Thursday, August 11, 2005

A thorough, fair & thoughtful postmortem on Granville Books

"Before 850 Granville St. housed the Granville Book Company, it was home to the Mall Book Bazaar.

One of the employees then was Bob Cole, an American antiwar activist and library technician who fled from the draft to Canada in 1970 and moved out west with his wife. 'Mall Book Bazaar was the last of a chain of bookstores that a man named Benny Smith owned, whose family, I believe, had invented the Jolly Jumper, and had made a great deal of money as a result,' he says. 'He had built a series of bookstores called the Julian books chain, and Mall Book Bazaar was the last one of those stores in existence. It inherited the debt load of all his previous failures.'"

Your Loved One

"[CNN correspondent] WOLF BLITZER: You had a chance to meet with the president, we're told, last summer. Is that right?

CINDY SHEEHAN: I met with him, I think, about June 17th last year. It was about two and a half months after Casey had died. And it was me...

BLITZER: Was that a private meeting, just you and the president?

SHEEHAN: It was me and my family, my other three children and my husband.

BLITZER: What did you say...

SHEEHAN: And we met with about 15 other -- about 15 other families were there also. But we got to -- he came in individually and met with each one of us individually.

BLITZER: And so, what did you say to him then?

SHEEHAN: It was -- you know, there was a lot of things said. We wanted to use the time for him to know that he killed an indispensable part of our family and humanity. And we wanted him to look at the pictures of Casey.

He wouldn't look at the pictures of Casey. He didn't even know Casey's name. He came in the room and the very first thing he said is, 'So who are we honoring here?' He didn't even know Casey's name. He didn't want to hear it. He didn't want to hear anything about Casey. He wouldn't even call him 'him' or 'he.' He called him 'your loved one.'

Every time we tried to talk about Casey and how much we missed him, he would change the subject. And he acted like it was a party.

BLITZER: Like a party? I mean...

SHEEHAN: Yes, he came in very jovial, and like we should be happy that he, our son, died for his misguided policies."
The difference between a fairy tale and a climbing story?

The fairy tale begins, "Once upon a time..."

The climbing story begins, "No shit. There we were..."
New poetry from Mosses From An Old Manse's Peter Culley. Great short breath-lines, like overhearing someone humming in the house through an open window, and complex interlocking internal rhymes, which only seem simple...

"Just but one bee
on the paler
other kind of

sweet-pea, orange
chevron very
circa '83, &

you'd think the boys
at Last Call Towing
would be glad to

see their girlriends
(Wednesday PM

scented August)
but they won't climb
down or let go

their pneumatic
long enough

and won't discuss
who said what to
who last weekend

on innertubes
that flattered them
but made us look

like our dads, tits
up on the couch
and these maroon

uniforms itch
more and more as
threadbare summer

wears out its buzz
and welcome mat
and baseball hat."
An anonymous reader of Juan Cole's Informed Comment contributes a well-reasoned examination of the kind of decisions faced daily by American troops in Iraq:

"One of the ways we train our Marines is by going over scenarios with them. In one, I propose that they are traveling down the highway in a convoy. As they approach an overpass, they see a MAM (military age male) standing on the middle of the overpass with something about the size of a baseball (grenade-sized) in his hands. When he sees the convoy, he freezes. What should you do? Most of the Marines will say, 'He's demonstrated hostile intent, you need to waste him. He could be holding a hand grenade and be intending to drop it into one of the trucks as you pass under.' (This is an actual tactic used by the insurgents).

I change the scenario and say that when he sees you, he drops to the ground on the overpass. Some Marine will invariably answer, to the acclaim of his fellow Marines, 'That's a hostile act. He's taking cover because he's about to detonate an IED on you. You need to take him out.' (Also something they've actually seen.)

Finally, I change the scenario to say that, when he sees you, he turns around in the direction from which he came and starts running off the overpass (you can see where this is going). The answer is usually that that too is a hostile act or hostile intent because he is clearly trying to get off that overpass before the IED goes off.

Apparently, the only safe action for the MAM to take is to have Scotty beam him up. As far as some Marines are concerned, the presence of an Arab male in proximity to an American convoy may be all you need to find hostile act/hostile intent. This is, of course, highly reminiscent of that quip in Michael Herr's Dispatches, 'The ones who run are VC. The ones who don't run are well-disciplined VC.'

