F1 Grand Prix of Canada 2007

    The trip this year took a very different path than last year’s.  Gone was the RV, lack of showers, and limited facilities.  This year Forsberg and I drove up to my friend Aleisha’s place in Burlington Thursday night.  Breaking up the drive into two days was awesome since Friday turned out to be pretty laid back unlike the rest of our group’s trip after work Friday night.
    Our lodging turned out to be sweet.  The place we stayed is a college dorm during the school year and a hostel in the summer.  The rates are super low, except for F1 weekend.  They are still pretty low compared hotels an such though.  We ended up getting an 8 person place.
    So anyway Dave and I went to the race and caught a few of the F1s as they finished their second practice on Friday.  After that we did some exploring around the dorm neighborhood.  Turns out there is a really cool section of Montreal near us.  The place is called Old Montreal and it looks like places in Europe I’ve been.  Cobbled streets, stone buildings and outdoor cafe’s.  Pretty cool.
    Adrial, his brother, Yarin, and their friends showed up late Friday.  Apparently they had a slightly better vehicle than we did, it was a BMW 740.  Nothing against the Impreza OBS, but the plushness of the Bimmer must have been nice.
    Saturday shaped up to be some great racing with Lewis Hamilton taking the pole ahead of his teammate Alonso.  I’d like to see Kimi do a little better but really anything that pushes Alonso farther down the standings. 
    Sunday’s races were great.  The Ferraris are generally fun to watch but not super tight racing since it is more of a gentleman’s race than anything else.  However we did see a bit of a crash at the farthest corner we could see from our seats.  The guy went into the wall without much force, basically just sliding along.  For whatever reason though the car got messed up and he had trouble getting back into the flow of the race.  At one point while trying to turn it around he stalled the car in the middle of the track just after a blind corner.  We saw the guy come just a foot away from getting T-boned at 80mph. 
    That spirit didn’t leave during the main event.  The race was riddled with cautions.  Most notably Robert Kubica who went into the wall just before the hairpin.  According to the F1 site they are moving around 185mph at that point.  The crash was absolutely nuts.  As it is designed to do, the car disintegrated.  Wheels all over the track, carbon fiber splinters everywhere.  The driver safety cell flipped one or two times and finally slid on its side into another at the hairpin.  Based on the replay and how much he was bouncing around, I thought he was severely injured, perhaps dead.  Not to mention the initial hit to the wall or how the car was airborn before impact.  During the race there was very little word about his condition.  Near the end of the race it was announced that he had a leg injury but he had regained consciousness.  I found out later that he had an ankle injury and a concussion, but that’s it.  It is certainly a statement of how well the cars are engineered not just for speed but for safety too.
    After that caution there were a number of other caution’s, black flags and stop-go penalties.  I won’t even begin to explain because I don’t know the whole story.  Check out www.formula1.com for the details.  In all there were 10 cars that didn’t finish out of a pack of 22.
    So on to the stuff after the races.  Well I don’t remember all of it, partially because of alcohol and partly because I’m trying to forget some of it on purpose.  Overall it was a great weekend between the racing and the partying.  I think it is safer for those involved with the weekend if I keep my mouth shut in case they have future political ambitions.  Well I guess it doesn’t really matter what kind of past you’ve had, America will vote anyone in.

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Mother's Day Weekend at the Gunks

Over the weekend of May 12th and 13th I went on a climbing trip with my co-worker Paul and some of his crew, Lauren, Mick, Travis and Kate.  Paul is very familiar with the Gunks in New Paltz, NY as he has been there many times with Lauren.  The cliffs are only about 2 hours from New Haven and are some of the best climbing in the East.  I was promised some awesome climbing and I wasn’t disappointed.

Paul, Lauren, Mick and I all took a half day on Friday so we could get some climbing in before dark.  While we were loading up, stuffing Mick’s GLI to the gills, we hoped that the showery weather in Connecticut wasn’t affecting the cliffs.  The off-on showers continued only until we reached the campsite, when they stopped.  This turned out not only good for climbing but also for Mick’s tent that was a bit musty and needed some airing.  After setting up camp we went to the Near-Trapps and got a few routes in.  I don’t remember the names or the grades, but Paul set one route up that totally kicked my ass.  There must have been 6-8 times that I came off the wall but I was finally able to finish it.  Paul and Lauren’s friends from Penn State, Travis and Kate, showed up while we were climbing too. 

