Thursday, May 29

Out of office

Pending any unforeseen circumstances (plane crashes, forgot passport, etc), I will be here for the next 6 days. I promise to

  1. eat as much thai food as I can

  2. climb as much as I can

  3. run for half an hour on the beach every night

In other news, today is my grandfather's birthday!! He turns 81 today. 81!!! And I remembered all by myself!!

I feel so bad that I wasn't able to go for the last training of the Kilimanjaro team!!! Nita, Mei Fen, Tausif, Kumaran and Jon (sorry if any spelling mistakes), GO GO GO GO GO!!

Wednesday, May 28

Geek humor

Got this from ScienceBlogs:

Whenever you build an airplane, you have to make sure that each part weighs no more than allocated by the designers, and you have to control where the weight it located to keep the center of gravity with limits. So there is an organization called weights which tracks that.

For the 747-100, one of the configuration items was the software for the navigation computer. In those days (mid-1960s), the concept of software was not widely understood. The weight of the software was 0. The weights people didn't understand this so they sent a guy to the software group to understand this. The software people tried mightily to explain that the software was weightless, and the weights guy eventually went away, dubious.

The weights guy comes back a few days later with a box of punch cards (if you don't know what a punch card is, e-mail me and I will explain). The box weighed about 15 pounds. The weights guy said "This box contains software". The software guys inspected the cards and it was, in fact, a computer program. "See?", the weights guy said, "This box weighs about 15 pounds". "You don't understand", the software guys responded, "The software is in the holes".

Monday, May 26

Wake up people!!

Finally woke up from this weekend's slumber. And although I am still depressed (just found out that I weigh sixty fucking two kg omg omg) I am carrying along. So. Got asked after comp what kind of music I like and believe it or not I couldn't answer. My last neuron that was still awake but still, dead tired, could only speak Singlish and laugh at my own jokes (which nobody else could get or understand). Been thinking the past few days how on earth I could not answer that question. So yeah man! I like music! Yay!! All kinds of music, all kinds of stuff ... Beethoven, red hot chili peppers, Bob Marley only on Sundays, Buena Vista Social club for drinks or when it's too hot outside, Starsailor when I want to be left alone, U2 most of the time, Metallica or Rammstein to wake up. I feel great for finally having settled this about myself. Amazing how sometimes you lose your identity only to find it back in foreign things you know you loved.

Sunday, May 25

A good kick in the ass ...

... is just another step forward!

I guess ... Yup. L.A.S.T for Rockmaster! Yay :(( Or the first from the bottom of the queue, whichever. Anyhow, good competition. Route reading mistake on the first route. Pumped out on the second. Bad technique (left my butt too low) on the third. My finger didn't give me any problems except on the first route. There it hurt like hell. Tracy and his daughter Lindsey came to cheer. And so did all the team, which kinda embarrassed me cause they were cheering for nothing and I knew it. Lindsey commented that my back muscles are huge*... Too bad i don't know how to use them. Rewarded myself with a "sausage and mash" at brewerktz; the portion was huge but I just didn't care :)).

If anything, I just want to climb more. Siti said that she was also last for her first open comp, so maybe there is a chance. Siti is an incredibly strong, short, thin, brave climber. I cannot be short and thin, but maybe strong and brave i could manage.

she didn't say that though, she said well defined and nice - i am meeting a lot of incredibly polite people, a nice flavor for my bluntness :))

Friday, May 23

A lot of sports these days

Yup. Summing it up:

  • Monday - Sleep sleep sleep. Tennis in the evening (1hr).

  • Tuesday - Run about 10-11 km (don't know for sure, my iPod is iLost).

  • Wednesday - Climb for 2 hrs (bad idea, finger pain again). Run about 10-11 km. Good thing Shumei wanted to run (as in she did not give in when I said "run now or don't run at all" when we were trying this very nice route), cause otherwise I would not have dun it. All i regret is that I definitely ran too slow.

  • Thursday - Trek in MountHill Faber for 1 hr and a half. Did the hill three times. Ran two times on the final slope. Played tennis for twenty minutes. Maria is definitely improving, yay!

  • Today - Play badminton for one hour.

  • Tomorrow - Compete in Rockmaster. My aim is a) not to finish last (second last is good). b) be able to start. I have just realized that this Rockmaster will only be my fourth competishun. Evar! Woohooo! Scared.

  • Sunday - Tennis two hours in the morning (if it doesn't rain). Then trek between MacRitchie and Bukit Timah parks. These are two adjoining parks but not very close, mind you. The trek should last about three hours. As you can see, I've already made plans for Sunday, so this will be the reason why I will not qualify for the Rockmaster finals. Rrrright.

Tuesday, May 20

Long long days

Yep. Things have not been wonderful Chez Claudia these past few days. First, there was Friday. Mmmm ... Friday was good. Up until the point we decided to play tennis. And I started to play with Maria first, who's just learning tennis (not that I'm better, but still). Then I played with Marian, whose mind wasn't in the game for some reason or other. Which got me really pissed, because my mind WAS in the game, and I wanted to play. So. I set up this rule. For every point that he loses or whenever his mind wasn't in the game, he would do 5 push-ups. The same for me. So in the end, the score was 85-65 push-ups. 85 for me, 65 for him (needless to say that after I put up this rule, his mind was instantly in the game :)) ) So I ended up having to do 85 push-ups. Actually, Maria did 9 for me, so I only did 76 in series of 10. Only my ass. The next day, I could barely take a cup of tea to my face. Sunday morning, I could barely use the air con remote control. To top it up, I just realized last night that I lost my ipod Friday night when we went to the pull-up/push-up bars. Yup. My nice, red, ipod. With my nike-plus sensor. And with my nice engraving "Stop being a dreamer, Start being a doer" (which you can see I made it up myself). Sheesh, life sux.

Saturday, to my shame, instead of going to Rockmaster (very very close to my home) to cheer for the novice and intermediate climbers, I went shopping! the whole day!! There's no excuse for me, but I did it because I am officially NOT climbing (until tomorrow) so I didn't want to see anybody climb. Shopping was good though. Long time (maybe three months) since I've done it.

Sunday, well ... played tennis for two hours from nine to eleven in THE FUCKING MORNING. Then dozed by the pool. Then dozed some more in MacRitchie reservoir car-park, where I waited for ONE hour for the guys to show up for our trek. No, I was not early. Not by much (10 mins). It will be fun to watch them do push-ups though. Cause you see, I was so traumatized by my push-up experience that now I am making them do one push-up for every minute they are late after their 10 minutes late allowance. Cool. Life is good when you get to torment people. The trek was the only good part about my weekend I guess. It was marvelous. We went jungle bashing for about 20 minutes- not really a jungle, it was more like a normal forest from back home, but still it was great to be a bit secluded and in the wild (this is rare in Singapore).

Monday. Public holiday. Had it in my mind to go to work. Canceled the meeting with Cherlyn - i was supposed to belay people on the route we set on Wednesday. Then, instead of going to work, I slept the whole day. Yup. The whole day. From twelve to six pm. We played some tennis in the evening and that was that. A lot of tennis, a lot of sleep for me these days. I miss my red ipod.

Thursday, May 15

Ahhhh ....

Spent the whole day yesterday helping Cherlyn set some routes for some youth competition. Whoa! Very very very tiring it was, especially since I decided that it would be good to approach the wall wearing sandals! The tiles were very yucky, especially if you held them with a sweaty hand ... Anyhow, my finger hurt really bad so I only set up three quarters of one route. But I helped out a lot!!

And in the evening we went to eat Durians! Yay! I absolutely love them. I think I ate the most too! Poor mortals, they had no idea how much I can eat, haha! :)) Pictures coming soon, I hope. I ate so much durian last night that today I can only take salty stuff. Plus I still feel extremely bloated and full. But it was worth it, the durians were great!

Tuesday, May 13

It's that time of the year again

When after boulderactive I try to train maybe a bit too much and then boom! injury strikes! Yup. My right-hand ring finger is out of business. For like I don't know how long. Been hurting for quite a while now ... I have a very very high pain threshold so I thought I would just ignore it and it will go away. Noes noes. While ignoring it I tried cold water treatment and the likes, but no can do ... must rest. So I rest. Yesterday I only climbed for half an hour. Using mostly only my left hand, and the index and thumb from my right hand (i taped my middle and my ring finger together to make sure I don't use them). Pathetic but what can i do. Tonight we have training. Yay! booo!! Tomorrow I am helping Cherlyn with some route setting and then durian parteee in the evening. Yay!!

Wednesday, May 7

Looking for replacement

I am so sorry to say but I am looking for a replacement. For whom?! For me, of course!! I just can't take it anymore, I simply can't ... This monday they went out to dinner with Tracy, one of their new friends. And since Tracy had said that he is hungry, and they very well knew what this meant when it happened to her, they rushed in a cab to the restaurant. The cabbie's driving style was simply awful and this left us all feeling a bit dizzy. While I was relaxing on her lap and contemplating the nice indian food we were going to have, she got up, payed the taxi, got out of the car ... And there I was, left alone on the seat! Oh my ...I can't begin to tell you how it is to have one's self frisked by foreign hands ... YUCK ... to have all your private cards and places being scooped out and prodded at with foreign fingers ... Aww ...

I was so distraught I couldn't even speak to tell the cabbie to phone the number on the bright orange card that said "Marian" ... he's the responsible one of the lot, he'll know what to do to save me ... But noes ... The cabbie drove back to the restaurant but couldn't find her in there - this is because the picture I carry of her is one when she was fat and ugly(er) ... Poor little old me, I had to spend the night in the car, in one of those horrible areas of Singapore, a far cry from my cozy orange bedroom. It was very difficult to sleep because all my cards were in one place and obstructed my spine. Plus all the cats were meowing ... urgh ... In the morning the cabbie took me to NUS and left me there. He said it was a fair exchange that he would take all my 37 dollars for all the trouble. I was still under shock and I couldn't protest.

Two hours later, we were reunited at last! She hugged me close and re-arranged the cards, filled me with CASH. All was well again. Until last night. I went and bought three oranges and Marian placed me close to them such that I can get a whiff of the adorable orange smell. But then ... he went ahead and put the oranges in the fridge. And guess where I spent last night?!?!?!

Monday, May 5

Ah, weekends!

Spent the whole day yesterday OUTDOORS!! Yupii!! In the morning we went to Climb Asia, where I found this amazing 6b+ gray route (that I cannot link yet - i fall midway). Here is Tracy climbing the route (this is also the only picture in which I look reasonably fit) The rest show my huge back and forearms (believe me, u don't wanna know).

We stayed there from 11 to 4 pm. Afterwards Nita came and picked us up and we went MacRitchie!! Yay!! The blur one in this picture is me. Yup. I managed to sprain my ankle TWICE. Once in the parking lot (Yeah, i know, and I should be telling them pro stuffs about the mountains), and once on the trail. To my credit, I was super tired and hungry (only 1 1/2 banana and half an orange for lunch). The girls did an extraordinary job and managed to finish the 10 km carrying 10 kg, whoa!!! Next week we will be going through the jungle (at Kumaran's suggestion). I hope we don't get lost there, because we managed to get lost on the much walked trail and ended up going in a circle - what will happen in the jungle?

Marian is beat.
"How do you feel?", I ask.
"Like i've been ran over by a train", he says.
"What kind of train?"
"Supply train!"

Saturday, May 3

Aconcagua (I)

I've put it off for too long now, so this is the second-last story about Aconcagua and how we, the first romanian all women's team, climbed it. I would like to say that from the start my focus was on getting everybody (that is Catalina, Lili and I) to the top, as a team if not as friends. Now if you remember, Catalina had tried three times before to climb it, had not trained and had serious knee problems. Lili was fresh out of the office, extremely stressed about having failed on tres cruces and parinacota. To top it up, C, always has a knack at being on somebody's back for whatever reason. So, if somebody would step on her toes, she would be on that poor critter's back for ever. Or, if nobody would step on her toes, she would still find somebody that might've and go from there. It was the case with Dan, then with lili on and off, and at last, with me.

So we finally arrived at Plaza de Mulas after having trekked for 25 km through the bloody desert, 1000 m elevation difference. I think from Confluencia we had maybe 10 minutes of green, and then - nothing! Just red, red, brown, red. At the beggining of the trek Aconcagua shows its majestic south face, but only for a while. This prompted some young Argentinians that we were passing on and off, to yell "ACONCAGUA!!!" at it every time it would show up around the corner. The trek is through the valley of the Horcones, a small creek that grows to river proportions in the afternoon - it gets its water from the glacier on top of which Plaza de Mulas resides.

