Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Exploding Jeeps

Saw a hilarious sign this morning while getting gas in the Jeep.

Apparently, if you don't discharge your static electricity while driving a Jeep in a skirt flames will shoot out the filler tube and you'll have to shout for an attendant.

Oh, and don't let your kids play with it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Maple Canyon Memories - Free Camping

Lol, just remembering Maple Canyon Utah Rock Climbing and Camping - long title, but it pretty well fits.

Back in August we went to Maple Canyon just outside of Fountain Green Utah for some Rock Climbing with some acquaintances from Momentum Climbing (a climbing gym in Sandy, Utah).

DW, being the prepared person she is purchased Maple Canyon Utah Reservations at for two sites for us and our friends. She printed up her reservations and we took them with us to the Maple Canyon Campground.

When we arrived there were people in our spots, one of which had our reservation posted with the wrong day, the other of which had no posting of our reservation at all. The rock climbers who already had the spots refused to leave, saying they were there first. We decided to wait it out, for the Maple Canyon Utah Campground Host to arrive, but it never happened. Turns out the Host is only there once or twice a week.

So we took the group camping site, which has a sign posted saying if you didn't make reservations and no one was there you could have it for $15/night. Good enough - about half the price of the ReserveAmerica ripoff fee.

With a bad taste in our mouth about the friendliness of climbers and the value of reserving ahead, we made our camp and managed to squeeze in a few lines of climbing on the Maple Canyon conglomerate in the Schoolroom area. Then we hung out and tried to sleep amidst the screams and howls of the people in our reserved campsite, apparently college age coeds who weren't quite sure who was sleeping in which bags that night and were trying to sort it out with drunken singing and poking games. Gotta love those young climbers. (in an aside there is almost nothing quite as amusingly ironic as a bunch of upper-middle-class college kids whose parents have bought them everything they ever wanted participating in a luxury sport while singing about how da man is oppressin dem)

We were pretty fed up with the whole mess and decided to just bag it and go home the next day, and after a lot of struggles with our car (battery ran down and none of the good rock climber people in the area wanted to risk damage to their small foreign cars by jumping us - "call AAA" they all moaned - probably used to being rescued by their parents all their prolonged childhood) we finally went home.

DW called ReserveAmerica and the US Forest Service. The Forest Service said that ReserveAmerica was jerking us around and explained how to get a refund from them. ReserveAmerica is apparently used to those tactics, and routinely sent us to the wrong division, for the wrong campground, the wrong state, and even threatened to charge our card triple for the Group Site we apparently stole from them (they even told us the USFS fee sign for $15 was not there and we were liars).

Morals of the story?

1 - Never ever reserve with ReserveAmerica - if there is any way to rip you off they will and there is no guarantee your reservation is even valid.
2 - Odds are 3-1 there is no Host at Maple Canyon Campground.
3 - Hence odds are 3-1 that camping is FREE at Maple Canyon Campground on any given day.
4 - Sport Climbers don't have jumper cables and aren't overall very self-sufficient.
5 - Sport Climbers don't share or play well with others.
6 - Drunk Sport Climbers spend way too much time worrying about sleeping-bag partners (could have just split the deck or something to save time).

Anyway, despite a small amount of tongue-in-cheek, that's what I learned that weekend.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Climbing in the Dark

Like on DW's blog, we went climbing outside at Rock Canyon on Wed. Night. Walking to "The Kitchen" we passed the water tank and saw some sheep right next to the North fork in the trail (sidewalk) and up the hill above it.

There was a large group at "The Red Slab" seeming to have a lot of fun. At the foot of "The Right Corner" 5.6 I dumped my stuff, put together a rack (having no clue what I'd need) and went around the West side to climb up. Easy class 3/4 (could someone fall and die if they were nervous? is that the criterion for class 4?). I found the notch for the route, and above it found a chopped hanger (ancient) and above that maybe 10' a nice new hanger. Down a ways near the edge were two hangers - something similar to a coldshut and one I have no idea what it was - like an eyebolt all bent up.

I used a 7MM cord and put a figure-8 on the end, clipping it to the new hanger with a wire biner and a locker opposed (more safe than I really needed). I put a clove hitch on that and wiggled down to the coldshut, adjusting as I went. I doubled a 4' sling and clipped it to the coldshut then put opposed biners at the bottom of it and eyeballed a figure-8 on the 7MM cord (about 14' down), then clipped it in.

I flaked out the rope and clipped the center marker into the opposed biners, then tossed down a loop and lowered till the last 15', then flipped it over yelling "ROPE" - too late in the wind of course - almost got them. They didn't expect it either.

