Sunday, December 09, 2007

Beam Me Up Some Beta, Scotty!

A while back, I was following someone on Bloody Bush. On the ground, he'd asked if I would like to take the second pitch, but for some reason the decision wasn't made before he set off.

Worried about the lead, because I had no idea where the route went, I tucked my guidebook in my windjacket so I could review it at the belay. The pockets weren't big enough, of course, and so I just slipped it in through the front opening and zipped up. My harness was cinched over the jacket's bottom, and I figured the book was secure.

Within a few moves, the book navigated from flat against my torso to a side-poking position, and eventually settled uncomfortably, prodding various places along my backbone.

Continuing on my way and enjoying the climb, I soon came to the crux move - a crouching, reachy and insecure, committing lunge move over a bit of air. Gulp....

Timidly I went for it, scared as I was, since the fall would have been a pendulum. There was no other choice. Halfway through I knew I could do it and was beginning an exhaling sigh of relief. But then I had to stretch just a liiiiittle more, reaching for the security of a hand hold.

Suddenly - a fluttering noise broke through the quiet in the autumn afternoon. My first thought was that I'd unknowingly disturbed a nest of bats! AAACCCKKKK!!! I crouched further, dropping my head to my chest in a protective reaction, almost sliding off the slab-like feature I was perched upon. At the same time, I hear my partner yelling ROCK!

"ROCK! ROCK! ROCK!" he screamed, warning anybody below.

"What the...?" I thought to myself. My fear of bat attack was quickly replaced by a more ominous dread; that I'd dislodged a rock and sent it on a downward spiral, possibly directed at some innocent below. And not only that, but I'd done it completely unaware - the absolute WORST error a climber can make in a populated area.

I looked down, ready to yell further warning, since I had a more direct view, and saw that my boulder had transformed to a beautiful white dove, fluttering it's wings upward. Time stopped, and with joy I watched the sunlight glittering off it's wings, realizing no one would die at my hand that day.

Of course, it wasn't a dove. It was my guidebook, which had slipped out the bottom of my jacket as I pushed for that reaching move..... The white feathered wings were the paper pages sandwiched between the dove grey cover of my Dick Williams guidebook....

I felt like a jackass gumby.
Which brings me to the point of this post.

Scotty, a local Gunks climber most anyone who's ever been there would recognize by his long thin beard and beret, has been making and selling an excellent pouch that perfectly fits the Gunks guides. They are simple in design, which is important in climbing. No extraneous doodads to snag in your rack while you're sketched and run out, with only enough left inside to make a grab for your nuts.

And, of course, no loose guidebooks flapping in the breeze, sailing off the cliff like skittling gravel under a fool's foot on a belay ledge.

His web page modestly compliments the humbleness of the design. Take a look for yourself!

My friend and climbing partner Irina has one of Scotty's bookbags, and so I can say from experience that the thing does what he says it does! Lots of experience...for Irina always makes me clip it on my harness, along with her small Nalgene of water, whenever I am seconding her on a multipitch. I draw the line at carrying her camera, though, although that doesn't stop her from trying to get me to snap that on, too.

Scotty's bags are just the right size for the Gunks books. He says they hold both sizes of the local books - Swain's or the Big Grey Dick. We use William's grey book, and it does slip easily inside the pouch. With a gentle pull of the zip, which does seem to be of a high quality(Believe me, I know from crappy zippers, having been a designer of cheap, imported handbags for many years), the closure holds securely. Despite many days at the crag, the zipper still pulls without a snag along the way.

Finally, not only is the bag good for carrying a guide on multipitch, but it also helps to keep the book clean and in good condition between cragging days. Bag it and toss it in your gear bin; you won't have crumbled or dirty-stained pages as happens to most guidebooks that see a lot of use.

The reason I am writing this bit of a promotion is not just to promote a good, locally made product, but because I noticed that Scotty has posted an announcement of the goods in the for sale section at You can see what others have written as well, so don't take my word for it!

I'm going to ask if Scotty can do custom sizes, since other areas may have books that are larger than our Gunks books. Check the thread above to see what his answer is!

EDIT 12/12 - Scotty says that, yes, he can do custom sizes. Just email him to discuss!

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