Friday evening we treated ourselves to some beers and some tasty quesadillas cooked up by Paul and Lauren.  With the rain gone and very few bugs yet it was a great evening.  No campfire but I think that allowed for an interesting encounter later in the evening.  I was taking a pee and noticed a shadow pass in front of the flood light coming from the ranger’s cabin.  The ranger had a dog that was roaming around earlier and I thought that’s what it was.  I called and whistled to get the dog’s attention but he kept on going into the woods.  I switched on my headlamp looked towards him, I noticed that the dog wasn’t white as before, but black.  Then I realized it wasn’t a dog it was a black bear.  The bear roamed the perimeter of the camping area sniffing at a tent that was close.  I jogged back up to the group and told them about the bear.  At that point we all started looking and we could see the bear was only 15-20 yards away or so.  I’ve seen plenty of moose, some of those close up but I’ve never seen a bear close up so it was cool.  There wasn’t much danger because it was just a black bear and there were plenty of tents/people around.  I’m sure he was just looking for some leftover food cast aside.  However, to be on the safe side we brought all the food stuff back to the cars.

Saturday was another great day of climbing.  We did a multi-pitch route, my first.  At the end of the first pitch (“Something Interesting”) Paul and I went on and did a classic route called the “Dangler.”  This is an exposed roof about 150ft off the ground.  It took some time to convince myself that I could do it but in the end it was more mental that physical. 

The Gunks are great from a climbing perspective not only because of the rock but because of the permanent gear that has been placed to help climbers.  There are tons of routes that have anchors so that a leader can just climb up and clip into them.  Everyone else can then just top rope.  These anchors also make it nice for rappelling down.  I’m glad we were able to get everyone on a multi-pitch.

Saturday night everyone went to dinner with Paul’s parents.  The restaurant, the Gilded Otter, brewed its own beer which I will definitely be looking forward to the next time I go.  I tried their alt beer which isn’t common in brewpubs.  The food was also very good.  After dinner we hit up a great little bar that had a section with pool tables.  They also had some beer…400 kinds!  It took me 5 minutes just to decide what I wanted.  In the end got a Belgian quadruppel and an IPA from Boulder, CO.

Sunday was kind of a relaxing day.  The previous two days of climbing tired me out a bit.  I don’t think I did anything over a 5.7 Sunday.  I will say the difficulty of many of the routes is underestimated.  Many of the 5.7’s I did I thought could have been 5.8 or 5.8+.  Regardless of the grade the routes were fun.

My first trip to the Gunks turned out great.  Aside from the showers and slightly muggy Friday afternoon, you couldn’t ask for better weather.  I think it was 65 and sunny the rest of the weekend.  If you spent the weekend indoors you missed out.  I’m sure there will be many more trips to the Gunks in the future, especially since I got a year’s pass to the reserve.

Pictures are here.  Thanks Lauren for getting some shots of me.

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Judge's Cave at West Rock State Park

Being that the days are longer and warmer Paul mentioned he was planning to do some bouldering after work on Thursday.  I thought this was a great idea so I picked him up at the main plant, strapped his bike to my car and we headed over to West Rock.  Unfortunately the road system is still blocked off so we had to hike up to Judge’s Cave.  Actually now that I’m thinking about it, if the roads were open there probably would have been non-climbing people running all over the rocks making it tough to do our thing.
In any case Paul and I got up there around 5 and proceeded to do some bouldering.  This was my first outdoor bouldering so it was a little strange at first.  I am so used to the protection of an 8 inch mat at the gym that I was a little timid at first.  It turns out that Paul’s ~3 inch pad works just fine for softening the ground, so I settled in fairly quickly.
After about 20 or 30 minutes of climbing Paul’s fiancé, Lauren, and two of her friends, Marie and Kate, showed up.  Marie and Kate are students working here from Norway and England, respectively.  Paul and I were working on a pretty difficult route when they showed up so we decided to go back to a really sweet route he and I had done a little earlier.  This route proved to be a challenge for the girls, but they were able to do pretty well on it.
After that we did a few other problems that quickly tired us out.  To finish the afternoon we all did the highball problem.  This route was a little hairy.  It was not quite dark but it was very poor lighting for bouldering.  Seeing the holds was difficult and the feet were nearly impossible.  Luckily the added safety of three spotters was able to get everyone through the problem.  Well that and super beta from Paul.
Check out the pictures, which include me for a change! 

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Pinnacle Rocks Climbing

As I mentioned in my AT, Rt. 341 to St. John’s Ledges write up, the weekend of the 21st and 22nd were amazing weather, especially since it came on the heels of a week of rain and low temps.  Mike D and I planned some climbing before buckling down and doing some fluids homework late in the day.  We joined by Ben, Irene, John, and Joel. 

