Thursday, October 11, 2012

Utah, 08/18/2012 - 09/03/2012

I have been working at my current job for a little over two years now which means that I am now elegible for a promotion to an ND-4 pay grade (GS 12 equivalent).  In order to get this promotion however, I have to complete some training requirements including two week long classes that are held at various military bases accross the US.  Of course the base where I work isn't big enough to offer these courses which means that I have to travel somewhere to attend.  I completed the first of these two courses in San Diego in July, and was planning on doing the second course at Port Hueneme in August, but the course at Port Hueneme filled up before I was able to register for it, and it turned out that the closest non-full course being offered aroud the same time frame ended up being at Hill Air Force Base in UT.  Soon after signing up for the class we found out that my brother Steven had set the date for his wedding and was getting married on September 1st which was a week after my course ended, so we decided to just take the whole faily up to UT for a full two and a half weeks.  Of course that meant climbing in UT.

We left for UT on the 17th of August and drove all the way to Maple Canyon where we planned on staying our first night so that we could climb there in the morning.  We arrived at Maple fairly late on Friday evening, so as you can imagine, the campground was full which just meant that we wouldn't have to pay for camping, awesome huh?

While we were looking for somewhere else to camp we had driven up the road past the campground, but being in a Hyundai Elantra, we didn't make it too far up the road before we got to some boulders that were just too big to go over, and the road was too narrow to turn around, so I just started backing up to where we could turn around and head back down the canyon.  As I was backing up, Danny started telling us "We gunna die" repeatadly.  It was halarious, we had to reassure him that no, we weren't going to die, and that Daddy could see where he was going.

Needless to say, we made it safely to where we could turn around, then drove back to the mouth of the canyon where we found a lovely pullout that worked for our campsite.

Now, Amy has only climbed in Maple a couple of times, and wanted to do something close where there were easy routes so that Danny could climb too, so after a quick breakfast of oatmeal, se headed to the schoolroom.

Luckily we were early enough that there weren't any other climbers in the schoolroom yet, so we started by climbing the easiest route there, a 5.4 called "Bobs Bolts".   Amy lead the route, then we set up a TR so that Danny could try climbing it, unfortunately, it was a bit steeper than what he was comfortable with, but he did make it to the first bolt.  After that we pulled the rope and I ran up to route to clean it.

Next up was the ultra-classic schoolroom route, a 5.10b called "The Big Kahuna".  The Big Kahuna gets its name from the huge cobble found right in the middle of the route just before the crux roof.  I lead the route and got the redpoint, although Amy was quite sad that I didn't actually use the big kahuna as a handhold.  Next Amy TR'd the route and almost got it cleanly.  She did have to rest once, but we'll just say that was because she's not used to pulling on cobbles.

Amy starting "The Big Kahuna" - 5.10b

Danny "swinging" on The Big Kahuna

After The Big Kahuna we moved one route to the right to what I thought I remembered Jason Stevens telling me years before was like a 5.11a or 5.11b.  Well that certainly wasn't right, I climbed it onsight and realized it was about a 5.8.  After looking it up, it turns out it was a 5.8 called "Hot 4 Teacher".  Amy lead the route getting the redpoint easily.

Hot For Teacher - 5.8


I realized that the route that Jason Stevens had told me was an .11a or .11b was actually one route further right of Hot 4 Teacher, but it had been extended since then and is now the longest route at The Schoolroom which is why I didn't recognize it (it used to be like 2 bolts to a single coldshut).  I decided that it was next up so I cruised it getting the onsight.  I'm going to have to say that it is easier than .11a or .11b, I thought it felt like a 5.10d with the crux between the second and third bolt, but in Darren's new guidebook the route is listed as a 5.10b called "The Horney Thing".  I'm going to have to say that it is definately harder than any of the other 5.10b's that I've done in Maple and I've done a lot of them.  The route was tons of fun however. The crux was kind of technical on slightly overhanging rock, then the route goes over several bulges before the final steep but juggy headwall guarding the anchors.  I think this is definately my new favorite route at The Schoolroom.

