Thursday, July 24, 2014

Salt Lake Slips, 10 August, 2013

Well, it was another Saturday, and we wanted to get out climbing, but we weren’t really feeling anything in the Ogden area so we decided to head up to Salt Lake to do something in Big Cottonwood.  The last time we had hit up Big Cottonwood we had climbed at the Salt Lake slips area and Amy had really enjoyed it there, so we decided to go do some of the other routes there.

We got there and found it to be fairly uncrowded for a Saturday morning at an area with lots of easy routes just two minutes from the road.  Now Amy hasn’t done much leading since having Austin, so I figured we needed to start easy so that she could do a bit of leading to get back into the game.  We started on a 5.7 called Thieving Magpie.  This was a pretty fun route and it was very easy, so it was a good one for Amy to Lead, I ran up the route and hung the draws for her, then Danny took a turn trying it on TR, and Finally Amy lead it and got the redpoint. 

Danny TRing Thieving Magpie

Next we just moved one route to the left and got on a 5.8 called Entre Nous.  I lead this route and got the onsight, but it seemed like it might give Amy some trouble on lead, so I recommended that she try it on TR first.  That was probably a good idea because the crux was quite slickery, and it took her a few tries to get it on TR.  She decided that she didn’t want to lead that one, so we moved on to the next route.

The Italian Arete is probably the most aesthetic looking route on the main wall of Salt Lake Slips, so we decided to give it a go.  The route was fun but ended up being much easier than it looked (it’s only 5.6, but I hadn’t looked at the book and for some reason had it as 5.9 in my head).  Like the first route, both Amy and I took turns leading it.

I wanted to try something a bit harder at this point, so we decided to head around the corner by the stream where there are a couple of nice overhanging routes to give them a go.  First up, we decided to hop on a 5.10c called Salem’s Lot.  This route was pretty much awesome (other than being too short), it is very overhung, but the holds are all just big jugs, so it makes for some nice easy climbing.  I ran up the route getting the onsight, then Danny wanted to swing, so we hauled him up the route, then Amy TR’d it and cleaned the anchors.

Danny Hanging out on Salem's Lot

Amy was pretty much fried after that route since she isn’t used to doing anything overhung, but I wanted to jump on something else, so there was one route that was open, a 5.10b called Goth Girls.  This route was okay, but it was just too inconsistent to really be great.  It started out with a hard move or two right at the first bolt, then it was just a scramble up the next couple of bolts, the crux was then encountered at the third bolt where the wall was extremely polished, and the only thing for your hands was a painful finger crack without any feet.  After a move or two like that once again it turned into just a scramble until the final roof which was just pulling through on big bat guano covered jugs.  It certainly wasn’t my favorite route, but at least it was something else to climb.  I got the onsight, then we packed up and headed home.

Maple Canyon, 2 September, 2013

For Labor Day we decided that we should head to Maple Canyon since we haven’t been there yet this summer.  We wanted to head to Maple Sunday evening, camp there, then climb all day Monday, but we knew that with It being Labor Day, there was no way that we were going to be able to get a campsite in Maple.  I decided to check in the guidebook to see if there was somewhere close by that we could camp, then just head into Maple the next morning.  Initially I was thinking of camping at Axehandle Canyon since the rock there looks pretty cool, and the guidebook mentions that there is a lot of undeveloped rock, but at the same time, it seemed pretty out of the way for climbing in Maple the next day.  Luckily, I didn’t give up my search for a better camping spot, because I stumbled upon the two pages in the guidebook that mention Log Canyon.

Log Canyon is located 8 miles to the North of Maple Canyon, so it is right on the way, and even offers some very easy climbing that I figured would be great for the kids.  We drove up Log Canyon Sunday evening, and ended up getting to a great camping spot just before it started getting dark outside.  We quickly set up camp, got the kids ready for bed, then hit the sack so that we would be well rested for the following day.

