A Fun Encounter

In all my 11+ years of climbing (off and on) at the various Planet Granite gyms I’ve only ever known the mysterious RZ by the routes he sets.  When you see the RZ tag on a route, you know you’re in for a good time because he sets some of the niftiest technical routes in the gym.  Rarely are his climbs straightforward, they usually involve good technique(s), a trick or two and often a surprise somewhere up there (and occasionally a fake out as well).  He and Rich were my fav route setters back in the day (99-01), and while I’d met Rich a few times RZ was elusive.

Saturday Laura, Fiona, Michael, AJ and I went to the Sunnyvale location and were climbing away when we spot a climb listed as a 5.?, black holds, set by RZ.  AJ ties in and gives it a go… and doesn’t get very far.  Michel is pointing out a black hold around an arête that could be used as a foothill, I am disagreeing it’s part of that climb, when a voice says “No it is definitively not part of that route.  You can use it, but it won’t help you.”  I look over and nod, and he continues, “I just set that route this morning.”

Oh my!  It’s RZ!  In the flesh!  Cool!

We talk a bunch, I end up giving the climb a go, giving up the nervousness of having the infamous RZ watching me climb his climb and make it up, albeit not cleanly.  A good tricky climb, as expected.  RZ comes up and asks if he can give us some pointers, and there was no way I’d ever say no, and he passes on some of the finer points of using the feet and a nice warmup drill.

I shake his hand and thank him, both for the tips and the climbs.  He walks off… and disappears!  (no, really!  I tried to find him again a moment later to show someone and couldn’t…)

That was really fun for me, a great chance encounter, and a great day of climbing was had by all.

Loving the big L

WOW, it has been aaaAAages since I posted here.  A good reason for that, though.  I have been rocking life.  Rocking it hard, and making it great.  Been a very full set of weeks (months?) and full of awesomeness.  That’s the big L.  I’ll have to catch up!

I’ll start with the recent road trip Fiona and I took, heading south and east, visiting the Mojave Desert, seeing O in Vegas, then hitting Zion National Park for two days of deliciousness.  Mojave was very cool (well, actually, hot), with the largest Joshua tree forest anywhere and some amazing rugged landscape.  Zion was quite fantastical, not as tall as Yosemite but the deep red rock made up for it.  And yes, I thought “I bet you could do some very nice climbing here!” and indeed we were told it was the second most popular big wall climbing spot on the west coast, after Yosemite.

On our second day there we did two very exciting hikes, the first up to Angels Landing.  It’s a short jaunt, about 5 mi round trip and 1500’ elevation climb.  But the last half mile… oh, so nice, and will forever make the cables on Half Dome seem almost pedestrian.  Half a mile of scrambling along a ridge line, at times 3’ wide with 1200’ drop off one side, and 1600’ drop off the other, at other times on the side of the ridge, a narrow cliff, hanging off an embedded chain to keep from tumbling away.  Wow.  Delicious view at the end was just the cherry on top  of the fun it was to be on that path.  I loved it!

Then we headed to the end of the park and walked up the Narrows.  Here’s where two geologies collide – the softer sandstone of the valley meets up with harder sandstone that forced the water to carve straight down only.  So you’re walking upstream (in the stream!) with 1000’ cliffs going straight up from the river.  That’s cool.  And it was fun walking in the fast moving water, feeling your way amongst the hidden rocks (the water’s opaque with all the silt in it).  It was a good schlog.

I have posted my (un digital darkroomed) photos here:  Road Trip 2010

In other news, the live track created at Imogen Heap’s concert we went to recently has been posted online – grab it, it’s great and it supports a good cause!    It’s the Saratoga, CA track.

Much to do this month still… a grand adventure is fast approaching.  The desert lands we visited this trip was just a warmup…