Friday, April 11, 2008

Good Old Marty from Alpine Endeavors - What a!

Quick Post: Here's an offer found on the front page of you might be interested in - A day of climbing with a guide going for his AMGA Cert in Single Pitch, at no cost to you. They need six people to act as clients while the guides go through their test. Check it and, if you're interested, better act quickly.

Here's the details:

Event: Free Day of Guided Climbing Instruction
Event Start: 04/18/2008 @ 9:00AM
Location: Shawangunks, NY
Description: We are looking for six people to participate in day of rock climbing in the Gunks, free of charge*.

The day will consist of beginner to low-intermediate climbing with a guide candidate on routes from 5.2 to 5.7 under the supervision of an AMGA Certified Rock Instructor and Rock Guide.

The purpose of the day is to evaluate AMGA SPI guide candidates during their final assessment of the AMGA Single Pitch Instructors Certification. All guide candidates up to this point have successfully completed an AMGA Single Pitch training Course (three days of training) and have successfully completed a one day assessment of their technical and rescue skills.

The day is to provide each candidate a realistic opportunity to teach basic climbing skills - knots, belaying, and climbing techniques to beginners as well as to asses their ability to clearly communicate the skills, manage the group, and facilitate the days progress to a group of actual beginner climbers.

For more information on the AMGA Single Pitch Instructors Course, please visit:

*day passes are not included. They are required and are the responsibility of each participant.
Contact Email:
Contact Phone: 845-658-3094

I can personally vouch for Marty, as can just about any other climber on the east coast! In fact, I climbed with a guy in Jtree who was there for his AMGA multi-pitch cert. that knew Marty. This guy was from West Virginia, if I rememebr correctly.

Actually, it's interesting, because I did something similar that day, with this guide. His name is Karsetn, and he approached me asking if I would be interested in following him on the classic Josh route "Walk on the Wild Side."

The caveat was that we'd need to do the walk-off descent, instead of simply rapping off the route. he wanted to familiarize himself with the descent as it might have been one of the "tasks" he'd be graded on for the certification.

I'm always up for adventure, even if I'm a pretty big chicken when it comes to JTree walk-off and scrambling, and I am really glad I agreed to the offer. For one thing, I'd not yet been on the route and definitely wanted to do it. I was not disappointed; it's a great line.

The walk-off was involved, to an extent, although for the most part the route-finding was extremely obvious. The route ends at a bolted anchor, and one 3rd classes up a ramp to the crest of the formation and toward the back for the descent passage. There was a decision to be made shortly after a section one must rap to a lower level at, but the wrong choice shows as a dead end(or....ballsy jump, I suppose...I didn't look, taking Karsten's word for it!) within a very short time.

There was definitely a section I was glad to have Karsten short-roping me on, and one other where it was nice, although I would have been okay without it. And, I got to do something that most visiting climbers to the Tree don't do. The rap from the route anchors is definitely more expedient....

We were smart, getting on the route fairly early. The sun was just coming over the formation as we topped out, but not high in the sky where the heat would be a problem. By the time we reached the floor and got back to our packs, it was becoming hot. We'd had perfect timing.

Afterward, we went and did some other routes. Well - I belayed Karsten on a 10D(Pinky Lee) which WAS in full on noontime desert sun. Ouch! He sent the route, with one fall at the start of the crux. It may have helped if I hadn't referred to the line as simply a 10 when I showed it to him....(one: Karsten had only been in Jtree a day or two, and I am fairly familiar, and Two: I don't climb 10, so....I forget the distinctions in those letters....ummm yeah.)

Next, I suggested Touch and Go, which is a beautiful route that I thought he would enjoy. i wanted to give it a good shot myself, as I had a past story with the route(no time for telling it right now....). Karsten, of course, led the route with a fair amount of ease, though he did have some pump going on. Pinky Lee and the Sunshine Band took their toll. I did okay for the first part, though it was defintiely at my limit. Then I hit a cruxy move and gave up.... Pretty much I sat on the rope after every move for the duration. Pretty awful on my part.

We finished the day at the Gunsmoke area, where Karsten onsighted 3/4 of the traverse's north wall before coming off. Then he rested and did the same on the eats wall. Strong. THEN....this is sort of wrong.... I suggested he try The Chube. He walked over and said "Too bad I left my shoes over there." I offered to go get, but he then said " looks like it's not about the feet."

There was a group of 4 or 5 people who had been working the problem.... Karsten got on it and sent it on the first attempt. In approach shoes.

I have some photos - but gotta go to work. I'll come back in later on and add them in.

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Monday, April 07, 2008

Turtle Crossing

As everyone who knows my preference knows, I take the back way to Jtree from Las Vegas. I don;t know why everyone doesn't frankly. The option is a crowded superhighway... who wants to do that!? It's not quicker, that's for sure. The only thing I can think it has going over the Cima/Kelso/Amboy way is it's ability to allow the travelers to maintain life as they know it, cubicle-ized, contained and somafied.... It sure can't be the convenience of 'rest stops,' because on the back road, you can pull over anywhere you want and rest. Need a soda? Shoulda thought of that at the Last Stop for Food and Gas, back in Jean, a few miles before you exited the system at Nipton Road! It's only a 2 hour drive between that and TwentyNine Plams - who couldn't figure out they'd like a soda for the road?

"Two hours?" you ask. Why yes, 2 hours. Not THREE and LONGER, which is how long you'll be on the life is a highway rote route, staring at trailer asses, dodging crappy drivers and generally being stressed out with the whole road game. Plus, and this is important....there are no po-leece to fleece you should you pedal come to close to the metal. Oh, sure....there are signs that say "radar enforced," just like on the Big Boy road. The catch is....they don't enforce here. Try going 110mph down 215 for 120 miles and see how good your investment pays off.

And not only that....what are the chances, I ask, of seeing a beautiful desert turtle on the massive roadway? Less Than Zero is not only the title of a book about society's decadence.... That's right - you have virtually no chance - whatsoever - of running across(noooo, not THAT way) this guy of you don't take the path less traveled.

But, no shit, there he was, hanging out at the side of the road just before I hit Cima. I slowed the car, pulled a U-turn(on 215, even of you DID see a big old turtle, you wouldn't be able to stop, much less turn around for him) and stopped many feet away, in order not to frighten the poor traveler.

It's important to mention here, and this cannot be overstated - NEVER touch pr pick up a desert turtle. NEVER. Why? because you will scare the piss out of him, and he will die from lack of water. "Even if he might get hit by a car otherwise?," you ask. The answer is the same. Not maybe, not probably. He will die. And Good Samaritan laws don't apply in nature. You'll be guilty as charged.

So, what to do for Mr. Turtle, I wondered, since he was parked on the very edge of the road and seemed headed toward the greener grass of the other side. Providence imposed itself as I heard the distant hum of an oncoming automobile....

I did what any nutsy earth lady would do. I waited for the car to come within sight, stepped into the road just far enough to get their attention but not freak them out, and waved as they came closer. Then, I pointed down to what I thought should have been obvious.

Apparently not, because they slowed down and cracked a window as they approached. I yelled out "Turtle!" and they squinched their eyes like I was talking some alien language. I repeated myself and pointed to the guy.

"oh, we thought you were in trouble." They rolled the window up and zoomed off. Without even a nodding glimpse at what was probably a 50-year old local resident. One might guess they see such things every day. One would most likely be guessing incorrectly.

But, there I had my answer. It was my new job to hang out while this turtle made his epic crossing. And that is exactly what I did.

Now, you might make an argument that all my 110mph saved time was wasted with the 45 minutes I sat guard for this turtle. For that is how long it took. Okay....maybe not that long. But a while anyway. I didn't pay attention. "But what about the wasted time?" you ask.

the answer is, there was no wasted time. I have no idea what you are talking about. In fact, I would go so far, if you suggest such a thing, that you spend too much of your own damned time racing along the highways of life.


