Tuesday, June 30, 2009



So, over the last bazillion years of being vegan, I have spent a lot of time cooking. I love to cook. I nearly wasted an entire college career at culinary school. I think that cooking is one of the most rewarding things you can experience on a daily basis. More importantly, I think it's a really smart move (especially if you give a crap about what you put in your body/what you are supporting with your money) to cook at home as much as possible. It's really the only way to have complete control over what goes in to your meal. Don't believe me? Check out THIS HORRIFYING ARTICLE about vegan restaurants in LA. For those of you who know me, you know that I am a bit of a food snob. I firmly believe that what you eat is one of the most important and far-reaching decisions we make on a day-today basis. That said, I would like to share a recipe of mine that I have refined over the years. It's simple, fast, versatile, and has made more people than I can count say something to the effect of "This is the first time I have ever liked tofu!"



1 block of extra firm tofu
1 tablespoon of vegan margarine (you can use olive oil, but I have found a small amount of margarine to make the final dish less oily)
1/4 cup of soy sauce (alternately try using Bragg's Liquid Amino Acids if you want a saltier outcome.)
1/4 cup of nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon of oregano
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (or more, or less depending on how much of a sissy you are.)
pinch of garlic powder (don't use fresh garlic. garlic powder disperses the taste better.)
fresh cracked pepper to taste.

First of all , I use a non-stick pan. The reality is that tofu cook horribly and rips to pieces in even the finest of stainless steel pans unless you use copious amounts of oil. So I recommend a non-stick, or at least a very well seasoned cast iron skillet for this one. I cut the tofu in to small little blocks, not cubes. They need to be thin enough to not stay mushy on the inside. Pre-heat your pan over a medium to high heat with the margarine in it. Once the tofu is cut, put it in. You want to make sure the heat is high enough to brown the tofu fairly fast. But not so fast that the inside is not done. You will have to experiment with how you like your tofu. I like mine to be cooked, but to have a definite difference between the browned outside and the softer inside. (But NOT MUSHY. This is the #1 thing that people hate about tofu!) As the tofu is browning, add the garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and oregano. Make sure you stir pretty regularly (I like to take the pan off the flame and flip the tofu by flicking the pan with my wrist cause it looks fancier). Just as the tofu is becoming a tiny bit crispy and golden brown, add some fresh cracked pepper and turn the heat down to medium-low. Add the nutritional yeast and the soy sauce. Keep over the heat and stir regularly until the soy sauce has reduced and the tofu is covered evenly. serve on sandwiches, with rice, on a salad, or eat on it's own!

This particular time I served it with some spanish rice and a salad. Mmmm.

So I just have one question....who wants to come over for dinner? (Seriously.)


So, I know my last post swore that I was done with South Africa. But the article in The New York Times today was just too appropriate. One thing I have been trying to explain to people since my return was how stressful the environment was. The massive disparity between classes. There is essentially no middle class. You are either wealthy and well-off, or desperately poor. The Government infrastructure is incredibly lacking and is still very young (a mere 15 years since the official end of apartheid.). Anyhow, just watch the video here:


Later on, I will be posting a recipe! MMMmmmmmmm.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Getting my landlegs back.

Ok ok. This trip is getting a little bit stale. So I am going to post the remainder of the good pictures. And move the hell on with my life.

Cornelia on some random amazing boulder.

Brooksie doing it right.

Mick up on top of Green Mamba.

Sticking it on Pinch of Herbs (7c+)

Warming up highball slab style.

Brooksie on Angel Wing

Swear to god that I have done zero editing to this photo. UNREAL.

The infinity pool at our cottage at De Pakhuys

Miles and Cornelia's rental car trapped. Disaster!

Cape Town.

Praise be to Allah! Good vegan food in Cape Town! Rejoice!

The only bike I saw in South Africa.

Sunset over Durban.

Koba at the arcade in Durban.

"Berg" means "mountain" in Afrikaans.

Koba at the rest stop being unstoppably cute.

Monday, June 22, 2009


Storming the Williamsburg bridge.

