Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Favorite Photos

I decided it would be cool to post a bunch of my favorite pictures I've taken over the past ~6 years. Nothing too spectacular, and all taken with my Canon Digital ELPH, but I'm definitely proud of some of them and they're all good shots. FYI, clicking on the images will bring up a larger image (necessary for the panoramas).

The first image is from Rib Mountain State Park in Wisconsin. I spent a Fall day in 2003 bouldering there (before bouldering was banned, effective this year due to State Natural Area designation). The climbing was pretty good and a lot of fun, but the fall colors were spectacular. The following shot was take from the top of the observation tower and stitched together from two different exposures (1 for the sky and 1 for the land) to create the relatively high dynamic range.

This image was taken in the fall of 2005 near Vilas Park in Madison, WI. Believe it or not, I did NO editing on this photo other than cropping. The colors and light are all natural. I really like the density of leaves and consistency of the leaves' color.

The next two photos are from an evening at the Memorial Union Terrace in Madison, WI. The terrace is at the UW Memorial Union right on lake Mendota and is a great place to spend a summer evening. They often have live music or free movies on a projection screen. Plus it's one of the only (if not the only) student unions to serve beer (union members only). If you ever visit Madison, check it out. The second pic is definitely one of my favorites. It would be hard to take a bad photo of that sunset, but the scene brings back a lot of good memories too.

Next up is a panorama of the Monona Terrace, a neat Frank Lloyd Wright designed convention center in Madison. The shot was stitched together from about 6 individual shots.

Next: Camp Randall Stadium. Badger football game. Stiched together from 8 or 9 photos.

The next two are from the backyard of the house on Orchard St. I lived in for 2 years in Madison. It may be an overused effect, but I think the shallow depth of field in these two is really cool. The caterpillar came out especially nicely.

Taken while camping at Green Valley near Devils Lake State Park, WI. I was guiding a family for a weekend of climbing at Devils Lake (for the gym I started climbing at, Adventure Rock) and was treated to this awesome sunset after the first day.

Storm clouds over Madison near sunset

The final two pics from Madison are longer exposures from a rainy evening. Both were taken along University avenue and I really like the play of the lights on the wet pavement and rain drops in the second photo. I think the it really captures the feeling of walking home in the cool, post rain night after a very long day on campus.

The final 3 images are from CO. I decided not to delve too far into the Colorado pictures I have since I probably have about 50 equally good shots of mountains and scenery. Not that that's bad, but here's what you get. First, some summer alpine flowers blooming in the tundra above treeline in RMNP.

A great view of Longs Peak and Mt. Meeker from the Longs Peak trail. Where have you seen this shot before?

Finally, a shot of Cody from his visit to CO a couple summers ago. Cool sun glint off his lens. I can't decide if this shot would be better or worse if it were just pure blue sky without the clouds.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think. It's hard to choose a favorite, but I think I like the second sunset pic from the Union Terrace and the second rainy night in Madison pic best. Which is your favorite?

Monday, May 24, 2010

New Blog Layout

I finally decided to update my blog layout (as you can see if you're reading this). Blogger has some (relatively) new templates available if you log in via so I picked one of those that looked pretty good and then added my own images for the banner and background and made a few other tweeks to the html/css. I think it looks pretty good, especially compared to the old layout:

Old blog layout

If anyone is having trouble viewing the new layout (eg. stuff doesn't look right) let me know what browser you're using and what the issue is and I'll try to get it fixed.

Not much else is new here. I've been really busy the past week or so and I haven't had much of a chance to get outside for anything exciting. Just a short hike/run up Mt. Sanitas last week which turned into taking cover from a hail storm. I think I'm going to put together a post with some of my favorite photographs I've taken over the last six or seven years so that should be up sometime in the next couple days.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sport climbing at Shelf Road

Last weekend I had planned to head up to the 420 Boulders in Poudre Canyon for a couple days of bouldering, but 18" of snow in the canyon forced a change of plans. I suggested we head south for some sport climbing at Shelf Road (one of Colorado's warmest and sunniest climbing destinations). In short order we had a crew of four rounded up. Unfortunately that means I didn't take any climbing action shots since I was either climbing or belaying 90% of the time.

With a destination in place, we thought about heading down on Friday evening, but some strong storms in the area pushed the departure back to Saturday morning. We rolled in around 10:30am, set up camp and headed up to Cactus Cliff.

