Thursday, December 3, 2009

Medical Expert Brian Bonner weighs in on Accelerator Shin

After weeks of frustration we have also managed to upload one more video. So far the poor wifi signal from internet cafes is incapable of uploading our videos anywhere under three hours. If nothing else, we should be able to get videos online when the trip finally ends (whenever that is).

The video should be displayed on the "video bar on the bottom right side of the blog... or here's the link to youtube.

We'd like to thank our medical expert for providing some much needed insight on Phil's ongoing injury. We hope you appreciate the depth of knowledge our medical expert has been able to provide....

It was mentioned in a previous post that Phil Wessler, who is never one to complain about physical ailments, is suffering from "accelerator shin." While many may have laughed at this statement, I am here to assure the readers of this blog that it is indeed a valid medical condition that needs to be treated very agressively so it does not progress and cause permanent damage. This condition is generally reserved to people who do excessive amounts of driving--truck drivers and rock climbing hippies who lack overall physical fitness. You see, accelerator shin is actually the beginning stages of the surgical emergency compartment syndrome. In compartment syndrome the pressure in a given compartment exceeds the pressure of the arteries supplying the tissues with oxygenated blood which leads to a state of hypoperfusion and tissue death. In Phil's case, because he does all of the driving and not Brett (someone has to drink the free PBR) and because his vehicle is older with a stiffer gas pedal, his lower extremity is dorsiflexed in an isometric contraction on the gas pedal for extended periods of time. This would be like doing a dumbell curl and stopping halfway through the arc and holding it for hours at a time. This leads to hypertrophy of his tibialis anterior muscle and lactic acid release in the anterior compartment, causing pain, pressure, and decreased sensation along the lateral aspect of his shin.

The treatment plan for this is quite simple. Soft tissue massage by Brett on Phil's shin while he is driving would not only be pleasureable but help increase lactic acid movement into the lymphatic system and out of the anterior compartment. It would also be helpful if Brett drank less so he can do some of the driving. I doubt Phil has the coordination involved in driving with his left foot so that is out as a treatment option. Overall the prognosis for Phil is excellent. If his accelerator shin progresses to a true compartment syndrome, Brett will have to use his paramedic skills and perform a roadside fasciotomy which involves slicing open Phil's leg to relieve the pressure. Hopefully it never comes to that.

For the record, the majority of this post is fictional and based minimally on medical knowledge.

Dr. Brian Bonner D.O.
Medical Expert and Advisor

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The key to life is keeping things in a constant state of "Hominy"

Moonrise over the ridge next to Half Dome.

Yosemite has been one of the biggest highlights of the trip so far, racking up somewhere around 10 straight days of our time. We completed a spectacular amount of trad routes around the park, including: Half Dome, The Grack, Nutcracker, Central Pillar of Frenzy, and countless other shorter routes. Our time was divided between climbing, fending off black bear invasions, and staring in awe at El Capitain (...until next summer).

Welcome to the jungle: El Capitan loomed larger than life over many of the climbs we did over the ten days we stayed in Yosemite Valley.

The sheer beauty of Yosemite was quickly thrown into stark contrast with the suburbs of San Francisco. We spent just enough time in San Fran for Brett to pass his paramedic test (...huge relief), catch up with an old college buddy, and then retreat as swiftly as possible out of the confusion and back to the woods. It turns out after ten days of old fashion living, we couldn't handle even one in the city.

Brett making the stretch on Knob Job (5.10b), at Pat and Jack's Pinnacle.

After revisiting several days of Full House memories, we decided to say goodbye to the Tanners (thanks for putting us up, Tim) and take our chances driving back North up to the Tahoe area. As it turns out Tahoe (7,000 ft elevation), in November, .... is cold. We experienced some of our first cold weather climbing of the trip on Lover's Leap wall. Despite the temperature, a relatively deserted and free weekend campground was a blessing. After suffering through numb appendages on the first day we shot for a very late start on sunday (not till 1 pm), in an attempt to allow things to warm up. Our plan worked surprisingly well, however, it did involve finishing up the last pitch to the summit in the dark (check the video for a great sunset clip). We also threw in a clip of Brett's sick double dyno jump on the Lover's Leap wall, tribute to the late great Danny O (for those of you who haven't seen it, look on Youtube for Dan Osman's ridiculous free solo climb on Lover's Leap Wall).

Brett and Phil topped out on After Six (5.7, 600'), at the Manure Pile Buttress.

Outside of a little cold the trip so far has gone shockingly smooth. Our only notable injury is Phil's self-diagnosed "Accelerator Shin"; an injury provoked by spending too much time driving (Bonner please look into this). We've discovered that raw eggs (2 every day) make a spectacular nutritional addition to any trip where the team members fear cooking and dishes (all of this is Farmer approved). Our diet has consisted almost wholly of oats & eggs for breakfast, and assorted cold canned food dinners (Canned hominy has been a trip changing food discovery).

Tim Hazel sends a steep hand crack on the second pitch of the Central Pillar of Frenzy (5.9, 550'), on the Middle Cathedral Rock.

