Thursday, 31 December 2009

That time of year again!

Manhattan beach on Christmas day
(sorry about the big dirty mark in the middle of the photo, my little Fuji has a big piece of dirt under the lens, which I can not remove and am quite annoyed about!)

Well for those that know me well enough you will be aware that I am not the greatest fan of Christmas, so it will be no big surprise to hear that I am pleased it has passed for another 360ish days. That being said I had a very pleasant day here in the US of A, although I did feel a bit like I was gatecrashing someone else's party. However, my hosts were incredibly kind and the day passed without any fuss or hassle. Just the way I like it.

My friends were all very kind to me and posted me a Christmas parcel that included amongst other things some Santa deely boppers, rudolph earrings, snowman socks and 3 pairs of Crimbo pants. The picture at the bottom of the post is proof that at some point during the 25th I was briefly in the Christmas spirit :o)

It is now almost the dawning of yet another new year, I have at this moment in time about 23 hours until 2010. Every year I am amazed at where the time passes and how quickly it can slip through your hands without you ever really noticing. The start of a new year always makes me think too much about my life, the people in my life and the people not in my life anymore. This can be good but often gets me a little upset. This year I think will be no exception as all my friends are so far away, but I will not dwell on this long as I don't like being sad and what ever I do to celebrate I will enjoy it and make sure that I make it a memorable one.

I promise I will raise a glass to toast to the health and happiness to all the people that I love the most in this world. I am not going to mention names, you know who you are and what you mean to me. xxx

Anyway enough of the sentimental waffling, heres hoping 2010 is good to us all. Enjoy.

A truly awful picture of me trying to look festive

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Fat hand and a cankle

Fat hand

I successfully made it back, to what now seems to have become my second home in LA and am hanging out over Christmas with my good friend Wes and his family.

Here are a few picture of my recent injuries. My thumb is getting better every day but still looks quite swollen and is turning purple. My ankle is also lacking in definition and changing colour but it is my heel that is giving most discomfort still. I have been icing on a regular basis which is helping but as usual I am very impatient and want them to heal immediately.

I am extremely grateful to have somewhere comfortable and warm to recuperate. I feel a lot of laying on the couch watching movies may be the best form of medicine in this instance.

You can see the bruise coming through nicely

Where has my bone gone?

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Ibuprofen to the rescue

Well it has been an odd couple of weeks here in Bishop, California. The first week was good and I checked out the climbing areas and some good problems, then as previously mentioned a snow storm rolled into town and covered the place in a massive amount of snow in 24 hours.

Since Monday much of the climbing has been out of bounds due to either snow stopping you getting to the boulders, snow on top of the boulders or melt water dripping off the boulders. Fun! This however did not stop me from climbing as much as I possibly could. What was stopping me as of last Tuesday was cracking my heel off the ground when I fell off the top of a problem. Luckily no damage other than a very bruised heel. Good thing there was a lot of snow to ice it in. I did finish the problem the 2nd go after I fell, but after that it kind of ended my day.

Wednesday I hobbled along back to the Happy boulders and played on some low ball and easy stuff. Thursday I again struggled on and played on a long pockety traverse which quickly shredded my skin and rendered me useless for the rest of the day, so sat in the sun for a while and chatted to another loner climber chick. Thursday was also the day I was starting to feel a little sorry for myself as once again I was not managing to achieve the goals that I had set for myself on this part of the trip. In order to cheer my self up I called Emma for a chat, this did cheer me up for a while, but then just made me miss her all the more, especially her great spotting skills.

Anyway, after a few sulky moments I pulled myself together, looked around me and thanked my lucky stars that I am privileged enough to do this trip and see amazing places and meet great people.

Friday I took a day off as my heel seemed to be very sore for some reason so drove to the ski resort of Mammoth, where I took the cable car to the top of the mountain. It looks an amazing place if you are into skiing or snowboarding, huge wide slopes that go forever. I was tempted but not willing to test my insurance to it's full potential just yet!