This past weekend, I headed to the kick-off of the Bicycle Film Festival in New York City. It's worth noting that the weather called for 100% chance of heavy rain FOR THE ENTIRE WEEKEND. This is not really the kind of thing that inspires a great deal of confidence when it comes to tooling around the streets of Manhattan on a bike. But I wasn't going to let that stop me! So I packed up my waterproof messenger bag with hardshells, lots of extra shirts, bike lights, PRO BARS (mmmm), extra inner tubes, and my copy of The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. As luck would have it, I sat next to someone on the Chinatown bus who may or may not have had swine flu. He had the most hilarious incessant hacking/screeching/whining cough I have ever heard. Realistically, that neither adds nor subtracts from the tale....but whatever.

The BFF block party was a rainy sloppy freaking mess, with people pretending to care about the vendors simply so they could step out of the rain into the vendor's tents. Even so, the block party was good fun. Lots of people hanging out, lots of amazing bikes rolling around, and some fun events. A few kids on 700c bmx fixed gear bikes bored us to death with extremely lame displays of 12 inch bunny hops and watered down versions of tricks that would be AWESOME on a BMX. In fact, they were awesome on a BMX. I know this because just before the fixie dudes made us all yawn, the BMX comp went down. The BMX freestyle and trick comps were ri-damn-diculous.

This guy was CRUSHING it. He won the contest by sailing a 48" bunny hop.

Some BMX freestyle action. It was soaking wet. Dudes were eating asphalt HARD.

The weekend otherwise consisted of my friends and I getting utterly gluttonous on some vegan food at New York favorites Cafe Atlas and Pukk. Atlas is equipped with a giant glass case full of Vegan Treats. Which makes my stomach come equipped with a sensation of insatiable desire to visit The Vomitorium. At any rate, when I wasn't on a vegan binge/purge cycle, I was riding my bike around in the rain, watching bike polo, seeing some girl more drunk and messed up than I have ever seen anyone in my life, and lots of other weird and wild times. All in all, a great weekend.

I somehow ended up at a party where people were *actually* wearing glow sticks. I took this crappy picture because I know that anyone who knows me would never believe I would go to something like this.

Rather literally The Calm Before the Storm. This was at 5:30am. It started raining 3 hours later and did not stop for almost 16 hours.

The Lock-Up outside the after party.

Morning after ride with the Geekhouse boys. Joe was feeling a little rough.

A friendly game of bike polo in the park.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


So, as I have mentioned already, we had a bit of a um....run-in with a massive elephant in Kruger National Park. So, for those of you who don't know, Kruger is basically a HUGE wildlife preserve (about the size of New Jersey). You drive in and are on your own. Stay in your car, keep your windows up, etc. I would argue that a majority of the vast park is so remote that if something happened to you, you would be essentially fucked unless someone else happened to come driving by. That said, the encounter went something like this:

We pull up and stop because I spot an elephant eating on the side of the road. Maybe 30 feet from the car or so. We all start taking pictures, etc.

"Hey Miles, he doesn't look so psyched. Let's go."

"Hang on, I just want to take a couple more pictures." Miles continues taking some shots. Elephant is not psyched. Just wants to eat this tree he is munching on.

Miles slams on the gas. We speed off. Hearts pounding. Camera still clicking away. Whoah. That was close.

Elephant standing RIGHT WHERE OUR CAR WAS.
You know that scene in the god-awful movie TROY starring Brad Pitt where he kills that dude with one strike of the sword, and then stands there in front of the entire army screaming "IS THERE NO ONE ELSE???", I imagine that's what the elephant was thinking.

Annnnddd....back to eating my tree.


Walking in to the climbing.

I've been home from my trip to South Africa for over a week, and I still have more pictures and stories. We documented the trip pretty well, and our two days of sport climbing at Waterval Boven are no exception. First, I think it's important to understand the town of Waterval Boven to get some sort of grasp on what climbing there is like.

