[3 Nov 2020>Post 800. Election day. The day before what will probly go down as the worst day of our lives, so we'll escape the reality of it by flashing back to 1994, March, picking up where post 798 left off, still mostly obsessed w/ rock climbing...]
Mar 1, [1994—Tucson]
All I've been thinking about lately is moving to somewhere like South America. The whole Tucson scene is getting to me. I kind of let Heather know what's what, i don't know how she took it. Why don't i want any ties to Tucson? It's a big web that tries to suck you in. I can't concentrate on my studies, i just want to get my master’s and bail. My credit card is a dark cloud hanging over my head. Once i deal with shit on the home front i want to get the hell out of dodge.
Mar 6, 94
Burning out severely. I see the Master's "bolt" coming up and i need to make the move, get the Master's bolt clipped with a bail biner and abandon ship [for those not familiar w/ climbing lingo, a "bail biner" is a carabiner u leave mid-way up a route when u can't do it or bad weather comes in so u can rapel or lower off the cliff face]. Either to come back some other day or full on split. Went climbing Friday w/ Bruce. Went up to do Desire (5.10, 2 pitches). What an exciting visceral climb! A masterpiece of adrenalin, lactic acid and beautiful moves, 20 feet up to the first bolt. Of course Steiger wouldn't put the 1st bolt on a decent stance, but makes you do this 5.8 balancey high step looking at a nice 20 foot fall into a jagged manzanita before you get the first clip. Then another 20 foot section across slabby moonwalking looking at a pretty shitty fall, almost ground, to the 2nd bolt. Continue up a crack that protects well if you can see in it, lay it back and onto relatively easy ground, maybe a manky #0 TCU [a tri-cam unit, #0 being the smallest, so small it's hardly reliable] and 20 or 30 feet of more runout to another bolt, then up this really intense sequence of double slopey-slabby arêtes past 2 bolts separated by 15-20 feet of continuous 5.10–. Figured i'd belay there since there were 2 bolts, the old one i cinched w/ a stopper. Belayed Bruce up and he put back on from the bolt below. Then i reached up to grab the huge layback with no feet, start yarring myself up, pull my feet up, scoot my left hand up the arete, let go with my right to slap a hold, but it's sloper barn door ['barn door' is when u can't help your momentum from shifting sideways] and I'm off! Look down and i get this visceral image of this sloping ledge below and Bruce looking up at me. I push myself out and miss the ledge and fall straight towards Bruce almost hitting him. Adrenalin shoots through my veins and a sense of relief, kind of wakes me up. Tasting copper big time. So i go back up with my right hand and slap for the same stupid hold and shit, off again! This time i smack the ledge and tweak my ankle. Ok, take a deep breath, what the fuck am i doing? Gotta pull this off, i'm shaking, i'm familiar enough with the holds, how to piece together another sequence, so i go back up and this time pull it off, but it doesn't let up, keep going past that bolt, and a 2-bolt belay that was added (if only i'd known), then some steep shit, 5.9 heel hook to make a clip then up steep committing face to top out. Whew! What an accomplishment, even though i decked twice.
Bruce led Hitchcock's Pinnacle (5.8) after that and i went straight up the south face. Went back on his motorcycle, scarier than climbing, but fun as shit. Back to Gentle Ben's where i met Bruce's strange poet friends. Then i went over to Heather's, she made me pasta and we watched Slacker. Then back to Isla Tiburon, more drinking and criticizing the lame people that frequent these joints. I swore i wouldn't climb Saturday so i could start to study, even lent Bruce my quickdraws then told Shaheen and Todd to take my rack. But of course Brian calls Saturday morning and i just can't say no to climbing so we cruise up on his motorcycle and my ankle was still tweaked so i wasn't up to leading. We went up Stoner's Boner (5.9) because we saw booty on it, major booty! 2 stoppers, 4 carabiners and a sling. Then he went up SLR (5.10–) which is always fun. That's all we did. The trigger on his camalot broke so i spent quite a while fucking with that. Saw The Fugitive with Brian, Pat and Heather.
