31 December 2006

An Eve of New Year's Eve dinner at home

Mia's always kicking it up a notch. Let Emeril Lagasse beat this !!

Roasted elk, spaetzle, cranberry garnish, kraut salat with a nice bottle of 2002 Geyser Peak cab.

Thanks to Charlie King for the elk.

29 December 2006

The hammer has stopped! ... I think

16" later .. see if you can spot the drive?

I went down to check on the paper .. yeah, I was dreaming. Total silence. The new snow absorbed all sound ...

Walking up Wild Horse Circle, I had a great easterly view over Boulder, see 2nd picture. Hard to believe we're only 4.5 miles from downtown, Canyon & Broadway.

Not all fun though. Lot of shoveling today. I took care of my critical work, then joined Mia outside - shoveling. At this point, it sounds like we won't get much more snow.

Secretly though, I hope for another 16" ...

28 December 2006

The hammer has dropped !

Supposedly, the Front Range has never had 2 big back to back snow storms in December. We've been waiting for the hammer to drop. Forecasters have been sure we'll get snow but are not sure how much. Main streets are clear but many side streets are still pretty bad from the last storm. I still need 4x4 to get the truck up the drive.

Anyway, the snow started at 10 am and we're getting HAMMERED .. more later .. as it develops .. from your intrepid reporter. :-)

23 December 2006

contemplative mood or ...

... sore back from shoveling. Sort of both, actually. I was beat from shoveling a few tons of snow. It was nice to relax wth a coffee and the new Rock and Ice magazine.

21 December 2006

Cave man TV

Sometimes it's nice to just watch the fire ...

A bit of snow .. and a bit more

A pretty decent storm swung through over the last few days. Denver Int'l shut down, as well as most of the major roads in Central and Eastern Colorado. We got a bit of white at the house too. The picture shows the walkway in back of the house - or what is usually a walkway.

After chaining up this morning (yeah, luckily we used the redneck truck & chain snow pack method yesterday), we drove Julia to daycare. It took awhile to understand why there were so many snow covered lumps alongside of the road. They were PARKED CARS.

Driving around Boulder was eerie. Very few vehicles on the road or in the stores. People were just walking down the middle of the roads. I'm a crappy photojournalist. I forgot my camera. It would have made for great pics.

19 December 2006

Deer Beggar or is it Dear Beggar?

Deer Beggar, go home! You're not getting any food here. You attract those nasty mountain lions like pine cones attract squirrels. Just go away ... please ...

I can't even get the groceries out of the car before the beggars arrive. Sort of sad to turn them down ...

17 December 2006

A hike on Sugarloaf Mountain

I cut out of work early Friday and blew off some steam hiking up Sugarloaf Mountain (topozone.com link) above Boulder. I've wanted to this hike for a long time. It's normally too short for a real hike so I never did it until now. Real nice view in all directions from the summit. On this occasion though, I could not even stand up on the summit due to the winds. It was howling ...

The next day, Saturday, we needed a short family hike and we all did it. This time it wasn't windy and I could get pics from the summit. (As usual click pics to enlarge)

16 December 2006

Photoshop Cloudscape without Photoshop

These clouds appeared out my office window yesterday. I grabbed the camera and ran outside for some amazing & daliesque shots. Definitely click to enlarge.

13 December 2006

Hall Ranch hike

Nice early winter hike at the Hall Ranch (Boulder County link) outside of Lyons, Colorado.

More pics here.

09 December 2006

Bobcat sighting !

I'd pretty much given up on seeing a Bobcat (outside of a zoo). I was working in the office when Julia came running down the hall, yelling "Papa, come quick, a bobcat!!"
Julia & I ran back to the dining area and there was the bobcat, slowly walking between the house and the shed. Mia opened the door and we walked along the side of house to watch it amble uphill to the West.

Julia had been the first to spot it. She told Mama there was a cat outside. Mia took a look and was amazed as I was. I have the camera ready for the next time.

06 December 2006

More snow but no driveway shoveling

One day last week, we got 15 inches (click to enlarge). Mia had client meetings and needed out. Of course, my tire tread hasn't grown any since the last storm so she wasn't driving My truck. I had to work and didn't have time to shovel so I tried the new chains. Chaining up in the garage was so much nicer than lying in the mud & snow like last time.

I had no idea chains would make this much of a difference. I made a few runs to pack the snow down for Mia. Yeah, a redneck plow job. Ugly but fast. Mia had no problems driving out. We'll leave it at that ;-)

04 December 2006

Who names these towns?

This last trip we drove through most of the mispronounced towns in Colorado. There's Buena Vista, pronounced Bieuna Vista - not like the normal Spanish Bu-ena. There's Saguache, pronounced Sawatch. Montrose is Mont-rose, not Mon-trose. Finally there's Ridgway. They forgot the damn 'e'. It's Ridgeway folks. Get a clue!

