Man it literally hurts just typing this cause I have a blood blister on my index finger but who cares cause my stoke tank from HCR is still full and I am excited to write about this amazing place that I have fallen in love with so buckle up kids it’s time for another trip report. Also I'm still as long winded as ever so there's a TL:DR section below.
HORSESHOE CANYON RANCH (HCR)
Some basics and admin stuff about HCR first
Now that that’s out of the way it’s time for me to unnecessarily recount everything that happened in those four days chronologically in great detail.
Sketchy van left campus around 4pm on Friday and since we’d reach HCR pretty late we figured we’d save the $25 on camping and just sleep at a Walmart in Branson. The weather was oddly warm but pretty welcomed at this time of the year. None of us really slept all that well for those few hours but this is what we get of being cheap.
At the crack of dawn we left Walmart and took the windy road into HCR. Take note that the road in isn’t all that bad but there are some sections which are quite steep and if it was muddy the drive may not be all that pleasant (I think sketchy van may have had troubles getting out if it was raining). As with Jackson there are potholes in certain areas and you may want to keep your eyes on the road if you don’t have a decent amount of clearance.
A little after sunrise we met up with the rest of the gang at the West Campground just up the hill from the Trading Post and bought our climbing passes to get ready for some climbing. We had quite a group (~20 of us) which I don’t know how it came to be but I just added a lot of people who said “I’m interested” and here we are. We were generally split in 3 groups; the big kids (Eric, Dylan, Mina and Logan) who were getting on some hard stuff, the crack boys (Peter and Mihail) who were getting crusty the whole trip and the rest who were a mix of regular and newbie climbers. I was trying to push myself and so I tried to stick with the big kids and I’m glad I did cause I pushed my limits trying to keep up with them.
Our first crag was The North Forty, which is the largest area in HCR and boasts over 100 sport climbs in the area, mostly in the easy to moderate range. I paired up with Eric and tried to knock out as many climbs as we could. Started out with Groovy (5.10b) which is just 5.8 climb with a 10a/b boulder start. We then made a bad move of immediately hopping onto Crimp Scampi (5.10d) which is supposedly one of the best climbs in the crag but personally I didn’t enjoy it all that much. Both of us pumped ourselves out more than we liked to and didn’t get the send so that was a bummer. A good thing however was that the route was popular enough to get permadraws throughout which was a pleasant surprise.
Then came the highlight of the day which was Circus Wall, a section of North Forty with a good concentration of quality climbs, and completely hung with permadraws which was fantastic. Eric convinced me to hop on Fat Hand (5.12a) which was a decently pumpy climb with ~V3 boulder problem start. The start is a little height dependant and it was quite frustrating, but checking off my second 12a was a great feeling. We then moved on to Big Top (5.11c) right to the left which I thought was much more fun and managed to clear with only one take. Also Dylan managed to rodeo the first clip of Fat Hand in one big swing and it was pretty cool.
After that we still managed to pack in a few more climbs. Some easier but quality ones were Green Goblin (5.8), First Normal Form (5.9), Season of the Storm (5.10a). We also did Sonny Jim (5.11a), a really good climb with a cool roof problem at the end of a nice slab. And perhaps the coolest route in that area was Lavender Eye (5.12a) which was very aptly named because one section had a lavender colored oval which looked like an eye and it was one heck of a roof problem. Eric managed to get it but I got shut down after a good half hour of fighting and swearing and ripping my fingers. It was so painful to get through the crux but run out of strength to make the clip right in front of my face. But nonetheless I’m glad I did try it and I’m waiting to get my revenge on it. Also Dylan finished the route but he may have left out some key details ;)
The climbing in the day was great and the night did not disappoint either. Perks of being in the middle of buttfuck nowhere is that there is minimal light pollution and the night sky is incredible. The temperature took quite a dip but we had a good fire going to keep us warm, good food to fill our tummies, and a whole bunch of shenanigans to keep us entertained. One thing about climbing in November was that sunset was ~5pm and it felt much later than it seemed, so we were out cold around 9pm and most of us slept all the way through the morning.
