California Trip

Yo. Sorry I haven’t been writing as much. I’ve been racking my brain over at cruxn for the past several weeks. Anyway, I went to Sacramento for work a couple weeks ago and hit up San Fran for the weekend. It was rainy as all get out so I just sampled some good beers and tried to walk around the city as me and my camera got soaked.

Bell’s Hopslam (Double IPA)

Crankin’ in at whopping 10.0% abv, this heavy hitter will be sure to knock you out after a few rounds.  I heard that this brew hit the stores Saturday and supplies were very limited (10 cases/store).  Knowing I was probably SOL I called around to the specialty beer sto’s in my area.  I had given up until Cade mentioned Total Wine.  I dialed them up and to my surprise they had some left.  Beer run during lunch break, why not?  I was about to walk out of the store with a single 6-pack when suddenly I had a change of heart.  More!  Although I hadn’t tried it before I knew this was my only chance to score another sixer.  Back to the aisle I went to pick up one more six pack.  Although this beer is outrageously expensive I felt it is a just splurge, once a year.  After work I got home and cracked one open.  This stuff is the real deal!  It’s very clean with joyous amounts of citrus.  I’m usually not a fan of fruity beer but the hopslam is different.  Way to go Bell’s, A+.

Bell's Hopslam

Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale

Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale

While I was in lounging around Columbia this weekend I went to Greene’s, the local beer store.  I was walking down the aisle when a big bottle of highlands slapped me upside the head.  “What’s this?” I thought to myself.  Well, “It’s a highland winter ale that I’ve never tried!”  And it was a BIG bottle –it had to be mine.  I picked up the bottle, paid the lofty price of $9.99 and walked out of the store.  To the fridge it went.  It chilled by it’s lonesome self for 4 hours and then was emptied into 2 pint glasses.  The first thing I noticed was a sweet front end with major tones of vanilla and spices.      It was mmm mmm good (way better than Cambell soup)!  I would recommend splitting it with a friend because it is pretty dadgum sweet.  It’s perfect for a liquid dessert after stuffing your face.  May I also take the time to remind yall about the real beer blog.  ItsaFuckingBeer.com tells it like it is.  His blog is an absolute hoot!  Out.

Austin Trip

Here it is, the low down from my trip to Austin, TX:

The phrase I picked up on upon arrival is “Keep Austin Weird”.  It’s a quirky town that’s got it going on.  Since there is so much in Austin I’ll need to break this post into multiple sections for you interjunkies.

Good Eats:

The food was probably the biggest surprise to me.  There is awesome food on every corner in Austin.  The rage in Austin’s food scene are the food trailers.  They offer everything from exotic bratwursts to blingin’ tex mex.  The food is cooked fresh and won’t break your bank account.  Usually you’ll find the trailers in small groups of two or three all offering different types of food.  After you scarf down some tacos and you’re craving something sweet you’re still in luck.  There are dessert trailers such as “Gourdoughs” that have specialty donuts to die for. For sit-down style restaurants we ate at an authentic tex-mex joint called “Curra’s” where I had the best carnitas of my life.  Cade and Mark went to “Rudy’s” which is a legit bbq place.  If you enjoy awesome food (and who doesn’t?) Austin is worth checking out.

Bars/Music:

There is something for everyone downtown.  Whether you enjoy a low key bar with good beer or a head banging with some emo’s, Austin is the place to be.  We checked out a venue called “Emo’s” and listened to some hard rock/drone/metal which was sweeet.  We also went to a bar called “Gingerman” which hosts a impressive lineup of good brews in draught (60+) and bottled form.  If you want a local brew check out anything from Live Oak, they are a solid brewery.  In general I’d say North Carolina has a better selection of tasty brews (ex.  No Bell’s in TX, wtf??).  The scene is downtown is pretty rad and you can walk everywhere.  Crime doesn’t seem to be an issue in this blue dot surrounded by a sea of red.  Last note; beware or embrace the hipsters, they are everywhere.

Biking:

Austin is a very bike-friendly city.  There are bike lanes/bridges all over the city that cater to cyclists.  Anywhere you want to go downtown seems like it would be very manageable on a bike.  I’m not sure how the traffic is but there are tons of bikes roaming the streets of Austin.  If you’d rather ride on dirt there you’re still in the right place.  The are plenty of bike stores if you need to rent a bike or buy that accessory you’ve been saving for.  You can ride on most of the greenbelt (which runs right next to downtown).  Warning –it’s rocky as hell!  I’m not talking about a rock garden here or there…I’m saying the entire trail seems more like a rock quarry.  Plus, it’s easy to get off the trail due to the lack of trail marking or signs.  Locals say that the best place to ride is Walnut Creek for fast & smooth singletrack.

