Tuesday, December 11


8 hours till lift-off. Bags are packed. lists have been made and relisted. things have been packed and unpacked. I hope i did not forget anything. For the following 53 days i will be trying to climb Guallatiri, Pomerape, Parinacota, and, I hope, Aconcagua. My main concern is that the first three will be out of season and thus difficult to climb (if not impossible because of the weather) and we might not be acclimatised for Aconcagua.

See you (and the internet) in February.

Sunday, December 9

Thank you 2007

Ok. Sorry for not being able to post so much these days, I have been extremely busy with packing and everything. Yay! I am leaving on tuesday! Horrendous airplane trip awaits! [But more about that tomorrow]. So I have two posts on my mind. One about thanking 2007, and one about what I want for 2008. Since I won't be here when the shift actually happens, here I go.

I want to thank 2007 for a lot of things. I guess when I'll be older [and smarter] I will see this as a very good year for me. So here goes.

  • this year was the year I grew up relationship-wise and realized that saying "i give up" or "i am leaving" after every argument or fight is not the way to go. I have also managed to control my temper [this is a very big achievement] and realized that things may not be exactly how I like them (i am a control freak, you know)

  • this year i saw my grandma and my dog again. I have also managed to cough up the guts to call more often (it does leave me with an incredible sense of failure, that's why i don't call)

  • this year I've been as fit as I ever remember being. This allowed me to run half a marathon, a marathon, and climb mountains. It comes only 2 years since I've quit smoking, and after a hard 2006 trying to quit smoking, this year actually made it look that there might be a chance for me to be smoke free.

  • this year was the first time in my life that I actually felt extremely close to death. I am glad that I could keep my cool.

  • this year I have seen snow, something I thought was impossible after i left home. I miss winter and season change now more than ever.

  • this year i have realized that climbing is a very big part of my life, so much as it almost defines me (even though i am not a good climber, mind you - 2008 here i come)

  • this year i have realized that i am a traveler. If I do not have a trip planned, I go nuts.

  • this year i got a glimpse of how it really is to train for something. If it wasn't for Marian who was so incredibly supportive, putting up with me coming very late at home or literally kicking me out of bed in the morning, i would not have done anything. Thanks my love!

  • this year i have been injured and [finally, i hope!] recovered from it. My injuries and the long journey back in my recoveries have taught me to be humble. I have been humble mountaineering wise for a long time, but climbwise it was only possible this year.

  • this year has been a year of firsts, something i have not thought possible: first time going to the Alps, first time running a marathon, first time flashing (and finishing) a route in a competition (and my only, till now), first time going to south america, first time riding a motorcycle, first time traveling with mom, first 6b, first time really training, first 4000m peak, first article published in a conference.

So much for 2007. I will try to remember what were the bad things about 2007 and list them below.

Wednesday, December 5

Lateral foot pain

Remember the foot pain that i was complaining about in the previous post? It got really bad throughout monday, so I started icing it and elevating and taking paracetamol cause i couldn't find the Nurofen (they give these with a prescription here). My biggest mistake ever was to go online and search for "lateral foot pain", and omg what i found really really made my day yesterday. So let's see. I could have:

- stress fracture of the 5th meta-tarsal - healing time - at least 6-8 weeks (i am leaving for aconcagua next week); predominant in women; no weight at all on the foot; it gets worse if you ignore it and walk through the pain (this is my plan)

- displaced cuboid - must see a chiropractor, do a bone scan then the chiropractor should put it back (like they put your popped shoulder back) - no money for this

- peroneal tendon sprain - ice, elevate, rest, anti-inflamatories etc

So after worrying to death yesterday for about six hours, I ruled out the first two, mostly by deciding that the pain i was feeling is not fracture pain. The problem with pain for me is that I know that I have a very good tolerance to pain. As in extremely good tolerance to pain. So when someone asks me if something hurts I will say it doesn't, unless i am crawling on the floor because of it. I iced and elevated my foot last night. I am wearing hard soled shoes right now, and I am keeping my feet elevated, even though I am at work. Yup. I am writing now with my keyboard on my lap and both of my feet on my desk. Who says the life of a computer scientist is not exciting?!

Anyhow, it's better now, I can walk for ten minutes without stopping. Today I am climbing and starting tomorrow I will train. Internet doctoring is no good.

Monday, December 3

The race

A friend of mine once said that the best part about expeditions is preparing for and returning from them. I so know this to be right that I might as well write it on my t-shirt or smth.

So. Remember i said that I put in 12 hours of sleep from friday to saturday? Well ... saturday evening just before the marathon I went to bed at nine thirty and managed to sleep at 1. Woke up at 02:50 and started getting ready. Left the house at 03:30 and found a smart cabbie that dropped us just behind Fullerton hotel. I was meeting Yap, Shumei and Kiak at 04:45 at the cenotaph and we were there at ... 03:50. Good, good*! :)) Stretched, used the toilet like a gazillion of times, kissed Marian goodbye and went for the finish line. [Warning!! Somehow yucky tales coming up]

I ran with Kiak for about 13 clicks or so, but when I took a sip of water I had the mother of all cramps from hell, so I slowed down a bit and lost Kiak. Yap caught up with me but when I spotted a toilet I ran for it... Yup. What was the worse that could happen? Period cramps!! Yey! Even though I was prepared for it, I was kinda hoping that maybe this time my horrendous luck wouldn't show its face!!! Well ... IT DID!!! Normally when this happens i like to lay down, eat and read, in silence. But not yesterday ... I ran the first 14 km in 1 hr 15 minutes, so I was actually contemplating a finish in under 4 hours, but no no no no no ... Every time I would drink something, or even worse, have a power gel, I would have to stop for the loo .... I had to struggle to see if the water point had any toilet. If it did, I would drink, if it didn't... too bad ... About km 30 or so I realized that pushing down the elastic of my tights so as not to be on my stomach helped a lot, so afterwards it was better.

But ... I was reaching the end of my fuel line, and by km 34 I felt my muscles starting to contract... Maybe this is what pre-cramping feels like. Anyhow, I had seen that the other runners put deep heating muscle rub on their calves ** so I did that. After km 35 or so, I started yelling to the guys that were walking, "Come on!" and "We're there!" and "Let's go!".My favorite one was "We're kenyans!", and "I see giraffes!" (even though only an old guy got it) and I did that a lot too. It got quite a few of them running if I do say so myself (after the finish line one guy came and shook my hand, gush!).

Things I saw during the race:
- a lot of supporters
- one guy had a sign on his back saying: "PEACE, NOT BUSH" (lovely)
- a lot of caucasians with signs, t-shirts or even a flag of their home country - next year I'm doing that too!!!
- one old guy who was at his 43th (OMG!) marathon

Pains and aches:
- relatively painless, roughly the same as after the 30 km run (tomorrow I'm back training for Aconcagua, man!)
- the only thing that really hurts is my left foot, whenever I put my weight on it. Why, oh why!?!?

* when i was little my grandparents were afraid that we would loose the bus (in the country) or that there won't be any train tickets (we bought them directly from the station) that they used to get me to the station about 2 - 3 hours before. I would sit there and play, run around etc. Taking a breather where the trip starts is still one of my favorite rituals before leaving for a trip.

** ahem. Initially I thought that the deep heating muscle rub was anti-abrasion cream :))) [talk about what people fear the most :))] so i put it on my inner thighs ... :)) it never got absorbed :)). I smart.

All in all, a good first marathon. I learned a lot. Looking forward to the next one.

Update: Final results are out (and yes, i spent all day refreshing the results page, thank you very much): 1063 place (wohoo!! 8641 behind me), 123rd woman (1181 behind - so few ladies?!), 52nd in my age and sex division. And ... ahem
"Opposite Sex
For the record, you were ahead of about 89% of male finishers."

Girl power!!

Sunday, December 2


Saturday, December 1

Occasionally windy

... passing showers in the afternoon.

Feeling a bit nervous about tomorrow, but not as bad as I was expecting. Tonite Shumei is cooking pasta!!!! There will be a pasta party at her place, at five!!! Initially i thought it was going to be my place, but I don't know how it got changed, all for the best I guess since i only have two burners for my stove and one is very lazy. I have eaten so much pasta this past few days that believe it or not I dun like it anymore. I used to think that I am not eating bread or pasta to stay fit, it turns out I don't like it as much as I thought. Good good!

I managed to put in roughly 12 hours of sleep last night, a priori for tonight, when I know I will not be able to go to sleep. All clothes for tomorrow are already prepared. Now all i need is endurance and a clear head for tomorrow. And hopefully no rain! I also discovered that there will be pacers for tomorrow's run (don't ask me how i know -- i just lurked on singaporean blogs about running and found a guy that i a pacer for tomorrow*), which is a blast!! So my main task will be to find a pacer and stalk him/her, muhahahahaha!

