Shelf Road in the Snow

January 31, 2010 at 2:52 pm

Mark and I have taken several trips to Shelf Road, in the desert of Southern Colorado, to camp and climb during the winter. It’s a beautiful canyon filled with miles of pink limestone cliffs, and usually a warm spot in the middle of a snowy Colorado winter.

The new Marmot Thor 3P 4-season tent!

This year, we were up against a bit of a deadline. With an upcoming trip to Thailand, we wanted to get in climbing on limestone before we left. So, we went against our better judgement and headed down to Shelf even after the forecast had called for snow. Even when we knew it would be bitterly cold at night. Hoping that we’d get just a few hours of sun on the rock, because that’s all we need.

The trail to Cactus Cliffs is REALLY snowy

As promised, Friday night was horribly cold. My -10F REI down bag was not fully lofted, and I shivered all night long. In the morning, the sun lit up the tent and promised reasonable temperatures at the cliff. We shivered through cooking breakfast, and then headed towards Cactus Cliffs.

I Lean (5.11a)

Once we hit the crag, the temperatures soared. It turned out to be a beautiful day – warm rock, bright sun, and lots of happy climbers! (and dogs!)

Crag Dogs!

We hit it hard on Saturday, climbing White Punks on Pockets (5.9)**, La Cholla Jackson (5.8)****, I Lean (5.11a)****, The Book of Dude-Aronomy (5.10d)**, and finishing up on Politically Incorrect (5.10c)****. Three of these five routes get four-stars in the guidebook, so we got a good dose of quality with our quantity.

Cleaning Up

Saturday night was cold, but slightly more comfortable than Friday. This time, I remembered the 20 pound box of chemical warmers, and I stuck them all over the inside of my bag, the dog, and Mark. On Sunday morning, a huge cloud had rolled in from the east, and a bitterly cold wind was blowing into the valley. We decided to head home.

We had a good, long day on Saturday (for us). Mark said he felt really good, with very little forearm pump even after 5 rough routes. No finger rawness or elbow pain for either of us, so the outlook is good for lots of great climbing in Thailand!

New ColoCalders CrossFit Blog

January 23, 2010 at 3:52 pm

Last summer, Mark was talked into trying out CrossFit classes by his boss, and he rapidly fell in love with it. What’s CrossFit, you ask? Well, it’s a daily workout, focusing on whole-body and functional movements, that tests your mental and physical limits. In other words, he goes to the gym every day at lunch and works so hard he wants to die or throw up or both.

I have gotten trained on CrossFit, and attended several classes so far. The first one was so hard that I started hemorrhaging blood and ended up at the hospital! Since then, I’ve built a ton of strength, and I’ve started to, occasionally, beat Mark at body-weight only exercises.

It’s been a great ride for us so far, and we’ve seen incredible gains in our fitness and strength. One of the best things about CrossFit is the ability to compare gains and accomplishments through careful logging. So, based on this idea, and inspiration from No X in Espresso, we’ve started our own on-line CrossFit Workout Blog.

If you don’t do CrossFit, this blog is unlikely to be very interesting. But, if you do and you’re interested in the struggles and triumphs of other CrossFit-ers, check it out: ColoCalders CrossFit Blog.

A few days in La Jolla

January 14, 2010 at 7:56 pm

Each winter for the last few years, my group at school has had a meeting at a joint institution in our big project. We’ve had meetings in Kauai, Los Angeles, Manhattan and this year, La Jolla, California.

Sunrise and palm trees

It was a really great meeting, and my first chance to explore Scripps and the La Jolla area. It’s very nice. The kind of place it would be easy to get used to.

View from the hallways of our hotel

We spent most days in meetings and presentations, but there was a little bit of time to enjoy views of the beach and a little bit of splashing in the water.

