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Climbing is dangerous! Every year many climbers are broken, maimed, and killed. Don't be so foolish as to trust your life to what you see here. I'm not a guide and neither is this web site. If you don't know what you are doing or where you are going, please take a course or hire a guide!

U.S. Gear Prices
Mountain Dreamer
911 Comment
My 2002 Funk

Humor, Bullshit, Opinions, and Plagiarism

The 23rd Psalm, Northwest Climber's Edition (adapted by me)

The Random and Omnipotent Goddess of Northwest Weather is my Shepard; I shall want.
She maketh me to become soaked to the bone in green slide-alder thickets:
She leadeth me onto the slick-as-snot log crossing the raging waters.
She taxeth every fiber of my soul:
She leadeth me unto the way-paths of Beckey and I take His name in vain.

Yea, though the approach seemeth like a walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil devil's club: For thy Goretex art with me;
Thy trekking poles and thy cortisone creme, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a sucker-hole in the tempest storm for me in the presence of mine friends;
Thou annointest my head with rain, ice, and rock fall; My courage runneth away.

Surely "obvious gullies" and "easy 4th class terrain" shall beckon me for all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the House of the Cascades forever.

(click here to see the "real" version)

Greg Childs' Ten Point Dialectic of Bivouacking
(as pilfered from "Postcards from the Ledge")

  1. There is always a better ledge above. 
  2. There is never a better ledge above.
  3. One bad bivouac inspires talk about a worse one.
  4. One always neglects to bring extra clothing.
  5. Whoever runs away lives to bivouac another day.
  6. One should always finagle a better spot that one's partner.
  7. The question of who is dominant and who is passive is answered by a simple question: Who becomes the pillow?
  8. Etiquette is essential, whether the bivouac is bad or otherwise.
  9. Always carry a foam pad to sleep on.
  10. If I had a bivouac sack over this sleeping bag, I'd be dry and warm, if I had a sleeping bag.

If you like this, buy Greg's book, "Postcards from the Ledge". There you will find several gut-busting stories, including the saga of "The One Who Bivies Highest". If you are reading this Greg, sorry for stealing your work. Hopefully the you'll sell a few more books as a result.

Rants and Raves

My diatribe against gear prices in the U.S. has moved to a separate page. Click on the U.S. Gear Prices button to get there.


How to Prepare for Ski Season

(author unknown)

1. Fasten a small wide rubberband around the top half of your head before you go to bed each night.
2. If you wear glasses, begin wearing them with glue smeared on the lenses.
3. Throw a hundred dollar bill away right now.
4. Find the nearest ice rink and walk across the ice twenty times in your ski boots carrying two pairs of skis, accessory bag and poles. Pretend you are looking for your car. Sporadically drop things.
5. Place a small but angular pebble in your shoes, line them with crushed ice, and then tighten a c-clamp around your toes.
6. Buy a new pair of gloves and immediately throw one away.
7. Secure one of your ankles to a bed post and ask a friend to run into you at high speed.
8. Go to McDonalds and insist on paying $9.50 for a hamburger. Be sure you are in the longest line.
9. Clip a lift ticket to the zipper of your jacket and ride a motorcycle fast enough to make the ticket lacerate your face.
10. Drive slowly for five hours - anywhere - as long as it's in a snowstorm and you're following an eighteen-wheeler.
11. Fill a blender with ice, hit the pulse button and let the spray blast your face. Leave ice on your face till it melts. Let it drip into your clothes.
12. Dress up in as many clothes as you can and then proceed to take them off because you have to go the bathroom.
13. Slam your thumb in a car door. Don't go see a doctor.
14. Repeat all the above every Saturday and Sunday until it's time for the real thing!

From My Bag of Tricks

Here is a little list of tools and techniques that work well for me. For God’s sake don’t take them as the only “right” way, they just work well for me.


