Saturday, August 18, 2007

Spend it like you're jobless

I'm off the the North Cascades in northern Washington for a week. Jeff, his friend Wayne (who I haven't met) and I are planning a week long ridge traverse called the Ptarmigan traverse. We're also throwing in a few peaks which lie near our route. I've climbed in the North Cascades once before (Forbidden Peak) and really enjoyed it. Good rock (relatively speaking), long, sometimes technical knife edge ridges, lots of exposure, alpine meadows, glaciers, wildlife, and remoteness. It's an area that seems to have a lot of the things I like in a climb.

I'm looking forward to the trip but I'm also a bit concerned about how much suffering I'll be in for. In terms of fitness, based on my Olympus trip I think I'll be fine. However, it seems like I always have some kind of foot and/or joint problem, especially on longer treks. Jeff (and others) finally convinced me to buy some new boots. I think they believe that my footwear is part of the problem. I can't in all honesty disagree. In addition, the leather backpacking boots I took to Mt Olympus were completely soaked after a day on snow and ice.

After some searching, I ended up buying the same model boot Jeff bought last year, which he's been very happy with (best pair of boots he's ever had is what he said). The boots were pricey but they fit well. They're also quite light relative to my plastic mountaineering boots. They are designed for technical alpine climbing. "Alpine" in climbing parlance generally means highly varied terrain, so they should be versatile boots. Although they're not plastics they are supposedly highly waterproof (Jeff confirmed this with his experience). This means they should be good for snow and ice. My plastics are warmer and stiffer, but that shouldn't matter much given the types of things I'll likely be doing over the coming year. Jeff, Cliff and I did a one day trip using my new boots to a nearby peak (Three Finger Jack). They aren't going to work any miracles, but they did well for a new pair of boots.

Unfortunately the new boots don't work with my old crampons (the metal sandals you strap on to boots so you can climb ice). So, I had to get new crampons as well. My old crampons have failed me in some fashion three times this year (most recently twice on the Mt Olympus climb). The plastic boots I have were also getting pretty worn and are held together in part with duct tape. Maybe it was time for new climbing boots and crampons regardless of any foot / joint troubles.

As I mentioned in my last entry Jenny Davis found some good tenants for the house. She's done a great job, much better than what I would have done (yes, I know, that's not saying much). She thought of all kinds of things that I never would have even considered. Anyhow, if you ever need someone to manage your rental property give her a ring. It's been wonderful not having to worry at all about finding tenants. Now all I need to do is get out of the house.

The WRX is up for sale. $12,400 (blue book value) or best offer if anyone's interested. It's had regular servicing and I recently took care of some minor things. A very fun to drive yet practical and reliable car.

I got the van back from having a mechanic look it over. The only things they found were that the front brake pads were near their end of life and the front brake rotors were worn down pretty far. I went ahead and had the pads and the rotors replaced. Compression on all cylinders was good (within spec) and well matched. This indicates that the engine internals are in good shape. I'm getting the impression from various sources that I'll need to check the oil pretty regularly. It seems that these engines, even when they're in good condition, consume oil.

I almost forgot to mention the biggest expense of the week. I picked up a new laptop. HP kept my work laptop so I went out and bought one. I went with a small (13" screen) Apple MacBook. I used Apples in college, and also at NASA. Although I've gotten very used to Windows, I think Macs still have the best operating system on the market. The current OS is actually an open source Unix variant. It's a smart move on the part of Apple. Unix has always been known for its reliability and security. The fact that it's open source means that Apple saves a lot of money on expensive OS development. A nice bonus feature of the newer Macs is the ability to run Windows and Windows based applications natively.

That's it for now. Next entry will be once I'm back from the North Cascades.

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