Friday, December 28, 2007

Soluble Moral Fiber

All who have met my dog, Simone, have commented on her upstanding character. She has been widely held, by human and canine alike, as the paragon of virtue. But such qualities were apparently illusory. All notions of chastity and goodness have now evaporated because of a recent amorous transgression.

Simone got done.

Or more accurately, Simone got done and did some doing of her own. I'll spare everyone the nasty details. Suffice it to say that she and a young scrub named Drifter engaged in public coitus, much to the surprise and outrage of the human witnesses. Voyeurism, indecency, shame. Drifter, the despoiler, is ostensibly named after the famous boulder problem, High Plains Drifter (I understand there's also a lesser-known movie by the same title). However, we now know that he's actually named for his infamous "wham-bam thank you ma'am" disposition. Feigned proclamations of love, recently remembered early morning appointments, promises to call... you know the routine.

Simone -- love-lorn and abashed -- now spends her days wallowing in self-pity. She needs no external punishment. For my part, I'll travel the lecture circuit to promote abstinence-only education... for dogs. I've been much too liberal in my dog-rearing, and hope others will learn from my errors. As for Drifter, who knows? I suppose he'll tour all of the Southeastern bouldering areas, whittling away at his "tick list." It's a time of reckoning for naive, nubile dogs. Be wary.

Once virtuous, now sullied

For all who regularly visit this blog site (I think my viewership is up to about four people) I apologize for the rather domestic entries of late. Pleasant weather and time-off seem to have become misaligned, so I have fewer mediocre climbing pictures than usual. But with enough foot-stamping and teeth-gnashing, I'm sure Mother Nature will soon comply. Until then, you will know this: MY GARDEN IS FRUITLESS AND MY DOG IS A WHORE!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Awaiting Coronation

These are my broccoli plants. They won't crown. And, while I don't want to anthropomorphize too much, I must say that they don't appear eager to do much of anything. They seem quite content in their current state of torpor, and I guess I'll have to accept that for now. It is winter, after all.

But these cruciferous vegetables, upon becoming productive, will be the key to transcendent glory. They will unlock the doors to tireless physical strength, and boundless mental acumen. I will share my broccoli with you, and you will understand. This broccoli will be, in a word, healthy. Eat up.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Not winning any new climbing partners with this one...

This is an old photo of J. Fish, taken after he had a bit of a spill on Revenge, in Rocky Mountain National Park. Some might claim that he incurred the injury because of poor spotting and pad placement on my part. Others might contend that his refusal to wear steel body armor was an invitation to abrasion. While I tend to side with the latter group, I suppose there's a grain of truth in both arguments. Moreover, falls onto rock are always multi-factoral. And what did you do to prevent it? I guess in a way we're all to blame... Right?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Rumbling Bald

Because it's one of the few bouldering areas within day-trip distance of Columbia, I will leave copious amounts of skin and self-respect at Rumbling Bald this season. Can't wait.

Here are a few shots of Brad on some classics in the main area.

Lewis Lunge

Kung Fu Grip

Everyone is eagerly awaiting the RB Guidebook publication, so that we can:

a) Find the purportedly established 800 or so problems that chumps like me know nothing about.

b) Have serious and important grade debates. Representatives from sanctioning bodies everywhere will convene in Japan for the 2008 V8 Summit.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


This past weekend, with my finger finally healed, I got to spend a couple of rapturously happy days at Rocktown. Save for the unnerving, soul-cleaving drive through the Atlanta metro area, this was one of the most satisfying climbing trips I've taken in a long time.

Upon arriving in the parking area on Sunday, I saddled up and started toward the sound of unbridled crushing. This led me, of course, to the Columbia crew, who were stopping through on their way home from Little Rock City. We all went over to the Dugout, where we sessioned mercilessly. Abraded fingers, bruised egos, profanity, ax battles -- it's all part of the Rocktown experience. I managed to eke out Tunnel Vision (v6), with a sphincter-clenching finish. Anthony graciously fed me beta to Splash Back (v6), another classic. I worked out all the moves and decided to save it for the next morning. Having taken so much time away from climbing lately, I feared my stamina would wane, and I didn't want to get bogged down. There is so much to climb at Rocktown.