Actually the abnormalities are fun. Easy to tell whose been around too .. by the way folks say the names.
Yep, head on South down past Bieuna Vista. Drive over Poncha Pass. Turn West at the junction to Sawatch. Head NW to Gunny and Mont-rose. Then kick South to Ridgway without an 'e'. Yep. That's all folks.

Thanksgiving, ice climbing, skiing and biking

We met at Chris, Sarah & Emma's place in Ridgway. Bob, Inga & Garett were already there. The kids played while Sarah pulled us out on a 20 mile bike before the meal. Nice ride on dirt roads under the San Juan mountains.

Bob cooked an excellent turkey while everyone else contributed the side dishes. Great meal! The camera fritzed out so couldn't get any pictures of the happy crew.

Next day, Mia, Inga and Sarah skied South Telluride Peak, 13,500, while Chris, Bob & I climbed the Ribbon. The Ribbon is a 3 pitch, WI4 line in the Ouray area. Being my first decent ice climb since I lost my leg, I seconded. Chris & Bob did great on their leads. What a riot to not be on the sharp end .. I need to fix up an ice/crampon foot though. It was too much fun .. and seconding gets boring fast. We couldn't believe it when the rope stuck at the top rappel. It's ice. Ice is slick. Bob headed down out of the ice fall zone while Chris re-lead the last pitch. A freak little loop hung up just at the anchor. It could never happen again. Just on our climb ...

We drove to Fruita the next day for more biking. Another dream day. Wish I had another week of vacation ..

Pre-thanksgiving in Crestone

Spending time in our Crestone place is always nice. This was the first time working down there though. The next renter needed an internet connection. Good for us since we can work here now too! The install of the wireless antennae, and modem, was pretty painless thanks to Fairpoint Communications. All we needed was a line of sight to Cedar Park, about 10 miles away. The wireless broadband speed was faster than I expected and fine for work. Not much privacy working from the kitchen table but it's nice to turn my head and see Kit Carson and Challenger Point. (See image.)

Luckily it wasn't all work. Riding our bikes around the Baca Grande was a riot. The architectural styling of the houses are from upscale-and-don't-belong-here to I-want-that-place-now to you've-got-to-be-kidding-me. There are no building codes in Saguache County which adds to the house viewing fun. We also went to Zapata Falls for the first time. Not much water or ice this season. Still worth the views. Of course we had to stop at the Sand Dunes hot springs pool in Hooper on the drive back. Nice soaking up the views of Blanca Peak while soaking in the hot water.

Closer to Thankgiving, Julia helped Mia make an apple pie - which was for Thanksgiving eating in Ridgway. Here's a picture of Julia & Mia in action.

Thursday / Thankgiving morning we cleaned up for the renter and sadly drove off. Our home should be rented until next July. Long time for us to wait for a visit.

We drove to Saguache and took 114 over through the Cochetopa Hills and over North Pass to Gunnison and Ridgway. We haven't been on this road before. Amazing due to the variation in landscape. Beautiful also. I'd like to spend some time around here exploring. Definitely some rock climbing between North Pass and Gunnison.

01 December 2006

Busted on County Road T

"why were you going so fast" said he. I said "I had no idea I was going fast". This was a bad beginning to a great Thanksgiving week in Crestone, Ridgway and Fruita. Click on the image to get a better view of an appropriate stamp accompanying my payment. I selected the best from my Superhero stamp sheet. Yes, it's an official 39 cent stamp. I have to say the officer was very courteous & friendly.

08 November 2006

BoyZrUs Canyoneering Trip: E-W Fork of Butler Canyon and Exploring the Unknown

Trip type: BoyZrUs
Participants: Chris Haalend, Bob Wood, Chuck Heywood, Steve Mestdagh

Exploring the unknown is a lot of work. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't. The image at left was taken at the top of the canyon that looked decent enough to do. We didn't go all the way down since it would have taken another day to get back to our car. We did go to the end of the technical section though (the navajo/kayenta layer overhanging rappel).

Sunday, we did the East fork of the West Fork of Butler Canyon aka Foolin' Around. This had four narrow slot sections. After the 3rd section, I was geting bored. More action was needed. The last section was great. Some tough chimneying was required to bypass an early wet, very narrow section. We could see the chimneying went on for a long ways. In the interest of time, we finally went down and got wet. One section of swimming but otherwise no deeper than the waist. The image left is Bob showing off excellent form. Judging by his face, he must have been shocked by his good style also. ;-)

Trip pics here!