Climbing:

Last but not (well…maybe) least is the rock climbing.  Now I must say upfront that there are two sides to every story and this is one’s not exempt.  First off, if you happen to score a job in Austin or enjoy the occasional day of climbing it’s pretty damn sweet.  You can be at a crag in 5-10 minutes from the middle of downtown.  I hear there is some pretty decent bouldering around but I can’t speak for that.  I went sport climbing for a couple days around the greenbelt area (check out a local map here).  The crags I visited were “Seismic (or Maggie’s Wall)”, “Gus Fruh” and the “New Wall”.  These are 30-40 ft limestone cliffs that are scattered around downtown Austin.  It’s all bolted with each climb reppin’ 3-4 bolts with bolted anchors at the top.  To it’s defense, all of the hardware was new and well kept.  The downside to the climbing is that the routes are short, non-sustained and very well polished.  The rock is good for the most part and offers one to two cool moves followed by a big rest of some sort.  From my experience the routes were fun and super convenient but it’s definitely not a climbing destination.  That being said, there are some decent crags worth driving to.   Enchanted Rock (E-Rock) is about 1.5 hours and features some trad lines with nice cracks.  Reimer’s Ranch is a sport crag with hundreds of routes that’s about 45 minutes from Austin.  I’ve heard it’s pretty sweet.  There is some craggin’ right on the border of Texas/Mexico that is supposed to be pretty good.  For longer drives you can be at El Potrero in about 7 hours or Hueco Tanks within 9 hours.

Climbing Scene:

First off I must say thanks to my friend Rob for taking me under his wing in Austin.  We climbed a couple days and he gave me a lot of info about Austin’s climbing scene.  Thanks man!  I think there is a pretty good scene in Austin.  I think most of the people who are serious about climbing take trips to E-Rock or Reimer’s Ranch or Mexico.  I hear there is some good bouldering in the area too but some of those areas remain “hush hush” to keep the gumbos out.  The scene around the greenbelt area is super duper gumbyville.  It’s basically a bunch of twenty year old college kids who obnoxiously spray down everybody and talk about stupid shit.  They should focus more on belaying instead of drinking beer but that’s just my opinion.  Like I said, the greenbelt offers a good pump, short walk and the convenience because it’s so close to town.  Take it for what it’s worth.

Austin, TX is a damn cool town.  Check it out of you get a chance!

Bday Weekend in Boone

Sprayin' Ryan down with beta for the Horn.

First off I want to thank all of you for making my 26th bday awesome!  It was great seeing a bunch of old and new friends this weekend.  I started my bday off by going to the Drive-by Truckers show in Boone.  The event was at Legends on campus.  The band rocked but unfortunately the sound was pretty bad.  We brought several heady six packs in with us.

On Friday we went to Hob Nob Farm Cafe for breakfast.  If you haven’t been it’s worth a visit.  They sport all local ingredients with free range meat.  You can really taste the difference.  After that we headed out to Blowing Rock boulders where I saw a bunch of friends.  Ryan cruised Center 45 and worked on the Horn and Harvester of Sorrows.  I didn’t climb because my finger needs about a week or two more to be completely healed.  Friday night we had a shin dig at my dad’s house.  It was truly a great party with some very nice folks.  We sat on the deck among the fire pit sharing climbing stories and talking about inappropriate things.  Eventually we went inside to the music room and started to jam.  My dad dubbed the band name “Tongue” and the rest is history.  Surprisingly we were able to hold a couple tunes that sounded pretty cool.  The “band” members shifted instruments every song and we even saw a couple guest appearances from the audience.  Melissa rocked out on the baby grand piano and awed everybody with her talent.  I was a little worried that the party wouldn’t live up to last years festivities but it did.  Great times by all.

Within the last week…

Bell's Pale Ale

Finally back to the home base for a brief stint.  This past week consisted of some moderate climbing, awesome mountain biking and some other not-so-interesting stuff.  Last Saturday I pressured Mike into climbing some moderate trad (inside sources said he was less than stoked) so we went to Big Lost Cove.  We did a gorgeous 5.8 arete that was probably 500ft or so.  Zach and Eric Hiegl had both recently climbed it with their significant others so it was only fitting that grimbo and I do it.   If nothing else, it proves we are not homophobic!  Big Lost Cove is pretty remote so just getting to the base of the climb was an adventure.  Mike was slamming tree branches in my face and the whole nine.  We cranked it off in 3 pitches and each pitch offered some really cool moves.  Although it’s not the 5.12 wall at Middle Hawksbill, it was fun nonetheless.  We finished the day off with some Bell’s Pale Ale while taking pictures of what we just climbed.

Next subject: A New Project!  (Can you guess where it is??)

This bloc appears to be unclimbed and ready for a first accent.  I will show you the picture below but it honestly doesn’t give it justice.  The what looks to be a spicy topout is about 20ft off the deck!  The face is almost dead vertical and looks like there are just enough holds to make it climbable.  I’m not great at judging new problems but this thing has caught my eye more than once.  It looks like it’s begging to be climbed and next time I’m in the area I will be sure to give it a few burns.  If it turns out to be cool and kicks my ass I promise to disclose the location to let you stronger folk send it.