* As opposed to the army half, when i was so clueless about everything that I actually carried a 0.5l bottle of water because i didn't know there will be water points, I wanted to get it right this time, hope it will be worth it!!

Thursday, November 29

What you need for your first marathon

List of not so random things posted by me when I should be writing my project which is due in 14 hrs.

    [The psychological]
  1. Theme song - like Mika, Grace Kelly, or, why not, Eye of the tiger.

  2. Mantra - "Come on, pussycat, you can make it, three more steps!" (Speedy Gonzales to Sylvero Gato).

  3. Divide et impera skills - The ability to divide your work into small chunks. "Let's see, I've done 18 km so far, which roughly means 1/2 which means I still have about 24 to go, nevermind, those 6 will go away soon, and then I'll have 18 which is just about how much I have done so I'm at the halfway point, ... After that corner there I should see the 20km mark, looking good, looking good, from there it's 30. From 30 it's 40 and we're done!!" Or, when climbing: "After this slope here, don't fret, it's not that steep, should see the ridge, then from there on it's easy scrambling and we're there." (The disadvantage of playing this while climbing is that in general you do not know where the summit is and you don't know that you're really about to reach it, which leaves you with stupid questions like "Is this it?" when you actually get to the summit.)

  4. [The physical]
  5. Proper sleep - starting four days before the big event.

  6. Stretch - starting four days before the big event.

  7. Power Gel - or anything similar

  8. Carbo load - starting three to four days before. Main dish: pasta with veggies. The pasta should not be too oily or with tomato sauce or too meaty (this rules out most of the pasta dishes I know how to cook).

  9. Anti-chafing cream - believe it or not, from my previous red badge of courage, I have scars on my inner thigh resembling cat scratches.

  10. [The material]
  11. Tights - see above. Make sure they are not new (you've ran in them). And that they have a back pocket or similar to store power gels and ipod.

  12. Running shoes - I was climbing in the gym alone the other day and my running shoes were outside. At one point while doing my 20 min ARC I had this trip about one of those thieves that roam around the gym so I actually jumped off the wall, went outside and took my shoes inside.

  13. Favorite socks, underwear, etc.

  14. iPod

Wednesday, November 28

The stash

I had decided that I wanted at most three books from Marian as my Christmas/anniversary/bday etc present. Buutttt ... there were sales at Borders at 30% off for 3 books or more yesterday! So we hit the store with M&m and Marian, and [gulp] here are my three books:

Thanks me love!!! I had to leave back some books that I can find at the library, like Vonnegut [no, no, no!] and Capote. I re-arranged the books in my library last night and I estimate that I have room for at most ten more books.

Tuesday, November 27

How I start my day

If it's a Monday like yesterday, I probably am grumpy and all I can think about is a nice cup of coffee. I come in the office and grab my oh so special cup that I bought from home, with Mom, from a very special place to me. Well ... NOT YESTERDAY!! Because some idiot in my lab accidentally broke it because some other idiot (me) left it near one of the office arm chairs. Bugger. Talk about manic mondays. The idiot made amends and bought me a 9.90 (he left the price on) coffee set which i hate, because my cup was irreplaceable. Plus, the cups are small, so not really suitable for me.

Today i start my Tuesday watching the gloomy weather outside, the rain pouring and all that and thinking that I once again left the windows wide open to my room and yes, rain is going to fall inside, and yes, the floors and carpets will get wet, again. And oh, the fact that it is raining also means that I won't be able to run during lunch time as planned. Today is my last run before the marathon, but more about that coming soon, watch this space!

What I generally do is read blogs! yes! I am a stalker! I read all the team's blogs, and some blogs of some marathoners (for inspiration! These guys are amazing! There's one woman that is 3 - THREE times Ironman! omg) - Perhaps it would be great if i started a blogroll.

To end this on a geeky and unrelated note, here's some lolcode. For starters, the well known "hello world":


PS it's raining so strong now i can't see the building across the square.
PS2 OH NOES I just had this bad bad trip: what if there's a storm like this on Sunday and the marathon is off? Now i have something new to stress about!

Friday, November 23


Went down to pick my marathon race pack today. I think i will need to change the size for the finisher tee, since size "S" seems a bit too tight. I also bought 36 power bars for Aconcagua, and I ate half of one because I was hungry and there was nothing else to eat there. I am now caffeine high and I find it extremely hard to concentrate or type. You could say that i have the marathon jitters, ha hahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sugar high!!!!

On an intellectual note, check out this youtube movie, it will make u think. Over and out.


Thursday, November 22

From postsecret.blogspot.com

I have seen a lot of people looking extremely similar to their dogs. Not that this in itself is a bad thing. Dogs are great!! Looking like your dog is ok (unless you have a dachshund at home like I do). Smelling like a [wet] dog would be yucky though. A chicken and egg question: do people pick their dogs too look like them, or they just metamorphosize through time? Cat similarity is rare. Are dogs more prone to imitation than cats? What about peacocks? Of mice and men I see an example every training. Are humans more imitative than dogs or cats? So many old couples are just different sex versions of each other.

If people around you were animals, what would they be? I would be a dog* with a puppy mindset, I know that. Marian thinks he is a giant scorpion but i know he's really a raccoon. M&m, our flatmates, would be a cat and a stressed-out horse.

*I would also be a SLOTH, for posting this while I should be working.
**Image from PostSecret.

Tuesday, November 20

Updates from the front

[Should be from the inner though]

Enough!! In the past two days I have experienced stares, snickers, smiles, grunts, you name it, I've got it. I have just managed the art of walking like I'm naturally bow legged and/or limping. Mind you, it takes really intensive training to do that, so I hope that the stares will cool down. Not for me (because I really don't care) but for Marian who has to bear a good part of them too.

The bruise has calmed down, from 20 cm in diameter to roughly 15 cm. Last night I managed to sleep like a baby, probably because I was soo tired from not being able to sleep so well on Sunday night. After trying several remedies, I can swear that the best remedy for post abrasion/chaffing is applying Calendula (pot marigold) cream to the affected area (mind you, it stings a bit, but not as much as applying either anti-chaffing cream or aloe and propolis cream, which will leave you yelling your wretched heart out), and after it has absorbed, some Jorubi aloe vera gel (my remedy for pimples). Then just leave nature take its course ... You are lucky if you are a girl and it's summer outside, and you can wear a skirt such that your thighs do not touch each other... Otherwise, good luck to you!!

On a lighter note, here's my "What not to say to your examiner when he asks you why you took his course": "Because I'm running the marathon and this course has no final exam." I rule!

Sunday, November 18

The Red Badge of Courage

Many of you will be wondering why I will be walking bow-legged this week like maybe I've been riding a horse on hour too many ... or maybe why in order to get up from a chair I will go "one, two, three, aaargh!!" or why i stink to high heavens... Well, if the title does not fully say it ... ahem ... I did not stop. I should have stopped around the 20km mark when the chafing (abrasion, rash) on my inner thigh was getting quite bad. Should have stopped around the 25 km mark when i saw blood on my right thigh. What I was really looking forward to was staying open legged facing a fan two hours after i managed to crawl home.

I hate this. I hate reading the notes on the anti chafing cream which says "do not put on open wound" AFTER I've experienced one of the most incredible pains in my whole life (i do not know if it beats giving birth, yet), when i decided to apply a full hand of it on my right thigh. I hate my iPod cum nike plus which made me run around 33 km instead of 30. I hate having to hold my laptop on my chest because I cannot sit down. I hate dreading taking a shower. I hate the fact that I must wear tights to run now. I mocked people wearing tights until now, but I will do anything to prevent this from happening. EVER. AGAIN.

PS. i've found this on the net. Udder cream - used to prevent cow's udders from chafing. Mooo!

Wednesday, November 14


I joined the Standard Chartered Marathon this year because I thought, what the hell, I'll never be as fit as I am this year, so why not? The fact that I finished the Army Half Marathon in little less than two hours (which seems to be a feat by some) encouraged me to pay the 75 dollars late registration fee and join! The simple fact of training for the marathon helped me discover some things about me in the past two months of training.

  1. I need to set a goal (e.g marathon, half) in order to run more than 5 km.

  2. I love running with music.

  3. I cannot follow a very hard training programme - for example, my running programme which included running 4 times a week between 6 and 22 km, besides climbing and weight-carrying-across-the-hill, was dumped after 3 weeks.

  4. I would rather measure my runs in the time i've run rather than the distance. I am more comfortable with setting a goal of two hours and a half rather than a goal of 25 km. I guess it's the magnitude ...

  5. Related to [4], i love my time function on my Nike + iPod, which notifies me every five minutes.

  6. The first half an hour is the most horrendous time for me. It is the time I use to convince myself to go ahead. Everytime. Sometimes when I am very tired I need to stop after half an hour and decide whether to continue. Luckily, I usually find a traffic light just around that time, so there's no guilt involved.

