Monday, December 16, 2013

Rock Climbing - Mission Trails Park

Tori and I went rock climbing with The Southern Terrain on Sunday. After having to reschedule the weekend before due to rain, we had nice blue skies and temperatures that made it up to the high 70s by noon. It was very cold though when we met up with our climbing guide, Joshua Reinig, at the Mission Trails Regional Park before 8am. After everyone in the group received their climbing shoes and helmets, we walked down the Father Junipero Serra Trail with the granite face of Kwaay Paay Mountain (1,194 feet) looming ahead.

Hiking up the steep switchbacks of the Climbers Loop Trail, we crossed over to the south end of the Main Wall where we met up with Diego who had been anchoring the top ropes for our morning session near Lunch Rock. Below, we could see the tree-filled valley of the San Diego River winding away to the West. Placing our packs on the ground, we put on our climbing harnesses while Joshua gave us the safety talk, described the proper climbing commands and instructed us on how to properly tie the belay rope to our safety harness with two figure eights.

Climbing up first, Diego demonstrated the main route up Skyline Arete that has a difficulty of 5.8+. I went up third with Diego as the belayer. It was quite easy until I reached the narrow ledge half-way up and looked down for the first time. It didn't matter that I had a rope attached to my waist, my stomach still feared a possible fall. Diego gave helpful hints as I faced the top section of steep granite with tiny holds. It took about three climbing moves before my hand found a solid grip again and I made it to the top of the 80 foot climb. The rope had a lot of stretch to it as I leaned back in my harness to be lowered down in big hopping steps.

After Tori climbed Skyline Arete as well, we headed over to the second climbing station where Joshua was the belayer. This roped section contained two climbing routes, Beautiful (5.5) to the right and Mission Control (5.7) to the left. Tori went first this time and we found out that Joshua went to San Dieguito High School as well and knows my younger brother, Jordan.

Climbing after Tori, I took my camera up with me and took some cool shots looking across at the steep headwall of Skyline Arete and back down to the bottom. After that earlier descent on the rope, my subconscious now trusted the safety of the rope completely and I was able to climb for the rest of the day without fear. At the top of Beautiful, it was nice to stick my head out of the mountain's shadow and feel the warm sun on my face.

Heading back over to Skyline Arete, Tori tried the more difficult overhang start (5.9ish) with Diego marking the best toeholds with chalk. She made it up her first attempt and worked her way up along the right edge where the rising sun now illuminated the difficult Orange Walk (5.10) route around the outside corner. Reaching a tough spot she slipped and swung on the end of the line before climbing the rest of the way up the center. I tried the overhang next. The handholds were very shallow and I had to make three quick climbing moves to make it out the first time. Climbing along the sunny ridge, I reached the same spot where Tori slipped and met the same fate. I am glad I pushed it enough to fall at least once.

The sun finally reached the trail as we climbed once more over on Joshua's top rope, experimenting with different routes up the rock face before the climbing session ended. Hiking back down the trail, we passed The Thumb, a distinctive pillar of rock on the north edge of the Main Wall. I bet that would be fun to climb sometime.

It was my first time at Mission Trails. It is nice to know that there is good climbing area so close to home. My forearms and calves are a little sore today but otherwise I feel great.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Engagement Photo Shoot at the Trapeze Rig

Tori and I have been wanting some professional Engagement Photos taken before our wedding so our friend, Wayne Labat, offered to shoot them to build up the portfolio for his company, Happy Dragon Photography. We could have gone the normal route with some sunset pics at the beach but since we all do trapeze, we decided to dress up nice and take the pictures while flying on the rig in Escondido.

After Wayne set up his gear, we started out taking pictures on the new set of traveling rings before moving over to the trapeze rig. I climbed into the catch trap first so we could take pictures with Tori swinging toward me in a Knee Hang. Since our arms would hide our faces if I caught her, we just did timers while smiling and trying to keep our arms out of the way of the camera's angle. It is harder to get into the catch lock with stiff jeans and a button-down shirt but I thought Wayne got some great shots.

Wayne really wanted us to attempt the Bridge (holding a catch mid-air) before letting go with one hand to turn our upper torsos to the camera. We connected and held on the first attempt, but it was much easier for me to hold the position in the Catch Lock than for Tori in the Knee Hang and we released before Wayne could snap a photo. Since I was wearing knee pads under my jeans, we decided to switch places to see if I could hold the Knee Hang longer. Overconfident, I forwent the safety lines and Tori and I connected again on our first attempt. Wayne got off one shot before my legs gave out and I fell to the net. It is much, much harder to keep the legs bent with a metal bar pulling against them.

I hooked up to the safety belt for the next attempt with Dave coming over to take some of my weight on the lines. Tori and I were able to hold the pose longer this time, even releasing one hand to turn toward the camera for a few shots before my legs tired but the best poses came out blurry. Bummer! With a stunt ring in my pocket to try and present to Tori, we tried the Bridge one more time. We connected and I tried to fetch the ring out but the back of my knees were shot and we released without a good picture.

During the resting periods between shoots, I used Wayne's expensive SLR camera to take his picture with Lisa and their son, Tucker, dressed up as elves in the net for their Christmas card. We traded places and Tori and I took some pictures in the net's apron as well.