We moved on to the Orb Area. I tried the Orb (v8), to which I know all the moves, but am unable to grunt my way through when trying it on-link. I gave it a couple of lame attempts and moved on, tail between legs. We moved over to Soap on a Rope, which holds the dubious position of "The Hardest v4 in the Universe." Really, it is. I managed to do it quickly, which was surprising given the amount of times it had thwarted me before. With that I bode the Columbia fellas farewell and went to camp.

I awoke the next morning to biting cold and a Mistral-style wind. Sending conditions! I went to Splash Back after warming up, and climbed it on my first try. I then moved over to Skin Graph (v6), which I had never tried before, and managed to dispatch it fairly quickly. Feeling good, I moved on to the Idiot Roof, where I worked on Inspired by an Idiot (v6), an almost perfectly horizontal, 15-foot roof climb. After a few minutes of sketching out the sequence, I sent. From here I went on to repeat Helicopter (v6), Center Comet (v4ish), and Nose Candy (v6). I have rarely had such a fulfilling day of climbing.

Below are some pictures of the Columbia guys on Sunday. The photos are kind of grainy, and generally poor looking. If you want better pictures, you'll have to subsidize my buying a new camera and formal photography training. Don't be a toothless complainy-pants. Make checks payable to Ryan Brazell.

John on Soap on a Rope

Dan on Double Trouble

Anthony on Splash Back

Friday, November 9, 2007

Mere Flesh

'The forces of fate and coincidence -- assuming for a moment that such forces exist -- have generally enlisted themselves in my favor.'

I feed the above mantra to myself when the occasional adverse event transpires. I recently screamed short, profane derivatives of it when I sliced my left index finger on a can of coconut milk. Bloody hell.

The lesion only required three stitches, and the pain endured will likely pay dividends in the form of sweet luvin' (chicks dig scars, or so I've been assured by my grizzled virgin friends...) But I have unfortunately had to cancel my upcoming Bishop trip. The cut is on the business portion of my finger, and will not abide my pulling on sharp, granite patina. So it appears that the forces have conspired against me for the moment. However, mystical (read: imaginary) forces are fickle things, and I'm sure the tide will turn. And, if I may wax left for a moment, the tide has always flowed in my favor, if for no other reason than my demographic. I am no more fortune's fool than I am Chris Sharma. If cancelling my trip is the worst thing that happens to me this week, I'm certainly livin' the good life.

Nevertheless, there is insight to be gained from this incident.

Lessons learned:

1) Eat locally. Getting exotic foodstuffs from abroad leaves a large carbon footprint and causes bodily harm. Always.

2) Only eat foods with a high coefficient of friction. Slick foods, like coconut milk, always cause bodily harm. Always. Whole grains, kale, and gravel. That's all humans need to eat. I dare you to show me any contrary evidence.

3) Get a "real" job. Stitches are expensive if you don't have health insurance.

4) Better yet, move to any other country in the industrialized world, and avoid getting a real job. Avail yourself of universal health care. Moreover, take advantage of the preventative care in such nations. It's a well known fact that cans are prevented from harming people in Canada, Australia, and the European Union. Lesson learned, indeed.

This rant was sponsored by wine.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Awwww... Summer Memories

Lest the brilliance of the '07 summer be consigned to the memory hole...

Scott Neel topping out Minturn Mile

Andy Mann on the engaging Star-Crossed Lovers

Jason Pinto crushing Right El Jorge

Clouds enveloping Navajo Peak

Andy Mann musters fortitude on Pink Fink.

Big piles of rock are fun too. Standing on the summit of Wetterhorn Peak in the San Juan Mountains.

Simply the best columbine picture ever, courtesy of Zach Owens. Go ahead, zoom in. Unless, of course, you find close-ups of reproductive organs too offensive, ya softy.

"We're gonna poop in the woods!"

It's not that I hate her, it's just that I don't respect her.