The next morning at 0dark30 we figured out what I believe to be the reason that Log Canyon isn’t a more popular camping spot as there was four wheeler after four wheeler that slowly made their way up the very well graded road through the canyon.  What they were doing at that time in the morning is completely mind boggling to me, but you would just start to fall back asleep when the next four wheeler would pass waking you up again.  Eventually I decided to just get up and start making breakfast once it started getting light outside.  I heated up some water and we had a nice breakfast of oatmeal and hot chocolate before packing up camp and heading over to Schoolhouse Rock to do some climbing.

Schoolhouse Rock is pretty much the only developed area in Log Canyon, although it appears that there is still quite a bit of virgin rock up there to put routes up on (I’ll have to bring the drill on a future trip).  This area consists of a low angled piece of rock right off the road that starts out really low angled on the right and gets progressively steeper as you head up canyon.  There are currently 5 bolted routes on the rock, one 5.0, two 5.7’s, one 5.10a and one 5.10b, and one unfinished project between the 5.7’s and the 5.10’s.  Since we wanted to let the kids climb, we decided to start with the 5.0 a route called Sea Monkeys.

As can be imagined, the 5.0 was quite easy.  To make it interesting though, there was a big loose flake about half way up the route, so I had Amy and the kids clear out of the way while I pulled the loose flake off so that the route would be safer for anyone else.  I lead the route and set up a TR so that Danny and Emily could each take turns climbing the route, then Amy lead the route to clean the anchors.

Next we decided to do the next route to the left of Sea Monkeys, a 5.7 called Log Jam.  Again, this route was very easy, but the rock was good, and it was a fun route overall.  I lead, then Danny TR’d the lower portion of the route, then Amy lead the route again to clean it.

We decided to do the other 5.7 (Horton Hears a Whowah) as well before heading to Maple Canyon.  This time Danny didn’t feel like climbing, so Amy and I each took turns climbing the route.  I didn’t find this route to be as fun as Log Jam, but I think it had to do with how closely bolted it was.  I felt like the whole route was make one move, clip a bolt, make another move, clip another bolt, but it would be a great route for someone to learn to lead on.

We then made the 10 minute drive over to Maple Canyon to get on some harder stuff.  As we expected, Maple was crowded.  I had initially been thinking of climbing at the Pipeline, but there was no parking anywhere until we got up to the parking lot for the right hand fork.  I figured that the Low Standard Cave was right there, so we could go do a few routes there.  It was lunch time, so we got some food for the kids, gathered up the gear, than made the long 30 second hike over to the Low Standard Cave.  I have to say that I think it’s kind of funny how little attention this cave gets.  There is basically no approach, lots of good routes, but I never see anyone else there.  This was no exception; we were the only people there even though it was Labor Day.

I wandered around the cave a little bit looking for something to climb, and at the back of the cave was a route that caught my eye (Low Standards).  It ascended up the right side of the back of the cave and ended right at the apex of the cave, so the route looked cool, but to top it all off, it was only rated 5.11c.  Thanks to the overhanging nature of the cave, coupled with the fact that the route was only four bolts long, I was able to hang all the draws with a stick clip, so I hung the draws, then roped up to try the climb.  The first three bolts were a cakewalk and I didn’t have any problems, but then at the fourth bolt the holds get much smaller, and I ended up falling off as I was about to clip the fourth bolt.  I ended up hanging on the third bolt to clip the fourth so that I could work the moves, but then between the fourth bolt and the anchors there was just nothing.  I was able to do a big reach out to what looked like it should have been the clipping hold for the anchors, but once there, the hold was just terrible and there was no way I could let go to clip the anchors.  Again, I ended up just hanging on the fourth bolt to reach up and clip the anchors.  I really don’t know if I was just reading the route wrong and missing holds, or if something has broken off the route, but the section from the fourth bolt to the anchors certainly felt a lot harder than 5.11c.
Amy said that she was done climbing for the day, so I just cleaned the route and decided to try out a 5.11b called Nipple Stud.  Nipple Stud ended up being a really fun route, it started out with very thin technical climbing on slightly overhanging rock and ended up with some easy jug hauling to the anchors.  Unfortunately, I blew the onsight right where the holds get big.  I made it through the hard technical portion of the route, but then I went for what I thought looked like the big jug I needed next only to find out that it wasn’t what I thought it was and I came off.  From hanging on the bolt I could easily see that I only needed to go like two inches higher to get the actual big hold that I thought I was going for and I finished the route easily.