Here's Mr. Turtle's Trip Report(with pictures):
Here I am, waiting for a break in the traffic, so I can get across the road. It's a task, I can tell you. Cars come down this road fairly infrequently, compared to say, 215, but even so - I gotta be careful. No mistake, Big pancake ain't just a JTree classic, ya know.

Anyway, this yellow rig is racing down the road - thank God it's way over on the other side! But it starts to slow down..."Uh oh," I say to myself. "I hope it's not one of those stupid do-gooder turtle picker-upper accidental murderers!" You know the types. They are really tall and skinny and have no shell.

The tall turtle stops about 20 feet away, and waits, which makes me feel a little better about the thing. But she's got some strange contraption in her hands, and keeps pointing it at me. I have no idea, but I am a desert denizen, as you know. And everyone knows that alien abductions are most likely to occur out here. Usually at night, I've heard, but....well, I just hope that's not some sort of probe.

She doesn't seem to be attempting to come closer, and that's a good thing. When I get scared, it makes me want to pee, and I don't know why, but I've always felt that would be a bad idea. I've seen some shit go down, I'll tell you, but I never lost control in that way.... But the seems to be able to come forward of it's own volition! Ho-lee's moving. But then it stops. And makes a clicking sound. I have no idea what has just occurred. Maybe my soul has been captured....

After a while, I heard the familiar sound of one of those metal City Turtles. Those fuckers are fast, I tell you. And they could care less about us old folks. The wizz by and sometimes...well, I don't want to tell you!

Then, a strange thing happened. The tall one guards my space and makes sure the City Turtle cannot come close enough to hurt me! Wow. That's unexpected... Still, pretty wierd. But I guess I'm safe enough to continue on my way, as I had been doing before being interrupted. "So, lady," I think, "This is the crux of the problem. Watch me!"

I have always been a safety-conscious turtle and my momma taught me to look before crossing the street. This day would be no different.

Here I am, just about to cross the point of no return. To you big turtles, it's just a painted line. But to us shellbacks, it's more. Much more. Every second spent on the other side of that line is like being run out on dicey choss!

Phew...This is hard work. Oh look - Food! I didn't expect roadside dining.

Believe it or not, another City Turtle has come by, in the time between the last picture and this one, and the tall one once again guarded me. When it happened, I withdrew, as is standard operating procedure, so I'm not exactly sure what went down, but it seemed safe again, so off I headed.

Okay, I'm on my way for real now.

You know....I just turned to tell the tall turtle thanks, but I think I scared her. Maybe she thaught I was going to bite her toe or something, but she backed up real quick....I hope she didn't pee. That would be awful!

She stopped, and raised that thingamajig again, and for a minute I worried maybe it was a gun, but just like before, it just clicked a sound and did nothing else.

I was tired though, and really wanted to rest. Unfortunately.... INCOMING!!!!

Damn, those City Turtle Speed Demons! That one was close. They didn't even slow down, even though you'd THINK it odd to see a tall turtle standing in the middle of the road..... Kids these days.


Here I am approaching the halfway mark. I don't know who puts these lines on the road, but I can tell you that we turtles find them very interesting. They seem to be some sort of equator. City turtles reverse direction once you pass these markers. Why, I couldn't tell you. And occasionally there's an aberration. But for the most part, it's "Before the Yellow line, Look Left. Pass the Yellow Line, Look Right This Time!"

In the distance here, you can see the oasis I am headed for. Heavy brush and shelter from the heat! My sweetie has a little den just out this way...hubba hubba!

Speaking of which, I think I got a second wind....heheheh "Honey, I'm on my waaaaay!"

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008


NOTE: The trip was a good one, and so busy I had no time to write as things came up. So here I am, back in NYC with plenty of time to spare. I'll be posting items from the trip over the next days, weeks and hopefully not months like last time! Here's Story 1, which was started at the time of the incident.

Saturday morning on March 23rd. This story is is about my pre-coffee adrenalinerush…. Everything’s fine - now - and at 9am, I’ve got my coffee(which I really don’t need, as you'll soon understand) brewing, putting down a few words in the meantime.

