[1 Nov 2020> Flashing back to February 1994, picking up from January 1994, in Tucson, in the height of our climbing days when we were leading 5.11s...]
Feb 4 [1994, Tucson]
Otra semana. Had a poker game on Thursday night. Started off as a meeting of the Whitney expedition crew, Todd, me, Shaheen + Eric. We shot the shit then Stefan showed up, then Rebecca and Ginger and the poker began. There was a lot of wine and beer and i made a huge bowl of guacamole. Rebecca took the poker very seriously, quite funny. She kept stressing out about how they had to meet someone at 9:30 saying, "ok, last round." But she's an addict. Then again, she kept winning. Lydia was running around filling wine glasses and putting music on and tripping Rebecca out by showing her the goat and dancing to Flamenco music. Rebecca and Ginger left with their pockets full. Me, Bruce and Shaheen continued (after Stefan went bankrupt) and thought it all futile so we pooled our chips and bought 4 quarts of ice cream. We must have been up until 3 a.m. and then i had to wake at 6 a.m. It was raining and hailing but i still had faith. Eric flaked. Then Rebeca. So Bruce and I said fuck it and hopped on his motorcycle. Great fun, it backfires all the time and scares the shit out of nearby people and the air rushes right through you and it's an exciting adrenalin rush like fuck it i don't care if i die, especially as Bruce is a pretty unsteady driver. We packed light (only quickdraws) so we ended up at Milagrosa. Bruce kicked us off on Instant Mocha (5.9). He's very shaky and it makes me nervous watching but he pulled it off. Then i went to do Lugihead (5.11a/b) not because i truly felt like it at that instant but i had been looking forward to it. I felt like shit, was wired on no sleep and had a nervous coffee buzz and no breakfast was just making excuses and i had to run on hindsight and foresight and just do it, go through the motions, gearing up, uncoiling the rope and starting up at the face, and from there it just builds, first bolt, second bolt like wow, my body is doing it! And it's getting harder and you're cranking moves and next clip of relief, looking ahead, visual overload, analyzing the details of the holds, plotting, scheming, knowing you got to keep moving and each bolt you get some relief, followed by a new fear as you move past it, wondering if the next hold will be bomber enough to make the clip and then you're pulling through the crux, you're still on the wall, clip, looking ahead it eases off, you see the moves, you try to keep your cool, steep thin edges, side pulls and up to a rotten roof, getting a hand jam in loose shit, clipping the bolt way out on the roof, starting to pull over and there's the chains. I was siked and pumped. Bruce couldn't get past the crux. We walked over to Saguaro corners and I led Saguaro (5.10c), actually made a placement before the first bolt, slammed the crux and then steep face with positive holds but extremely pumpy. Barely pulled it off. Walked out the back way.
Went climbing w/ Bill Ryan, started on If Direct (5.10) which was hard as shit. Fell at the first bolt downclimbing because my foot wasn't on very well. Stayed sustained after that and then went into a crack. I led Road Bimbos (5.9) which was easy then followed Bill up Moving Over Stone (5.9). Then I led Dr. Sniff and the Tuna Boaters (5.10). Clipped the first bolt out of a tree, then did the crux directly which ended up being the only 5.10 move on the climb. Bill was trashed after that and couldn't do Dr Sniff, which was scary because i was anchored into a shitty tree, but i talked him into doing E.T. Arête (5.9) which was cool and pumpy. Lydia's been freaking out lately, first about some paper she got a D+ on, then cuz her mom wouldn't call her back and just in general. Putting a lot of pressure on me to be more sensitive to her high maintenance shit. Her mom came over tonight and they got into this big argument over Ado and her mom seems to be protecting the dude, it was very uncomfortable so i went to Rebecca's and hung out there looking at her childhood pictures, then over to Don's but got really down on all these sport-climbers that were there talking shit.