At this point, Danny and Emily wanted to swing, so we let them have turns doing a big swing off the anchors of Nipple Stud while I rested a bit.  After that, Amy wanted to go since she was done climbing, but I wanted to try one more route before we left. 

I decided to just move one route to the right and give Sodomizing Satan (5.11d) a go.  Sodomizing Satan ended up being a great route.  It was just slightly overhung the whole time, and mostly consisted of big moves through good holds with a few crappier holds thrown in here and there.  I did have to hang a couple of times because I was tired, but overall the route went well and I didn’t have any problems.  I definitely want to go back and redpoint this route because it was way fun.

Well, that does it for our Labor Day climbing.  I really need to get down to Maple more often it is definitely one of my favorite places to climb.

The Grand Teton, 12 - 13 August, 2013

The Grand Teton

Earlier this summer, one of my coworkers mentioned that he wanted to climb the Grand Teton.  Well, that got the whole office talking and it turns out that several of us had desires to climb the Grand as well.  After some in office discussion, we decided that the expedition would include my boss Eric, his wife Amy, my coworker Brandon, me, and my wife Amy.  We talked it over, looked into some of the logistical issues, and decided that we would give it a go via the Owen Spalding route on the 12th and 13th of August (we had to go Owen Spalding because Brandon doesn’t climb).  Our main concern was getting a permit due to the fact that all of the permits that can be reserved in advance were already gone, but they do save about half of their permits to give out the day before your climb on a first come first serve basis.  Since Brandon is single and doesn’t have any kids we decided to give him the task of heading up a day early to pick up a permit for us.

Well, as the time for our ascent drew closer, all of the office talk seemed to revolve around our trip up the Grand Teton.  We were constantly researching the route, the best camping spots, reading trip reports, and just generally familiarizing ourselves with the Grand Teton.  Our initial plan of who would be going also changed a bit when my wife Amy decided that she wasn’t in good enough shape to do the route since she recently had a baby, and one of my other coworkers Nate decided that he wanted to go.  The week before we were heading up we made all our final plans, divvied up the communal gear, and watched lots of youtube videos to get us psyched up for the climb.

Sunday morning I got a text from Brandon letting me know that he had picked up a permit for the Moraines camping area, so we were on for the next day.  Monday morning arrived much too quickly when Nate came by my house to pick me up at 5:45 so that we could drive up to Logan to meet up with Eric and Amy and then carpool from there.  The drive to Jackson WY was uneventful and we arrived an hour before we had anticipated, getting in at about 10:00 AM.  As we were pulling into Jackson we got our first view of the Grand and I must say that it looks pretty daunting, I think we were all questioning our sanity when we saw it.  We decided to grab some food for lunch before meeting up with Brandon and heading to the trailhead (Brandon already had picked up a lunch).  Eric and Amy recommended a sub shop called New York subs which ended up being perfect for our pre-hike meal.  After the sub-shop we headed to the parking structure where Brandon was leaving his car, ditched all the stuff we weren’t taking with us, and continued on our way to the trailhead.

Once we arrived at the trailhead, there were a number of tasks that needed to be completed.  First off, we unloaded all of our gear as close to the trailhead as possible to limit the amount of hiking we’d have to do with the gear, we waited around for a bit trying to get a parking space that would be relatively close to the trail head, but unfortunately, no one was leaving so Eric ended up parking like a half mile away from the trail head and running back to meet us, we each took turns using the lovely outhouse accommodations since it would be the last time we could before having to use a wag-bag, and we got ready to start hiking.

Hiking up the Trail

As we got ready, the afternoon thunderstorm rolled in and it started lightly raining on us.  Now, of course we had been watching the weather as the trip approached, but up until Sunday afternoon, everything kept saying that it would be beautiful weather with no chance of rain or thunderstorms, but then Sunday afternoon, all of the sudden the forecast changed to having afternoon thunderstorms on both Monday and Tuesday.  One of the biggest risks associated with climbing the Grand is lightning, so we were certainly concerned about the thunderstorms.  Fortunately, according to the forecast, the thunderstorms were only supposed to go from noon to about four, so we figured that they would be finished by the time we got up to  our camp, then we could be back down to our camp before they started on the following day. 

Getting into Gannet Canyon

Snack Time

It turned out that the thunderstorms were great, it lightly sprinkled on us until just before we arrived at our camp, but it never really rained on us enough to get us wet, it just kept us cool while hiking.  The hike was uneventful with the exception of Nate not feeling well the whole time.  Nate ended up feeling sick the whole time up the mountain, I don’t know if it was altitude sickness or just some bug that he had picked up, but he really wasn’t looking good as we hiked up.  Luckily for the rest of us though, Nate not feeling good helped keep us from hiking too fast so it ended up being a really easy hike.  In reality, the hike is pretty mellow all the way up to Lupine Meadows, and then it gets steep between the Meadows and the Moraines where we camped.  We made pretty good time up to the Meadows even with Nate feeling sick, but then we ended up taking a lot of time to get to camp arriving there at around 6:00 PM. 

Getting closer to Camp

Setting up Camp

Our Beautiful Campsite right below the Middle Teton

As we were hiking from the Meadows to the Moraines, we ran into a ranger who was on his way down.  He asked us what our plans were so we told him that we planned on climbing the Owen Spaulding route the next day.  He told us that the storm was a lot worse up at the top of the mountain, and that the Owen Spalding route was now covered in snow and ice and that it would be full winter conditions in the morning when we were going to attempt it.  We got worried at that point, but we figured that we’d hiked all that way, so we might as well attempt to summit anyway.

That night after arriving at our camp (which was great by the way), we set up, made dinners, refilled our water (from water running right down the Middle Teton Glacier), then we decided that we should practice our roped climbing techniques for the next day.  Since the climbing on the Owen Spalding is so easy (5.4) we decided that we would just simul-climb with about 20 feet of rope between each of us.  We each tied in like we would be the next day on the technical portions of the climbs, then we just kind of walked up a boulder filed as I placed some pro so that everyone could see the method.  After our practice we all got in our tents and went to bed since we were planning on waking up at 3:30 AM so that we could be off the mountain well before any storms arrived.

Our alarms went off at 3:30 the next morning, so we got up, boiled some water to make oatmeal for breakfast, and started hiking toward the Lower Saddle at 4:10.  Before we had gotten more than a quarter of a mile, Nate told us all that he still wasn’t feeling well, so he decided to head back to camp and forego the summit attempt.  We were all a little bit disappointed, but at the same time we were glad that we’d be able to move faster so that we could be sure to be off the mountain early.  The hike to the Lower Saddle wasn’t too bad, but we did loose the trail a couple of times because it was still dark out.  There is one technical portion between the Moraines and the Lower Saddle where you have to climb a cliff band that’s maybe 100 feet tall, but there are fixed lines through that portion and it’s low enough angled that it’s not a big deal.   We arrived at the Lower Saddle and I went off to search for the water supply since it is the last point where you can get water on the mountain.  We filled up our water, Eric handed the pack off to Brandon (we were all going to take turns with the pack), and we continued on our way up to the Upper Saddle. 

The portion of the hike between the Lower and Upper Saddles was what we were most worried about because we had read a bunch of trip reports that said it is really easy to get lost and waste a lot of time trying to find the route to the Upper Saddle.  We had of course studied where we needed to go, memorized all the landmarks, and watched videos of it, but it’s obviously a bit different when you’re trying to do it at 4:45 in the morning when it’s still pitch black. 