It would be easy for anyone who doesn't have to drive those highways in a US convoy to castigate our young troops over there for their trigger-happy mentality, but it's just not that simple. Those young Marines are doing the hardest thing the Corps has ever done. At least in Viet Nam there were places where anybody in front of you was definitely a bad guy. Oh, for the simple (though not easy) days of Tarawa and Iwo Jima. They're not a bunch of amoral killers. They're just a bunch of well intentioned, highly trained, and highly armed young men and women stuck in a Serbonian bog with minimal clarity of purpose."
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Williams Peak, Goetz Peak -- lightly annotated trip report originally posted to
August 9-10th, 2005
Participants: [ members] cjb, tash

I routinely spend forty to sixty hour weeks at a busy retail job where I interact with people all day long, and people are a mixed bag. So, in my spare time, I like to go where other people aren’t. In practice, this means visiting places that haven’t been written up a million times online. The Black Tusk is a fun hike, but there is nothing new that my trip report or photographs can add to it. Remote and obscure places, on the other hand, allow me to get out and feel like an explorer, let me contribute new details to the online world, and help focus my attention on all the things around me – plant and animal life; physical geography; even weather – slighted by a culture that valorizes Hard! Extreme! Climbing! over everything else.

I found Goetz Peak last year by browsing for peaks with little or no online documentation. “Oh yeah,” said [brother] Dru, “you’ll have a good time. The approach is kind of bushy, though.”

Three attempts, 2004:

1. Drove to Foley Lake in torrential rain. Tried to drive up the Williamson Lake road for a better view of the south side of the valley. Got the rental car stuck in mud.

2. Hiked along the Foley Creek FSR past the lake. No sign of the logging road supposed to lead to the scree bowl below Goetz’s northwest face.

3. Hiked to the end of the Foley Creek FSR and up into the drainage between Goetz and Northgraves. Almost stepped on a surprised and unhappy black bear in an avalanche swath. Retreated with Mr. Bear huffing and bluff-charging me.

Some time in fall 2004 ace solo scrambler Don Funk posted on to the effect that he was also eyeing Goetz. What was it about this scruffy, seriously obscure peak? At any rate, I figured I’d better go climb it fast, before Don beat me to it.

Late summer, 2005: I posted a trip for my only two free days in August, a Monday and a Tuesday, thus eliminating 99% of clubtread’s membership as companions. Only one brave soul, tash, signed up. I’d never met or climbed with her before, but her trip resume sounded pretty skookum.

We rendezvoused at tash’s house in Burnaby and drove out to Chilliwack with a stop at Tim’s [Canadian doughnut chain] to examine the map and at Save-on-Foods to pick up a disposable camera. Tash was politely incredulous at my misguided three-peaks-in-two-days plan (Williams, Goetz, “Porcupine”), and my sixty five pound overnight pack.

We parked at the Williams Ridge trailhead, mounted the obligatory DON’T BOTHER BREAKING IN – ALL VALUABLES REMOVED FROM VEHICLE sign on the dash, and set off up the 26% grade trail. Tash had climbed Mount Price the previous day with a group of female triathletes, but that didn’t stop her from pulling ahead of me in short order. Then the bugs, blissfully absent at the trailhead, started covert surveillance runs. I struggled into my new MEC [Mountain Equipment Co-Op] “Original Bug Shirt,” only to discover that this was like hiking in a scuba suit, and that it is very hard to avoid veering off the trail when the bug mesh over your face is totally covered in a thick film of sweat.

The Williams Ridge Trail lived up to its reputation for steepness. We took a lunch break in the shade shortly after reaching the ridge crest, and checked out great views of Webb, McDonald, Rexford, the Illusions, and Slesse, shimmering across the valley in the heat-haze. tash particularly admired Mt. Rexford’s two huge mid-fifth buttresses, and quizzed me on the approach beta. Then we were off again, tash leading the way and me sweating and cursing in the rear.

Another hour or two, and we reached the knob at the end of the ridge overlooking the infamous “scree bowl” between Williams Ridge and Williams Peak. We climbed up above the knob for a better view, and to enjoy the super-concentrated ripe blueberries that were everywhere on the ground. The scree bowl looks strangely reduced in photographs, like something you could cross in ten or fifteen minutes. It took us about an hour and a half to descend into it, cross it, and then slowly work our way back up under Williams’ west face. Matt Gunn’s Scrambles guidebook identifies a distinctive “dirt ramp” leading up onto the south face from the top right hand corner of the scree bowl. We cached our packs at the base of the ramp, then scrambled up the ramp and traversed several hundred feet across the south face to reach a distintive heathery gully dropping straight down from the summit. We climbed straight up the gully, exposed but never difficult scrambling, until level with the summit ridge, where we enjoyed the late summer sun, swapped VOC tales, and surveyed the ridge north toward Goetz. A long way to go, much longer than I’d expected, with lots of complex micro-terrain. The ridge walk from Goetz to Northgraves or Porcupine looked even hairier, thin in places, dropping over a thousand feet in others to forested cols. My plans for a grand tour around the ridgeline took a beating.

