Dog. The best pizza joint is by far Lupis, plus they have a good beer selection. An excellent affordable Italian place is Tony’s in the Bluff View Art District. Good seafood can be found at Blue Water (the lobster mac and cheese is phenomenal!) but it is probably on the pricey side for a dirt bag climber. There is a fabulous authentic Mexican place, the name of which I forget, that is down the street from the sushi joint Hiroshis.
Little Rock City does NOT allow dogs. Most climber simply leave their dogs in their vehicle, walking them in the adjoining field. This seems to be allowed.
If you have any additional beta, please feel free to post in the comments.
Wednesday, January 14th, 2009
I’m currently making the 16 hour trek from Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, Arkansas to Hueco Tanks, Texas. Last night I put in 5 hours of the drive, which went by surprisingly quickly thanks to podcasts. Some of my favorite podcasts include WSJ: This Morning (allowing me to keep apprised of business news), The Economist (I enjoy their world news coverage), Barack Obama’s Weekly Radio Addresss (though only 5 minutes long, it is inspirational) and Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me (my favorite podcast, though completely silly). I’m always trying out new podcasts and today I found a great one: The Nutrition Diva.
The Nutrition Diva provides 5 minute long podcasts addressing health topics that I truly am interested in, for instance “Organic, Schmorgaic”, “Just the Flax, Ma’am”, “Is Going Meatless the Answer”, “High Fructose Hysteria” and many more. I catch myself learning so many great facts that I can easily implement in my life.
Some of the great take-aways I learned yesterday were:
- High fructose corn syrup isn’t any worse than normal sugar. What is more important is watching how much sugar is consumed. On average, the normal person should intake less than 50 grams of sugar.
- High fiber diets are great because they help you lose weight, prevents disease, keeps you regular and fiber is usually found in foods that contain vitamins and antioxidants. One should try to consume at least 25 grams a day, though ideal consumption would be between 35 – 40 grams.
- Organic is not always nutritionally better than conventional fruits and vegetables. It instead depends on how fresh the vegetable is, meaning when it was picked. However, organic is substantially better for the environment and for personal pesticide ingestion. If on a tight budget and can’t always afford organic, follow the Dirty Dozen rule. Avoiding or buying organic of these 12 fruits and vegetables will cut your pesticide ingestion by 90%: peaches, apples, bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, spinach, lettuce, imported grapes and potatoes.
- Flaxseed really is all that it has been hyped up to because it is high in fiber and protein, includes high contents of ligands (protection against cancer) and is very rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.. For full benefits, the flaxseed must be in a ground up form and kept in a refrigerator once it is opened. Buy it in small packages and try to use within a couple weeks.
- Raw vegetables do contain the most vitamins and minerals and how you cook them can have a significant impact. Here are the cooking techniques from worst to best. Worst: cook foods for a long time and throw away the cooking water. Better: boil or stew foods, but incorporate liquids into the dish or another dish. Good: steam foods or microwave them. Best: don’t cook them at all.
- Nuts are a great snack, but too much can easily pack on the pounds. The key is to have two tablespoons of nut butter (peanut butter, etc.) or one handful of nuts. There isn’t one nut that is better for you than others rather each one provides different benefits. Peanuts are high in protein; almonds are high in fiber; English walnuts high in antioxidants. Cashews, unlike the myth, are not any fattier than the previously mentioned nuts; whereas, pecans are the fattiest out of the bunch.
Nutriential Diva really is quite an intriguing podcast. If you listen to it, feel free to post up your thoughts and / or favorite episode.
Saturday, January 10th, 2009
The new year is always a great time for reflection and goal setting. Today I pulled out my 2008 goal document to analyze what I achieved and which marks I missed completely this past year.