Boy I could feel my fingers throbbing but there was climbing to be done so I sucked it up and powered through. After some tasty pancakes in the morning the main group headed towards The Far East which had a good number of routes too. Eric and I started off on Gracie’s Eight (5.8) which had a huge bivvy ledge. We then got on a classic and my favorite climb of the day – Horseshoes and Hand Grenades (5.11a), which had a nice crux section down low and pretty cool moves. Eric then proceeded to fight it out on what was allegedly the best 5.12 in the canyon, Super Soul Sure Shot (5.12c), which featured a crimpy start and a crazy gaston crux in the middle. Eric crushed it and I made a mistake of thinking I could possibly do it too but simply ended up ripping the skin on my fingers and not even being able to do it (I TR assisted the starting crimp section and couldn’t even do the crux by French Freeing).
After a terrible defeat I proceeded to repair my ego by climbing Orange Crush (5.9) which was the tallest climb on the furthest part of the canyon, and it is famous for having the best view of the canyon which I agree. It is quite a view to take in and you should definitely bring a camera when going up. This route is also over protected so you can bring 14 draws or just skip a few close ones to get up.
To end off the day we headed to Roman Wall, which featured vertical faced routes up to ~40 feet up, followed by a pretty crazy roof past the ledge for a few climbs. We were all eyeing Maximus (5.12a), a 30 foot roof overhang up to a roof for the finish. You can get to Maximus via a classic arete problem Commodus (5.10a) to the belay ledge. Dylan, Logan and Mina went first so Eric and I got on Boronocus (5.11c) which was a less intense overhang but still loads of fun on a rather long route.
Eventually I went up Maximus but my skin was absolutely bare and chalk literally would not stick on my fingertips (plus I was still feeling terrible from Super Soul Sure Shot) so I couldn't stick the crux and it was quite a bad way to end the day, but well I think I was just happy to have tried. Eric subsequently went ahead to cruise through the crux and finish up the climb.
Jared's car had to leave early so after dinner they left for Champaign, while the rest of us cuddled by the campfire cause it was getting real cold. The major highlight of the night was Logan showing us that he could totally do Danger Can in one hit and said "It's cause you guys don't commit enough" and then proceeded to smash the can on his head and not break open the can. It was probably the best thing we saw all trip. Mihail and Logan proceeded to go late night bouldering while we all got an early night.
After a day of defeat I decided to slow it down with pushing myself on the hard stuff. We warmed up at Roman Wall again where I did Sybarite (5.9) and then lead Commodus since I top roped it the day before. Mina was feeling strong and so she led and almost onsighted Boronocus which was awesome. We headed over to Middle East area where I go on Nipple Stimulation (5.10a) simply because of the name.
We then headed to Titanic Boulder on the other side of the canyon and got herded by the dog and also saw a whole bunch of goats (including one with obscenely big testicles).
While passing by campsite we saw a bunch of trash and realized that the last group to leave did not clear up and left some food stuff and a load of garbage out. Not cool. Especially since the goats were so near our campsites they could have easily raided it and attracted other animals too. Plus it's a huge no-go for simply have bad camping etiquette so we cleaned it up and gave the group a lil trash talk that night.
Now for the highlight of the trip. Eric, Dylan and Logan got on Cradle of the Deep (5.13a) which was this crazy problem up this fin on the side of the free-standing Titanic Boulder. If you're wondering why it's called that, the next picture should do a good job explaining.
Watching the big boys get on Cradle of the Deep was pretty intense. It looked like it was way out of my reach but I'd be up to try it sometime in the future once I get stronger. If you're intending to do it, bring a stick clip because the belay ledge has a 15 foot drop off and it's not gonna be fun to fall off on lead. Logan and I managed to rodeo backclip the first bolt so we gave up. Also listening to Logan climb and get angry/excited on a climb is hilarious and I highly recommend everyone to climb with him just to listen to it.
In the mean time, Mina and I also got on two easier climbs, Ship of Fools (5.10a) and Portside (5.10d). Ship of Fools was a straightforward climb with a bouldery start, while Portside was probably the coolest climb I did the entire trip.
To end off the day, we went to Prophecy Wall which is where the only 5.14a of the canyon is found (The Prophet, FA by Chris Sharma in 2005). I jumped on Taliban Soup (5.11b) and managed to bump my hardest onsight grade which really made my day. Eric did Egyptian Airbus (5.12c). Both climbs were slabby up to the roof and had some pretty big moves, but nothing too difficult. Apparently Egyptian Airbus had a huge dyno move which Eric clearly didn't do so it was rather disappointing. Mina and Dylan also got on Learning to Fly (5.10c) which was a sustained slight overhung route and we finished that climb which was a great way to end the day.
We got back to campsite for dinner, and after some convincing from Logan about the best boulder problem he ever did in his life, a bunch of us decided to join him for late night bouldering at Idaho Boulders. Logan brought us to this problem called Make You Cuss (V2) that features super cool layback smearing which is great on a high friction day like ours. He then began to describe this incredible process of sending the problem after many attempts and how it will forever be his favorite route, making a bold statement that if someone flashes it he will start walking home.
Eric then flashed the problem.
Okay so Logan stayed but still it was one of the funniest things we ever saw (the title of this trip report also came from a conversation that night). I never got up Make You Cuss cause I suck at smearing but I think I'd like to try it if my fingers are in better shape. We also tried a couple of V0s around before moving on to another area, stopping by some classics along the way such as Grand Dragon (V7) and other boulder problems that are pretty much impossible.
Towards the end we were all pretty pooped from just climbing so much, but we all tried The Crescent (V3) which was a cool slabby problem with a huge crescent sidepull thing on the right. Eric made quick work of it and the rest of us struggled quite a bit. Logan eventually sent it but that involved saying "One Last Time" like 15 times and every attempt at a different beta was actually the same beta we were telling him. But it was still great that he finally got the send. Also throughout this Mihail was just sleeping on a root and didn't even care that he became a crash pad.
The last day was a slow one cause of the bouldering plus we had to pack up the site and that we had an 8 hour drive back. We packed up and left for Mullet Buttress near the north side of the crag where Eric and I got on Business in the Front (5.10b) for warming up and I hopped on Mixed Max (5.11c) which is pretty cool and I'd recommend Mixed Max if you're hitting up the area.
But the real highlight for the last day was Goat Cave, an area of overhung routes that due to low popularity, has been overrun by goats and since there are no plants on the ground in the cave, the sea of goat shit has been there forever. FYI this extends to free standing boulders being covered in poop it was horrible. But to make up for this, Goat Cave had some pretty amazing climbs. Huge plus points that they're all permadraws for convenience.
Mina got the ball rolling with Anal Sac Expression (5.10c) which is the easiest climb in the cave. This one starts on top of the boulder and you'd want to stick clip it to prevent some serious falls if you miss the first clip. Eric did some crazy stuff on Austrian Ass Attack (5.12a) which starts off with some serious hand jamming and leads up to a big roof, which Dylan also finished afterwards. I did Mexican Sac Pull (5.11b) that was rather straightforward overhang stuff too.
Eric's car had to run off afterwards so I belayed Dylan on what I believe was Man Junk (5.12b) and it involved a lot of climber-belayer love entanglement. The crux was definitely down low and it seemed like an intense start. Dylan then convinced me to do Ride the Short Bus (5.11d). This climb starts on the tip of a sharp boulder so stick clipping the first bolt is a yes. It was kind of frustrating because at the edge on my tip toes I barely reached the crimps before I have to campus to a jug and I was not able to do it, so I instead had to dyno for the jug, whereas Dylan kinda just reached for it. But once I got the first jug, it was pretty smooth sailing from there getting through the low crux and eventually the sweetest roof I've done so far into a nice juggy finish. Dylan hopped on after to send the route and it was dope.
With the climbing done we got some final pictures of HCR and set sail back to Champaign. Sketchy van stopped by El Sombrero in Lebanon, Missouri which I'd dare say had as good salsa and food as El Tequila in Vienna, and at almost a dollar or two cheaper. If Mexican food sounds good after 4 days of climbing, this is the place.
And that concluded my virgin trip to HCR! It was definitely an eye opening experience and I am grateful to have had great weather on some quality climbs with fantastic company. Kind of crazy looking back at my first trip report last year in the Red and realizing how much I've improved. I'm nowhere near being the strongest climber in my community (however I define that) but it's amazing to know that I have improved both physically and mentally. Thank you to everyone who made this trip possible and I can't wait to see what the next trip has in store for us.
What is up boys and girls apparently when I took up the role of tech chair and started doing trip reports to encourage people to write about adventures it actually meant I'm the only one who's actually gonna bother writing them but well here we go.
How in the damn world did I not visit this freaking amazing place for the raddest day of climbing and partying ever. Note that this trip report is gonna be about the competition (The Fifth Testament) but if you're looking for more beta on the climbing and camping etc I'm sure mountain project has more info.
So a bit on the history:
This past weekend I was down at the Holies for my very first time (but most certainly not my last) reppin the U of I with club members past and present. Along with Reuven, Lance, Conor and Paige, we loaded up sketchy van with 5 crash pads and drove down Friday night. The path in is much better paved than Jackson but take note of animals at night that like to live life on the edge by moving into the path of a 1 ton vehicle (we almost hit a hawk I say again a FLYING BIRD not some deer imagine having the ability to soar hundreds of feet in the sky and almost die on the road getting hit by a sketchy van). Note that the competition venue is not the same as the normal access so follow directions in accordingly. Had dinner along the way and got into the campsite around 11 to set up our tents. Fun fact sketchy van's rear tires got mud stuck in the threads and couldn't back out from the little slope on the grass so 7 guys had to push her back out to the straight path. Fun stuff. I hung out by the campfire to chat with a couple of people from Columbia, Missouri for a bit and went to sleep after I decided I smelled of enough burnt wood.
First thing I woke up at 7.30am and was confused why I ended up in Silent Hill but it was just a mist that was passing through. Quite the bummer for my first time at the Holy Boulders but still we didn't let that get in our way. Bagels were provided by First Ascent and coffee by Steam Shovel. After the registration admin and welcome speech, we were off to start the competition!
Some competition deets:
As per Reuven's recommendation I did Circuitmaster with him and it was awesome. Unlike the other categories, we got to try out a lot more problems (albeit easy ones) and still we barely got around half of the places we intended to do. Reuven got 24 and I got 27 total, mostly V0s and a few V1-3s. It's much less than expected but fair enough conditions were far from ideal and we ended up spending more time on easy problems than we wanted to. Highlights for me were Mollusk (V2), Lowrider (V3) and Sukha (V3, which I unfortunately could not send but will be back for). I believe Paige was doing beginner while Lance and Conor were doing intermediate/advanced on some crazier problems.
A cool thing about the comp is that there are so many people working on problems in the area so there was no lack of crash pads; everyone was super friendly and chill about sharing, not to mention very supportive to give encouragement and proper spotting for fellow climbers. A thing to note however is that if you are doing Circuitmaster, it's ideal for you and a partner to move together and each bring a crash pad, cause if you're moving around quickly, the less popular problems may not have people there and you'll need your own pads.
Around 4pm we got back and tallied up our scores and submitted them, then got ourselves some tasty dinner (pulled pork sandwich with sides ~$10). Everyone gathered around the stage area as prize presentation took place. For reference, Reuven and I scored ~4000 points, and the first place of Circuitmaster was 80 climbs with 15,000 points, so we were not remotely close. Next was the sweet raffling/schwagiving's where Lois snagged a stray bag of loose chalk while I managed to deadpoint the dyno for a Prana chalk bag.
Now for the best part - the after party. I am still disappointed that so many club members didn't come for the comp or at the least for the party but well they're the ones missing out cause it was dope. Won't say too much but there may have been:
A lot happened that night and I couldn't remember too much other than waking up like 4 times throughout the night to take a leak, but I reckon it was a wild party.
Next morning the rain began to roll in so we decided to bail and head home early. Driving out in the day was a treat though, with the road out looking like a yellow tunnel with the lovely fall colors at its peak. We stopped by Carbondale for some brunch at Harbaugh's Cafe and I highly recommend it. There's good reason why it was a full house; fantastic food and great service at a reasonable price. Highly recommend it if you're passing through (they're only open till 2pm though).
