16 December 2009

Deep into Robber's Roost Country

We went deep in Robber's Roost - out to the Orange Cliff / High Spur area. 60 miles off pavement to get in. Chris, Sara & Emma Haaland went with us. Beautiful Utah country.

The girls had to take turns going first. Somehow Emma slipped by Julia. This didn't go over well with Julia. That's what is going on in this photo.

We did most of the E Fork of Big Spring Canyon, along with the W Fork. We climbed out fo the East Fork when we got to a swimmer pothole. It looked like it was getting nasty after that. Nasty meaning wet, narrow and too hard for the kids. NE Spur Fork was a great canyon also w/ some good narrows at the beginning and end.

All the pics here!
Slideshow here.

04 December 2009

Thanksgiving 2009!

We had a great time in Illinois this year. Trips to Chicago. Great Greek food. Set Dad & Mom up with a new computer - 23" monitor. Coming up is Dad's 80th birthday. He'll be able to keep up w/ everyone on Facebook. We swung by St. Louis on the way back for an evening and morning. Good to see Janet & the kids and Tom. They're great! We wish we could spend more time with everyone.

Here's some more pics of Thanksgiving day.

02 November 2009

Julia's First Lead

Julia led her first climb - Sep 27, 2009! We were not pushing for this. It just happened .. It was bolted of course and the draws were in place as you can see. She top roped it first and I was at the top to provide encouragement and photo documentation.

It was a newly developed 5.6 climb in Boulder Canyon. More pics HERE!

28 September 2009

The Tetons

The Tetons are beautiful in any weather which was good because we didn't see them often. Lot's of clouds and rain. As usual, we didn't know when we'd end up in the Tetons so we didn't have camp reservations. We found the perfect camp outside the park along a braided river. Nice view to wake up to!

The highlight of the Tetons was a canoe trip on Jackson Lake. We had planned to do a few pitches on lower Guide's Wall but the weather wasn't stable enough. This was Julia's first time in a canoe. She did well. She paddled for about 1/2 hour with papa helping in the back.

We drove home via the hot springs at Saratoga and the Snowy Range. The Snowy Range drive was new to us and very cool. Alpine out your car door.
More pics here!

27 September 2009

Thermopolis to Cody to Gardiner, Montana

After climbing in Tensleep Canyon, we had a nice stop at Thermopolis (map). Thermopolis (thermopolis.com) has a lot of cool things nearby but we were after the hot springs! The State Bath House is free but we went next door for the big slide. Julia has been here before. There's no talking her out of the big slide. The big slide used to be really fast and scary. Too fast in my opinion. They must have reduced the water flow because it was not so bad now - or maybe I'm getting bolder in my old age!

We ended up camping West of Cody at Buffalo Bill State Park. We found a beautiful camp on the lake and Julia could ride her bike around. Cody is a pretty cool tourist town - one of the larger towns in the state at a population about 9300. We climbed for half a day before heading North on one of the most scenic drives I've done in years. The Chief Joseph Scenic Highway links Cody, WY & Cooke City, MT. One of the impressive places we drove is over a bridge spanning the Clark's Fork (of the Yellowstone, of course).

Last time I was in Cooke City was a summer between college years - late '70s. Cooke City is still a small town but bigger than I remember. It is hemmed in by mountains. Sun is scarce. I'm sure the winter population is under a 100. On that trip, it was a jumping point into the Beartooth Mountains - a 10 day mountaineering trip - and what a trip!

We drove throught the Silver Gate (NE gate) into Yellowstone. Fascinating! In the 1st 2 hours we saw a black bear, a bear that was brown that might have been a small grizzly, hundreds of buffalo, a pronghorn antelope and an elk. Yeah, it was evening - the viewing time but still ...

Yellowstone camping was filled so we continued to Gardiner, MT, (map) and looked for a camp site. The official ones were full. So we headed North on logging roads looking for perfect site .. and looking. We didn't find the perfect site but we found a damn good one. With the clouds rolling in and out and the view .. well, make sure you click on the picture below.

I have to say, we were a bit worried about Grizzly. This was Griz country for sure and there was no one around for 10 miles. We cleaned up and packed everything in the truck. As we went to sleep, I heard a long, drawn out sound. Not really a howl but sort of. I know what fox, lions and bears sound like but this was different. I went to sleep dreaming of wolves!