Today, I overcame my temptation to leave early as my foot felt much better after an icing and hot springs session the previous evening. I headed out with Lynne (other loner climbing chick) for a last day of climbing and just going for the total skin wreck day as all I have to do is drive tomorrow. I did wreck my skin and had fun doing it, but what I did not bargain for is falling awkwardly again and landing in an odd position on my left thumb. Extremely sore, again glad of snow still on ground for immediate icing purposes. End of day! As I sit here now in the cafe it is starting to feel better and the swelling is going down thankfully. I reckon it will be sore for a few days though. Ibuprofen to the rescue once again.

So, have I enjoyed my time here in Bishop? Hell yeah, but I have had my arse well and truly kicked. Will I come back? I really hope so, more unfinished business, but the next time I will bring and army of good spotters.
P.S Mum don't worry xx

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Snow days

Well, the storm that was forecast hit the Owens Valley yesterday. I sat in the Black Sheep coffee shop for most of the day and watched the snow fall and fall and fall. At least 6 inches fell in the town of Bishop alone. After staying in town for dinner and getting a short lesson on how to drive an automatic in the snow, we eventually headed back to the Pit in the early evening to find my tent blending in very well with the surroundings.

Tent in disguise

Tent in the morning

This morning everywhere was just covered, but thankfully the sun has come out and the snow is melting fast, hopefully I will be able to climb tomorrow if it stays out all day. So another day just hanging out in the town taking a few photos and drinking coffee and chatting to the few people that are still here. Later going to head up to the hot springs for a float around in some lovely toasty mineral water.


Ice at the Buttermilks

There are many reasons why you should not climb with a hangover. The photo above is proof. I did this after our Rock and Roost night in Joe's when I slid down a huge slab. Slightly annoying as these were brand new when I got here.

Heavenlypath V1

Saturday, 12 December 2009


I have been in Bishop, California now since last Monday evening. I had a bit of a mare trying to get my hire car for this trip, as the very cheap company that I had booked on line then tried to charge me $900 dollars for insurance, which was just ridiculous. So I told them I no longer wanted the car and then got another through Enterprise. I eventually arrived here in the evening rather than during the day, but all was good, as I met up with some friends that I had met in Joe's and stayed the first night in an apartment. The next day I pitched my tent in The Pit (BLM camp site) and was ready to roll. I have managed to climb for 3 days and have had a little taster of The Sad, The Happy and The Buttermilk boulder areas. The problems I have seen so far are amazing. The rock is a mixture of Granite and volcanic rock and is amazing to climb on. My skin has even been holding up so far. I have a feeling though that I may not climb as hard as I want to yet again. I have done a few of the easier lines, but my goal of doing a V5 or a V6 seems like it might not be possible. It is snowing really heavy today, but once the weather clears I am going to try my hardest to maybe project a couple of problems and hopefully send something cool. My days are limited though as I am only here till the 20th Dec so this may not be possible for me. We will see and keep fingers crossed, it gets a little frustrating after a while, but I will persevere and try and perfect my technique which I know is letting me down much of the time.
I will try and post some photos soon.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Manhattan Beach

This area is quite posh too.

Since being in LA I have not done very much apart from enjoy the warmth, comfort and home cooking of my amazingly welcoming hosts. I have visited the beach a few times though as there is a great fruit smoothie shop and I like to go and get my fill of sea watching (slightly different to Crovie, but good none the less) and the life guards are quite pretty to watch too! Sometimes I often think I might fake a drowning just so I can be rescued, but I dislike the water so much that even the lure of a Baywatch hunk is just not enough, so I will content myself with watching and pretending that they are running in slow motion towards me...