07 November 2006

Voting with my feet

Beautiful day for a walk to my polling place, the Pinebrook Hills Community Center/ Fire station. It was sunny and about 65F. The 500 ft elevation loss and gain, coming back, gave me a little excercise. Best of all, no voters in front of me.

I was asked to choose between the computer or paper voting systems. As an IBM computer geek, what do I choose? PAPER! Paper is harder to hack - at least on a broad scale.

Nice break from work ..

02 November 2006

Scary things ..

Julia said: Papa, all kinds of scary things come out at night.
I said: No! Where did you learn that?
As Julia looked up at me with a sincere face she said: I just know it ...

29 October 2006

Fruita bike trip

Good trip to Fruita with the Cooper family. Nice biking - beautiful area this time of year with the Cottonwoods & Willows changing colors.

View more pics here!

26 October 2006

Snow day - vehicles stuck - power outage - whadaday!

I drove home last night looking at the continental divide. Didn't look like snow to me. Forecasted was 5-8" for Boulder. We usually get more up here.

Morning proved me wrong and the forecasters right. We were getting hammered. By the time I trudged down and back on the paper run, I had 1/4" of snow on my hat. I had also decided that Mia was never going to get the Focus down the drive which is downhill. Eleven inches of the heavy stuff does that - floats lows clearance cars that is.

So I fire up the mighty Dodge/ Cummins w/ the crappy tire treads (Yeah - you see where this is going ..) and make a path down the drive. At the end of the drive, I couldn't stop. It was slick. I drove down about 1/2 mile and turned around in a convenient drive and headed back up. It was slick. Not only did I not make it UP my drive, I didn't make it TO my drive (close though). I ended up fighting to stay out of the ditch and finally parked it.

I volunteered to drive Julia to daycare so I could pick up a pair of chains. The 3rd store finally had chains. What a morning! I drove the Focus back up. (The Focus has studs but only front wheel drive.) It made it to the base of the drive before spinning AND stopping. That's different from driving up the road below, where I was ONLY spinning. After some rocking, I headed it downhill to park at the intersection. Then put the chains on the truck's front wheels and drove it up the drive. I'll get the Focus later.

Finally I can get to work. Check email - then BEEP. Dang, except dang isn't really spelled dang. Power outage! Can't be long, right? I hope because w/o power and a internet connection, my work is sunk.

Put more wood in the stove. Check the power. Clean up my office. Check the power. Get more wood from the shed. Check the power. Clean up my counter. Check the power. Shovel the snow from the deck. Check the power. Put more wood in the stove. Check the power. Drive the Focus up the drive - barely. Check the power. Finally I start reading a great book. Beep. Hum. Power!! Six hours down. Six hours behind in work. What a day!

24 October 2006

Todd Skinner dead ...

This hit me hard! Todd is from my climbing generation and an icon, one of my icons ... The Supertopo forum talks about it here. No one really knows what really happened. My condolences to his family ...
O&O - stay safe.

22 October 2006

Second decent snow of the year

A view of Bear Peak from the back deck.

Another Canyoneering Trip - Maidenwater area, Poison Springs: Arsenic and Butler: WW Fork Oct '06

family trip: Yes
participants: Bob & Inga Wood, Chris Haalend & Sara Ballantyne, Mia & Steve Mestdagh and associated children.
Kid Sitting: Roselle

We woke to drizzle and threatening skies. We had been jacking around our plans after the forecast changed Thursday night. Now it was Saturday. We were all here and it was raining - as forecasted.

Mia suggested we do a loop down middle Maidenwater, below Rt 276, to Trachyte Creek and return to the road via Trail Canyon. This had a lower potential of flash flood danger, she said. We started here (topo map) It was an beautiful hike. Waterfalls sprouted from everywhere when the rain picked up. (as usual click on pic, for enlarged versions)

The next day dawned with fresh snow over the Henry Mtns (hybrid google map) and threatening clouds. Time to jack the plans around again. We needed a canyon with a lower flash flood potential than our planned canyon, the S. Fork of Maidenwater. Someone brought up the Poison Spring area - one of my old stomping grounds before others found it. We drove there and headed in to what is now called Arsenic (topo map). When Bill Daniels & I did it many years back we called it Tomb Raider. Names are names. The canyons are the same. I would be remiss, if I didn't tell the crew - once we're in, we're in. No escape routes. Not a hard canyon, except maybe the rap anchor setups, which in this case were washed away, but .. no escapes for a long ways. With the recent rains, the canyon had a lot of pools and a few swimmers if you weren't good enough at stemming. I've never seen it so wet. After the three raps, the sky turned to blue, leaving us to just have fun!! Water makes this canyon even more spectacular than normal. Lot's of good stemming action and a little swimming for most of us anyway. The stemming champioin, Chris Haalend kept his upper body dry throughout. He would meet his match the next day though .. :-) Pictured at left, above is Sara Ballantyne stemming through a tough section. Chris & I took the easier way, staying 15 foot higher. (A few words of warning on this canyon: the rap anchors may or may not be good for canyoneers of moderate experience. If you are not sure, please tie together 2-50m ropes and rap off from the tree at the top. Then you only need to carry a short rope for the rest of the canyon. Also there is FRESH and VERY DANGEROUS rockfall about midway through the canyon. Tread very carefully and quickly through this section. Keep your hands in your pockets. You'll see why.)

