Wednesday, 20 May 2009

America - The Rest

Despite one or two polite yet half hearted requests, I've decided I can't really be ringed to type out the rest of my trip day by day, so I'll summarise the remaining three weeks thus:

  • Spent a bit more time in Bishop. Highlights included Soul Slinger, High Plains Drifter Drone Militia, Jedi Mind Tricks and Atari (which isn't as piss as it looks).
  • Went back to San Francisco for a day or two. Took a few more photos and saw lots of sea lions.
  • Got a lift to the Valley (Yosemite). Wow etc. Camp 4 - good scene. Stole lots of food from the lodge and buffet hall. Saw a couple of bears. Bouldered a lot in Camp 4. Saw El Cap. Wow etc. Met lots of nice people. Did Midnight Lightning. Get in! etc. Met Ron Kauk. He seemed alright, although he'd never heard of the Roaches. Unbelievable. What did he and Jerry talk about ffs? Left on a bus.
  • San Francisco for another two days. Bouldered at Mickey's Beach like Chris Sharma off of Rampage. I wore shoes though, like a square. It was quite good. Flew home.
And there we have it. From that, I guess it probably feels like you were there with me. So I'll leave you to meditate on some of the choicest memories of what was a wonderful trip. 

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Day 7

Woke early after spending a reasonably comfortable night stretched out on the Chevrolet's passenger seat. Drove into town to pick up some supplies. Found the meat shop Si was banging on about . Pastrami subs for $1.25. The only genuinely cheap food in America so far. Bought seven of the fuckers. Also bought some reduced confections and some horrendously priced apples.
Back up to Buttermilks. Could only get God botherers on the radio. Parked up. Ate sandwich. Needed a shit. No paper. Disappeared into the desert with the first and last pages of Bill Bryson's Notes from a Big Country. Uncomfortable wipe.
Feeling light, went to the Grandma Peabody. Did Essential Peabody the V0 to the top, which was then reversed. Lovely. Also did Go Granny, Go Right V5 and North Face V2 which was amazing, if a tad spooky. Getting hot so went and chilled by the car, but not before being shut down by Roadside Highball V3 on the way.
Sunbathed with Astrid and Philipp and met a chap called Dave from Arkansas. When it cooled, Dave and I went to do Saigon. With some moral support the problem was 'sent' without delay. Also did two brilliant easy highballs on the wall to its right.
Then did Pope's Prow. Topping out a la Spidey in West Coast Gimps. Magic.
Tried Soul Slinger V9 briefly but bad skin and exhaustion stopped play. Went and watched Philipp try the Buttermilker V13 in the dark. 
Looked so good. Wished I was a V12 beast.
Back at the Hotel Chevrolet, I ate two more sandwiches then hit the sack.

Day 6

Left Oakland in the middle of the night. About 5.55am to be precise. Drove to Bishop. Took seven and a half hours. Via Sacramento, Lake Tahoe, Carson City, Mono Lake and a fair few Hicksville, USAs. Absolutely lovely drive. Not half as boring/lonely as I'd feared. Plenty of interesting stuff to occupy one's mind. Only cost about $30 in fuel as well. Handsome.

On arrival, bought a load of bagels and water before sacking it to the Buttermilks. Hot but OK in the shade. Started on the beautiful Green Wall. Did the V0 arete, Green Wall Essential V2 and Green Wall Center (sic) V6. All well brown.
Then went and did Cave Route V6, Robinson's Rubber Test V0, Pain Grain V5 and the sit to Pain Grain V7. Loving it, but the skin's already sore. Boo fucking hoo.
Mooched over to the Tut boulder whereupon I climbed King Tut and Funky Tut V3. Met some aloof Bishop locals. Then moved on.
Crushed Ironman traverse first go. Regadez moi. Then wasted a shedload more skin on a problem called Easy Grit V5, before finally not doing it. Clapped eyes on Stained Glass. Amazing looking problem.
Tried Saigon V6. Backed off. Here's a self timer shot of an attempt.

Then tried Pope's Prow V6. Backed off. Finished off with a lovely solo, The Hunk V2.
Drove up Buttermilk Road looking for camping. Scratched car on flora. Drove back down Buttermilk Road. Scratched other side of car. Found a campfire on the go. Surrounded no less by Seth (Allred) and Astrid and Philipp. All of whom I met in Magic Grades in 2005. Fancy that.

PS. Thanks must go to Si's good friend Will (proprietor of the Dungeon, Berkeley's premier training facility AND well worth travelling to) for the loan of the pads and guide. Holler.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Day 5

Check out of hostel early and go to pick up car. It's a Chevrolet. And fucking massive. 
Sack it over the Bay Bridge to Oakland. Thankfully driving in San Francisco isn't too bad. Reach Si and Jackie's without incident.
Go shopping with Si and Robin, their (sort of) landlady. Trader Joes = Aldi. Wholefoods Market = Waitrose. They go to the latter for their 'bits.'
Off to Mortar Rock with Si and Will, their (sort of) landlord. Warm up on a board in Berkeley called the Dungeon. It's OK, but probably not worth travelling 5,000 miles for.
Mortar Rock is steep, sharp and suburban. And hard. And also not worth travelling 5,000 miles for. This opinion could be because I fail on pretty much everything I try. Including a V9, a V8, a V6 and a V5. Bo.
Si is trying a V12 of Greg Loh's called Chinese Connection. Until I check the guide I think he's talking about Greg Lowe, backpack innovator and apparent V12 beast. Si does OK but no cigar this time.