Got up early when the Cripple Creek Ferry arrived—Bruce on his backfiring Yamaha 1100. Luckily Don let me borrow his helmet which made the excursion less traumatic. He put his gear and his rope in the saddle bags and i carried the rack on my back. Flying up Catalina highway, what a way to go. Got really cold in Bear Canyon then pulled into the sun and up to milepost 15.8. Just in time to see Don's friend trailing us up the hill. The approach was a little indistinct but we made it out way down scree heaps and chimneys, through manzanita thickets and crusted old snow. This guy Bob and his dog Angus were there at the stash point. Don rushed ahead without saying anything to me (though he saw me) so i yelled, "O.K. Don, you win, we're doing the Standard route". He seemed to be taking our race seriously. Shit, i can't say much because i was up all night, having lucid half-waking dreams of doing Cripple Creek in some metaphor or another. Cripple Creek, that was all i could think of, the song running through my head over and over. I couldn't wait for it to get light. So we racked up and went down to Standard Route (5.7, 2 pitches). Bruce wanted to practice placing gear so he did the 1st pitch, kind of this arête w/ a crack in it. He took a lot of time on it and looked shaky but kept moving. Upon removing his placements i don't blame him for being nervous. I would have been more so as his placements were no good. Great exposure, cruising right across this roof. Then i cruised the in-between along this ledge over plants and up this shitty gully. He decided i should do the second pitch and i wasn't gonna argue, at least in the interest of time. I scrambled up these chimneys and ended up on top of this grain beach ball spire that i had to do some stiff moves on to get off. No belay. Spent a while hassling with immense rope drag kind of going down the other side using the top of the spire as a belay. Couldn't flick the rope over, big pain. I was starting to get a bit nervous about Cripple Creek (5.10-, 3 pitches), making excuses like we won't have enough time, etc, but fuck it, just stopped thinking about it + started climbing. Get a few solid nuts and started to feel better and then up through the crux, stemming turned to almost flaring chimney, some pretty strenuous gear placements and i'm cruising up through it. I got myself under the overhang the wrong way cuz i saw the chickenhead on the right. I reached up behind me cuz i knew it was there. Solid, but i'm grabbing it backwards. Have to let my feet fly to twist my body around, danling by just my hands then swing up to some more chickenheads, yes! A ledge. Amazing crux sequence. I had a little more flaring chimney/"stemantling" then to a cool belay ledge. Bruce had troubles getting my first nut out so he left it, and then he cruised it, not falls. The second pitch (5.9) was a breeze, enjoyable climbing, steep stuff w/ big holds and more stemming. I was high. Sat in the sun singing Cripple Creek at the next belay. It didn't feel like Tucson. The rock was hard and whiter than most Windy Pt stuff, and the longest route on the mountain besides up high. The 5.9 crux on the next pitch was absolute classic, the kind you're saying "sweet" as you're going through it. Then more sustained fun climbing through birdshit and top out. Yes! Bruce also thought it was brilliant. We then hitched a ride on the Cripple Creek ferry (his bike) and chowed down at crossroads. He's a funny dude, especially his laugh, it's bordering on maniacal. When we went through the fourth street underpass he'd make his bike backfire and it was as loud as dynamite. We scared the shit out of this dog (not intentionally) and it started barking like a mad dog and Bruce was cracking up so hard he almost wiped out. Kept having dreams of some girl that kept poking and touching me in my sleep and i was annoyed and vaguely remember seeing Lydia, buck naked, hopping into my bed. The next morning when she woke up in my bed she said she didn't remember how she got there, like she'd been sleepwalking.
Valentine's day with no Valentine, or no real desire for one. Lydia shares my bitter cynicism, the whole thing w/ Ado reached a culmination. Thursday (before our weekly poker game) Ado knocked on the back door. Laurie was there and tried to convince him to leave but he wouldn't. So the police were notified, they came, but Ado came before they got there. After the police left, he showed up again as Lydia and Laurie were leaving, jumped spread eagle on their car yelling at them and he ripped the antenna off. I got back from the climbing gym not knowing any of this and am waiting for the poker people to arrive when the police call saying they found Ado at some motel and were booking him and i was a little confused. Eventually Shaheen, Boo, Stefan, Christine and Pat showed up and we got into a poker game where Shaheen kept cleaning up. Laurie and Lydia showed up and then Thalia. Lydia seemed a little freaked out but all the company seemed to help. I figure if Ado was around (cops wouldn't call us back to say whether he was thrown in jail) then he would have a serious