gear & action table of contents

Foot Traffic | Pop Cycle Coolers | Auto-Erotica

Two Ways to Mount Hood | Backcountry Jammin'-boree | Mountain Climbers

Paddling-4-Dummies | Get Your Motor Running

You can see Portland's backyard volcano from your girlfriend's penthouse in the Pearl, sparkling like a jagged shark's tooth, brilliant white against a backdrop of blue within blue. Hood.

rich MAN
Heal Thyself: While the rest of the city slogs to work, you drive to the Mountain Shop (628 NE Broadway, 288-6768,, where a mop-headed free-heeler named Jeremy sets you up with a top-of-the-line package. All the latest, everything from a full Schoeller Dryskin Extreme climbing suit ($400-$450)--Gore-Tex is so 20th-century)--to a featherweight Grivel Air Tech Racing ice axe (with a high-tensile aircraft aluminum shaft, $118) to a pair of wraparound Julbo Escape glacier goggles (with light-sensing polycarb lenses, $125) that make you look like Geordi from Star Trek, The Next Generation.

Joe Cool: Looking for the ultimate climbing toy? If you've got money in the bank, the guy you need to see is Joe Garland. Joe and a friend run Climb Axe, the nation's top importer of wholesale climbing gear, outfitting more than 350 climbing shops, as well as the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division and the New Zealand Eco-Challenge.

Joe's retail operation, Climb Max Mountaineering (2105 SE Division St., 797-1991,, is housed in a building that's about the size of the Unabomber's cabin yet is packed with more gear than you even knew existed, or could ever imagine. Because Climb Axe deals directly with a factory in Italy (the nation that is the source of 90 percent of the world's climbing gear), it sells some custom stuff under its own label. But Joe doesn't advertise much locally, which is why you'll find only the most in-the-know vertical aficionados at the retail shop. On a recent afternoon, commandos from the Portland Police Department's elite Tactical Division, grungy sport climbers, even grungier Cascadia Forest Alliance tree-sitters (possibly yearning for the Sky Lounge Portaledge and Rain Fly by Black Diamond--at $720 for the pair, it's your very own shelter in the sky), and a troupe of horrifically scarred performance artists who impale themselves on shark hooks tethered to climbing rope browsed gear racks on the walls, floor and ceiling at Climb Max.

Climbing the Walls: You have to go to the store to see the colorful patrons, but one of Climb Max's most compelling features can come to you: the Rolling Stone Mobile Rock Climbing Wall. Made to order for between $30,000 and $40,000 and available to rent (roughly $500 for four hours), this 22-foot tall pillar of textured brown fiberglass is pocked with enough hand- and footholds to satisfy three climbers simultaneously. With one of these babies, you'll be a god among dirtbags--imagine the looks of envy you'll inspire as you roll into the Smith Rock parking lot towing your own custom crag.

poor MAN
Survive This:
Who needs all that high-tech stuff anyway? After begging a hundred bucks from your sugar mama (for "the job search"), you duck into the poor mountaineer's outfitter, Andy & Bax (324 SE Grand Ave., 234-7538, First, outerwear. Eschew the orange "submariner deck exposure coveralls" (waterproof and buoyant, with enough insulation to float the Michelin Man) for the more practical combination of British doughboy knickers and a Korean War-era U.S. Army field jacket. Offering breathability and the warmth of wool (because it is), with a spritz of Heavy Duty Water Repellent, your $28 climbing suit promises to outperform three-ply Gore-Tex. Unfortunately, Andy & Bax doesn't stock mountaineering boots or crampons (a suspicious clerk refers you to Next Adventure, up the street). But hey, who needs expensive stuff like that when a woman can summit Hood in heels? A pair of $10 Storm Trooper specials will do. For the ultimate in cranial preservation, you pick a classic steel combat helmet (weighing in at five pounds, this $20 lid will deflect boulders, not to mention small-caliber ammunition). To keep your ass out of a crevasse, you'll rely on a genuine Swiss Army pickaxe ($15, hardwood shaft with an oxidized-steel head that wobbles). And best of all, to guard against sunburned retinas, a $20-$40 pair of Chinese motorcycle gogs. Under budget, you proceed to the register, as well equipped as George Leigh Mallory was when he set out to summit Everest in 1924. (Mallory made it to the top, probably, but died on the way down. Poor bastard--at least he was still sporting his natty tweeds when climbers discovered his body three years ago.)

skid ROW
Skip the Drive:
All you really need to get your feet off the ground is the wall at Northeast Portland's Rocky Butte, a friend to spot you, and a half-dozen big pillows from the Goodwill bins. When the view's clear, you can embrace Mt. Hood and your 'hood in the same magnificent sweep.