Earthship wall repair
Posted by sibylle in Colorado (Friday July 31, 2009 at 9:17 am)


The interior bedroom wall with loose plaster

I’ve previously written about the earthship that  we have in Summit County.  Michael Reynolds designs these energy-efficient structures and many were built near Taos, New Mexico.

We bought plans in 1994  from Solar Survival Architecture  and built our home in 1995.

Lately, the EPDM membrane roof leaked in several places. Though we spent many days repairing the roof last fall,  we didn’t succeed in removing every leak. We patched every hole and crack that we could see,  but didn’t realize that went the roofers first roofed it, they had not glued the EPDM that stretches across the berms behind the wing walls. This summer, we finally found the unsealed seams and crawled under the EPDM to fix the drainage.

Unfortunately, by the time we fixed these leaks (which I hope are the last), the walls had already absorbed too much water and the finish began crumbling off.

Now I’m trying to fix the walls!

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Wall after removing loose plaster and  earth

Our Summit county earthship, over the years
Posted by sibylle in Colorado (Sunday July 26, 2009 at 9:43 pm)

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Looking northwest toward the Gore Range, about 1996

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Kitchen with Lake Dillon through window, about 1998

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West bedroom with view of  Mt. Buffalo about 1998

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West bedroom with view toward Lake Dillon

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Sunrise, winter

OUr Entlebucher, Nanda Devi, and Tristan
Posted by sibylle in Entlebucher (Friday July 24, 2009 at 9:36 am)


Tristan and Nanda Devi

People sometimes ask me if Entlebucher Mountain dogs are good with kids.

I thought I’d let these pictures speak for themselves.


Tristan’s dog, Nanda Devi
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Nanda patiently tolerates being rolled from side to side while Tristan sleeps.

Arapiles - Squeakeasy in Central gully
Posted by sibylle in Australia (Wednesday July 22, 2009 at 2:52 pm)


Tristan leading Squeakeasy

The rock is rounded, with bubbles that resemble a dripping candle and the tiny holds on this climb allow only one or two digits.

I was thoroughly terrified and still on the ground. Tristan was leading Squeakeasy at Arapiles. Normally when he leads, he coolly waltzes up the route and I calmly sit, belaying.  But normally we climb routes that I have a chance of getting up, so there’s little chance that he would fall.

Today that was not the case.

Soon after we arrived at Arapiles, Tristan met Elliot, a young American climber from Connecticut. Elliot, a very strong sport climber, was learning to lead on gear. He joined us to try climbing easier gear routes (easy for him, not for me) and the two of them decided to head to the Squeakeasy Wall on the left side of the Central Gully.

I first led Pedro, a pleasant warm-up rated “10” in Australia and #42 of Australia’s top 50 climbs. Elliot then practiced his newly acquired gear-placing technique on “Golden Fleece” rated 18 in difficulty and 16th in overall popularity.

Next, we headed to the eponymous Squeakeasy and Tristan started up the climb while I belayed sitting near the base. After watching Tristan’s struggles, I moved to the base of the route and tied in to an anchor. Mentz’s guidebook rated the climb “22”, which would translate to about 5.11b in  US ratings. Since Tristan had led many climbs of this difficulty  and harder in Squamish, I had not initially worried.

Until he calmly  said “falling” and I was airborne. I was glad I’d tied in, since I was now suspended about two to three feet above the ground and Tristan, after flying 40’ through the air, hung suspended not far above me.

“Tristan, place more gear!” I screamed.
“Damn, I blew the onsight,” was his laconic comment.
Elliot, shocked, sputtered,
”I’m amazed you’re not hurt! That’s the longest fall I’ve ever seen!”

Tristan’s RP had pulled out, and the cam below that caught him. The RP had torn wires and was slightly squished.

Elliot next lead the climb and succeeded in placing several pieces between the place where Tristan fell, and below where his lower cam caught him.


This gives you a better idea of the steepness

Here Tristan stretches for another tiny finger hold.


The climb steepens - as you can see by  the gear hanging  from Tristan’s harness.

Kangaroos in Arapiles
Posted by sibylle in Australia (Saturday July 18, 2009 at 3:37 pm)


Kangaroos at the base of Arapiles, dawn


Early in the morning, when the warbling of Australian magpies woke me, I’d walk from the campground toward Mt. Arapiles and encounter numerous kangaroos. They spend the hot days hiding, perhaps napping, in the dense bushes growing in the gullies near Arapiles.

At dawn and dusk, the kangaroos came down from the gullies and headed toward the nearby fields to feed. Every evening, we’d see lines of kangaroos hopping toward the fields. At dawn, I headed up towards the cliff to watch them. I got particularly close to one and held out my hand, hoping to entice it to sniff me.

Later, when I told native Australians about my many attempts to feed, pet, and photograph kangaroos they informed me that the ‘roos have killed several people over the years. Apparently, the large bull ‘roos, when in rut, will attack even people and rake their guts out with their big feet and long claws. After hearing these stories, I no longer attempted to pet wild kangaroos.

But before that ….


Me trying to pet or feed kangaroos near Arapiles

A snowy tuolumne
Posted by sibylle in Yosemite, California (Thursday July 16, 2009 at 6:54 pm)

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Lake Tenaya sits beneath Stately Pleasure Dome; Conness in back

This spring, we hoped to climb Tenaya Peak and the West Ridge of Conness. Two years ago, I arrived in Tuolumne on June 15 and we climbed Tenaya Peak on the 16th and the west ridge of Conness the following day.