And that's a wrap! My first time to the Holy Boulders was fantastic and I can't wati to come back. I just want to end off with something that really stood out for me the night of the party (in my potentially less than sober state that I still remember). I was talking to Doug from the ICA board and he mentioned that more than a fund raiser, this is really just an event to get the tribe together and have a good time. And that word really struck me - 'tribe'.
Jackson and Holy Boulders aren't really premier climbing destinations; it certainly isn't up there with places like the Red or Yosemite. Yet there is that sense of attachment to these places beyond it's rock quality and familiar roads for me. The people who make up this climbing tribe here in Illinois, whether they still live here or have moved on, still continue to care deeply for this place that we treasure, and for the people who they share it with. At the Holies, it didn't seem like a gathering of a few hundred strangers who came to climb and win. Rather it seemed almost like a reunion of this massive extended family, who are all connected to one another in some way. This feeling of inclusiveness from the tribe, and at the same time, exclusiveness of being part of this unique tribe, is something that I have never really felt before, and I am thankful to have been a part of this.
A huge shoutout to the ICA for organizing this amazing competition and beyond that, for the effective management and preservation of our climbing areas that we sometimes take for granted. Thanks to Philip and Kate for allowing all of us to access their private property and hosting hundreds of people for such a great event. And of course, thank you to the U of I fam, past and present, for continuing to support the Holy Boulders.
So I went to Horse Pens 40 Bouldering area in Steele AL last weekend. I don't have any pics, but here is a link to some of the so called "moderates":
It was really hot, and I was out of shape, so I didn't climb much. We were just about the only ones there though except for two solo guys on different days). Ha! actually, on Sunday before I left I met Austin there (he was the strong asian boulderer that used to go to the gym). He apparently knows my buddy colin now since they both live in Huntsville. Crazy. Anyway, there is some really cool lookin' stone there.
I went to Little Rock City over spring break, which I thought was a little better, but HP40 is definitely worth a trip. The only downside was I thought the camping was a little expensive; $10/person/night (you can cram 8 people into a 2 bed hotel room for that). They do have free showers though (as do hotels).
I also went to Looking Glass Mountain and Rumbling Bald Mountain with T a few weeks prior to that. Great trad climbing, and the most aesthetic place I've ever climbed. I didn't lead too much cause it was the first time I was out in a month +. That was my first real experience with multipitch too which was great. There are some pic of that on facebook if you want to look. There's one picture that looks like I'm trying really hard and looks bad ass, but I am actually on take, and just pissed and squinting out the sun. haha, hardest 5.10 I've ever been on (dum dee dum dum)
I also will be staying in Lexington KY the next couple of years, so if ANYBODY IS GOING TO THE RED...
So for the past month I have been wandering around Austria, visiting friends, hiking, climbing and eating very well. Sadly, less climbing than hiking but it has still been super. Something I have really come to enjoy while touring some of the endless mountain with names that sound like your trying to cough up a cat, are fixed rope climbs. Here they are called "Kletersteigs" (I am not responsible for any injuries resulting from trying to say this word). I had no idea what they were before this summer so I will explain for the people’s sake. So you have a normal harness on and attached to it are two elastic slings with carabiners at each end. Helmet and Gloves are also a good idea. Then you start up the designated route, climbing on bolted metal rungs. Alongside of the rungs there is a hefty cable to which you attach both of your biners into. Every 10 feet or so the cable is bolted into the face, and you have to unclip and reclip the biners around this point. ONE CARABINER AT A TIME PLEASE. Anyway, the climb goes on in this manner until you reach the top where there is a hike down. Yesterday, I hit up a 1000 feet "Kletersteig". It had overhanging sections as w ell as vertical sections without metal rungs. For climbers it isn't necessarily a huge challenge but its a great work out if your trying to maintain climbing strength. Has anyone heard of or done one of these before? I know there is something similar up the back of Half Dome in Yosemite.