handful of drunken poker players to contend with. After we visited the goats and ducks across the street. It was very silent when everybody left and hard to sleep. Lydia was supposed to have her court hearing with Ado Friday morning but of course he didn't show up. I went climbing with Rebecca, Eric and this guy Jeff. I wasn't feeling so great and Jeff forgot his harness so i let him use mine. He dogged partway up Jungle Gym, aiding his way and finally back off. It was cold and windy also. I decided to do Centerpiece (5.10-) even though my head wasn't into it. The bottom was fun, fist jamming up a bulge than a traverse and to a bulge where i hit my head (and since have looked like a Hindu cyclops w/ a scap in the middle of my forehead). It was starting to get into this overhanging hand crack and i knew i needed my #1 camalot so i got flamed, got a manky piece in and hung on it to fiddle with protection to back up my #1 cam. When i started to move i felt tension as i was trying to pull through the crux and yelled "slack!" and Rebecca must have though i yelled "take!" cuz she pulled me off the rock, which was scary, but thankfully the cam held. I eventually pulled it off but it was heinous. Rebecca hung at the crux for quite a while trying over and over while i was freezing my ass off and she was bleeding from gashes in her leg and knuckles, i was trying to get her to hand jam, but she was yelling "it hurts!" and then she kind of just went quiet, hanging in free space with her head low and i realized she was crying. And of course she was self-conscious and embarrassed that she was crying and nothing i could say could ease this ridiculousness—embarrassed to cry in front of this foreign couple next to us that we didn't even know. Meanwhile Eric and Jeff ran up the standard route. Rebecca and i waited in the back of her truck since it was freezing. She was wearing shorts and a tank top and no socks so i had to lend her ½ of my clothes and she was thirsty and didn't have water, etc. When i offered mine she was bitching about how people's ropes go through rat shit and we put it in our mouths and then drink out of water bottles and i don't bleach or sterilize mine daily. I Sometimes wonder why i even spend time with her, but i see some things beyond this neurotic evasive nature. She's one of the few friends i have that I'd like to see change, to flower and shed all her neuroses. She told me that i knew her better than anyone except her father. We went out to dinner after Eric dropped us off, at the Guatemalan restaurant.
Saturday woke up and went to the bagelry to meet Shaheen, Todd and Ester. All these other people were supposed to show but didn't, so we waited around eating a lot of bagels until they got there. Ester held things up quite a bit, i'm sure we could have cruised a lot faster. And i screwed up, but mostly due to misplaced cairns, and we ended up on top of the Finger Rock guard so we had to cruise down and wrap around the cold north side with frozen icicled waterfalls and finally got to the base of the route. It was a good bean day, i found many red, yellow and orange mesquite beans. We 3rd classed the first pitch up to this ledge (well, Shaheen and i did) then i got on belay and wandered up, clipped a bolt at the only 5th class move (Finger Rock, 5.6) and topped out. What a view! Panoramic view of solemn majestic cliff faces angling down to Tucson and you could see over to Oracle and the biosphere as well, with room enough for maybe a few people to sit down on top. I left some beans up there and threw some in each direction. Belayed everyone up. This German guy was following us around and it was obvious he wanted a belay but we were running short on daylight. On the way down Shaheen and Todd ran off ahead and i had to stick with Ester who moved incredibly slow. Every time i tried to converse with her she was just pretty much silent. A very plain and homely girl. So i lingered back and checked out the rock, looking for routes and magic Hansel + Gretel beans and just taking in the rich desert scenery, so alive, such a beautiful hike. Saw and ominous owl perched on top of a cliff. It was dark by the time we got down and we went to Mina's Thai. Lydia's dad Gay was at the house with his goggly eyed girlfriend. Both tea drinking new age freaks. He was playing the didgeridoo when i came in. I had a hard time sleeping that night. Lydia was sleeping in my bed again, says she's afraid to sleep alone. The wind was rattling the doors, i generally just had bad vibes. Rebecca called at 2 a.m. in a drunken state to tell me to not drink out of my water bottle, that she got sick and thought she had giardia. I just told her the day before to not call me late. So i was rude and cut her off and just hung up on her. After i hung up she supposedly passed out on her floor, couldn't get up and Ginger called the ambulance and she went to the hospital. Cuz of my bad vibes and lack of sleep i canceled Stefan and i's plan to do Pitfalls of Hesitation, besides it was too windy. We went to Milagrosa and a shitload of other people there so we bailed and went to the gym and studied.
