Monday, October 20, 2014

The Climbing Wall is Up!

Hi and welcome back!

As you can see from the title, the rock wall is now done!  It's about 12.5 feet tall, there are two sides with holds that come to a dihedral (there will eventually be two more) and we even put a chimney in one of the corners.

We started working on it in early September, and it took about four weekends.  We would have never gotten it done so well if it was just my dad and me.  Luckily, our friend Jesse Straussberger, who I've been working for since springtime, made it possible.  Here are a bunch of step-by-step pictures.

Drilling the first of the 4-foot deep holes for
the 16'x6"x6" posts

Posts in and supported. The sides are both 8' long 

The 2"x6" studs for the plywood sheets.

Painting the plywood sheets.  We used a
special paint with sand in it that looks and feels like rock.

Sorting the holds before placing them on the plywood

Figuring out the routes

Jesse hanging the plywood sheets on the studs

All done!  Here I am getting ready to climb
one of the first the rain.

My friend Cassidy in the chimney

My friend Tate getting ready to climb

Climbing in my back yard!

My dad took the video above of me climbing on the overhung route one of the first times.  I hung a cowbell at the top so you can ring it when you get all the way up.

I have to thank Jesse again for his help.  He came up with a really cool design, and then was able to make a real thing! 

I'd also like to welcome our new visitors from France.  I've noticed that a lot of people have been reading from France in the last few weeks, and I'm glad you're stopping by!

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

High Point #5!

Hi and welcome back!

A few weeks ago, my family and I went to New Jersey to climb the high point--which is called High Point.  It's in the northwest corner of the state, and it's only about two hours from where we live.

It was a warm day, but it wasn't too hot, and it was sunny, so it was a perfect day to hike.

Jed looking for bears

We took the Monument Trail, which was supposed to be 3.7 miles in all. We started out with all of us walking in the wrong direction, because my dad wasn't really paying attention, and the trail wasn't well marked.

We walked for about 20 minutes in the wrong direction before we asked a through hiker coming in the opposite direction if he had seen the high point.  He said he hadn't, which meant we were going the wrong way.

Almost there?

After about an hour of hiking, we got to a clearing and could see the summit obelisk.  It looked like it was about an hour away, but it only took a half hour from that point.

Edie and me

In all it took us about an hour and a half to get to the summit, and then dad and I hiked back to get the car.  We drove back to pick up mom, Edie, Jed, and Maisy so they didn't have to walk all the way back.

Jed was a real trooper.  He only had to go on my dad's shoulders for about fifteen minutes.

This week I'm going to do another presentation on my year in the tent and Yosemite climb.  But this time it's going to be at my old elementary school, and I will have another post on that and my new tent sometime soon.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Mt. Washington Post #2

Hi and welcome back!

Reading Camp Presentation
Before I get to my Mt. Washington climb, I want to tell you about a presentation I did two weeks ago.  I was invited to speak at a nearby town's elementary school reading camp!

I put together a slide show of pictures from my year in the tent and my Royal Arches climb, and also the Royal Arches video. I also set up our family's L.L. Bean tent that I spent the last few weeks of 2013 in.

It was a lot of fun, and I want to thank Ms. Robins for inviting me to give the presentation!

Now on to my Mt. Washington climb.

My dad and I started at Pinkham Notch Visitors Center at about 9:45 a.m.  For over half of the 4.2 mile ascent, we were climbing a pretty steep, REALLY rocky trail.  It was pretty hard on our knees.

After that, we took a turn where the Lion’s Head trail comes off the Tuckerman Ravine trail.  From there it was scrambling in fairly thick woods.  That led us above treeline.

Next we started climbing up Lion’s Head, which helps form the Tuckerman Ravine.  We then descended a tiny bit from Lion’s Head and spent about an hour scrambling in the open up to the summit!  It was just about four hours to the top.

We took a few pictures at the summit sign, then went into the visitors’ center and got lunch.

We descended the Tuckerman Ravine trail, which actually goes down into the ravine, then connects with the main, steep, rocky trail.

We started the descent on the same scramble we had just climbed up (the Lion’s Head and Tuckerman Ravine trails are the same there).  Then we continued into the ravine.  It was VERY steep, and we had to switch back down the trail, which was only about 6 feet wide in places.

