[4 Nov 2020> We shd call this this The Twice Daily Noose... escaping the nail-biting noose of the day by generating our one noose... flashing back again to 1994, April, picking up where post 800 left off, in Tucson, in the height our climbing dayzzz (wich was just another forms of escapism)]:
April 2, [1994—Tucson]
Still haven't heard from Los Alamos. Finished up "Night Fishing" and already have another short story brewing in my head dealing with drains and plungers and latex. I want to tie it in with "metal" which i haven't put on paper yet but it's all in my head. It involves this couple Millie and Arlo and Millie is taking a shower but the drain is all clogged up so Arlo starts plunging and the water comes up in the toilet [ + we continue on for a page drafting out this story...].
Friday went climbing w/ Shaheen, Bruce and Coreen. Coreen is a friend of Bruce's from Michigan. I pointed Bruce and Coreen over to R2-D2 w/ my rack while Shaheen led E.T. Arrête (5.9). I followed it to the left of the bolts, a completely different, harder route. Then we went into the depths of The Catacombs, windy through chimneys until i found Tanger Box (5.10+)... fairly straight forward until about the 4th bolt and then it blanked out and all i had were little slimey chips of mica. I fucked around for like 15 minutes trying different ways, downclimbing but couldn't see the way. Finally i just worked my feet out, stepped up, very balancey and pulled through, barely. When Shaheen did it he had to put a draw in and pull through the move. After that we went and did Steve's Arrête (5.11). I was intimidated as hell looking at it from below but had to let myself not think about it and just do it. Bouldered up to the ledge—instant exposure—the 1st bolt about 20 feet up, steep as hell but big jugs. Then i'm cranking and that weird almost out of body feeling comes over me where you don't want to be too subjective or down to earth cuz your senses will take over and psych you out and tell you you're out of your mind, which in a sense you are. 2nd bolt, 2 to go. Good side pulls, but my arms felt like they had cement bags tied to them. I yelled to Shaheen, "damn it, i'm gonna have to take a rest," but my mind said fuck you, keep climbing, so i kept going to the 3rd bolt, pumped as hell, thought i would blow the clip, pulled off the arrête into this groove, put the draw in, started pulling the rope but it was stuck between my legs. I was hanging by my left hand 5-10 seconds losing feeling in my arm, had that dizzy feeling so i grabbed the draw and made the clip, defeated. But i didn't hang, clipped it and just kept moving and that was it, topped out. I was in pain from being so flamed and had that asthmatic feeling from anaerobic exercise.
Shaheen following my lead of Steve's Arrête
Shaheen, Bruce and I went to La Indita after that and ran into Heather. Made plans to go climbing w/ her and Bruce, Corrina and Todd the next day. But i could sense then and there she would flake. Of course 8:30 rolls around and no Heather. 9:00 i call her and she's asleep (w/ that Canadian cyclist dude) and is giving me this "i'll call you in 5" routine. Todd and Bruce call and i prep them for the let down since none of us have wheels. So then i set out to search for someone with wheels. Heather calls back, "i got drunk last night". All this is just a good excuse for me to get a car of my own. I called Rebecca and talked her into going, but then it ended up Bruce got his roommate’s Taurus. Yes, i was psyched to climb. Went to The Druid and Todd and i warmed up on General Throckmorton (5.8) which he led. Cool little roof. Then we went up Of Mice and Men (5.9+). I led the 1st pitch which was pretty exciting and cool, and he did the 2nd which was hard for a few moves then got easy. Lord Fouls Bain was in the shade so i ran up Some (5.9), Scott Ayer's new clip-up route that only had one challenging move towards the end. Then Todd went up Lord Foul's Bain (5.10) got to the crux, tried it a few times but couldn't figure it out. So i went up and found a hold he just wasn't using and pulled it off. John (Eric's roommate) and my ex-ca had showed up. We left after that and listened to U of A lose to Arkansas. Bruce made a big pot of chili and we scarfed at his weird house with his weird roommates who are on 13-day drinking binges and counting and like to collect little toys they get at Wal-Mart. We ended up at the "TAMMIES", Tucson's version of the Bammies, where you pay $5 and get into all these bars to see all these bands. Started at Jaime's then went to Sweetwater to see Greasy Chicken, a young sincere jazz band. We went to 4th ave Social Club to check out some pseudo-mariachi band then checked out O'Malleys. The line was too long but Adriana was in it. Major conflict of interests. The rest of the crew left but i stayed to unsuccessfully talk Adriana into coming with us. We ended up back at Jaime's dancing to Sam Taylor and then Adriana showed up with Eric and then Chawn's geeky roommate and i'm rolling my eyes but she didn't take a hint so i left. Sunday i was supposed to go climbing with Christine, Rebecca and