The Last Gasp
Febuary 3-12, 2001
It’s time for me to find a job. I quit Western November 3rd, and have had an enjoyable few months of climbing, relaxing, running, and looking for a job. A setback/disapoinment occured when I accepted a horrible, horrible job, that I quit just two weeks later. No paycheck was worth this job. But a bright glimmer of good came from my unexpected second round of unemployment. My freind Anne (in NYC, for you rec.climbers out there) sent me an email, she was sad that my job didn’t work out, but happy that I could spend the week she’d be in Nevada climbing with her. I had already started looking for a job again, but decided this trip would be my “last gasp” of freedom from the working world, and that upon return, I would immerse myself into the job search. That decided, I set out to have a great time and do as much as I could in 9 days. I think it turned out well.
Febuary 3- Starbucks is a great place to start a climbing trip. It was here that I met Matt and his kids, Grant (11) and Stephanie (14). I’d met Matt a few weeks ago at a 10K running race. He’s new to climbing, but his enthusiasm for the sport, and desire to learn is infectious. After getting a drink, we headed out to New Jack City, near Barstow California. Here we spent saturday and sunday reinforcing some of the skills he and his kids already had, learning more, and getting on a bunch of good climbs. Very enjoyable.
Sunday evening, we parted company, and I drove to Vegas. Anne was having dinner with a friend, so I killed a couple hours walking around the strip. A bizarre world Vegas is. Interesting to watch, but there are few places in the world that I feel more out of place than on the strip. A bad magic show and learning how Krispy Kreme donuts are made filled the time. A much needed shower, then bed.
Monday-We wake up, find a starbucks, then on to Red Rocks, just 20 minutes outside of town. It’s a late start by the time we gwet up, pack the truck, get breakfast, stop at Desert Rock Sports, so we decide on a four pitch 5.8 , Lotta Balls. 45 minutes or so of brisk walking in the hot sun finds us at the base of the route. Anne leads the first pitch, 5.6. She wanders off route a bit, but we find our way to the anchors. the second pitch is mine, it’s the namesake pitch for the climb. It’d got a section of otherwise smmoth rock, with these odd shiny protruding knobs, the size of half a marble. I lead off from the belay, clip the first two bolts, but I’m stymied above them. The moves are too strange, and I can’t get myself to commit. I lower to the anchor to muster some courage, and Anne offers to give it a shot, I accept, and she heads up. Past the bolts, she charges on. I’m mad at myself as I pull the moves on toprope, knowing I could have led the pitch, but let fear intrude. Two pitches of easy climbing gets us to the top, then a few short rappels and some scrambling gets us back to our packs. We get back to the car just after dark. After finding a campsite, we head to town for mexican food, then back to camp for sleep.
Anne and I Bouldering in St. George Utah
Tuesday- Mike (Anne’s friend), Anne and I all meet in the first pull out sometime tuesday morning. The route for the day is Olive Oil, 5.7, 6 pitches. The hike takes an hour or so, and when we get there, there is couple from New Hampshire about to get on the route. They seem pleasant,and are soon out of sight. Anne starts up the frist pitch, and she and I swing leads to the top. Mike solos (climbing ropeless) above us, taking pictures of us as we climb. the three of us laugh and joke the whole time, having a wonderful time. We topout at a leisurely pace. Fabulous climb. Hike down, sprinting to the parking lot to avoid the ticket for being there after 5. The three of us head into town for a beer, and Mike, noticing the wind and cold, has offered us spot on his floor. We accept, then drive out to retrieve out stuff from the campsite. My tent, sadly, has met it’s demise at the hands of the wind, shredded. R.I.P. A shower and bed at Mikes, and Starbucks in the morning. Softman style.
Weds- The weather is looking ugly, so nothing long today. We head out to the park, a late start with stops for starbucks and grocery shopping. We hike into the Panty Wall, filled with shorter sport climbs. I lead a couple, Anne pinkpoints one, then we toprope some harder stuff. By 12:30 the weather is looking really ugly, the wind is howling, and the temp is dropping. We bail. As we drive around the loop road, snow begins to fall. Into Vegas to find a warm hat (I’d forgotten mine) then we headed east, to St. George, Utah, in the southwest corner of the State. We pulled into Zion national PArk Late, cooked dinner, and patched my tent together with duct tape. And hoped it wouldn’t rain!!!
Thurs- A cold morning greeting us, but the views of Zion were spectacular. Warm breakfast called our name, so we went into Springdale and had a yummy one. It was too cold to climb in Zion, but Anne had never been there, so we drove through the park. Gorgeous. Stunning. All those other cliches. We drove to St George and found a climbing shop, where I picked up the local guidebook. a guy there suggested Black Rocks, which someone on rec.climbing had suggested too, so off we went. Black Rocks was fun sport climbing on solid basalt. Some neat moves between short pockets. And fun route names. “Moses had a stick clip” My Favorite- “And God Said to me ‘Stick it, Dude!” An enjoyable Sunny afternoon, I was in a t-shirt for most of it. The temperature dropped hugely as the sun went down, and the wind began to howl. We drove into town to get a pizza, drove out to the campsite,got out of the truck in the cold and wind, then drove back to town to get a $20 Motel.
Friday- We wake slowly. Both of us are a bit tired, but we drag ourselves from bed, have breakfast, and head to Pioneer Park, in St. George, for some bouldering on REALLY soft sandstone. A few hours of that, fun in the sun, we decide we’ve had enough, and head to Salem, Utah, where Michael Riches (rockrat on rec.climbing) lives. He’s not home yet, so we drive up to Provo, tour the BYU campus a bit, and find another coffee shop and read the paper. We fix dinner at Michael’s house, then hit the hay.
Saturday- The big day. The Wasatch Ice Festival. We gather out things, layer our clothing, and head up to Bridalveil Falls, just outside Provo. It’s an ice festival, that had 600-1000 (!!!!) people show up. We listen to a short clinic, gather our crampons and ice tools, and hike up the short but kinda steep approach. The whole area is covered in topropes, so we get in four climbs in short order. My technique sucks on ice, and I was tired pretty quickly. After the festival wraps up, we head back to Michales house. A little relaxing, change clothes. At 7:30 they had a gear raffle and slide show. I was really hoping for the tent (I need one now!) but I didn’t get it. =/ The slide show was cool. Mark Synnot and his adventures climbing HUGE walls in Baffin Island, Patagonia and elsewhere. Very cool pics. We went to dinner, then home to bed. Michael was called out on a rescue at 11 p.m., and didn’t get home till LATE.
L->R, Anne on Ice, Me on Ice, Mike about to clobber me with an ice axe.
Sunday- A very relaxed start. We let Mike sleep in late, then spend some time organizing gear, then drive up to the ice. It looks very different with 6 people there instead of 600. Mike’s wife, Jean, joins us, she’s never ice climbed before. We all take our turns, but with the late start, adn everyone being tired, nobody does much. Fun day.
the end- All good things must come to an end, and sadly, this trip did too. We Loaded the car, said thanks to Mike and Jean, and headed down the road. Stopping to sleep, we got to Vegas Monday mid-morning. I dropped Anne off at the airport, and drove home. Sad it had to end, but happy to have done it.