However, I do not know whatever possessed me in joining the marathon. It is a BLOODY LONG RUN... And I do not know if I will survive it without stopping. As opposed to the half marathon, I am not going to run the full distance just to be sure that I can make it. This is because, well ... it's a bloody long run. Running 10k and then running half marathon is not the same as running half and then running the marathon. Because 42.something is a bloody long run ... The marathon is not just about will power (like the half for example). It requires real, hard core training. Especially if you are a couch potato like me.

What will matter the most for me for this marathon (apart from hydration, carb loading etc), will be joint strength (which I am working on by doing weight-carrying-across-the-hill) and the ability to play divide et impera (or divide and conquer). What I basically do is calculate after each milestone (in my case, the five minutes announced by my ipod) how much I've run and how much I still have to do. I do this until halfway point. If and when I feel like stopping after halfway point, i just ponder how much I've run and encourage myself to proceed. Simple as that. Boring, but what else to do? Speaking of boring, I absolutely hate running on the track or repeating a route more than two times per run.

To end this on a bragging note, I've run around 700 km since April, which means roughly 116 km per month (i did not run at all in july). Good, good!

Monday, November 12

Sometimes, I really hate this place

So here I was last night, one hour or so into my run, when I pass by a house at 10B Lornie Road. Right in front of the gate and next to a trash container, a small (around three weeks) kitten lies screaming his/hers heart out, so much that I could hear it through the music. Confused, I stop. I pick the little critter up, he (I assume it was a guy, being so brave :)) ) stops yelling. I try to asses where he was coming from. I notice that on the trash container there's this blue DVD player box with a rock on top of it. Somebody was trying to push the lid open ... I take the box down on the kerb, I sit down, put my ipod and my water bottle on the side (i was planning to run 2hrs and a half), open the lid, and there they are, screaming their poor little hearts out, four kittens. They are obviously hungry and scared since there's only some bread (wtf?) in the box and some newspaper, and no cat.

I pick the whole lot of them up and they relax a bit. I am so stunned that all I do is comfort them and try to think about what to do next. I have flashes of my kitten/dog saving childhood, but this time it's different. I have no phone with me, no money, no bus card and I am roughly 11km from my home. Not that I could keep them in my home, since I am renting and I do not know the owner's view on this, nor my flatmates view. I contemplate having to walk 11 km back to school and perhaps spend the night with them in the lab. I try putting the little buggers in the box, but they won't stay there. I try putting them in my pockets, but they don't like it. So I just sit there. A car turns in about fifteen minutes later, to go inside 10B. There's this chinese man and his son, smartly dressed, good car. I signal to them to lower their window, and they do. I ask if they kittens are theirs, because I found them on their container. No, the older man says. The container is mine but the kittens are not. Are you sure, I ask. Because they are here, on your container... No, he says, only the container is mine. Then they just park their car and go in the house.

I am still sitting around not knowing what to do. I try to pick up the courage and face the long walk home with four kittens in a box. Then the maid from 10B comes out. And the whole grueling story comes out. The kittens are theirs, the cat has died, the owners don't want the kittens inside because they are too noisy. So she put them there because she thought somebody who wants them might pass by and take them. Can't I take them? [... insert here talk about the kittens, can't i take them, etc ...] Finally we put them in the box and in a more protected location.

I take off and run home, sometimes crying, anyhow wishing to go back and take them. As i run I realize that I should have taken the maid's phone or something and call Marian and have him take a cab and pick us up. But would the cab take us? I reach home (after another hour) and tell Marian between sobs what happened. I was thinking of asking jups about how and where to take the kittens, I try messaging but my hands are shaking. In the end marian finds the number for SPCA. I call the SPCA animal abuse hotline and report the kittens. They got picked up last night, I hope. I got a call from somebody about forty five minutes after I reported them, but they hung up after I managed to answer, and did not answer when I called back. I think they did not see the box at first.

What kind of a man throws away kittens because "they're noisy"? What kind of a man then lies about it? Of course the kittens are not literally his, it's not like he had an affair with the cat! What kind of a lesson does this teach his son? (Mind you, he was about 20 years old, so I guess he's already gotten all the lessons he needed.) I know they sent out the maid because I wasn't bulging from the kerb. Thought maybe the crazy ang moh will report them or even worse, knock on their door. Thank god for me being stunned.

Owners of 10B Lornie Road, angry kitten* WILL FUCK YOU! Oh yeah, before I go, owners of 10C Lornie Road, angry kitten WILL FUCK YOU TOO, for staring at me and the kittens through the car windows, while I was sitting on your kerb, too.


Friday, November 9


As opposed to its high-class counterpart, the deadpoint which requires a lot of practice and zen, and will not put (if executed correctly) a lot of strain on the hands, the buttpoint does not require practice at all! No training and no muscle memory is required to add this technique to your climbing skills. You just have to have ... well ... a BIG ass. I will not go into details about how to get a big ass, maybe you're lucky like me and it's in the genes...

After you have achieved your big ass, you will see how it comes in the way of your high-steps and your drop-knees when you're descending on an inclined wall. Not to mention the horrendous strain you will put on your arms and fingers, thus acquiring an extraordinary finger strength! Clearly, with so many advantages as opposed to the deadpoint, the buttpoint will soon become the technique of choice for many a climbers.

Wednesday, November 7

When your backpack is too light

The alarm on my phone starts ringing at 06:30 with the melodious tune entitled "motorhighway.aac". I hit the snooze button with sniper precision and doze back again. I hit the snooze button five minutes later. And five minutes later. In the end I extract myself from bed fearing Marian's kicks and/or comments. I have a gut feeling though, and move the curtain a bit and try to peer outside. I will my right eye into opening and realize that the fog I am seeing is for real and not due to my shut eye-lashes. To be sure, I open the window and throw my hand outside. I mutter a satisfied "YES!" and perform a double somersault back to bed.

This is what happens when your backpack is too light and you think you can actually RUN uphill.

Monday, November 5

Tales from the trails

Q: Why is running downhill for 15 minutes extremely unpleasant?
A: Because if you are running in the opposite direction from your destination, you have to go back and run uphill on the same route.

View Larger Map

Yup. Last night I went on my 2hr run, and instead of taking a left turn on Adam Road (see map) I took a right turn on Lornie road, ran like crazy downhill, realized that maybe something is wrong (hey, I thought MacRitchie reservoir shouldn't be next to Holland Village?!), asked a lady waiting for the bus about the approximate direction of Holland Village, turned back, ran uphill ... Whew! And if this wasn't all, somewhere between Adam Road and Farrer Road I ran out of side walk and had to do crazy dashes over the expressway exits, had to run through some bushes full of spider webs (yuck!!) and spiders (brrrrr). With all the traffic lights stopping, asking for directions and expressway dashes, it took me about 2 hrs and a half in total, and got me back home around 10. Which of course worried Marian, since i had left at 7 30.

I am so glad we are not running for training today.
Oh and by the way, the last portion of Kheam Hock road, is uphill (the entire road is), unlit, without a sidewalk, through the jungle, and full of loud, angry, cicadas. So loud, that at one point, even though I was listening to music, I thought a big car was coming up behind me. Runners, beware.

Wednesday, October 31

Climbaprix [mandatory] post

[Seems that it is mandatory since everybody is doing it ... So here i go]
1st route. Couldn't start.
Weakness - not flexible enough; no will power to hang in there
Strength - did not storm out of the competition area and into the street vowing to never return

2nd route. Couldn't start.
Weakness - did not figure out the best starting position and opted for the "slam your body onto the wall then cannot move out of there" strategy
Strength - none. Since i decided on the previous route to hang in there, for this one there's no strength

3rd route. Took too many attempts to figure out how to start. Couldn't finish (ran out of time)
Weakness - My left hand could not cross to the crimp (that everybody held) - so it took me a lot of attempts to (a) figure out to match on the better hold (b) figure out to hook on starting hold. Not very decided about how to go up. Not very flexible when I finally figured how to go up. Ran out of time.
Strength - Figured out how to hook on starting hold. Knew that the ending needed a hook.

Overall: depressingly bad

It's been over six months now since my elbow injury and even though it does not hurt that much or that often anymore (even though sometime a couple of weeks ago i could not hold my ipod in my hand), my left hand feels weak and out of sync with the rest of my body. Even more so, psychologically I do not trust my left hand at all, so I cannot hang on it, lock on it or jump from it. I cannot also use it as a catching hand (i.e jumping for a jug with my left hand). It does not help that i am fat now (56-57kg). I can't realize how i could climb when i had 64*.

It is hard for me to see others climb so well. Even though back home I was not used to relate myself to others, the singaporean system seems to have gotten to me (here they give grades following the Gauss curve). It is even more difficult to know that I was once in a good shape and now i truly suck. The thought that i will be gone for a month and a half (without climbing) freaks me out also.