Todd. Todd wasn't answering his phone or his door so i figured he wasn't there (ends up he was). Ended up going w/ Christine and Dean. It was a very lackadaisical day. No one really motivated. We ran into this guy Carter who tagged along. Rebecca started on True Grit (5.9). She fell at the crux. Then i led Foreign Affair (5.10+) and they followed then i belayed Carter up Arizona Highways (5.11+) and then followed that. This time i had to rest. High gravity day. I decided to run up Miss Adventure (5.10) anyway even though my head wasn't there. Rebecca wanted to sit on this boulder away from the wall over this drop off cuz it was in the sun. I tried to tell her it wasn't a good idea but she didn't listen and i was sick of arguing with her. So i go up and it's easy and i clip a bolt over a ledge and start to swing around this corner onto the face that Arizona Highways is on and it's suddenly majorly intimidating and i'm thinking about that ledge below and what would happen to Rebecca if i fell and my head went elsewhere, made a sloppy slap for a hold and i'm off. I was near the bolt but still fell at least 10-15 feet. I look down and Rebecca is nowhere near to where she was, hanging in the air. She got yanked off the boulder and slammed into the base of the cliff, but at least she held on. I made some wisecrack to her and she got upset. Finished it and came down and tried to explain to her that belaying is an important job and she's crying and out of control but she climbs it anyway. I was pretty depressed today but went home and made killer lasagna and Bruce came over and we ate it with a bottle of red wine and played chess.
Lessons in mobility—Learning to fall [apparently some story or creative piece we were writing in our journal]
I guess i learned to walk when most maybe do, i don't remember. I shouldn't say i "learned" because in hindsight it seemed more like trial and error. First i must have learned to stand, then after falling on my face a few times, i probably learned that if i put my foot out i could catch myself, at least temporarily. I would take a step or two then fall, but this gave me more time to be upright. I eventually must have learned that if i fell in the direction of some stimulus, food or a shiny toy, and if i kept falling and catching myself, there was a good chance i would get the reward. Much like an amoeba, without a stimulus, it merely goes in a random walk, but once a light is shined there is a general tendency towards the light. I developed certain "falling patterns" i adhered to. I knew if i fell for 2 blocks east, 3 blocks north and through Miss Hamilton's backyard then through her halls like a maze i would get a soda and bowl of nuts [true story... when we was a kid in Portland there was an old woman in our neighborhood that if you went to her house and talked to her she would give you a snack]. Or another pattern to get to school. I memorized these patterns.
Climbing > deliberate motion.
A new perspective! Now i see through a sky-blue beat-up pickup truck. I bought Harlow's "egg-beater" for $500, a Ford Courier. I think i'll name it "sky" or "air". Only climbed one day this weekend, Saturday went to the Beanfest with Shaheen, Todd and Brian. We were planning on hitting Mendoza but Todd flaked and Brian didn't have a P.I.C. [?] but was going to Toecheese Stranglehold [Cochise Stronghold]. Brian and i went up The Big Sleep (5.9, 4 pitches) and we (hesitantly) sent Sean and Todd on The Wasteland. As we were approaching, Karl Rickson was sunning himself on some slabs smoking a bowl. Well, he put the route up so we had to get the beta [climber lingo for information about the route]. He went off with some guy to do Wasteland so we told him to keep an eye on our friends. There were some guys (red-haired Brian and little Jeff) on The Big Sleep and these Peregrine Falcons were flying around, very pissed off. Brian and i considered doing another route, went up the chimney and did this sketchy traverse to try to find The Year of Living Dangerously which we saw some bail slings on, but it looked nothing like the route or "echoes". We got on our shoes ad and started to traverse but it got hard, approaching 5.6 or possibly harder so we had a reality check and retreated to do the Big Sleep. Went up this big arching gully unroped and i started to go up this blocky chimney then figured i would throw a rope down and have Brian give me the rack. After i went up, we looked at the topo and we'd already done the first pitch! Brian did the 2nd (crux) pitch. Traversed out of the decomposing arch onto good face up knobs and chickenheads, hard to protect 5.6–5.7 then to a bolt and a 5.9 move to a belay. I followed and started the 3rd pitch, a long traverse that went right along this crystal vein until i got to the 5.8+ crux of that pitch. Karl asked us if we had a #1 tri-cam and we brushed it off, but the only piece that would protect it was a tri-cam. I slotted a stopper sideways but it was a joke. Pulled the move then got to clip a bolt (for the follower so he wouldn't penjy). Continued along a decomposing crystal vein. Every time i tried to slot a