Part of the way down the ravine, we ran into some snow that was at about 5,000’.  Meltwater had hollowed the snowfield out underneath, and there were caves that were big enough to crawl into (although that would have been dangerous).

From there we continued down onto the rocky trail again, which took us back to the visitors’ center at Pinkham Notch.  It was just about 8 hours round trip, and REALLY tiring.

I think our next high point will be New Jersey, but first we’re hoping to do some climbing outside!

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Mt. Washington, Post #1

Hi and welcome back!

As some of you probably know, tonight is the Great American Campout. I don't have any friends over, though, because we're getting ready to go to New Hampshire and climb Mt. Washington.

Mt. Washington is the highest peak in the northeast at 6,288 feet tall. My dad and I climbed Mt. Washington three years ago when I was eight, but we drove down so I won't count that ascent for my 50 Highest project.

If my dad and I summit, I'll do a follow-up post with the details of the climb.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Hi and welcome back!

Fishing the Mud Run
Brook Trout in the Mauch Chunk Creek
Two weeks ago, my dad and I went fly fishing on the Mud Run Creek in the Pocono mountains. Neither of us caught anything, but I hookedan 11-inch brown that broke my line right before we got him in the net. He then swam away with a White Wulff fly stuck in his mouth. Thankfully, one of our friends said that the fly would rust out of his mouth eventually.

Today my dad and I went fly fishing once again, but this time in the Mauch Chunk Creek. This time I caught an 8-inch brook trout, which we were able to get in the net.  Dad texted a picture to my teacher Mr. Rabenold, who we saw at the Memorial Day parade this morning, and he said that with a few more I would have a tin of sardines...

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Banff Mountain Film Festival

Hi and welcome back!

Last Sunday my dad and I went to the local screening of the Banff Mountain Film Festival. All of th
e films were great.

I especially liked The Questions We Ask, which was about Bruce Kirkby crossing the Pacific Ocean on a stand-up paddle board. During the film he was posing questions through his narrations about why we do things in life. This film put the thought of "Why sleep in a tent for a year?" in my head, and to be honest I don't know why. Thank you, Mrs. Decker, for telling us about the film festival!

Yesterday for our hike, my dad and I went fly fishing. This was my first time trying it, and I was really excited.  The spot where we were going to fish had about a 30 minute hike in, but when we got about 20 minutes in we hit really thick thorn bushes, and we didn't want to go through. That meant that we forced to fish there.

We had a lot of rain last week, so the creek was really high, really fast, and really muddy, which made fishing too hard. Plus, there were a lot of trees around us, so I took about ten casts, lost five flies, and caught zero fish.

"In the Wilderness?"
When we were hiking out my dad asked if I had fun, and I said yes. He said he was afraid I would never want to go again, but if I had fun yesterday, I would love it when conditions are better!

Today my dad, little brother, and I went for a hike. My little brother told me to say that he had fun and that he likes hiking.

When my dad took this picture, Jed (my brother) asked if it looked like he was in the wilderness.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Epic Hike - for School!

Hi and welcome back!
Mr. Rabenold

On Easter weekend we had an extra credit hike for school.  We hiked up Mount Pisgah near Jim Thorpe, which is pretty much the biggest hill in the area.  

About 50 people showed up, which I thought was a lot for a Saturday on a holiday weekend. 

My social studies teacher, Mr. Rabenold, started out by telling everyone about the history of Jim Thorpe and the Switchback Railroad, which we would be hiking along.

We started on a fairly short, yet steep switchback trail that ended at the top of Mt. Pisgah with an awesome view.  We could even see a few miles out to a waterfall in the distance.

At the top of Mount Pisgah with C.S. and C.S.
After that, we went on a long, slightly downhill trail. While on that trail, we saw the first known coal mine in North America. It wasn't much to see, though, because it was small and overgrown.

The Mine Entrance

The coolest part was when we had to walk across a 100 foot section that was only about a foot wide, and if you fell, you would fall/slide for 25 feet.  Luckily, no one fell.  The rock face was about 75 feet high, and it was a steep slab above the trail and to the right.  Dad, C.S. and I decided we're going to come back with our rope and try to climb it.

Inside the Mine

At the bottom of that last section was another abandoned coal mine that we all went into. Mr. Rabenold,  wasn't sure if there were any vertical shafts, so we weren't supposed to go too far into it. But my dad and I are going to come back and go deeper with headlamps to see what we can find.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Great Hikes!

