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Tuesday, April 29, 2003

All Work and No Play...


I broke out my spring and summer toys. I finally took my mountain bike to the shop to have the broken fork fixed and I did my first bit of sport climbing for the New Year. Nothing too ambitious; we went to a place known prosaically as exit 38 after its exit number on I-90. It is a pretty beautiful spot and the climbing crags are a few hundred feet above the Snoqualmie valley floor.

It was a great day to shake out the equipment and relearn/refresh my climbing skills. The drive out of town was spectacular. It was one of those days where you can see forever. On the drive across Lake Washington Mount Rainier dominated the sky to the right and Mount Baker loomed to the North some 200 miles away.

We had the place to ourselves and hiked up the well-worn trail. We started out at the easiest wall that lies directly at the entrance to the railroad bridge. My first attempt to tie a figure 8 knot looked like a half-eaten plate of spaghetti but it all came back quickly. Climbing is mostly about safety. All of the gear is to make climbing as safe as possible, to eliminate risk whenever and where ever possible.


Me: “Dying on a climb would suck but dying on a climb doing something stupid would be totally fucking embarrassing.”

Tobias: “You can’t make mistakes in this sport like how the Mets had five errors on Sunday.”

There weren’t any accidents on this day and the two climbs we did went well. In fact, I thought I did better than I've ever done before. Maybe there is hope for me in this sport. The only screw up I had was when Tobias was leading on the second climb. The first move is a little tricky and instead of me spotting him--in case he fell--I just stood there with the rope in my hand. He didn’t see me so it doesn’t count. Besides, lots of people break their backs and go on to live fairly normal lives.

On a related note, I have been playing a lot of piano lately and I seem to be playing better than ever. I sight read one of the Goldberg Variations (VII). I played it slowly but it sounded good and I even played it with all of the ornaments which I usually leave out when playing a new piece. Piano is a lot like rock climbing for me in that although I practice a lot I never seemed to get appreciably better. Maybe I have turned a corner on both of these hobbies.

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