It is also irritating and sad when I see the winner of the novice cat (an amazingly talented climber - as opposed to yours truly) is giving me friendly pats on the back "maybe you should rest" or "this is difficult for bigger people" :))

Pull-ups. Finger strength. Stretch.


Tuesday, October 30

Shitty times ahead

Mmm ... My supervisor had an extra boiler in his office which he gave to me. After the dissapointing comp on saturday [but that is another post] I gave myself a dose of shopping therapy and bought a French Press and some REAL coffee (no instant, no kopi). So now I am driving all the coffee lovers in the lab (if any) crazy with the smell. And the taste is oh so nice.

Now, coming back to our issues. Today I went and did my usual trek up and down the Vigilante Drive hill. This morning (i started at 7am) was special because i put in my backpack my handbag (it's darn heavy) and clothes to change into. Therefore my backpack was extremely heavy, as such I had to stop after the first repetition and drink some water (i had not drank before I left). Water from where?! From my backpack, of course! I am carrying bottles of water, two dumbbells, some bed sheets ... Anyhow, the water bottles have been there close to three weeks now ... This didn't stop me from drinking 0.5l in close to 15 seconds, though ... Must stock up on toilet paper :))

Awaiting dysentery ...

Monday, October 29


Went to NUH Dental centre. Got quoted 1500SGD for a root canal with a waiting time of two months. Are you kidding me?! By that time I will be pulling my tooth with a plier in the Atacama Dessert. I scheduled an appointment with another doctor who quoted 400SGD for a root canal (and asked if I am sure I need it). Why does it cost so much in NUH I wonder? Cannot be a special price for expats, right?

Friday, October 26


Pure mind stopping, jaw clenching PAIN. Toothache to be more exact. One week before the only possible time slot that I can use to go to the bloody dentist, whom I do not know by the way, because I've spent so much time avoiding him. Which is really the reason why PAIN is the word for today. One day before a comp too. I was planning anyhow to take it easy no ask anything of myself (just to prevent another disappointing performance), but it seems that now i am forced to comply.

Pain, pain, go away!

I am hungry but I dare not eat lest I disturb the monster residing in my mouth. I want to go climbing but I dare not leave the lab lest my supervisor comes to haunt me after (yet) another SVN bad update in which we loose all that I've worked and we only keep his [which is why BACKUP is another word for the day].

Thursday, October 25

Rays of light on my desk

Me: "Va, pensiero" from Nabucco
[The cleaner that is wiping the floors in my lab]'s phone ringing tone: Rumba
A beautiful morning to all.

Tuesday, October 23

Moral dilemma

Problem: you find the cd of King Lines in the gym [while you go for a supposedly morale boost climb but it actually turns out to be depressing because you're so tired]. You know that it's there to be shared among the climbers, but you do not know if it is there for somebody in particular (maybe somebody is waiting for it, maybe not). Do you:
A. Take it, watch it and bring it back the next day without letting anybody know that you have it?
B. Take it, watch it and bring it back the next day and let everybody know that you have it?
C. Not take it

Right now, since I am in my lab, I can confirm that I took either A or B. The line between A and B is crossable but I lack energy to write the email. Even though, if I do have energy to blog perhaps I should have energy to write. Life is full of tough choices.

Today I had my first bike ride (oh boy did i think i was past "first things") but I was not driving, alas. Anyhow, it was nice! I loved the feeling of "oh my god I am going to hit this pavement really really bad", it's been a long time since I've felt like that. Thumbs up for the bike!

Sunday, October 21

All the king's horses

And all the king's men,

Couldn't put Humpty's ego together again.

Yup. Just recovering from the total bashing of yesterday's bouldering mock comp. I don't want to talk about it, I don't want to think about it, I do want to climb the routes! but I can't, I just came back from the gym and the routes are still as unfinishable as they were yesterday. Alas, I suck.

LATER EDIT: realized that it's not so much an ego problem (because ego I have not! - at least when it comes to climbing) but rather the fact that I still believed in miracles (i.e. me suddenly blooming into climbing goddess) and a miracle did not happen (other than the fact that I did not spend all my moneys on a refreshing shopping session after the mock-comp, but that is another story)

Thursday, October 18

Supervisor love

SO I am so full of supervisor lurrrve today. I just told him yesterday that I am taking extra two weeks off and he said ok, go!! Just purchase a travel insurance! Hooray! So now the trip to Aconcagua is more than definite!!! Since I had this half lie looming over my head I could not quite grasp the fact that I am going. But now... YEY!
In light of this, I have started to train! And last night, I made Marian promise that at 6:50 this morning when the alarm rings he is to push me out of bed, and if I don't react he is to say stuff like "oh you wanna be the last one there, spend so much money and not be able to do a thing" ... Eh, I put the alarm to ring at 6:45 hoping that I get a 5 minute snooze out of it ... But did i get it?! Nooo!! the moment it started ringing I found my self struggling at the side of the bed, trying my best not to hit the floor and hoping to get through to him that it's not that time yet!

Alas, the kent ridge hill welcomed me again ... I must put more weights inside my backpack because it's only six kg, comprised of 1 2l waterbottle, 4 0.5l waterbot, and 2 dumbbells, that are swaying from left to right (and me with them) when I go up the hill.

Last night we went to a flamenco show, called "Sevilla" by the Maria Pages Dance Company. It was lovely, I loved the flamenco, the modern touch added to it, and I loved Maria's dance also. Even though she is incredibly masculine, when she dances she's so full of grace and yet so strong. Lastly, I discovered that women with curvy bottoms (or big asses, if you wish) can be quite sexy. Feeling good about meself :))

Tuesday, October 16


I have been munching on this subject for a couple of days now but I think that by the end of this post it will still be in a "draft" phase. What is the subject? My fear of lead climbing, of course ... Now as with any things in my life at least, if it is something that I really like, then it's most definitely out of reach or I am not good [i suck] at it. This is of course the case of leading and of rock climbing. I love the way the rock feels and the way my body feels when I move like I am supposed to. But then ... But then I can't lead! Or more precisely, I can lead, if leading means resting on every difficult step on the route, or if it means shaking like a leaf whenever I am close to the next bolt and I haven't clipped. Like Saturday for example, when I was resting on the third bolt and I was trying to trick Sandra into believing me that my left elbow hurts and I don't want to go any further. She didn't believe me (of course) and I got so pissed at myself for resorting to that pathetic trick that I passed the first crux, got to the pinch, crossed to the sidepull, got to the crimp, found myself at the level of the next clip and one meter and a half away from it ... By now my anger had worn off and I froze (yet again) and pathetically had to grab the clip. The rest is history.

I have noticed that even if I am leading and I am boulder-comfortable away from the ground (which means that if I were to boulder I would not mind falling from that height), it's still very uncomfortable for me to climb. This fear is of course translated into the fact that I overgrip every hold that I lay my hands on ... overgripping is very consuming for me, especially since my grip is not light to begin with ... So anyhow by the third bolt I really need a rest, and since I am so tight the only possible way of resting is hanging on the rope, since I can't trust meself to rest on the route.

It does get better if nobody is watching me climb (other than my belayer, who knows by now how pathetic I am). And if somebody who is watching me climb kinda wants to help and tells me to relax ... My feet start tapping the Morse code like I'm in World War II! Until some months ago every time I lead I kept seeing one of my friends falling backwards, hitting his helmet on the rock with a loud bang and getting the rope burn of his life (even on his armpit brr). I managed to sort of shake this image after my first serious rope burn but it still haunts me sometimes.

I am hoping that with a lot of practice this will go away, but I am not so sure... The adrenaline rushes that I get are really tiring. BUT, as a plus for IR, this saturday I did not boulder at all! (normally, I would use bouldering as an excuse not to lead). So, hooray for me!

Friday, October 12


I found this post here and i feel very very inspired by it. So here goes, I am going to do my one scary thing a day, following Eleanor Roosevelt's

"Do one thing every day that scares you."

And I am starting with .... Writing an email to "Adventure 21", a gear shop, to ask if they could sponsor me for Aconcagua. Gear will do, if no moneys are available. I am so scared of asking for something for meself and also so scared of talking to new people ...

Wednesday, October 10

10th October Resolutions

I, Claudia, owner of subsiding cold, declining climbing and running abilities, do hereby pledge to follow through on these resolutions:

  1. Climb more! As in, besides coming for training and giving my fullest, i will also put in at most an hour of climbing every other day.

  2. Do at least two pull-ups (or more if my elbow allows) a day.

  3. Train more! Go to the Bukit Timah nature reserve twice a week: on Tuesday night and on Saturday night, and give those hills a try!

  4. Run on the rest of the days (Thursday, Friday and Sunday). Thursday is day off, so run to my lungs' content.

  5. Repetir et practicar l'espanol, si no, yo estabo in lots of trouble.

I have spoken!

Monday, October 8

Cough! Cough!

Whoa!!! This cold has gotten so bad that I've resorted to antibiotics. Not good, not good! And somebody should tell me NOT to run with a cold, like I did last night. Only managed to put in some 13 clicks or so, even though I was supposed to do 15. I guess I'll just walk the marathon after all. I've made myself a table with how much I have to run and on specific days, but needless to say that I didn't respect it after the first two weeks :)). I will either run on another day than the one designated, or run a different distance. I hate that table because it's making me run when I have a cold. Actually, I'm making me run when I have a cold, but must blame others for our insanities, right?

I have been dizzy for the last four days and I hate this feeling, don't know if I'll be able to go for training tonite, but then again if I don't ... I'm already weak as it is ...

I miss vertical climbing on real rock. I couldn't actually identify the reason for the dread I am feeling when I go inside the gym. It is partly because I know that I suck, but partly because I am sick and tired of the plastic tiles. Anyhow, I've decided that after Aconcagua I will focus on vertical climbing. I will spend all my moneys traveling to all the crags in Malaysia and Thailand!!! yey!!! At least once a month I will be out of here and into the woods. I have spoken.

Friday, October 5

The Speed Of Light

[Geeky post]

Ha! I have a deadline coming very very soon so I started to use Eclipse heavily. Which of course made my desktop running on 512 mb of RAM to choke to death - i was at the point where I would write something in Eclipse and then have to wait for a couple of minutes to see what I had written (god forbid some typos!!!) So after careful hints to the Supervisor he wrote to helpdesk, said his students needed more RAM and here am I, P4 3GHz, 1GB of ram, Ubuntu FF with Compiz-Fusion!!! mmm ... (full of supervisor lurrve right now) Everything is nice and snappy, including the Compiz-Fusion (code name for fancy window effects). Gutsy Gibbon is coming out in a couple of weeks, can't wait!!

On the other hand, I have a cold! Yay! First one in a couple of years (it's because running boosts your immune system). I am planning to treat it with lots of vitamin C, Tom Yam Soup and a 12 km run tonite! Yup. About the run though ... I'll try to run ... if I feel in any way weakish I promise to stop. Gotta go now, WORK!!

Tuesday, October 2

Crows Are Not Black

The most amazing thing happened to me. I was just up on the school roof today to sip my coffee and clear my head. As I got there a crow was on one of the rails eating or clearing its beak of remains of what looked like bread breakfast. Anyhow, when I came up the bird flew up on an additional roof.

I didn't notice or hear it because I was listening to music, not until it flew from where it was back on the rail, very close to where I was standing. Then it started to yell at me, coming closer and closer. It got around one meter next to me, then decided that she/he was too close and flew back on the roof, over my head, really really close, with the wind it made disturbing my oh-so-tidy-not-really-having-a-bad-hair-day hair. It continued to yell from the roof, but then it flew back over my head, back and forth back and forth, five to six times, with the last time being uncomfortably close (have you watched Hitchcock's "birds"?). Then he landed behind me, eyeing my cup of coffee (it's green, maybe it was attractive) or maybe my head band (it's black, but i know that parrots for example have an affinity for hair accessories - see picture), then back on the rails. He kept cooing and telling me stuff, which of course I couldn't understand ... Back on the roof again, back and forth over my head, back and forth, one more time on the rails, and in the end he decided I wasn't worth it and flew away.

"Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door -
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door -
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
`Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,' I said, `art sure no craven.
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore -
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'"

Now my day can start.

Monday, October 1

Ola muchachos!!

My right jaw is growing to kingdom come! I look like Elephant Woman! Why, oh why is this happening? My wisdom tooth is growing. Although I didn't have any pain at all when it first broke through, now that it is growing it is absolutely horrendous. My gums are the size of China and and and I can't eat! Only soup for me for now. Marian suggested that i chew on something rough (i.e bread crust or similar - does crunchy nougat count?) to reduce the size of my gums, but this nearly brought me to tears when I made meself a Camembert sandwich on rye this morning. I could barely go to sleep last night but I managed to do that in the end by recollecting and reinstating (by word of mouth) all the nice routes I have climbed.

I didn't run my 13 km yesterday. I feel so guilty about that. Instead I played tennis. Who knew that 3 months of not playing will turn me into such a disaster?!? Also the balls were new ... It was horrible, I kept shooting airplanes and saying I'm sorry, and f*ck and sh*t. All in all a very disturbing experience (at least I outran both the guys, hihi) which has made me decide that friday night is going to be my tennis night.

Our owner increased the rent for only 100 sing dollars which means that we're staying! not moving at the end of the year! No searching for new apartments! Yey! She rulz! [Of course Marian would have been responsible for moving me as well, since I would have been away].

A vos,

Friday, September 28

Nobody cares

No one cares what I had for breakfast, I know!! That is why i won't tell you that I had this amazing mango* which i ate like a pig, peeling it with my fingers and not using a knife! There! now that i got that out of my system, let's proceed.

First of all, I must tell about my near-death experience a couple of days ago. I still sob inside when it comes to mind. So. I go up and create a project in Eclipse [just ignore until the capitals if you're not a geek] which i created out of the default workspace and into my research folder. A folder that contains all the documents that i ever ever created during these 2 years as a grad student. And I mean all of them, I wouldn't go so far as saying my life, but it's pretty close. And then i go ahead and delete the bloody project. And i change the default setting to "remove content from folder". And guess what? Swoosh!! IT'S ALL GONE! GONE! I was after the all night no sleeper, so I just started crying. It was the only thing I could think of!!! I recovered most of the data, thanks to the fact that I was writing on FAT32 (IC inspector was the best recovery software), but it required me to [grasp!!] boot into Windows, which I vowed myself never to do.

I resumed my stair climbing last night... Good thing I started two months before Aconcagua, because I really suck (again). I was expecting my breath to give up, but instead it was my feet that gave up first (different kind of leg muscles from running). I still owe myself 10 km before the weekend starts, which leaves us with today, I know. And on sunday my table says I have to run ... 13 k! Cool!!

*The anonymous writer of that comment probably knows that beside the healthy mango I also had two caramel candies [shhh!].

I leave you with a quote, for all you working people out there:

"For, let us make this quite clear, the "senhor" is not worth quite what it might at first seem to promise [...], for, in the varying ways this one short word is spoken, and according to rank or the mood of the moment, one can observe a whole range of modulations: condescension, irritation, irony, disdain, humility, flattery, a clear demonstration of the extent of the expressive potentiality of two brief vocal emissions which, at first glance, in that particular combination, appeared to be saying one thing. [...] The caressing, melodious tones of humility and flattery never sang in the ears of the clerk Senor Jose, these have never had a place in the chromatic scale of feelings normally shown to him."
Jose Saramago, All the Names

Wednesday, September 26


Today I recovered from previous night's total lack of sleep by putting in sleep until 11 or so. It was still difficult to fall asleep last night, even though I did not have any coffee in the afternoon, I read, I also ran and climbed yesterday. To fall asleep I ended up on the floor. Yup. Whenever I can't sleep I change my position first (put my head where my feet were) and, if that doesn't help (very rarely) I hit the floor and sleep there. I find the hard surface very comforting and refreshingly cool. I hope tomorrow I won't wake up as late though, I have a lot lot to work.

I am supposed to run 10 km tonite but I am putting it off until tomorrow night, I'll just climb a bit now and then head home. Today I received an email from The Body Shop with the subject " Charity Makeover Marathon - First In Singapore". I'm so into the marathon that I actually thought it was about a real marathon and was thinking: "huh, we have to run while wearing make-up? or we run for make-up?" hmm ...

Tuesday, September 25

It's done

I am the proud owner of a plane ticket to Buenos Aires - i leave on 11 December and arrive on 12 december, and i come back on 30 Jan and arrive on 1 Feb (yes, i fly TWO WHOLE OH MY GOD!! days coming back)!!

I am also 2900 SGD (or 1450 Euro) poorer!!! Omg, I could not sleep at all last night, kept thinking about how I will be broke for at least one year from now, thinking about how I still haven't told my supervisor about the one month and a half (i only told him about the permitted one month), about what I am going to do if the expedition turns out to be a complete failure. Yup. That's what I did last night. Toss and turn, toss and turn.

Tuesday, September 18

The dragon in its den

One of the things that I should've done right after i came back from holiday was to bring my mountaineering equipment to school. I absolutely have no place where to store a 85 liter backpack in my room. Plus I am counting on the airconed environment in my office to keep everything nice and dandy, gecko and dew free. So yesterday, I finally managed to get Marian to carry the backpack here. Then of course I had to clean the entire desk plus cabinets and store the backpack inside.