This morning went up with Harlow. TR'ed [top-roped, which is when u have a rope set up so there's no risk] Coroner's Inquest (5.9), very hard, glad we TR'ed it. Neither of us was feeling up to leading. TR'ed Stuttering in Tongues (5.11–), a heinous off-width with hand pockets full of dirt. Can't imagine what sick puppy put this up. I barely did it, got severely pumped. Then we TR'ed Swordfish Trombone (5.11) which was fun and easy and pump, then Cornholers Incest (5.11+). I hung at the crux before i figured it out then was too pumped to even finish it, though I'd just flashed the moves before (same ending as Swordfish Trombone). All that before 12:30 or 1:00. Came down, got a burrito, took a nap and am ready to study.
March 14—Los Alamos, NM
Sitting in the cafeteria at Los Alamos labs, making calls all day and meeting with people. Dealing with major bureaucratic job-searching shit, with nothing concrete panning out. But i can't complain cuz i got to ski yesterday and the day before. After taking my E+M test on Friday (which wasn't that bad) i met Shaheen and Dave and we loaded up skis, climbing gear, crampons, etc. and set off for New Mexico, not getting on the road til 4 pm. I slutted myself between their 2 cars, then Shaheen got tired so i drove his car around Deming. His window was making a whistling noise and i could feel a cold draft so he tells me to shut the window tighter so i crank the window harder and CRASSSSHHH!! The window shatters into a million pieces, imploding onto my shoulder, followed by a gust of cold wind. Quite the reality check! Stopped to tape it up with a plastic band but it was still cold as shit. Made it to Los Alamos around midnight. Went to this guy Chuck's house where there was some party going on. We were tired and just wanted to sleep, but what the hell, if you can't beat em join em. So we partied with a bunch of physics dweebs. Finally around 3 or 4 a.m. i crashed under a table behind their couch while they partied on, break dancing and whatever else. Didn't sleep much obviously. At 6:30 my internal alarm went off... "skiing!". I looked out the window and it was snowing, fresh powder! So i kicked Dave, who crashed next to me, then we got Shaheen up. Both were reluctant to get up, but man, how can you pass up on 6 inches of fresh powder? So we rounded up some guy Alan who had a jeep and drove up to Pajarito, a local ski resort. We didn’t get our shit together to hit the slopes til about 11:30 so we just waited and got a ½ day. And we met up with some other dweebs and i was getting impatient having to wait. We got to the top, a group of 7 or 8 of us, and someone wanted to wait for whoever and i said fuck this, "later!" Skied hard, doing almost every route on the mountain. The weather was shitty but the snow was good. Got back and had to wait more to round up people to hit Santa Fe. Ending up at some random white dweebs house who were watching porn videos instead of getting ready. Finally ended up in Santa Fe which was pretty touristy and more superficial than i remember, trying too hard for that southwestern vibe. Ate at Tomasito's which was good, then i rode back with Dave since the other geeks were going to party more.
Sunday i got Shaheen up early and we got Alan and went up to Taos. I somehow got separated from Shaheen and Alan. My first lift up i saw the ridge and said "yes!". I saw some crunchy guy from Colorado and walked with him but he was going to slow so i plowed ahead and continued all the way to the top of Kachina Peak, 12,336 feet. A 1-hour hike in ski boots, but well worth it. Excellent view. I waited a bit and Shaheen showed up. We skied down which wasn't so hot at first, a crusty thick powdered double-black (for a warmup!) that was hard to make turns on. But it eventually got better. Skied the whole day with Shaheen, the best run being "Long Horn". Afterwards we went to the Stray Dog Cantina to meet up with the Phoenix Ultimate team who we'd run into earlier on the slopes and partied with them a while and drove back. Today I've been doing this job-hunting shit. This place is a trip, a very casual and organized institution though. Everyone really smart, Los Alamos has the highest percentage of PhDs in the world. Everybody speaking in acronyms or code, nothing has a regular name, just letters and numbers... "He got a T-386 in the P1 division."
"Yah, but P-3s got a Q clearance on the 1 double 2 B2.
"Talk to TA-2 in the ACP building about project SM62".
... I'm not even sure i want something to come of this, but we'll see... it is New Mexico after all, spectacular climbing and skiing, etc.
