more drama than Shakespeare

Saturday saw heavy action on Chips. I love it. Maybe I love it because I sent her then got to watch Andy and Paul fight for her chains. That’s not true. Chips is my mistress. I love her regardless. She’s beautiful because she rewards the prepared and castrates the unworthy. And I can’t get enough of her. I relentlessly expose myself to her whims in hope that she would reaffirm my worth. Chips once again made me bleed for her affection and made me a better human for it. I will always have a thing for this route. Although, recently it’s been a love/hate thing. This was my first semi-hard redpoint since the hospital and I perceive this as a landmark on my path to recovery. But I digress. The heavy action to which I refer was mostly due to Paul. For his fourth burn (yes, fourth), his balls-to-the-wall epic final go of the day, Paul receives the Saturdaily Lord of the Forest title, an award reserved for only the most awesome or shredding display of aggression. It’s been a while since we’ve had a Lord of the Forest and Paul most certainly deserves it. Out of nowhere he came up with an intensity rarely seen, let loose a series of primal screams which made me simultaneously scared and proud, generating an output of power both frightening and glorious to achieve his new project high point. And for that, Paul, I say this Stoli-cran’s for you.

Andy Patterson in the crux sequence of Chips Ahoy (5.12d)

Brian Spiering on Hell of the Upside Down Sinners (5.12b)

Paul Dusatko on Chips


I’m back on the classic flat/close-grip/incline bench press routine. Two main sets of each Mondays, shoulders Tuesday and light bench Thursdays. I’ve been doing this for a couple weeks with amazing results. My strength is coming back fast. Today I put up 155 for a set of 10 on flat bench, 135 for 12 close-grip and 115 for 2 sets of 12 on incline. There were some other sets in there but those are the noteworthy ones. Training is an intuitive thing for me now so I mostly put on what I feel like. My weight is 166 today with 9% fat. All exercises are stronger: dips, skull-crushers, pull-ups, curls… This pace of improvement can’t continue forever. If it does I will certainly be a strong dude. Also, I’ve been taking SuperPump 250 before workouts, Purple Wrath during, and Green Magnitude towards the end/after. They make a difference. Either I will get stronger or my heart will explode.

eight is great

Something about Saturday made redpoints unrealistic. The weather was unusually cold, maybe 60 degrees, which ordinarily would make for a good day. A good day anywhere but at the Tor. You see, we are not the only ones with excuses. The Tor itself will throw down an excuse card once in a while. So, despite seemingly good conditions, the Tor decided it would take this opportunity to shut everyone down. And since the Tor does not need to dignify us with a reason for spitting us off our projects, I have to assume she was grumpy from a late night partying with her hell-crag friends. Paul, Andy and I all failed to redpoint Chips even once. Phil got on Galla Galla Happy and claims a mild food poisoning (don’t think I don’t remember – that excuse has been used, broheim). Mary did not succeed on Power. Marcela did not succeed on Power and reminded me again how bad one’s day can really be at the Tor. I don’t even know how Micah and Sal did. Probably they got shut down on whatever they touched. But the day was not a complete loss. At worst, just showing up at the Tor is a victory. I did 8 laps on the bastard. Last week I could not will myself up Chips a second time after my first redpoint failure. Saturday I redpointed The Sea, fell in Chips‘ crux on two separate burns, and got on Hell and Auto Magic – a volume I am happy with considering my recent medical events. I believe everyone there got a little stronger. One needs to be acclimated to the type of climbing the Tor presents. Even seemingly bad days are good training. And we all had fun. We all enjoy each other’s company.