Hi and welcome back!

The answer to last week's trivia question is Dick Bass.  He was the first person to climb the seven summits.

Yesterday (Saturday) my dad and I hiked to the Mahoning Creek. The creek is in the opposite direction of the pond, and my dad used to fly fish there. Lately, I've been getting into fly fishing, so we decided to go and check it out. While we were there Maisy decided to go swimming. She swam about 1/3 of the way across the creek and then decided to turn around and come back.  I could tell she had a lot fun.

Panoramic Shot of the Creek

Today I had a soccer tournament, and afterward dad and I hiked a spot where he climbed about 15 years ago.  The hike in was...interesting.  We had to do a bit of trespassing, we bushwhacked through some really thick thorns (my legs still hurt), and then we found it.

Wishing I had my Rope!

The wall was about 40 feet high, and the few minutes of bouldering that I did made it seem like the climbs ranged from 5.6 to about 5.10.  The rock was very strange.  It was broken up into squares and sections on the wall, but it wasn't loose.  You could definitely climb safely on it.  I know this, because we found almost brand-new bolts on at least a half dozen routes.  This means that in a few years when I start lead climbing, I can go out there and sport climb.

Taken by Mom

My dad is a business writer, and he has an office in an outbuilding out in a corner of our yard.  A  few days ago, I came home from school, and I was climbing on the tree right next to it.  Then I decided to go up on his roof.  Mom took a picture of me, and I thought it turned out well!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Hi and welcome back!

Last night I bivied in the back yard.  I expected it to be in the low 40s, so I was going to sleep in the 40-degree bag, but at the last minute I decided to sleep in a 20-degree bag.  I'm glad I picked that bag, because at one point during the night I woke up, and it was 27 degrees!

The Seven Summits
Dad and I just went for a hike around the field, and the tree frogs were ("peepers") were really loud.  It's strange, because I heard them for the first time last night when I went out to bivy.  We haven't heard them in months (they're quiet through the winter), and it was like someone flipped a switch.

How about a trivia question?  Do you know the name of the first person to climb the Seven Summits (the high points on each of the seven continents)?

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Climbing Wall Prototypes

Hi and welcome back!

Our friend who is going to build me a rock wall made a prototype and sent us some pictures.

I think he did a really great job, and I can't wait to get started with building it.  It looks like it could have anything from a slightly overhanging wall to a roof to a dihedral.  I'm so excited to give it a try!

He said that if we have any other ideas about the wall, we can make changes.  If anyone who has a wall has any tips or suggestions, we'd love to hear them.  We were talking about making it 10~15' tall, too.  Although we need to figure out if we're going to use crash pads, a toprope, or something else to protect against falls.  We'll have to see.  Anyway, it looks like we should have this ready to go this summer!

I realized a little while ago that I never answered the trivia question I posted about the first American to climb all the 8,000 meter peaks.  It was Ed Viesturs!

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, March 22, 2014


Hi and welcome back!

For Christmas I got a pack of 35 rock climbing holds to start a bouldering wall my dad was going to build me. Unfortunately, he isn't very handy so we made a deal with one of our friends that if I pick up their dogs' poop for a while he will build me one. I start my work tomorrow.  I'm not looking forward to it, but it will be worth it.

This morning, Maisy ran away, and my dad, my brother Jed and I went out looking for her.  For part of the time we were looking for her in the woods down by the pond, and Jed kept complaining about getting stuck in the "snicker bushes."  We tried to tell him they were "sticker bushes," but he wasn't listening.

We didn't find her, but this afternoon after we got home from climbing at the gym, we found her laying in the sun out in the backyard.  She smelled a little like skunk, so dad had to give her a bath.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Almost Spring!

Hi and welcome back!

Lately it's been well above freezing, and almost all of the snow is gone.  

The raccoon that dad and I found dead and frozen by the pond at the beginning of February is now out from under the snow.  Most of the skin is gone, and it's ribs are exposed.  It's pretty gross, but interesting.  We'll have to be sure to keep Maisy away from it.

