Aug 242011
 
The evil bus and the sadistic driver

The evil bus and the sadistic driver.

During my various adventures, I have had some challenging bus rides, from riding on the top of a bus while holding an elderly woman’s prized rooster in Ecuador to dealing with a drunk wielding a broken bottle on a Greyhound out of Vegas, but this recent ride from Chengdu to Litang takes the cake!

Rough dirt road - day 2 on bus

Rough dirt road.  Day 2 on the bus.

Usually this bus ride is broken up into two stages: Chengdu to Kangding (10 hours) and then Kangding to Litang (12 hours). While at the bus station, we noticed there was a bus driving straight through. Trying to maximize our time in the mountains, we opted for the marathon ride. I should have known we were in trouble when our bus came into view. It was by far the most beat up dilapidated looking bus in the entire station.

DEA36428 woman selling freshly roasted walnuts

Woman selling freshly roasted walnuts.

The only seats available were in the back of the bus, so Eric, Szu-ting and I piled in and made ourselves as comfortable as possible. Within two minutes of driving the AC stopped working and with only two small windows that could be opened, the temperatures inside the cabin quickly rose into the low 100’s. There was the usual cast of world bus characters on board, a screaming baby whose mother was so car sick she vomited non stop, chain smokers and even a poor girl who could not “hold it” resulting in a stream of urine running down the floor of the bus. The road to Kangding was in relatively good shape with only limited sections of dirt road, but construction often caused us to wait on the side of the road for an hour or more. Fortunately, entrepreneurial local people were selling baked corn on the cob and roasted walnuts which we sampled as we waited.

DEA36429 Dave at hour 18 on the bus

The author, Dave, at hour 18 on the bus.

One thing I have learned, from similar bus travels, is the most important safety item of a bus is not the tires, engine or even seat belts; it is the horn. The “morse code” like beeps our driver used was crucial to everyone’s survival. While passing three semis on a blind corner with a 2000-foot drop off below, the steady stream of honks alerted oncoming traffic to our presence.

DEA36430 waiting for road construction day one

Waiting for road construction – day 1.

As it turns out we did end up staying in Kangding for the night, but at least all of our expedition gear stayed locked in the bus overnight and at 5:30 am the next morning we were off again. The stretch of road to Litang was all dirt and most of it was under construction. At one point the driver, trying to make up time, floored it down a particularly bumpy stretch of potholes causing the vomiting woman and her 6 month old to go airborne almost hitting the ceiling. A fight nearly erupted between her irate husband and the driver. The end result was a slower speed, which the disks between my vertebrates really appreciated.

We arrived in Litang just in time for dinner, nursing sore necks from the constant charring of the bumpy road and headaches from the nearly 13,000 of elevation gain since leaving Chengdu.

DEA36431 Eric enjoying some fire roasted corn on the cob while waiting for construction

Eric enjoying some fire roasted corn on the cob while waiting for construction.

and some photos from the start of the trip….

DEA36168 Szu-ting weighing the bags

Szu-ting weighing the bags.

DEA36176 Szu-ting hoping they don't weigh our luggage in Seattle

Szu-ting hoping they don’t weigh our luggage in Seattle.

DEA36200 Almost to there

Almost to there.

DEA36224 Szu-ting waiting for our connecting flight in Tokyo

Szu-ting waiting for our connecting flight in Tokyo.

DEA36268 Szu-ting waiting at 2am in the Chengdu airport  for Erics flight to arrive

Szu-ting waiting at 2am, in the Chengdu airport, for Eric’s flight to arrive.

DEA36271 Eric and Szu-ting on the rooftop of our hotel in Chengdu

Eric and Szu-ting on the rooftop of our hotel in Chengdu.

Planet Grants It!

Dave Anderson was awarded  one of the Planet GRANTS It! $5000 grants.  To read about his trip, click HERE or visit his blog.  Dave will be sending PG updates any chance he gets – stay tuned as his adventures unfold.  All photos on this blog are property of Dave Anderson.

