Skip to content

Of the year 2014

For me, 2014 was the year of the Mountain Goats. It’s what I’ve been listening to, and was the best concert of the year for me.

I did one Mexico trip (also one the fall before) and two Maple trips, spring and fall. Also the Cathedral near St. George. Locally, I spent most of the summer at the Bear Crag, and most of the winter at the Gold Wall.

Flamethrower - photo by Vincent, and Anais.

Flamethrower – photo by Vincent, and Anais, my two new French friends.

Best sends – Functional Idiot at Maple, and Flamethrower at the Bear.

buzzworm in Utah

Buzzworm in Utah

I got to hang with some super nice amazing 5.14 climbers at Maple, who supported my sends way beyond anything I expected. It was really cool to send my trip proj with my new friends making a special hike up to the Minimum to cheer me on, and bringing beer and junk food to the campsite after. Thanks for being my friend, Jeremy and Abby. Even though you used my proj for a warmup 🙂

Amate Amarillo

Amate Amarillo

I had numerous one fall burns on a couple of 12+ at Chonta, though no super sends as on the previous trip. I fell going for it though, and took the long whips, which I am very pleased about. Same at Bear – when I fell, I fell going for it. Falling trying as hard as you can doesn’t feel like failure.

My head was good all year. Thanks, Arno! That class was totally worth it. Best of any year.

I tried to send both Eastside Flamethrowers in one weekend but didn’t succeed (one fall burn on the Pine Creek version). I also sent a bunch of GW 12s, and did really well on Mortal Kombat there. I got totally spanked at Jailhouse.

Climbing well inspired me to start training, according to the RCTM. I also took Arno Ilgner’s class on falling (and belaying!), which was very helpful. Unfortunately, about halfway through the first periodization cycle, I managed to get injured, so when I get to start up again in the indefinite future, I’ll be starting over from scratch.

Being unable to climb has been an opportunity to see how non-climbers live. What do you people do with all this time? I can kill time with the best of them, but reading books and watching movies no longer fills my days with any sense having done anything. If I’m not exerting maximum effort, it feels like I’m wasting my life. Because of limited mobility, home improvement projects have been out, as have photo sessions (until recently I was unable to hold a camera with my right hand). Long writing sessions were also out. Enforced normal life is coming to an end, but for a while, it was pretty much just reading, whatever I could put on the HDTV, and drinking.

Not only climbing injuries. I also managed to pull a hamstring severely enough to turn the back of my thigh all sorts of interesting colors, so that was the end of running for a few months in the fall. And bronchitis, let’s not forget that. One of the best-of-this-year will be inhalers. Magic! Why didn’t we have those when I was a kid?

see the pretty colors

see the pretty colors

No poodle dog bush though.

Fritz photobombing the Golden Gate Bridge

Fritz photobombing the Golden Gate Bridge

Best museum trip: I didn’t make it anyplace special this year, though I visited SF, Mexico, and Germany (with side trips to Switzerland and Austria). The best exhibit I saw was See The Light at LACMA. An opportunity to see a lot of well-known photos in person, rather than in a book or on the internet. That makes a difference. I also got to sneak in the tail end of a Abellardo Morell guided tour of his own exhibit at the Getty just by happenstance. I love serendipity.

The view from Lake Constance

The view from Lake Constance

The LACMA history-of-expressionism exhibit, From Van Gogh to Kandinsky was very interesting – not being a art history student, it was eye-opening to me to see the more-or-less logical progression of modern art. I’m sure this is old hat to artists, but it was revelatory to me.

I took some pictures that I’m really pleased with. You’ve seen them here.

May 15 was a pretty good day for my ego. ‘Nuff said.

I had one really excellent ski day in the Austrian Alps. And the first time I’ve been able to fly to Europe without getting killed by back pain.

I had a great trip hanging with Australian friends in SF, where I drank more than I thought possible anymore. The trick is pacing.