Pulling the crux of "The Horney Thing" - 5.10d

Higher up

And still higher

After climbing it, we let Danny put on his harness again and go swinging.  He always has a blast when we just haul him up overhanging routes and ths was no exception.  After his swinging, Amy ran up the route on TR and we moved onto our next route.

Danny swinging on The Horney Thing



Amy pulling the crux


Danny loves to help pull the rope

As I was belaying Amy up The Horney thing, I had noticed that there were two bolts on the roof to the right of The Big Kahuna and to the left of Hot 4 Teacher.  I thought that they looked fun, and since I thought the climbing on the lower section of Big Kahuna was better than on Hot 4 Teacher I linked up the lower two bolts of Big Kahuna with the two bolts on the roof, then continued over to the anchors on Hot 4 Teacher since the anchors above the two bolts were way back from the edge of the cliff and would have been horible to TR through.  I got the onsight, then Amy TR'd this linkup.  It turns out that the two bolts are part of a 5.10a route called "The Little Kahuna" which technically starts on Hot 4 Teacher and finishes at it's own anchors, but I think my linkup was better.

Big Kahuna - Little Kahuna - Hot for Teacher linkup - 5.10a?

On the crux overhang

Amy on the traverse from Big to Little Kahuna

After finishing my Big Kahuna - Little Kahuna - Hot 4 Teacher linkup, we packed up and headed to my parents house so that Amy could go to my new sister-in-laws Bridal Shower that was happening at 2:00 that afternoon.

Because of my training we weren't able to go climbing again until the following Wednesday after I got off work.  We haven't been climbing much in the Ogden area, but since we were staying in Clearfield we decided to check out Ogden Canyon.  We drove up the canyon checking out the different areas, but soon realized that pretty much everything there is right on the edge of the road.  Now this is great if you don't want any approach at all, but having two little kids with us, we decided that this wasn't the safest option for them, so instead, we headed to 9th Street wall in Ogden.

9th Street Wall sits up on the foothills directly above 9th street in Ogden (imagine that).  It was about a 10 minute walk up the hill, and luckily, we were late enough in the day that the wall was completely in the shade.  The rock was a gneiss (metamorphosed granite) and was slightly overhanging for most of the wall.  We decided to start on a 5.9 called "Shino".  The route was overhanging and pumpy (especially for a 5.9), and I ended up blowing the onsight when I couldn't figure out where to go at the crux.  After hanging I could see that there were holds on the overhanging arrete that weren't visable from below.  Next up, Amy TR'd the route and we moved on.

Shina - 5.9

At the crux



Our second climb was a 5.10d called "Midnight Cowboy".  This route was a really fun route that was pretty crimpy and technical with a small crux roof.  Once again, I blew the onsight and had to hang once at the crux before figuring out the moves.  Also once again, Amy followed on TR.

Starting "Midnight Cowboy" - 5.10d


At the crux


At this point Amy was pretty pumped since she's not too used to doing overhanging routes, but I wanted to try something a bit harder, so we decided that I'd just climb one final route before we left.  I chose what I thought looked like the best line on the wall, a 5.11c called "Vile of Crack" 

Vile of Crack followed three bolts out a huge roof before turning vertical for the last two bolts before the anchor.  The crux ended up being between the first and second bolts, and I had to hang several times before I figured out the moves.  By the time I was through the crux I was pretty much dead, so I just hangdogged the rest of the route to get to the anchors.  When I arrived at the anchors, I clipped a draw to them, but they were to the left of where I was standing, and I didn't have enough strength left to grab the draw and swing over to the anchors to clip them, so I had to do it without cheating;)  Unfortunately, right when I asked for slack to clip them, Danny decided to throw a fit and lay down on the rope causing Amy to short rope me after I got the first armfull of slack.  Now the anchors on the route were a bit runout from the last bolt considering that the first three bolts of the route were on a huge roof with very little hight gain, so I'm not going to lie and say that I wasn't worried about decking if I blew the clip.  Luckily, Amy was able to free the rope before I fell off and I was able to clip the chains without decking.

Starting "Vile of Crack" - 5.11c (unfortunately, the camera died right after this photo, and I had left the charger at my parents house, so we went the next few days without a camera)

That was it for our climbing in Ogden.  We headed to Costa Vida (our favorite fast casual mexican restaurant that is only in UT) for some dinner and called it a day.