The backpack is BIG (but it looked damn good on Marian, hope it does so on me too)!! So on the upper shelf i have my sleeping bag and on the lower shelf i have the backpack. Must think of a name for it (how do you say backpack in spanish?!). The door to the cabinet does not close anymore, so i put up a sign saying "SNOOPING KILLS" (to whom it may concern). In the other cabinet i have my boots and my ski poles. I upload a picture just to confirm that my office can sometimes be clean and orderly!!! But if you zoom in you will see: at least one empty can of beer behind the monitor, three dirty tea cups, a lot of post-its, a 53 note which symbolizes the 53 kg i wanted to drop to (alas, i dropped to 51 and then bounced back to ... 59!!!! shit!!) and lots and lots of papers ...

My angel FINALLY wrote to me tuesday night. Unfortunately, it was just three lines. Yup. Three lines. Something along the line of "not so much writing for the first time" ... I ask you ... where is the love? Where is it?!?! Also on tuesday Adrian's upper teeth had a close encounter with Yixiang's head. Yixiang's head won. I suppose Adrian must visit the DENTIST!!! and this scares me to death. Brrr

As if i didn't know, landings in bouldering suck: see my still not healed golfer's elbow (it's been 5 months!!!), liying's open fracture and now, Adrian's teeth...

Speaking of golfer's elbow: after your average 8 to 10 weeks of rest have passed (the doctor said 6 to 8 but for me should've been 8 to 10), i think you must gradually put pressure on your elbow (i.e do weights) instead of climbing straight away (like i did). Fair to say, i've been warned. I am doing weights and climbing and doing cold water treatment on my elbow (I look extremely funny with my elbow stuck in the water bowl :)) ).

Monday, September 17


Nothing like a good old "to do" list to help you feel better about yourself... That's why, besides the research related tasks that i've put on my list and that are still not crossed out, I've added important items such as: transfer pictures from phone, call grandma, message M., write my mortal, blog! needless to say, these are all done! This way, I will look at it at the end of the day and feel very very good about myself... I did so many things, no wonder i'm so tired!

Now, in order for the climbing seniors and juniors to bond, there's this "angel-mortal" game in which the angel writes to the mortal and the mortal writes back. The mortal must not find out the identity of the angel, or else the angel will go to hell. Now, what can i tell my mortal? I'm studying computer science, in like, my 8th year of college?! Wham!!! HELL for me! I was born in Europe!? Wham!!! Hell!! I am caucasian?! Wham!! I grew up in the countryside, used to take the cows out grazing ... Wham!!! I can help you with your programming assignments, if any?!?! Wham!!! I'm the most senior person there, except the coach? Wham!! Wham!! Wham!!

This is also the week in which i start studying spanish. "Me illama claudia et tengo vientecinco anos." I have this feeling that by the end of it all i'll still only know how to say "por comer, patatas frittas con carne et una cerveza por favor" (chips with meat and a bear please). It will get me a long way, but not too far, though.


Friday, September 14

Swan Lake On Ice

Just came back from "Swan Lake On Ice". We were there because we bought the tickets for our friends' wedding anniversary, but it turned out the performance was on the day of mihai's birthday (happie birthday again!!) The performance was outstanding, if you like ballet and you like ice skating (especially the dancing part), go see it! It's really worth your money! Don't go to see it if you're too bored to clap at the end, you don't own or care to wear a fancy dress (i.e if you have to come by wearing jeans , punk clothes, pink caps or anything similar, don't come at all), or you prefer to munch on chips during the performance. You would save me a lot of angst.

Other than this, it was really cool, I enjoyed it a lot. They had some pretty innovative stuff, like for example Odette literally flies, there are some black swans on stilts (how can anybody skate on stilts?!), at one point all lights are off and you get to see the dancers glow like in a disco (a bit of an anti-climax for me, at any point i was expecting to hear the tune "everybody was kung-fu dancing ... "), and Coun t von Something is surrounded by a circle of fire. There, I gave everything away! Anyhow, it was super nice!

Lights out for me, tomorrow I have to wake up early and go to the gym to collect my shoes (again!) since training is in town. I know, i know, i dun learn ... Perhaps i could use my old shoes :))

Wednesday, September 12


It's already late in the afternoon and I've just come from a two hour meeting, so I'm nearly drained. What better time to blog than now? I took back my phone from Nokia care!!! Yey!!!

I arrived there, got a ticket, got called, the girl got my phone, and as I was turning it on and asking about payment methods ... ta da!!! It was not working! Still the other party could not hear me ... Now how about that?! The girl left with my phone, this time to return in 20 minutes, which i spent staring idly around and singing!! I wish I could master the singaporean way of power napping! Would have been very very useful ... Anyhow, I took the waiting very lightly, I usually below when I have to wait.

Next week I am starting my training for aconcagua. This means an extra two days of climbing stairs and carrying stuff around, so that's why I am not so anxious to start, but a girl's gotta
[Short two second break, seems my supervisor was not so drained after our meeting]
do what a girl's gotta do.

For climbing training today I am going to be the only senior* girl there, in charge of all the novice and intermediate girls. And I quote, in charge of them not slacking. Muhhahahahha ... I get to play bad cop again!!! Yey! My bad cop impersonation is so realistic that even those that know me [that is, have seen me cry, ha!] believe it. I get to tell people the truth, i.e "so good you have so much strength because your footing sux", or "you're getting fat" without having any problems about being politically correct and stuffs like that, so cool! Other than that, i hope today I get to focus more on my training ... i don't want to have any more eye openers!

* I am always the senior person there (i am 25!!!) but today this also refers to climbing status - open, intermediate, novice.

Monday, September 10

Climb On! 2007

Probably the best competition ever!!! Maybe because it was not a competition after all, but all fun fun fun!! NOT!! Wake up at 6 am on Sunday because I had forgotten my shoes in the school gym so I wanted to go back to get them. In the end decided to use my old shoes because I didn't have the key to the gym which was in my office, and it was too early and i had slept so little that I just couldn't take it to go and fetch the key and then go to the gym and then go to the other end of town. So I took my old shoes. Which are very old, and unfortunately, very slippery. Which made me sort of the slipping whale from all the tiles. Here i would be, queueing for 20 minutes, then Bam!! my foot would slip from the first or second foot hold! Sheesh! The frustration of it all!!! This of course did not add comfort to the feeling that my climbing sucks.

Which of course it did. This climb on has been the best wake up call ever, probably even better than the one that made me quit smoking one year and nine months ago. I need to: really improve my strength, my confidence in my left elbow (needless to say that i could not perform a decent throw or lock on my left arm), improve my flexibility (flexibility == 0), learn to stand up from sit-ins, and last, but not least, throw away my old shoes, or keep them for jogging or ice skating :)) Plus, last but not least ... I really get very very nervous when people are watching me climb outside the gym (my turf, sort of)! So, I plan to make myself a sticker saying, "Don't stare, climber is nervous!" and use it every time I climb in competitions! Yup! Should be bright yellow with black writing.

It's raining again here in Singapore, the rainy season is a coming!!! [This is my positive ending for this entry, haha :) )

Friday, September 7

Ah well

Started training for the marathon with a friend of mine from climbing, namely Daniel. So far we've ran 15 km (he ran an extra 4 without me) out of our proposed 327! So ... a lot more to go, but it's too early in the race to start whining.

I bought "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" since it was on sale and I just couldn't take the wait anymore (my initial plan was to read it on the plane on the way to Chile)!! I spent one day to read it (yes, one day, now when the assignments and research deadlines are really piling up) and I don't regret any moment of it (except when i ran out of tissues). I guess I need to clear some things up. Firstly, I believe that absolutely all work intensive activities should start with a nice, long, comfy break. The length of the break should range from an hour to one day and subsequent breaks are not allowed. Secondly, I cry, all right?! I cry when I read books, ok?! OK?! Especially when I like a character very much and something happens to him/her or an awkward situation arises. For example, I cried when Dumbledore died, I cried for Theresa in the "unbearable lightness of being", for Vania in Mike Horn's book Conquering the impossible ... So, I'm a sucker for everybody! Just bring them on, sad story and all, and I promise you I will cry (but I must be left by myself). I don't cry for science fiction though, even though I did cry for Ender, in "Ender's game".

Went to drop my phone for service and ended up waiting for one hour plus to get to a service counter. Nokia service sucks, and I am starting to believe that the quality of the new Nokia phones also is beginning to suck, at least compared to the old models.

Climb on! 2007 climbing festival is almost here, coming up this Sunday! So expect stories of sor e muscles from me on monday, or maybe sunday night. I am very curious about the color and design of the tshirt.

Monday, September 3

Focus! Focus!

A lot of things have been piling up, I'm not going to make a list of them, but i have to: find sponsors for the Aconcagua trip, finish 2 assignments, train (for aconcagua and for the Standard Chartered full marathon), take my phone to be serviced (how can the microphone for a brand new nokia n73 get f**ed up?), go and pay for the plane ticket for aconcagua, tell my supervisor that i will be gone for a month and half instead of just one month, work for the coming deadline in october ... Aaah! A lot of things, and just me to do them... I think the most important thing that will keep me alive these coming four months of my life will be nutrition, nutrition, nutrition!