The next day we did Monkey Business (topo map) aka the West West fork of Butler Canyon. Another amazingly fun canyon with potholes. To the left is Mia climbing down to the keeper pothole, before the jump. Due to the rain, it wasn't a keeper this trip. This picture could also be labeled Mia climbing down to look for Steve. When I jumped in, I didn't have my pack on to slow me down. I kept going down - descending, through the water, expecting to hit bottom and kick back up towards the surface. I NEVER reached the bottom. Finally I was able to reverse direction and swam back up. I was under for at least 5 seconds with everyone wondering if I was coming back up. 5 seconds is a long time! This pothole is also the site where Chris met his match. He was doing well, then crashed and was a very wet Chris. After one more rap, we hit the open canyon. The canyon was lush & green. Beautiful. Good day!

Trip pics here!

17 October 2006

Picking the Pumpkin

Julia wanted a smallish pumpkin - something she could carry. Where to start?

Anderson Farm has more fun than picking pumpkins though.
See the rest of the pictures:

10 October 2006

Getting ready for winter

Putting the studded tires on .. Julia was a big help. Good timing since next day ... it snowed.

Introducing our new kitty, Juna

Yeah, it's Juna. Sort of like Juno but with an "a" :-) Juna replaces Bam Bam, who was killed 1-1/2 years ago by a mountain lion. I'll never figure out why Julia named the cat Juna but I like it.

02 October 2006

Girls Trip to Robbers Roost

Cammie, Judy, Dianne, Karen, Kathy, Diedra, Margie, Cindy and Mia headed out to Utah's Robbers Roost Area. On Saturday we did Larry Canyon and on Sunday we did Lost Springs Canyon. Lots of fun!!!! Let's do it again!

More pictures from our trip.

25 September 2006

Bear sightings: Mama and cub on the Big Bluestem Trail

This is mama bear. Here's a picture of both, mama and cub. (As usual, click for a larger image and much larger image options.)

The bears were seen in Boulder Open Space, on the Big Bluestem trail. Trail map here.

What's most amazing about this is that I had the camera handy!

19 September 2006

Climbing the Curecanti Needle

The rain fell heavily as Bob, Chris, Chuck & I talked about whether to pack up and paddle in or to go to the Telluride Blues & Brews festival. Tough decision ... Chris said we should check out Curecanti Needle from the Pioneer Point. We drove over, heaters on. It was cold. Not enticing boating weather. (Image to left, courtesy of ghostdepot.com - click on image.)

The view was spectacular as was the wind. The rain tapered off so we decided to go for it. I wondered what we were getting into as we carried the boats, climbing gear, beer and camp gear down to Morrow Point Reservoir.

Being the least familiar with paddling inflatable kayaks, I was plied with the threat of tsunamis from dam releases, fierce rapids and other jokes - as they turned out. Despite these fears, I survived the inital rapids in decent form. After paddling about 4 miles, we reached the Needle with stable weather, and headed up to scope out the route potential on the West face.

Bob & I ended up doing a nice, thought provoking 5.10- line. First ascent of this route? Maybe but who really knows .. or cares. Fun is fun! (Well, maybe that last stretch of offwidth/ chimney wasn't fun but ...) Chris & Chuck found a fun line around the corner.

It was getting dark as we rappelled off. We paddled across to the other side for beer, camp, dinner and a welcome campfire. It was a cold night. Next day we did some fishing and I caught a kokanee salmon. They guys thought we'd do better later. So I released it. What a nice fight that fish put on. It turned out to be the only fish we caught.

Getting back to the trailhead was a chore. The Blue Mesa dam was releasing - meaning we couldn't paddle close to the trailhead, due to the current. Lot's of work getting the gear to the trucks but what a hell of a weekend trip!! Climbing, boating, fishing, camping and oh yeah, Chris's single malt!

Paddling this water was a dream. Rock walls overhead. Scoping new routes, thinking of the lunkers down deep .. I might have to move down here.
Trip photos here.

13 September 2006

I'm a star! The Lonestar Mountains music video is out!

As reported in the I'll be a stunt man! and Steve Mestdagh - the stuntman posts, this filming action was no hoax! The video is now out.