Luckily for us we didn’t have any problems with this portion at all.  We easily found our way to The Needle and made our way around the left side of it, Brandon stopped for a rest right at the base of the Chockstone Chimney without even realizing it, so when Eric and I saw it we were like hey, there’s the Chockstone Chimney where we need to head up.  At the top of the Chockstone Chimney we quickly were able to find the Eye of the Needle  and the Belly-Roll Almost, then I took the pack from Brandon and it was just a quick easy jaunt up to the Upper Saddle (well maybe not easy, but at least problem free).  We ended up getting to the Upper Saddle right as it was getting light enough for us to turn off our headlamps which was perfect since this is where we needed to rope up for the technical portion of the climb.

One funny side note is that just a bit before arriving at the Upper Saddle we saw a guided group a little bit ahead of us, so we were like okay, let’s hurry and pass this group so that we don’t get stuck behind them since the Owen Spalding route is the most popular route on the mountain.  We caught up to them and as we were passing them we talked for a moment and found out that they had camped at the Upper Saddle and started hiking at 4:00, so we had started hiking ten minutes after them from over 1000 vertical feet below them and were still passing them prior to reaching the Upper Saddle.  Needless to say, there was no reason for us to hurry to pass them since we made it to the Upper Saddle well ahead of them.

Getting ready to gear up on the Upper Sadle

Now that we were at the Upper Saddle, we roped up and began the technical portion of the climb.  Once again, this portion went extremely smoothly and we didn’t have any problems.  I lead through the Belly Roll and the Crawl where I belayed everyone over to the Double Chimney.  I have to say that both of those two portions of the climb are way over hyped.  They are really no more than a third class scramble and were shorter than I thought they would be.  Once everyone reached the base of the Double Chimney I again lead up it and then belayed everyone up from the top.  I did choose to take the right hand side of the Double Chimney since it looked a bit harder, but it was still quite easy.  Through the Double Chimney there was some snow and Ice, but it was nothing like the ranger had made it sound like it would be the day before.  Even so, we decided that we would take the Owens Chimney up from there rather than taking the Cat Walk since the Cat Walk is notorious for having ice on it.  Again, I lead up the Owens chimney, belayed everyone to the top, then we traversed over to Sergeant’s Chimney, lather rinse and repeat, then we unroped and left the rope at the top of Sergeant’s Chimney for the rappel off. 

Starting the Belly Roll

Amy on the Belly Roll

Walking past "The Crawl"

Brandon finishing up Owens Chimney

Making our way over to the Double Chimney

Starting up the Double Chimney

Amy coming up the Double Chimney

From the top of Sergeant’s Chimney it wasn’t really technical, but there were some pretty cool portions.  We just had to scramble around a little bit until we reached this awesome knife edge ridge that we had to traverse across, then from there it was just a little bit of scrambling and boulder hopping to get to the summit.  We arrived on the summit of the Grand Teton at 7:20 AM (which was quite a bit earlier than we though we would).  We spent a little bit of time up there taking pictures, I called Amy to let her know that we had arrived, and then we decided that we should head down so that we could try to drive home that night.      
Through the Technical and making our way towards the Summit

Getting Closer

Walking across the awesome knife edge ridge.

We made it!

Summit Marker Proof

Because it was so early we decided that we would also hike up to The Enclosure as well.  The Enclosure is the only other summit in the Teton range above 13,000 feet and is located just to the south of the Upper Saddle, whereas the Grand Teton is just to the north of the Upper Saddle.  We hiked back down to the top of Sergeant’s Chimney, and then rappelled off.  We then walked over to the top of the main rappel, but there were guides on all of the rap stations except for the bolted station.  I wanted to rap of the bolted station, but on the bolts were tags saying that it was 40 meters to the bottom, and my rope was only a 70 meter rope.  I thought I had read that a 70 meter rope would make it all the way down, but I didn’t want to end up short and none of the guides knew if a 70 would make it.  Luckily, one of the guides offered to untie the rope from the anchors and toss it down to us if we wanted to just do a single rope rap, so we decided to take that option.  I rapped off first and when I got down the middle mark of the rope was on the ground without any rope stretch, so a 70 meter rope is just fine.  Everyone else rapped off then we hiked over to the enclosure. 