Monday, October 29, 2007


I went bouldering at Rocktown, GA this past weekend. Great fun. The weather was pleasant. I met a few kind humans, but mostly had the place to myself. Despite my three week hiatus from climbing, I climbed pretty well. I repeated a couple of easier classics, and managed to send The Vagina (v8), a problem that I worked on one day last year. This problem epitomizes the quality of climbing at Rocktown -- unique holds on a roof to a relatively slopey, but probable topout. I could climb in this style until I'm too arthritic to move... which might be sooner than I had hoped. My middle finger is swollen to about twice its normal circumference right now. (Go ahead, make crass jokes about The Vagina and a swollen appendage. I expect as much. Real mature.)

The finishing moves on The Vagina.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Palmetto Bear, Ursine Affair

Over the past couple of years, I have been graced with some really interesting wildlife encounters. I've been face-to-face with a mountain lion outside of Aspen. I've seen a fox killing a marmot on Handies Peak. I've seen moose in areas with supposedly sparse moose populations. I've seen several bears throughout Colorado. I've had afternoon tea with a Sasquatch (allow me just a bit of hyperbole here, would you?). And this past Sunday, I got to add another creature sighting to the memory bank: I saw my first South Carolina bear*.

Simone and I were hiking in Jones Gap State Park, reconnoitering for boulders (well, I was looking for boulders; she was looking for raccoon poop to eat and ungainly squirrels to dispatch). We came around a bend at the top of a cove, when the forest exploded, and a relatively small, stocky black bear sprinted for the top of an opposite hill. Being that it is a South Carolina bear, it belted out a rebel yell as it crested the hilltop. I was psyched!

Unfortunately, it all happened too quickly for me to snap a picture. So it goes. Below are a few pictures of Colorado wildlife, none of which are great, I am aware. But this blog is primarily a place for me to purge some of the photos I've collected over the years, and so I will.

Marauding Marmot

A black bear across the way from our campsite in the San Juans this summer. Needless to say, it gave us pause (sorry).


"You want a piece, bitch!?"


*I'm well aware that bears, lions, tigers, birds, bees, and any other fauna one might wish to name don't give a shit about those cartographic contrivances we call borders. Ultimately, the fact that this bear happened to be south of the SC/NC border only matters to human chumps like me. I doubt this bear has any SC state flag emblems on any of its polo shirts.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Bishop, CA

I'm headed to California soon. I'll be there for two weeks, bouldering in Bishop and hanging with Zach in the Santa Cruz area. I can hardly wait. Columbia is starting to drain my morale a bit, and I'm really looking forward to recharging in the Eastern Sierras and the California coast. The trip will hopefully be a beautiful mosaic of bloody fingers and pleasant wines. Both of my hedonistic urges will be gratified.

Below are some pictures that Justin and I took of our Bishop trip last spring.

Justin on the Iron Man Traverse


Me trying and failing on Cayla. This is one of the coolest problems at the Druid Stones, and I can't wait to approach it with new beta this year.

Whatta boulder... Hanging out at the top of High Plains Drifter.

Entry moves to Skye Dance

More Skye Dancing

The Cave Route

More of the Cave Route

Change of Heart

Sure is purty.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Scouring the hills...

I've been devoting a fair amount of my leisure time to exploring the state parks in the northwest portion of South Carolina. There is climbing to be had in this region -- I'm quite convinced of it. SC has largely been overlooked as a potential bouldering destination, in part because some of the prominent rock formations are officially closed to climbing. Whether or not all forms of climbing are prohibited is less clear. As far as I can tell, there is no explicit language forbidding climbing in the parks' "Rules and Regulations." I suppose I'll parse language and chat with the rangers when the time comes. But presently, I'm really enjoying the exploration. Plus, my middle finger is in a state of disrepair, and I don't think I'll be climbing for another couple of weeks. So I might as well hike.

I've had the most fruitful outings at Table Rock State Park, and have included some pictures of the rock. The granite here is immaculate. Where potential lines exist, they are astonishing.
Too bad there's no rock in SC
Yes, there are worse fates than poking around the woods in search of boulders.