Friday, November 13, 2009

Snow at Home, Warm sun in UT

The road trip continues, even as my inbox starts to flood with reports of epic early season powder back in British Columbia - for all of you VMT skiers, my guess is there is about a meter of snow at 2000m near the lodge right now, not bad for November! So while rainfall warnings and low snow levels continue at home in Squamish, sunny days and warm sand stone continue to be the norm in Southern Utah.

Since I last wrote, I spent a few days in Red Rock,NV escaping the cold spell, driving to Moab, UT through a blizzard, taking part in the AMGA Annual Meetings, climbing in Indian Creek, UT and then finally back to Zion, UT. Lots of driving in the desert SW in the last little while, but that is the price you pay for road tripping some times.

Moab was highlighted by good times with good friends before, during and after all day meetings. Sometimes it meant skipping meetings to go and climb down in Indian Creek! When the meetings were done we dropped down for a quick hit at the creek so that Jasmin could send a project from last winter Ruby's Cafe. She easily dispatched it after a few burns, so we hopped in the car to head back to Zion.

Jas was all set to climb with her gal pal Mandoline, allowing for what I call a reunification of the Fembots. These two ladies seem to crush the traditional rock scene back home in Squamish, sending 5.12 trad like it ain't no thing. Now they were going to apply them selves to a few fun days in Zion. Meanwhile my original partner bailed, and I turned to the world of Facebook to find a rope handler for a few days in Zion. Low and behold facebook delivered in the form Jason Kruk. I also had to make a climbing rope appear as well, as after a full season of use my trusty Petzl 9.4mm Fuse had finally kicked it. I can't even begin to count the amount of pitches this rope had put in since March, including new free routes in the alpine, and long sandstone free routes in Zion...if you want a tough handling lightweight rope, look no furter. Luckily Petzl is in UT and was able to connect me with a brand new 9.4 Fuse for the rest of my trip. You can read a review here if you like.

Jason is a (not that young anymore) crusher from Squamish, and he was fresh off a 7 day ascent of Golden Gate on El Cap with his partner in crime Will Stanhope. Those two have been getting into trouble in climbing destinations around the world for years now. Jason regalled me with tales from the captain, and it sounds like he managed to free all but 5 feet of the 41 pitches of Golden Gate. Will sent them all. Proud.

Now it was time to tackle some sandstone. Day 1 we decided to check out the Gentleman's Agreement right above Springdale. Rob Pizem freed this one in February, and graded the first 4 pitches 13b, 12c, 12a, 12a, but after Jas and I went up and checked out the pitches last month, they are more like 12d, 12a, 11c, 11b, so don't be intimidated and go try it! Well it was not in the cards for us that morning. Clear skies, and temps in the 70s meant roaster hot conditions for the pitch 1 tips crack. No go for us after 3 tries each, so we packed up early and headed down the hill for some cocktails in the sun.

The next day we decided to try Brian Mckray's new route Silverback which is just left of the classic Monkey Finger. Wow, what a route, and if you are up to the task of long, hard, sometimes wide, and almost always sandy climbing, then you should go for it! The route is quite 'modern' as in bolted anchors and plentiful protection bolts on the pitches. So much so in fact that you really only need 1.5 sets of gear for the route, which in the desert is pretty nice. Granted you need a double set of nuts and finger gear and one of each cam up to the mighty #6 camalot. I will post some pictures here, and get you psyched...but unfortunately we didn't get any shots of the last pitch, which is one of the best in the park. Splitter 12+ finger crack to a roof at the end. WILD. But be warned that the pitch before that is 5.12 OW - number 5 and 6 BD required!

Squeeze chimney p1 - mandatory entrance exam.

Wide, loose and sandy, p2, but wait it gets classic, don't worry!

p3. Classic 11+ Zion funk. Lots of bristlers, so super safe.

p4. gives you some loose 10+ face climbing with lots of bristlers as well.

And then gets into some classic flare climbing with this wild roof at the end.

p5. One of the best in the park, 120' of wild steep hands in this crazy flake feature. So good, and so high off the deck, gotta love it.

p6 is the bear of the route. Starts with tight hands in a flare and then finishes with 5.12- OW. Fun.

Jason gets psyched following the OW. So glad for the bristlers.