I hadn’t counted on the very wet spring in the Sierra, coupled with cold temperatures that kept snow on the ground much later than normal. Snow covered the ground, in places, to a depth of three feet along the approach to Tenaya Peak. Not only did snow block the approach trail, but a large snow patch above a part of the climb contributed to a steady stream of water running down the rock we’d hoped to climb. Climbing Tenaya Peak this May was not a realistic option.

A quick look at Mt. Conness showed us a similar problem: a large snowfield covered the approach to the climb. Not wanting to hike in with ice axes, we decided to climb sunnier and dryer domes instead. WE climbed several routes on Stately Pleasure dome, which faces south; and also climbed the West Crack on the steep West Face of Daff Dome, which is steep enough that no snow lies on the rock.

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View of Cloud’s Rest from Olmsted Point

Cathedral Peak, tuolumne
Posted by sibylle in Yosemite, California (Tuesday July 14, 2009 at 6:50 pm)

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Cathedral Peak, May 2009
Cathedral Peak remains a favorite climb of California as well as visiting climbers. Its easy rating – 5.6 – makes Cathedral a frequent goal for climbers trying their first technical peak in the Sierra Nevada. Supertopos includes Cathedral Peak in its book, Tuolumne Free Climbs, and refers to Cathedral as one of the most aesthetic routes in Tuolumne (as well as one of the most crowded).

I’ve climbed Cathedral numerous times, starting in the 70s. In 2001, I took my 10-year old son up Cathedral, and I’ve taken numerous friends up the climb over the years. I usually try to start the 3-mile hike around 8 a.m., and begin climbing between 9 and 10. After living in Colorado, I’ve endured enough soakings during hailstorms that I now try to get to the top of a peak close to midday, and get back down by 2 or 3 in the afternoon.

However, Cathedral’s location in sunny California, where it rarely rains in July, causes people to underestimate the potential seriousness of this route.  Two climbers were caught in a Sierra storm in November 2007 and were unable to get off the climb before becoming soaked. When rain turned to sleet, the situation became dire. The climbers decided to retreat due to deteriorating conditions. As it got dark, and started to snow, the climbers became hypothermic. One of them writes a heart-rending account of their attempt to get off the peak and back to their warm, dry clothes, and of his partner’s hypothermia and death.

In July 2009, two women were trying to make a fast ascent of the Cathedral, and started late – between 3 and 4 PM. They were climbing at the same time, with a running belay, heading toward the chimney halfway up – at the end of pitch 3. Since another team was in the chimney, the leader decided to climb beside the chimney. When out of sight of her climbing partner, she fell to a ledge and lost consciousness. Fortunately, climbers above rappelled down and assisted her, and a flight for life helicopter flew her to the hospital. She survived, with many lacerations and fractures in her spine.

While Cathedral Peak is a reasonable goal, I would recommend getting an early start to avoid afternoon thunderstorms. If taking a beginner up the route, it’s best if one person knows the route and, especially, knows the descent. The climber who died lost his life on the way out, after becoming hypothermic on the descent and remaining separated from his warm clothes for too long. The descent is easy, and can be fast, if in daylight and if you know the way.

The route meanders up random slabs and cracks to an obvious chimney a little above halfway up.  I’ve gone various ways to the chimney to pass people lower down, but have climbed the chimney (as far as I remember). The last time I took a friend up the climb, I saw storm clouds coming and decided to pass the climbers in front of us in the chimney. I was able to climb the entire chimney pitch without placing any gear, and thus avoid tangling my rope with their rope. The chimney is very secure, and quite short. One can belay directly below the chimney, and also right after it, or continue up on easy terrain.
The final summit block is optional – one can either climb it, to enjoy the view, or bypass it on the left to reach the descent on the back side.  The last time I climbed Cathedral, we did not climb the summit block since there were already a number of people on top and I was worried about clouds I could see coming in. Instead, we hastened to the back side and got down quickly.

Entlebucher puppies from Nanda Devi
Posted by sibylle in Uncategorized, Entlebucher (Monday July 13, 2009 at 9:10 am)

Joey, the stud


We mated our Entlebucher bitch, Nanda Devi with  Holden von Brunswick (Joey). Below are more photos of Joey.




We expect our litter in late August and our puppies will be ready for new homes in October. Please see Nanda’s website for photos of the bitch.

Cathedral Peak, tuolumne
Posted by sibylle in Yosemite, California (Thursday July 9, 2009 at 8:53 pm)

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Snow-covered Cathedral Peak and Unicorn, Tuolumne, late May 2009

This photo from the slopes of Lempert Dome shows  how snowy  the high Sierra peaks were this spring and summer.

ellery Lake near tioga pass
Posted by sibylle in Yosemite, California (Wednesday July 8, 2009 at 9:03 pm)


Ice-covered Ellery Lake, at 9,538 feet

When we climbed in Tuolumne one spring, we camped near Ellery Lake at the Ellery Camp ground. The campgrounds in the park were all still closed, due to too much snow on the ground, water running deep in the roads, and other access problems.

However, if one crosses Tioga Pass and heads down the hill toward Lee Vining, several beautiful little forest service campgrounds provide a sunnier and dryer shelter. They’re quite little, with only 17 sites in one case, and not cheap at $19 per night.

Ellery Camp remains my favorite, as it’s lower than the other and thus dryer with fewer mosquitos. From Ellery Camp, it’s about 20 miles to the climbing areas in Tuolumne, resulting in a 40-mile daily round trip to climb. However, even camping at Tuolumne campground results in a lot of driving, since it’s close to ten miles from there to Tenaya Lake and nearby domes like Pywiack and Stately Pleasure dome.

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