We have since fled the cold weather south to Bishop, CA. The Owen's River Gorge and surrounding area should keep us busy with some shorter sport climbing routes for the next week or so. At first glance Bishop appears to be a town small enough that we can manage to hangout without feeling like lab rats in a maze. We still have yet fo find internet quick enough to upload our videos to youtube without hours of frustration...

Tim on the first pitch of Surrealistic Pillar (5.7, 300'), at Lover's Leap.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Long awaited update

Looking at Mt. Shasta from the top of the Ogre (Castle Crags, CA)

First things first... check out the video we put on youtube (this should also show up on the video bar on the bottom left of this page.)

Alright. After two weeks on the road our hopes at regularly updating the blog have proven premature. Things have gone thus far without a hitch. We kicked off the trip with Oktober Fest weekend in the Bavarian theme town, Leavenworth, WA. Rainy weather limited our climbing, but the discovery of a Das Boot Stein kept spirits high (the bubble at the end of the boot does exist). Several key additions to the trip included Farmer as our new Nutrition Expert (3 decades of eating leaves no doubt to his expertise), Ross as our Expert of Extreme, and two Das Boot steins (including "The Danger Boot"). Huge thanks to everyone for coming out to visit (Ross, Kim, Farmer, Erin, Casey, Kelly)...perfect way to kick off our trip.

Phil drinking from the
Danger Boot after
losing a rousing game of
minature golf to the
Casey Schaffer.
From Leavenworth we headed back to Seattle to pick up Phil's cousin Tim (who will be joining us on our climbs until Nov 20) and to meet with our PBR rep (we're now equipped with five free cases of beer and a bagful of sweet shwag).

After a quick night in the Wesseler home, we drove down the coast to spend four days at Smith Rock, located just outside of Bend, OR. Most of our climbs there involved warming up on some amazing sport routes. By far the most memorable climb was four pitches on "The Monkeys Face" (check the video for some sweet line jugging action into the monkeys mouth), an unbelievable tower of rock that we summited just as the sun was setting. Getting off the tower involved the longest free rappel that either of us have done (close to 180 ft), under the desert stars.

After Smith Rocks we moved further south with a quick stop to climb "The Ogre" at Castle Crags State Park, CA. The weather held wonderfully through six pitches to a knife edge summit with an awesome view of Mt. Shasta in the background. We also received a free dinner in the tiny town of Dunsmuir, compliments of being recognized as the "PBR Climbers" from Smith Rock, OR (the legend of free beer is spreading quickly).

Brett calling out his next
climb just like the Babe.
The Monkey's Face is the
tower on the receiving
end of the call-out in the

Currently we're living inside the self-contained bubble of Yosemite National Park (going strong on 10 days). We've been here for about five days, and we've got another five to go before heading out. The sheer scale of the rocks here is beyond compare. We've mostly been ticking off smaller climbs that involve minimal walks to approach. One noteworthy achievement was topping out on an eight pitch climb (Snake Dike, 5.7) which tops out on Half Dome, combined with 15 miles of hiking (close to 8,000 ft of elevation change over the day)... all of which made for one of the most exhausting days so far.

One unexpected challenge in Yosemite has been dealing with the overwhelming black bear population, which can only be compared to the raccoon infestation on Biscayne Key, FL. The bears make regular rounds through the night slamming the metal food lockers at each camp site, almost as if they're playing out long drawn out drum solos. Most notably, Phil woke one night with a particularly large black bear halfway inside the back of the 4runner with Tim's day pack in its mouth. After a short chase across the creek we luckily retrieved the pack and its contents (minus several Amazing Grass energy bars).

We'll be leaving the park on 11/4 in preparation for Brett's final paramedic test in the San Francisco area. We're currently hoarding a lot more video, but the slow internet in Yosemite has made it a struggle to post the bit we have so far.... hopefully once we hit San Fran more will be forthcoming.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Indiana Jones Map

Just a quick video of the general game plan...

For a full screen version, click the youtube version at the bottom right.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Official Launch Date: October 15

Hey All,

After much deliberation and planning, final details (like this blog site) for the trip are coming together. Here's the skinny so far. Brett is finishing paramedic school in Philadelphia within the month, and is slated to fly into Seatac airport in WA on the 15th. We're going all in yet again in the 4Runner (Thank you, Japanese engineering) on what we hope will be a "dream trip" of climbing our way down the West Coast. Big props to Amazing Grass for supporting us on our way! Our fully loaded shipment of energy bars & supplements has arrived, providing much need supplies on our low budget trip. Please check out their site and products at

The Climbers: Brett Mollenhauer (Top) and Phil Wesseler (Bottom) in Red Rocks, NV this spring.

We're starting the trip with a quick "warm-up" on the awesome rocks and walls outside the faux Bavarian town of Leavenworth, WA where we oh-so-conveniently will catch the last weekend of Octoberfest. From there it will be a full on chase to tag as many hot spots and classic lines as we possibly can. Stops due south will include areas such as Smith Rock OR, Yosemite Natl. Park CA, Bishop CA, Joshua Tree Natl. Park CA, Red Rocks NV, and a ton of others in between.

The 4Runner in Zion National Park this spring.

We'll be periodically updating this site with photos and stories from the road, so lock your doors and check back for updates as we charge on our ultimate Dirtbag Tour of the West.