“Well, we can always come back,” said tash tactfully. We deployed Rose the stuffed cat, took some summit shots, then scrambled back down the gully and back to the packs, arriving just as the sun was setting. We camped on a flat little heathery platform just west of the appraoch ramp, tash in her tent and me in my new bivy sack. How, I wondered, had tash managed to fit so much gear into what looked like an ordinary daypack? The bugs were fierce, so we quickly turned in, waking several times in the night to gaze up at Williams’ huge silhouette looming blackly overhead in the starlight, the Milky Way spilled out in a north-south line, and the occasional glint of a satellite or redeye flight passing high overhead. A warm wind blew through the night, gently rocking the trees.

Dawn. We struggled up, and, with a daypack between us, hiked up to the col between Williams and a subsidiary bump to the west [GR 097430 on 92 H/4 (grid reference on federal 1:50,000 map sheet)]. Goetz looked a long way off. I mentally anticipated the trip there, the trip back, and the long slog down the ridge. Then tash and I looked at one another, nodded, and we set off.

We descended from the col, sidehilling across a mix of boulders and talus below Williams’ west face to reach the base of a 120m bump northwest of Williams [GR 098436]. We scrambled up through stunted trees, heather, and small rock bands to reach a fine position overlooking Williams’ huge north face and a beautiful small blue hanging lake, surrounded by enormous white granite boulders (This lake is shown on the TRIM mapsheet but not on the federal 92 H/4). The eastern edge of the “bump” is sheer, overhanging in places; we saw no easy way to descend to the lake. From the bump’s summit we descended north along the ridge through small bluffs and rock bands, then back up toward Goetz proper. Much of this terrain is complex; the best route to follow wanders back and forth on both sides of the ridge crest, and involves scrambling up and around rocky defiles, small sets of bluffs, and thickets of stunted trees. In every case, we were able to find a 2nd class route up, with the exception of a half pitch of 3rd class scrambling right below the broad summit ridge, which involves climbing loose rock using tree roots as handholds, with a steep drop below.

Once on the summit, we added a few stones to the pitiful cairn (3 stones when we arrived!). We lingered for half an hour on the summit, naming peaks and swapping stories, then carefully downclimbed the ridge. The heat was now fierce, and we were both out of water. We slowly made our way back along the ridge, resting here and there in the shade, climbed back over the “bump,” and dropped down to the boulder field, where we refilled our water bottles from snowmelt and I interrupted two flies busily copulating on my leg (tash: “Jeez! Get a room!”). Rehydrated, we crossed the col and dropped back to camp.

By now it was midafternoon. We packed quickly. Tash found a 10 cent Euro coin in the heather by her tent, I struggled with my pack’s compression straps, and then we were off again.

The descent down the scree bowl in the blazing afternoon sun left a lot to be desired. The trek across the baking white rocks in the middle of the bowl wasn’t much fun, either. I stalled out halfway up the gully on the far side and simply lay with streams of sweat pouring off my forehead, puffing like a steam train.

Ten or fifteen minutes in the shade provided enough incentive to stagger up the rest of the way to the knob and the beginning of the marked trail. The descent down the ridge was almost pleasant, with more VOC adventure stories and a shared dislike of the Gordon Campbell government to pave the way, but once we started the final descent from the ridge tash powered on ahead and I was left hobbling, leaning heavily on my trekking poles, with my toes knocking against the ends of my boots. More than once I had to sit down, wipe the sweat out of my eyes, and continue, until at last I staggered out of the forest right at twilight to find tash and the unmolested rental car. Quick stops at 7-11 and Starbucks and we were on the highway home, hydrated and happy, but a little puzzled at civilization after thirty-odd hours without seeing or hearing anyone but ourselves.
Just returned from climbing Williams Peak and Goetz Peak with my friend Tash and Rose T. Cat. Approximately 2100m of elevation gain over two extremely hot days. I have a pretty good sunburn ring around my neck, two purple toenails, and three extra notches in my belt. Fierce bugs and very little water. Tash found a Euro coin at our bivy site -- a boulder field at 1800m in the middle of nowhere!

Photos and professional trip report once the disposable camera returns from London Drugs.
Sunday, August 07, 2005

Off climbing with friends Monday and Tuesday. Photograph courtesy regular Shakey, a better than usual view of our intended route. Up right hand ridge to summit of Williams Peak (rock horn at extreme right). Back down ridge to snowfield. Follow ridgeline right to left to summit of Goetz Peak (rocky bump at extreme left). Bivy on top of Goetz Monday night. Tuesday AM, descend southwest along ridge in middle distance to "Porcupine" Peak (dead center between Goetz and Williams). Descend south down thickly forested cliffs into a seldom-visited hanging valley full of old growth cedars. Prime spotted owl habitat! Continue on down through waterfalls, bluffs and shin-eating blueberry bushes to the Chilliwack Lake Road at dusk. Negatives: 1600m elevation gain from the valley floor with an overnight pack, and swarms of kamakazi bugs. Positives: my new MEC "Bug Shirt" and a chance to see the night sky undisturbed by Greater Vancouver's lights.Posted by Picasa

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