In the afternoon, the Horcones water is chocolaty, from all that red dust. We saw a lot of climbers or tourists coming down. Our favorite game was guessing who had been to the top. A lot of mulas as well!! The 1000m elevation is not sudden, it starts lightly around half-way. However, just before you reach Plaza de Mulas, you have to climb a horrendous slope. We were out of water for about three hours (it took us 9 hours, but we were also carrying the tent) by this time, so at least for C. it was horrible to climb. So much, that when i got to the top, i came down, took her backpack (almost forced it from her) and helped her up. I sweetened it saying that I expect her to do the same for me if the going gets tough, and I meant it.

We set up camp. Our cameraman, Marius, had taken off at one point because he got so pissed of at C. that he couldn't take it anymore. M. and I had a row (romanian style - which means, with lots and lots of yelling) but in the end we cleared things up. I did say something that he will never forgive me for (or even let me forget): i told him that we had the same load (which we did) and thus he can't say that he was in a hurry. Ah ... young and foolish. When we arrived, Carlos and Vanessa, the couple that was taking care of the Lanko camp at Plaza de Mulas, greeted us with juice, tea, juice, juice, and soup! A blessing, as we were totally spent. We spent one day to recover in Plaza de Mulas. It is like a small town, with all the comforts of home, including internet (very very slow), telephone, and restaurants.

You HAVE to use the ecological toilets (pictured) provided by each company. Ours did not have a door, but a green flap. There's also a doctor there, and you are encouraged to have him/her check you out. We did that at Confluencia, and somehow we didn't have the time to go to this one as well. Other teams were camped at the Lanko camp. We had the OTHER romanians I told you about. A team of boisterous argentinians, including a female rock climber (she was sooooo fit!!), that had their own support team - members of their family that were just hanging out in Plaza de Mulas with radios etc, waiting for news. A 60 something french guy, Pierre, that barely spoke english, and was by himself. The other team from Explorer that had just summited and came down on our rest day. I was truly happy for those guys. I envied their guts, but that is my problem and my nemessis.

From Plaza de Mulas to Nido de Condores, our next camp, 1000m higher, you have to scale this absolutely huge slope ranging from 30 degrees to around 50 degrees. We called it our Golgota. To the end of the slope, where you still have 300m elevation until Nido de Condores (Eagle's crib) you could see people as very very small ants going up and down it. We spent the whole rest day sitting in base camp watching people going up and down the slope. Lili, who was showing signs of intense nervousness, sat with a bottle of water by her side and did not utter a SINGLE word the whole day. That huge slope and those small ants climbing it is not very encouraging mind you. On top of that, the weather is not very encouraging also. We could see white flat clouds on the direction of the summit, made by a very fierce wind they call "Viente blanco" (white wind). To say nothing of the cold! The sun gets to the camp around 10 am. Before that, it's so cold that you HAVE to wear your down jacket. The sun sets around 10:30 pm. At Nido de Condores and higher, it sets even later, and the sunsets are absolutely amazing!! [pictured]

We went from Plaza de Mulas to Nido de Condores two times to carry gear and re-acclimatize. Our last trip was also the hardest, because, even though we were not carrying crampons and that much food, we were carrying tents, sleeping bags, down jackets and the like. These are also very very heavy items, especially when you're deprived of oxygen and/or on the road for such a long time. Going up to Nido de Condores for the last time, we met up with Zsolt Torok, a new addition to our club by the way, who had just completed the Polish Route solo, after being with some other Explorer members to the summit two days before. That's right, he was on the summit two times in one week. He told us how on the polish route while he was walking by himself, he stumbled upon the mummified body of another climber. Apparently he was a Czech climber that had died on the Polish glacier and his family had decided to leave him there. How freaky is it to walk alone and find somebody dead in the middle of your path?! Looking at Zsolt, and the immensity of his backpack and at how fit he seemed while I was so dizzy from my smallish pack, I realized that it's going to be a loong time (if ever) before I can even dream to attempt this kind of routes.