March 17—Somewhere near Santa Fe
We're cruising to Cochiti Mesa in Shaheen's windowless car. But hey, we have a roll of see-through plastic now. Looks like i got a job! Tuesday i talked to Barbara and then Jeana (sp?), Shaheen's boss and then she introduced me to the two Toms, Tom Carey and Tom Kozlowski (sp?). From the beginning they were talking like i already had a job, telling me what i'd be doing, working on some systems control thing to run the collider. Sounds pretty complicated and will involve a lot of computing but that's okay. They told me to start looking for housing, so guess that sounds promising? So with that off my chest, less gravity, time to climb! Shaheen and i went to the Overlook first. He led some 5.6 then i led some 5.9 and then he did some 5.8, all were pocket climbs, not in the guidebook. then i led highwall (5.10b) which was pretty pumpy, i felt like resting a few times but hung on and hit some 'thank god' holds just in time. Then Shaheen led Polly's Crack (5.8) an excellent finger/hand crack in a dihedral. He took a nice 10 foot whipper off it. The Overlook is in the Rio Grande canyon, a beautiful area so after that we scrambled down the scree looking for some supposed cave. Found one cave on the way back up, but it was just a small hole. A vibrant land that still carries a lingering Anasazi aura. We split after that to reload our guns at the Quik Mart, then went to "the playground". Cool basalt columns like you're at some ruins. I started off on Beginner Hand Jam (5.9). I was feeling weak and intimidated, a steep hand crack with no facial features. Finally i got the nerve and painfully grunted through the bottom crux put a piece in then heard a shriek and a solid thud which did not sound healthy. I climbed down to a ledge, then Shaheen too me off to see what was up. Some guy was bouldering 15 feet off the ground and fell and it was apparent he broke his arm. Shaheen came back and lowered me off and ran for an ambulance. The guy had 2 friends with him. The shriek came from the girl he almost hit. He had no climbing experience. When i asked him why he wasn't wearing climbing shoes he said "you need special shoes for this?" He kept laughing and saying "i was doing great until i fell." and "wow, gravity works!" He was calm, obviously in shock. His friend fashioned a splint out of cholla logs but within minutes Shaheen appeared with 2 cops on the ridge pointing down to us. He called it in as a guy that fell from 100 feet, thought the cliff was 30 or 50 feet at most and he fell from 15 according to his friends. Then sirens. Then the paramedics and men in fire suits scrambling down the trail. They brought the stretcher, rolled him in and duck-taped his head to the board which seemed kinda severe. Then we watched as these 8 or 10 paramedics tried to carry this guy up the trail, no easy chore. They got a rope down which was no help. But this distraction was cutting into our climbing time, so i roped back up and went back to where i left off and finished the route. This local kid Jessie showed up, a stoner 17 yr old high school kid. Dave had showed up too so Shaheen was top-roping with him. So i belayed this kid up the Beginner's Hand Jam. He made it look easy. Then he encouraged me to lead Unnamed (5.9+) which he said was 5.8+ and i thought was 5.9, an exciting layback to a thin flake until you get a placement 15 or 20 feet up, then awkward blocky moves, a nice dihedral then an intimidating roof that had a huge jug at the lip. Very cool climbing. Now were on our way to Cochiti Mesa and it's too bumpy to write.
