Sunday, April 15, 2018

Rob's Knobs

... had to grin after recently reading an on-line description of 'Rob's Knobs' as a climbing area "apparently belonging to Rob"...

... dug up a few not too recent photos from this place - decent images, thought we'd post 'em up - not doing any good setting in a computer file... used to have a bunch of old '80's era prints in the archives but couldn't find 'em - probably have the negatives somewhere in the negatives binders, will search thru 'em one of these days... file information for these digital images say '08 - doesn't seem that long ago... time rolls along..

... two separate visits from back then - tagged along with Tim and Laura (Hahn) Anderson on both... that's them in the images unless noted otherwise...

... stumbled across this place in the early 80's by accident - was actually following vague directions, given to us by a geologist our buddy 'Rob' knew, to reach another rock outcrop called the 'Lost World' (known now'days as the 'Lost Crag') - took a wrong turn and wound up here... the area had recently been timbered, and you could view the 'Lost World' setting on the adjacent ridgeline across the hollow - was highly impressed with this place, so saved the Lost World for a later date... was pretty stoked - phoned Rob immediately upon arriving back home to inform him of the find (no cell phones back then) - we were back the next weekend with climbing gear...

... not a large area - a few very large boulders - but what is there is all high quality with lots of climbing to be done - definitely one of the best small crags anywhere...

... we put up maybe a dozen routes over time (pictured above is actually the first route ever done back then - Tim's buddy, Christian, climbing this day) - we weren't really into naming routes and gave pretty much vague ratings to what we had done - on top of that we were working probably two to three other area crags and were floating between each mainly on the weekends (along with paddling, biking, caving and other endeavors) - so we didn't get a whole lot completed...

... Christian and his wife Rayna above...

... we put up mostly what would take gear because that is what we were in to (no previewing or working moves on top rope), besides, you couldn't get to the top to most of the (good) stones otherwise... rating wise, we compared everything to High Rocks (Derry PA), so anything of difficulty we called 5.10... placing bolts* was definitely a sacrilege in Rob's book, which didn't matter anyway - he was a fanatic of as well as a master in small gear placement and loved fiddling with RP's and contrivances such as Lowe Balls, Sliders, Tri-Cams and such - one short roof crack that he climbed as such was subsequently bolted and repeated by others and rated at 5.12 (definitely then one of the first area climbs rated so) - he did everything in impeccable style - never hanging on the rope to rehearse moves, and any fall was repeated ground up...

... Tim working above some nested small cams and making Rob proud (5.11c/d)...

... Tim again with a few trees providing some nice framing...

... anyway, as it went, Rob eventually "turned the place on" to a friend who in turn "turned the place on" to some friends - eventually pretty much every route was bolted - bolts were added to established gear routes - with the whole series of events infuriating Rob who in turn pronounced the entire area desecrated ground and vowed never to return... to this day he never has.... 

... Rayna on a steep boulder start...

... so that's the 'Legend of Rob's Knobs' if you want to consider it that... 

... Laura and steep face climbing...

... ditto for Tim...

... anyway, to (possibly) give a bit of solace to Rob's angst (after lo so many years) - last fall we had the experience of witnessing three strong (young) guys from down south ripping the place... we had pulled in to the lot to park next to a large Ford van with Tennessee plates and a few whitewater boats strapped to the roof racks - lots of gear supplier stickers plastered on the van - we were unloading for an MTB ride with nothing in particular in mind so figured to ride up to the crags - first the Knobs and if no one there then the Lost Crag... ran into the guys from the van at the first stop Knobs - they were totin' seven crash pads between the three of 'em and had rigged a few stones only for rappel lines - they were on-sighting some hard lines (while we were there - including the above) and said that they intended to boulder (unroped) every route on their map - (??!!) - a pretty impressive feat if they ever accomplished it... if they're viewing, would be curious to find out...


*... to the uninitiated, the mechanical drilling and permanent fastening of "eye bolts" (basically speaking) into natural rock formations for the purpose of providing a "safety anchor" (basically speaking) in the event of a fall while attempting to climb the exterior face of said rock has always been and always will be a controversial act to many, ethically and environmentally, with regard to the sport of rock climbing...