[we didn't own a camraw in these days, but here's a shot of Finger Rock (the little peak at right) a few years later when we we got back together w/ our bedder-½ ]
Feb 17, 94
I’m trying to sift through these past few days, making sense of it... was hanging out at Pony Espresso with Bruce, then Heather and Todd, etc. Suddenly it's just me and Heather and her whole tone changed and she was like "so, do you have any Valentine's day plans? I was wondering if you wanted to go get a drink?" It totally threw me for a turn as i had never thought of her in that way, i felt bad though cuz it seemed she was nervous and was hard for her to ask. So i said yes and we made plans and she left. Was this a date? I'm not used to the concept. This was probably the closest things to a legitimate date as i've been asked on. So she came by to pick me up and we went to Geronimoz and sat at the bar. I still haven't figured her out. I was looking at her features, she's got beautiful eyes and hair and nice legs and skin and a nice body, very healthy, etc. but i can't put it together what she's lacking, there's just no spark. Maybe there would be if i got to know her, but i don't know, i don't want to lead her on as she seems pretty serious. So i was willing to just let things happen as they do and the next day we were hanging out doing our homework and Stefan comes along then they were talking about the idea of her moving in with him and they planned to meet the next day so he can show her the house and he leaves. But then he comes back at closing time and is all "hey, let's go get a drink and talk about it, and i'll show you my pad now" in a really cheesy tone. I get in the car expecting to go along with them but he immediately drops me off with no explanation. Hmm. Next day Stefan was like "yah, we got drunk together and both expressed that we were sexually attracted to each other and so she decided to spend the night to check it out." But he wasn't sure he wanted her to live there because she was "socially immature". I thought the whole things sounded a bit weird. That night we played poker at Shahen’s, me Stefan, Shaheen, Todd, Pat, Boo and Heather,. We went to hot tub after and Heather had a few minutes alone with me and told me her view of what happened cuz she a little confused. Evidently Stefan got a bottle of vodka and tried to get her drunk, encouraging her to drink up, then he went into the "I'm a photographer" spiel and wanted her to pose naked for him. When that didn't work he basically asked her point blank if she wanted to have sex, saying "I've been told i give good cunnilingus" and said they could live together and have casual sex and it would be cool, etc. Even if Gretta [his wife!] came back, she could still stay. Then Stefan comes into the hot tub as i'm processing all this and Todd and Shaheen and I were having a Mt Whitney discussion and i wasn't focused, i could tell Stefan knew i knew and meanwhile he's feeling her thigh in the hot tub. It's all pretty disturbing and i'm not sure why. Maybe because i've always so naive to forgive him for all his other shit, though i never did trust him. I always tried to overlook our differences as cultural [he's an East coast Jew], but we are so black and white and he always seems to want to emulate me, which is weird.
Heather invited me over for lasagna last night, which is also weird considering, cuz now i definitely don't want to date her. We went to her house and she started to make the lasagna then we went to McHale to watch the 2nd half of the U of A vs USC game cuz she had tickets then we rented Apocalypse Now and went back to eat the lasagna and watch the movie. She has this dog Kaya, a chow, which are weird, almost blind and kind of stupid. It's awkward cuz she seems into me and i don't want to lead her on, but i'm just not attracted to her and then there's this whole Stefan thing. I think i figured it out that it has to do with her smell, maybe it's a perfume she wears, but it just doesn't jive with me.
The infamous unidentified plastic thing showed up in my life again. It appeared in the top drawer of my desk. Evidently Miles sent it to Elaine who snuck it in there. [there's a long story to this "unidentified plastic thing"... Miles was my neighbor at the UC Santa Cruz camper lot and we kept hiding this thing in each other's campers and he thought he left it with me last after we graduated until i sent it to his mother and had her hide it in his clothes drawer and i think it passed back and forth between us a few other times and now years later he'd tracked me down at U of A and had the department secretary put it in my desk.]
Feb 21, 94
Did Elephantiasis (5.10d, 6 pitches) on Saturday. Friday night i tried to go to bed early. I bought a helmet (finally) then went home, but Stefan came by and i confronted him about his behavior w/ Heather. B.S. spewed out of his mouth, him rationalizing it. I don't know what to believe and don't care. So then Heather calls at 11:30 waking me up just as i was falling asleep and i couldn't get back to sleep after that and i had to get up at 5:30 a.m. Cruised to Mendoza canyon in Harlow's eggbeater. Two veteran types were there when we got there and i think one of them was Karl Rickson. They were going to do Wily Javelina. We thrashed our way to the base. What an amazing dome, shaped like a triangle. The base starts out gently sloping and then the middle gets vertical and the top gets overhanging, like a huge ramp, all funneling into this valley below in a sort of natural amphitheater. We row-sham-bowed for the first lead. The crux was supposedly the 3rd so when i won i chose the 1st. Run-out easy slab with a little route-solving. Ended up on this huge block where i was supposed to belay but there was no gear. So i started digging up plants (it was a grassy ledge) and finally a crack with centipedes crawling out of it appeared. Chawn led the next pitch through a rotten bowl with a blown out stopper, then up a face to a crack (5.9). The next pitch was cool, bolt-protected face into some sloping ramps and more grassy ledges (5.9+/5.10–). I was expecting it to be the crux but it obviously wasn't. The next pitch was. Chawn went up and clipped a bolt, stepped across and traversed under this crack. It was pretty balancey. He made like 6 placements in 15 feet but was still freaked. Finally got around the roof and continued up and it stayed sustained. More traversing. It took almost two hours and he didn't even finish the pitch. Ran out of gear and so had to set up a makeshift belay and i cleaned it then finished the pitch (which stayed sustained 5.9 crack) with lots of scary dubious blocks). I led the 5th pitch up more rotten rock to a bad bolt, then traversed across a grassy ledge covered with storm debris. I had to clear footholds for myself and had to fully trust them. I finally got to a ledge for my hands but it was caked with gushy bat shit, but i crimped in the stuff anyways. Finally got to some gear and then went around a corner and some sketchy balancey moves up to another bolt. After that it was bitching sustained 5.10 face climbing with bolts spread 20 feet or so apart. Positive Milagrosa type holds. Harlow whimpered his way up and basically lost his shit so i had to lead the last pitch which started off maybe 5.9+ then went into easy runout (like 100 feet of it) and topped out. Yes! We could see Karl Rickson and some other guy below and hollered out to them. Managed to get to the tree (with 3 raps) and back to the car and got there just as the sun had set and back in time to get leftover lasagna at Heather's.