Eric Making the Final Rap

The enclosure is pretty cool because at the top of it there is a circular ring or rocks that no one is really sure how they got there.  The main hypothesis is that it was a Native American built structure that was used as a kind of rite of passage.  They think that the Native American boys had to climb up to the top of The Enclosure before they were considered men. 

Standing in The Enclosure

After hiking to the enclosure we hiked back down to camp.  Now going back to that guided group we passed just before arriving at the Upper Saddle on the way up the mountain.  On our way down the mountain we ran into the same group again just after passing The Needle.  Again we just made a bit of small talk as we passed them and asked them what they had done and how everything went.  It turns out that they only hiked up The Enclosure and were headed back down.  It was just kind of funny to me (and maybe I’m a horrible person because of it), but I couldn’t help but laugh at the fact that they had started earlier than us from much higher than us, yet they only did The Enclosure when we were able to do both the Grand and the Enclosure and still beat them back to their camp.  After passing them we continued on our way down to our camp.

When we arrived at camp Nate was nowhere to be found.  We were hoping that we could clean up camp quickly and head down to the cars so that we could drive home that day instead of spending the night in Jackson, but we had to find Nate first.  We decided to take down camp and pack everything up so that we would be ready to go, but we were a bit worried that Nate had hiked up to the Lower Saddle so that he could meet us there and hike back down to camp with us, but that we had missed him when we hiked down.  Once camp was all packed up, Nate was still nowhere to be found, but we decided to check and see if he his daypack and water was still in camp.  We did end up finding his daypack and water, so we decided that he must be somewhere close because he wouldn’t go too far without those items.  Eric went looking for Nate, and found him pretty quickly just over a ridge from where our camp was, so we could head back down. 

The hike down was pretty quick and easy.  We were a bit worried about how Eric’s wife Amy would do on the hike out since she has a bad knee, but she did great and we made it down quickly.  As we got near the bottom of the mountain, once again the thunderclouds rolled in and we got sprinkled on, but the cloud cover and the light rain made for a very enjoyable hike back.  Once we got back to the parking area, I was the first one to arrive, so I got to hike the extra half mile to go pick up the jeep and bring it back to pick everyone else up.  We all loaded up into the jeep, headed into Jackson for dinner at Wendy’s then split up and drove home.  What a great trip it was, I can’t wait to go back and do the Complete Exum sometime now.        

Echo Canyon, 27 July, 2013

Sorry, this is another post without photos, we were kind of busy with building our new house, so we didn't take many, but at least we got out climbing a little bit.

On the 27th of July we headed up to Echo Canyon.  I had been wanting to climb at the Dry Wall for a while, but we hadn't done it since most of the routes are pretty hard.  We didn't have a lot of time to go climbing, so we decided that we could go do one of the easy routes, a medium route, and then I could try a hard route before leaving.

For our easy route we chose a 5.10b called The Lowe Route.  The route was a lot of fun and was very techincal with lots of tiny two finger pockets.  I onsighted the route, and Amy ran up it on TR.

Next up we jumped on a 5.11a called Something Must Break, and contrary to the name, it actually felt quite solid.  The route was really good, but very pumpy.  I made it through the crux at about the fifth bolt, but I was just so pumped after that that I had to hang on a couple of the last bolts through the easy juggy vertical section above.  None of the moves felt particularly hard, it was just so pumpy all the way through.  Amy TR'd the route next then we moved on.

Now I had come to the Dry wall one time previously to check it out and there was a 5.12b called Graffiti Patient that just called to me, so I decided I'd make it my hard route for the day.  The route is short with only 5 bolts, but it certainly packs a punch.  It's mostly big moves between nice big holds, but between the third and fourth bolt the holds turn to these tiny crimps that you then have to dyno off of to get to a pretty good (though somewhat slopey) pocket.  I hangdogged my way up the route, but I was able to do all of the moves, so I think I will have to make it my new project.

After climbing Graffiti Patient, Amy didn't want to try it, so we just packed up and headed home.