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Big John

... Gilgamesh, wherefore do you wander? The eternal life you are seeking you shall not find. When the gods created man, they allotted to him death, and withheld eternal life for themselves...

-The Epic of Gilgamesh
... lots of interesting times (to say the least)...

(old guys - hangin' up on the ridge, around 2011)
1944 - 2017

... can't recall many that would be considered "General Audience" material, but do recall a few...

... very long ago...

... had been hanging out down along the railroad tracks with our buddy, Vince J. ("the Juice") - shooting .22's and plinking bottles, tin cans and whatever else we found lying between the ties...
John: "Hey Vince - shoot this can off my head!"
Vince: "Aww John"
John:"C'mon man, shoot this can off my head"
Vince: "Aww John"
John: "I mean it man, shoot this can off my head!!"
... so, reluctantly, Vince walks over, puts the barrel of the .22 right against the can and 'POP!!'... *
John: "OK, now it's my turn!!"
----------
... long ago...

... we'd been backpacking for several hours... although I had offered the borrowing of some modern, lighter gear, John had insisted on totin' along his own Vietnam-era, marine corps issued stuff, including arctic-style sleeping bag, which itself had to weigh at least thirty pounds... along with food, water, .22 rifle, fishing gear and whatever else (including our survival kit of several bottles of 'Smirnoff'), he was packin' a heavy load... walkin' through a particular swampy area, and each lost in his own thoughts, the loosening of his pack shoulder strap went unnoticed until it finally let loose, swinging the pack violently sideways and John along with it, almost taking him to the ground... don't know where his thoughts had drifted prior to that moment (John was a Vietnam veteran with combat experience - I'm sure that the chest-high marsh grass we'd been moving through had elicited some memories), but he reacted as if being woken from a nightmare and looked at me saucer-eyed, asserting "Man - I thought I'd been hit!!!"...

----------
... not so long ago...

... hadn't seen him in quite a few years - he'd been living near Baltimore - he found out I'd been working in the area and invited me over to his Maryland home to visit... arrived at his place one afternoon to find a note taped to the door - "Had to go pick up the kids at practice. Door unlocked. Beer in the refrigerator"... made myself at home and am sitting in what is definitely John's lounger, sipping a Pabst Blue Ribbon and reading the daily newspaper... eventually hear the slamming of car doors outside, the opening of the front door and and then a herd of footsteps rushing up the stairs (it's a walk-up living room)... before I could even lower the newspaper it's kicked from my hands straight into the air, pages showering the room - directly to the front and on both sides I'm confronted by three young girls, each dressed in karate uniforms, and each in zenkutsu-dachi counter attack mode... a familiar voice from behind suggests only that I "smile"... easy thing to do - John's home...

... anticipating more interesting times ahead - hanging together again with an eternity of wandering throughout the cosmos... 


*Disclaimer: Expert marksmen and firearm handlers (aka: couple young dumb punks) - do not attempt at home or school

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Coming of the Green

... with springtime and the "coming of the green" it's always exhilarating to take a solitary soul ride to connect with the spirits and unseen deities of the natural world who grant us friendly passage thru their woodland realm, and who, as we speak, are shedding snowy blankets and shaking the frost following their long winter slumber...

... a familiar route...

... amongst field...

... forest...

... stream...

... stone...

... fowl and fauna...
                                                          
... "each blade of grass whispers Jack-in-the-Green"...

... these guys get it...
    
... Anderson and Tull - brilliant sixteenth century men ahead of their time...

... his works begun...
(internet image)
... see ya' again soon, our friend...

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Wonderful Old Hills...

"... yawning with age and satisfied to lie there comfortably under the sun... worn down like old hounds teeth... all done with the battles fought by young mountains like the Rockies and the Sierras... the oldest mountains on the continent... furred with oak and hickory and time, and are as serene about their clear, frisky rivers as old animals are with the new litter playing across their bellies..."

- Mitch Jayne          

... viewing the bottom Youghiogheny River Valley and westward across the Allegheny Plateau from high atop Chestnut Ridge...

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Groundhog.... Groundhog

... good work Phil!...

