A Good ReadI couldn't sleep last night. I have a list longer then my arm of things to take care of: gas line leaks, photo edits due, termite infestations, dogs to walk...it goes on but the most important is that the books would arrive tomorrow. I just found out today.
I got up and had a cup of tea. I still couldn't sleep so I thought I would read. I picked a book off the shelf.
This book has been on my shelf for 4 weeks. I have only cracked it a few times but tonight I curl back in bed with it.
I'm nervous to read it. There is only one copy and I'm the only one who has it. I know I will see every mistake, every spelling error, every box that is not lined up just right.
Instead, I smile. Oh! wait, that arrow is a little off. I smile, I like that photo. I am becoming more enchanted as I read. I am transported to a place where I reach down on the approach and run my hand across tops of the dry savanna like grasses as the trail turns west into the setting sun. Then, I am up on a hard, dark patina face specked with glowing green lichen. Then, pulling on another chickenhead I need to slow down to catch my breath, enjoying the rhythmic joy of moving and reading too quickly. I don't want it to end.
Wait..did you miss that? The first shipment of Cochise Stronghold: Rock Climbing on the West Side Guidebook arrives today.
Thank you again for your support. I had no idea what it would take but sometimes a little faith, such as yours, was the push I needed to keep going.
The people who pre-purchased to help get this project off the ground have a copy reserved for them in this first batch. If you want to come pick one up (cash sales) and have a toast with me I will post the location on the website ..as soon as the shipment drops on my front porch. There will be other places to pick up a book next week, Tanya
I like the contrast between this post and my last. In November the test pages are wrinkled, written over and jumbled. Here, the pages are organized, clean, edited and ready to go. This book writing process has been an uphill battle on most days. Filled with computer frustration, problem solving and exercises in patience.
The first one took so much time but now I know what I am doing. I redesined the whole thing from font to layout to give this book a better feel, more uniformity and readibility.
I had a list of things to double check. Everything I had was right-every item crossed off. A I ran around crazy getting the last GPS points and hiking all the trails over again to make sure the maps were right I realized that it's done.
That picture was taken a few days before Christmas at the base of End Pinnacle. My Christmas present to myself was finishing the book. I have a few more touchups as I wait for final edits to come back to me and then I push send.
This time there are no delays due to wrong pages at the printers, no delays due to crazy last minute changes.
All I know and all I have are here, in these pages. It's time to start climbing again, Tanya
I took this photo weeks ago. I was in my third round of color edits. Finally, I initialed each sheet for the printers with a big OK and off they went.
That is part of the process I did not understand at all. My computer puts out color in RGB. A printer prints in CMYK. I can import the color palette from the printer I can calibrate my screen but guess what. It is all still a guess. You have no idea what things will look like until they are actually on paper.
Talk about a ridiculously inaccurate process that just adds to the mysteries of book publishing. How do professional photographers deal with this. My printer kept reminding me that this is technical manual and that it didn't need to be perfect.
I guess they have never met me. Now don't get me wrong. This book is not perfect. Yet, on Oct 24th I pushed the button and the files were out of my hands.
Hands that are still empty at the moment but can't wait to get them on the real thing and see what the photos really look like, the weight of the book in my hands. Today it is all still an idea, but soon it will be reality.
It was 6am and we were pulled over on the side of the Icefields Parkway, in the middle of nowhere. This stretch of highway spans from Lake Louise north to Jasper. In winter, there is no real reason to drive here. There are no hotels, no gas, not even a tourist stop is open as the road weaves between the giant peaks of the Canadian Rockies. The glaciers are heaving forth with their winter collection of snow and the peaks are shrouded in looming grey clouds waiting to bury all below in another torrent of snow. It is also along this lonely stretch in winter that I saw my first wolf lopping down the middle of the snow covered road, a grizzly fresh from hibernation prance through the snow bank onto the highway, and a large herd of Elk laden heavy with icy coats daringly cross the frozen ice bridges of the Bow River.
We are here, in the dark, to try an ice climb above our pay grade and our nerves are high. We are ready to step out of the truck when low and behold another vehicle pulls up. This can mean only one thing, another team headed for the same route. But I am wrong, the young man in a t-shirt in -10 temps leaps from the truck and runs to our window. We wants to know if we need assistance as he saw our “luggage” on the ground. We tell him of our climbing plans, thank him whole heartedly for his gesture and wish him a Merry Christmas. That must be it, it is Christmas Day, the kindness of the season is upon us.