AF Canyon, 7/24/2013

So, the 24th of July is a state holiday here in UT, so I took the day off so that we could have a family party.  Well, it just so happens that my sister brought a guy to this family party who wanted to try climbing, so I offered to take them up AF canyon so that he could try it out.  Because he had never climbed before we decided to just hit up Hard Rock South Face since it is the beginner area of AF.

We hiked up to the area and decided to start out on the first pitch of Eight to Eleven which goes at about 5.6.  I ran up the route (in Chacos) and set up a TR so that they could climb it.

After Steph and her guy had finished TRing the route, we decided to move onto another 5.6 that is fairly new and I hadn't climbed before called Late for Dinner.  I onsighted the route in Chacos, then Steph and her guy ran up it on TR.

At this point Steph's guy was tired, but she wanted to try something a little bit harder, so I set up Stoic Calculus (5.8) so that she could show off her amazing ninja climbing skills on TR.

Unfortunately, no camera, so this is all you're getting;)

Monday, July 14, 2014

7-12-2013, American Fork Canyon

This last week my friends Ben and Jenalyn were in town visiting (they are currently living in Cape Cod, MA), so we were able to hang out on Tuesday before Jenalyn had to fly back, but Ben was staying in town for a couple of days longer so I thought it would be cool to get out climbing with him.  Both Ben and I have been wanting to get on Arm and Hammer in Bells canyon for a long time, so we decided to climb it on Friday the 12th of July.  We planned to meet up at the trailhead at 8:00 to give it a go.

Well, Friday morning rolled around and the weather showed that it was supposed to rain that afternoon, so we hoped that we'd be okay to hurry up the route and be done before the rain hit.  I left home to meet up with Ben at 8:00, but as soon as I got into the Salt Lake valley I knew we were in trouble.  The whole corner of the valley, all the way from Big Cottonwood Canyon to the south was just one big rain storm.  I figured that we'd still be able to figure something out, so I continued to the Bells Canyon trailhead and met up with Ben.  The rain was so bad that we figured we'd have to find something good and overhanging if we wanted to climb anything, so we decided to head to American Fork Canyon.

Ben hasn't been climbing much lately, so we had a bit of a conundrum to overcome in the fact that we wanted something overhanging so that it would keep us dry, but still easy enough that Ben would be able to climb.  We decided to try The Membrane to see if it was dry enough.  We arrived at The Membrane and found that all but the very tops of the climbs were dry, so we chose to stay there.

Ben liked the look of a 5.10d called Steel Monkey, so we made it our first route of the day.  Ben wanted to lead it up, so he racked up with the draws and headed up.  I must say that I was very impressed, Ben hadn't climbed in probably close to a year, but he was able to hang-dog his way up the route with very few problems other than the fact that he kept wanting to switch routes on me;)  He made it to the top of the route, lowered off, then let me have a go.  I cruised the route and got the redpoint pretty easily, then we decided that since Ben had kept wanting to climb the route to the left of Steel Monkey, a 5.10a called Caress of Steel, we'd give it a go.

Once again Ben lead up the route first and did a great job.  He had to hang-dog up the route again, but once again he made it to the chains without any major issues.  He did have a bit of excitement as he clipped the chains due to the fact that the clipping hold was all wet from the rain, but he clipped and lowered off.  Once again, I ran up the route and got a redpoint of it.

Ben on License to Thrill - 5.11c

Next, I had been wanting to climb the ultra classic route on the wall, a 5.11c called License to Thrill, so we decided to give it a go.  Ben didn't want to lead this one, so I headed up.  I've attempted License to Thrill two times before, but had never made it to the top. The first time I tried climbing it was back in 2002 , but I was just too pumped to make it through the crux on that attempt, the second time I tried was just a few months ago, but Amy didn't really want to try climbing it, so instead of finishing the route, I traversed left to the anchors of Steel Monkey right after the crux so that Amy could TR that instead, so I knew I had to at least get to the anchors this time.  I did have to hang a few times to figure out all of the moves, but I made it to the anchors.  The rain did make the top of the route kind of interesting.  Right at the last bolt, the route pulls out over the final little roof and is exposed to the rain for the last few feet.  As I reached up to the clipping jug for the last bolt, I found that the hold was literally full of a couple of inches of water.  My hand was completely submerged in water as I clipped the last bolt which made it kind of fun and was certainly my first experience like that.  Once I lowered off, Ben gave it a go and made it up to the crux of the route before he was just too tired to continue.  When he was done, we decided that he was too tired to climb any more routes, so we just packed up the gear and headed out.

