Saturday, July 29, 2006

Pressing the button over and over

You've seen the video of the rat that presses that shock button because he was given a niblet, an orgasm or a pocket pair until he shocks himself to death?
I haven't seen the pocket pair video, actually, but I'm assuming one is out there because that's what I did to my bankroll Saturday night.
QQ, QQ, JJ, JJ and KK cost me a lot of money Saturday night, almost every bit of my $125 takedown from Thursday night.
I don't have the hand histories here. They're embarassing, anyway, and I've already analyzed them to death.
Both times my QQ lost to KK. My JJ wasn't too bad, but it still lost a pot, and the second time when I flopped a third J and bet half the pot it got NO ACTION at all.
When I got KK? Another harmless board, the guy got his third 7 and took me down.
The problem with pocket pairs is they're just so damn exotic. They look so sexy, so, anyway, they really do look great, like 70s velvet great or something. And in online poker, when TPTK gets pushed a lot, they're golden.
Or so it seems. Many times it's easy to push with them and get rewarded by freaks who can't let go of A,Q with a Q-high board. Trust me, it's how I won one of my big hands Thursday.
And yet, eventually, pushing with a pocket will give you nothing but a shock. No orgasm, no pellet, just a smack in the face and your bankroll whimpering in the corner, sucking its thumb and shying away from your touch.
It's basically a guessing game, with all these new players jumping in and out, to know when that pellet will arrive and when the shock will come.
Do I dare resist the pocket pair push before I shock myself to death?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Quads to the rescue! (Beeeeches)

View Previous hand for this table.

Texas Hold'em $0.50-$0.50 NL (Real Money), #767,613,317
Table La Plata, 27 Jul 2006 12:35 AM ET

Seat 1: DaveG11111 ($47.50 in chips)
Seat 2: CODYVALENCE ($47.20 in chips)
Seat 3: illteachu5 ($57.70 in chips)
Seat 4: mattnespoli ($58.30 in chips)
Seat 5: McDougal. ($15.75 in chips)
Seat 6: AlexMR ($46.25 in chips)
Seat 7: weistronaut ($47 in chips)
Seat 8: Pokerpeaker5 ($48.50 in chips)
Seat 9: TheHalfSame ($50 in chips)
Seat 10: rggrady3 ($58.50 in chips)

Pokerpeaker5 posts blind ($0.25), TheHalfSame posts blind ($0.50).

rggrady3 folds, DaveG11111 folds, CODYVALENCE calls $0.50, illteachu5 calls $0.50, mattnespoli calls $0.50, McDougal. folds, AlexMR folds, weistronaut calls $0.50, Pokerpeaker5 calls $0.25, TheHalfSame checks.

FLOP [board cards 6D,AH,6S ]
Pokerpeaker5 checks, TheHalfSame checks, CODYVALENCE checks, illteachu5 checks, mattnespoli checks, weistronaut checks.

TURN [board cards 6D,AH,6S,2C ]
Pokerpeaker5 bets $0.50, TheHalfSame bets $3, CODYVALENCE bets $5.50, illteachu5 folds, mattnespoli folds, weistronaut folds, Pokerpeaker5 calls $5, TheHalfSame calls $2.50.

RIVER [board cards 6D,AH,6S,2C,2S ]
Pokerpeaker5 bets $2, TheHalfSame calls $2, CODYVALENCE bets $41.20 and is all-in, Pokerpeaker5 bets $40.50 and is all-in, TheHalfSame folds.

Pokerpeaker5 shows [ 2D,2H ]
Pokerpeaker5 wins $1.30, Pokerpeaker5 wins $102.90.

Dealer: weistronaut
Pot: $105.20, (including rake: $1)
DaveG11111, loses $0
CODYVALENCE, loses $47.20
illteachu5, loses $0.50
mattnespoli, loses $0.50
McDougal., loses $0
AlexMR, loses $0
weistronaut, loses $0.50
Pokerpeaker5, bets $48.50, collects $104.20, net $55.70
TheHalfSame, loses $8
rggrady3, loses $0

That's why you never slowplay Aces and why you maybe should bet even your full house with more than one other player in the hand.
He let me get lucky.
Boy, did I.