Bibler Tents: Pound for pound these are the most roomy, durable, bomb-proof tents made. Of course, each of those pounds will set you back about $100. I was once buried on the Muir Snowfield in my Fitzroy and didn’t realize it until I bumped the side of the tent. Caveat: On that same trip the tent was destroyed when we tried to dig it out. You MUST be very careful with sharp objects around the “Todd-tex” fabric. An incidental bump where a pole is running will cut the tent open.
Grivel AirTech Racing Axe: Light, stong, bomber. No CE rating, but I’m told it would pass, they just didn’t want to pay for the testing. Who knows? Certainly, though, you don’t need a four pound axe to stroll up a glacier.
Dynafit Randonee Boots and Bindings: This is the gear for a climber who skis. If you are a skier who climbs, then go heavy (Raichle Denalis or tele). The boots ski well, take a crampon nicely, and I actually prefer them over my Lowa Civettas for water ice. Going from full-on tour mode to downhill mode is a bit of a bother (add spoiler, crank down buckles, engage cant-lock), but I'm not a yo-yo skier: Once I point them down hill, I'm usually headed to the car.
"Anchors That Stay" Snowstakes: Sure, axes, pickets, and skis work great to secure the tent, but don’t you need those in the morning? And then what is going to prevent your tent from blowing to Eatonville while you slog up the Emmons? These little devices, made from a 5" thin plastic circle and webbing, are too expensive, but they are a lot less expensive than that new tent. Bite the bullet and get at least four. They weigh nothing.
MSR Stoves: People seem to love them or hate them, but since MSR added the “shaker-jet” I haven’t had a problem with a Whisperlite (except on the trip where we forgot all means of making fire. Duh.) For super-cooking go for the XGK-II. It reportedly runs on any flammable liquid. I heard a rumor of someone burning perfume in one.
Lightweight Approach Shoes: Why are you making that five mile dry-trail approach in your plastics? Get a pair of medium-duty tennis shoes and carry the plastics. It is less work to carry two pounds on your back than one pound on your feet. Stash the tennis shoes in a plastic bag when you put on your plastics. You’ll be smiling when you get back to them. The Emmons on Rainier is a perfect example of when this really works: After descending from the summit to the toe of the Interglacier (8000 vertical feet), it feels great to put those lightweight shoes back on for the four mile walk to the parking lot.
Down/dryloft Sleeping Bags: If you are a weekend warrior, like me, then it isn’t too difficult to keep the bag dry for a few days, especially with a dryloft cover. Down is lighter, warmer, more compressible, and lasts longer than synthetic. I have a closet full of “LiteLoft” bags. What a waste of money.
Cotton Tshirts: What? Cotton? Yes! On hot summer days cotton will keep you cool on the approach. Change to synthetic when you get down to serious business. Oh, and a cotton Tshirt is $5, about $30 less than a synthetic version.
MightyLite Stove Stand: I hate trying to keep my stove from sinking into the snow. And I frequently use a shovel with a plastic blade. This lightweight stand keeps the fuel bottle and stove together and above the snow. And about all those rivets: It was invented by a Boeing engineer. What else would he use to fasten things together?
Web-O-Lette: A long piece of webbing with a loop sewn in each end. Works better than a cordelette for equalizing three pieces quickly and is lighter and easier to manage. Too expensive, but I bought one anyway.
Black Diamond Alpine Bod harness: Easy in, easy out. Elegant and simple. Lightweight and light on the wallet. Strong. What more can you ask? Comfort? Oh, well, don’t wear one on rock routes. I’m talking about glacier climbing here, silly.
Black Diamond Whippet Self-arrest Ski Grip: If you ski like I do, you’ll appreciate the only metal self-arrest ski grip available. Too bad it is so expensive.
OR Windstopper Balaclava: Perhaps my favorite piece of gear. Warm, blocks the wind, and fits well under a helmet. Too warm? Just put it on like a cap, with your head in the face hole. Add a pair of ski goggles and you’re ready to brave any wind that doesn’t knock you off your feet.
DTS Tracker Avy Transceiver: I have two transceivers, a DTS Tracker and an Ortovox F1 Focus. When I have to share, I give the Tracker to my partner. Name another piece of gear where you want your partner’s to be better? ‘Nuff said.


About Dry Socks: Wet feet suck. And if you perspire like me, you have wet socks at the end of the day. Want them dry in the morning without freezing your feet all night? Take them off and put them on your shoulders under your layers. Voila! Warm feet at night, dry socks in the morning. My NOLS instructor friend Erica taught me this.
About Warm Feet: My feet used to freeze for hours in my sleeping bag on winter trips. I tried dry socks, down booties, more food, and hot water bottles. Nothing helped. Then I tried taking off my heavy socks and sleeping in just liners. Shazam! Warm, comfy feet.
About Warm Hands: I just love MyCoal Grabber chemical hand warmers. They are small enough to fit inside a glove and are air-activated, so the temperature can be increased by repeatedly making a fist (pumping in more air). They don’t get too hot to keep right against skin. I put them in the palm of my hand.

Stuff that Just Sucks

Avocet Vertech: Even when it was the only option, this was a bad choice. The battery lasts only 10-12 months and costs $25-$50 to have changed, and usually takes months. The buttons break off. And it is only marginally water resistant. Get a Suunto if you can. If you can't and want to try to change the battery yourself, here are some instructions (in verbatim) I found in the Internet (I've never tried it myself):
  1. Carefully open it and protect the rubber gasket. A clip goes across the battery one side of it has a little release tab.
  2. Put in the new battery and replace the clip exactly as before.
  3. After you have put in the new battery, push down the very small reset button inside the watch case, and hold for a second or two, then replace the back.
  4. It is very difficult to replace the rubber gasket, but it only requires patience.
Prices charged by some gear companies just for U.S. sales. I rant about this elsewhere.
Two Layer Gore-tex: Almost the same price, heavier, and less effective than its three-layer cousin, it just isn't worth the money you save.
Trail Park Passes: The shameful form of double-taxation is a crime. Check out for more info.
Trango Ice Clippers: How much do they suck? Let me count the ways:
  1. They don't fit well on my BD Alpine Bod harness.
  2. They make weighted/hanging belays very uncomfortable.
  3. They wear holes in clothes.
  4. The spring steel clips bend easily, allowing expensive and precious ice screws to simply fall off. I had this happen twice in winter 2000-01.
  5. They cost too much. Suck, suck, suck.
REI: What happened to the co-op that was founded so that its members wouldn't have to mail-order gear from overseas? In recent years I've found them once without any three-layer Gore-tex garments and another time without any belay devices (any at all, period, none of any kind). Oh, and this was at their "flagship" store. Most of the employees know only slightly more than nothing about what they are selling. Rumor has it that their current leadership would rather not sell any gear at all, as clothing is more profitable. Huh? I thought this was a non-profit co-op.


This page was last edited on Saturday, July 03, 2004
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