Starstruck - The first people I climbed with here in Austria turned out to be some kind of super hero family. The father is a professor of Bio-Mechanics at the University of Graz. He has the coolest job in the world. He does research on the human body while it is doing extreme sports. Skiing, climbing, gymnastics and everything else. He designed the profile of the most state of the art ski jump in the world and has changed the style of ski jumping through his research. Apart from this he rocks every sport, writes travel books and his name his Wolfram...Could it get any cooler? The daughter is a sponsored free skier who is dating the Austrian bouldering champion, Zlu Haller (in the upcoming movie "Get Naturized" and who previously dated Anna Stohr). And the mother kicked my ass while were climbing... Obviously I fell in love with them immediately and was lucky enough to spend the next week with Zlu and Romy (the Skier-climber Extraordinar duo). We went bouldering next to crystal clear mountain streams rode in rumbling technicolor V W Hippy Vans and drank beer who's recipe hadn't changed since 1500. One day we climbed at a crag who's name I don't remember and as I walked up to the face a saw a professional looking photographer suspended about 50 feet up. I thought this was mighty strange and asked Zlu what was going on... Ten minutes later we found out that Adam Ondra, Patxi Usobiaga Lakunza and Ramon Julian Puigblanque (the three top sport climbers in the world) were climbing there. Adam Ondra looks absolutely nothing like a climber, more like an 8th grader that is awkwardly tall. But damn could he climb. I was too chicken to talk to him but we did we an intense moment of eye contact. Listening to the guttural cries and curses of climbers in (or some type of Slavic language) is hilarious... I recommend it. I hope everyone has been climbing hard this summer, or at least slacklining. I'm looking forward to the next semester at UIUC and all of the crazy fun, supper chill stuff climbing club will accomplish.
P.S. I want a trip report from Kevin and Chrissy.
I just send you this Email to share some pictures of our Yosemite trip. I spent the first 2 weeks of June in the Valley with Laurent and Xavier, 2 friends of mine from France.
During the first week, we climbed the Nose on El Capitan. We spent 4 days and 3 nights on the wall. It was a first real experience of big wall for both of us, and a great adventure! The route is superb, especially the upper part! While we slowly made our way on the wall, we were passed by some aliens like Alex Honnold and Ueli Steck trying to break the speed record on the Nose, or some others guys who did the route twice in a day......
Then Laurent had to go, and I stayed one more week in the Valley with Xavier to climb some moderate classics. We climbed:
- Royal Arches route, a 15 pitches not too hard route with a lot of scrambling and ledges (not my favorite route of the trip)...
- East Buttress on Middle Cathedral Rock, a really beautiful route on orange and grey granite, easy to protect: we loved it!
- Regular route on Higher Cathedral Spire: an adventurous short route (5 pitches) with route finding and some hard 5.9(!?!?!) variations!
- Freeblast, the first 10 pitches of Salathe Wall on El Cap, the best free route of the trip!
- Central Pillar of Frenzy on Middle Cathedral Rock, a short but really good route, with tons of cracks from finger to off-fist size!
During the last day, before driving back to Reno via Tioga Pass, we also gave some ridiculous burns on Midnight Lightning (the famous boulder problem in Camp IV) and Generator Crack (a classical offwidth/chimney along the road...).
In addition, I'd like to say that two things made this trip possible for me:
- The Club owns gears for this kind of vertical journey and easily lent them... It's a chance we have, and that it's not like that in every climbing club...
- Without the 2 cracks at the ARC, it probably would have been impossible for me to climb these routes full of cracks!... So yes, this wall is short, but they are some really good opportunities to get basic jamming skills on it. Don't miss them, climb a crack! :o)
This started out as a long Trip Report. Then I realized that there were enough things that happened that I could expound on, that I could make this a Very Long- but instructional- Trip Report.
Note that most the links wrapped. Do this: right click, then "open in new window". Then you can cut and paste the rest of the link into that new window. Werks fer me.
If you are new to climbing, there are multiple things in here that might be of interest to you. Feel free to read up, and ask questions about anything at tomorrow's meeting (Tuesday, 7pm, DKH).
