Thursday, October 8, 2009

And so the road trip begins...

Well fall usually means a few things for me. Work slows down (or stops). Temperatures drop. The truck gets packed. The southwest beckons. All of these things have fallen in to place with a few modifications. This year we have a camper and the dog is our new co-pilot.

This year the journey started with a stop in Smith Rocks to break up our drive to Utah. Now I must say that Smith Rocks climbing is my kryptonite. It totally defeats me, or at least I let it get to me way too much. I am not, and have never been a good crimper and techy face climber; give me a thuggy crag or steep endurance jug haul any day. When I get to Smith, my ego is crushed and I take my climbing down almost a full number grade. But you know what? It is refreshing to have climbing not be about chasing grades, and to be about the line...a lesson we learn a little latter on in this installment. When I at home in Squamish, I guess I get caught up in the numbers, as its your local crag and you have done so many of the lines that you might as well push yourself harder. Then you leave town and try and chase those grades...but put the brakes on, and get back to my traditional climbing routes, where climbing is about the line and the ever so cliched journey. But you know what? It is!

So I had fun trying to onsight classic Smith 5.12 after classic 5.12 and either falling once or dogging the shiznit out of them. For me I guess the line of the 2 days was onsighting the classic Sunshine Dihedral, which they call 11+ with scary gear, but I guess its all relative to me the crusty old trad climber, as it felt way easier and safer than some run out slab like Dreaming.

Beleive it or not after two days we were so cold, and had no skin left on our tips so we started driving for Utah...being chased through eastern Oregon by a blinding blizzard. That is what is supposed to happen on our way home in late November, NOT on the way south in early October! Oh well.

We rocked down to St. George to check out some of the classic limestone of the Wailing Wall and Cathedral Cave. This place has been raved about for a few years, and well its pretty good fun. I think I have been spoiled miserably by going to Kalymnos last spring, and my ideal desert location will always involve splitters and red sandstone, but we had a great time - I mean who wouldn't love this place, great rock, soft grades and plentiful bolts! We did a few of the classics in the cave and tried our best on the wailing wall, but by the next day, the north winds had kicked in and we couldn't even warm up with out freezing our digits off. At least my new super puffy Outdoor Research Virtuoso Down Coat was a welcome and necessary addition to the pack.

After freezing our butts off we ran down to the truck and heading down to St. George where we pumped out a few laps on the un-inspring but extremely fun Chuckwalla and Turtle Walls. 40 feet of super steep jug hauling with your shirt off, who could complain.

But of course the conversation between Jas and I went back to what inspires us to climb, and these sport routes in St. George were just not cutting it. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE sport climbing, all you have to do to believe me is go check out my scorecard! My first love, and true motivator is always the long traditional free routes of the world, like my last post about the Space Buttress. So we decided it was time to check some places out for the next part of our journey - next stop Zion and the seldom visited Kolob Canyon. We had to be in Salt Lake for this weekend's American Alpine Club Cragging Classic so we only had a day to check the place out. Our decision was to check out the sport climbs (I know, more sport climbs!) Namaste and Huecos Rancheros. UNBELIEVABLE. Kolob is amazing and we got to look at the line of 'Wind, Sand and Stars' a IV 5.12 free route that we are going to do next week for sure. But for now here are some shots from Kolob, that just don't do it justice. Go do these routes, if only for the 2 hour round trip walk in the South Fork Canyon in green meadows and tree stands at the base of 1500 foot sandstone walls. That is what inspires me to climb...

Next stop, cragging classic and then Zion!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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