Wednesday, August 20, 2008

There be gold in them thar' hills

At least say the signs in every store in Custer SD.

Usually the apostrophe is used in the English language to indicate that something is missing. Perhaps the ability to construct a grammatically correct sentence?

Now that I have opened up myself to cries of hypocrisy when i make an error...

Drove from Vancouver through Pocatello, picked up all my stuff that I had left, and up past the Tetons and to South Dakota.

A not so standard picture of the Tetons. Though it looks normal, if you look really closely you can see some streaks behind the mountains... You will probably have to view it larger than in this blog. I took this around 11pm, and those are star trails!

Here is the more typical night shot.

Spent an uncomfortable night in the parking light at the spot where these were taken. Decided that 23 year old headlights, plus herds of Mule Deer and Bison on the road, plus night-time didnt mix.

Will be nice to have the real tripod back in the arsenal when i get home. With the tiny one that I am using its hard to see if you are level when you set it on the ground.

Another annoying thing I have discovered... The wireless transitter which i use to take long exposures is not quite as good as i though. The maximum time it can stay open is a half hour, you need the mechanical lock to do more. More toys to purchase.

Made some interesting encounters on the way across. A man with a mechanical hand was quite interested in my car. We swapped stories. You know how it goes...

Me: My car runs on veggie oil.
Him: You from Maryland? I met a Hells Angel in Sturgis that tried to stab a guy from Baltimore in the eye with a screwdriver. The guy from Baltimore just shot him.

You know you have had a similar conversation at a truck stop in Eastern Wyoming with a guy with a mechanical hand, we all have.

Also... Baltimore Rocks.

The Black Hills of South Dakota are host to some amazing scenery. As well as Mt Rushmore.. CrazyHorse Windy Cave National Park. etc.

Also the home to some fine granite face climbing, on "needle-like" spires. Where you pinch the crystals to make forward progress.

The view across Sylvan Lake.

Had another very strange encounter in a strange place.

Though it doesnt look like much, the following is one of the most famous pieces of rock in the world. It is about 35 feet tall and was first climbed in 1962 by a famous boulderer named John Gill. To this day only 4 more people have climbed it. The fall potential and the grade (5.13!) where so ridiculously far ahead of its time.

So I am thinking that it is neat that i just stumble upon this spot. And next to me, in slurred speech I hear.

"This is the famous Thimble, I'm a famous mountain climber"

Out stumbles this main, cocktail in hand, from behind the drivers seat. He recognizes me as a climber (I am not too subtle) and I have to convince his wife that this is indeed the famous thimble. For which i am offered a cocktail. I decline.

Turns out he is (was) a famous mountain climber, there was even a pictures of him in my car already! He was on the second ascent of mount alberta with Steve Swanson. Which was a huge deal at the time. A George Lowe route (they usually go unrepeated) had killed Tobin Sorenson when his anchor and all his gear pulled as he tried to rope solo the second ascent. In the book it mentions that Steves partner (Kit, the man waving his cocktail around by my car) had drunkenly tried to beat up a man in Canada who had nearly taken their parking spot while they were intent on celebrating.

I am thinking about this to myself, and the guy is bouldering on the thimble (remember 5.13 with a deadly fall) cocktail in one hand saying...

"I'm a famous mountain climber. A drunken mountain climber. I'm a famous mountain climber. Im gonna make the 5th ascent of the Thimble"

I look over and his wife has her head buried in her hands. I try not to look and make he feel worse. Though as they pull through the narrow one lane tunnel and one to 14 more miles of twisting driving, I feel even worse for her.

Did a little climbing before heading to meet with the CrazyHorse guys. Neat pebble pulling with some outrageous exposure as you get to the summits of some very tiny needles.

An interesting note here is the standard decent is to leave one line fixed at the bottom, drape a single line over the top and rappel off with no anchor just with the line over the top. Makes for interesting times, especially while rope soloing!

Just some fun with the macro

Off to go see a giant horse carved out of a mountain.

Then back to MD tomorrow, and it looks like India has been green-lighted!

Also check out Nathans Blog which if you look around has some more of those neat sketches and a picture of Bomber leaping through the air and catching a ball!

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