Sunday 16 March 2008

Girls in high speed fight on rollerskates

Chalk up another one for quirky America. We went and saw the Baltimore Charm City Roller Girls take on the Denver Rocky Mountain Roller Girls in a Roller Derby. Roller Derby seems to be a niche sport for Goths(!), which combines elements of speed skating (except on rollerskates) and gridiron. The hits are big, and there is plenty of strategy, manoeuvring, and blocking to get the "jammer" through the pack to score points. Great to watch, there were probably a couple of thousand people at the Baltimore Armoury for the bout. The Charm City Rollers won, go B'more!

Wednesday 12 March 2008

How to pass an Earth Treks lead climbing and lead belaying test

Lead Climbing:

  • Usual harness and biner checks before climbing. Make sure rope is flaked.
  • Make sure you are good at clipping with both hands, with clips facing towards and away.
  • Make comfortable clips, optimal range is shoulders to knees. You should hang with a straight arm where possible to allow the skeletal system to take the load and waste less energy.
  • Don't use your teeth to hold slack when you don't grab enough on the first go since if you fall you can rip teeth out. Wrap your lips over your teeth or make sure you scream when you fall :)
  • Call your clips.
  • Don't backstep: don't step behind the rope so that it could flip you if you fall. The rope should be between you and the wall at all times.
  • Don't backclip: rope should always run from the wall out the front of the clip.
  • Don't Z-clip: don't clip the section of rope below your last clip. Grab the rope from the knot at your harness.
  • Make sure you clip the 2 quickdraws at the top with the gates opposing. Avoid the rope "X" that creates friction during lowering.
  • If you fall, don't grab the rope. Raise your feet and put your hands out to protect yourself from the swing into the rock.

Lead Belaying:

  • Usual harness and biner checks before climbing. Make sure rope is flaked.
  • Stand to the side of the climber for the first 3 clips, and close in to the wall. This ensures a falling climber won't hit you or get snagged on a taut rope.
  • Come out from the wall after 3rd clip for better visibility.
  • Leave appropriate slack.
  • Give good rope for clips. Take a step towards the wall and throw an armful of rope through the device. I find the palm-up, thumb-down belay method is best for managing the amount of slack available to the leader.
  • Call any backclips, backsteps, and Z-clips.
  • Wait for the lowering call before lowering the climber.
  • If the climber falls, allow yourself to be lifted up in your harness and raise your feet for the impact with the wall.

How to pass an Earth Treks or Sportrock belay test

I used a variant of the palm down technique that requires you to be able to catch a fall with either hand as your brake. They didn't like it too much but passed me anyway. The palm up, thumb down method is very common in America, but I think it is pretty ordinary for top-roping.

Tubes and fake snow

We went snow-tubing in Pennsylvania for Angus' farewell at a ski resort called Liberty Mountain in Pennsylvania. It was awesome fun and ridiculously warm (48°F/9°C), which was really nice - no beanie or gloves required! It was pretty weird because it had been raining(!) a lot and there was no snow anywhere off the runs. The wonders of modern snow making. Not sure I would want to ski there.... Check out Flickr for the photos.

Monday 3 March 2008

Yay, a chicken.

I have to admit I had written off Baltimore Zoo in the first 10 minutes. The first exhibit of Maryland marshland really sucks - there are supposed to be some tiny turtles in this gigantic swamp area. Yay. Then came the farm animals. Yay, a chicken. Thankfully the Africa exhibit and the crazy human-like antics of the baby chimpanzees saved the day. I was disappointed the Warthog wasn't there because the picture on the sign made it look like one ugly mofo. All in all not bad for a city zoo!

Baltimore gets a massive rap

Baltimore got a big thumbs up from the Sydney Morning Herald. Go Baltimore!