Sunday, May 24, 2015

40th Birthday Party in Yosemite!

The talk of planning something epic for mine and Rhett's fortieth birthdays began a few months before the event. By default I have always been the trip planner. It's always a lot of work and a bit of pressure to plan something cool that is going to be worth everyone's valuable time. As a birthday present Roman took over as the planner for this trip. His skill as a planner singlehandedly inspired this blogpost. 

We all wanted to do some climbing in Yosemite, Tuolumne Meadows to be more specific. We set the date of May 1st and 2nd. When Roman realized we had a picked a weekend in which the roads would be closed, he didn't call off the trip like "normal people" would. After all the Dawn Patrol would be offended to be classified as "normal people." Instead he realized that the increased logistical challenges would likely give us the chance to have some ultra classic climbs to ourselves.  
This blogpost chronicles Roman's trip plans exactly.  
I want you to come climbing for my 40th in Tuolumne Meadows!
Rig and I left Rancho Cucamonga a little after 9 pm on Thursday night with backpacking gear, climbing gear, bikes and a bike trailer. The rest of the team had left Salt Lake about five hours earlier with all the same gear.  We both arrived at the closed gate to Yosemite's east boundary at about 3 am. We were surprised to see a park ranger's truck outside the gate and a light on inside the cabin next to the gate. We had hoped to sleep a little at the gate before starting a big day but the park was still closed to both cars and bikes from that side and we couldn't risk a ranger shutting down our plans before they even got started. So we drove back down the road 2 miles until we found a parking lot, got all the gear loaded up and started into the park on bike around 4 am. 




When we got about a quarter mile from the gate we extinguished the headlamps and went under the cover of night. Let's face it breaking rules is exciting. It definitely felt cool sneaking our bikes and gear around the gates. Once we were in we had 8 miles of all downhill to Tuolumne Meadows. As we whipped down the steep canyon road, I think every single one of us winced at least once as we thought of what the ride out would be like. It was a frigid ride in as we rarely pedaled but it was exhilarating. We kept looking at each other and saying "Can you believe we are doing this? Sneaking into Yosemite?"  

 

We got to Tuolumne meadows right as it was getting light. It was just as we had hoped, completely deserted. The gas station and visitor centers were still boarded up for the winter. There was a set of port-a-johns that must had just been placed for the summer because not one of them had ever been used. They were cleaner than any of our toilettes at home. We each took the unique opportunity to break one in. 
We found a river bed to stash the bikes in, checked Roman's GPS to verify we were at the right trailhead and started towards our first objective, Cathedral Peak. 

It was a perfect morning. We hiked as the sun rose, occasionally stopping to take pictures of the stunning surroundings. It only could have been a better morning if Rigdon was big enough to carry his own share of the gear. Since he wasn't my pack ended up being about 80 pounds. I carried it about half way and then dared Roman to carry it for a while. 

"Hey Roman how would you like to try walking a mile in my shoes or at least a mile with my pack." That was sheer genius on my part because that led to everyone carrying my pack for a while and I never had to put it on again until it was time to pack it out. We hiked the 4 miles in a leisurely 2 hours. 

The scenery is a lot prettier with a lighter pack. 

That put us at the base of Cathedral at 8ish. We set up camp and everyone took a nap except for me and Bram. Looking up at the perfect granite face of Cathedral and seeing no one around made me too pumped to be able to sleep. 




Roman and Rhett racked and ready!
In a recent survey done by Mountain Project they found Cathedral Peak to be one of the most popular climbs in America. Bram and I woke everyone up at 10. We racked up and started climbing around 11 with not a single soul in site. 
Starting up the first pitch.
Belay ledge selfie.
Rig pointing out tomorrow's objective. 






Rig brought his A game. I put him in a couple of spots that were a bit more difficult than the grade but he managed just fine.





The climbing was spectacular. Six full pitches of impeccable granite with a couple of very epic belay ledges and an amazing summit that was only about 4 feet in diameter. I smiled the whole way up and never once felt like I was dragging from being up for 36 straight hours. 

Wayne on the summit block.
Ain't no way I was leaving this picture out!  Stoic brother, stoic! 


We had originally hoped to nab Eichorn's Pinnacle and we had plenty of time but the snow made 
Bram on the summit looking towards Eichorn.
the traverse over sketchy and without crampons we decided it wasn't wise to try. 









We did one rappel that probably wouldn't have been needed without snow and then had an easy hike back to camp. 

Rig and I shared a mountain house and I then had the best night of sleep I have ever had in the backcountry. I think it was mostly due to my sleep debt but also in part to the new sleep pad that Bram got me for Christmas.  

That helmet of Bram's has seen many a technical peak.
With Cathedral Peak conquered, the team was on to Matthes Crest.
We woke up at 6ish the next morning. Re-racked the gear and headed out. 
After a full night's sleep I was feeling about as good as any 40 year old can.


It felt like there were enough features in Tuolumne to keep climbers busy for a life time. 
The hike over had plenty of awesome scenery and picture opts. 


If it seems like there is an overabundance of myself in the pictures that's just because the full 
body orange suit photographs really well. 


When we started to near the base of Matthes we realized that we were going to have some snow issues to get onto the rock. We had only brought three pairs of crampons between the six of us. Three of us went up and then passed the crampons back on a rope to the other three.   

Now tell me the orange pants weren't worth 16 bucks. 
We thought we had identified the start of Matthes but after one pitch of dirty loose rock it was obvious we were not on route. Rig and I climbed up an arĂȘte next to Wayne and Roman. Rig and I's route was more difficult than anything we had climbed the day before on Cathedral.   

Rig with some gritty climbing ahead of him.
The first two pitches were more stressful than anything we had done the day before.

After three pitches we were on top of the crest.  

We simul-climbed the whole traverse.  A few times I felt like racking the rope and soloing in the interest of time but we were prudent and stayed roped up. 
Now for the fun part, the long exposed traverse. (Wayne on lead)

Rig on one of the parts I was glad we were roped up for.


The traverse had a couple of awkward down climbs but nothing too bad. 


Sunset between the notch of the North and South Summits. 


Racing the sun to see who could get down first. 

We hiked back to our camp by Cathedral Peak in the dark.  We arrived back around 10 pm.  Rig and I had hoped to get a text off to Sara and tell her not to expect us to be home until later the next day but we never got a cell signal.  Previously I had told Sara we would probably get off the mountain very late that night and not to worry unless she hadn't heard from me by morning.  No one else had been as optimistic about getting off that night.   Everyone tried to talk Rig and I into staying another night and  hiking out with them in the morning but when you have a track record like I do you don't do anything that might cause your wife any undue stress if you can prevent it.  I knew she would be very worried come morning, which really left me and Rig with no option but to get to the car and drive to somewhere we could send a text that night.  It was going to mean a long night.   

We ate a hot meal and cleaned up camp.  By the time we we're all packed up to hike out it was 11:15.  



Bram insisted on taking this pick before we set out.
We lost the trail quite a few times in the dark and backtracked to find it, but when we lost it the last time and I knew we were close to the road we decided to just head north and walk until we hit the road.  We found the road no problem.  The problem was that we didn't know where we were on the road so we didn't know which way to hike to find our bikes.  We went with my gut instinct which was of course wrong.  We walked for 10 minutes before I realized it was wrong and then we had to walk the ten minutes back plus another five until we found the port a potties which was our landmark to find the bikes.  In the back of my mind I kept wondering if maybe a ranger had caught onto us, found our bikes and confiscated them.  It was a pretty irrational fear but in the middle of night my mind has imagined fears much more irrational than that. 
The bikes were exactly where we had left them.
It was now 1:00 am and we still had the horrendous 8 mile bike ride that was going to gain 2000 feet and between mine and Rigs packs I was towing close to 100 pounds of gear. 



Rig was graduating from Dawn Patrol Lite before he had even finished the eighth grade and more impressively he was doing it without complaint.  After about 2 more miserable hours in which I pushed my bike a lot more than I rode it, we finally got to the gate again.  We silently celebrated and snuck around it.  It was two easy miles of  down hill from there.   