A day later, we are standing at the base of another climb. It pours over a steep cliff from the very tip of a glacier fed by the Wapta Icefields. Though it was -13 at the truck it must be -20 here as the icy chill sweeps down off the heart of winter above. With windchill, even colder as all of our clothes are on and we are shivering. We see 3 people below us ski up. We are intrigued by these hearty souls and after repacking our packs head down to meet them. A jolly Scotsman tells us of their venture to climb this same route. We realize this trio is not made up of just regular folk, the kind that turn tail and run in weather like this. This trio has individually slayed the dragons of these mountains and lived to tell their story. The lines on their faces tell of the wind they have endured over their collective 160+ years in these mountains and upon realizing who they are: I am speechless. Their names accompany routes that I dream about and fear to even approach, but they do not mention these feats. Instead, these men resonated the joy and spirit of the mountains as if it was their first day out.
We are parked here again, on the side of the road, in the dark. Attempting the same ice climb that eluded us last week. We are expecting a long but rewarding day. Our boots are on and we are ready to step out of the truck when low and behold, another vehicle pulls up. Again, this can mean only one thing, another team headed for the same route. But I am wrong again, another person offering help.
In one week I have met more heroes than in the last year. How can this simple word represent such dramatically different embodiments but still be the only word I would use? The new year is coming and I think it means one thing-make a resolution to try and embody all of the virtues that make these people heroes in my eyes.
Starting our trip at 1000' elevation and going straight up to 12,000' was our first mistake. Laurel Mountain (making that a 11,000' elevation gain in less then 12 hours) was our planned acclimatization climb. Last year, we should have learned our lesson when I got sick on our third backcountry trip trying to climb Mt. Williamson ( 6000' in one day) that altitude sickness can happen at anytime..
Yesterday, Laurel Mountain again reinforces this lesson. Our enthusiasm to burst from the car into the alpine was not tempered by good judgement. About halfway up we both started to feel light headed which makes insecure soloing a little precarious. We covered hundreds of feet of beautiful slab capped by the crux, a dike of burnt iron colored rock twisting it's way towards the top. As soon as that excitement was over the altitude sickness kicked up to a new level as Scott became nauseous and got a headache. We quickly realized that this summit was going to be hard fought, and we struggled to the top.
Scott was resigned to lay down for a while to get his heart rate to slow. Currently, our first aid kit contains duct tape, pain meds, wire, a piece of drinking straw (to drink water out of cracks), lighter, hand warmers, maxi pad, Benadryl, epi pen, steristrips, and an inhaler. We have heard that Viagra, which acts as a vascular dilator can be used off label for these sort of altitude sickness situations. Looking to add this one. Anyone tried this? Anyone have extras?
Instead of popping a pill we did the the tried and true method of descending. And as we did our symptoms improved and our big plans for another climb today were cancelled as we were pretty tuckered out.
So those of you planning on escaping the Tucson heat for a climbing trip in the Sierra or Colorado for some big climbs. Don't plan on pulling into Whitney Portal and feeling great on the summit the next day. Prepare with a few days of acclimatization OR a climbing partner that can put up with ALL the side effects of Viagra.
Why do you hate offwidths? It can't only be because of the amount of work they take. I think it has more to do with the pain, the bleeding, and the scrapes burning in the shower afterward.
But folks, I think I have found the perfect solution to this little problem. No longer will my porcelain skin have to endure the rage of the ragged Cochise rock. Scumbing is the answer…..this unexpected combination of sporting equipment has revolutionized and enhance my climbing. Long sleeves and knee pads were not cutting it on Shake and Bake. I needed something that would not slide or bunch and the previously trailed neoprene ankle brace on the elbow immediately messed up my first arm bar.
It took a while to commit to the first cut but I had not used my wetsuit in years and I knew this potentially could be the perfect solution....and it was. I cut the arms and legs off my wetsuit and notched the inside elbows to increase range of motion. An added benefit was I could now also wear a tshirt to reduce the overheating. My knee pads had been catching everytime I tried to slide my leg up the crack. By wearing the wetsuit knee sleeves I am sacrificing the thicker padding but the neoprene slides on the rock and fits snug. I know, I know…..all you traditionalist are going to tell me that I am cheating. But all I gotta say is ask Pamela!
Shake and Bake 2: Tanya 1
I was starting to have doubts I would get back on it in the first place. I had showed up that morning, failed on a 5.9 hand jam/buldge and felt it was not the day. I was off. I took an afternoon nap in the shade feeling like I should give up on my "first" project. Yep, this truly was the first climb I have every projected. At least I was able to edit the guidebook description to clearly read "Best to climb this one in Dec, Jan or Feb but your crazy if you think 90* in full sun is off width weather". I thought about it more and at about 4pm when finally the temps dropped below 90* I got on it. Maybe it was the suit, maybe it was the temps, maybe I was just finally ready but I got us up all three pitches euphoric like I had nitrogen narcosis.