March 19 (?)—Texas Canyon rest area, AZ
Sitting in Shaheen's Escort that's shaking around in the wind. It's too rainy to drive and Shaheen is trying to sleep and i'm fending off my addiction to his video Blackjack. On our way back to Tucson. Cochiti was way cool. Started off on Monkey Lust (5.9+/5.10a), a short cool sport climb. Then we all led this short new 5.8/5.9. Dave showed up, so we were climbing as 3. Then we did this unnamed 5.10a. The "The Boy from La Jolla Who Stepped On a Cholla" looked intimidating so i led "Just Say No to Crack" (5.10a), great name for a climb, the wind almost blew me off the face. Then we TR'ed the crack next to it, Cracker Jack (5.9+). Then i led Another Lichen Nightmare (5.11a) which was long and sustained. I got to this piton then had 15-20 feet of tenuous runout above it to a difficult clip then steeper and thinner to the top. I was getting pumped but stuck with it, felt good to grab the top. Then i led Acid Rain (5.10c) which was kind of dumb, but fun. A 69 point day, all leads. Stopped in Santa Fe to eat and go to some bar Evangelos, not too exciting. We had planned to camp out but decided to head back to Los Alamos. Decided to camp in White Rock, on a mesa overlooking the Rio Grande. Very cool. Woke up and decided to go to Las Conchas, which is way up in the Jemez mountains past Valle Grande, a cool meadow in the largest (defunct) crater in the world. There was a lot of snow up there. Parked near this rushing stream and began trudging. Beautiful little valley, lined with rocks and a river running through it, checked with ice. Crossed a few precarious log bridges and got to some area where we were knee deep in snow. Crossed the 3rd bridge, a ½ mile and we were at "the sponge". There was a lot of snow but it was sunny. I started us out on Hollywood Tim (5.9), a hue-cool hueco type climb with pinch holds and side pulls up steep face. As i was lowering down i noticed big chunks of ice were hitting the bridge we had crossed. The river seemed to be getting higher, but we weren't too worried since we were on the same side of the river as the car. Shaheen went up and by the time he got down the water was flowing over the bridge and huge icebergs were piling up against it along with all sorts of other debris. I TR'ed H.T. (5.9) just cuz it was so cool then i led the steeper off shot Mad Dogs and Englishman (5.10–) a steep overhanging face with deep pockets. Strenuous. I was climbing with no shirt despite the snow. I could hear ice smashing into the bridge to the point it was flexing and i thought it would go. After that we started downstream and i found a cool cave face that needs a first ascent. Maybe a few pitches long. Checked out the hidden tower and found some hot springs babbling through the ice. It was obvious we wouldn't be crossing the bridge we came across on so we started going up stream on the other side but realized we were trapped in. Had Shaheen put me on belay and l led this traverse around this rock, which was easy but would have been scary without gear (falling into icy water). Shaheen said i was being melodramatic. I felt like it was something you would do in a dream, the opposite of crossing burning bridges. So even after we made that traverse there were other unpassable sections. So we had to hike way around in the forest full of weird oval deer shit, wallowing through waist deep snow banks til we finally escaped the clutches of the raging river.
One of the reasons we went back to Los Alamos was cuz of this party Scott had, which ended up being really dumb so we just vegged and watched basketball. Got another 1/2 day of climbing in before taking off back to Tucson. Went to "Below the New Old Place" and Shaheen started off by leading Putterman Cracks (5.9) a cool stem up double cracks that felt more like 5.7. Then i led Scandinavian Airlines (5.10c) which was wicked and not that hard, up an overhanging arete. Then i led L-Dopa (5.9+) a cool dihedral with a finger crack. The book seems to be messed up in its ratings as bot these 5.9 cracks seemed like 5.7. Then i led P.M.s (5.10a) another arete climb. I started up the direct way which was 5.11c, but the clips were weird and barn-doory so i down-climbed thru the weird barndoor move but got flamed and fell, jumping out so i wouldn't hit the arete. My first fall in New Mexico. I went back up the 5.10a way and it was a cinch. After Shaheen did it i TR'ed the 5.11c version and T.R.ashed it [top-rope flashed it, meaning you did it no falls], very strenuous cool positive inset like socket holds. It's like 1 a.m. and Shaheen is snoozing and it's not raining that hard anymore.