I finally remembered to take my camera harness so I was able to climb up and take some pictures while on the wall.  I think the ones from that came out pretty good.  Because Pinnacle a is pretty small wall the shots from the top when I tied off to some trees also came out nice.  I’m getting more familiar with setting up the anchors so the next time I go out I’ve got some tricks planned for some even better shots.

The routes we did, First Crack, Second Crack and Third Crack (original, eh?), weren’t the best but they were fun.  I liked my last climb the best because it was in a corner crack that allowed me to layback on most of the holds.  The moves felt really good.

As you can see from some of the pictures Mike and Irene had their racks out for some fake then real leading.  At first we had Mike on lead belay and loose top rope belay.  He set gear all the way up and was clipped in.  Irene follow him to check his gear.  Later they switched it up.  After climbing the same route twice they went back and both did a real lead.  I also placed some gear but wasn’t on lead belay just top.  I’m hoping to give the trad climbing a try next time though.

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The AT, Rt. 341 to St. John's Ledges

After a late season Nor’Easter that dumped up to 8 inches of rain in parts of New England and New York over five days it was high time for the sun to come out and be nice.  The weekend of the 21st and 22nd just happened to be those days.  After mid-thirties temperatures during the week the the weekend turned into a gorgeous display of sun and mid-seventies breezes.
To take advantage of this I went on a hike with a couple co-workers, Ben and Eric, on the AT.  Earlier in the year I did the section south of this one.  You can check out those pictures in the gallery. This hike turned out to be much less strenuous due to the fact that there wasn’t any snow/ice.  As expected there was plenty of water which was nice for the streams.  The field that must be crossed at the start of the trail was a little water logged which required us to take a little detour around the wet sections, but nothing to bad.
As you can see in the pictures everything is still pretty brown and dead looking.  Since I’m writing this a few days later I have already noticed green things springing from the trees and ground.  I expect if I went back right now things would look a little nicer.  I’m looking forward to later in the year when I can do some overnights on these sections with the gear I picked up at EMS earlier in the day. 

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Cat's Hole Climbing

Spring looks like it is upon us.  A forecast of mid-forties for the next week at least kind of lends credence to my claim at least.  Of course there is always the chance of the late season snow storm (remember mid -May 2002?). 
So since the nice weather has started to descend my buddies Mike D and Jesse went out for a little climbing today at Cat’s Hole in Meriden.  This place is actually less than 10 miles from their house.  We were accompanied with some friends of Mike and Jesse’s roommate, Mark.  We set two ropes up and Mike and Brian gave some lead a try.  Unfortunately the easier climb to lead on was super dirty and wasn’t really that good.  The other three routes (two off one rope) were fun.  There was a 5.8 called Pegasus I think.  I wasn’t thrilled with it until the top were it became a bit more fun.  The other route I climbed was a 5.10 called One Million Dead Dogs, uplifting name, eh?  Quote of the day, “razor crimps”, by Mike D on his description of OMDD.
I was really disappointed at the setup of the wall as it relates to photography.  The two ropes had no line of sight between them.  It turns out this wasn’t all bad because I totally spaced on bringing my nice new camera harness.  Oh well there is always next time.  Until then enjoy what I was able to get from the ground.

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Appalachian Trail – Bull's Bridge

Dave Forsberg, Steve Poulin and I went out to Kent, CT to hike a little of the Appalachian Trail.  It was a good hike overall.  The weather was good but things were a little slippery.  It looked like at lower elevations some precipitation we got a few days before was all rain and then froze.  At higher elevations it was all snow.  This made for a slippery beginning and end of the hike.  Pictures here.

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East Peak Climbing Gallery

With the amazingly and freakishly warm weather we’ve been having I went climbing along with Mike D, Jesse, Irene and John. None of us had been to this place before and it certainly showed.

After walking in on the trail we decided it would be quicker to cut through the woods to the base of the cliff. After navigating a scree field for 15 minutes we got to the base where a larger group of climbers told us we could go up a ravine to get to the top. It was questionable if we should have been climbing the ravine without some kind of protection not to mention all the gear we had on our backs. We finally got up this and the next “pitch” of the ravine by spacing people along it and moving bags up to the next person and by dropping a rope and hauling the bags up. John decided to go farther down and did find a better ravine and nearly beat us to the top. Irene and I, well mainly Irene while I watched, set two ropes, one on Thor’s Hammer and another next to it, while Mike and Jesse hiked to the bottom again.

The sun was quickly setting as Irene and Mike climbed. Given that we had to top out to get out and because the sun was setting I decided not to climb. This turned out alright because I got some good photos.

Overall I would say this felt less like a climbing experience and more like a survival one.

Go to the gallery for the pictures.

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