To make a donation to the Litang Social English Training Program, please click HERE.

Aug 222011
 

Bloc Party 2011 Flyer

Friday, August 19th – Planet Granite Sunnyvale

Friday, September 16th – Planet Granite Belmont

Friday, October 14th – Planet Granite San Francisco + Onsight Series Final


Reg Table, Sports Basement and The North Face!

PG SUNNYVALE
The comp was a HUGE success! With over 450 competitors, these comps just keep on growing. Kyle and Joey grilled up over 350 patties, 100 hot dogs and we had snacks galore. Thanks to everyone who came out – we even raised $100 for the Access Fund from the Dyno for Dollars comp! For photos from the comp, please visit the album on our Facebook Page. Scores are posted here.
In spite of the numbers, there was lots of climbing to go around

The North Face throwing out goods to the crowd

Mens Womens
Open Ben Polanco (aka the Flea) 18,490 Natasha Barnes 15,650
Advanced Jacob Ehrlichman 13,980 Renee Ross 11,080
Recreational James Etchells 7,100 Daneth Nucum 4,990

girl crushers

Remember – the top 5 competitors overall (check out our top ten list below!) will be invited to compete in our Onsight Series Final at PGSF with a chance to win up to $150 in cash! See you again at PG Belmont!

Mens Womens
1st Ben Polanco 18,490 Natasha Barnes 15,650
2nd Brett Ashton 18,470 Melodie Chu 15,090
3rd Brian Hedrick 18,470 Courtney Ceran 14,860
4th Jasper Bote 18,450 Linda Nguyen 13,450
5th Kyle Rafa 17,990 Raquel Rheads 11,820
6th Jondo Lopez 17,950 Renee Ross 11,080
7th Cyril Lavier 17,670 Amanda Keys 10,900
8th Artem Biryukov 17,500 Lisa Tang 10,300
9th Mirko Caballero 17,450 June Lin 10,240
10th Keith Share 17,000 Sara Evenson 9,810

photo by Luke Stefurak

Aug 182011
 

Planet Grants It!We are proud to announce Dave Anderson and his Return to Genyen Expedition has earned our first Planet GRANTS It! $5,000 grant! After pouring over many solid applications and reading through many amazing trips, we chose Dave and his dream to summit two more unclimbed spires in the Genyen Massif.   Dave’s trip is notable not just for his amazing alpine pursuits, but for his humanitarian efforts as well.  Check out his expedition video – we think you’ll be just as impressed as we are.

Return to Genyen from David E. Anderson on Vimeo.

Immediately following his summit attempts, Dave and his team will be spending two weeks in the nearby town Litang with Rinchen Chuta, a young man who runs a small language school that teaches kids Tibetan, Mandarin and English.  These three languages are important because they will enable the young people to maintain a connection with their heritage, attend higher education in China and lastly allow them to connect more with the Western world and work within the burgeoning travel industry of Western Sichuan. In addition, Rinchen plans to create a permanent education center for his students and traveling teachers.

Rinchen Chuta and some of his students.

Rinchen’s dream, however, comes with a price.  Already the groundwork has been laid – the land for the new school has been purchased, but nearly $40,000 needs to be raised to cover the costs of building materials, laborers and permits.  Dave plans to spend two weeks documenting Rinchen’s project through still images and video for a documentary.  It is Dave’s hope to help bring awareness to Rinchen’s project and raise the necessary funding to build Rinchen’s dream: the Litang Social English Training Program. When possible, Dave and his team will be sending back photos and texts of their journey.  Follow us on Facebook as we report how his trip is doing!  To read more about Dave’s trip, please visit his website.