stopper the rock exploded. These 3 guys were below us putting up a route with a Bosch. Ahhhh, the sweet sound of power tools! I'm sure the peregrines loved it. We got held up by Brian and Jeff who had a 2 pitch head start on us, but we caught up. Brian took us up the last pitch. More 5.6–5.8 face with scant pro. The descent was the crux... rappelling off dead bushes and traversing on dirty slabs looking at a 200 foot fall then down chimneys and gullies and back to the traverse we attempted earlier. We got more climbing in traversing around with our packs on. Went back to the car and Shaheen and Todd weren't there. So we left a note (to look for the "giant penis") and went to do Nightstalker (5.9). Brian let me lead it since i wanted to avenge the coyote that crossed Chris and I's path last summer cursing me the 1st time. Beautiful climb. Cruised up the past where i fell before and then got to the bolt that i bailed on and into new territory—did the high step and then up on that killer chicken-headed face, a good sustained route. Still no Shaheen or Todd. Went back to the car and left a note to say go to the Beanfest. We went and cruised around the campground socializing. Rick Nelson had this gigantic bazooka made of P.V.C. pipe. He'd put potatoes in the end and spray hair spray in the chamber, cap it, light it and "KABLOOM!" The potato flew a few thousand yards and hit some prickly pear up on the mountain. Burritos got going and the kegs were tapped, pot smoke filled the air. The salsa was nuclear and there was a fire raging and everybody was running around bragging about their exploits. Mostly mellow old-school climbers but a few gym rats. Then we figured we should check on Shaheen and Todd. Went back to the car and hollered, no sign of them. Got geared up to trudge up there in the dark. Then we saw a light flashing in the gully. It was them. So we went back to the Beanfest. More beer and tequila. Shaheen and Todd showed up bitching and moaning. They got their asses kicked and lost my rope rapping the wrong rap-route. Hmm. Todd was bitching about getting back on the road and wouldn't have a burrito even though i'm sure he was starving. So we started to leave but i went to tell Karl that we found them. And as i was gone a drunken group of climbers with a pot of beans accosted them to initiate them. Sean volunteered in good spirits, but Todd hid in the back of the car with the door locked, acting like we were all immature. Brian and I let ourselves get beaned even though we were veterans and got the shots of tequila. It was a silent trip home, i talked in my sleep to keep Shaheen awake.
Tried to study Sunday. Monday morning had the E+M exam then Harlow and i took off with high hopes of doing Shitfalls of Hesitation [a.k.a. Pitfalls of Hesitation]. Sam (from Oz) is staying at our house and she was there when i went to get the rope so i invited her along. When we got to Windy Point this French Canadian guy with a fucked up name (Pzer beack... that was pronounced Shammuck, which was appropriate cuz he was a shmuck) was looking for a climbing partner, said he'd been waiting around all morning but couldn't find anyone so we took pity on him. We put him on Green Card (5.10) to start us off. He bitched that we sand-bagged him after. He fell all over the bottom, said he was used to Moab Crack. Harlow lead Lobo Direct (5.10) next, a bold and good line except for some flakey rock. He was tasting copper [climber lingo for tasting adrenalin], made 16 placements in 60 feet. I went up to take photos since we usually never had a chance.
Harlow on Lobo Direct (5.10) not knowing the Shmuck belaying him has let go of the rope
Then i led Valdez is Coming (5.10+) after that, up a cool sharp arrête with a crack in it. The first ½ was gear on a big flake that sounded hollow. The upper ½ was steep excellent face that was bolted. I was severely pumped but pulled it off. Shammuck tried to lead Hippo Space Invaders (5.11)(after falling on Valdez) and couldn't even get off the ground. He fell a few times and ripped the hold off. So he made it an A0 penjy to get on then dogged the crux higher up. He was giving Harlow shit so Harlow did it and the guy was being a total dick, saying "ooooh, i'm so impressed," in a French sarcastic tone, still bitter thinking we had sand-bagged him, saying we were using him as a rope run. I also TRashed Hippo Space Invaders then told this ungrateful shmuck to fuck off + i led True Grit (5.9) for Sam to follow and then did Green Card (5.10). Sat in the parking lot shooting the shit w/ Eric and this guy John, both stoned out of their gourds. Went to ZZZs, drank pitchers of Sierra Nevada and ate flying ZZZss.. yum! Then gave Harlow a check for $500 and he handed me over the keys to his wheels. [Followed by 6 pages of notes and creative writing pieces, some in our handwriting and some in Bruce's i think.... maybe these are some of the collaborative exercises we used to do when we were driving, where we'd go back and forth contributing the next sentence (Bruce was a poet/creative writing student), or mad-lib-type exercises where we had to use certain words.]