We now return you to your reguarly scheduled writing.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Knowing when to fold 'em

The hardest thing for me to do in life is relax.
That doesn't mean I have ADD or jump around the house like a chipmunk on meth (or, as my current analogy fits better, a 1-year-old on a popscicle rush), but I can't sit on the couch all day and all night.
I can't allow myself much of a break.
I need to keep busy.

So when I got up at 2 a.m. Monday, facing my longest and toughest climb this year, and I felt a scratch in my throat, I blew it off, thinking it was no big deal, that I could still do 17 miles and gain more than a mile straight up.
It turned out to be one of the toughest days I've had in years.
I should have realized that as our leaders set the pace about the same as the Daytona 500 of hiking, as if we were park rangers and four climbers were hanging by their shoelaces off a ledge and needed our help. By the time we reached the base of the mountain, I was whipped and in need of food.
Instead, we scaled up a trough so treacherous that two rocks whipped by, one of them whizzing as if Randy Johnson had thrown it at my head. I ducked just in time, showing off my reflexes developed by pitching in slow-lob softball these last four years.

By the time we got near the summit, I was pulling a Floyd Landis, falling several minutes behind the leader, only there would be no Landis-like comeback. I crawled to the summit, shoved five Oreo cookies in my mouth, downed a bottle a Gatorade and tried to prepare for Longs, 1,000 feet straight up away.
The food helped enough to push me to keep up, and by the time we got off Longs and back to the trail that would lead us to our car, six miles away, I was feeling OK.
And then it started raining.
And then it started pouring.
And then...

There are many things about mountaineering that do not scare me. Heights? The cold? Rocks flying like fastballs at my head?
That's part of the deal. But lightning? And knowing that you are the tallest thing above treeline and therefore a target?
That scares the hell out of me.
For a half an hour, I prayed to the Gods that they wouldn't send a bolt my way. I've been good, I said, not chasing my draws when I don't have the odds, taking that first pitch in softball and giving my kid and wife a kiss every night.
It seemed to work. The storm cleared, and we had a wet but calm three miles down to the car and food, a hot shower and dry clothes.
When I got home, I started shivering. Must be the cold rain, I thought.
That tickle in my throat turned out be a 101 fever. I was sick with a cough.
So I was supposed to go hiking Friday before I led another group up the mountains Saturday for my 14ers group.
But I'm not going.
I'm taking it easy.
I'm relaxing.
Sometimes, you just have to know when you're beat.
Sometimes you have to fold 'em.

Song of the week: "The Illusionist" by Scar Symentery - Good, brutal metal with a catchy chorus. My favorite.
Movie of the week: "Shopgirl" starring Pot Committed, aka Claire Daines. This clever tale bombs out at the end, but the acting and story are too cute to not watch this.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Hiking with my father

For the first time in several years, I was on a summit with my father today.
It felt good.
I missed it.
Dad was the inspiration, the engine and the driving force behind my moutaineering hobby/obsession. For many years after my first summit of Longs Peak, perhaps Colorado's most climbed mountain (and one of its hardest), when I was 15, we visited dozens of summits together, even taking a trip to Washington to climb Rainier together in 1994 and again in 1997, when we spent a week on the mountain in the winter.

Things change, as they always do, but this is not a story about me getting older and finding my own way. Dad got divorced and then remarried to a younger woman (don't roll your eyes, it's not one of THOSE) who had three young children. He then had a baby with her, at age 60 (please, no comments about how his trout must be still swimming upstream, I've heard them all), and that wiped out pretty much all the climbing we had together.
Dad, in fact, stopped working out because he's now too busy carting the kids to soccer, baseball, etc.
The life choices hurt me a bit, but I didn't begrudge him too much. It was, after all, his decision, and he still managed to make it known that I was an important part of his life.
It's possible, without delving into some serious psycho therapy (yes, the pun is intended, because with me that's what it would be) beyond this blog, that his decision to stop climbing with me because he was too busy lit a fire under me, pushing me to complete all 54 14ers in five years, something that usually a climber 15 or 20 years, if they do it at all (and most don't). Maybe I was saying, OK, fine, I can do it on my own, just watch me. It turned out to be one of the best things I've ever done, right behind having a child and getting married (deciding to play poker falls right behind the 14ers).