If you aren't new, you can read anyway.
If wordy TR's aren't your thing, feel free to skip straight to the images. http://ice.prohosting.com/thebud/november2004/Page.html -Andy.
"Mit-tens! Mit-tens!" We were planning for a chilly weekend in Southern Illinois. We had stopped by Rob's garage to pick up some club gear that he had set out for us. After grabbing the stove and tent, I recommended that Amanda grab the club's ridge rest that was laying across the wooden canoe that Rob had constructed by hand. After all, the closed cell foam pads insulate better than the inflatable therm-a-rests, and not having one could mean long cold nights. Since we had two nights ahead of us, we came prepared.
We'd even stopped at Champaign surplus so Amanda could pick up a new pair of gloves. I mentioned that mittens were actually warmer by nature, so she found a pair that fit her well and shelled out the forty dollars. Forty Dollars??! Jeez...
By the time Chris (Majerczyk) had picked us up and the three of us drove down to Jackson, it was about 10:30. We pulled into one of the lesser known, nicer camping areas at Jackson with time enough to set up a tent and crash. It was rather chilly already, so we bundled up before getting out of the car. Amanda proudly declared to noone at all, "I have new mit-tens." As we were planning to be there for two nights, I brought my climbing pack in the tent and unloaded the cache of cold weather clothes I had brought. Chris slept in the bed of his truck atop his ingenious construction that created a loft above two long drawers that carried all of his climbing gear. Amanda and I set the closed cell pad on top of the thermarests to create the most comfortable cold weather camping solution possible.
The next morning, everyone was feeling pretty lazy. We each woke up a few times, listened carefully for movement from others, and after hearing no sound, went back to sleep. By the time we got out and stretched in the brisk morning, grabbed some food, and were ready to go, it was 9:30am. I hate early mornings, so that was fine by me.
I was expecting the day to be frigid, but by the time we had walked to "the Vow", abandoned it as a waterfall, and back over to "Group Therapy" to warm up our arms, the sun was already shining bright and warming up the morning. Part of the art of being warm is heat maintainence. I remember Nathaniel expounding on this topic thoroughly when we were climbing in North Carolina. While on a NOLS trip, he informed me that when you feel yourself even start to sweat, even if it's cold outside, you need to unzip your coat a little. If you sweat, you'll moisten your clothes. When you stop working, and need warmth, you need to prepare for your body cooling off by adding a layer. If you've allowed yourself to sweat profusely due to too many layers, you'll only have cold wet clothes to put on. There is a delicate balance between too warm and too cold, and it takes some careful planning and layering to be able to regulate between them efficiently.
Chris climbed first, and hung the draws for me. He was quick to notice that climbing routes requires more endurance than bouldering sessions are likely to build. On my turn, I milked the rest at the fourth bolt as I always do, finishing the route and lowering off. The rope was running through the monster lobster claws that dangle at the end of the chains, as those are suitable enough to Toprope directly through. (Had there only been chains hanging, I would have needed to leave carabiners clipped to the chains, as excessive toproping through chains wears on them rapidly.) I left a couple quickdraws midroute, clipped to the rope Amanda was about to toprope on. This allowed her to fall off the overhanging wall without having to fight her way back to the climb. She would unclip those as she passed them. (Although she would also try climbing past one of them without unclipping, which doesn't work so well.)
As group therapy would prove not to be Amanda's "style" of climbing ;) she lowered off to let the quickly forming masses have a run, a most kind gesture. One of the guys volunteered to retrieve our draws for us, so we pulled the rope. He led the route, clipped the lobster claws, and proceeded to downclimb the route, cleaning his gear as he went. Downclimbing routes is a great technique builder. Downclimbing group therapy is just plain hard. He gave us our Quickdraws back and we headed over towards Railroad.
We ran into friends of Chris' all the way. He happened to know a guy named Kipp who was busy bolting a new route. Evidently, Kipp had found another rope to use since another one he was using for this had gotten stolen. It is common practice for people to leave ropes hanging as they are estabolishing new routes. These static ropes were likely fixed (ie, tied to the anchor with a knot) but somehow someone managed to swipe the rope and cam that was being used to protect a portion of the route as it was being worked. If that person were to be found, bad things would happen. Swiping fixed gear is not advised.