same route, different me

I’m feeling better all the time. However, the Tor doesn’t care. Here’s a classic: I’m feeling pretty good all week, good shedding on Wednesday, campused for the first time in a long time, warmed up strong on Power, and thought ‘I’m feeling so rad, I’ll crank Chips then, since I’ll probably feel so remarkably mega-strong, maybe think about getting on Better Than Life‘. We call this “Tuesday thinking”. But Elijah, you say, BTL is 13c and you were in a coma six weeks ago. Whatever, dude, I’m cranking it. I did not crank it, actually. I didn’t crank it because I didn’t get on it. Chips shut me down before I got that far. We call this “Tuesday thinking” because this is the kind of delirium one may suffer on a Tuesday prior to a Saturday at the Tor. On Tuesday, one may feel mega-strong and ready to crank basically everything at Santa Maria. By Saturday, reality sets in. The Tor is still the Tor and you are still getting murdered. It’s cool though, just getting on Chips was good for me. And I feel really good about my pace of recovery, especially considering my previous two Saturdays. Intensity is important. I went hard on Chips, fell reaching to the crux pinch, and was so spent couldn’t get on for a second go. So, I got on Power again and fell trying to clip the chains. Two rad falls, by the way. Maybe it was the heat or maybe I just did too much but I got light headed. If I stood up too fast I would get super dizzy, almost pitching off a rock near the belay once when my vision turned black. That’s when I knew to take my harness off and be done for the day. Sorry, Dr. Ungerer.

Mary working Power of Eating (5.11d) – She’s close to a redpoint.

Sal on Power – This is Sal’s first trip to the Tor. Obviously, he will be climbing here, and only here, from now on. One of us, one of us, one of us…
These are the new starting moves to Chips Ahoy (5.12d) – They’re rad. Dare I say, there is now more to love about this already bodacious route.

Ojai X-treme

Marcela took me climbing Sunday in Ojai. My first trad climb in probably forever, The Tree Route (5.6) on the Black Wall, offered a revealing glimpse in to the realm of traditional climbing. Marcela would like me to give this trad thing a chance. I’m trying. And that’s all I’m going to say.

This creek is totally rad. Something about water just does it for me. The wall is another story. Notice the trees growing on it. Trees grow up. The trees on this wall are not a phenomenon. The wall is really that angle. I’m used to steeper stuff. This represents a major expansion of my horizons.

Marcela leading The Tree Route. Apparently, those things she’s placing in the rock are called “protection”.

Make no mistake, this is sadism disguised in a smile. Marcela is thoroughly enjoying watching me wrestle every hellishly placed piece, which she has conveniently installed about every three feet for two pitches.

Crazy eyes. You tell me: would this guy be caught doing anything not exxxtreme? Exactly.

Reluctantly, we left this gem. I got hungry.

all Tor, all day

Last weekend, my first trip back to Santa Maria since the hospital, we went to Mr. Lee’s before Owl Tor. This time, we went straight to the Tor. Excellent idea. The Tor is way more rad in my opinion and its routes are not forgiving to tired climbers. The Power of Eating (5.11d), once my warm up, was my project the previous weekend. This time, I redpointed it three times. Each successive go felt easier, oddly.

Mary leading Power of Eating (5.11d) – She seems oblivious to her ridiculous innate talent. This is her first lead, encouraged because I “accidentally” pulled the rope before she could toprope it. She loved leading. You’re welcome.

Andy on Chips Ahoy (5.12d) – I’m envious of anyone on Chips and I can’t wait to get back on it. This route is the reason I continue climbing. Hopefully, I’ll give it a go next weekend.

Me belaying Phil on Anchor Punch (5.12a)

Brian redpointing Auto Magic (5.12a) – He’s been quietly building an impressive Santa Maria ticklist.

Paul dominated the biggest stone ever moved at Owl Tor. Some years back, Phil and I quit stone-moving cold turkey. We had to. It’s so addictive, we would build stone stuff until we were too tired to climb. Paul, in a fit of obsession, let this monster know exactly who is the Lord of the Forest.

party at Cottage

I just got my bill from Cottage Hospital. Pneumonia isn’t cheap. Well, it isn’t cheap if your jackass physician tells you it’s the flu so you sit at home while the infection bones your lungs hard. If you do that before you go to the hospital it costs about $450,000. This bill from Cottage Hospital alone is for $423,704.03. No worries – my share is $286.22. Thanks, Blue Cross of California. But that’s not the rad part. So, I’m reading through the lines on this bill and I stop at the item marked ‘PHARMACY’. The number next to it is $227,735.48. That is truly a lot of drugs.

Impressive, no?