We arrived at the car at about 3:00 am.  It only took us 15 frigid minutes to rack the bikes and load the gear.  We drove straight to the 24 hour McDonalds in Bishop and sent a text to Sara at 4:25 am.  She responded to it immediately and I knew it was a darn good thing we hiked out.  We drove straight home getting back to Rancho Cucamonga by 8:40 am and practically to 9:00 church on time.  I didn't even need the can of 5 hour energy Wayne had lent me.  Just a Coke and sunflower seeds was all the energy drink I needed.    

In our two days in Yosemite we did two of the most iconic alpine climbs the park has to offer and didn't see one single person, not even a ranger, actually especially not a ranger.  Nice planning Roman!  Consider yourself commissioned to plan my 50th and all the ones in-between.  

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Bram The Man

For 20 plus years now I have been blessed to have the best friend a guy could ever ask for.  I wish I got to spend more time with him but given our distance we do as well as we can.  He is as selfless as he is adventurous and as fun as he is humble.  Guys don't come any better than Jared Bramwell.  For his birthday I am sharing one of my favorite stories of the Brammer.

Both of us being adventure seekers at heart, we spent many high school and college nights looking for trouble and usual finding it, but on this specific occasion it found us, and we were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I swear.

It was Christmas break at BYU and the roads were a snowy mess.  I was only recently dating Sara.   She had gone home for the break and I had been left with the charge of her beloved 86 Jetta.


I had taken Bram, my other two roommates, and Roman to the mall to do some Christmas shopping. We were returning on the snowy roads to our house near UVU.  To get to our place you had to go down a steep road and make a left hand turn from that steep road onto our street.  When it was snowing, navigating that turn could be tricky and sometimes you would end up having to go all the way down the road and turn around at the bottom and head back up.



When I got to the hill in question, I tried to slowly creep down it hoping I could make the left hand turn and avoid going to the bottom and back up.   There was a car behind me that for whatever reason found my slow driving too conservative, and as a result was driving very close to me.

The order of the following events isn't known exactly by either Bram or myself, but at some point either the car behind us started to honk and that inspired the middle finger from our back seat passengers or the middle finger from our back seat passengers came out and that inspired the honking from the car behind us.  Bram and I will never know what came first.  It doesn't really matter.  What is to be noted, is that regardless of when the flipping off happened, it wasn't done by me or Bram and therefore we maintain our innocence.

I heard the honking and was a little perturbed but not to the point of blinding road rage, however the  driver behind me saw the finger and was perturbed to the point of blinding road rage.  I got to the bottom of the hill and started to pull off the road so I could flip a u-turn and head back up.  Until this point I had no idea that someone in my vehicle had flipped anyone off, but I should have caught a hint because as the guy behind us drove by he yelled some belittling words and left us with an open challenge.  I will still claim that I am not a guy who went around starting fights and I really am not much of hot head, but I rarely walked away from a fight either.

As he drove his teal Saturn coupe past us, I made a quick assessment of the situation.  It was difficult to see through the snowy windows but he appeared to only have a girl riding shot gun with him.  There were five guys in my car, granted they were not the first five guys I would pick if I was going in to a street fight, but still five beats one every time.  (In Roman's defense he was only 14 at the time.)

His car pulled off the road about 100 feet in front of ours.  I didn't have time to consult with Bram, he was already getting out of the car.  I jumped out pretty confident. First of all we had the numbers heavily in our favor but second of all we were fighting a guy in a teal Saturn.  Again I liked our chances.   We parked right next to an elementary school and we moved into the parking lot to await our challenger.
Maybe the car was his girlfriends but it was not very intimidating that's for sure. 

When the guy jumped out of the car I was greatly surprised by what I saw.  He was a monster!  He was at least 6' 4" and had to weigh 250 or more and he was ripped!  How could I know he was ripped?  Because despite it being a blizzard he was honestly wearing a neon green Gold's Gym tank top!  Picture Brian Bosworth but with a better mullet.