Beautiful Big Lost Cove - 5.8 Arete



New project in town?

Bell’s Octoberfest

Bell's Octoberfest Beer

Oh yes!  The best part of coming back to Columbia is a new beer from Bell’s waiting in the fridge!  It just came out for the season and it’s worth picking up at your local beer store.  Although it doesn’t feel like fall yet, each sip seemed to bring me closer to those crisp temps I long for.  While in Boone I enjoyed a Cottonwood Pumpkin Ale which is a nostalgic beer for me.  It always brings back memories of sitting on my dad’s deck during autumn in the high country.  Ah, good beer and good temps –one down, one to go.

Since my finger is a little tweaked at the moment, I can only dream of crushing.  Here are a few projects that come to mind for the fall:

  • Unwritten Law (Dump)
  • Against the Grain (Gmom)
  • Grope the Pope (Gmom)
  • Ebonics (Gmom)
  • Mighty Mouse (Gmom)
  • Lewis’s Lunge (Bald)
  • Rotator Cuff (Bald)

What are you guys psyched on??  Let’s here it in the comments!

Oskar is packing the heat!

Oskar Blues - Ten Fidy

Yea, so this brew in a can is no joke.  Go down to your local beer store and pick up a 4-pack of the blues.  You common folk might have had the Dale’s Pale Ale before and know whats up.  Ten Fidy looks like a Guinness except for the scary looking head on top.  That might sound kinda weird but trust me, it’s good.  Once you get past the fear it treats you right.  I tasted the “Gubna” imperial IPA over the weekend but they were sold out so I grabbed this puppy from the sto.  I can’t say I’m disappointed in the least.  We’re watching “A History of Violence” right now and this might be what that dude was drinking to get all crazy like.  I’m officially a big fan of Oskar (with a K).  It looks like I’m heading to Boone for the weekend although I was looking forward to a little downtime in Cola.  Oh well, I gotta take care of a couple things and I get to squeeze a little climbing in so I can’t complain.  I’m really psyched to go to the dump but we’ll just have to see what happens.  Stay tuned.

Over and out.

Hell of a week!

Man oh man.  Where do I start? Since last Sunday I have driven over 800 miles:

A week ago around this time I was heading up to Raleigh/Durham for some AIX (unix) training for work.  I was pretty excited to get my learn on about something I care about.  I got to my hotel around 9:30 or 10:00 and went to sleep soon there after.  The hotel was pretty sweet.  My room had 2 lcd tv’s and 2 queen beds.  I only needed one of each but I guess they wanted to make sure I had a hot swappable backup in case either one failed.  I must say that the comp breakfast was probably some of the best breakfast food I’ve eaten in a long time.  Each morning I was greeted with various flavored hashbrowns, eggs and anything else you could possibly want.  It was also quite generous that they offered free beer from 5-7pm.  I took advantage of both the breakfast and the booze.  My classes were on the IBM campus in the middle of the research triangle park.  I’d never spent much time in Raleigh but the triangle park was pretty neat.  I drove past GE Aircraft Engines and various other companies that balled out in the technology field.  I went to the local gym, Triangle Rock Club, and had a pretty good session.  It was a nice gym and I got super pumped.  I also checked out some mountain biking.  I went to this area called New Light in north Raleigh.  Big props to trianglemtb.com for having good beta on their site! I met some dudes in the parking lot that were kind enough to let me ride with them (well, at least for the first 10 minutes until they dusted me).  That trail system was freakin sweet!  I’d have to say it’s one of the best trails I’ve ever been on.  I finished up training on Thursday and high tailed it to Boone to enjoy a long weekend chillin with family and friends.

I was able to squeeze an evening session in at Grandmother on Thursday.  We went to the long wall and we climbed a handful of problems until the rain revoked our top-out license.  We sat it out and after a few minutes we were able to start working on a cool traverse.  The next morning I got up and decided to test one of my goals by riding up Junaluska Rd on my mountain bike.  It’s only about 1.5 miles but it’s a pretty gnarly uphill stretch (800 ft elevation gain).  I surprised myself and did it without stopping.  Turning around and flying down the mountain was exhilarating!  After that I met up with some friends and went to Thunder Hill boulders.  It was actually my first trip to Thunder Hill and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It’s sharp!!

Saturday I went to the lake with all of my siblings and my dad.  A few friends tagged along as well.  The temperature was in the low 90’s and the water was perfect.  Because of Jesse’s courage we were able to drag the wake board behind the pontoon boat!  It was slower than molasses but super fun and a great workout.  We nicknamed my sister Page, Tread, because she was treading water like a champ!  I’m talking 45 minutes without a “life preserver” as Dad would call it.  I have to admit I’m not the biggest lake fan but I had a damn good time.

Here are some pictures from the past week: