Occasional postings about Maz and Si's big adventures

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Gremlins in the Blog

Help - our blog has been hijacked by gremlins!

You probably can't read this as all the text on our homepage seems to be big and black.  If you want to read a post, click on its title in the side bar and it should appear in a normal size and readable colour!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Moab Mountain-biking Action

So… the inevitable has indeed occurred and I, (Simon), am injured. After much cursing about the lack of tourist facilities in Boulder Colorado, we have arrived in the world famous mountain-biking mecca of Moab in Utah.

Moab is the base for exploring Canyonlands and Arches National Parks and so is full of places to stay for tourists, bikers (both motorised and pedal-powered), “jeepers” and “ATVers”. All good really.

Perhaps a little less extreme than we had anticipated:

Maz reckoned the world famous Slickrock trail wasn’t as good as the routes at Kielder:

So they named this trail after the infamous McMoab of Seven Staines fame:

The Porcupine Rim is a downhill extravaganza of over 1000 metres vertical descent along a gnarly ridge line. So good I've done it twice and tomorrow I'm going to do it again:

The sweet singletrack on the upper section:

With no pads, and even less of an idea, I was taking it easier than usual. Maz's poor camera skills meant I had to do this three times.

The Sovereign Trail system. Designed by motorcyclists. They aren't too sharp when it comes to maps, so they painted a line on the rock so nobody could get lost.

What Simon and Marian Did Next

So apart from one posting, there hasn't been that much activity on the blog recently. Why is that? Try this multiple choice quiz to discover what Marian and Simon did next.

1. After Yosemite, Simon and Marian
a) got married in Reno and have spent the last couple of weeks in a budget motel room in Nevada.
b) got bored of climbing and opted to go on a package cultural tour of the US instead.
c) decided to go to Idaho, that US Mecca of sport climbing!

2. Soon after they arrived at City of Rocks, Marian and Simon
a) realised that the climbing was rubbish, returned to Yosemite, and have been stuck in a 5.8 chimney
    route ever since.
b) had to flee to Colorado to escape a storm and tornado threat.
c) Joined a Born Again Christian cult and are now living with an extended family in Twin Falls.

3. Simon and Marian decided not to stay long in Boulder, Colorado because
a) There was no camping accommodation except for a high level, damp forest that was miles out of
    town and inhabited by “Transients”.
b) their passports are at the Kiwi embassy, and therefore they did not have the appropriate ID to buy
c) Si injured himself on a poxy sport route in Boulder Canyon.
d) All of the above. 

4. Which bit of Simon is injured (more than one answer may apply)?
a) his finger
b) his shoulder
c) his neck
d) his wrist
e) his groin
f) his elbow
g) his other elbow

5. Unable to climb, Marian and Simon have decided to
a) go to Moab, a little-known mountain biking town in Utah, and hire full suss machines to partake in
   some slickrock action.
b) return to Newcastle and resume their former lives.
c) open a “Good Time Saloon” on the Nevada border to fund Simon's plan to retrain as a doctor in the

Surely you don't need them?!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

The Jones Team Take On The Incredible Hulk: High Jinks in the High Sierras

The Incredible Hulk
Giant, raging monster in the High Sierras

Alter Egos:
  • 11,120' mountain

  • colour changing
  • crack systems that increase in size as you ascend
  • rock hurling

  • Corner and splitter cracks

The Joneses
Mediocre climbing tag team

Alter Egos:
  • Dr Curly and the Mazter

  • harnessing the forces of friction

  • path-finding

We took a few days to recover from the Dr Curly’s Weight Loss Programme, gorging ourselves on American-sized portions of high calorie burgers and bbqs in Lee Vining. We were joined by two gnarly old timers - Spike, founder of Nevisport, and Stu Gallagher, an intrepid ex-teacher from Co. Durham. They regaled us with tales of far-flung adventure while taking doses from a gallon bottle of medicinal whisky (purchased, along with some pipe tobacco, from the pharmacy).

A heat wave descended on America and the High Sierras beckoned, so we took on the mountain mission to conquer a couple of high altitude adversaries: The Incredible Hulk and his henchman, Dana.

Third Pillar of Dana

Monday 27th September found us ready for action and dressed in our skin-tight merino wool costumes (amazing thermal and smell-reduction properties). We trekked in a predawn light through crispy frost up to the Dana Plateau. From here we missed the recommended approach and made a scary, scrambled descent to the base of Third Pillar of Dana. The sun had now risen and we had to strip off multiple thermal layers (my cold endurance training on Half Dome had been in vain). A couple of hours of awesome climbing followed. Leaning blocks, and layback flakes led to a spectacular final pitch which topped out on steep jugs. Thanks for suggesting this one, Pickles. Dana was dispatched and we were ready to take on the big one!

The next day we headed to the fishing resort of Twin Lakes and commenced the walk-in the Hulk. We made it through the RV park and aspen woods ok, but the usual Jones skill at path-finding then took us into a pine wood and led to multiple efforts to cross a river via beaver dams.

Once across the water, we hit the cairned trail again only to lose it once more on the scree slopes. Eventually we arrived on the plateau below the hulking mass. Here we found a veritable crowd of wannabe climbing superheroes camping out. Damn! Word about the heat wave must have got out!

Collecting Giardia

As the sun swung low, the orange Hulk turned a fiery red (when does it go green?) and we prepared our evening bivvy.

Early to bed and an early start meant that Team Jones were first on the route. Our plan was to attack the Hulk via The Red Dihedral. Pitch four was the crux – 30m of strenuous 10b corner crack. As Si made his way carefully up the Dihedral, the teams behind caught up and grew impatient, but once we were passed this pitch we soon regained our lead. The Joneses were the only partnership not to rest on gear on the way up!

Eight more pitches of great climbing followed, most in glorious sunshine. Then we reached the last pitch and the final challenge. Being a tunnel aficionado, I took this one on. Loose choss led into a dank chimney, which topped out through a small window in the rock. I had to perform a hip-dislocating frog-like manoeuvre to get through. Thank God I was wearing figure-hugging, Kat-style leggings. Amazingly, Si managed to squeeze his beefed-up Dr Curly torso through as well!

I made it through, but it might be a struggle for Simon!

Here he comes, will he get any further?

He'll make it! Good job he was wearing his figure-hugging ninja suit!

The Incredible Hulk had been defeated, but the battle was not yet won. On the descent, our glory basking lasted until we reached the pine forest and the light faded. Here, our trail-detection powers failed us. We criss-crossed the river and ended up in a swamp. As Si set a squelching course through the wetlands I called out “I don’t think this is the right way” “Neither do I” he shouted back “But at least we’ll get to where we want to be”! I stepped in to follow my partner in climb and squealed as I sank up to my knees in cold, muddy water.  As my shoes filled with oozing mank, I tried not to think about leeches and water snakes. If only we had the power to teleport!