Cactus Cliff

Cactus Cliff

Despite patchy rain clouds for most of the day, we had great temperatures and only about 20 minutes of light rain. I got on 6 routes from 5.10b to 5.11b and had great day of climbing. Since the area is in the high desert, it's pretty amazing how much the temperature swings between the sun and the shade. Every time the sun went behind a cloud it felt at least a 20 degrees cooler.

Rain over the Dark Side

I think the last route we got on that day was my favorite (Funkdamental, 5.11a/b). Easy climbing on comfortable (and awesome) holds leads to long reaches on good holds and a few crimps near the top. If it wasn't for the indirect and less fun start this would be a four star line. We were one of the last groups to hike out as the sun set.

Brock climbing Funkdamental (5.11b), pic from Matt's camera phone

Campfire and the crescent moon

A few beers, a campfire and a massive amount of pasta was a perfect way to end the day. The clouds even cleared out and we were treated to an incredible view of the stars.

Sunday dawned clear and warm. With the promise of good weather, but hot temperatures we headed back to Cactus Cliff to catch the morning shade. Eventually things moved into the sun and it got too hot to climb (although the masses were still trying). The limestone may as well be a giant solar oven and I felt like I was on the menu.

The Dark Side with the Sangre de Cristo range as a backdrop.
Some tents are visible in The Bank campground which sits atop the cliff

The Sangre de Cristo range in the distance

We quickly decided to head around the corner to The Gym for some more routes and afternoon shade. It's amazing what a difference that made. I soon had a long sleeve shirt on and then my jacket over that. Probably 80-85 in the sun and around 60 in the shade. The rock quality at the gym was very good on the routes we climbed and I wish we had spent more time there. I climbed a stellar 5.9+ called "Ga-stoned Again" which was a lot of fun with easy pulls on big holds up a slightly overhanging wall.

The view as you round the bend toward The Gym, not bad

All in all, it was a great weekend and a lot of fun. There are so many quality routes there and I'd love to go back and get on some harder stuff too. I wouldn't compare this to a world class area like the Red River Gorge, but it's definitely worth a visit. The access is easy, the camping is $4/night, the views are stellar and there's a lot of good rock out there.

The final hike out

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Perfect Day in the Boulder Bubble

Beautiful weather here in CO today! I got outside for my first real hike of the year. I decided on Bear Peak and South Boulder Peak via Shadow Canyon. This is one of my favorite hikes in the Boulder area. It starts out at the South Mesa trail head and follows either the Towhee of Homestead trail toward the base of Shadow Canyon. After the steep canyon just head left to South Boulder Peak and then right to Bear Peak. It's a great hike, but a bit crowded on a nice weekend day. Total distance is about 7.5 miles and the total elevation gain is around 3,000 ft.

As I said, this was my first real hike of the year so I took it pretty easy and just enjoyed the great weather. I was particularly happy that I didn't feel any trouble from my IT Band which gave me problems most of last summer.

On the way down I couldn't help thinking about what a perfect day it was and that it would be difficult  to find anywhere I'd enjoy living more than Boulder, Colorado.

View from the parking lot.

The Devil's Thumb from Shadow Canyon

Bear Peak from South Boulder Peak

Mt. Evans in the distance

Longs Peak in the distance

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Flagstaff Bouldering Again

Yesterday I went up to Flagstaff with Brock again with the intention of trying a few problems in the V6-7 range. The weather was warm and windy in Boulder, but cooler and still windy on the mountain. We also had some very strange cloudless rain, more on that later.

After warming up at Cloud Shadow, we headed to Rear End Rock to try Left Bulge Direct. This is a high quality V6 with a very hard first move followed by a difficult match on a pinch/crimp. After matching you throw for a bad sloper and rock up for a crimp to an easier top out. After probably 5 attempts I tore some skin off one of my tips and I was bleeding again. I taped up, but couldn't manage the difficult match again. Still, my best go resulted in a fall going for the crimp so I was 1 move away from the send. It'll go next time for sure.

 I can't seem to climb at Flagstaff without my skin ending up like this

Next we decided to head down the hill to the Nook's Rock area to get on 30th Birthday Roof (V6). I went first and tried hard to get the flash, but fell only a couple moves from the top while slapping up the arete after mostly pulling over the roof. This is a very physical problem and another fun one. I gave it a bunch more tries, but fell twice going for the last key hold. This problem just drained my power really quickly on the attempts when I didn't climb efficiently. Again, 1 move away and it'll definitely go next session.