I don't know if it will ever be the same again. He's 65 now, so even if he did work out, something he still doesn't do, he'd be slow and probably unable to do the epic stuff we used to tackle. He even took the wrong way down, which was my usual move before he moved on, and, in a sense, so did I. He's still got it, but he's got it in the sense that an aging NFL player still can take the field without embarassing himself but may not score many TDS anymore.

Still, Saturday was special. I got up at 3 a.m., drove up to our meeting place, absorbed his jokes about my morning attitude (which is grouchy and sour, if you must ask). We talked about work, laughed about our kids and got into a bit of his tour in Vietnam, something we hardly ever discuss.
You may not be able to go home again, unless home is a summit. For many years, it was. It was nice to sit on that front porch once again.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Home Alone

OK, I'm a bachelor.
No, the wife and the baba did not die in a fireball plane crash. She went to Salina, Kan., which is almost as bad, seeing as how it's about 157 degrees there, or about six degrees cooler than here, with the only difference being that it's also humid there, pushing something called the heat index to about 187 degrees.

Every year Kate's family travels to western Kansas, which is about as bad as it sounds, to visit her grandmother, watch a demolition derby and try to dodge violent, tornado-spawning thunderstorms. The highlight of the four days is a chicken dinner, and while this is a highlight because it's the best damn chicken dinner you've ever had, it's not worth four days of mall-walking, sweating and mosquito slapping.

Why am I so bitter? I worked in Salina for almost five years at the Salina Journal (sorry, no link, it's not worth it), and while I did enjoy the experience there — the city does have its merits, including a fluffy artistic side, meaning 4,000 out of 40,000 came to see our initial production of Shakespeare in the Park, which was a blast — it's still western Kansas.
That means the outdoors activities offered there include hiking on a crappy lake trail in 100-degree, humidity-splashed weather, biking on a thin highway with 18-wheelers storming by or fishing. I have no problem with fishing, I even support it and write about it, but it's just not my thing, kind of like hunting or crossword puzzles.
Colorado has mountains, which pretty much ends the competition right there.

So I'm at home, alone, and you might think this means I am sitting around the house in my underwear, the dogs licking waffle syrup off my bare chest, while I sing "I wear short shorts." Nope. I'll be in the mountains, of course.
I'm climbing Friday, hiking Saturday (for work, actually, ha ha ha sometimes being an outdoor/adventure writer is even better than covering the WSOP) and probably doing something epic Monday with my longtime hiking partner.
Despite this smorgasboard of high-altitude debauchery, I'll approach the next few days with a heavy heart.
I'll miss my little guy.

I never thought it would be possible that I would value family over mountain climbing, but it's happened, I'm a full-blown Dad now and wish I had my little guy with me. I fear that by the time he gets back, on Monday, he'll be saying his first few words, and not one of them will be, "Da Da." (He does say "Ma Ma," but he says that when he wants food, probably just a result of three months of breastfeeding; when Kate was thrilled that that was basically his first word, I reminded her that he basically sees her as a refrigerator).
I'll have fun these next few days, but I may, in fact, be happiest when I get updates from Kate in Salina.
• • •
I'm on the biggest rush of my life on the poker front. I know it seems to be much more fun to bitch about bad beats these days, but I've increased my total bankroll by a third just this month, up to more than $1,000 for the first time in my life. This may not seem like a lot to you, who play in the Big Game and call off $1,500 bets when you've got eight outs, but for me, it's a lot of money, and I'm thrilled.
The light is shining bright in my dark tunnel that is poker knowledge, and the game could not be more fun at this point.
I'm picking off bluffs regularly, I seem to know what my opponent has more and more and continue to drag big pots despite continuing to play extremely tight and only occassionally aggressive.

More and more, I'm convinced that erring on the side of careful play is much better than erring on the side of aggression, at least online at the levels I play. If that means I leave $50 out there, as I did twice last week, then so be it. I've also had one losing month in my last nine, and limiting your losses is the key to plumping up your wins.

