Maculated Does Pine Mountain Pulldown:
Aug 26, 2009, 8:39 AM
Registered: Dec 22, 2001
Well, it's only a couple weeks before this year's festivity and pimpin' the pulldown got me to thinking . . . after many years off real climbing because of a bad shoulder, I actually have a TR to post! And, in classic form - it's long and riddled with humor.
. . .
It had been over a year since Yishai came back from a trip to Pine Mountain bouncing around and announcing to everyone at the bouldering gym we manage his grand new idea for an event - what about a competition up there? Never having been there, I smiled wanly at him as he chirped: "It would be sick! The bouldering is SO good and the place is amazing - - this is going to be way better than the Phoenix Boulder Comp!" (He always thinks big.) The gears were turning and he was hard at work spreading his enthusiasm for the Great Outdoor
Bouldering Party (how I thought of it, though it would eventually to come to be known as the Pine Mountain Pulldown) to anyone who would listen.
Ring! "I got a band! You have to hear them!" he'd say as he hunted through his iPod.
Ring! "I got the Reel Rock Tour!"
Ring! "I just found the best staging venue EVER!"
Over time I had watched as things came together - through the highs and lows of the planning and permitting process, through the development of a sustainable event, all that work and the dream was
about to become a reality. It wasn't going to end up as big as the PBC (space, the environment, and the fact that largely, Yishai's events are a one-man show with help from volunteers tends to prohibit this),
but it was going to be fun.
True to his word, as I accompanied him down to Pine Mountain for scouting trips, meetings with the rangers, and other businesslike activities, Pine Mountain had turned out to be excitement worthy. My
4Runner grinned from rear view window to rear view window as I navigated the ruts and bumps of the half-paved mountain trail that led us to the top of the piney mountain dotted with beautiful sandstone
boulders ranging from black to tan to deep orange, aesthetic problems making themselves known with chalk highlighting. Feeling like I was part of a remote and special thing as we hiked around the hillside
looking at potential boulders for inclusion, I took a break at the top of one to watch the ocean lap the shore thousands of feet below me and fade off into the distance. I was only a few months post surgery for a torn labrum, but despite constant nagging from friend to "give it a rest" I found a simple problem and hiked myself up it, proud that I had made a return to my passion, even if it was only a V0 and I
couldn't commit to the top. Something about the place made me.
So here I was in a driveway housing firewood in a full campground (the ranger felt bad for us) just south of Pine Mountain on Labor Day weekend sitting on the tailgate of my truck marking route numbers and
beta by headlamp on little laminate cards a few days before the big show. That day we'd stopped by the Pine Mountain Inn to clean up the place (it was riddled with brush and shotgun shells, and the
campground needed some leveling) while the owner, retired biology professor Tom Wolf, sat outside the non-functioning bar on a picnic table handing cold drinks to the bikers riding along highway 33 as he
does every weekend.
The big day finally arrived, and I bustled around town trying to find dry ice for the beers, filling my car with sundry supplies, camping gear, and a very confused dog. My friends were all buzzing about the
weekend and chomping at the bit to get off work for the multi-hour drive down to the mountain. I wended my way through the hills and valleys wishing it was't the summer of endless fire so I could pull
over and finally get a clear photo of the views of the infinitely hilly central California landscape. The weekend ahead was going to be a challenge - pulling off something this big in such a remote space? I knew on my end it wasn't going to be all sweetness and light (I was in charge of the Pine Mountain Inn venue - I wasn't supposed to go up the
mountain at all during the weekend except for the clean up), but I was gifted with the kind of personality that welcomes a challenge and the
chance to be a leader.
When I got there on Friday evening, some of the sponsors had already arrived that I was supposed to assist in getting situated, but I busied myself with unloading the dry ice and supplies, as well as
hosting the volunteers who were mostly SLO Opers (the gym Yishai and I manage) with premium potato chips and cold beers.
And that's when problem one became apparent: the portapotties had not arrived. Once again, we're about an hour out from the nearest town (Ojai), with no phone reception. The only thing you can do in such a
situation is watch, wait, and pray. Luckily, the Pine Mountain Inn had one working toilet based off of a well. Well, rugged fun is the name of the game, right? These are climbers we're dealing with !
As the sky's brightness began to fade, the band rolled up - this band happens to be my next-door neighbors. When I moved in there and heard
them practicing, I moaned, "Oh no .. . a band!" but pretty much right away found myself humming along to some of my favorite songs, and let me tell you - living next to a band you actually like? Doesn't suck.
They unloaded their trailer and had a great attitude about playing off a generator under halogen spotlights on a stage made out of a cut-out tractor trailer. As we waited for guests to arrive and register, they danced along the stairway, shadowboxing to the music coming out of my iPod.
We tapped the kegs when my friends arrived with them after work, the band played a great show, and the competitors mostly went to bed early to get a jump on what was to be a long, hot, entertaining day.
As we woke up in the morning, the portapotties had still not arrived, and the buses Yishai had hired to take competitors up the mountain from Pine Mountain (thus saving the roads, the air, and such) were a bit late. We loaded up the first two busloads and as they set off on their journey, it became obvious that today was going to be an unseasonably warm one - yay for being stuck down at the venue thousands of feet lower and therefore hotter! The natives started to become restless when the buses didn't arrive on time, but I was without any kind of contact with the top of the mountain, and I just begged them to be patient.
And then I went to the bathroom.
Okay, folks. I know that when you go to a festival, you stop thinking about taking care of stuff and assume someone else is going to do it for you. But here's the thing - when the whole place has one toilet, and it's a little clogged, what do you do?
Well, apparently some participants just kept using it.
So as I walked in there and was greeted with a bone-dry toilet filled to the top with human fecal matter, I knew I was in trouble.
Technically, I don't work for Yishai. I just have a penchant for helping him out. I don't make money doing anything I do for him at events, but we're tight and it's good to help him. But how much do we
love our friends, really? Do we love them enough to do what needs to be done in this situation?
So I wander over to the registration table to talk to one of his paid employees. "So," I casually say, "there's a problem in the bathroom."
"Oh," he says.
"Yes," I say, trying to be calm and using my feminine whiles, "It's clogged."
"Oh, that sucks."
And this is where I think to myself, "Be a gentleman, don't make me do this." But he just smiles at me. So I go, "I guess someone's going to have to dig the poo out of there to make it work again."
He smiles, "Good luck with that!"
So I go find a plastic bag and a bucket, enter the bathroom, making sure to close the door (because telling you about it and actually being seen doing it are two totally different things), I stand there
trying to goad myself into it. "It's just like dog poo. You clean dog
poo up all the time. You can do this. You can!"
Dear reader, it is NOTHING like dog poo. Let no one ever tell you otherwise.
As soon I'm done with that business, the portapotties arrive. Of course.
As soon as that epic is resolved and I have the toilet working again,
I'm approached again. Fine, I say - let's get the 4Runner loaded up
with passengers and tie some crash pads to the top and see what's
holding up the buses.
And as we trundle up the mountain, it becomes very apparent - hungover
bus driver + steep grade = bus breakdown. AWESOME. The other bus
appears to be stuck behind him. I report this news to Yishai, who is
wondering what the holdup is, too, and head back down the road. In the
meantime, the working bus manages to get around our sick bus and
driver and picks up a new load, who I run into as I am driving back
down the narrow path.
Did I mention it's narrow? I do a quick calculation and decide that
pulling over as far to the right as I can is probably a good idea, to
let the bus past me. 4Runner hits the side, slides up the burm a bit,
and then ... tilts over and back. Woah. My eyes are big. I am pretty
sure I am only on three wheels. I put on the brakes, gingerly get out
of the truck and confirm this. Awesome. I look up back at the bus as
it works its way up the hill with sappy pleading eyes, when the brake
lights go on and suddenly climbers are pouring out of the bus to climb
on top of my truck and weight it down again. Yes, there are even
photos snapped. Crisis averted. It does turn out that 4Runners can tip
easily, nope, no sir, it's not a myth.
So I am not EXTRA CAREFULLY driving down the road again when I get to
the venue and it's time to go to Ojai to get more beer - the
competitors went through most of ours the first night. You have to
remember this is the first event of this type we've ever done, how
were we to know that climbers like beer - a lot. Wait, don't answer
that question. So, on the long drive to Ojai (and the entire time I am
scared of my truck flipping now), I'm wondering exactly how I'll find
a keg or three. Stop at Albertson's (a grocery store) -- no go. Stop
at a liquor store -- no go. Finally, on the fifth stop she shoots and
scores. I am now loaded up with three cold kegs of beer that will go
great with tonight's vegan and Mexican cuisine as provided by our
yet-to-arrive caterers. I pick up a hitchhiker on the way to a rainbow
gathering (look it up, it's worth it) to make the hour commute's time
pass and arrive in sytle. I get back to the venue and spend a couple
hours chilling in the blazing sun with reps from VooDoo, Mad Rock, and
Five Ten, listening to the playlist that's coming over the PA. Crisis
averted. Things are going to be okay. The buses start bringing back
Waitaminute . . . where are those caterers? They are HOURS late. In a
full panic, I grab my friend Derek and the SLO Op debit card and make
the executive decision that SLO Op (our bouldering gym) is going to
sponsor a donations-welcome BBQ tonight. We drive the two hours round
trip again to Albertsons to get meat, meat, and more meat, along with
veggie burgers and other such delicious food like items.
When we arrive back, there are arm-wrestling championships going on,
the slackline is up, and the beer has been tapped. It never ceases to
amaze me how stuff can seemingly go wrong during this stuff, and very
few people are the wiser. Derek fires up the grill, and food is
served. Everyone is now fat and happy and the dyno comp begins. I'm
able to relax a moment (except when I'm cooking pasta on a campstove
and walk away for a minute, allowing the table to catch fire in front
of many, many spectators) - and then I realize ... the second band
never arrived! AHHH! Though I doubt anyone except the people putting
on the event noticed.
We decide they're never coming and start the Reel Rock Tour video
showing. Everyone loves it - it's wonderful, and one of the stars,
Lisa Rands, is there watching it with us. By now it is late and while
some have dispersed after the games and film, many also stay to watch
SLO-based Fluid Luminescence do a fire show with hula hoops and poi
(wicks on chains). And then it's off to bed. The campground is
remarkably quiet when you consider it's full of bustling climber dudes
full of beer. I love it.
Up early in the morning, I'm making tanks of SLO Chai and pancakes for
the volunteer feed as everyone takes down their camp and says goodbye.
When breakfast is over, some of us head up the hill with spray bottles
and soft brushes to clean off the evidence of the past day's events.
The rangers come out to watch and have a chat with us, and as the last
stuff is packed up at the Inn, all I can think about is stopping off
at New Cuyama's general store for my customary coconut ice cream bar,
with Dolly Parton wailing on the stereo.
I've helped Yishai at his events for about five years, but you don't
understand the undertaking of such a thing until you've seen it from
behind the curtain. Happily, we know what didn't work (the maps), we
know what to ask for this year (caterers that know their way and a bus
company that promises their driver will be in full capacity), and --
of course -- more beer! I looked at photos friends posted on Facebook
of their experiences and the thought went through my mind . . . people
CLIMBED? From what I hear, that part was awesome.
Can't wait to see you all there again this year on September 11-13th!
(This post was edited by maculated on Aug 26, 2009, 8:42 AM)
Post edited by maculated
() on Aug 26, 2009, 8:42 AM