I can honestly say 2008 was one of my happiest years. I finished up my first full time job (moving it into a part time position for my climbing road trip), I traveled a lot (the below map showing where I visited in 2008), but mostly the transition into a family-less life was one of the best decisions and the main reason for this year’s happiness. Looking at my 2008 goals, I gladly noticed that I achieved many of the sights I had set… even surpassing one goal that I had initially thought impossible. =)
Over the last week I have created a plan for 2009, using my thoughts from my Last Lecture post. I have always broken my goals into four different categories of personal, career, financial and fitness, and I’ve continued this structure for the upcoming year. I’m not going to post all my goals online, but a good portion of them (in no particular order) are listed below:
- Roadtrip – The goal is to continue on my road trip through the end of March. At that time, I would have been on the road for a total of 8 months, which is a “long enough” break from the real world job.
- Vegetarian Diet – I have never eaten a lot of meat, but this year I am going to live the vegetarian life. The reasons are health related, focusing to see if I can finally hit a fitness and weight level I’ve been trying to achieve for years. On top of this diet I am focusing on organic foods and cutting back my coffee and alcohol intake.
- Start Fresh – I have always wanted to start life off fresh, meaning selling all my belongings and seriously starting out new. I plan on doing this when I get back to Salt Lake. I want to sell my clothes, dishes, furniture and belongings and seriously just start out fresh in a new city. Why not? When I packed up my belongings prior to this trip I noticed there was only two boxes that meant anything to me. One contained all my travel and climbing guidebooks and journals. The other contained momentos from these travels and/or good friends: a pot made by Sam, two wine bottles from Italy, sand dollar from Thailand, Guiness cup from Ireland, rocks from various climbing destinations, wood cup carved by Jed, etc. I want to take these two boxes and rid myself of the rest. Afterwards I will create a new (hopefully different) minimalist life somewhere else.
- Learn French – I have a real hard time with languages, but I am trying again. For the past month I have been working through a French book and a actively listening to cds.
- Volunteer – Last year I did real well on focusing on this goal. I would like to continue to volunteer weekly, even while I am on the road; plus I would like to see if I can implement some type of social awareness into my next career position.
- Reading – I would like to read 25 books this year.
- Vacation Out of the Country – I have loved being on this domestic road trip, but I am antsy to get out of the states again. I would like to take a couple weeks out of the country sometime this year.
- Domain – I own another domain and would like to do something with this site. However, I want to design and code a good portion of it on my own.
- Stop Swearing – whew! I can swear like the best of them, a trait I picked up while working as an intern on a trading floor in Chicago. It is hard to buck this habit as these curse words just easily flow while climbing; however, it isn’t lady like and so I am going to stop this year.
- New Job – I will need to find a new position upon going “home” and I am hoping to find one that I love as much as my old position. This might be tricky in today’s market, but I am throwing out hope anyway. I know exactly what I am looking for, now I just need to find that open position.
- Move to a New City – I would like to make the move away from Utah and to a new city where the culture focuses more on career than lifestyle. Will I like it? I don’t know. Do I want to give it a try? Definitely!
- Unix Knowledge – This goal isn’t really career oriented (but is somewhat applicable). On this road trip I have been working on becoming more comfortable with the terminal window. I am happy with my progress but want to feel confident this year.
- Savings – Every year I decide a set amount of money I would like to save for the year. This year is no different.
- Public Equity Valuations – My current job does not require me to create public equity financial models, but it is a good practice. I have set a goal of how many models I would like to create in my personal time as these models are completely applicable when looking for personal investments.
- Climbing – for the past two years I have set a grade goal as numbers are extremely motivating for me (of course… I work in finance and love numbers!). Yet, this year I notice that I am in a transition phase with my love of climbing. Something about being on the road is getting me excited to work and focus on a career again. I don’t want to give up climbing, but rather find a better median between work and the sport. Rather than focusing on a grade or even on improvement, the climbing goal of 2009 is to maintain the strength I have developed while living on the road. I feel like the range I climb right now allows me many options when going out to the rock.