And if you think I'm throwing the doom switch down, well, I'm not because ironically I'm on the worst streak of my life playing those $2.25 Hollywood Poker, full-table tournaments at work during my lunch break. I've cashed something like 3/15 in the last two weeks, with more suckouts than I care to recount (9,6 versus my A,Q is my current favorite against a jerky luckbox who claimed he was 11 in the chat box and certainly acted and played like it).
My theory is all my bad luck is going there, leaving me with either neutral luck or good luck when I play those cash games in the evening. I've moved up to playing .50 NL about 85 percent of the time now; I'll stay there until things start to inevitably go bad.
That's the sad thing about a long, extended winning streak; you're always looking for that piano above your head.

• • •
Song of the week: "Throw It All Away" by Zero 7. A great band releases a new album, a departure (a writer's nice way of saying, "not as good as their other albums," but this song rules.

Movie of the week: "Little Fish." Great performances by Hugo Weaving and Cate Blanchett pushes this mediocre movie into three-star terriority.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Don't know what you got...

My wife poked me awake at 6:30 a.m. I opened one miserable eye and saw my son smiling down at me.
"It's time for your day with Dad!" Kate chirped at him.
Grunt. I spent Thursday mountain climbing, and so, of course, what do you think I did far too late Thursday night instead of getting the sleep I needed for my day with a 1-year-old who has the energy of an Olympic Decathlete or meth addict on a Twinkie rush, take your pick.
You already know. The cards are right in front of you.
Anyway, I rolled out of bed as Kate grabbed her bags and said her tearful goodbye.
Yeah, it's always rough to leave WHEN YOU'RE GOING TO VEGAS.
Yep. I'm home with the little man for the weekend while Kate goes to Vegas with her sister and some friends for some much-needed me time. They're all staying in the same room. And get that nasty thought out of your head. Shame on you.
So that meant, for me, every minute, every hour, all day, with Jayden, the baby whose batteries run out about as often as a Quartz watch.
Whew. I'm exhausted as I write this, at 10:30 p.m., while playing me some poker and listening to the baby monitor.
Kate deserves the vacation. She's a great mother who sees nothing wrong with getting up five times a night and spending most of her free time chasing him around and picking up the little piles he always leaves behind him. I call it his Path of Destruction, but Kate prefers to refer to it as the "price of exploration." Moms always were more positive.
Plus, in the summer, Dan's usually about me me me with all the climbing I do, even if that has slowed down since he was born. Prime climbing season basically lasts three months, when most of the snow is gone from the peaks, so I need to take advantage while I can. You can go all year, and I do, at times, but of course it's easier without -30 degree weather and snow up to your waist. Imagine getting to play with fish for three months and play with Phil Ivey the rest of the time. You'd pick the fish too. Oh, yes, you would.
One of the things I love about mountain climbing is it forces you to appreciate the small things. You don't really don't love your shower, your pillow and your fatty double cheesburgers until you're force to eat trail mix all day, sleep in a tent and go without showers for a couple of days (hell, even after a day-long climb, that shower feels pretty damn good).
And as I'm sitting here, exhausted and feeling like I just climbed a mountain after the day with Jayden, I've learned to appreciate the small things that I haven't appreciated lately:
• The day was bright, sunny and hot. A typical July summer day. And yet these last two weeks have been crammed with clouds, storms and sort of a crappy, misty cold that made it either impossible to climb or downright miserable. But July is back, and yesterday, I climbed Half Mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park with a longtime partner to bright, sunny, blue skies without even a hint of those nasty storms that have made life difficult for hikers this year. I even got sunburned on my neck. Last week, as I slogged through a hike with my 14ers group in Fort Collins in clouds and mist and rain so thick I needed a foghorn, I would have killed and eaten a marmot for a sunburn.
• Wow. The wife does a lot to keep our house running smoothly. Every day, in the summer when she's off from teaching, she watches the little guy every day.
• A pool. Greeley built us a new recreation center, complete with a water play area, a moving river, a baby pool with cool small fountains that squirt up (crack for 1-year-olds, Jayden stood there and stared at it like it was Quad Aces for about 20 minutes) and an awesome slide for, uh, the kids (and adventure-minded Dads who aren't above standing in line with 12-year-olds and even running up the stairs to beat them to ride first, but that's just what I observed, I wouldn't, of course, know otherwise what I was talking about). The city built that sucker just in time. Jayden gets to visit a great pool whenever he wants.
(Side note: I used to DESPISE Adult Swim when I was a kid, but now I LOVE it. That's right, you, the little fucker who's done nothing but squirt me and Jayden with that little gun in the adventure area. Sit your bratty ass down while I stay in, ha ha ha you little shit).
The point is the neighborhood pool when I was growing up was a great place to spend the summer, but I was worried he wouldn't get to experience that. No worries, mate, as Joseph Hachem says. That was the perfect afternoon activity today to keep the Baby from Getting Bored. I actually got him down at 7:30 p.m. tonight. I think it wore the little guy out, which is about the same level as the Miracle on Ice or catching your case A to beat a straight flush.
• Finally, this got me thinking. This is why we really need to defeat that damn poker/gambling legislation in Washington.
I really love online poker.
And I don't, one day, want to be sitting upstairs, wishing I should have appreciated it more while it was still around.