Waterval Boven is a small town situated on the edge of the Escarpment on the banks of the Elands River above the 75m Elands Falls. Hence the name which means "above the waterfall" in Afrikaans. This town is very very very small. You can drive from end to the other (all the while getting funny looks from the locals) in 5 minutes. It is remote. And it is becoming increasingly impoverished. The area was originally established when the railway came there. Since then, the rail has not been traveling through, greatly effecting the local economy. Nestled right in the middle of town is a climber's hostel called Roc N' Rope Adventures. This place was fantastic. And if you ever find yourself in South Africa with a hankering for some sport climbing, definitely check out Roc N' Rope. The accommodations are really quite nice for a hostel, and inexpensive.

There was only one store in town, they had food that was the most unnaturally colored food products I had ever seen!

We played what was, to be most certain, THE MOST intense game of Jenga of all time. Ever.

Miles and I had SO MUCH FUN at Roc N' Rope!

At any rate, the climbing itself lies up on the mountainside from town. The only way to get there is by driving up the worst road known to man past a huge garbage dump where you will see rabid dogs. We drove up this road in a $100,000 Mercedes. Hahahahaha. I'm not kidding. Then you park at some random farm (how anyone lives at the end of this road is beyond me), and walk down into the climbing area. We got hopelessly lost on day one, but finally managed to find the climbing after some bushwhacking.

Little Routecards. How cute!

The cliffs are not very steep, and consist of the most unrealistically orange sandstone I have ever seen anywhere. It really feels like you are climbing at the end of the world by the time you actually rope up and are 60 feet up looking out over the valley. The climbing itself was not very steep, and sort of blocky. Really technical with lots of terrible feet. I found that a majority of the climbs really should have been trad climbs. They would have been very easily protected, and a real blast for placing widgets. Mile Cone: Army of One explained that most things are bolted because the cost of trad gear in South Africa is easily two times what we would pay for it in the States. While the climbing was not exactly my style, I still had an amazing time. I had been itching to get on some rock, and all the climbs were great. Plus the setting and the views were beyond insane. It's important to note that I had basically no concept of the grading system there, which is the same one they use in Australia and New Zealand I believe. So I was basically getting on things that looked fun with little to no regard for grades. This worked for and against me on more than one occasion. All in all, this was an awesome few days of climbing.

Some crazy hard thing. With the first bolt like 20 feet off the ground.

Brooksie on Gravy Train. Quite the view.

The most horrified I have ever been on a rope was on this climb. I wish I had it on video.

Miles Cone: Army of One's triumphant return to rock climbing!

Sunday, June 14, 2009


There is really nothing I can add to that.

Friday, June 12, 2009


Getting in the zone.

I've been climbing for about 8 years now. I've traveled an awful lot, seen lots of things, climbed lots of places. One thing I have consistently been impressed with is the global climbing community. Everywhere I have been, I have always met incredible and friendly people. With the common bond of climbing, it has always seemed to me that I could make friends everywhere I went. The climbing community is small. Real small. Let me give you an example: While sitting on the deck at a climbing hostel in Vaterfal Boven in South Africa, I am introduced to two dudes from Portugal, I casually mention that I have a good friend from Oman who now lives in California. These two guys knew him!? I'm sorry, but it is mind-boggling to me that here I am on the other side of the planet, and I randomly run in to two people from another country who know my friend. Wild.

I will say, however, that at Rocklands, I was massively disappointed with the Americans I met. it was the first time in my climbing career that I have met any other climbers and been left with a really bad taste in my mouth. Very strange. I did, however meet a group of guys from the UK whom I climbed with all week. These were good people. I hope to see all of them again.

One of the other boulder problems I had my sites on was Caroline, a classic 7c+ at the Roadside Boulders. I had done several problems of this grade that week, and felt very strongly that this one would be relatively easy. It is about 10 moves on a fairly steep rock progressing up two lines of shitty pinches. Seeing as how I had spent the last 6 months with Mike, Max, Dave, and others training on a 50 degree wall using nothing but the world's shittiest pinches, I felt confident that this problem would go.

DAY ONE: I went up to Caroline for the first time at the end of day one, still high off my send of Ulan Bataar. Even though there was only about an hour of light left, I was pretty impressed with the line, and immediately set to work. The UK boys were using some pretty lousy beta, which worked well for them since they were all much stronger than me. I spent most of the hour sussing the moves and figuring out my own beta. Which involved an unorthodox yet effective heel-hook start.