Walked down around to the bottom and tied in. After belaying everyone for a bit, I figured out that there were some little wear grooves in the rock where the rope would have less friction - where it was now it was pretty sticky in the cracks and wanted to wrap on the little flakes and horns of loose rock in the crack. Might even be better to put it on the chains at the top of the 10C just to the right (West), but it's harder to get to those from the top.

DW has the pics up on her site.

Passers-by were funny.

"Look at those three cute boys!"

Poor Tan.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

What were you thinking in giving me your URL!

I've been reading a book about a particular branch of rock climbing, and in it one of the authors gave a url. I went to it.

Holy Crap! What are you thinking? The site is insanely awful. So bad I can't even imagine the author using one of those instant-website templates or $9 WalMart software to build it. Is this person really thinking anyone will give them money for anything? Or is it one of those elitist snob cases where the author is such an expert it doesn't matter what horror we have to endure to bask in their glow?

Our clients at work sometimes fall into this trap. They have a website made by their wife's cousin's girlfriend who took a correspondence course and is using a cracked version of frontpage 3.0. Jumping scotty dogs catching the email as it zips out of the opening mailbox and all that rot from the windows 95 era when the internet was new and no one knew what it meant or where it was going and they assumed everyone viewing the page was such an idiot that without the zipping letter they would have no clue what the email link was for. My tribute to that era is here:

Then they complain, wondering what is wrong and why no one hangs out at their site past the first page, and why no one wants to come in for a consultation. We suggest they replace the POS website with a real one, and they either:

A) get offended because they, or a loved one, or obligated one, made the site and it is somehow sacred.

B) get offended because what they have is free, and we charge a realistic price.

So the reality is, if you have a clue about business you'll chalk up your website expense to marketing, consider the potential ROI and COA on it (remember that if you do the same to the free site, anything divided by zero = NAN - lol programmer inside joke), and get with the program and get a real site that will at least convince your potential viewers that you have a clue, have a brain, are at least respectable enough to pay for your website with a real designer, are progressive, and actually expect them to pay you for what you do.

Speaking of which, there is a major climbing equipment manufacturer that appears to be hosting at a $9/mo hosting facility with crappy scripting that breaks a lot. I've contacted them about it and they promise they are in the middle of updating it, but golly, you'd never know how major they are by looking at their site...or worse, trying to buy something from them or look up your account details.

Now, I do use their stuff, and I do love it. Use it at least twice a week, but to me it's mostly because I know they are legit (buy their stuff in most retail climbing shops). Wow, and there is a major web clearance-style dealer with a crappily organized site that defies usability that I buy from as well, but I did a lot of research and they are also legit. If only they would become as organized as say, moosejaw or backcountry.

Well, enough griping about these dang awful websites. Let me finish by suggesting they follow the "britney rule" -- "if you're going to expose yourself on the web, make sure you look good first".

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Summit County Bouldering & Airport Transportation

This is the Traverse Wall on Swan Mountain Road between Keystone and Breckenridge.

I spent some time here traversing, and noticed a little 3' tall wall with chalk all over the place on the tiny grooves (behind the horn on the left in this pic). After a while a guy came down with what seemed like a 2, 4 and 6 year-old. They immediately jumped on the chalky little rock. After a bit they sat on a bouldering pad and changed into rock shoes. I was leaving then so didn't get to watch them, but how much fun is that? Can hardly wait.

Later, at the airport (DEN) I was going back and forth between the terminals looking for something to eat and drink (Terminal C is horrible) and you have to go around and around the escalators as you head around on the trains. A rude girl with a cell glued to her cheek blasted down the escalators knocking everyone aside and griped:

"In the US you stand on the right and walk on the left! What is so hard about that? What's wrong with you people."

I do agree, having had quite a struggle getting around the moving beltways in Terminal B (huge since United took it over). What with people moving at random speeds and holding hands with piles of luggage all over the belt - it was quite annoying.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Kids Say the Cutest Things and Oppression

The company went out to lunch today to Celebrate Dylan's b'day and while out, Dave and I got to talking about kids saying wild things (among them B's latest tirade against the oppression of the man - more irony on that in a short bit).

When Dave went to Las Vegas to get his new ride his wife dropped him off at the airport with the kids in the car. Dave made some crack about the evils of Las Vegas, saying he had a wad of cash in his wallet and for all he knew someone would kill him at the airport there and they'd never see him again.

While he was gone, his one son was going around the neighborhood saying "Dad went to Vegas with a wad of cash and we don't know if he's coming back."

Now, on to oppression. There is a person I know who used to work for DCFS - you know, the government agency that breaks up families and puts kids in charge of their parents, with what appears to be random reckless abandon to those it happens to. Turns out their favorite music is reggae - talk about irony "UM - you ARE the man! and this is the music of your victims!" But then, maybe they know that and revel in the irony.