Me on 30th Birthday Roof (V6), Photo from Brock

Now, back to the cloudless rain. I've lived in CO for nearly three years now and I've seen some strange weather, but this one takes the cake. It was extremely windy yesterday and the NWS said there could be gusts up to 85mph in wind-prone areas. Gusts of 70mph were recorded in Boulder. However, while that's not pleasant, it's not all that uncommon due to the Chinook Winds. The strange part was when it started raining and we literally could not see a cloud in the sky. At one point we had a steady, if light, rain for about a half hour and no clouds. Still can't figure out where it came from.

All in all, it was a productive day. 1 move away on 2 different V6's and a cool sunset to finish things off.

Monday, May 3, 2010

What to do with an unused blog?

Well, it's obviously been quite a while since I posted to this blog. I've been thinking about what to do with the blog for a while since I apparently don't have the motivation to write posts very often. However, I've decided to make another attempt.

Over the past month or so I've been getting outside to go bouldering quite a bit, probably about twice a week on average, and I feel like I've been getting stronger and making progress. Flagstaff Mountain has (as usual) been the most common spot since it's only about 10 minutes from the CU campus.

I guess I'll start with a recap of some of the memorable events from the past month. About a month ago I went up to Flagstaff with a good crew of 4 others. We warmed up at Tutorial Rock and then headed over to the King Conquer Rock to work on the traverse. I did a quick repeat of Face Out (V5) and started working on the traverse. After figuring out the crux beta I started trying the problem from the start. On my second or third go, I punctured a hole in one of my fingers on a sharp crimp.

My finger post carnage (Picture from Brock)

I put some tape on it and resigned myself to being done climbing for the week. After some more attempts by the others, but no sends, we headed up to First Overhang (V5). Watching the crew make fast progress and culminating in a couple sends proved too much for me and I decided to give it a three fingered go. I surprised myself with a solid send even without my left index finger.

A couple weeks later, after my finger had mostly recovered. Brock and I went down to Eldorado Canyon. We warmed up on the Milton Boulder and started trying Milton (V4). I couldn't manage the send, but Brock pulled it off. I've got to say though, this guy styled it a little better:

After that, we headed over to the Gill Boulder and did all the easy stuff on there. We then started working Horan Face (V5/6). This a great problem with small, but very solid, crimps on a slightly overhanging wall and I quickly surprised myself by pulling through the crux and greasing off the last holds. I sent on the next go, very psyched, and Brock followed with a send on his next go.

After the Gill Boulder, we headed across the creek and uphill to give Germ Free Adolescence a try. This is an awesome problem up a very steep overhang. The holds are all there, but neither of us had the cajones to try pulling the lip. With only two pads and one person spotting it felt a bit sketchy. The last problem in the video below shares the same topout.

Eldorado Canyon Vol. 2 from Jon Glassberg on Vimeo.

Finally, yesterday I went up to Flagstaff by myself to try Salad Toss (V7), a problem I'd tried during two previous sessions. This is a strange problem since the first move seems to be very dependent on body position and grabbing the left hand exactly right. If things aren't exactly right I can't even pull off the ground. I worked the top a bit and started trying the first move. I only managed to pull on twice. The first time I stuck the next hold before my left hand blew off. The second time I stuck the next hold, got my foot back on, matched and threw for the sloper. On my first throw for the sloper I missed the good part of the hold and had to fight to get to it and top the problem out. I think this is a pretty difficult problem to grade. It's certainly one of the hardest problems I've done, but I'd lean more towards V6 or V6/7 than the V7 grade since none of the moves felt too difficult. I think the first move just has to be executed exactly right in terms of body position and hand positioning on the hold and, along with the throw to the sloper, is fairly low percentage. The problem can be seen in the video below:

Flagstaff Mountain Boulering III from Zack Sticcs on Vimeo.

I'm probably headed back up there tomorrow afternoon/evening. I've been heading to the Dark Side quite a bit and I'd really like to start trying Battaglia's Bottom (V7/8) and Valhalla (V7). Both problems look to be stellar lines with powerful moves on a steep overhang. The holds are all there and both look like a lot of fun. Both problems are in the video below.

Flagstaff Mountain Bouldering II - David Gibbons and Zack Smith from Zack Sticcs on Vimeo.