Once Mike, the amputee, is shown, I'm the climber in all the vertical filming. All 5 seconds of it. Don't blink while watching. (This leaves me 14 minutes and 55 seconds of fame still to come.) The music is pretty good too. It's nice to be part of this film and see how it was made.

The video is here. [Edit: Seems like the previous link is no longer available. I couldn't find it anywhere else either. Too bad, you can no longer view the action .. ]

11 September 2006

Climbing at Wild Iris, Wyoming

You'd think with 7 climbers, we could get some decent climbing pics but no! All I have is a nice shot of a vacant Cowboy Poetry wall, right - click to enlarge, and a beautiful sunset.

It was nice to go as a group of parents with kids. The kids sure liked it! We climbed with Cammie & Steve Muller, Linda & Helmut Tsingstad and Dianne Dallin.

Driving home we took the scenic route to avoid the Labor Day traffic. From I-80, we headed South to Saratoga, Wy and stopped. Yes, we had a problem. My fishies, Mia and Julia, just had to go the the local hot springs. The hot springs adjoin the public pool which is not hot. Hot springs are free, pool isn't. Saratoga is a nice, Mayberry like community.

After the dip, we drove south through North Park in Colorado. Walden to Grandby to Grand Lake and over Trail Ridge road to Estes Park and home. It was a beautiful drive and no traffic. Longer? Yeah but it was worth it!

10 September 2006

Stopping at Dad's house on the way home

We stopped for a few nights at Dad & Moms house on the way home. They live in Elwood, IL. The backyard is beautiful this time of year. In the picture to the left, dad is showing off his yard to Mia.

Here's some more pictures of the family at the house.

On the drive out, we also stopped at Dad & Moms. We took a trip to Chicago's beautifully redone lake front area. Here's some pics from that day.

09 September 2006

Niagara Falls lives up to the hype

Since we were driving by Niagara Falls, we had to stop. I figured it was mostly hype and just a big tourist attraction. I was wrong! Very impressive.

Definitely check out the pictures here and witness the awesome power of water.

Best campsite of trip - Winner is .... drumroll, please

The best camp of the trip was in New York on the South shore of Lake Ontario at Lakeside Beach State Park. We were lucky and found a site right on the lake.

More pictures of this site here.

08 September 2006

Maine, Lobster and the Sea

We drove over the Kancamagus Highway thru the White Mountains to get to Maine. Everyone we had met said it was spectacular. For us westerners though, it was mundane. Lot's of trees and nice views but ... When the leaves change, I'm sure it's beautiful.

Every time we visit a new region, we think how it would be to move there. I was really excited about Maine. Living on a remote rocky coast, living with the changing of the tides ... I could move to a place like that, if there was climbing nearby.

It was not to be. While the towns & sea were beautiful, it was hard to see the nature without wearing special blinders. These blinders would have to change the rows on houses on the shores to rock and trees.

Anyway we found many spots of beauty and one damn good lobster joint. It was great sitting outside, at a picnic table, watching the gulls over the bay as we ate lobster. Sharing the table, was a family that knew how to eat lobster. They showed us how! The lobster joint was so busy, I'd feel bad publicizing it. Send me a mail if you're interested in location.

Acadia National Park was a place of beauty, see the 2nd picture. Visit during the week because parking is limited. Good climbing too. Most climbs are accessed from the top of the cliff, meaning you have to rappel down or be lowered off. Both techiques were needed when Julia climbed, since I went down with her (see below). Here's another spectacular picture of an unknown climber at Acadia NP.

All Maine pictures are here.

07 September 2006

Climbing in Rumney, New Hampshire (Na-hamp-sha)

We arrived in early afternoon, headed up to the cliffs and hopped on the rock. It was immediately apparent this was a special area. Well textured and easy to get used to .. for us. We found the grading to be a bit inconsistent but who cares when the routes were so good. The best camp we found was Swain Brook Campground. This was about 15 miles from the cliffs but after a number of lousy camps, we needed a decent one.

The next day, Al Torrissi drove up from Andover, MA. Al and I are old climbing partners. He made the poor decision to move back East about a decade ago. It was great to see him and have him show us around.

We headed up to Bonzai cliff to climb some ridiculously overhanging, mostly juggy routes. The picture of me, to the right, is one of them. What a riot! Here's one of Mia. My favorite was Peer Pressure, 5.10d. This was one wild route, starting with a looong reach at the bottom. Once I climbed past this (yeah, I fell a few times), it was a joy until the top where it overhung in both directions. I pulled it off but barely. Julia had fun on a climb also.

Bye to Al, as he drove back in his new Prius. We headed back to camp and talked about where to go tomorrow. We decided to do a bit more climbing here and then head to Maine.

All of the Rumney climbing pics are here.

06 September 2006

The fishies (Mia & Julia) demand a beach!

We had to hit at least one beach, on the trip. Mia directed me to Island Beach State Park in New Jersey.

Climbing at the Shawagunks

The 'Gunks, near New Paltz NY, has the best all around trad climbing in the country. A 5.5 climb next to a 5.10 next to a 5.8. Yeah, we squeezed in some climbing on The great Mid-Atlantic / New England road trip also.

Here's a pic of Mia leading the Horseman, a wild 5.5.

I lead two 5.10 climbs also in our 3 day stay, Retribution and Nosedive. Both strenous and thought provoking. Mia lead Son of Easy O, 5.8, which has a slabby, fingery crux. I was paddling for all I was worth to not fall!

We were limited to leading routes with anchors at the top of the first pitch. Didn't want to leave Julia alone below. This is a great place for older kids because of the easier routes. We'll be back in a few years when Julia is older.

Once in a lifetime family reunion

The O'Hara/ Kohlepp reunion was pretty overwhelming. Most of the relatives were from the East. I knew Uncle Tom and Aunt Beverly. The Gruendel's from St. Louis were there as well as my sister, Laura, and her daughters, Sarah and Christine. So I knew 10 people by face.

I remembered many more and I met them. Based on the family history, I figured the reunion would be a beer sloshing event w/ sloppy hugs, pats on the back and hilarious laughter filling the hall. The beer was almost absent. Everyone was intent on figuring out what family line the next person was born from. It was great! I remember 2 older girl relatives visiting us, in Illinois, from Baltimore when I was young. I re-met Ann Marie and Joyce. What a pleasure! I remember having a crush on Ann Marie and told her so. We got a good laugh out of it!

The great Mid-Atlantic / New England road trip

The excuses for this road trip are pictured at right - Aunt Beverly and Uncle Tom Kohlhepp! A once-in-a-lifetime family reunion in Baltimore, Maryland. (Mary Ann Bacon was also a major force in organizing the reunion. I've never met her though).My Mom, rest her soul, grew up in Baltimore. I'd see over 120 relatives. Many I haven't seen in 40 years to never! Couldn't pass this up.

Mia & I talked and ran the numbers. If we flew, our options would be limited and more expensive. If we drove ... well, we could camp, climb and explore the East like we do in the West, in theory anyway. Also we could visit my parents in Illinois enroute, in both directions ... and it would be cheaper. Decision made. Three weeks vacation hesitantly obtained.

For those who want to see the pictures NOW, instead of wading through subsequent posts ...

Look here!

03 August 2006

Territorial Crow?

I walked up on this guy and he let me close. Very unusual. He finally took off and I saw why. He was hungry!

02 August 2006

Julia sets up the cards her way

While I was eating breakfast, Julia says: Let's play Uno, Papa. I said get it ready and we'll play one game before I start work.

She setup 5 cards on each side and we start to play like normal. She hits me with a +2 draw right away and giggles. I pick up 2 and put down 1. She doesn't have a matching card so she puts down a wild card. Wow, I said, that's a good hand! I don't have a match so I pick one. She hits me me w/ a +2 draw again. I pick up 2, put down 1. I'm starting to wonder. She's giggling pretty consistently by this point. Another wild card from her and I ask: Did you stack the deck? I don't think she knows what this means but she says Yes and giggles more while finishing me off with another +2 draw card. Where does she learn this stuff?

01 August 2006

Coyote attacks fawn behind the house

I heard an urgent, distressed and disturbing loud EEEEE, EEEEE, EEEEEE repeatedly and jolted awake. Something was after something else and the something else was making EEEEE sounds. From the bed, I could see a bunch of deer standing around below. Then I saw a wagging tail, legs moving around in the air, the bunched deer racing away and then creeping back up .. and everything was repeated and repeated again.

My view wasn't that great so I put on my leg, interrupted Mia from her morning tea and we went out back as I told her what I saw. I was pretty sure it was a coyote due to the wagging tail. Not long enough and too shaggy for a mountain lion. I think anyway... Then Mia saw the coyote run off. I'm glad it wasn't a lion. We don't need that kind of tension again.

The deer stayed around for an hour w/ one or two coming back all day. I guess deer mourn also. Interestingly, all the deer were does. One doe was making quiet deep sounds. Maybe the mama.

As sad as it is, we have too many deer and this is a good thing. The overpopulation of deer attract mountain lions. Lions are bad thing!

31 July 2006

Monitor Rock Climbing & Fishing

Last weekend, we escaped the heat wave again. We climbed some new, for us, routes on the West face of Monitor Rock. Monitor Rock is West of Twin Lakes. Beautiful weather up there. The picture to the left is Chris Beh climbing a nice bolted 5.10. This climb is not in the guide but is 3 or 4, bolted lines right of Squid Kid and behind the huge tree.