P.S. Any Cinderella fans out there? Hair metal is SUCH an underappreciated art form.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

I'm honored

First, bless you, TripJax, for putting this little blog in your white-hot spotlight. And I can't wait to put that banner above the blog. Man, is it cool.
And, of course, TripJax features me just as I spew forth my angriest, politicalist, bloggiest post yet. I was pissed, and blogging seems to be the cure for that, even better than smashing the little itty-bitty ants that seem to be invading my basement bathroom.
I have many people to thank for the muses (Change), the bruises (Felicia) and the schmoozes (Questy), but mostly, I have to thank TripJax, who stopped by early and often to comment on my blog and tell me to keep it up. Look to the right for the best of the best. They are my inspiration.
I will, I promise, keep it up and try to match the writing on this blog with my writing as a journalist. Here what you'll read about me if you continue to stop by:
• Yes, I'm a bit liberal, but for the most part I stay away from Rush-like rants on politics. This is supposed to be about life, poker and fun, not a weak imitation of talk radio. I won't shy away from that if I feel the need, especially if our politicos tend to keep picking on poker, but I rarely feel the need.
• My son, Jayden, is 1 and gives me and Kate our biggest adventure to date. You'll get to hear about the Continued Rampages of Jayden. Those with kids can relate. Those without can thank me for helping control the Earth's population.
• Poker. Yes, of course, poker, and what's better is I don't play $1,500 NL every night, as many of you seem to play. I play $5.50 SnGs and .50 NL. I am, as they say, low limit. So for those of you starting out, you'll get some good advice here. For those of you who played poker in Mum's womb, well, you can laugh and remember when.
• Mountain climbing and running. My other passions. Peaking. I've climbed mountains since I was 14, way before I started playing poker, so you'll get your fill, especially in the summer, when climbing season peaks, sorry for the pun.
• Life. I'm not as good as interspersing life as, say, Joe Speaker, but then again, who is? I'll do my best.

Thank you once again.
I must go now.
I've got a mountain to climb.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Play your 7,2 os while you can

Fuck you, Republicans.
I can't tell you how many times I've said that in my life. But now I'm pissed.
Look, prevent gays from marrying all you want, even though it's an incredible and just plain asinine waste of time and energy. And if you want to pick away at abortion, well, fine, whatever, let's just hope those daughters you've been ignoring your whole life don't have a little "accident" with their high school softball coach who they see as a father figure and who the softball coach sees them as "hot young chick to bang."
But why attack one of my true loves?
Why attack online poker?
Look, you bastards, I know you're supposed to appease all those SNL Church Lady types who believe that anything that doesn't have to do with watching the Hallmark Channel, reading the Bible or wearing uncomfortable wool outfits is immoral and will send us to the Ninth Circle. And I know gambling calls on Saaataaaan and that Hell is actually a casino where they play HORSE tournaments all day long and 2,7 cracks AA every time (at least I hope so, except for the 2,7 part). And, hey, it makes perfect sense to ban online poker when we still allow it in casinos and we'll still allow horse racing and lotteries.
And that's exactly the point here.
Republicans are in an election year, Bush's popularity is about at the level of mosquitoes, 100-degree days and brussel sprouts, and it looks like their only hope is to appeal to the churchy masses who have no other option but to vote Democrat. This is their way of saying, "Look, we're here for you. We'll get rid of all that nasty gambling, and then we'll work on those nudie magazines that your husband keeps under his mattress."
Well, sort of.
We'll still allow horse racing, which boggles my mind. Horse racing is gambling. Poker is a skill game. If anything, horse racing should be on the top of the list. But no. And we'll still allow the lottery. If we did that, we wouldn't make any money, would we? This is so contradictory I can't even begin to break it down. And we'll still allow live gambling, we'll just shut it down online. Now THAT makes perfect sense.
But sense has nothing to do with this bill. Republicans want it easy. They want to prove that they can scratch their conservative flock behind the ears without much of a challenge. And banning horse racing, the lottery and live gambling would be a real challenge. Casinos have power. You don't think so? Colorado just passed a statewide smoking ban. The only places that are exempt? Casinos.
So fuck you, Republicans. Try and stop me. Neteller is offshore, so you can't do anything about my EFT, I don't believe. And just try enforcing the Internet. You're doing a great job with music downloads, for example, or Internet porn. Just keep up the good work.
But you've done one thing. You've given me another reason to hate you.
And for that, I thank you.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Rain, rain, go the hell away

