Month: September 2015


I very rarely go to movies anymore. I think the last time I went was at least three years ago. I really don’t like the crowds, the commercials, the noise.

But Everest is the first movie that has come along in a long time that I was interested in seeing in the cinema. I’m not sure why, I think because I already knew the story and was interested in seeing how they put it together. And it was Monday night, so the cinema would be deserted.

Well, I thought it was just great; I couldn’t find anything wrong with it.* I have read Krakauer’s and Weathers’ books and as far as I can tell the movie followed events very closely. No Hollywood bullshit that I could see (the only part that looked like Hollywood bullshit was Rob Hall’s dying phone conversation with his pregnant wife, but of course that really happened). The special effects were amazing, a completely seamless combination of sound stage, location and CGI. Finally, and best of all, there was no big “message” to the film: it was simply a dramatic retelling of events. What a relief.

I haven’t read Anatoli Boukreev’s book, which I understand was an answer or a response to Krakauer’s. Having based most of my understanding of the 1996 disaster on Krakauer’s account, I was surprised to see the Krakauer character being a lot less heroic than I remember from his book! I guess that’s because the movie is based on multiple sources, including Boukreev.

They necessarily had to focus on one central character, and for that they chose Rob Hall, who’s story was more interesting anyway. So Scott Fischer is really a fairly minor character in the movie. Boukreev is too. Beck Weathers was a bigger character (I told Ingrid when I read his book that he sounded like a bit of an asshole, and indeed that’s how he was played)

Ingrid was curled up in her seat most of the time, shaking her fists and muttering, “Go! Go! Go! Get down!” at the screen. Afterwards she said she felt “beat up.” It was certainly an intense experience.

I don’t know whether this movie will ignite more interest in climbing Everest or put more people off the idea.


* Well, Ingrid did ask, “How come they keep taking off their masks and goggles?” I suggested it was so we could recognize the actors.

Hollywood accounting

This is an interesting Wikipedia page:

List of box office bombs

Some of the movies on that list made a shitload of money, but they bombed because they cost crazy, stupid amounts of money to make. The Oprah Winfrey vehicle Beloved, for example, made $22 million in only four weeks, but cost $80 million to make. WTF did they spend that $80 million on?

Hollywood is nuts.

Gun rights activists could learn a thing or two from this guy (or girl, I dunno)

SOY on Mt Baden-Powell

Took the teens up 9,400 foot Mt Baden-Powell yesterday. We had a big turnout, 11 kids, so the 15-passenger van was nearly filled.

These monthly hikes have been sort of dying away the last few months; we cancelled June (Ingrid and I went alone), I think two dudes showed for July, one girl came in August. Maybe it was the season, since the kids aren’t at school during the summer, though summers haven’t been a problem in the past. I didn’t expect much of a turnout this time, since the hike promised to be “strenuous” (2,774 feet of gain in four miles) according to my annual schedule handout. For whatever reason we got a big turnout this month. And maybe we’ll be seeing a lot more kids for the rest of the year, since everyone had such an awesome time. Really, it was one of the best hikes we have done, everyone seemed to have so much fun.

While the other kids are teens, one of the kids on this hike was an 11-year-old named Luis. He’s one of those heavy, awkward kids, but oddly cheerful: he doesn’t know he’s awkward, maybe no one has told him. For whatever reason, none of the older boys picked on him; in fact they were weirdly protective, especially when it transpired Luis didn’t bring enough water or food. I thought one of them was related, but they weren’t.


Anyway, without a doubt climbing this mountain was the most physically demanding thing Luis had ever done. When we got to the wooden bench, about a mile in, he said he was tired and ready to go back.

But he didn’t quit. Ingrid stayed with him well at the rear, and although he took frequent rest breaks and kept commenting on how tough it was for him, he was cheerful and determined throughout. He made it to the top a half hour after everyone else, and made it back down, impressing us all.

Like I’ve long said about hiking and climbing: it’s all mental.