Later, I got attached to a steep slab that looked improbable. We couldn't find the climb in the guide. The first 4 bolts went fine. Really fun climbing. Then came the goods. Really tough slab climbing with funky side pulls and underclings. A couple falls and I clipped the next bolt. More chess moves led the the next bolt. Yeah, I fell here too. After that it was improbable for me. So I let Chris check it out. He also had fun where I did and reached the improbable moves. After confirming it was improbable, we did some kid sitting and let Mia and Gali have at a nice 5.10, Grave Line. It turns out the climb Chris & I tried is Matchless and 5.12a. I'll have to come back when I'm stronger, lighter & taller! Right ...

Our families split up the next day and we went fishing at Windsor Lake. This lake is West of Turquoise Lake and 800 ft elevation gain over approx. 1.6 miles. Julia did great on the hike. Mia kept her going with a story about German immigrants arriving in the U.S. I don't know where Mia gets this stuff!

Worms didn't do much for Mia and Julia but I finally had time to try my new fly fishing rig! I actually caught a few fish. Largest was about 9". They jumped out of the water and fought well. I think they were some kind of cutthroat or cutthroat/rainbow hybrid. I was pretty psyched to actually catch something. It was time to hike back to the truck and face the front range bound traffic ...

More pics here.

28 July 2006

Steve Mestdagh - the stuntman

Yesterday, I had my 15 seconds of fame. I was a stuntman double for Sfc. Mike McNaughton. Mike lost his leg, due to a landmine, in Afghanistan. (Check the link. Yeah, we actually look sort of similar after I got my hair cut to military length.)

A friend of a friend turned me on to a talent agency that was looking for .. get this .. a right legged amputee who is an experienced climber. Due to lack of applicants, I got the job. :-)

The film was a patriotic music video for the Lonestar Bluegrass band. It was to be about 4 minutes long. There must have been 50 people directing, filming, lighting and assisting the 2 actors and the stuntman, me. It must have cost a fortune. The film crew was from Los Angeles.

The video has two stories. Mike and his athletic comeback and a woman, played by Brit Roberts, who put herself thru school working at IHOP. Mike was filmed running, which he did fine by himself, and climbing. I climbed with Brit on one climb - the classic, first pitch of the Bastille Crack. I also rigged a toprope on a climb that goes up the side of the Whale's Tail. Not many good anchors to be had on the Whale's Tail but I found solid placements. Don't want anyone dieing on film!

After I setup the toprope, it started raining. Christie, the beautiful and sassy producer, asked me if I could still get the ropes up there if it's wet. I said for an extra $500 dollars, no problem. She laughed and said she liked my attitude. I think I could go far in show biz. :-)

The rain stopped and we did the top rope session. For this, the camera was mounted on rails, like a train, and slid back & forth with the film guy looking down into the camera. After the top rope session and ... many up & downs for Mike & Brit, it was time for the Bastille Crack. A PA (production assistant) said he'd carry my pack over. I couldn't dissuade him and hoped to hell no one I knew saw me. I'd never live it down! After awhile I almost got used to the coddling. I didn't mind too much when Brit helped me put my harness on.

Brit didn't lead so it was my show. The camera was mounted on a 45 ft crane and followed me up the climb. I could feel it a few feet off my back at one point. The Bastille Crack is a riot to climb in ordinary conditions. I must be a ham because it was even more fun while being filmed. I whizzed up it in about 5 minutes.

Then Mike was filmed running across a finish line. Click on picture for the enlarged view. After this we did one final shoot in Eldorado. Brit & Mike pulling over the "summit of the mountain". The "summit" was actually a big boulder up on the Fowler trail. I must have looked a little confused at the summit shot because the director told me: Yeah, we're faking it ..

Brit was off with a smaller crew for one final shoot at a diner. Mike went to the hotel with his wife. I drove home. Sort of a let down after such a fun day. Back to the normalcy of life. Dang!

Click here for the pics.
Sorry no shots of me. I was busy or waiting to be busy.

25 July 2006

I'll be a stunt man!

I'm almost afraid to write this up until it happens. A friend of a friend turned me on to a talent agency that's looking for a right legged amputee climber. That's me! How many of us are there? Not many. So I got the job!

In a nutshell, there's a bluegrass band involved and I'll be the stunt man for an army guy that lost his leg in Afghanistan - landmine. I'm not sure who is supporting who. Sounds like sort of a MTV / DVD skit. They sent me the "treatment". The treatment is a rough sketch of what will happen. I don't want to blow my luck so I won't say more.

