Saturday, 26 September 2009

Thelma and Louise-less

Long time no post but have been out of internet and phone circulation for a while, and to be honest I am quite enjoying it, because it is too easy, especially for me to get hooked on these kind of things. I am enjoying the total freedom that every day life in the city does not bring unless you really try hard to resist.

Anyway, I decided to leave Boulder as it was not really agreeing with me, so packed up the Hyundia and headed West to the wilds of Utah. It was a fairly long drive just under 500 miles and about 9 and half hours. I was quite weird at first doing such a long drive by myself in a strange country, as all other times I have travelled over such distances in a car has been with my side kick Emma. However, I managed to navigate the 3 turns and then straight line of a road to Utah without any mishap. The automatic gears makes everything very simple, you just sit back and watch out for big trucks.

The climbing area I am in is called Joe's Valley, and has the most amazing amount of beautiful sandstone boulders. On my first night I stayed in a sort of campsite that was more for big caravan/RV's than anything else but was fine for the night. Since then I have been rough camping which is great because it is free but the reservoir is quite chilly for bathing, so not been doing much of that. I am a true skank, and kind of enjoying it.

Anyway, I have met some really lovely kind people who have taken me under their wings, so have had great company for the last week or so. Sadly after about 4 great days of getting used to the new style of climbing my back has decided not to play ball and is very sore. It always happens just when I want it least to be sore, and as usual it did not get sore doing anything great or heroic, just sitting down. It sucks big style and I am very, very annoyed but am trying to look on the bright side of things. At least I have good company at the moment and am in a very beautiful place. I am going to move on to nearer Salt Lake City soon so going to take some rest and then come back to Joe's in a couple of weeks and hopefully be able to kick some sandstone butt.

Sorry for the lack of photos at the moment but will upload some soon.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Eldorado Canyon

I visited Eldorado Canyon yesterday, now that I have wheels. An all American classic, Hyundia Accent, let me tell you. It is the business, well not quite, but it works and will get me places, even if I do keep reaching for the window winder to change gear. Not that I need to of course because it is automatic.

The canyon was gorgeous, not many places so far especially back home have inspired me to do much trad, but this stuff looked amazing. I did some bouldering and took a hike up a trail and basically just looked at the gorgeous scenery all day.

Me with an amazing view behind me

If you look closely you might be able to see 2 people climbing with no ropes, in fact they were climbing up then down climbing then climbing up etc

I have such a hard life sometimes


Anyway I have decided I have had enough of Boulder for just now, I will be back at some point because I have to bring the car back here, but tomorrow I leave for Utah and the wonders that it might bring. x

Photographs by Caroline Harvey

Monday, 14 September 2009

Week 2

Ok so what has been happening this week? A lot and not a lot all at the same time!

I have managed to contact a few people to try and find partners to go out with, so far only one I have got in touch with has been successful but will keep plugging away. I phoned a very friendly and bubbly girl called Lenore (she has a Chihuahua called Chicken) on Tuesday and we climbed up at a boulder called Cloudshadow, I managed a V3 called Consideration, for those interested in such things, but there was also a good traverse that I need to go try again which is a V4. The rock is really rough on the skin up in that area on Flagstaff Mountain, so can not do too much at any one time.

Also on Tuesday received a call from a guy called Tony (room mate of Timmy) who asked to go climbing. We fixed Friday as a date, but I met him on Thursday night at a Reel Rock Tour film show. The films at the show were great. Two films were from a company called Sender Films who have made them as part of a new First Ascent TV series to be shown over here on National Geographic or Nat Geo as it seems to be shortened to. One was about a young climber called Alex Honnold who has done amazing solo ascents of some massive, and I mean Yosemite massive faces. Incredible and fascinating to watch, some people are just so talented it is truely amazing. The second of these films was a sad and poignant film about a female Brazilian climber who died tragically in a car accident and really followed the story of her boyfriends return to Patagonia to scatter her ashes. I have to say it brought a tear to my eye, but most tragic love stories do since I am a die hard romantic at heart. The last film was a Josh Lowell, Big Up productions movie that included numerous big climbing names eg Tommy Caldwell and the gorgeous Chris Sharma.

Sorry, that has probably bored all you non climber folk, but the gist of the story is that I had a good night out and had chats with new peeps.

Friday I climbed a trad, yes trad(!), route with Tony on Cob rock. i think it was about a 5.6 which is about a VS in British money. I only seconded but it was nice to be out and on rock so I won't complain.

Saturday, I wandered back up to the Satellite boulders early in the morning. I thought i was going to be on my own again when another couple showed up. Seth and Rebecca. They were, like most Americans I have met so far, extremely polite and friendly, and they showed me some good problems. I managed a V4 roof! They invited me to go with them to Rocky Mountain National Park this morning (Sunday) which I instantly accepted. There are some amazing looking hard problems up there, if only I were uber strong. I climbed reasonably well, but nothing too hard, need to go back and finish an annoying V4 that I should be able to do. The rock up there is gorgeous striated granite. You really get the sense of vastness too.

So all in all not too bad a week really, although the time difference between the UK and here is killing me. Everyone is asleep when I would like a chat, and you all know I like a good blether from time to time. Nevermind, I will struggle on!

Tomorrow I give Spock back to the bike shop, and I have to say I am going to miss him, he has been a good pal over the last week or so. I am trading him in and getting a car. Yikes. Will let you know how that goes.

Boulder Theatre at night

Cob Rock my first American Trad route

Cheeky chipmonk eating Rebecca's lunch

Rocky mountain national park

Did a couple of nice problems on this boulder

Blogging food American style a huge can of juice, 680ml, and peanut butter M&m's

As an aside for all you people out there who have children or may have children. If they tell you that they are going to go to college in the States, before you say "that's great see you in 4 years", ask which college, because it would appear to me that here at CU all they do is party. Nothing else. Not that I have anything against parties, I love parties and have been known to "swally" a few pints in my time, but Thursday night till 4am, Friday night till about 2am and last night again till 4am. I am turning into a grumpy old woman, bah!

Photos by Caroline Harvey.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Grave Signs

Well I thought it was funny!

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Around Boulder

Lighthouse bookstore

I did not go into this shop but was intrigued by what woman's and mens subjects might be! I may go in the next time just to find out and have a look at their "awesome music" collection, as I have a feeling it won't be.

Delivering the JD to The Hill

Rainbow colours on a wall, it was like a little piece of heaven.

Boulder theatre, check out the acts for Friday, not sure that the time difference here is only 7 hours, groovy.

The local newspaper

Just because I love shadows.

All photographs by Caroline Harvey

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Labor Day Weekend

The view from Chautauqua meadow towards the flat irons, the boulders I was looking for are somewhere on the patch of trees in the middle.

A nice wee roof problem

Looking up the third flatiron from about a third of the way up. It needs to be done!

Ok, what have I been up to this weekend, well it was the big holiday weekend here, so lots of stuff going on as most people it would seem were on holiday.

Saturday, I got up early and headed up towards the flatirons which are a couple of miles of so from my hostel. I left my room at about 7.30 so as to try and get there before the heat kicked in. I was looking for the Satellite boulders, which are in my very vague guide book. I did eventually find some rock but I don't think they were the ones I had in mind, but it did not matter, as by that point I had been walking for about 3/4 of an hour with a boulder mat and a rucksack and needed a seat. I managed a few problems, I have no idea of grade or names, but they were good fun. The stone is extremely harsh on the skin though so wore through my stupid soft skin pretty quickly.

I came off the hill about noon just as many people were heading out for their Saturday stroll, it is always good to miss the crowds. Although saying that I then wandered down to Boulder Creek to take a look at the farmers market, it was avery quick look as it was mobbed. I did however sit in the shade for a while and listened to the Hollyfields, a band from Denver who were playing at the band stand. I do love a bit of country from time to time and they did not disappoint. They even played a very good cover of Dolly's classic Jolone. Foot tappin heaven. Later in the afternoon I headed down to The Spot, one of Boulders indoor climbing venues. It is pretty cool as you can actually top out on the boulders which is great. Although I did find their system of tape marking routes quite hard to follow especially when you are above the hold. Anyway, sadly I did not find anyone to chat to that night, but plenty to look at. Although feeling slightly inadequate as everyone here seems to be uber strong.

The Hollyfields
Amusingly part way through their performance a man sporting only a pair of black cycling shorts and trainers and carrying small hand weights, stopped in front of them and did stretching exercises and press ups against the stage before jogging off stage right. How they kept a straight face I do not know.

Farmers market Boulder style

So Sunday comes and I was wondering what to do as my skin could not have taken another even brief session on the Satellites, so I did some stretching. It is one of my missions this trip to become more flexible and get rid of all my aches and pains, well I will try at least. So after my attempt at touching my toes, I was kind of at a loose end so took it upon myself to be brave (another mission) and texted a guy that the lovely Diff had put me in touch with via facebook. I asked if he was free for coffee and a chat about people and places etc. He replied immediately saying he was downtown, so to go join him. So me and my trusty steed Spock rumbled downtown to Pearl Street and met with Timmy. It was quite the most intense hour I have had for a while. He was great, he just sat and texted and called people, told them who I was and that I was looking to climb, made me phone people and text people, told me it was the American way to be in you face in order to "get shit done" and Hey Presto, before I know it I am back down at The Spot meeting two extremely amazing climbers, who were willing to chat and hopefully take me out tomorrow.

Today, well I did not get much sleep because the stupid bloomin Buff supporters were partying till at least 4am. Edinburgh city centre is quieter than this lot. Rather than waste the day I just got up early again and went for another walk along the Mesa trail and then just been cruising with Spock and meeting another new person who might take me climbing too. Exciting.

It has been a slow but steady start, more difficult than I had thought to get around a meet people, but apparently if you can crack it here everywhere else will be a breeze.

Hopefully have more climbing news in the next post.

Photographs by Caroline Harvey

Monday, 7 September 2009

Photo fun

Colorado panorama

Since most of the people I know are asleep, I have no TV etc, I am trying to make the most of my time and develop my photoshop skills.

Photographs by Caroline Harvey

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Go Buffs!

Yeah, Buffs rule!

I can not be anything other than amused every time I step outside at the minute. As I think I mentioned in a previous post I am living on The Hill, which is where Colorado University is based, or CU as it known here.

Every stereotype portrayed in any American teen movie that I have watched over the years lives here. It is the funniest thing to witness first hand. This weekend is Labor day weekend and there is obviously a big football game on and the Buffs are out in force in their very bright yellow tee shirts. Buffs, by the way is short for Buffalo and is the name of the fore mentioned CU team. It is truly Buff tastic today!

My accommodation is surrounded on all sides by "Frat houses", and the drunken chat I hear through the night is very much different to the never ending choruses of Flower of Scotland we get back home. Most of the time there just seems to be wolf howls (!) and sentences that go something like "But it was like so awesome", "Like, I tried to call him but he was soo not picking up", "Dude!", "Ah Dude that's awesome", "Awesome dude", "Like, Oh my God that is so cool". I think you get the gist. Endless hours of fun.

I really don't understand any of this fraternity/sorority stuff, but it is everywhere. This is one of the many houses in this area showing which greek alphabet club they belong to.

Photographs by Caroline Harvey

Saturday, 5 September 2009

It's a bike Jim but not as we know it.......

I have been here in Boulder a few of days now and really not done much in the way of climbing, mainly because it is very hot during the day and it is quite hard to get to good areas without transport. So today I spent a lot of my time trying to work on some kind of plan, sadly it involved spending more money, but sometimes you just got to. What I have managed to organise is a bike for a week then a car for a month as of 14th Sept. What I will do after that we will wait and see.

Anyway, this town is very bike friendly, so in order to at least make it easier to get to the supermarket I thought I would rent a good two wheeler to scoot about on. I did not bargain on it being the end of bike rental season and them not having many left to choose from, but needs must and all that. So I got Spock! I now think I am probably the uncoolist person in the town, as everyone else has swanky mountain bikes or racers or are just being uber cool on skateboards. Me, well I feel a bit like an extra from an early Macauly Culkin film. However it did speed up my travels tonight when out exploring. Well I say speed up, coming down hill is good, going up hill is a different matter, this thing only has 7 gears compared to the 21 I am used to. Check it out!

Meet Spock!

Oh yeah baby, too cool for school.

All photos by Caroline Harvey

Thursday, 3 September 2009

On the Hill

That's right I am on The Hill, not to be confused with over the hill!

Well it begins, my trip of a lifetime. So far after 2 days all seems to be going well. I eventually arrived here late on Tuesday night after 24 hrs of travel. It is funny crossing time zones, it is like being in a time machine, not as bad as going to Oz, but quite confusing to the old body clock none the less.

I flew the KLM/North East airlines, and they were great as usual. None of your Easy jet/Ryan air nonsense. My luggage was 1.5kg over the 23kg limit, did they charge me millons of £'s per gram, No, they just stuck a orange heavy sticker on it. Did they mind that I had more than one piece of hand luggage, No, they did not bat an eyelid. I also got a very tasty gluten free meal at no extra charge. I love going long haul.

Anyway, negotiated planes, immigration and buses and reached Boulder International Hostel in one piece. I have now moved to my long stay room just around the corner today, which apart from a dubious stain on the carpet is very nice. Hopefully now that I am settled i will be able to start organising my climbing. I have only managed to get out once climbing so far, last night, when Sarah's house sharing person drove us up to Flagstaff. We had a pleasant session, that was quite short but long enough on very rough sandstone. It was good to be outside. It is however very hot here so need to find some shady areas.

So what have I been doing? Well I started with the essentials so bought my boulder mat, got new sim card for phone, which was more tricky than I imagined it would be, bought a guide book and checked out the area.

Boulder seems to be a nice town, but quite expensive and full of "beautiful people". I am living right in the centre of student ville, so seem to be the oldest by quite a margin, but everyone seems friendly enough. I met up with Matt today to see if he could give me the low down on stuff and he was very helpful and has given some hints on what to expect etc.

What I have learnt so far;
1) I think I need a set of wheels, it seems to be quite difficult to get around to places without transport.
2) I should have packed shorts.
3) £10 on a UK mobile does not give you very long when trying to activate a US sim card.
4) What seems like not very much in the way of belongings when laid out on your living room floor is in actual fact a lot when you have to lug it around in the heat.

Other than that all good, I think it will take time just to get fully adjusted and organised but that is what makes the adventure an adventure.

View from my room looking up 14th street

View from my room looking towards the Flatirons

Home from home

My new Mad Rock Hera mat

All photos by Caroline Harvey