"Not all those who wander are lost"

Climb the Globe: North America

Life is either a great adventure or nothing

-Helen Keller

 

Howdy Folks,

It’s been a while since I’ve been on here, but that’s how my life has been over the last three months:  lots of work, no adventure.  So, without further adieu, the new post.

 

Over the last three months my body has been beaten in so many ways that any trip or climbing was questionable.  It started with throwing out my back the first full day back from Dubai while shoveling snow.  As I pushed a pile snow off snow scoop my back screamed in pain.  I fell to the ground unable to move my back.  I managed to roll over onto my back and lay there in the shorts and t-shirt I was wearing.  After 15 minutes it was numb enough that I could crawl up to my feet and walked back to the house supporting my back by holding my arms straight against my knees.

Unfortunately that was only the beginning.  After my back recovered I hurt my shoulder bouldering my first day back at RIT.  With a week off it felt better and I was starting to get back into my training routine to get in shape for my trip with the real disaster struck.  Wearing bad shoes on muddy ground I rolled my ankle and heard it crack three times.  It turned out to not be broken, but looking back I wish it had.  Instead it was a torn ligament.  A break would take a while in a cast to heal, but now it’s already been 11 weeks and I am just starting to climb again but still can’t even jog.  I spent two weeks on crutches and another three trying not to use it before I finally started physical therapy.  By then I my right leg muscles were nearly half the size of my left and my range of motion in my ankle was about a quarter of normal.  To make it worse I threw out my back again while working on my senior project and got hit by a car while on my bike during my last week at RIT resulting in a pulled shoulder.

Without really climbing since the day I left Dubai I’ve been going crazy and to possibility of canceling my trip didn’t help, but with several trips to the doctors, physical therapy, and my determination to climb the trip is continuing as planned so I present to you…Climb The Globe: North America.

 

Mission:  Find the perfect climb.  It should be a culmination of the entire climbing experience:  the overall adventure, the mental and physical challenges of the climb, the gear that makes it possible, the climbing community and lifestyle, time spent with new friends around the camp fire, the natural beauty of the landscape, and the art of the climb.

Destinations:  Several ideas and a lot of seeing where the road takes me.

Accommodations:  The back of my civic hatchback, a tent, and whatever couches I can surf on.

Climbing Partners:  A few friends across the country, the Mountain Project partner finder, and whoever I can meet at the crags.

Funding:  A little bit of student loans and graduation money.  Donations and sponsorships graciously accepted.

Ready to go?  Of course!

 

Part I

The first two weeks of the trip is a loop around New England with my dad and my brother in my dad’s renovated 1986 S1800 International School Bus.

 

6/1 – Day 1: the departure

After dropping my civic off at the mechanics to get a checkup and fix a couple problems before I put ~5000 miles on it we did some last minute packing and were headed out by the crack of early afternoon.  Postponing Rumney to accommodate for a trip to the Westbrook Alternative Learning Program’s bike sale, we headed to Peru, Maine.  Bumpy back roads lead us to a “campground” filled with permanent RVs and mobile homes where people even had full decks, sheds, and golf carts to visit the neighbors.

 

6/2 – Day 2: Shag crag

We worked our way up to the crag, carefully placing each foot to avoid any further injuries.  I was not the only one with a bum ankle; dad’s ankle has been bothering him for while as well.  A couple miles later we both made it to the crag without too much pain.  It was spectacular.  To describe it in one word: 5.12.  Almost everything is burley and overhanging.  The climbing area on the crag isn’t huge, but it encompasses the best part of the cliff and would be sufficient for any good climber to be entertained for quite a while.  For those not looking to do 12’s there are a few 10s and a couple easier or for the real hard men there are several 13s. A quick lesson on modern climbing and how to use a grigri got dad’s belaying up to speed.  I did a few of the easy routes and accidentally tried a 5.13a extension which shut me down at the first move.  After a sound trashing by the crag and a large sacrifice to the mosquito gods we headed back to the car.

We also found a local takeout place called “The Bus.”  Naturally we had to stop.

 

6/3 – Day 3: Bike & Bus

We headed to Westbrook in the morning to check out the sale.  I made it there five minutes before it officially started but people were already buying bikes.  After finding out the first two I wanted had already been claimed I found the only remaining road bike my size.  It was in pieces in a large cardboard box from an LL Bean trade in that was donated.  Without knowing for sure that it was the right size or that all the parts were even included I handed over the big bucks: $10.  After putting it together it together, my new 1970s Univega Neuvo Sport (love the ironic name), fit fairly well and was in good shape.

We headed to a friends in Portland to use the internet and get a couple forgotten items.  After the quick stop we headed out for Rumney but didn’t make it far.  At the end of the street something popped and the bus nearly didn’t stop at the intersection.  We backed up three houses to where we came from and got out to investigate.  Brake fluid was pouring out of the caliper.  Eight hours later we had a new left caliper and pads and new pads on the right.  Unfortunately by then it was after 9pm so we spent the night in Portland.  To top it all off while we were working on the bus I got a call from the mechanic saying that it would be $900 to fix my car.

 

6/4 – Day 4: Rumney

A day late and a lot of dollars short we headed off to Maine’s only boarding state.  I cleaned my bike, rubbing off the grit and hunks of grease, while we bumped down route 25 all the way to Rumney.  We got into town and headed to the climbing.  Knowing that I didn’t have much time to climb we went to the nearby Parkinglot wall where I jumped on the only route that was free.  I was still unsure of the route because my guide book, another old book I saw, and a person all gave me different names and ratings so all I knew is it was 5.10something.  It was a long route straight up just to the side of the Holderness Arete.  It started out with a lot of easy climbing until the top third of the route tilted out to a slight overhang.  I reached the top simply because I was unwilling to fall on my first route of the day, in front of so many people, or on a 5.10.  Pumped, I cleaned my draws on rappel, nearly maxing out my 70m rope.

Searching for more free routes I explored down the cliff until I found some routes at the No Money Down wall.  Not bothering to even try to figure out what anything was this time I jumped on a route.  I onsighted it no problem.  Dad even decided to give it a try and, using my shoes, top-rope onsighted it.  He may not have climbed since they began using harnesses or belay devices but he still had better technique than many beginners.  I tried another slightly more difficult route again with no problem.  I finally felt like I had taken it easy enough for the day and decided to tackle a more difficult route.  I found one great looking route nearby.  It started with some thin moves hugging an arête then moved onto the face for some easy moves before reaching a big roof.  It was a great route with some hard moves pulling up onto the roof with no feet but I made it through.

After climbing we headed back to D Acres, a nearby organic farm and permaculture educational center, to camp.  D Acres isn’t quite the image of a farm with big open pastures and lawns.  It’s located on a hillside with small funky buildings made from reused materials, messy gardens every direction, and boulders and stumps abound.  Dad had visited before so he gave me the quick tour: outdoor kitchen, duck ponds, green house, chicken coop, gardens, ox hovel, and piglet pen.

 

More to come the next time I get internet!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *