Stephanie

Apr 172012
 

Print When I was a dedicated climber, I was always impressed to see school-age kids coming to climb at the gym.  When you visit Planet Granite, you see some high schoolers, middle schoolers, and the occasional grade schooler, largely because Planet Granite supports a youth climbing program.  Their programs support ages 5 and up… until now.  The age range just dropped to include ages 2 and up.

Stroller Hikes is a Sunnyvale 501-c-3 educational nonprofit that provides  opportunities for exercise and outdoor events for families.  As the name implies, Stroller Hikes offers hiking events, but since 2006, events have broadened to include running, Toddler Treks, a backpacking series, camping, and now rock climbing.

Lisa Silberman-Kafka and Debbie Frazier climbed a lot before having kids, and the sport has always held allure, tempered only by the question of how to manage kids AND climb.  Lisa first offered indoor rock climbing as a Stroller Hikes event in June of 2011, knowing that if she could make the sport social for her two kids, they would be more motivated to try it out and return week after week.  Debbie has since joined Lisa as a “belay slave,” and was delighted to have her son join the climbers, after having been indoctrinated with a love of the sport through countless climbing movies and scrambles on rocks in Sunol and Yosemite.  Planet Granite has provided a unique opportunity at their indoor venue with piles of routes that can be done amongst a large group of preschoolers and kindergarteners.  Kids love to climb up the “ABCs” or reach for animal heads, teeth, telephone, or volcanoes screwed into the wall.  Planet Granite has offered Stroller Hikes families discounts on gear rentals, further removing anxiety from parents about trying the sport out.

Print Stroller Hikes has seen 2-year-olds dressed from head to toe in climbing gear, content to simply watch from the sidelines, bounce on the puffy blue floor, or find cool shapeLos in the cut-out rubber soles near the slackline.  Stroller Hikes has also had kids who choose not to wear any special gear, scrambling up the bouldering wall.  Most kids don a full-body harness and try their best on a top-roped climb.  It’s not unusual to see first-timers, with no inhibition, take to the wall like Spiderman.   Others, intimidated by fear, swing gently 3 feet off the ground, getting accustomed to the rope taking their weight, before climbing a few more inches and beaming with delight at their accomplishment.

TJ (4) loves to climb.  When asked why, he says, “Because I get to go REALLY, REALLY high.”  Many parents unfamiliar with the sport hoot with delight when their kids take to the wall, recording videos or snapping photos to be posted later on Facebook.  Other parents, impressed by the perseverance of their kids, have signed up for belay classes after a single visit to Planet Granite.

Climbing is an excellent way for young children to develop body awareness, build confidence, practice taking turns, learn to balance effort with breaks, and learn to communicate their fears and frustrations.   The other benefit of climbing at Planet Granite has been one true of all Stroller Hikes events – the experience in an all-ages environment has helped the kids understand how they fit into a community, as this is not simply a kids-only, playdate-reserved zone.  The little Stroller Hikers delight in exploring the different “rooms” at Planet Granite, watching other climbers, and noticing when new routes have been made or when tape has been peeled off a familiar climb.  On hikes, these same kids would notice rocks, sticks, plants, and animals, engaging all of their senses as they trod or roll down the trail.   At Planet Granite, the hiking is vertical, and they are developing the awareness of climbing that will pay off when we venture outside.

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Debbie Frazier is Founder and President of Stroller Hikes, and belays for indoor rock climbing at the Sunnyvale Planet Granite every Friday from 3:30 – 5 PM.  Stroller Hikes events are open to the general public and always free (there may be admission fees like at Planet Granite, or parking fees at some parks, but Stroller Hikes charges no fee).  Learn more at StrollerHikes.com.

Apr 112012
 

Last year, Planet GRANTS It! awarded Dave Anderson $5000 to pursue his dream of establishing a first ascent and raising awareness about an English School in Litang, China.  This Thursday, he will be visiting us, sharing vivid pictures and tales of his travels to the other side of the world.

Wednesday April 11th – PG San Francisco 7:30pm
Thursday April 12th – PG Sunnyvale 8:00pm

See how it all started and follow him this week as we re-post the blogs he sent to us from his travels.  These are just a small taste of what he’ll be presenting next week!  This is part 3!

~~~

Planet GRANTS It! Buying Supplies in Litang

Dave Anderson, Planet GRANTS It! recipient has been blogging about his trip to the Genyen Massif in China. Read his first blog here.  Stay tuned – Dave is back and we’ll be hearing how his trip went soon!

Yesterday we met with Rinchen Chuta, who will be joining us to our Genyen base camp, and worked out the logistics for our trip into the mountains. Today we bought groceries at the local market and various other supplies we will need during our climbing expedition. The weather has been mostly rainy with a few breaks of sunshine. Tomorrow we will drive two hours to the end of the road, load our gear on some horses and trek to our base camp in the heart of the Genyen Massif.

110822 Szu-ting and Eric checking out the dried meat in the market

Szu-ting and Eric checking out the dried meat in the market

110822 Szu-ting buying onions

Szu-ting buying onions

110822 Szu-ting and Eric measuring a trap for basecamp

Szu-ting and Eric measuring a trap for basecamp

110822 local Litang men hanging out at the city center

Local Litang men hanging out at the city center

110822 three monks enjoying some fresh apples

Three monks enjoying some fresh apples

110822 Eric contemplating buying some long underwear

Eric contemplating buying some long underwear

110822 local kid blowing bubbles

Local kid blowing bubbles

110822 Eric and Szu-ting enjoy a hot pot meal

Eric and Szu-ting enjoy a hot pot meal

Apr 092012
 

Last year, Planet GRANTS It! awarded Dave Anderson $5000 to pursue his dream of establishing a first ascent and raising awareness about an English School in Litang, China.  This Thursday, he will be visiting us, sharing vivid pictures and tales of his travels to the other side of the world.

Wednesday April 11th – PG San Francisco 7:30pm
Thursday April 12th – PG Sunnyvale 8:00pm

See how it all started and follow him this week as we re-post the blogs he sent to us from his travels.  These are just a small taste of what he’ll be presenting next week!  This is part 2!

~~~

Return to Genyen – the Bus Ride

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 hisblog.  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.

Apr 052012
 

Last year, Planet GRANTS It! awarded Dave Anderson $5000 to pursue his dream of establishing a first ascent and raising awareness about an English School in Litang, China.  Next week he will be visiting us, sharing vivid pictures and tales of his travels to the other side of the world.

Wednesday April 11th – PG San Francisco 7:30pm
Thursday April 12th – PG Sunnyvale 8:00pm

See how it all started and follow him over the next week as we re-post the blogs he sent to us from his travels.  These are just a small taste of what he’ll be presenting next week!

Planet GRANTS It! Return to Genyen, China (posted August 18th, 2011)

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

Apr 032012
 

2011 Grant Recipients Slideshow Presentation Flyer

Join us for a night of inspiring first ascents, community building, and epic tales of journeying across the world to realize a dream.  Dave Anderson, a Planet GRANTS It! Recipient, travelled to Genyen China back in 2011 to realize a his own dream: to establish first ascents in the Genyen Massif and help create awareness around a small English teaching school at the base of the mountain.

Dave Anderson, a professional photgrapher and writer, develops and leads trips to Taiwan and China.  When not pursuing work, his own adventures have taken him to a variety of landscapes covering 15 countries on four continents. Last year, Dave and his team turned their sights on two lone spires in  the Genyen Massif, China.  As if his expedition isn’t inspiring enough, immediately following the summit attempt, Dave spent two weeks in the nearby town of Litang, documenting their growth to help raise money to build their school.

Join Dave on two separate nights to hear of his tales of adventure and view amazing photos of spectacular landscapes.

Wednesday, 7:30pm – PG San Francisco
Thursday, 8:00pm – PG Sunnyvale

Apr 022012
 

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In 2009 my husband and I did our first trip to Indian Creek and the Moab area.   Moab was supposed to be one stop among many, but we wanted to never leave.  We instantly fell in love with the remoteness, the climbing and the quiet.  Far from any crowds, we climbed everything from splitter cracks at “the Creek” to stunning desert towers around Moab.  We were like kids in a candy shop climbing everything in sight, and our rest days were spent exploring the world class mountain biking.  It was our own slice of paradise.

Our experience wasn’t unusual.  Many members of the Planet Granite community are also drawn to the beauty of these splitter cracks, and since that trip I’ve bonded with many members and staff about the uniqueness of this area.  It is also a destination “crag”, with visitors from all over the US and the world.  There are few who can call this their “local” crag, so the rock environment in Moab needs stewardship from both near and far.  Thus, we at PG quickly realized that this delicate desert landscape could benefit from funds from our $1/member/month program, so I went in search of some of the folks who’ve taken on the responsibility of the stewardship of this area:  Friends of Indian Creek (FOIC).

120331 - Castleton Toilet Sign

The timing was impeccable and the universe seemed to align itself.  Together with the FOIC, The Access Fund, and Utah Open Lands, we raised enough funds to install a primitive toilet at the Castleton Tower campsite.  This iconic tower sees about 15-35 campers each weekend, according to FOIC, and there was no solution to address the growing human waste problem.  In the words of Sam LIghtner, the FOIC president, it was noted last spring that “there was no stone that had not already been turned, and nasty stuff was piling up behind all of the trees.”

We are happy to bring you the news that less than one year from our donation the toilet is installed and working.

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It is rare to see a project like this come to life in such a short amount of time.  One would imagine this to be a daunting task, given the inevitable bureaucratic red tape involved.  But to the credit of the FOIC, and the tenacity and resourcefulness of Sam Lightner in particular, all the parties involved were able to rally around the common goal and complete it in less than one year.  It’s a great example of our community at large coming together to ensure that not only access to great climbing will be preserved, but the places we love to visit will thrive as well.

A posse of Planet Granite staff is headed out there in early April to enjoy the spring climbing.  They’ve promised to be the first PG’ers to uh-um ‘coronate’ the toilet and better yet, enjoy a scenic and aromatic day of climbing.  So, PG’ers, get out there and climb!  Enjoy what we have and remember that there are a lot of us out there.  Learn to tread lightly so that we can keep these climbing areas accessible and pristine.

When not working at Planet Granite, Renee and her husband can be found chasing splitter and not so splitter cracks all over western states.