Eat a sausage and some courgette (referred to in these parts as zucchini) back at Si's. Try to watch Nalle crushing Rockalnds, Switzerland and Font into piles of dust. Can't stay awake and nod off. But not before Jackie goes on a (rather clumsy) rampage with an antique folding screen. Oh dear. 

Day 4

Woke up on the floor of a flat belonging to Si's friends Joel and Maureen. They cooked me an unfeasibly spicy omelette. Felt rather awake. Lift into town. Maureen goes to work. Joel and I go to the wall. Use internet to book car. Use all my American phone credit unblocking my card. Cheers Natwest.
Get a lift to Haight to meet Jackie. Walk to the library with Jackie and my big bag. Library's shut. 'Fucking bullshit!' says Jackie. Wait 25 minutes. Library opens. Jackie joins up while I read a few Raymond Carver stories. Starbucks for lunch. Log. Jackie fucks off to work.
Book back into hostel. Check emails. Go to Union Square to read more Herzog and watch the world go by. Back to hostel via a horrendously greasy pizza. Chill in the hostel reading, talking to Dutch surfers and watching the Orlando Magic crush the Cleveland Cavaliers on the box. Early night.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Day 3

Woken at seven o'clock by the American girls packing up and clearing off to Los Angeles. Went back to sleep. Woke up again at half seven wide awake. Left hostel at nine after gorging on yet more cakes.
Set off for Nob Hill, one of the plushest suburbs of San Francisco. Saw a brownstone mansion which was built by James C. Flood, who brought the railroad to the west coast. It was pretty much the only house to survive the great fire in 1906. All the rest were built from wood.
Continued through suburbia until encountering San Francisco's steepest street. Which was 31 degrees. Walked up it without stopping. Regardez moi. Along from this was the 'world's crookedest street'. Think a smaller Alpe D'Huez with manicured flowerbeds surrounding each bend.
Down to Fisherman's Wharf. Like Blackpool but hotter. Checked out a few of the piers, mainly because I remember them from Dirty Harry.
Went to Safeway. Sunbathed in a square. Read more of Herzog. Realised I was now quite sunburnt. 
Went to a museum in a bank's HQ. Actually pretty good, although I left with the impression American life in the 19th Century mostly consisted of stage coach robberies.

Walked back to Haight to see if Jackie and Rachel were there. They weren't. Hung around until they came back.
Went to the opening of Rachel's boyfriend Karl (aka grafitti artist Hush)'s new gallery. Drank some complementary piss weak beer. Before going into down to drink some much much stronger beer. Shitfaced.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Day 2

Awoke in the hostel. Ate a breakfast comprised entirely of cakes. Set off to buy a camera. After half an hour eventually found the camera shop. After another half an hour umming and aahing finally chose one.
Took new purchase through Chinatown. And then up to Telegraph Hill. Walked round Coit Tower. 
Didn't pay $5 to go up it. Still, a handsome view of the city, bay and Golden Gate etc.
Wandered back towards town. Stopped in Washington Square. Another old 'beat' hangout, and where Joe di Maggio and Marilyn Monroe posed for wedding photos. Read a bit of Herzog and sunbathed.
Quested over a couple of big hills along Union Street. Fancy shops. Boutiques and the like. Had a coffee while Si finished work. Had an Ice Cream while Si ran late. Met Si.
Bus to Golden Gate Bridge. Walked round, under and on it. Snapping merrily away. Went to the best looking climbing 'gym' I've ever seen. Didn't climb but Si was eager for me to see it.
Wandered back through Chrissy Field. Took yet more photos.
Past Marina. Down Fillmore to Lombard.
Mel's Drive-in Diner. Suave burger. The most American place I've seen yet. A fat family even walked in as we left.

Went to meet Jackie as she finished work. Got caught short by a sudden onset of bowel movement. Had to shit behind a bush in a church. Soz God. Also had to sacrifice a sock.
Back to the hostel, where the news was broken to me that I'd be sharing with three American girls frollicking in their pyjamas. Shit.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Day 1

Flight was uneventful if extremely fucking long. Watched Quantum of Solace, Burn After Reading and Vicky Christina Barcelona. All OK. Thought about Penelope Cruz for a while. Greenland and Baffin Island both looked spectacular.
Got to America. Nearly sent home straight away. Immigation phoned Si. Si confirmed I wasn't going to work for them illegally. Cast into San Francisco a free man. 'Have a good trip sir!'
Bus into town. Heard some rucksack recommendations and extreme 'free climbing' anecdotes from the yank lovechild of John Lennon and one of Spinal Tap. Let's hope they're not all like this. Got into town. Cab to see Si and Jackie. Didn't know the tipping etiquette. Didn't pay a tip. C'est la vie.
Tea with Si, Jackie and Si's sister Rachel. Greek Salad. It's fucking massive and well tasty. Pint of Stella too. Go for walk to Haight Ashbury, the birthplace of the 'beat.' It's like Affleck's Palace stretched out into one long sunny street. And full of homeless people. Sweet.
Walk back with the intention to go for a drink. Realise I've now been up for 85 hours. Sack it to the hostel. Looks like a refuge for the homeless at first sight but is actually OK. Bed is very comfortable.