Our next climbing excursion of the trip to UT happened on Friday the 24th.  I was supposed to have my training from 0800 - 1200, but we ended up only having 45 minutes of training, so we were able to hit the road by 0900 to do some climbing.  Because of the limited climbing options (especially kid friendly options) in the Ogden area we decided to head up to Salt Lake and hit up Big Cottonwood Canyon. We figured that Chalange Buttress is always a good spot for the kids, and since it was a Friday morning we thought that there would be something open. 

The west face of Chalange Buttress has a really fun 5.9 called "Hollow Man" that I thought would be a really good route for Amy to try leading, so we hiked around to the west face.  When we arrived we found that Hollow Man was occupied along with several other routes, which left us with really only one option for warming up, a 5.11b called "Winky and Waxman go Bolting".  Allthough the route is 5.11b, the crux is pretty much right off the ground for like two moves, then it's just a jughaul to the top.  I ran up the route getting the redpoint, and Amy TR'd it without too much difficulty.

After that, the group was still on Hollow Man, so we decided to try a new route that I had never seen before that was above Winky and Waxman go Bolting.  This route ended up being a really long 5.10b called "Better than Bitter".  The route was awesome.  It was overhanging for the whole route, and was very continuous in nature.  Needless to say, I blew the onsight because my endurance is so bad, and I had to take on the second to last bolt to rest my arms before finishing up the route.  Amy also enjoyed the route, but she didn't have the endurance to TR it cleanly either.  I think this is my new favorite route on the west face of Chalange Buttress.

Hollow Man was finally open at this point, but Amy felt too pumped to try and lead it, so I ran up it getting the redpoint, and Amy TR'd it.  Hollow Man is an awesome route because it's only 5.9, but it's slightly overhanging for the whole route, and it gives you a good pump.

At this point Amy was ready to go home, but I wanted to climb one more route so I jumped on a 5.11a called "Wrecking Ball".  I had climbed this route once before, but I definately didn't remember how to do the crux.  I had to hang for a bit as I tried to figure out the moves over the lip of the roof, but I finally got it and made it to the anchors.  Amy was too tired to even attempt this route, so we just packed up and headed to my Grandma's house for the afternoon for a visit.  Sorry about the lack of photos, but the battery for the camera died.

Because of all of the family stuff gong on we didn't get to do a whole lot of climbing on our trip, and the next time we were able to make it out was on Monday the 27th.  Once again we headed up Big Cottonwood Canyon, but this time we went to the Lower S-Curve Wall.  There is a nice overhung 5.9 there that I've always wanted to do, and that I thought would be a perfect route for Amy, but it's always occupied when we've climbed there.  I figured that it should be open on a Monday morning so that helped with making the decision on where to climb.

As I predicted there was noone at the wall which was a good thing because Danny had decided to slam his finger in the car door when we got to the parking lot, so he was crying and probably would have disturbed other climbers if they had been there.  We figured that at least we had ice from our watter bottles to put on it, and it would hurt just as bad there as anywhere else, so we just continued to the crag to go climbing.

First up was the 5.9 that I've always wanted to do.  The route is actually just the first pitch of a two pitch route called "Ionic Bonding" of which the second pitch is rated 5.11a.  I'm going to have to say that it's the steepest 5.9 I've ever seen, but it was good and juggy, so I got the onsight pretty easily.  I was hoping that Amy would lead the route, but she thought it looked to overhung, so she just TR'd it.

"Iconic Bonding" - 5.9

Just a bit steep for a 5.9 wouldn't you say?




For our second route of the day we just moved one route to the left to a 5.10d called "Clastic Cling".  This route started with an overhanging section through the first couple of bolts providing the crux, then deteriorated into a low angled hike past several more bolts to get to the anchors, at least the crux section was fun and thought provoking.  I onsighted the route and Amy TR'd it.

Starting "Clastic Cling" - 5.10d

Pulling the crux


Amy was ready to leave at this point, but I wanted to do a final route, so once again we moved over one route to the left to a 5.10b called "Melting Point"  This route was fun, varried, and looong.  The route started with some cruxy moves through the initial overhanging section before it turned into an easy low angled slab for a few more bolts, the rock kicked back again and was slightly overhung for a few bolts providing the .10b crux, then it continued through just less than vertical terrain until the anchors.  I got the onsight, but when I reached the anchors Amy told me that I was over half a rope length up so I had to rap the route in two raps from some midway anchors on another route to get down.  We then packed up and headed out so that the kids could have their naps.

The next day we were staying with my parents in Highland so we decided to hit up AF Canyon to get a few routes in.  We just went to The Membrane since there is zero approach and it's a nice area for the kids.  For our first route we did a 5.10a called "Drunken Midget".  This route is always a fun one and involves pulling a small roof between the second and third bolt for the crux, followed by some easier juggy climbing to the anchors.  We did this route because Amy has tried to get it cleanly on TR a couple of times, but hasn't yet been able too.  I ran up the route, then Amy tried TRing it and almost made it through the crux, but couldn't quite get it on her first attempt so she had to hang once.

Once Amy got to the anchors I realized that it would be easy for her to set up a TR on the 5.12a next to us to the left, so I told her to do so.  The route was called "26" and ended up being quite fun.  It started with some good juggy pocket pulling for the first two bolts, then you were hit with the crux at the third bolt where the rock just turned completly blank.  It took me several tries to figure out the moves, and granted I was on toprope, but with the position of the third bold, you'd be on TR through the crux on lead anyway, so I think that I would be able to redpoint this one without much work.  I really wanted to go back to this route later in our trip so that I could try and get the redpoint, but alas, between bad weather and my brothers wedding we weren't able to.

It was starting to get dark, so we decided to do one last route before we left and chose a 5.10b called "Kitchen Sink".  I had climbed this route back in December of last year, but had blown the onsight due to numb fingers, so I wanted to go back and redpoint it.  Unfortunately that wasn't going to happen.  I climbed the route just fine until the last bolt when the location of the bolt made me think that I was supposed to head right.  Unfortunately, if you head right towards the bolt, there are no more holds above it once you get there, and from your field of view you can't see the holds to your left.  I ended up having to hang so that I could figure out where to go, and now know that you should stay left of the last bolt to do the route.  Well, live and learn I guess.  Amy once again TR'd the route and didn't have the same problems as me since she now had the beta.  That was it for our climbing in AF Canyon on this trip.

On Wednesday we wanted to go to Maple Canyon again since it is just so much fun so we decided to drive there on Wednesday afternoon, do some climbing, camp, climb again in the morning, then head back to my parents to help with the wedding preparations.  My sister Stephanie decided to join us since she had never been climbing at Maple before. 

We drove out to Maple, payed for a campsite, then headed over to the Orangutan Wall to do some fun long easy routes. We started with the easiest route on the wall, a 5.6 called "Don't Feed the Monkey".  This route consists of a near vertical cobble jug haul for almost a full 100 ft.  I ran up the route and hung the draws for Amy and Steph, then they both went up and redpointed the thing.  I think it was Steph's first time leading and she did awesome.  Once the girls had climbed the route, Danny wanted a turn, so he TR'd the lower angled section through the first couple of bolts.

Steph on her first lead, "Don't feed the Monkey" - 5.6


Now it's Amy's turn

Danny rocking the cobbles

We decided to just work our way accross the wall and try to hit all of the routes before it got dark.  That meant that next up was "Primate Grooming Procedures" a supposed 5.7.  Now I've clibed this route before (many years ago), and I remember it being about 5.7, but I think something has changed because it fealt more like a 5.9 than a 5.7.  I redpointed the route, then both Amy and Steph did the route on TR, and both of them had to hang at the crux before figuring it out and I don't know when the last time either of them hung has had to hang on a 5.7.

Steph trying to figure out how to get through the crux of "Primate Grooming Procedures" - supposedly 5.7, fealt like 5.9

Our next route was "Full Moon Monkey", a 5.8 that definately fealt a full grade easier than Primate Grooming Procedures.  Once again I ran up the route and got the redpoint, then Steph TR'd the route, but then when Amy started up the route it started raining on us.  Now I'm not talking about a little sprinkle kind of rain, it was a full on downpour.  Considering how wet everything got, Amy did great on TR and made it to the anchors cleanly, I was impressed.  The only problem was the fact that now everything was soaked (including all of us).  It was still raining, so all the other routes on the wall were out of the question, but I had noticed that there were project draws on a 5.12c in The Pipeline, and since The Pipeline is so overhung, I figured that it would be a good place to go to get out of the rain.