Dkyil ‘khor Ri (peak 1)

Bka Ri (peak 2)

Peak 2

Aug 172011
 

Planet Granite members can now take advantage of “Climber Self-Rescue” programs taught by Mountain Adventure Seminars (MAS) at the PG Sunnyvale and San Francisco gyms.  These classes emphasize both outdoor climbing accident prevention and rescue techniques using standard climbing equipment.  Nobody ever wants an accident to happen, but learning rescue skills can help prevent a mishap from becoming an epic.

mas-photo-1

These programs are exclusive to PG members and are offered in two formats: Contact MAS, or visit this LINK to find specific dates.

A) Full Day Workshops
Intensive full day workshops in the gym covering the basics of:
– Belay escape
– Tensioned rope ascent and descent
– Rappelling and lowering past a knot
– Hauling systems using mechanical advantage.
(Cost $140)

B) Four 2-Hour Evening Clinics
These four clinics cover the same material as the full day workshop but are spread out over one month (eg. – 4 successive Thursday nights from 7-9 PM).  This format is convenient and doesn’t impair your weekend climbing plans.  Plus participants can assimilate the technical information over a longer period of time. (Cost $45/clinic or $160/series) **Part one of the 1st set of these clinics starts TOMORROW Thursday, 8/18 at PG Sunnyvale!  Spaces are still available – but are limited!  Call MAS today to reserve your spot!

mas-photo-2

MAS also offers special programs and discounts to PG members on outdoor climbing adventures from one day excursions in the Bay Area to weekend multi-pitch camps at Lovers Leap and beyond.  So if you’re interested in learning more about outdoor rock climbing and experiencing some of the best climbing in Northern California check out the courses at MAS or give them a call at (209) 753-6556; they love to talk about their work!

Aug 162011
 

PG Belmont will be the new steep training center!

Since July 27, the lower bouldering room at Planet Granite Belmont has been under construction. You can see in the images below the various stages of construction.behind the curtain

Behind the Curtain…

Danny and the bouldering wall

Danny going to town on the old walls.

byebyefoam

empty room

And then there was none!

It took less than a week to remove the frame and foam from the previous featured bouldering room. After clearing the room down to the building’s foundational concrete slab, workers began laying down steel beams to outline the frame where new walls would be put up.

and then there was none

border of the new floor

Framing for the new floor!

Today workers continue to cut steel and weld them into what is starting to look like a really amazing bouldering section. The most vertical walls look much taller than before and the overhanging walls are equally as awesome as those found in the new outdoor bouldering area at Planet Granite Sunnyvale. Planet Granite Belmont will also be installing a system board, as well as fitness rings, and seamless crash pads. Construction is estimated to be finished by mid-September.  Check out our Facebook Page – we’ll be posting more photos and details as they occur!

steepness

Check out the steepness!

the new steepness

Special thank to Colin of PG Belmont who is keeping us up to date on the construction and providing awesome photos!

Aug 152011
 

Gymnastics Seminar

GYMNASTICS SEMINAR with Caleb, CrossFit Sunnyvale Instructor
Saturday August 27th at 4pm

Geared towards the raw beginner, this two-hour gymnastics clinic will primarily cover the foundational movements, techniques, and positions of artistic gymnastics. We aim to give attendees a better grasp of their bodies by developing their upper body strength, core control, spatial awareness, and skill/technique.  Among other things we will cover the following:

  • Floor: hollow/arch body positions, proper handstand form & handstand workout variations
    (shrugs/push-ups/planches/presses), forward/backward roll & variations, cartwheels & variations, handstand forward rolls.
    – Bar: inverted hangs, levers, stalders, pull-up variations, leg-lift variations, kipping swings, bar muscle-ups.
    – Rings: support & variations, inverted hangs, muscle-ups, levers, crosses.
Class will be taught by Caleb Chiu & Yousef Ashufta, two gymnastic instructors from Gold Star Gymnastics in Mountain View.  Caleb is also a Level II CrossFit instructor and will provide a CrossFit bias to the class, but all materials will be applicable to yogis, climbers, & CrossFitters alike.

Members: $45
Non-Members: $50
Limit: 12 Attendees

To reserve your spot, please contact Caleb directly via email or (858) 361-5218