(Internet image)
... six more weeks of winter - won't be greedy - we'll settle for two feet of snow along with it if you please...

... these guys been great for 50+ years...


... into it now - one more...


... encore...


... the Dillards - brilliant!!...

... update 02/04/17...

... Phil comin' through today - we'll take it...

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Warren Miller

... freedom found...

1924 - 2018

... "when you come down the mountain from your first time on skis, you are a different person... the weariness in the mind slips away, and there's a wonderful feeling of being powered by that huge force called total freedom"...
-WM                                

Saturday, January 27, 2018

The Historic Big Inch

... never realized the historical significance of the 'Big Inch Pipeline' until just recently - bet you could ask ten out of ten people hereabouts and get the same comment... did hear a few local "old timers" refer to it as the Big Inch a time or two ("... there's a lot of rattlers along the Big Inch"), but never inquired as to why...

... travels 1400 miles from East PA to East Texas - built in 11 months (!!) in 1942 for the sole purpose of supplying oil to east coast refineries and subsequently European troops for the purpose of kicking the Nazis ass in WWII, who themselves were sinking the majority of the oil tanker shipments off the coast of Florida when rounding the Florida peninsula... goes over eight mountain ranges, under thirty rivers and hundreds of small streams - was the biggest pipeline project in the world at the time...

... heres a few informative links:



... a short informative video for those who gotta' run:


... another short construction video - not the Big Inch, but fun:


... found a few old archive photos of our own:

... bet we've climbed this section of the Big Inch at least a hundred times over the years en route to a local rock crag and boulder field - these photos are from sometime in the 90's during an upgrade - wasn't aware of the history at the time - would have liked to have gotten a souvenir hunk of the original pipe looking back on it... sat and watched an operator bring a big track backhoe down that steep slope one day (is a lot steeper than the photo suggests) - he pretty much bull-rode it down the whole distance using only his bucket to brake the machine, which slid, bucked and rocked like crazy and occasionally spun near ninety degrees the whole trip - pretty impressive handling on that guy's part...

... a bit better perspective - strongman Matt and the Big Inch about 600 feet above the Dunbar Creek valley - another day, watched that big CAT dozer (in the photo) winching another big dozer up that big slope - the operator would back up then drift forward then back up the drift forward and so on - each time stopping right at the top of the big drop on the drift - after getting the other big machine to the top he shut down and got off his big CAT - I thought he was pulling the other big machine up the big hill - he said no - the big CAT he was on didn't have any brakes(!!)... "I been tellin' 'em they need fixed"...

... a 90's Muscle Girl Sarah along this day as well - we see she has along her combination brush/briar/rattlesnake stick (for shoo'n 'em off the path) - wise gal - that's big rattler habitat up there...

... nothin' but respect for the guys and gals (recall there was a very good female welder or two on this project) who construct this stuff - Good Work!!...

Saturday, January 20, 2018

The Big Inch

... have for many years occasionally "rolled the grapes" over a local natural gas pipeline ('The Big Inch'), aligned thru some pretty rugged terrain, with thoughts of the practicality of a ski tour - did a few recon trips on foot as well as frequently hiking a particularly steep section when accessing a favorite rock climbing crag - always considered the steep slopes as a bit too much to tackle considering the capability of the light nordic XC skis of the time, and filed the idea away as something that may be fun some day with the right equipment and snow conditions...

... hey - those backcountry ski boards we been playin' around on for the past ten years are really responsive, adapt well to the dense woods hereabout, and the built-in climbing skins climb extremely well compared to the positrack base available on standard touring skis - the route we had in mind was gonna' include a lot of steep up, and down... and nothin' better in mind come Sunday...

... on top of that, these two guys are up for anything cold and tough (= fun)... above - venturing south and close to a mile and three-quarter from the trailhead (elevation = 0ft) and around 525ft of elevation veer east and continue along this steep trail...

... with steep climbing...

... two miles out you can take a short diversion and check out these very cool rock formations at around 680ft elevation...

... lots of big boulders...

... separated by a maze of narrow corridors...

... lots of bouldering potential - we put up quite a few routes years back - not much easy access (walk up) to the top of most of the blocks and a forest of rhododendron hence...