It was one of those things: hard work, but it felt good, everybody loved it. As you probably know if you are reading my blog, there’s nothing in the world like standing on a high mountain summit: something few teens, especially Hispanic kids, ever get to experience.


One the way home we stopped in Wrightwood for some burgers. Another one of my good ideas, apparently.

We have to give this up next year. For one thing, with Rainier training my schedule is going to get pretty tight. For another, I am no longer bringing home anything like the kind of money I was making during the Boom (which even then was mostly loan repayments; we’ve simply stopped repaying the notes this year). Yesterday was an expensive day:

Van rental: 167.00
Gasoline: 50.00
Burgers for 13 (plus dog): 200.00

Total: $417.00

I can’t keep doing that.

We dunno what we are doing for October, since our usual October destination was burned out in June. I am going to arrange a snowshoe hike for January and I think that will be our last hurrah, at least in Costa Mesa.

Sign at a Little League game

Heat wave

Generally, you don’t really need AC where we live, close to the ocean. It’s warmer inland where the office is, but our building’s temperature is moderated by the warehouse, where lots of trapped air cools off at night so that it (normally) never gets too warm until the end of the day. This week it has been hell, since it hasn’t cooled substantially at night like it usually does, so the office is already hot when you get in in the morning. Opening the doors lets more hot air in; closing them makes it stuffy. On Tuesday the crew went home early and they would have done so yesterday too except the freak rainstorm cooled things down a bit. I suspect today is going to be another short day.

Bella has been having a hard time too, she’s just never experienced this before. Driving her home is hard, because the car is hot inside and there’s no relief until we get to the house. Gotta hurry. Humidity is terrible this week.

I do worry about the move to Reno. It’s hot there during the summer and our building will have to be air conditioned. I wonder what that is going to cost to run.

Kelly’s Camp overnight

Sunday and Monday we did an overnight hike up to Kelly’s Camp in the Cucamonga Wilderness. We would have preferred going somewhere in the northern part of the San Gorgonio Wilderness, but that area is now closed due to June’s Lake Fire. Kelly’s Camp is second best if you can’t get to San Gorgonio.

The spring at Kelly’s Camp has been dry for at least a couple years, so we had to carry water up from a more reliable spring two miles below. That sort of knocked Ingrid out and she and Bella napped most of Sunday afternoon; which was good for them because we sure didn’t get any sleep Sunday night, now that we have learned for certain that Bella is too big to share the tent with us.

We got a late start Monday morning:


And on the way back down the we encountered a pair bighorn sheep (which we always see up there between Icehouse Saddle and Ontario Peak):


The sheep were digging in the dirt with their hooves, maybe looking for moist roots. Their normal water supply in that area would be the now-dry spring at Kelly’s Camp.

The hike down below Icehouse Saddle was one of the worst hikes of my life. We decided to descend the Chapman Trail sort of spur of the moment; Ingrid had never been down it. But I wasn’t thinking. It was already around 11:00 when we started down the trail, much later than I thought; it follows a south-facing ridge; it’s almost two miles longer than the Icehouse Canyon Trail; there is almost no shade; and down in the valleys it was one of the hottest days of the year (over 100F on Monday; we had no idea, since Saturday it was so mild). While Ingrid and I were not uncomfortable, there was no relief from the heat for Bella until we could get her 3.7 miles down the trail to where it rejoined the Icehouse Canyon Trail next to icy cool Icehouse Creek.

We used up all my water on her and toward the end I had to physically pull her up to keep walking as she would drop to the ground every time we encountered a bit of shade. Poor baby, it was a real death march for her. Towards the end we were moving as rapidly down the trail as Bella would let us (she kept trying to stop in the shade).

As soon as we got to the creek she just plopped down into the water and lay there for a while. In less than ten minutes she was fully recovered from her ordeal on the Chapman Trail, and she got up and started hunting along the creek for sticks to chew on.


All’s well that ends well, I guess.

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