Monday, July 16, 2007

A newer, cleaner, more web 2.0-ish downclimb

A couple nights ago I uploaded a fresh look for, the first I think I've had since January of 2005. I really wanted the front page to be a portal to my growing homes on the web, such as Panoramio, Flickr, and I think I've accomplished that, although people not familiar with the logos for the various services might think I've sold out to corporate advertisers. (If you're one of those services, feel free to send me cash.)

I've also grown fond of Tumblr, the host that provides my tumblog tumbledown. I really like that it catches all my RSS feeds from my other sites. If you don't want to miss any of my web activity, that is the single feed to subscribe to.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

HOBO (Hoosier to Boreas) Traverse

My colleague, Peter Lubin, and I got this idea of traversing Hoosier Ridge from Hoosier Pass to Boreas Pass. It looked great on the map - not too long, lots of time above timberline, and easy slopes from peak to peak. It's harder than it looks, but certainly worth the effort.

Routefinding was pretty straightforward, and the whole trip can be broken into three basic parts. The first part is west-to-east from Hoosier Pass up the ridge. The ridge then turns north to Red Peak for the second leg. The third and final part is west to Boreas Pass. The first stretch of the third leg is probably the best - you cross bands of sandstone and nice wildflowers while gently losing elevation. The worst part of the climb is at the end. You have to drop down to treeline and then regain 700 feet over the last hill before Boreas Pass. If there had been an easy way around it, we certainly would have considered taking it. But no, the easy way is to go right over the top, no matter how steep it got.

Stats: 8.3 miles, 5:02 moving time, 3:43 stopped time, 13,386 feet maximum elevation, 4416 feet total elevation gain

View Photos: Gallery Album | Google Earth

Download Data: Track in Google Earth | GPX File

Mt. Sheridan (and home in time for the Cubs game)

Okay, time for a real climb! Mt. Sheridan, Sherman, and Gemini sit right out my front window, so it seemed natural to head up one of them. Having climbed Sherman before, I chose Sheridan. I knew the way up there and reports of conditions on Sherman were good. Sunday I left town about 5:40 am and hit the trail at 6:25, stopping only briefly to take pictures of the weirdest (and only) 3-legged elk I'd ever seen.

The first part of the climb follows the old mining road and I turned off the road near a small mine ruin south of the Hilltop Mine. There were a number of people already headed across a large snowfield towards Sherman's south ridge. I postholed across a 25-foot stretch of snow and then scrambled up some scree until I met a faint trail headed south across Sheridan's face. Ahead of me I could see the top of Horseshoe. At a small rock shelter I headed up the scree to the summit. Both ridges (south and north) had soft snow and the rock between wasn't very stable, but it didn't last long (maybe 500 vertical feet).

I reached the summit at 8:45 and stayed until about 9:30. There was not a single other person around, so I took the time to eat, take pictures, and put on my shell (tops and bottoms) for the glissade down. Glissading was not good. The snow was too soft and the angle meant you headed towards the rocks instead of down the middle of the snow. If I had climbed down to the Sheridan-Sherman summit I probably could have found a nice, straight shot, but parts of the saddle were still corniced and I wasn't wanting to get too adventurous up there by myself.

Getting down was a piece of cake and I was soon back on the road. I met a guy coming off of Sherman and he estimated there might have been 30 people and 20 dogs on its summit. Good for them! I enjoyed my solitude. I got back to the car at about 10:45 and was home in time to shower and catch the Cubs game at noon. That's about perfect for me on any Sunday.

View Photos: Gallery Album | Google Earth

Download Data: Track in Google Earth | GPX File

Monday, June 18, 2007

North Star Mountain

Last Thursday I headed out early for Hoosier Pass with the goal of climbing North Star Mountain. North Star Mountain is a 13er that sits between Mt. Lincoln to the south and Quandary Peak to the north. Routefinding should have been easy on North Star as there is a road that you can follow most of the way.

I hadn't even hiked an hour before coming to this:

Bummer. Sure, I could have just gone around the gate and gone on my way, but I didn't feel like being a rule-breaker at that particular moment. I'm assuming that the closure is related to the same land ownership issues currently plaguing Lincoln, Bross, and Democrat to the south.

This was my first real hike of the season and the first with my new digital camera. I've been doing a lot of work to geotag my pictures and get them in various places on the web. (Flickr, Panoramio, gallery@downclimb) It's a lot of work, especially when there are so many decisions to make (and remake) and so many cool features to take advantage of, like this mini-panoramio:

Monday, June 04, 2007

downclimb everywhere!

I'm really getting into the spirit of web 2.0. What does that mean? It means I'm embracing the use of the web as a social tool, using it more than ever to establish my character, personality, and presence on the web. It also means I'm as big of a geek as ever, although now I'm a more up-to-date geek. There are so many web 2.0 options out there that it's hard to decide which ones to use, and sometimes even harder to figure out exactly what you should do with the ones you have. For example, I steer clear of the major social networking sites; don't bother looking for me on MySpace, Facebook, or Virb. But what about Flickr? I already have a place for all my photography on the web. Should I duplicate that effort on Flickr just for the exposure? Or should I use Flickr for something else, like uploads from my cameraphone? I'd like an organized presence on the web, so let me explain how I see all these web 2.0 pieces fitting together. This should be my main "portal" on the web, linking to everything else related to me. Right now it's badly in need of a redesign and really doesn't serve much of a purpose other than a click-through page to my pictures and this blog.

johnson@downclimb: This is my blog, my online journal. Entries here should be thoughtful, organized, and meaningful. This is my op-ed column on the web, a place for me to exercise my writing abilities and create original content.

gallery@downclimb: This is my photo gallery, where I plan on keeping photo sets that describe my travels and adventures. This isn't the place for simple snapshots or casual photos.

tumbledown: This is my tumblog, hosted by I caught onto tumblogs after hearing an interview with David Karp, creator of tumblr, on net@nite. Tumblogs are meant to be blogs without the thoughtfulness. They should be more random, a place to toss thoughts, comments, links, pictures, and other goodies onto the web. If blogs are journals, tumblogs are scrapbooks. My tumblog catches a lot of my other content via RSS. My blog postings, Flickr postings, links, and data is all caught and posted on my tumblog.

Flickr: I may someday reproduce gallery@downclimb on Flickr, but that would certainly require that I get a pro account, and I'm not quite ready to pay the $25/year for that. I think I want Flickr to be more casual, a place for snapshots and quick uploads from a digital camera or cameraphone. I can still use my Flickr account to "promote" gallery@downclimb by posting "best of" pictures or highlights from gallery@downclimb albums. I started posting links to a few months ago and I love it. I still keep local bookmarks on my computer for sites I visit often, but perfectly fit the need for those interesting sites that I might revisit or that I might want somebody else to visit. I'd never heard of until I noticed that it was integrated into Amarok, my preferred music player (and perhaps the greatest music player on any platform). can track your music tastes and connect you to like-minded listeners and other music you'll probably like.

I have a few more places on the web, like a ClaimID page, AKA contact information, and various profile places on forums and Wikipedia (check the ClaimID link on this blog to see what pages are mine and which are not). The sites above, however, are my favorite haunts and I'm starting to like how they all fit together. If you want to follow me most closely, the best place to catch everything is probably my tumblog, since it will catch the feeds from the other sites. My tumblog isn't very searchable and has no archive, so for more casual observers you might just want to poke around the sites individually. It doesn't sound great, but I'm hoping my redesign of will help in that process.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Springtime in South Park

I first saw snowflakes fall here at the end of last August. We got our first accumulation at the end of September. On this fine may morning we have about 6 inches of snow, so that's pretty much a 9-month winter. You've gotta love this place!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Fairplay Factor

People tend to be curious about day-to-day weather at 10,000 feet. Not too many people live up here, and I was a little curious myself about the winters in South Park. I'm happy to report that the weather is generally cold, windy, sunny, and we don't get as much snow as you'd think. See, people usually think we get a ton of snow, but a lot of it stays on the Breckenridge side of the pass. It's definitely not the defining feature of winter in Fairplay. That prize belongs to the wind.

My apartment sits on top of a hill overlooking the Platte River, and the wind howls straight down from Hoosier Pass at speeds that shake the building. It's intense. Here's where the mathematician/scientist in me gets to wondering. How does the daily peak wind gust compare to the daily peak temperature? Many days I think the wind gust is by far the higher number, and a comparison of the two measures could be used to determine the truly lousy weather days we sometimes have.

I'd call this comparison the "Fairplay Factor" and it would be a simple ratio of (peak wind speed)/(peak temperature) for each day. When the peak wind speed is greater than the high temperature for the day, the Fairplay Factor would be greater than one, and on really rough days I'm sure the Factor would exceed two often and three occasionally. (Sixty mph winds with a high temperature of 20 degrees is not a stretch up here.) A Fairplay Factor below one would be relatively decent, even if it were 10 degrees with a 5 mph wind.

All of my crazy ideas aside, sometimes the weather is just magic in the mountains, like yesterday when I was snowshoeing on 4 feet of snow in 40+ degree temperatures. That's more of a "Bliss Factor" if you ask me.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

0 for 3

Weekend Plan #1: Drive to Iowa and back to watch the national duals wrestling tournament. Trip canceled due to weather.

Weekend Plan #2: Drive to Florence to help out with the Husky Invitational wrestling tournament. Trip canceled due to weather.

Weekend Plan #3: Walk to school to help out with concessions during basketball games. The walk to school was successful, but the games were canceled due to weather.

So here I am, 0 for 3, but you know what? This isn't all that bad. Short of actually making it to national duals, having a weekend to myself is probably the next best thing. I'll have time to catch up on grading papers and I can watch all the football games. Not bad at all.

Monday, January 08, 2007

New Year, New Post

I'm finally catching onto this Web 2.0 stuff. I created a Google account and started poking around at all the new tools. First I started playing with Google Docs and Spreadsheets and even using a spreadsheet collaboratively with a fellow teacher. Cool stuff. I setup a Gmail account, although I'll be sticking with my regular account for my primary email. Maybe the best find was Google Reader, an RSS feed reader. I had been using the Sage extension for Firefox, but Google Reader is much nicer. As a news junkie with dialup internet access, feed readers are a necessity. (I'm currently off dialup...more on that later, along with other news on where I'm at and what I'm doing.) I've also started using Google Notebook and Google Calendar, although neither with much frequency.

Eventually this all had to lead back to what was probably my first Web 2.0 tool, Blogger. I've been a Blogger user since the end of 2001 (sparingly, I admit, but I was a Blogger Pro user before the Google acquisition) and I wanted to check out their new layout tools. It was a nice way to spend a day off (snow day!) and now I have a new blog post for a new year. I'm sure it will be no more than another year before the next one.