Since I plan to be running roughly 40 km per week + training + working at a reasonable pace, the only thing that will keep me on the floating line will be a diet of veggies and fish, plus cereals with milk (i hate milk) in the morning. This being said, this weekend was full as always, with climbing on Saturday and on Sunday (with Marian), and Fen's surprise!!! birthday party. Next week we have nita's bday on saturday and climb on! on Sunday! I also have 2 assignments due on the 10th... Plus the runs! Yey!

I am bit down cause I hate it when things just pile up like this, but I'm hoping for proper rest in February. I feel that i can't run the bloody marathon but since i registered for it and paid a lot of moneys, I must run now. Run baby, run baby run ... I am also contemplating a future of cashless living since the plane ticket is roughly 3000 sing (1500 euros), so shopping therapy is out of the question!

Over and out and back to work!

Friday, August 31

Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!

Why was i so stupid to think that after 2 months of roughly no climbing I can go and do f**ing campus board?! Why why why?! So here it is... literally 5 days back into climbing and my right shoulder muscle or nerve (not joint) is injured, to the point that I cannot lift my bag or comb my hair sometimes. I just stop midway because of some sharp pain. Shits! this just goes to say that indeed i need to take it easy. Maybe that training is for our strong girls, but not for me, at least not yet. I hate my stupid head for trying.

Wednesday, August 29

In which she rambles

Whoa! After the half marathon on sunday we had PT for training on monday. Mmm ... This involved hanging on campus board, conditioning (pull-ups, push-ups, crunches) and yes! running 5 km ... I mean cmon! It was horrible! the whole day yesterday I literally dragged my feet and I had to go home around 4 to sleep because I could not take it anymore :) I'm back though, today is climbing training and tomorrow night after my late class I will do some stairs climbing cum heavy backpack. Yey!! For PT I did not do pull ups because I am still afraid that my elbow will pop out, but i did reasonably well for campusboard hangs and for some of the routes Alvin gave us (for one of them i couldn't even start though)... Alvin is our new training supervisor, he's kinda stiff, doesn't seem to understand our way of training and joking but i think/hope we'll break him in soon :))

Work related stuff: I have been very very busy ... I will be buying my plane ticket soon and I still haven't told my supervisor that i am leaving for one month and a half ... There's this guy that is sleeping in the lab and that snoops around desks ... I really hate that, so i'm planning a very very nasty joke for him, something in the lines of building a robot and leaving it on my desk and when he comes too close maybe the robot says something and sends an email to everybody in the lab :)) or only to me and him :) Geekish revenge, what can I say?

Also, wouldn't it be nice if fat was like dark matter? Still weighing but invisible? So we could all be slim but still weigh our god given mass? How cool is that? But then again people would not be able to hug each other :)) everybody will have an invisible boundary from which other people would bounce :))

This is a picture from one of the last routes i climbed in Romania. I'm posing such that I scare my mom (silly me). We had to do this route two times because the first time the wind blew my chalk bag away and M. wanted to go back and get it. I didn't, because I have my new colorful chalk bag that i won for boulderactive and I wanted to use it but couldn't because i was feeling remorseful towards my old one (!!), so losing the old one would have been the perfect excuse :)) I am stuck now with my old one, but it's ok, we've been through a lot together.

Sunday, August 26

Army half

Just a short post because my feet are aching a bit [no, I am not writing with them, but still]. Competed in the army half marathon today (that is 21 km to you). Woke up at 3:45 am to get there around 4:30 am. Race started at 05:30 am. I never stopped, which is an improvement from my lonely runs. There were so many people running next to me that it was embarrassing to stop, so thank you all. There was this short guy that kept on sprinting then walking, sprinting and walking, what a silly way to waste energy ...

The first lady finished in about one hour and a half (according to Marian) and I finished roughly in 1h 55mins. Pretty reasonable considering I was aiming for 2hrs 30 mins. Congrats to everybody there, especially those veterans .. There was this granny-like woman that finished in front of me, respect man!

[Granny like woman ... sheesh! I think I need some food and a lot of sleep]

Friday, August 24

Before and after

You gotta love those before and after pics. They always show a [very] ugly before pic and an extremely nice after version. It's never the other way around even though it would be a more realistic approach. So, here's my before and after pic. Notice the hair man, the hair!!! My hair was a lot of trouble while climbing and mountaineering so i decided that it was time to chop! chop! It's much easier to take care of it now ... even though in the mornings I look like a punker :) I will post a picture soon :).

Tuesday, August 21

The story part III. The giant

Now of course it was NOT my desire to spend the following perfect days hauling equipment from base camp to Zermatt and then traveling to Chamonix, France. In Zermatt I went to the guides' office and ask if Matterhorn is climbable. As you can see from the photo it is almost completely white, which apparently means that it's not climbable, especially by novice mountaineer intermediate climber like myself (seems the problem is not getting up, even if there are around 1200 m of climbing, but getting down, because you cannot find the rappel points in the snow). This left me in tears outside the office, but let's not talk about this now ... [Did you know that Dufourspitze costs 400 euros to climb with a guide!? Not including a preparation climb which you have to do before, which is around 200 euros ... Matterhorn is around 1000 euros to climb!!]

Thus we decided that Mont Blanc (4808m, the highest in the Alps) will be doable - it being covered in snow is no biggie, unless there's avalanche risk - so we had to leave for Chamonix. Proposed route: again, start from 2300 m, go higher than the Gouter refuge (3800m), camp there and then in the same night attempt the peak. The slope is much much more steep and our backpacks were nearly as heavy because our stove was misbehaving so we had to carry water to save some time on the cooking (we had to melt snow otherwise). Plus at one point you have to cross a slope from one rocky point to another and there are rocks that fall from above, which means that you literally have to run for it and you are wearing crampons and your heavy backpack. Then it's just climbing, sometimes using ice axe but always with crampons (even though you are rock climbing).

We arrived in the camp around three. M. started building a wall to protect the tent from the fierce wind, and I started cooking! Yey!! It took me about one hour, one hour and a half to get the water boiling, and then M. around two hours to make the tea for the night ascent. Which means that, instead of eating two times (once to replenish our lost energy on that horrendous climb and once for the climb ahead) we only ate once.

We woke up around one thirty am, had some tea and some horrible cookie (too sweet) and manage to leave the tent around two. We were so drained of energy that the first slope up the Dome du gouter (4302m - we climbed it on the descent from Mont Blanc) got that horrible cookie flowing upstream, which made me really dizzy. When I saw two spanish climbers turning back though, and thought at what they must be feeling I decided that I didn't want to feel like that and moved on! Yey!!

There were a lot of people ahead of us, but because of the wind they decided to wait in the Valois refuge (4400m i think), which got us around the first ten on the summit around six o'clock!! There were some nice steep and sharp ridges to climb but after the dufourspitze one, they seemed so easy...

We spent around twenty minutes on the summit (the wind was very fierce) and then around nine we were back in the tent. We fell asleep as we were, I was wearing my harness, my sunglasses, gore-tex suit, everything except rope and boots :) We woke up around twelve and by five we were down at the train station at 2300m waiting for the train for Houches, then into a supermarket for some cheese and bread [mmmmm] then to the camping site and then to sleep!!! Whoa!!

The next day we went to visit Chamonix. I liked it much much better than Zermatt. Maybe it's the latin feeling or something ... but I just loved it. And all the equipment stores!!! Omg ... there were in Zermatt also but very expensive ... here they were quite reasonable ... mmmm ... Didn't buy anything, except some tshirts and a pair of merrell shoes that were on sale and unfortunately too small for me in the end ... alas ...

Friday, August 17

The story part II. In which I get burned

On tuesday on a window of good weather we decided to go up towards Dufourspitze. We were walking pretty good and settling in our rhythm as a team, the weather was stupendous, there was just one problem: because of the heavy snows from the past few days, we had no tracks. None! Nada! Zip! Zilch! And it's not like you have signs showing you the way or some special rock that does not get covered by snow or something ... So instead of taking a right and going up what seemed a hill full of crevasses and cornices we took a left and proceeded up an easier (ok, ok, lazy also) slope. We realized we were up a cornice when the snow under M. went "whoop", so M had to come back really fast and we had to get out of there. At least we knew that was the wrong way ...

Our nightly ritual had become getting up at two am in the morning, sticking our heads out of the tent and assessing the weather. This happened also on the night of tuesday to wednesday. Weather was better but still foggy, so we resumed sleep. In the morning the weather was super nice, so we decided to hurry up with breakfast and go up Gorner glacier for some crevasse surfing and some training.