The morning started out just fine - I had snagged a prime campsite in a way that once again reaffirms, somebody - somewhere - likes me. The park is PACKED. As I drove through, Ryan was full. Talking to a guy I met later, I found that the last site in Jumbo campsite was snagged by him about 6pm on Thursday night. As I rolled into Hidden Valley and say the “Full” sign at the entrance, I rued the day I had changed my travel dates to accommodate an impending visitor at home in mid April. Because of that, here I was, in Joshua Tree during spring break. Woo hoo. Yippee kay yi…yick.

Of course, I understand that the term “Full” is relative…so I did a run through the place. Loop B first, and every site had at least some indication of inhabitation. The main loop, was worse - cars everywhere, people strolling the roads looking to see whow as there and what was up. It was with small hope that I came to “my” spot - #24, the Stem Gem site - and saw a tent parked directly in front of the problem and another on the area where I traditionally pitch my own. No room in the inn, I realized. What to do….

I knew I was going to have to do what I do least well - ask someone for assistance. Running the back loop first, I saw one site with room for another car and a tent. It was a family. A suburban-looking type of family. “Slowww down, Nellie,” I told myself. “No need for panic. There’s probably another option.”

As I headed back toward the main loop, I noticed a site that, though not top-rate, was at least going to get morning sun, which is imperative to me. My number one criteria for a site in the place.

There were three guys at the table, readying their supper. But only one car, and only one tent. Worth a try, I figured.

Hopping out of the car, I came upon them and asked about pitching my tent. They pointed to a square by the road and said “Sure. There’s been a visitor here every night. The place has been full since last Sunday.”

Disappointment rolled through my body, imagining a 10 day trip with my claim staked at such a…..crappy spot.

Scanning the place, I noticed a small canyon heading uphill in the back, and said “I’d like to not be in your way - Let me see if I can find a spot back there.” The guys, on a 3-week tour the southwest by way of the Czech republic, said something I didn’t understand. Most likely the were saying “I don’t understand; what do you want?” hahaha


There she was….My new home. Juuuuust enough room for my tent, set in front of a flat boulder, with enough flat ground that, if I laid just right, I would have relative sleeping comfort. I looked around and saw that this would do very nicely, considering the alternatives.

And, it WAS a nice spot. The guys headed out on Saturday morning, and I took over residency, but kept my tent where it was. I found that the sleeping was actually very fine, in fact.

So….On Saturday morning, I wanted to get up early and see the guys off. I was a little….groggy.

Out of my tent in my down jacket, I set to work on organizing things in my trunk as they packed their gear. The sun came up very quickly, and cold turned to hot just as fast. Somewhere in that time frame, I switched out my down for a lighter hoodie more suitable for the day, and the next thing I knew, the guys were rolling on their way, headed up to the Petrified Forest and then on to Indian Creek. I waved good bye, took a moment to peruse my new space and felt all was right with the world. I could keep my tent in back, but be generous with the front area of the site, letting others park a car or camp in front, as had been done for me.

It was about that time that I decided I’d like to make breakfast, and headed to the car to get a box of cereal. Reaching for the door handle, I realized the car was still locked. Being a New Yorker, it was usual for me to do so, especially with a laptop, rack and camera inside. I just slept better that way.

Reaching into my pocket for the keys, I came up empty. Oh. No.

Oh yes. My pocket was barren. No keys were within.

In denial, I mentally scanned my surroundings, hoping against all hope that I was wrong….For I knew what I had done. I’d tossed the down jacket, with keys, into the trunk.

Of course I riped my tent apart, even though there was next to nothing inside. I walked the site, prospecting for the tell-tale sign of shiny metal. Nothing.

I could have kicked myself. Always, I double check the key location as I locked up the car. Always.

Except once.

And the boys had already left. Boys are helpful in a lot of situations, and it’s always been my belief that being locked out of a car was one where having a boy around would be most useful.

I knew the campsite was well stocked with males, and so I knew what I had to do - go find one willing, able and available to snake my lock.