March 27, 1994
I ended up driving the last stretch to Tucson jacked on coffee, through pouring rain, while Shaheen slept. The usual shit in Tucson this week except i put a route up in the climbing gym, a black 5.11 whose first hold is ½ way up the climb, haha. A slimey grungy stem to a big sloping hold which you have to mantel and stand up on. I got a haircut, rather spontaneously. I was crossing the street and my hair blew in my face and i almost got hit by a car and looked up and saw a barber shop so told them to shave my head. She asked if i wanted to think about it and i said no, but she wouldn't do it so eventually we compromised and said to cut 6-8 inches off, figured i could always go back and shave it. I felt different for a day but i'm already used to it. Now it's this awkward length that i can barely put up in a ponytail so it's even more annoying. Tried to climb Saturday but the weather was shitty. Went with Shaheen, Todd and Rebecca, first to try Mt Lemon but then it started hailing and we became enveloped in dark clouds so we went to Gates Pass. Hiking out to the boulder area we said fuck it and just kept going to the top of the mountain. There were some larger rocks with possible routes but kinda grungy. I found some bolts for a T.R. so set that up. Started cruising up then a sheet of rain was making its way toward us across the plain. Todd lowered off and i quickly dismantled the T.R. and cowered into this chimney/overhang where they were. Waited it out and split when it let up but got hit again by rain. I could see Harlow's truck below. We tried to sabotage it when we got there but Rebecca was repulsed by his tighty-whitey's on the floor amidst junk food wrappers and said she was going to be sick. She's such a riot. We went back and watched the U of A game at Zs. (vs. Missouri). Yes! Final Four. Wasn't even a contest, we led the whole way. Then went to the gym after that, getting sick of all the chalk dust. Oh yah, Friday night i kidnapped Adriana and we (Jesus, Sean, Adriana and I) went to Ben's Genitals. Bruce and his poet friends showed up as well, and so did Dr. Thews. We sent a pitcher to his table from the "dweebs". Then Shaheen, Adriana and I got this crazy notion to go to Desert Diamond, way down in the south side. Adriana is a mystery, but quite attractive. The casino was full of low lifes. I lost $20 playing video blackjack. It's weird, there's five terminals around a dealer, so obviously no card counting. After getting sick of all the smoke + beeping and flashing lights, we went to Shaheen's to take a hot tub in the rain. Didn't get home til like 3 or 4.
Sunday went climbing w/ Todd, Kevin and Rebecca. Kevin is this guy who writes a column for the Tucson Weekly and drives a big black Suburban, kind of a renegade liberal hillbilly. We decided to go to the Cornerstone after finding Windy Pt shrouded in a cold mist. Did basically all the routes there. First i led Blood Simple (5.9) which is probably more 5.9+. Set the TR on that then went up Problem Child (5.10) which was more like 5.10– but with a lot less bolts (½ as many in the same distance). 20 feet above a Manzanita to the 1st bolt. Then did the route in between, Air Zoner (5.10+), which was actually pretty cool. Then Todd and Kevin were kind of being overchallenged so i cruised up Baby Boomer (5.9). Went out to eat w/ Rebecca at the Garland and started to get on the subject of "what would it be like if we were dating?" Hmm. I'd be kind of intrigued to pull her out of her shell, but not that intrigued.
Dream [not yet logged in our dream journal]: I was down in Ajijic taking a shower and Kevin was holding the hose. We had some system set up outside where someone held the hose over you in the little cubicle, kind of like an isolation chamber. I went into a dream (within a dream) induced by the isolation chamber. In the dream i was in Ajijic and walking back to this little shack on the beach (which was the real ocean i guess). Some guy rode by on a bike, and i thought he was pointing a gun at me, so i turned to run the other way. Everyone in the cobblestone streets panicked about what seemed like revolutionaries marching through the town. I ran fast, real fast down to the shack on the beach where i was staying. There were cannon balls going off which at closer inspection turned out to be bowling bowls. It was very G.G. Marquez-ish, Latin American and magically surreal. The waters were churning, boiling, swirling in whirlpools and bowling balls were falling and plopping all around me. I had all my stuff in the shack and decided to take a piss and think about what to do. As the urge swelled in me the waters rose dramatically like a tide. I ran to the hut and was washed over by a wave. The tide would surge a couple of feet, retreat, then surge 10, a few more feet each time. I wanted to salvage some of my stuff, then i realized it was a dream and didn't matter, so i left my stuff and started going up the street but the tide swept me up, pulled me back a little then surged forward. Every time it went backward it was a feeling of elation and floating and i was glad cuz it was getting me to my destination (which i guess was "home"). Then it would recede back and i would grab for telephone poles to try to keep from getting pulled back, then it would surge forward again. People were running from the floods in front of me and i felt kind of cool, like i was surfing. The white-washed waves of water in the cobblestoned streets rose up and up and it seemed it would never overflow. The walls kept it in and Kevin was still holding the hose over my head and said I'd been dreaming for an hour, in R.E.M. Then i woke up for real.
[... to April 1994]