It has been a very welcome respite from the camping, but I am leaving the warmth of Southern California on Monday for a 2 week trip to Bishop which is about 6 hours North near the ski area of Mammoth. When I booked my hire car I stupidly failed to read the 10 day forecast for the weather and it would seem that the weather is due to change to rain on Monday, so I am hoping that it will not be like that for the whole fortnight I am there. Fingers crossed. I think I will also need to borrow a warm blanket as it looks fairly chilly at night. Oh well I am sure it is good for the soul or something. Will keep you posted.

Birds on a wire


Beach volleyball

Flotsam or jetsam


Surf dude

Jonathan Livingstone I presume?

Manhattan beach

All photographs by Caroline Harvey

Saturday, 28 November 2009


The Food Ranch

Orangeville is the closest town to Joe's Valley. It is the home of the Food Ranch where you could buy food, petrol and guns, it is also where I washed for most of the time I was there and most importantly it was a good place to get a hot drink and sit in the warmth.

Although very much (for want of a better word) a Hick town, it is one of the friendliest places I have ever been. Every single person was incredibly welcoming and always keen to chat. They were continually amazed at all these climbers coming from far and wide to visit their small town and play on rocks.

One very cold and snowy Friday we took shelter in the one and only pub in the county called Chicks Rock and Roost. We initially went to get warm and play some pool but ended up staying for about 7 hours and having a very pleasant time being bought lots of drinks by the locals. An excellent time was had. Many would not have survived the amount of alcohol consumed were it not for the 3.2% Utah beer. I however was quite chirpy due to the tequilla and sprite!

We also took shelter for much of our rest days in the local library where you could chill out all day use the internet and the bathrooms for free. Awesome!

Dining area

Spot the Black Diamond poster

Main street Orangeville



Wide streets

Friday, 27 November 2009

So long Utah. Till the next time.

Home, sometimes not so cosy.

Well once again it has been too long since I last updated, but this nomadic lifestyle is just so busy that it is hard to keep up with the demands of modern technology. What have I been doing? Trying to keep warm for the most part as it has been so cold, I think, if my conversions are correct I reckon it has been as cold as -10c some nights and in the shade of the canyons it has felt like that during the day also, and as many of you may be aware I do not deal well with the cold, especially when I am trying to climb. These cold desert conditions have made me realise that a four season tent is really needed, not only to keep the dust out, but to keep you slightly warmer. What else? We think we had a mountain lion snooping around camp on a few nights. We did not actually see the cat but we saw eye reflections in our headlamps and rather large paw prints quite close by in the mornings. I will not lie, I was quite scared and even more scared after people started recalling tales of mountain lion attacks, bear attacks etc around the camp fire. I decided that my best form of defence was a no drinking of any liquids after 8pm approach, in the hope that it reduced my chances of having to get out my tent for a pee in the middle of the night. Apparently you are your most vulnerable in the squatting position! Not good for hydration but reduced the risk of a mauling. Although apparently it is possible with a little practice for women to also use a gatorade or similar wide mouthed bottle in emergencies, so I may give it a try!

I have now left Utah and the amazing boulders of Joe's Valley and am currently living the life of luxury in LA again for some warmth and hopefully a little spot of indoor training before heading to Bishop, California, for some tricky granite rock. I had mixed emotions about leaving Joes, firstly I could not believe that I had been there for nearly 40 days and I think i had hoped that I would achieve so much more in that amount of time, so I suppose I was kind of sad to leave with so many unfinished problems. That being said I had an enormous amount of fun and completed many excellent climbs. The thing that I find hardest when on an extended trip like this is that you do have to rest, even if you do not feel physically tired from the climbing the camping and all that goes with it is tiring in itself. I also found that my skin just could not cope without some time to heal, all of which I found to be quite frustrating. What I do know is that I have unfinished business in Joe's and hope that at some point I will be able to return and kick ass. It is an amazing venue and I wish it was my local area.

Here are a few random photos.

Home in the snow!

A big hack in my thumb. Pretty.

Split tip.

Thin skin.

Sharka the wonder dog.

Michaelangelo (V3). High but groovy.