First I thought of my neighbors, who I had heard talking and saw a woman preparing some food. I called over and explained my problem, and the lady said her brother, who was a fireman, was still asleep. But when he woke up, she’d see if he could help. But she doubted it.

By then I had walked up to her, as would be appropriate when in dire need of help. I saw an older man sitting in a chair in the rear of the site, turned sort of away and seemingly ignoring me. It was a little off-putting, for in my mind, men were supposedly happy to assist a damsel in distress. Even when a situation dictated hopelessness, a guy was always good for an honest effort.

Another belief shattered, I suppose. Truth is - I don’t think I ever needed the outright assistance of a guy who wasn’t a paid for service sort on man before. I’d heard stories from women whose men had come to the assistance of others, and always had wondered what that must be like…to see my shining night gallantly save the day. I’d always imagined how proud of my guy I would be when/if that day came for me. How I would send him off to modern battle with a smile of encouragement, trust his return after helping the beautiful maiden, and awaiting his tale of heroic effort and success.

If I was that girl whose men were both not present for my dilemma…I would not be feeling very noble. She had even suggested I call Triple A. Considering I was twenty miles from town, and my wallet and cel phone were….locked in my car….I couldn’t help feeling the shiver of rejection. To turn away a stranger in need, when you could help - at least a little; without so much as a limp offer of good luck. That’s cold.

Upon the mention of AAA, I was jolted back to the reality of my predicament Forget the Three A’s, I was envisioning a triple-digit bill, and that simply would not do. So…I thanked her and said I was sure there must be a dirt bag with some car-getting-into experience around.

As I headed back to my site to regroup, the man I’d seen sitting on a chair got up and meandered over. I wasn’t sure if he was coming to take a look at my locks until he actually stopped in front of the car! I guess I was being vetted as help-worthy or something….

Mr. Neighbor didn’t sound too promising, as he explained how times had changed and the last car he’d broken into was way back in the sixties….. But he said he’d see what he could do, and mentioned going back to his campsite to see if he could find a length of wire.

I looked down at the ground as he headed away and what do you suppose I saw, laying in the sand in front of his feet? I kid you not - it was a wire coat hanger. Do I have the gods on my side or what!? (Yes, it would appear that I do.).

So, he whipped out his Leatherman and put the snips to use, and then fashioned a ghetto Slim Jim. He poked and prodded and tinged on something metallic-sounding deep inside the door innards. Alas, it was not to be.

Just then, a park ranger ambled by and I said “I locked my keys in the trunk.” I did this because I thought he’d want to know what I was up to there, with a wire snaked down a vehicle… He came over, reminisced about such dilemmas for a moment and then said that he’d finish the campsite walk-through and if we still hadn’t gotten in, he’d call the park LEO, who sometimes has a tool kit for just such emergencies. If they weren’t packing, he said, he’d get me to a phone where I could call the dreaded $$$, I mean AAA.

Those minutes were lonnnng ones, I can tell you, and when Mr. Ranger returned, I couldn’t believe my luck when he pointed down the road and exclaimed “Oh, there they are right now!” He walked over and returned with a kind lady LEO brandishing a few plastic chocks and two wire J-shaped rods. She came toward me and said “I am not a professional….” and then got right to work. First, the guy tried to give her beta on the thing, reaching his hands out to take the tools. But she scoffed and said “Times have changed, that ain’t how to get in.” She rammed a few chocks in the door, snaked the wire down and told him to pry the door a little further ajar.


Next, she simply pressed the electronic lock and the door was sprung like a jailbird out of Mayberry on Barney Fife’s watch.

Of course… the alarm began sounding…. Luckily, it was about 9am now, and so my car wasn’t being the camp rooster announcing day’s break. We all rushed to find the trunk latch, and finally I discovered it in a little pull-out bin below and left of the steering wheel.

Popping the trunk, there were my keys, in plain sight. Hanging out of the pocket in my down jacket…..

So - it is confirmed. I am one lucky lady.

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