... one long corridor in particular is very cool...

... sports a wall of these giant roots that we discussed early on in another topic...

... then pinches to narrow, near shoulder width at length...

... leaving the boulders, another mile through woods and fields gets ya' to intersection with the 'Big Inch' and open blue sky at highpoint 800ft elevation - think it never got to above 15º(F) this day - never felt below freezing...

... viewing due west - as expected, appears to be a tough one mile between here and return to the trailhead - what we came for...

... some gliding terrain finally - this was actually a pretty nice downhill - a bit slower on the skiboards - those buit-in climbing skins slow ya' down a bit on the downhill slopes - but that's OK...

... another steep 40ft of climbing...

... got shut down on this first big downslope (240ft drop in 0.2 miles per topo mapping) - what we expected to be the crux of the trip (wasn't to be) - the entire slope was covered with an impenetrable forest of greenbriars with thorns the size of daggers - we had to ditch the boards and bushwack the equally steep forested sideslope (and more greenbriars)...

... hopping the small tributary stream at the bottom of the gully - viewing ahead to another 0.4 miles and a rolling 330ft of climbing to the top of the distant ridgeline...

... opted to continue on foot over this section as well - didn't matter one way or the other...

... viewing back due east ridgeline to ridgeline...

... encountered this very nice large stand of hemlocks...

... a bit more distance of climbing then it's all an easy, albeit steep, downhill dropping a big 620ft in 0.4 miles and return to the vehicle...

... which was not to be - the west facing slope of the pipeline was again covered with a sea of dagger greenbriars - we opted to travel the adjacent old construction road which turned out to be the crux of the trip - many large fallen trees blocking the upper very steep and washed 0.2 mile...

... with very steep, washed and rocky open skiing in the remainder - lots of sidestepping and a few pretty good wipeouts by all when surprised by unseen shallow snow covered rocks or swept down into deep ruts - this photo does no justice at all to the angle of slope or conditions...

... altogether, a great (albeit tough) trip - minus the greenbriars, would be highly recommended with another one (good) to two (best) feet of snow cover - those skiboards are a wide 100mm to 110mm under foot and a bit tough to set on  edge in shallow snow conditions (was probably four to six inches cover this day) - but still, after today consider them made for this kind of stuff - they took a heck of a beating in that final half mile - wouldn't recommend driving them with anything but stiff touring boots as well (we fit 'em with three-pin Alpina Alaska 75's/Voile HD bindings which work great)...

A brief summary:
Total trip length: 4 miles
Total trip time: 5 hours (including time checking out the boulders)
Total climbing elevation: 800 feet (trailhead to highpoint)
Additional climbing elevation: 370 feet
Total climbing: 1,170 feet
Steep downhill: (between >30º to <50º) 860 feet
Wipeouts (in 0.4 miles): 12 (a guess, between the three of us)
Fun: 5 out of 5

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Kentuck

... final day of a great two week run of below freezing temperatures and powder snow - thee days later (unfortunately) was 64º(F) around here... hit up the Kentuck ski area at Ohiopyle SP...

... around 25º(F) and sunny skies...

... could have used a bit more snow but not bad - varied around four to six inches and still powder...

... a nice long downhill or two up there - this is the best one -  continues well beyond that distant bend...

... fast and lots of fun...

... an intersecting trail loops back around with a nice long hillclimb...

... gets ya' back to the top and another run if ya' want...

... alternately some great rolling terrain thru the woods...

... and open meadows...

... some fast moving...

... they got one fun trail along the wooded hillside that we remember used to be rated a "black diamond" years ago (the sign is gone now) - had a few downed trees across it this day and appears seldom used (and unfortunately not maintained) - a snaking drop or two and a few fast winding bends along it - not bad though...

... noticeable difference on the modern BC 110's with sidecut and metal edges driven with some stiff three pin boots compared to the old straight cut nordic kickers and soft boots (still - and although he denies it - we suspect this guy's been on skis before - skis too well to not have)...

... other than lots of deer prints the whole area was untracked - steady movin' for close to three hours today - we'll figure a conservative four miles of travel...