- Yoga – yoga has been the sole reason for my ankle finally feeling better after a year and a half of aching. I want to continue to practice yoga at least two times per week.
- Run ½ Marathon – I really have no desire to run another marathon, but I would like to participate in another ½.
What about you readers? What are you hoping to achieve in 2009? And how do you plan on going about achieveing your goals?
Friday, January 9th, 2009
December 9th, I left Rock Town and made the hour drive to fabulous Little Rock City. The sandstone problems are aesthetic and compact in an easy to access area. Little Rock City immediately became one of my favorite destinations visited on this trip.
Keenan, a friend I met in the Red River Gorge, on classic line Tri-Star. Fun, fun, fun line!
I joined up with the Atlanta crew to work on Dragon Man. The climb was definitely out of my league… but why not hop on it? Here John is making a hard move to a small crimp.
Another aesthetic line, Decepticon, located in the Back 9 area.
Instinct was beautiful, but hard! Perhaps it felt so hard because the day we were climbing it the temps were 30 degrees. I know bouldering is supposedly best when cold, but I started to lose motivation on this day.
Daryl, pictured here, LOVED the climb Space. I must admit it was a cool line, but I got nervous the higher up I went. One day we had a whole crew of 10+ people working on it. Good times!
Justin, a fabulous artist, sending The Wave. (You can check out Justin’s artwork here and join his fan club here.) =)
I was fortunate to meet so many great people in Chattanooga. Prior to hitting Chattanooga I had only stayed in a house on 3 nights, but in Chatty (where the camping is hard to find) I had a place to crash for almost the entire time. Thank you! Here are good friends Tommy and Eric sparring with icicles on one freezing cold day.
My all time favorite picture of Eric, chilling in his local pub, Tremont Tavern, after climbing. Tremont Tavern cooks up the best burgers in town.
I met John and Matt while volunteering on Christmas. I became good friends with John (in the middle) and joined him a couple times for a night out or breakfast. Here is part of the Christmas karaoke crew.
I had so many great times in Little Rock City and Chattanooga, that I caught myself having a real hard time leaving. I finally moved on, making the trek to Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in Arakansas, but would suggest a stop in Little Rock City and Chattanooga to all you readers.
Friday, January 2nd, 2009
This Christmas was one of the best yet as I spent it volunteering with the Salvation Army, delivering meals to the elderly, shut in and homeless. I met two new friends (John and Matt) in the morning and we teamed up to deliver our 40 meals together since our assigned recipients were located in the same apartment complex near downtown Chattanooga. I had never delivered meals and I guess didn’t know what reaction to expect as we knocked on each individual door. To my pleasant surprise every single answered door garnered the same gratitude and holiday cheer.
“Americans give more to charity, per capita and as a percentage of gross domestic product, than the citizens of other nations.” (Forbes, December 2008)
Some of our knocks did go unanswered, creating a surplus of meals that we didn’t want to go to waste. We were able to find a handful of people interested in meals on the way to our cars, but then took the rest to a plaza on ML King Blvd where we had seen folks being served earlier in the day. We pulled up, donning our Salvation Army aprons, and were surprised to see hungry people running to our truck. Some of this crowd were grateful, while others were expectant and rude. Yet, all were hungry and we fed as many as we could, realizing just how many people were in need of food. That day the Chattanooga Salvation Army (with its approximate 50 volunteers) fed approximately 900 people.
The main food bank back home is the Utah Food Bank. In the past, donations have been a clunky process of dropping off food to a store or mailing in a check. I’m not sure if I would have donated again this year as the process seemed anything but personal. But prior to Christmas I received an email showing me their new website and the simple process of how to donate online, allowing me to choose what to donate.
Even if you have only a few spare dollars, consider stopping by. A simple $10 can buy a turkey (which is matched by Siegfried and Jensen) and can feed a good handful of people. And though the holidays have passed, there are folks who go to bed hungry all year round.