The down climb, scary.

Wes considering the down climb.

Kelsey on Wills a fire V6. One of my unfinished projects.

All photos by Caroline Harvey

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Skin so S**t

Firstly apologies for the lack of any photos with this post, soon I promise.

I am sadly having to take another rest day today because the skin on my finger tips is getting too thin. I took a day off on Monday, then climbed yesterday and now have to take another day off today. This is frustrating as I do not feel too tired from the climbing it is just that I can not hold on to anything because my skin hurts. It seems to be one of the biggest problems with many climbers who just have soft skin, but there is no real solution to toughening it up. I should probably wait until it is properly healed but at the rate that I heal that would take far too long and time is too precious for that, as I seem to be gathering unfinished boulder problems at quite a rate. Some of these admittedly are due to lack of physical strength, technique, height, reach and a million other excuses rather than skin, but frustrating all the same. I seem to have been here in Joe's a while now and my tick list is not as extensive as I maybe first hoped it would be. i hope that over the next few weeks I can go back and put a few of my "still to finish" list to rest.

All is not lost on these rest days though as tis morning I went for a short run with another climber girl, Kelsey, and then cam into town for a spit and polish in the Food Ranch sink, so now I feel all pretty and cleanish again.

On another subject I had a good weekend as my friend Sarah was in the Valley for the weekend and it was a great surprise to see her. As usual Sarah was super psyched and strong and made swift work of quite a few of the problems that I have been working on and more. Sadly she had to leave on the Sunday evening and is flying back home to the UK on Thursday. Short but sweet visit, but good fun with lots of giggles. Thanks Sarah.

Hopefully I will be able to hold on to some of this excellent sandstone again tomorrow and with any luck send something groovy

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

The story so far...

Ok, it has been a while since I posted and I apologise. I started writing one when I was in LA and never got it finished or posted, so the start of this one is from there and I am just going to add on to the end of it. I will probably not get pictures on but will try my best to get some on as soon as possible.

Well my few days in Boulder were chilly ones, the above picture of my car is what I woke up to on Saturday morning, the temp was down to -8c. The highs and lows for that day were record temps for October in Boulder.

After taking about half an hour to defrost my car, I slowly drove it back to the car hire company, praying that I would not slip and slide on my last day and cause expensive damage. Thankfully I made it in one piece as it would appear that although very cold the roads seemed to be very clear and non icy for the most part. I had traveled over 2500 miles in the Hyundia by the time I handed it back, the guys in the rental shop were very impressed and asked where on earth I had been and they were just glad that they gave me a new car.

In my attempts at trying to be more frugal with my money I managed to blag a free ride into Denver in order to catch my train and was then just going to hang out in the train station till the early hours on Sunday morning. As it turned out Union Station in Denver is not owned by Amtrak but owned by Denver city itself and so do not allow you to crash in the staion after 9 at night. So in the end I had to get a room in a motel and a cab to get there and back which was extremely annoying.

In order to get the train I firstly had to take the connecting bus to Raton in New Mexico where the South Western line is. This was quite an epic journey in it's own right as the freezing weather conditions made it quite exciting, especially since the bus driver, although nice was clearly quite insane. Anyway we made it the train and my 26 hour people watching festival began. Very amusing and much fun. A couple of interesting moments include a Boyz in the hood style white dude getting jumped by the police as he got off the train for a smoke. He had been drinking and giving verbal abuse to the staff. Then one of the conductors who seemed to be doing a mega 48 hour shift was accidentally left on a platform somewhere in California. Hours and hours of full on entertainment, much better than the TV.

I have not really done much since arriving in LA but the weather has been very Scottish, clouds and rain. I think the whole sunshine and blue sky thing is just a fallacy. However the rain is very warm, so it is just a bit like having a shower. I will maybe come back and check the place out later on. I am more looking forward to going back to Utah and getting in some climbing. We are heading off in that direction tomorrow. Exciting.