More pics here - includes the rest of Yellowstone we saw (a very small portion).

18 August 2009

Big Horn Range, Wyoming - Climbing & Hiking

We were only here for 3 days but I'm excited to go back. We stopped for breakfast in downtown Buffalo. There was a festival that day. We saw the bed races. Imagine a group of adults or kids pushing a bed full speed down a steep street. Amazing no one was hurt.

Buffalo also hosts one of the best all around sports stores I've seen - the Sports Lure. You walk in and see a full display of fishing gear, tied flies, 100s of guns etc. This is what I'd expect to see in a decent Wyoming sport store. (Well, maybe not so many guns but ..) Further back are tents, sleeping bags, outdoor clothes & shoes, maps, hiking & climbing guides, then the team goods for baseball, basketball etc. It was not a big store either. REI watch out!

Mia felt like hiking the first day in the Bighorns so we drove to Circle Park and hiked to a lake well below Bighorn Peak. Looking up, the trained eye picks out numerous alpine lines waiting to be done. I'm sure some of them have been climbed but this area doesn't even have a climbing guide in print. Out of print, yes. We just need more time and someone to watch Julia at the tent.

We climbed in Tensleep Canyon for the next few days. A few climbing pics and more scenery here. Yes, we're working with Julia to take some climbing shots of us. They are getting better.

13 August 2009

Climbing & hiking above the Arkansas River valley

We did a couple nice weekend trips in July. (I know it's August but the more fun we have the less time I have for recording it.) We climbed at Monitor Rock for a day and hiked to Independence Lake (West side of Independence Pass) and spent a night and day near Cottonwood Pass. ( Click on the pics for larger views of life! )

The hike to Independence Lake starts w/ a creek cascading down to the road. Can't beat that for a start. Here's shot of Mia & Julia at the lake:

Yes, those blue skies and clouds are what makes Colorado.

Camping doesn't suck too bad either. Here's our camp below Independence Pass:

and our camp below Cottonwood Pass:

More pics here

16 July 2009

Climbing in Maple Canyon, Big Cottonwood and a Bat Attack in City of Rocks

Starting w/ a camp east of the San Rafael Swell (map), in Utah, this was a great trip. We climbed a few days at Maple Canyon, just west of Freedom (map). The camping has no views except trees - which makes it marginal (in my opinion) but the climbing makes up for it. Amazingly steep climbing on cobbles. My arms were worthless by the 3rd day.

Next up was Big Cottonwood Canyon near Salt Lake City. This was new terrain for us. A family we met at Maple recommended a 3 pitch 5.6 route on Dead Snag Crag. It was an excellent pick - see first picture. Even better, Julia made a friend at camp. We had a nice camp in the Aspens and the kids ran around with a compass and whistle so they wouldn't get lost. The noisy road thru the canyon was the only detraction. Many people must live near the ski areas above.

We drove over the pass to Park City the next day. Pretty area. Ski areas everywhere! We stocked up at the farmer's market and and checked out the 2002 Olympic ski jumps. The Australian team was training. They practice jumping into an aerated pool. When they came off the big jump, this was pretty exciting. There's a great ski museum too.

Onto City of Rocks National Reserve in Idaho. This is a special place. It's way rural and very beautiful. One very unusual thing happened here - bat attack!

I had climbed up about a 100 ft up to the belay. A bat lands on the rock in front of me, shows it's fangs and starts squeaking at me. It doesn't stop. I start yelling at it. Mia yells up that she's climbing and she doesn't get the appropriate response because I'm busy w/ the bat. (I'm not making this up! ) I look down to make sure she's not climbing and then see that the bat is gone .. but it's not over. The bat had jumped onto my shirt. With one hand, I pull my shirt away from my body. With the other hand I start pummelling it w/ my climbing gear. The bat is still there so I grab it by the tail and toss it. It plummets to the ground without opening it's wings. I figure it's dead. I belay Mia up as weather moves in. We rappel off to avoid the rain and I search for the bat. I find it and it's dead. Mia, and my daughter Julia, wander over and the bat starts moving. That's all the sign we need. We get out of there.

We had a couple of thunderstorms accompanied by series of rainbows. Oh yeah, the climbing was good too. Look at the last picture and you'll see Julia about half way up.