We certainly were able to have a good time climbing even though it was a rainy day, and it was awesome getting out to climb with Ben again.

7-5-2013, American Fork Canyon

For the fourth of July weekend we headed to my parents house to spend some time with them.  Unfortunately, we weren't able to get out climbing on the fourth itself, but we did make it to American Fork Canyon on the 5th and 6th.  On the 5th of July we decided to head to The Membrane.  It was a beautiful day and we just wanted to get a couple of routes in since it was Danny's birthday so we needed to go celebrate that as well.

We decided to start on a really fun 5.11a called On There.  The route is fairly continuous although it is quite short.  I lead the route having to hang once since it had been a long time since I've climbed it and I couldn't see my next hold or remember where it was.  After I lowered off, Amy TR'd the route and did extremely well considering that it was a 5.11.

Next up, I wanted to hop on a 5.12a called 26.  I had climbed this route once before and it is quite easy for a 5.12a since really there is only one hard move and the rest of the route is like 5.9, so I wanted to figure it out so that I can get the redpoint.  I did have to hang at the crux while I figured out the best sequence to get through it, but I think I will now be ready to redpoint it next time I hop on it.  Amy didn't really want to try the route, but Danny and Emily wanted to swing, so we harnessed them up and let them swing around on the route a bit for some fun.

For the last route of the day Amy wanted to do something easier, so we decided to jump on the easiest route on the wall, a 5.9 called Bad Faith.  Now this might not have been the best idea due to the fact that Bad Faith is extremely polished and Amy hates polished limestone.  I ran up the route and set up the TR, then Amy headed up, but unfortunately, she didn't have a very good time because of how polished it was.

At this point, Amy was just mad because she had done so poorly on a 5.9, so we just packed up and headed out for the day.

The next day (Saturday 6, July) I decided that we needed to head up AF again to show Amy that not all limestone is the same.  She had been complaining that limestone is always sharp so that it hurts your fingers, but at the same time is polished so that your feet won't stick.  Now I happen to love climbing on limestone, so I wanted her to see that limestone can be very different.  I decided to take her to Beer Can Alley since I know that it is neither polished nor sharp.

We started out with the easiest route on the wall, a 5.9 called Hornets Nest.  This route is pretty fun with some interesting stemming moves getting over the initial roof, then it's just an easy jug haul to the chains.  I don't know that it's really 5.9, it's probably more like 5.8, but it's a fun route anyway.  I ran up it getting the redpoint, then Amy TR'd the route.  She wasn't a big fan of the initial moves, but enjoyed the juggy upper portion of the route.

Next we jumped on a fun 5.10b called O'Doul's.  This route is just easy moves up to a roof that you pull over on good positive crimps.  Once again, I ran up the route getting the redpoint, then Amy TR'd the route.  This time, Amy really enjoyed the route and was able to see that limestone can be fun to climb.  Danny wanted to try climbing as well, so we harnessed him up and he climbed the first 15 feet of the route before he decided that he was done.

Danny on O'doul's

For our final route of the day, we decided to climb a 5.10d called Sam Adams.  Sam Adams is really just a harder version of O'Doul's.  It starts out just a little bit steeper and thinner, then pulls the roof where it's just a bit bigger, and uses holds that are just slightly less positive to get over the roof.  If it was just a bit longer and more sustained it would be a totally classic route.  As usual, I ran up the route and got the redpoint, then Danny wanted to climb again, so he ran up the first 15 feet, then Amy TR'd the route and really enjoyed it.

Danny on Sam Adams

After that the kids were tired, so we packed up and headed home so that they could have their naps.