DAY TWO: After warming up and exhausting myself on the world's hardest 7a, I stepped up to Caroline again. No luck. Every dumb thing that could happen did. I fell from the last move twice. This was obviously a bit frustrating. The crux move was killing me. Very low percentage for me. Why can't I do this boulder? Seriously.

DAY THREE: RAIN. In South Africa, the mist/rain combo is called "Moth Rain", because it's like a swarm of moths. The rain doesn't really fall from the sky in drops, it consumes everything in a swirling mist. Woke up bummed but went to the Fields of Joy boulders to enjoy a day of highballs and classic moderates. At about 3:30, it was clearing up substantially and I made a run for Caroline. With a 40 minute hike and just 2.5 hours of light left, this was a gamble, but I was willing to take it. The boulder problem was SOAKED. Dripping. Well eff. I had hiked all the way out there, I might as well try it. I immediately took of my sweatshirt, and began drying the problem off, chalking holds. Surprisingly enough, I got about 80% of the way up the thing, which was encouraging since these were probably the worst conditions imaginable. I also sussed out some incredible toe-hook beta for the crux move which made it easy as hell. Siked!

DAY FOUR: Didn't spend much time on Caroline this day. Had my mind set on other things. But the 7c+ had shut me down for three days, and was looming in the back of my mind. Anyone who knows my climbing habits knows that I can't let things go. I tried it a few times but for some reason my foot was coming off the big foot hold??? BAH!

DAY FIVE: Last day. Leaving in the morning. NO retreat. NO surrender. A Muerte! I have to point out that at this point, I had been climbing for about 12 hours a day, 4 days straight. This meant that after about 2 attempts on Caroline, I was halved over sitting on the ground wincing in pain as the tendons in my arms swelled up like balloons and were throbbing. Praise be to Advil. My beta was working really well, but I had to take 15 minute rests between each attempt to let me skin and tendons relax before another go. Honestly, why was I not doing this boulder problem? I couldn't figure it out. I could get on at any point and do every single move, in any combination of links. But whenever I started from the ground, something went wrong. GAHHH! This boulder problem was becoming all consuming. As the day progressed, I got more and more exhausted. The only thing harder than the stupid boulder problem was letting it go, admitting defeat. Which, after about 7 hours, I finally did at 5pm. Failure. Shut down. You lose. Do not pass go. Do not collect $500. Thanks for visiting. Fuck you very much.

It's ok though. Because in the end, I climb for the experience. Sure, standing on top of hard boulders, or clipping the anchors of difficult lines is always pleasing. But really, this trip could not have been ruined by Caroline. The settings, the (non-American) people I met, my travel companions, the climbing quality, etc. All of it was second to none. And Caroline will be there when I go back next summer. HA!

The sunsets we saw walking out after epic defeats on Caroline.

Finally, I leave you with this gem. It became the theme song for the trip. And let me tell you, there is nothing like having people sing this song to you while you try hard:

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


In my research of Rocklands, I found several boulders that I wanted to climb. Right at the top of the list was a 7b+ called Ulan Bataar. By all accounts, this was one of the best problems of that grade on the planet. Not to mention the fact that if you had to design a boulder, it would probably look something like this one. About 15 feet tall. Mildly steep. One line. No cheater holds. The only way this problem could be better would be if it went straight up the steeper section at the top instead of breaking left. But the sad fact is, there are not any usable hold on that steep bit at the top.

My goal for this boulder was to flash it. Which seemed incredibly reasonable to me. I made the 40 minute hike to the boulder on day one and warmed up on area classics like "One", and "Roof On Fire". Then made my way to Ulan Bataar. It was taller than I had imagined, and one thing worried me about my flash attempt...the footholds. They are really, really bad. I padded it out, stepped up, and went for it. I made it about half way up when my foot cut. Damn. I think it took me 2 or 3 more tries before I sent. And I must say, it truly is one of the greatest problems I have ever done. A really massively incredible boulder. Although it would have been nice to flash the bugger, it's hard to get upset about anything with the surroundings and the quality of the climbs at Rocklands.