The album of pics is here!

26 June 2009

June Climbing Trips - finally!

After couple of days climbing locally, it seems my tendonitis is holding up. It's been about 19 months since I've climbed consistently. I'm hoping it's not a "false summit" - like 2 other times.

So AWAY we GO on climbing trips! Yeah - easy climbing for me. First trip was to Shelf Road - between Canon City and Cripple Creek. Here's a few pics I shot and this is a fun video I shot of Julia climbing. Turn up the volume and you'll hear the never ending song of birds.

Last weekend's trip was to Vedauwoo. Vedauwoo is a special place between Cheyenne and Laramie. Beautiful granite formations among meadows, Ponderosa, Fir and Aspens. The Coopers family - Tom, Karen & Jessica, joined us. Pics are here . This is a great shot of Jessica climbing.

01 June 2009

Memorial Day Utah & Canyoneering Trip - 2009

Although wet and muddy, this was a great trip! Clare Shemeta & her kids, Mia & Russell joined us for the weekend. A muddy camp in in front of the San Rafael Reef got the trip off to a .. well muddy start.

We did a fun loop hike in Natural Bridges Nat. Park between Sipapu Bridge and Kachina Bridge. The water really added to the beauty.

In spite of the weather, we mnaged to squeeze Fry Canyon in. The kids kept saying "Awesome" as we got underway. When we had to swim the wet sections, the reactions varied between kids. I caught a nice one of Julia here:

More pics HERE!


BEAR! I heard something at the front door. Too late for a human visitor so it must be an animal. Yep. I see it now. Black and about 2 feet high at the shoulder - a yearling.

.. and it was heading for the garage ..
which was open .. which had garbage. Dang! By the time I ran to the other end of the house, the bear was dragging the garbage can outside. Mia started banging pots while I stepped into the garage (w/ door in hand) to see who intimidated who more. The bear stood it's ground. I looked around for something to throw but couldn't find anything close. I knew that if the bear got the lid off the can, it would be a problem forever. Finally, it backed off as I yelled from the top of the stairs and Mia dented the pans together. Finally, I rescued the can but the bear was holding it's ground about 15 feet away. I pulled the can inside and shut the garage door as it finally ran off.

I love bears but I think this one is going to be a pest.

30 May 2009

Sig Papp - Enjoying new mountain ranges in heaven

Today was Sig's memorial service. Sig was 67. He was the first to show me there's more than climbing crags and technical routes in the peaks. He died suddenly of a heart attack.

Sig introduced me to 14'eers and the Utah desert. From Castle Peak to the traverse of the Maroon Bells (including a biviouac) to my first trip to Canyonlands National Park. We did the Notch Couloir on Long's Peak and there were the weekly after work climbing days with the Rocky Flats Mountaineering club. We did a an incredible week of backpacking in the Sangre de Cristo Range .. and a winter camp below St. Mary's glacier - Lot of drinking & chess on that trip.

We ski toured well before wide skiis and plastic boots. It might have been a day trip to Indian Peaks, the Commando Run or a few days at the Tagert hut (before the 10th Mountain hut system) above Aspen.

Usually there were no lack of people on these trips .. and no lack of laughter and beer back at camp. Sig was an explorer. He'd always get out and see something he'd never seen before .. shared with good friends.

It was bittersweet to go the the memorial service and reception afterwards. It was good to see his wife, Ellen & his "kids", Mike and Kathy. It was good to see many colleagues and comrades from our prior work - Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapon facility. Many of these people had been on this trips and I haven't seen many of them for at least 14 years. I'm making plans with some of them for a fall trip to Utah. Sig would like that.

Well Sig, bye for now and thanks for the great times ...

26 May 2009

Julia's 7th Birthday

We lost count of the kids Julia invited. Luckily it was outside - and the weather was decent. We had a treasure hunt, a relay race with 2 wooden spoons holding a potato (not as easy as it sounds), a tug of war and the usual whack the piñata for food supplies - I mean candy!!

It was a riot! That's Julia in front during the tug of war. Guess who is on the other end? Me! I was slowly losing. Then Mia joined in on the girls side and they dragged me through the dirt. Dang. I thought age and technique ruled over youth & power ..

More pics are here.