[Elephantiasis, in Mendoza canyon (from Inurnet)]
She came over to my place to spend the night last night because we were waking up early (I slept in Lydia's bed). Of course Shaheen was way late, did the bagel + lox thing, Nick came along as well. Went to Chimney. I gave Shaheen most of my gear and went up standard route (5.7), ran the first 2 pitches together clipping the bolts and pitons. Heather did well and was enthusiastic. Chilled on the garden ledge where Stefan cratered and we kept joking about his cunnilingus comment. He also called me yesterday about climbing and i just told him i didn't feel comfortable climbing with him. Cruised up the rest of the route and so did Heather, she tripped jumping down to the rap slings and messed up her palms and knees. I went up Stoner's Boner (5.9) after that and Shaheen was the only one that followed, then we went and got Z's pizza with Heather then saw "Hearts of Darkness," amazing film about the making of Apocalypse Now.
Slacked off all weekend, Friday no class so what the hell, went with Eric to The Goosehead. I started us off on Chung King Corner (5.10–) which was awkward low angle and weird and bulgy. Eric did the pitch above that (5.8) that was bolted to hell, but a cool edgy climb. Then i led Palms Down (5.10–) which was beautiful, very sustained and just gave me that feeling i wasn't in Tucson. We didn't do the second pitch cuz Eric wanted to go meet Matty, but we ended up doing Windsong (5.9+). I got back to Tucson just in time to meet Todd, Sean and Heather at G-moz and they had their packs and everything ready to go. Grabbed a bite at Torqs then went out to the East Stronghold. Drank a bottle of wine in the full moon light and climbed boulder and made slap happy shadows. Next morning got up and Harlow also showed up with Edie, so now we were 6. Up to the saddle, Edie and Harlow went off to do Days of Future Passed, while we went to do What's My Line (5.6). On the way up the gully i saw some bolts going up a slab to a dihedral and a jam crack, so i tied in and started cruising up, it was harder than it looked, fun 5.8. I fucked up through, cuz another party of 3 came along and got in front of us. So we just took our time. Always a fun route, even if it's only 5.6. When we finally got up i looked down and Todd and Shaheen were still on pitch 2 and Harlow was starting up below. So we ended up waiting around on top. We walked out, and it was pitch black by the time we got to the car. Mowed cafe food, then Shaheen, Heather and I took a hot tub, then went to see Fried Green Tomatoes at Heather's. 3 a.m. by the time it was out so i just slept at Heather’s. Woke up with that still tired Sunday feeling. Walked Kaya over the bagelry and to my house. I was looking for my address book to call Eric about climbing and we couldn't figure out what to do why Harold called and said let's go to Milagrosa. So we went with the dogs in the big blazer. He's got a Rhodesian ridgeback named Lexus, that has a funny cowlick on his back. Kaya threw up in the car on the way. We hiked in the back way, lots of people, not many climbers. Harold started us off on wading pool (5.10d). He almost pulled it off but had to rest. Then i tried Take the Plunge (5.11b) and got past the cool crux bulge, thin holds to undercling to big positive holds, but then got too pumped to even close my hands on big holds, but finished it after resting. We walked the dogs into the canyon which was a pain having to carry them down the cliff. Went and ate Chinese food and was laughing at stupid shit so hard i thought i'd get a hernia.
[... onward to March 1994]