The drive from LA to Utah was long but thankfully uneventful. I travelled with my new friend Wes in his lovely VW Jetta, that reminds me of my car, except for the fact that the steering wheel and gear stick, yes no automatic, are on the wrong side. I even took turns of driving and managed fairly successfully to change gear with my right hand. Awesome.

We have been in Joes Valley since the 16th October and have had many good climbing days. I have managed to stay uninjured apart from a few cuts and scrapes on my hands so am pretty pleased. There has been a fairly constant stream of people coming and going from the Valley. There seems to be a never ending stream of people living out of cars and vans and meandering through life at a fairly slow but enjoyable pace. I am beginning to feel quite at home and very much like a climbing bum, but kind of wish I was maybe a few years younger, but hey, I have never exactly stuck to lifes rules. That being said I was asked for ID when buying wine in LA on my 38th birthday. Very awesome. made my day!

For those that want to know I have managed to climb a few V4's and a V5, and even put up a First ascent, not sure what grade it was but it was fun. I went for a hike across the other side of the river on the left fork of the canyon one day with a local climber and we hiked a long way looking for new boulder problems, there were hundreds of boulders but not many were climbable. Steven found a couple and made me try the first ascents, one of which I did, he made me call it Braveheart! It was an extremely fun day even the river crossing in bare feet made me smile despite the freezing temperature.

The weather has changed just now and it is actually starting to snow while I sit in the warmth of Orangeville library and type this post. It hopefully is supposed to warm up over the next couple of days. Fingers crossed, because it gets a bit dull when you can not climb and the cold makes everything so much harder eg getting out of your warm sleeping bag, making a cup of tea and cooking dinner especially. We have been making campfires at night but even they are not much good when the wind picks up.

Many of you will be horrified or delighted by my complete and utter tinkyness. I finally washed my hair in the sink of the garage/food ranch bathroom the other day. It had been about 10 days since it's last look at some clean water. I will leave it to your imagination at the colour of the water that I washed out. I am not sure how long I will be here in total but am looking forward to a very long shower at some point, rather than my spit and polish washes in a sink. Grim maybe, but to be honest I am quite enjoying it, at one with nature and all that jazz. It makes me smile just knowing that some of my close friends would be apalled by my smelly ways. Hee Hee.

Not really too much else to report mostly just climbing, eating, staying warm and constantly trying to get dust out of my stupid tent. When I buy a new tent I will definitely buy a four season one that does not have mesh walls. Mesh is not a good idea for desert living, every time the wind blows my tent fills with endless amounts of fine dust covering everything including me if I am trying to sleep. Not so awesome and the only thing that is really getting on my nerves.

On an up note I found 2 really tasty bottles of wine when I was in LA. I chose them purely for their names and designs on the bottles. I think you would agree they are very cool if only they would upload, so will post them later. All you need to know was that one was called Happiness and the other Evil. Both were very good.

Thats all from a very cold Utah for today and sorry for the lack of photos.


Saturday, 10 October 2009

Canyons, canyons, canyons

Lopsided horizon and me

I have done quite a lot of traveling over the last few days. After leaving the sights of Wendover on Monday morning I crossed back across towards SLC and onwards to Moab.

Moab is an outdoor activity town and you can do everything from skydiving, quad biking and mountain biking to white water rafting and climbing. I however did not do any of those things, instead I toured some of the National parks.

On the Tuesday I set off South to one part of the Canyonlands National Park, where you pass through Indian Creek. I had wanted to go and have a look anyway but was also recommended by a friend before I left. Indian creek is famous for its many huge red sandstone crack climbs and they were not disappointing. How anyone manages to climb those things is incredible. I have never really had the opportunity to hand jam, but even if I was fit I don't think I would like to start there first, a little scary! However amazing to look at all the same.