Our meeting venue at Scripps

Water ruffles

Handstands on the beach

The San Diego Supercomputer Center

January 12, 2010 at 6:45 pm

One of the highlights of our meeting in La Jolla last week was a quick tour through the computing room at the San Diego Supercomputer Center. WARNING: The following post includes some serious geekery! Those who aren’t turned on by massive parallel computing prowess might want to stop reading now.

Kate at the San Diego Super Computing Center!

My research group is known for their innovative approaches to global circulation modeling, and if there’s anybody in the world who uses a lot of cycles on big computers, it’s definitely us. So, it made sense for a few of us to go check out the big computers at the UC San Diego center where our research has run more than a few trillion calculations.

The control station for all of those big-ass-computers!

The building and computer rooms are always in a state of flux in this kind of facility. There’s new machines brought in all of the time, new groups form to study new projects and new people come and go. Last week, when I walked into the building, the first door on the right was for a Neural Network (Artificial Intelligence) in-house research group. If anybody is going to create a computer that takes over the world, it would be these people.

Christina checks out the Triton

We wandered through the computer room, looking at huge supercomputers, both old and new. The newest, biggest machine was the Triton Resource. This computer has 256-nodes with 8 processing cores on each node, which gives it a processing power of more than 500x that of the most powerful desktop computers. This certainly isn’t the most powerful supercomputer in the world today, but it has some unique features. Each of those 256 8-processor nodes comes with 24 GB of memory, which makes this computer very, very good at shifting through huge amounts of data very quickly.

A ginormous storage array

This is the specific challenge of supercomputing that UCSD has decided to tackle: the overwhelming tsunami of data that results from these huge model runs. The image above is of a room-sized harddrive array. These people don’t even really know how much storage they have, the numbers are too big to wrap your brain around. But it’s what we need right now. With climate models doing 200-year runs, and saving the state of the entire world 4 times a simulated day, the trick is not having the cycles to run the model, but having the space available to store all that data. And UCSD’s Supercomputer Center has it all!

Winter Weekends

January 9, 2010 at 8:26 pm

It’s certainly not rock climbing weather out there… what should we do??

Mark and I are going a little stir crazy right now, so we decided to splurge and go skiing last weekend. This is something we generally avoid because it is (1) expensive, (2) often cold and (3) I suck at it. I really do. I have been skiing four times in my life, and I still regularly freak out and fall, tumbling and rolling down the hill, on the easiest of greens.

But, it’s a good way to get out and enjoy a sunny day in the mountains, so with slightly warmer temperatures forecast, we left Saturday morning for Eldora Mountain Resort.

The day turned out to be beautiful, and I managed to convince Mark to stick around and coach me a little in the morning. By the end of the day, I still wasn’t making parallel turns, but at least I wasn’t face-into-the-snow on every turn either. And I had a whole lot of fun.

Mark had a great afternoon, and went home a little sunburnt and very happy. And nobody blew out a knee!

“If you don’t like the weather…”

January 7, 2010 at 7:37 am

it must be winter. This is one heck of a temperature swing…

Temperature Change 01.07.10

After a high near 45F yesterday morning (helped a bit by down-slope winds), the temperature just kept falling. It hit rock bottom a little over 24 hours later at -15F. Yep, that’s a drop of 60F in 24 hours.

It’s cold out there right now. Cold over most of the country. My family in St. Louis have been sitting in frigid temps for the last two weeks or more, and it’s not looking to warm up any time soon for any of us.

Temperature Change - Forcast is cold! - 01.07.10

That’s -30C, -22F air spilling across midwest! Point of reference… -40C (-40F) is the “convergence” temperature, where the two scales meet up. And it’s really, really, really cold.

The Winter Fog

January 4, 2010 at 7:17 pm

Winter fog

I made myself a snow ball as perfect as could be.
I thought I’d keep it as a pet and let it sleep with me.
I made it some pajamas and a pillow for it’s head.
Then, last night it ran away.
But first — it wet the bed.

– Shel Silverstein

Walking in the fog