Memorial Day climbing

Friday, May 30, 2008 1 comments

Devil's Lake State Park has got to be the premier rock climbing area of the upper midwest; perhaps the entire midwest, at least for the type of climbing I like to do. I'm into moderate trad climbing, and although I'm only leading 5.6 right now Devil's Lake offers lots of opportunity for me to practice and improve. I'm not much into hard, bolted sport routes, otherwise I'd spend more time at the closer Barn Bluff crag in Red Wing.

I was privileged to spend 4 days climbing at Devil's Lake over Memorial Day weekend, finding new gems and revisiting favorite climbs. We didn't get rained out a single minute, even though the forecast was sketchy.

We spent each night camping and slacklining at climber-friendly Wheeler's Campground and were treated one night to some weather that got severe nearby but only treated us to a marvelous sunset.

The climbs at Devil's Lake top out at 50-100 feet, so we never go very far off the ground, but our spirits soared just the same.

Capital For A Day

Monday, May 19, 2008 5 comments

This year is Minnesota's sesquicentennial year, and the state is celebrating 150 years by selecting a town from each of its 5 biomes to be named "Capital for a Day." Winona was named capital for the Driftless Area, and Friday was the day of celebration.

The morning started with a speech from our governor, Tim Pawlenty. I didn't come for the speech, and missed many of the day's activities, but I showed up to hear Elizabeth's string quartet play for a luncheon at the river. The crowd was enjoying sitting in the sun listening to the classical music, but their concert was cut slightly short when the steam calliope started playing a little early. I always love hearing the steam calliope and the quartet was almost finished, so I didn't mind the timing. After the concert we went through the Italian buffet line and enjoyed hearing Jim Armstrong read a poem that he wrote for the occasion.

That pretty much concluded our participation in the Capital For A Day celebrations, except for watching the fireworks that night. Elizabeth, Tony and I walked down to Huff street to sit on the lawn for the big display that included funky fireworks like a smiley face. The day was mostly clear, but we got a brief 30-minute shower - - the same 30 minutes as the fireworks display. The 3 of us huddled under a small lawn blanket and stayed warm enough.

The day's activities also included a nice run around the lake, balancing on a slackline and a dance show for Claire; all-in-all a pretty good day. I even managed to learn something.

Rock Climbing Season

Sunday, May 18, 2008 0 comments

Tony and I finally made it to Devil's Lake this week. It has been such a cold and wet spring, we thought we'd never get there. We woke up early on Wednesday and had all the climbs at the busiest crag to ourselves in the morning. We started out on Upper Diagonal, which proved really tough for us. Next was Birch Tree Crack, which Tony set the anchor for. This climb still required some hangdogging, but I think I could work out the sequence on this one to do it cleanly.

After we pulled those two top ropes, we climbed The Pedestal in 2 pitches. The climb is only rated 5.4, but it's rather delicate and tricky I think. Nevertheless, I had fun leading and Tony had fun cleaning the climb.

We then headed over to Many Pines Buttress where I led Anemia, then we top roped Peter's Project. This is a really fun 5.7, which I climbed cleanly; I think I could lead it but I haven't led any Devil's Lake 5.7s yet.

We headed over to Brinton's Buttress for our final climb of the day, Brinton's Crack. This is another great climb and should be within my leading abilities.

We had a really fun day, except for the swarms of biting gnats. Can't wait to go back with Tony and Tim over Memorial Day weekend!

Things That Make Me Feel Old

Sunday, May 4, 2008 1 comments

  • forgetting people's names
  • forgetting to zip my fly
  • passing gas in public
  • trimming my nose hair
  • trimming my ear hair
Maybe it's my response to these things that make me feel old, rather than the things themselves. This guy with ear hair isn't very old, he just deals with it differently:

I don't think I've ever lost friends over these things, though: