Friday, December 31st, 2004

Another Year has Passed

It’s been a while since last time I put up a trip report. I did climb, but only got too lazy to type. We went to Gold Wall a few times and Jailhouse once — all were short trips. Sometimes, we went to Gold Wall with friends and there was lots of chatting and socializing; but sometimes we had Gold Wall to ourselves and we could hear birds singing.

Jailhouse had always intimidated me with its reputation for being hard — the easiest routes are in the high 5.11s. I went there only to confirm the reputation being accurate. The climbing area is basically a giant cave about 300 foot wide with the wall overhanging at around 15 degrees (or maybe more). The easiest routes (5.11c/d and 5.12a’s) are located at the both ends of the cave where the wall is slightly less steep.

The day when we went, some world famous climbers were hanging out there, Chris Sharma being one. Sitting next to that crowd, I realized that they were just like you and me — they enjoyed being out there, hanging out with friends, and pushing their own limit. The only difference is the limit they are trying to push is much higher than mine.

Recently, I finished reading one of Joe Simpson’s books, This Game of Ghosts. It’s a whole different book than his Touching the Void, but I liked both books dearly. In This Game of Ghosts, Simpson struggled to explain himself why he climbs despite all the pain and near-death experience climbing brought to him. So far I have not exprienced anything nearly as extreme as those described in his book, but I have experienced difficulties trying to explain to others why I am so obssessed with climbing. Maybe someday, I’ll sort out my thoughts and write it down.

Here are some photos I recently took. The should summarize my 2004. And now let me turn to another page — 2005.

My non-climber friends always have a hard time picturing how a climbing system works. Here I stand below — I’m a belayer. When the leader goes up, the rope goes up with him, so I feed out rope gradually. Should the leader fall, the rope will not slide through the belay device (that metal thing attached to my harness through a biner); it becomes tight and my weight will stop this end of the rope from moving up.

And here is the leader–being Allen–climbing up with one end of the rope securely attached to his harness. He would place protection as he goes up. Should he fall, he would fall twice the distance between him and the highest protection, and then the rope will arrest his fall because the rope has come tight at my belay device.

Jailhouse. The wall is larger than it looks from afar.

This was the first time I celebrated Christmas. The house was filled with Christmas atmosphere.

I even got a stocking! It was full of goodies too! Yeeeeah!