09 April 2009

Julia wants pierced ears

6 YO Daughter: Mama, can I have my ears pierced?
Mama: It's ok w/ me but talk to your papa.
6 YO Daughter: Papa, can I have my ears pierced?
Me: Sure, no problem
6 YO Daughter: Thanks Papa. You're a good papa.
... she skips away
... she skips back
6 YO Daughter: Can we go now?
Me: Now? I was thinking when you're 12 years old
6 YO Daughter: Papa! We need to talk! I want them pierced for my 7th birthday.
Me: Oh, that's different. What about 11 years old?
6 YO Daughter: Everyone in my class has pierced ears.
Me: You don't want to be the same as everyone else do you?
6 YO Daughter: Papa!
Me: What about 10 years old?
6 YO Daughter: Papaaaa !!!

It's looking bleak for me with the 2 gals against me. I'm saving my best line for last though: "I own your ears until you are 12 years old! ;-)

24 February 2009

Cooking & Music without Mama

As we drove home after Julia's climbing practice, we talked about dinner. It became very apparent that Julia believes she is much better cook than I. Now that wouldn't take much but I certainly can cook better than a 6 year old. I couldn't shake her belief though. She told me about when she showed me how to separate an egg (true but ..) etc.

Not wanting to discourage her, I moved the subject to music. We drove home, into the foothills, accompanied by Grateful Dead. I like the Dead much more now than when I was younger. Julia confirmed that appreciation of the Dead is indeed age dependent. She gave it a thumbs down.

23 February 2009

Going home to bury Peter

This morning, Mia is flying home to Schönau am Königsee to bury her brother, Peter. She called her Dad this morning. He said it'll be his greatest joy to see her. I hope she can find some joy within this time of sorrow.

I'll be home working and taking care of Julia, by myself, for the week. This will not be a walk in the park but we will have fun too.

20 February 2009

Peter Stocker - ripped out of the middle of his life

Today is a very sad day in our lives. We received news that my brother, Peter, died unexpectedly last night. A autopsy will be done on Monday. He most likely died from a heart attack. He was in top shape and only 42 years old. Nobody would have expected him to have a heart attack. Even doctors did not diagnose it in time.

We will all miss him dearly. It will be especially hard for his girl friend of 25 years, Moni, and his 5-year old daughter Anna.

Peter, keep an eye out on for your little girl wherever you are.

More pictures of Peter and family are here.

09 February 2009

Ford vehicles & Starr's Clothing

Our 2001 Ford Focus blew a radiator hose. Of course, this didn't happen nearby or during business hours. I drove the truck down to Broomfield and we nursed the Focus back to Boulder with help of a 5 gallon water jug and duct tape. While this wasn't that expensive, it was catastrophic. Lucky that we weren't driving in a remote area.

This is the 3rd time, we've had a problem with the Focus. The first was front suspension - expensive. The 2nd was a blown thermostat gasket which resulted in catastrophic radiator fluid loss - also expensive. Both turn out to be common Focus problems. This car has only has 70k miles! Our last Ford, a 1994 Escort had 140K miles before we sold it. Not one major problem with the Escort. Seems like Ford is on a downhill slide. Ford (fix or repair daily) will have to come up with something I really want before I buy another vehicle from them. Ford, are you listening?

On a positive note, I stopped by Starr's Clothing on Pearl Street today. Starr's is a local & independent Boulder clothing company. I ALWAYS walk out with more clothing than I intended buying - and I HATE shopping. Starr's has a great selection with great service! Support them!

27 January 2009

A Nice Day to Drop Off the Mail

Bluebird Skies and 5°F - a nice day to walk the mail to the mailbox. A fire cranking in the wood stove .. this is why we live where we live.

09 January 2009

Wind, Bobcat & Fire - An Interesting Day

Wind and more wind, day after day .. then it got bad. A nice Spruce was uprooted. Shingles are everywhere. Then the snow machine blew over .. twice. Mr Bobcat showed up outside my window in the morning also. It was watching me before I looked over my laptop out the window. Few people get to see one so close. It was about 8 feet away. I called Mia over to share the view. Pics of all below.

In the afternoon, the wind blew down a power line which started a fire. 11,000 + homes were evacauated. We were to the South but we kept a close eye on it. It came within about 1-1/2 miles of us. Wild day!