I sent them pics & my clothe sizes. They asked if my hair length is still the same as in the pictures. I said: yeah, it's normal length. They said get it cut to NORMAL length! I said ok. (Hey, they're paying me to climb.)

I was going to let Julia have fun and cut my hair. Then I'd finish it up w/ a #2 beard trimmer. Mia said: No way!

I got it cut today. When the barber was finishing it up, I asked (without my glasses on): Is this going to make me look more mature? She said: Most definitely.

When Mia saw it, she said: Wow! It turns out Wow means bad :-)
A picture will be forthcoming.

21 July 2006

Climbing at Lime Park

Last weekend, the temps were too high to stay home so we headed high. We headed up to Lime Park Friday evening. We drove in from the Eagle, North, side. It's a looonng way in on bumpy dirt roads. We found a nice camp next to Lime Creek and settled in for the night. I wish I had pictures but I forgot the camera. Lime Park is a large meadow surrounded by aspen and spruce. It doesn't get much better. Only the next day did we find out about the nasty biting flies ...

Next day, we climbed on the shady, West, side in the morning. Even at 9200 ft, it was shaping up to be a warm day. Without a guide, we had to guestimate the routes from below. We climbed a nice 5.9, two ok 5.10s w/ gravelly topouts, and 2 more excellent 5.10s. This limestone was not like Shelf Road. It reminded Mia & I of the limestone around Berchtesgaden, Germany - Mia's hometown. Lot's of slopers and sidepulls. After lunch, we climbed on a NE facing wall on the other side of the valley. I pulled through an excellent 5.11a. We also did a mediocre 5.10 to the left of it. Seven was enough for a day and Julia reminded us it was time for fishing.

A little pool looked like it might be full of fish ... but nothing. It was fun anyway. Next day was Julia's day. We went fishing at a better pool. We saw the fish rising but we coudn't fool them. Skunked again.

On the way home, we took the dirt road South to Thomasville, then East over Hagerman Pass. Beautiful aspen filled drive. We stopped in Leadville for ice cream!

17 July 2006

Map of the SW Colorado family trip

I checked out the path mapping of CommunityWalk this evening to map out our SW Colorado family trip. It does the job better than expected, as can be seen in the screen shot here. This is the best mapping site I've used, for my needs. I've tried most of the mapping sites, too.

Although the trip started and ended in Boulder, I started the trip path in Crestone and ended it in Glenwood Springs, to reduce the clutter. Click on the map to go the CommunityWalk site and explore further. (i.e. click on the markers.)

13 July 2006

SW Colorado family trip - part 3/3; best camp and water fight western style

We couldn't find a good camp down low so we headed high. Picayune Gulch to be exact. The 4x4 guide said easier than Engineer Pass, with an exposed shelf road start, so we headed up. MIa & I were not happy. Luckily Julia said - Papa can do it. Mia & I kept quiet and continued. It was steep and gravelly with a steep drop off, let's say a cliff, to the left. I would have rather been in 1st gear 4x4 Hi but I didn't want to let off the go pedal to shift so I stayed in 2nd. Man, was it steep .. and gravelly. Tires didn't spin though. Bump did fine, with my nervous guidance.

We found a great site at 12,075' according to my GPS. The picture above is from the next morning. Here's another picture from the morning .. and here's one showing the evening before with clouds moving in.

The next morning we headed up the road to a saddle and Julia climbed her second 13K peak. Again, we were amazed. We drove down Placer Gulch and stopped at the Silver Queen Stamp Mill.

Mia had enough of waterfalls, mines and bumpy driving. We headed for Silverton to be real tourists. A good meal and we headed to Ouray, as the streets flooded in Silverton. I mean the streets were streams.

We were to meet Christy at the mountain store at 6pm. We found her and a camp site .. at a secret location. It was 4th of July weekend and the pickings were slim. We climbed some nice but odd climbs the next day, at Pool Wall. I, and later Christy, got spanked on a 5.10d. No way 10d, sez I. The rain kicked in and we waited it out under an overhang. While we were waiting, we hear a roar. A flash flood comes out of a gully off to the side. Spectacular. Wish I had the camera for that one.

Then to a real western waterfight. Two firefighters against 2 other firefighters. There were even referees. It was packed in downtown Ouray and the crowd was rowdy. These guys must have been exhausted .. and hypothermic after an hour of this stuff.

We found some better climbs, at Pool Wall, the next day. I'd definitely recommend Empire of Dirt, 5.10d. Overhangs, slabs, pockets ... If you're short bring a stiff draw for this and others at Pool Wall. It started raining again. We checked the forecast. The rest of the week's forecast was worse. We drove home. A stop in Paonia for fresh cherries finished the trip nicely!

Check here for the trip picture album.