April 17, 1994—Red Rocks, NV
I needed to get out of Tucson, bad. Everyone is starting to get on my nerves and i feel like burning bridges to make the road clearer, less baggage. I can't believe i've been in Tucson 3 years without a car! What was i thinking? I need a vehicle to drive myself, so i don't have to kiss ass and slut myself out for a ride. After getting Harlow's egg-beater i had to deal w/ the bureaucracy of the DMV (or MVD as they call it here), 1st to get my AZ license, that took 2 hours. When i went again to change the title, they told me i needed insurance. So i got insurance ($289 for 6 months) than back to the MVD. But that's done, now i have the freedom to go when and where i want to go and to choose my partner in climbs. So Bruce i inaugurated the truck, headed through Vegas to Red Rocks. Was hosed so we slept on the side of the road who knows where. Next morning we started on Straight Shooter (5.9+) cuz a bunch of people in the parking lot were setting out to do Dark Shadows. 50 feet of fabulous finger crack! We were ecstatic. I TR'ed some 5.11 next to it that wasn't in the book. Then we were off to Dark Shadows (5.8–, 4 pitches). Excellent location, to start on this cool low angle face over this creek. Run out 5.5 which Bruce led. I did the 2nd, a 5.87 dihedral, bomber gear and easy fun climbing. Got hung up on the next belay since we'd caught up to the group in front of us. The guy shit his pants or something leading the 3rd pitch. Then we cruised up the high quality lizard skin with incredible jugs. I did the last pitch to the base of this huge roof and we rapped off. We set out to do this 5.10 hand crack called Out of Control, but i got 30 feet up on it, running it out as much as possible cuz i knew i needed pieces higher up. 150 feet of sustained hand crack all one size and wasn't sure i had enough pro so i traversed over to Remote Control (5.9), the worst piece of shit route i've ever been on. Huge loose blocks and flakes and the rock was so bad i just assumed my pieces would pull, that i was free-soloing. I got to this bail-off point, 150 feet up, all sorts of nuts and locking biners. I traversed to the belay of Out of Control and finished on that.
Next day we set out to do Crimson Chrysalis (5.9, 9 pitches!), what an adventure. The longest route i've been on. Had to wait until 7 or 8 for the gates to pen. Then the stupid 14 mile one way loop (to go a distance of a mile). The approach was a long and steep bushwhack across the plain with no trail and up this steep gully. It looked intimidating from the ground, this vertical man-eating chimney/crack extending 1000 feet straight up. I started up the first 5.8 pitch, which in psychological respects was the hardest pitch, flaring crack to a face. The 2nd pitch was 5.8+ in and out of the chimney onto the face and nearby finger crack and the 3rd pitch (5.9) got steeper with a few rusty bolts here and there, where they weren't really needed. Excellent climbing, lots of good holds and variety, and variety in placements. It even gobbled up my custom made #7 friend a few times. The fourth pitch was completely the shit! Stemming up and out of the overhanging chimney looking down between my legs at 400 feet of air. Then up this steep headwall with a finger crack. Now we were onto the varnished shellaqued lizard skin stuff. Steep with huge edges and holds. At the end of the 5th pitch (5.8) we finally got a mediocre ledge to chow a power bar and take in the exposure. On the 6th pitch (5.9) i was cruising when my arm suddenly felt like it was gonna cramp up. By this time i was getting fatigued and probably wasn't appreciating the climb as much, i should have as it was still of 3 start quality. I had led all the pitches to this point in the interest of time, but Bruce led the 5.7+ pitch, well-bolted, but he still took quite a while on it. Then i slogged up the 8th. By the 9th i was psyched enough to enjoy it. Yes! Topped out, way the fuck above the desert and Vegas. We were elated. The rappel was even scarier than the climb. Plenty of stuff to get hung up on. The rope got caught on the 5th rap and i jugged up to get it, ended up we were pulling the wrong color (though we tried the other end too). Managed to get off the rock before it got dark, but had to hike out in the dark, and back to the grave lot wasteland of a camping area.
Crimson Chrysalis (5.9, 9 pitches)
Next morning we knocked off 2 sport routes, Cat Walk (5.10a/b) and It's a Bitch (5.10 b/c) before we realize they sucked and we were trashed so headed through the heat of Vegas to Granite Mountain, had a cool evening with a fire and red wine, sleeping next to the fire but woke up and were all excited to do some slab and low angle crack, but it was closed cuz of Peregrine nesting high up. Got a guide to Thumb Butte, but it was a total pile. Did Hot Dog Chimney (5.7) with a 5.9 roof exit and Sunshine Slabs (5.6 x 2 pitches) which weren't bad but we had to do these lame time-consuming and scary 3rd class gully scrambles to get back to our shit. On the road again and this journal is cashed. [followed by this last page inside the back cover where we tallied up our list of climbs between July 1993 — April 1994.]
[... onward to the next journal]