The fun car got rear-ended by a driver who was texting, didn’t have a license, insurance, or even a valid license plate, and tried to drive away. AAA covered it though, and McCurdy did a great job tracking down 30 year old parts and making it look the best it has since it rolled out of Stuttgart. McCurdy fixed all the dents, scratches, and dings, and AAA spotted me the deductible, so there’s that. I did lose use of it for six months though.

what's wrong with this picture?

what’s wrong with this picture?

Gadgets: The new ashcan Mac Pro, though it’s not really much faster than an MBP for most purposes. It is amazing that you can get a supercomputer in something the size of a coffee pot. Sadly Matlab is not optimized to use the screaming dual GPUs. Or Thunderbolt for that matter. Or retina displays. Mathworks seems to live in a world where scientists are going to use worse displays, slower and fewer connections, and less computing power. I wonder how that’s going to work out for them in the long run.

Donjoy Iceman, though I’m pretty sure I’ve called that out before. If you’re an athlete, you have to have one of these. This is pro-level icing, or cryotherapy as it says on the rehab sheet.

Adapter from my old Makita drill to the new Li-ion batteries. The old NiMH batts were worn out and barely held a charge overnight. Having to charge up every single time is a PITA if you wanted to just do something quickly. $65 for new NiMH, or $85 for the Li-ion equivalent, $50 for reconditioning the old ones. Or $40 for a a little plastic adapter that converts the 18V Li-ion 18V impact wrench batteries to the old NiMH battery. Overpriced for a bit of plastic and metal, but it works a charm. I probably could have bought a new battery-compatible drill for that much. But this is more green. It bugs the shit out of me to throw away a perfectly good drill.

And just to rave about the impact wrench some more, the batteries stay charged and useful basically forever.

Saddleback leather briefcase. I am a sucker for good leather – just look in my closet. I bought myself a real grown-up briefcase for my convalescence, since the worn-out, ahem, well-loved original first generation Chrome bike bag didn’t really work with my injury. Maybe it’ll end up in the closet for a lot of its life, along with the Lost Worlds, Real McCoys, and Aeros that I can’t really wear much in modern-day post-climate-change-super-drought hot California. Someday I’ll pony up full price for a lightweight Goodwear custom jacket that I can wear on a 50 F night. The Saddleback end up in the closet, I mean. The Chrome I expect will see me out, broken fastex buckles and completely worn-out velcro aside. But I really like quality workmanship, and good leather. Horsehide is the best.

But I’d buy a new Chrome replacement if I could find something I liked. The new Chrome is a little too, and the Mission bags just aren’t talking to me either.

2014 was the year of the manbag. The man-purse. The murse. If one wants to be kind to one’s self, the satchel. Being from Texas, and somewhat of a manly man (climbing-kneepad-and- bicycling-inspired-leg-shaving aside [1]), I don’t like it. It goes against the grain. But I lost access to half my pockets for three months, and the satchel is eminently practical. Something had to be done, because wallet, keys, and phone is three pockets, and my jeans only have two pockets on each side. Jack Spade’s manliness wasn’t helped by the card they helpfully included:

Jack? Spade

Jack? Spade

Injury pro-tip: put the belt in the pants before you put them on.

Not my favorite year. No life-altering films, books, or lovers. No change of career. A lot of time around doctors, and not enough climbing. But the dogs are good, and have lots of friends (they’re off climbing with a buddy now, even if I can’t be), and my injuries should be well on the way to recovery, so things are looking up in the near future. I might even be better (faster, stronger!) with the old joints in for their 50000 mile tuneup. Could be worse…

Well, it could be raining. Right now, in SoCal on a 90 F day in February, and injured, rain would be a pretty okay thing.

[1] I don’t care if shaving my legs takes a few seconds off the PR on the ride to work. I do care that when I inevitably lay it down, the leg hairs won’t be pulling on the adhesive. And if you wear kneepads for climbing (more appropriately, thigh pads), you have to shave the bits that the pads sit on. Or you’ll regret it.