The route with the project draws was called "Ethan Screams".  It was very overhung, but well protected, so I roped up and gave it a go. Now I didn't come anywhere close to doing the route cleanly, but I do feel that I did pretty well for the route being a full 4 grades harder than anything I've redpointed recently.  I had to grab all of the draws to clip, but I did manage to do the moves between the draws which is pretty amazing.  I didn't end up finishing the route though (I only made it to the last bolt).  By the time I got to the last bolt my arms were just so shot that I couldn't pull through to the anchors.  I did make it high enough that my feet were even with the last bolt a couple of times, but I still had a couple of feet until the anchors and I just couldn't hold on anymore, so I lowered off and neither Amy nor Steph wanted to try it.

It was getting dark outside, so it was time to go set up camp, but we were still soaked from the rain, and realized that we hadn't brought a change of clothes, so we decided to just head back to my parents instead of camping even though we'd already paid for the campsite.  So that was it for our climbing at Maple Canyon.  We only got two short days of climbing there, but it was still a ton of fun. As an added bonus, I picked up the new Maple guidebook while we were in UT, so that is pretty cool. I've been waiting for this guide fo at least 6 years now, hearing rumors that it was just about done the whole time, but the book was certainly worth the wait and is amazing.  I'd suggest that anyone heading to Maple Canyon should pick up a copy (it's the one by Darren Knezeck, not the Wolverine Press one).

Since we weren't in Maple Canyon the following morning we ended up heading to Provo to visit my sister Chantale.  We also had plans that evening to have dinner with one of my best friends who also lives in Provo, so we decided that between the visit with Chantale, and dinner with Scott, we'd head up Rock Canyon to get a few routes in.  Because of the kids and the shade situation we decided to just do a few routes in The Kitchen.  When we were hiking up the canyon we saw a bunch of cops on the road below Superbowl wall and we weren't sure if there was some kind of training going on or what, but it turns out that I guess they found a body there of somebody who had fallen and died, crazy huh.

We arrived at The Kitchen and started by climbing the easy 5.6 corner the right side of the wall with the very interesting name of "Right Corner".  I was hoping that Amy would want to lead it since it's an easy trad route, but she was feeling a bit worn out, so I led the route and Amy TR'd it.

For our second route at The Kitchen we did my favorite route there, a 5.8 called "Double Jam" which as you can imagine, follows a double crack system up the center of the wall.  The route is tons of fun because it's only 5.8, but the crux involves perfect hand jams through an overhanging section of rock.  I like it.  Anyway, I redpointed the route and Amy TR'd it.

For our final route of the day, and of the trip for that matter, we did the 5.9 in the left corner of The Kitchen, which as you may have guessed, is calle Left Corner. This route goes through the same overhanging section of rock as Double Jam, but it uses a finger crack instead of a hand crack which is why it's more difficult.  I was ticked when I fell off the route at the crux because of a lack of chalk in my bag.  Right where the route is the steepest, the crack widens to between off fingers and ring locks size, but there is a slopey face hold that you can use, so I took that option.  The only problem was that the rock was hot and my hands were sweaty, so I tried to chalk up, but there wasn't enough chalk in my bag to get any on my palms where I needed it.  I tried a couple of times, but if I got my body high enough to put my left foot on the next hold I would start slipping because there wasn't enough friction, and I eventually fell off.  After drying my hands off on my pants and using both hands to get the chalk onto my palms, I was able to pull through the crux without a problem.  I am not one of those people who can climb without chalk.  Amy went up the route on TR, then we packed up and headed to the Bombay House to have dinner with my friend Scott and his family.

We had hoped to do some more climbing on Friday and/or Saturday, but between the wedding preparations and bad weather we weren't able to get out again.  Overall it was a good trip and I feel like we were able to do quite a bit of climbing especially considering that it was both a business trip, and a trip to my brother's wedding.  



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