I drove further into the park and paid the $10 entrance fee and was looking at the map of the area, when I realised I had made a very grave error in my haste to leave in the morning. I had not refueled and my quarter tank was now looking a bit poorly. I had failed to notice because I was too busy looking at the scenery that you kind of forget how many miles you have covered.
So I had to leave and hope that I could reach the petrol station back in Moab before I hit empty. About 20 miles from Moab the low petrol light came on! Ooops. Luckily much of that is downhill so I managed to cruise in neutral for a few miles and made it back just in the nick of time.

Once refueled there was still much of the day left so I went North a few miles to Arches National park. I can not really describe how amazing and vast these parks are and I am not even sure if my photos really do them justice either.

The following day I hit the trail again and went to another area of Canyonlands where I got my monies worth out of my previous days unused pass that was still valid. Awesomeness. I kind of felt very small and insignificant looking at these huge landscapes. Again hard to describe.

My final destination was Dead Horse Point, where cowboys used to corral the wild horses. I stayed there till sunset hoping to get some good photos of the rocks turning bright red but sadly the sun sank below a low could just at the wrong time. Still spectacular though.

I left the wonders of the Canyons on Thursday and have travelled back to Boulder in order to bring my hire car back. This 8 hour journey was made all the more exciting as it was snowing through the high ski resorts of Vail and Breckenridge, approx 12000 ft above sea level. The temperature has dropped quite dramatically this last week and even around Boulder today there was snow and icicles hanging from the rocks. Brrr.

I managed to get a little climbing today as I hooked up with two guys from the UK who invited me out. They lead some trad routes and I did 3 top roped routes. I was pleased as I was still in one piece at the end of the day and I tried finger locking for the first time. Sweet.

So the next plan is to leave here and catch a bus and then a train to LA where I am meeting up with my friends from Joe's and then heading back with them to Utah and the J Valley. A very round about kind of way to get there, but it is cheaper than car renting again and having just driven back in mid October I would hate to have done that drive in mid November when I do not have a 4x4. I reckon it would be impossible and impassible.

Heres hoping that I will get to climb more than 4 days this time. Fingers crossed.
Till next time xxx

All photos by Caroline Harvey

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Passing the time.

Road tripping on your own has it's pro's and cons, but whilst driving from Wendover to Moab today I was thinking about what I do to pass the time. Here is my list so far, they are in no particular order.

1) Sing along to the tunes that are blasting.

2) Dance (sort of) to the tunes that are blasting.

3) Change the radio channel every time a bad song comes on.

4) Take photos, when the road is clear and safe.

5) Butt clenches and pelvic floor exercises (maybe too much info).

6) Drink hot chocolate from my lovely blue Petzl thermos mug.

7) Look at the amazing scenery and wonder at the vastness of this country.

8) Look out for signposts and the occasional corner.

9) Look out for funny registration plates.

10) Wake up when I hit the rumble strips (joking).

11) Think about stupid things to write on my blog.

12) Add 7 hours to the time and wonder what all my friends and family are up to.

13) Guess the mileage of the next toilet stop or petrol station.

14) Look at things and think that they would make a great photo, if only I could stop.

15) Think about people I have met and conversations I have had.

16) Think about places I have been and places I want to go.

17) Wonder at what I am going to do with the rest of my life, although when this happens I usually try and do any or all of the above ;o)

Oh how the time flies. You can imagine the fun that I have.

Big love to y'all xx

Salt flats and Wendover

Salt flats and Accent

Self explanatory sign post


Salt flats and weather

Bored in Wendover

What to do?

No gambling, no drinking. Oh wait yes I can just step over the line.

I have a thing for signs at the minute.

The bat phone and bible, just in case.

Plastic grass, nice.

That's nice of them, didn't know they liked the internet.

Crap fast food. Endless.

Don't know Mr Stewart so will take the cash.

I may be a monster truck but Jesus will save you if I hit you. Doubt it!

Not your average trucker, the 10 commandments were also printed on this truck.

He was certainly carrying God size tyres.

All photos by Caroline Harvey