On Friday I found this video of Mark Hudon from Right This Minute, the same show I was on just after Christmas.  He's on a ledge climbing Leaning Tower in Yosemite, when a peregrine falcon comes up onto the ledge and lands about five feet away from him and his climbing partner, Scott!  You have to watch it.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

My First Twofer!

Hi and welcome back!

Last Thursday and Friday, dad and I climbed Mt. Davis (the highest point in Pennsylvania) and Backbone Mountain (the highest point in Maryland).

On the way to Mt. Davis, though, we bought a climbing rope!  We picked the Sterling Kosmos, which is a 10.2mm rope.  That means this summer we're going to start climbing outside.

Observation Tower

It took us about 1:15 roundtrip to climb Mt. Davis.  The trail was about a mile each way from the parking lot, but it wasn't steep at all.  The temperature was in the low teens when we started, and it was very windy.  Most of the way, the snow was about a foot deep, but in spots it was closer to two feet.

Once we got to the top, we found an observation tower that was about 50 feet tall.  It was already windy at the base of the tower, and at the top the wind was about 40 mph.  We climbed up to the observation deck, but it was too cold to stay for more than about three minutes.

Smallest Church in the Lower 48

On Friday we drove to Backbone Mountain.  Right before the trailhead, there is the smallest church in the lower 48 states.  The pews hold 12 people, and if all the standing room is taken up it can fit just 24!

Backbone Mountain was a little more than a mile to the summit, but it was a pretty steep switchback trail.  The way the trail was, most of the time the snow would be about 3" deep, then in other places it would be up to my thighs.

It took us exactly an hour to get to the summit.  At the top there was a mailbox that had a logbook to sign, a sign marking the summit, and a huge stone cairn that was about 5 feet tall.

The Summit of Backbone Mountain

We couldn't really see anything from the top of Mt. Davis because of the snow, but the view from the top of Backbone Mountain was incredible.  I think we could see 50 miles into Pennsylvania on one side, and the same distance into West Virginia on the other.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

No Adirondacks

Hi and welcome back!

Mt. Marcy in the Summer
I think I mentioned in my last post that my dad and I were planning on going to the Adirondacks with my soccer coaches and a few other guys, and one of them climbed Mt. Everest.

We were going to leave tomorrow, climb Mt. Marcy (the high point in New York) on Friday, and get back Saturday afternoon.  This evening my soccer coach called to say that the way they planned the trip, it would be too far to do Mt. Marcy in a day, so they're climbing on Saturday.  That would have been too many miles for me, so we're going to do it some other time.

Instead, since I already had permission to be out of school, dad and I are going to climb the highest points in Pennsylvania (Mt. Davis) and Maryland (Backbone Mountain) over the next two days.

For those of you who asked, my leg is doing much better.  The cut is almost gone, but I have a feeling it's going to leave a scar, which is OK.

We haven't had a trivia question in a long time: who is the only American to have climbed all 14 of the 8,000-meter peaks?  He also did them without oxygen.  Here's a hint--he left a comment on my blog last Spring. 

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

My First 5.10!

Hi and welcome back!

Earth Treks

Over the weekend, instead of going to New Hampshire we went to Baltimore. About half an hour away from Baltimore there's a really cool climbing gym called Earth Treks. It has walls that are about 50 feet tall versus about 30 at our local gym.

I started out on a 5.7, which is usually a bit of a challenge on my home gym, but at Earth Treks it was really easy. Right next to it was a 5.9 (which I have never done before), which was also pretty easy.  Next I tried a 5.10b. It was hard, but I made it up!  Finally, I tried a 5.10d which I was unable to do. I'm still psyched that I did some form of a 5.10.
Altoid Survival Kit

I have to thank my sister's friend's friend for the survival kit he made me!  Some of the things it includes are matches, an LED flashlight, fish hooks, a compass, tinder, bandages, it's really cool!  And the whole thing fits in an Altoid tin. I've heard of people using the tins for these kits, but I've never seen one.  Thanks for thinking of me!  I'll definitely take it with me to Mount Marcy and on other climbs and trips in the future.

Next week my dad and I are going backpacking in the Adirondacks with my soccer coaches and a few other people.  One of my coach's friends summitted Mount Everest in 2008, so I can't wait to talk to him about it!  On that trip we're going to climb Mount Marcy, (the highest point in New York State) and a few other peaks.  I'll be sure to tell you all about it.

Thanks for reading!