 The guy had a style that said "the teal Saturn is mine" and a body that said "I pull over for fights even if I am out numbered 5 to 1."

I was just thinking to myself, 'I glad we outnumber him 5 to 1' when I realized that Bram and I were the only ones who had gotten out of the car.  The Boz approached us in a very fast walk and the look on his face was one of uncontrollable rage, my confidence was dwindling fast.  

Some people believe that when you spend enough time with someone you can sometimes communicate to the other one without even talking, almost like mental telepathy.  It turns out this is BS, because I called on this power and flashed Bram a look that said, 'Maybe we should see if we can talk ourselves out of this.'  Bram either didn't catch my message or his manliness just chose to ignore it.
  
When The Boz had closed about half of the distance between us and him, he yelled, "Do you guys have a problem with me?!"

I thought to myself, "No Mr. Bozworth." I was ready to jump back into the car with the other 3 of our fearsome 5. 

Again Bram wasn't thinking what I was, Bram replied fearlessly and without hesitation, "Yeah I've got a problem with you!" That moment will always be one of my favorite memories of Bram.  It is to this day maybe the manliest thing I have ever witnessed in the flesh.  I knew right then at least Bram was fighting the Boz. 

Up until this point the Boz had been on a path split between the two of us, but now he headed directly towards Bram for which I was glad.  He walked fiercely up to Bram and just as he was arriving made a motion like he was going to push him in the chest.  Bram braced himself for the push but didn't raise his arms.  Just at the last second the Boz turned his open hands into closed fists and sunk both of them into Bram's unprotected face.  It was a cheap shop even if he was outnumbered.  My fear instantly left, replaced with my own rage.  

I am not sure exactly what happened next.  The ground was covered in snow and very slick, all three of us slipped around but soon I had the Boz in a front head lock.  The Boz and I were both on our feet but his head and arms were trapped below me where he could do nothing.  I held him incapacitated and Bram returned the initial cheap shot and then a few more.  I felt warm blood start to run down the front of my pants, but he seemed like he still had way too much fight in him to let him go.  

At this point the Boz was obviously losing the fight, and it wasn't going to get better for him.  He didn't feel like a real athlete just like a big guy who had spent a lot of time in the weight room.  Turned out he was no Brian Bosworth.  I could have held him in that front head lock forever and apparently his girlfriend realized this because she decided it was time to intervene.    

She jumped into the driver's side of the Saturn and threw it into reverse.  She pointed the car directly towards us and gassed it.  The car recklessly popped up a curb and she slid out a little.  She retargeted us and gassed it again.  
This time the car rolled over a concrete parking barrier that was hidden by the snow.  The left pair of tires went on one side of the barrier and the right side went on the other.  The result was the car's oil pan slamming into the barrier and sparks flying off the bottom of the teal machine.  The car slid towards us and I was forced to release the Boz and get out of the Saturn's path.

The car slid to a stop.  The Boz gathered himself.  He was bleeding from his nose and had a good cut under his lip.  I was surprised how much he had bled.  The whole front of my pants were covered in blood.  

Bram had weathered the Boz's best sucker punch and only had some redness on his face to show for it.  I was still unscathed.  Boz didn't look good.  He definitely needed stitches.  In my estimation the fight was over.  Boz did not feel the same way.

He started towards me this time.  I backed up in a circle keeping about 20 feet between us.  


Pointing to me he said, "I want you this time."

"You just got me.  If we do this again, it isn't going to go any better for you, there are two of us and one of you."

He still followed me in a circle, "I want you."

"Dude the fight is over.  You lost.  Look at yourself.  Look at us.  You're bleeding all over.  Neither of us are hurt.  If this keeps going you're just going to get beat up worse.  Plus we've got 3 more guys in the car who are just waiting for the signal." (wink, wink)

Up until now I don't think he even realized he was bleeding.  He felt the cut below his lip and saw the blood running down his chin.  I don't know if it was the thought of a scar marring his 1980's good looks or the blood ruining his neon green tank top but his demeanor changed almost immediately.  

He stopped following me and walked towards his girlfriend.  Luckily for him from the vantage point of the headlock he hadn't been able to see his girlfriend's display of driving skills and didn't know yet that he was likely going to need a new oil pan to go with his stitches.  

His girlfriend cleaned him up a bit and they got in the car to leave.  When they started to drive away his girlfriend gave a statement that put her in the same league of delusion as the girlfriend from Wayne's World.  She said, "Next time you boys better be careful who you flip off!"  

Bram wasn't going to let her get away with that, "Are you kidding? Your boyfriend just got beat up. He's bleeding all over, neither of us are even hurt.  He's on his way to get stitches, and then he's going to have to fix whatever damage you did to his car when you were rescuing him!  Be careful who you pull over to fight next time!"    

That quieted both of them and at the same time I'm sure gave them something to talk about on their drive to the hospital.  
Happy Birthday to the only guy I know who would look a charging Brian Bosworth in the eye and say "Yeah, I've got a problem with you!"

  )

In case you forgot who I was referencing with the girlfreind. 




Thursday, January 30, 2014

BRo-Man Goes Big

There aren't a lot of thing in life better than having a brother.  I am lucky enough to have three.  Roman is unlucky enough to be the youngest of the 4 of us and as a result has probably had to prove himself to each of us more times than is fair.  For his golden birthday today I am posting my favorite story of littlest bro proving himself to biggest bro.

A couple of years ago Roman and Michelle were planning a trip to visit. Roman called me to make some trip preparations.

"Hey do you know if that jump you did when you were on the podcast is still there?"

"Yeah, it's there."

"If I brought my bike down when I come, would you have time to take me over so I could do it?"


"Heck yes I would!"

I was pretty surprised by this phone call. Not that I didn't think that Roman could easily do it,  he has always been the brother who has excelled in sports of the X-game variety.  He is by far the best snowboarder and skateboarder in the family and at least as good of mountain biker as me, but he wasn't going to be in town for very long and this jump had taken me months to work up the confidence to finally do. Roman was only going to be in town for a couple of days so it was a pretty ambitious idea, but no one was more excited about it than me.

Roman had just purchased a new bike and I knew that had something to do with his decision but what I didn't know about at the time was a relatively knew social media called Instagram. Yes in hind sight, I think IG may have influenced his decisions at least a little bit.  At the time I wondered why he wanted me to take pictures and not video but it all makes sense now.

Roman knew that having the bike on top of the car would cost him some gas mileage, and apparently it was more gas mileage than he calculated because somehow he managed to run himself out of gas somewhere in the desert. It was his third time running out of gas in the previous two weeks. We had all thought it was pretty funny when it happened the second time but this was really getting comical and any brother who really loved him was going to give him a hard time about it for at least a while. (I guess a while isn't quite over yet.)

We really only had one morning to make it happen and it was going to have to be before school at 7:30. I had a pretty good idea that Roman wasn't going to just roll up to the jump, take a look at it, and huck himself off it. I knew it was going to take some time to work up the courage. So we were at the trailhead when it was still dark and at the jump right at first light. We had a full hour for Roman to check out the landing, take a few practice runs, do a few speed checks, draw some starting lines in the dirt and convince himself that the end result would not be catastrophic.


Everyone that I have taken to the jump has been pretty shocked the first time they see it. You come around a corner and all the sudden out of nowhere is this totally gnarly wooden jump that looks like an unfinished bridge. I know Roman had seen pictures and watched people do it on video but we all know that everything is 10 times scarier in real life than it is on a computer screen. I could see by the look on Roman's face, he was wondering what he had gotten himself into.

I kind of like the feeling of being in a little over my head and getting to see how I respond but I really like seeing one of my brothers in over their heads and watching their response. I rarely get to witness it but when I do it is probably my number one form of entertainment.

Roman looked at the jump. He looked at the landing, smoothed it out a bit, did some speed checks, asked for some advice on his trajectory, picked my brain over how fast he would have to go to clear the rocks below it, etcetera, etcetera.  I had done it a few times and was able to break it down pretty simple for him.

"Start at this bend in the trail, don't pedal at all, just coast and gravity will set your speed perfectly, pull up on the handle bars slightly as you leave the wood and enjoy the ride. It's that simple."

I knew he wasn't going to enjoy the ride, at least not the first time. I had been so scared the first time that there was absolutely no enjoyment until I safely landed on the ground.


Roman started to make test run after test run. After he had made fifteen or so I started urging him to go for it. We finally got down to only having about five minutes until we needed to leave for me to get to school on time. None of his test runs really made it seem like he was going to do it.

"Alright Rome this is the run."

"OK"

Roman did one more half hearted run.

"I don't think I want to do it anymore. Let's get you back to school."

"No you can do. You've got to do it or you won't forgive yourself. I'll skip my first hour of work."

"Are you going to get in trouble if you're late?"

"Maybe a little, but it will be worth it if you do the jump."

I secretly had already made arangements to miss the first hour but made Roman believe I was just ditching it to put more pressure on him.

The second hour was more of the same but it definitely had a more serious feel and at least 10 times I really thought "the next run" was "the run" and he was really going to do it and every time he would hit the brakes at the last second.
Finally after probably the fiftieth "warm up run" and with about fifteen minutes left in the second hour Roman again said he wasn't going to do it.

"No way man! You're doing it! Think about what we have invested in this now. I missed my first hour of work, you ran your car out of gas getting your bike here. We could have gone on a really cool bike ride this morning instead we have been here for two hours drawing lines in the dirt and it will all be for nothing if you don't do this stupid jump."

"Yeah that's true."

"Not to mention you need to prove you are worthy of that new bike you got. And really the biggest reason is I know it is going to ruin your whole weekend if you don't do it."

"Yeah you're right."

"Think about it for a second. Realistically what is the worst thing that is likely to happen, you have that big fat shock and as long as it hits the ground first it is going to absorb most of the impact. If it does it's job and then you wreck you're probably only going to end up with scrapes and bruises. Broken bones are pretty unlikely and paralysis…. well….you've got a better chance of being hit by lightning."

Not that Roman was arguing with me but I was winning the argument.  If only I would have known to throw in something about how bitchin' all of his Instagram followers were going to think he was, he probably would have done it ten minutes earlier.

"You're right, I've got to do it."

Roman took five more runs and every time I thought he was going to really do it, but he braked at the last second.

I knew he was going to do eventually he just needed a tiny bit more pressure to close the deal.  I was forced to act the part of the annoyed older brother now.  I would have waited all day if I had to, but neither of us wanted that.

I said, "That's it man, I've got to go, I really don't have one more minute I've got to get to school."

"No I'm going to do it. One more time."

"Hurry one more time."

Roman went back to our line in the dirt.

"Just take your fingers off the brakes and tell yourself that no matter what, you are not going to put your fingers back on them. You've got it this time."

I had made that statement 50 times, and it hadn't worked yet, but I had a pretty good feeling this was the time.

The next ten seconds was one of my favorite things I have ever witnessed in the flesh. Roman finally coaxed himself into the unthinkable.  He shot off the end of the jump.  He went huge, definitely bigger than I ever had.



  This is the actual time he finally rode off of it.  The zoom reveals some serious apprehension.



That is a pretty bitchin' picture.  I'd follow him on Instagram.


The zoom in is better.

The double zoom is even better than that. 
That is exactly the same way I felt the first time I did it.

The landing may have left a little to be desired, but just like I promised him that beefy shock absorbed the brunt of the force, his wrists absorbed most of what was left over ...



….and his cheeks absorbed the rest.

Roman appeared as if he was going to ride it out unharmed but the end result was Roman celebrating in some scrub oak and a large cloud of dust.  It was an awesome moment and I am so glad I got to witness it.  

Roman came away from the experience with some cuts and bruises but he was completely satisfied with himself and that alone is always worth some cuts and bruises.  Plus he probably picked up some Instagram followers along the way.  Call it a win/win.

Happy Birthday BRo-man!!