When we came back to the tent we saw four teams coming down from the direction of Dufourspitze. "Shit!" I say to meself, "they have climbed it!". The four teams were british, japanese, hungarian, and polish. M. talks to the british and finds out that the snow was too big and they got tired of breaking it so they gave up. I spoke to the polish team and they told me that they got lost (was it by following our tracks? :D) and that the weather was foggy and when they got just below the first ridge (Doufourspitze just bellow the summit has one 70 degrees ice and snow slope, one ridge, one 60 degrees iced snow slope, another ridge and then a climb up the summit block) they saw an avalanche and decided to retreat.

Excited as I was, not even talks about avalanches, big snow and all that could turn me back now ... I knew we were going to climb that night and that was that!! We woke up around two am, ate, dressed and at first wanted to wait for other teams to go first (it's easier to follow somebody's tracks) but since nobody was coming (we could see no lights from down below) we decided to go for it. It was my first time climbing at night and it took a while for my body to get used to it... Initially there was some low alpine clouds but when we got above them the weather was flawless. My right leg fell into a small crevasse but other than that everything was ok. I saw the most amazing sunrise of my life: Matterhorn and Liskam** were all red, everything else was dark blue and orange ... Amazing!! (no picture of course)

Just as we were going up the corniced slope we did not want to go up two days before, a very strong wind whose first customers for the day we were, started to blow. My feet started to freeze (note to self: salomon blue boots - don't know the model - are not fit for high altitudes) and then my hands (could put windstopper gloves on) and then M. started to feel very very very cold on his back. Reason?! The day before when we were walking up the glacier he unzipped the ventilation zippers on his gore-tex and forgot them open!! We had to stop for him to take out his harness, gore-tex, put a polartec on, put the gore-tex back on, harness on, gloves on and so on... I froze to death in the process ...

So we started going up the iced 70 degrees slope. At one point i wanted to take M's photo but the battery had frozen so i put another one inside the d200 but it was frozen also. Took one and put it just under my chin thinking i could warm it up (but I lost it on the summit, i think it fell in Italy). Instead M. took this photo of me*. After this slope we got up to the first ridge. This is where I forgot about the wind, the cold, and about putting sunscreen on our faces.

Now you see, because of the heavy snows in the last days, the ridge, instead of being your ordinary, garden like variety of rocky, granite, ridge on which you can easily scramble, we had your not so nice granite rocky ridge covered with a lot of snow (puffy snow, that is). Which means that when you are stepping on it you cannot tell whether you are stepping on the rock or into immortality, and you only have 1000 m or so on your right and on your left to fall upon. It's true that it's snowed up and you don't realize that you are this high, the only hint being that you can see people down there almost one inch height. So, instead of both of us going at the same time through the ridge, M. had to go first with me sort of belaying him [by sticking my ice axe into the snow, a crab in there and belaying from it]. Needless to say that M weighs around 30 more kgs than me which meant that if he fell my belay station was useless. It did not help that he said: "Claudia, if you want us to live, when I fall you jump on the other side of the ridge". I am a clumsy person by nature and every move I do is thoroughly rehearsed, so chances of me jumping on the right side of the ridge were very slim. So instead I would analyze (I was way beyond the point when I was thinking "omg we're going to die, omg i don't want to die, we also have to come back this way, there's no escalator at the summit, shit shit shit") the possible directions of fall and put myself behind boulders: if he were to fall, i would hit the boulder and hopefully be able to hold him. This is how we went through the second ridge also. Other teams (japanese and british) were pilling up behind us, but none wanted to go first, leaving to us the honor of being first on the summit.

Yey!!! I was so so so happy and relieved to be on the summit! I nearly hugged the japanese, and the british team (one british guy and his guide), I told the guide congratulations :)) The guide also complimented us [gulp]

And the view, ah the view!!

The first picture is of the japanese team descending, you can see Matterhorn on the left, Dent Blanche (the white one) and Weissorn (all are piramides). The next picture is of Nordend which we thought we could do that night, but we were so shacked after the 8 hours ascent and the 4 hours descent that we couldn't do anything more ... So Nordend with its ridge remains a dream. This is another picture of the japanese descending, and these are the british (guide and client).

Now, remember my previous picture where my face was burnt? This is where it happened... We forgot to put sunscreen, the wind was blowing, the sun was so strong, plus it got reflected from the snow ... Plus my nose was runny and I couldn't blow my nose because it hurt, so because of the wind blowing all the mucus froze on my nose [groce, you did not want to know this] leaving my nose and cheek encrusted [if you wish ... yuck!!!]

*will upload picture when i get home
**Liskam is the big wall behind me in the picture with me holding the flag next to the summit cross. It has a climbable 1000 m ice wall - the route is rougly where my left fist is :)

Monday, August 13

The story part I. I get there but I am not lucky

Two hours after I'd arrived in Bucharest I was at my place packing things for the trip to the Alps. Very happy to see my mom and my dog but anxious to get everything out of Marian's backpack and put all my climbing gear in. At that time I was still missing ice axe and crampons, but M. was bringing them down. By the way, M. was already on his way to my place for us to get going. I think it took us about four hours to leave my place. Everything was nice and packed in the car and off we went. We left my place around 6 pm, managed to get out of Bucharest around 8 pm and get to the border by 3 am, which is quite a long time if you know how M. drives. I slept in the car almost all the way to the border, but was fresh by 5 am when we got to Budapest. I drove on the autobahn until Stralzburg and M. took over and drove till Tasch. Our destination was Zermatt, but cars are not allowed there so we camped in Tasch (actually in Randa, which is close to Tasch, but nevermind).

The weather was extraordinary, as you can see from these two pics. Of course, knowing my luck, it was bound to get shitty. The plan was as follows: Dufourspitze, Nordend, Liskam, Weisshorn, and Matterhorn. The last three are listed as AD (assez difficile - sort of difficult), while the first two are listed as PD (peu difficile - a little difficult) - this of course changes depending on the weather.

The next day we were supposed to meet some guys from the Arad branch of the Explorer club at the basecamp at 3100m on the Gorner glacier. Now, there is a refuge on the Gorner glacier at 2900m called Monte Rosa Hutte, but one night there costs around 50 euro, so the practice for most east europeans is to haul all the camp gear (tent, sleeping bags, mattresses, stoves, food, cutlery) to 3100 m and camp there. Basically, while going up and down the slopes that lead to Monte Rosa and our camp, you can tell by the size of the backpacks who comes from eastern europe and who doesn't. Guess where do I come from? :)

You can actually tell from the picture that the weather was turning shitty. You have to trust me on this: behind that rock you can see Matterhorn on a clear day! The guys from Arad were already attempting Dufourspitze. I think they were very silly to rush it. Normally what you do when you first reach the mountain (so you are not acclimatized) is go up to the 3100 m camp, rest there, the next day in the morning walk a bit higher on the slopes then at night attempt the peak.
[Why do you start your climb at night? To ensure that the snow bridges over the crevasses are frozen. If you start your climb during the day you stand a very good chance of finding them bridgeless and thus difficult to cross.] So the guys from Arad rushed it and attempted and climbed Dufourspitze from the first day they got there, which was good because the weather forecast was nasty for the next 5 days, but bad because it left many of them deadly beat [one of them nearly had a stroke because after they got down to Zermatt he drank two or three beers. Sheesh!!!!]

So the weather was turning bad and we were looking at five days stuck in the tent. We roughly had food for 5 days, but what to do with the boredom? Needless to say that stuck in the tent means STUCK IN THE TENT, just go out to go toilet and that's it!! For entertainment we had M.'s ipod, the D200 camera and it's manual plus a book with all the 4000m alpine peaks. Ironically, I spent 5 days reading about peaks that I never got a chance to climb. Everyday we would get about 2 hrs of good weather which allowed us to walk around, walk up towards Dufourspitze, up on the Gorner glacier, etc. In one of those hikes (when i say walk, i generally mean walk up on at least 50 degress slopes) the weather was pretty good but there were no tracks (because of the heavy snow fall on the previous night) so we lost the way to Dufouspitze: instead of going right and up a slope, between some seracs, we went left and nearly stumbled on a cornice. We had to return to the tent because the weather was returning to normal (i.e foggy with high chances of snow). The forecast i got from Marian's text messages was confirming what we saw: 60% chances of rain, 40,30,10,0,0!! (the last zeroes were on sunday and monday, this was tuesday, alas!)
You can imagine my happiness when the clouds lifted for the first time and I could see all those huge mountains surrounding the plateau!! It was amazing!! I felt so small and yet so happy and content! I always get this feeling when I see big rock walls, can you imagine now that I saw 2 thousand meter rock and snow and ice walls? mmmm
This is me looking professional. Dufourspitze is those rocks somewhere in the backround, roughly 4-6 hours from where I am standing. The amazing thing is that everything looks so close but it's damn far once you start walking towards it.
And of course ... being snowed in is always a pleasure, but not when you have 7 days left and you haven't climbed anything.