Variance, as any poker player will tell you (including this one), is a bitch.
What I'm finding out is variance doesn't just apply to poker. It applies to mountaineering as well.
Mountaineering, like poker, takes luck. The average person doesn't realize how much skill poker takes to win. But people don't also realize that how luck mountaineering takes to "win" as well.
You could debate this point, and many of my fellow mountaineers would, but I consider a summit a "win." Many are content to have a day out in the woods, and I do get some enjoyment out of that, but mostly I'm bummed if I don't get another check off my list.
And to get that checkmark, things have to go right.
You have to feel good, both the night before and during the climb, not always a given with the difficulty of mountaineering and the altitude, which is always there to put a bad beat on you if something doesn't agree with you from the night before. You have to have the right conditions, i.e. reasonably dry rock or good snow or And most importantly, the weather has to be good.
There's nothing you can do about the last one. All the dances, prayers and obessions over checking the weather page 20 times a day won't help. You just have to be lucky.
This year, I have not been lucky.
At all.
In fact, I'm in the weather equivalent of a losing streak.
I returned a few hours ago from a climb up Mount Audubon, a 13er in the Indian Peak range. I took a group from a Fort Collins fitness club, Miramont, as a part of my new part-time job this summer. I will lead them on three hikes, including Saturday's, and including two 14ers, Quandary and Elbert.
I was soaked.
I was soggier than a kid's sugar cereal during Saturday morning cartoons.
Oh, boy, did that shower feel good. Funny how getting wet again is the best cure for getting soaked all day.
We did make the peak. Unbelieveably, we made the peak, despite the heavy sleet and scraping winds near the top. We walked through a fog so thick someone disappeared if they walked just a few feet away.
Last Saturday, as I already wrote, my attempt up Ice Mountain wasn't much better, despite being in position to make the summit by noon.
I'm doing everything I should. I'm getting up way too early to summit the peak early in the morning, before the afternoon thunderstorms hit.
But, as in poker, sometimes you can do everything right and still lose to variance.
Variance, after all, is a bitch.
The best thing to do, of course, is to push through it and hope that my luck continues.
Or just hope, a little bit, anyway, that variance decided to take on something else besides my mountaineering.
Hey, variance, my bankroll is pretty fat right now.
Let's work out a chop.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Racing for myself (and for a cure)

I love the 4th of July and Thanksgiving in Greeley. They happen to be the best two races in Greeley.
I did Race for the Cure, and I shattered my personal best in a 5K, running 22:36, or a 7:17 pace. It beat my personal best by 30 seconds, which in a race is something like
I'm thrilled with the time. I was really hoping for under 23 minutes but wasn't too confident heading into the race. It was my first 5K of the year and I didn't exactly stomp up the mountain Saturday.
But I really felt good in the first mile, felt OK enough in the second, all uphill, and then had just enough to get through the third.
5Ks don't really challenge my endurance, but man o man, they can be painful because you have to run so fast. I almost puked at the end but walked around just enough to help it pass before I passed my breakfast.
It's for a great cause, too, a cure for breast cancer. My mother had breast cancer a couple years ago and had surgery but did not need any other treatments. She was lucky. I have to admit, I thought of her more than once, glad for the ability to feel this kind of pain and push myself beyond what I thought was possible. Some don't get that chance until it's too late.
Have a great 4th!!!

P.S. Yep. Poker continues to go well.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Ice Mountain - A cold-hearted slave

Editor's note: This is the "peaking" section of my poker/peaker blog. You'll see a few more like these as the summer goes on. They have nothing to do with poker. If you can't stand that, go deal yourself AA and watch a rerun of "Poker Superstars III" while I post this.

P.S. OK. Poker continues to go well in the cash games. I was down $25 Saturday but finished up $40 playing mostly .25 NL.
There. Happy?

Mountain: North Apostle (and Ice Mountain attempt)
Feet: 13,840
Date: 7/1/06
People: Mike Schumacher and Dan England

I’m starting on my quest for the Centennials and my partner for the day, Mike Schumacher, and I thought Ice Mountain would be a good preview for our planned trip up Dallas with Ryan Kowalski and possibly Piper.
Mike planned to camp at the South Winfield trailhead, while I didn’t want to fight the 4th of July traffic and all the yahoos planning to fish and drink Milller High Life, so I opted to roll out of bed at 1:45 a.m. and get on my way at 2 a.m.
The good news: At 2 a.m., even I-25 is empty, for the most part.
The bad news: It’s 2 a.m.

Fortunately I had Pearl Jam’s new album to help keep me alert, as well as the best of Sade (an underrated pop artist) and an icky Power Bar and Banana and tea. I arrived at the trailhead at 5:45 a.m. and met up with Mike, where we bounced our way to the start on the 4WD road.
The weather forecast didn’t look all that great, a 40 percent chance or greater for storms, but the sky was clear and sunny when we started. I wore just a fleece top and pants.
The trail was fine, save for the trees and plants swiping us with water on the way. By the time we got to the Apostle Basin and Lake Ann junction, my pants were soaked, an omen for the day ahead.

We crossed the huge log and then the icy logs written about by Mark Fisher, who wrote a much more detailed trip report than I will (I’ve got a story to write after this). We used that one most of the way.
We arrived at a basin right after the icy logs across the creek and Mike found a game trail to the left of the basin up a steep slope. Fisher apparently bushwacked through willows to the right up the hill. You could go both ways, but the trail we found was fairly nice and somewhat easy to follow. It spit us out above treeline, right under the slope where you want to start heading up to the saddle between North and Ice.

It’s a straightforward trip over crappy loose rock once you get beyond the few hundred feet of tundra that follow up a small lake. I struggled over it all day, as it was my first time out for the summer season, while Mike, who has already been out many times this year and just spent a week in Chicago Basin, looked like Peter Pan, flying over the rocks and leaving me in the dust.
I really believe I’m in good shape - I ran the Bolder Boulder in 50 minutes - but these guys from 14erworld are stomping all over me. Am I getting older? Is it because I have a baby now? I do think I performed all right but I”m getting tired of not keeping up.

Anyway, we made to the saddle, looked up and, almost like magic, a cloud appeared before us, building by the second. Mike and I decided to go for North and see how it would play out.
We made it to the top of North about 11 a.m. while the skies got worse. Ah, so THAT’S why the forecast didn’t look good.
By the time we made it back to the saddle, I had heard a couple of thunder claps in the far distance and it looked black to the right of us. Crap. We were less than 300 feet from the top of Ice but it wasn’t going to happen today.
In the past, this would disappoint me. It still did, but instead of arguing with Mike for a try at Ice, as I might have in the past, I knew he was right and started heading down with him. In fact, I never considered it. I’ve got more important things at home now, waiting for me, and I can’t risk it.

Mike and I started to head down and picked up the pace a bit as the lightning got closer and closer and it started to dump little pellets of ice on us.
There was still enough snow for a couple short glissades, so we took advantage. (The Fridge, by the way, still looked to be in great shape), and by the time the lighting was less than a mile away, we were close to treeline. Once we got through the trees, it was raining, or rather sleeting, pretty hard, and we wound up getting pretty soaked.
We made it back to the car wet but I was happy for the day. It was great to hike with Mike and we did get a peak in.
My climbing season has begun. I just hope it improves.