I immediately thought of one of my first times climbing at Jackson Falls. Someone had quickdraws hanging all the way up a hard route (Read: 5.13). That someone, who I'm now indebted to, though I never discovered their identity, was nowhere to be seen. My young climber's mind immediately assumed those draws had been abandoned. I reasoned that the climber had gotten in over his or her head, and was unable to retrieve the quickdraws. So another climber with the group and I began to stick clip our way up the route. I managed to swipe two draws, which I proudly proclaimed as "booty" before deciding that even stick clipping 5.13 was too much work and abandoned the efforts. It was some time before I realized that the draws were intentionally left hanging because the route was someone else's project. That someone else intended to come back and attempt the route on a day when they were feeling fresh and strong. I am forever guilty of snagging someone else's gear, an ethicly poor decision that is truly deserving of a butt-whooping. Unfortunately, I have been Unable to find the owner of that gear. Bad form Andy, bad form.
Our Trio pursued onward to Railroad rock. Amanda wanted to lead a route today, so we walked through the hallway to the 5.8 route (name unknown) that ascends flakes to the anchor. She was a bit uneasy about heading up the route straight-away so for the second time, Chris played the role of ropegun.
After lowering off the two quickdraws he had clipped to the chains (with the rope end biners opposite and opposed) he untied the figure eight follow through and pulled the rope out of his harness. He then proceeded to sit down to take of his shoes, as Amanda began pulling the rope.
I looked more than halfway up to the route to see the tail of the rope dangling, with the first half of a figure eight still tied in the rope. "Ack! Stop!!" I blurted, fully realizing that at that point, there isn't anything you can really do. We all shared a still silence and our glances met as we all knew that this was not right. "Maybe we can just pull it through anyway," Chris offered. We tried, but to no avail. Now Amanda had to lead on the end of the rope that was coiled in the rope bag. She would have to unclip the snagged rope as she led, before she could clip her lead end of the rope into the quickdraw. In this case, it wasn't a terribly awful situation, but in other circumstances (like multipitch or climbs taller than half the length of the rope) this would have turned into an epic nightmare. Here are some pictures of amanda leading over the other rope. Notice how the other rope is clipped above her, while she has unclipped it before clipping her lead rope below her: http://ice.prohosting.com/thebud/november2004/original/amanda% 20leading.jpg http://ice.prohosting.com/thebud/november2004/original/amanda% 20leading1.jpg This one shows the knotted rope at the anchor: http://ice.prohosting.com/thebud/november2004/original/amanda% 20leading2.jpg Here is Chris's look of "I can't believe we pulled the rope with a knot still in it, the sun is in my eyes, and you're taking pictures of me": http://ice.prohosting.com/thebud/november2004/original/chris% 20belaying.jpg
While Amanda was on that climb, I was looking slightly askance at one of Jeff Frizzle's new climbs on the arete to the right of "Wild at heart." I pondered that route while cutting slices off of my enormous sausage (which for some reason bore the brunt of numerous jovial retorts this weekend).
I offered to hang the draws on that one. The sequence screwed me up a bit, and I ended up doing a powerful tall highstep arete move to get around it. Chris, on the other hand, being much wiser, evaded that little maneuver by discovering more delicate, yet surmountable face moves. http://ice.prohosting.com/thebud/november2004/original/Chris% 20leading%2011%20railroad.jpg However, he took a long fall near the top, which left him hanging near the bottom. He tried again, but the memory of that fall got the best of him and he favored saving energy for some great routes at the promised land. I was then honored with leading it again, and, upon using Chris's face climbing variation, redpointed the little bugger. Amanda got on it as well, and with the security of the Toprope, found the strength to push through its cruxes and get to the chains.
Then we bundled up for the hike to Promised land, and again Amanda got excited about her "Mit-tens! Mit-tens!"
After a stroll along the train tracks, we found the trail to the Promised land. I had no idea there was this much rock around here. It certainly is something to be seen. We hopped on one of the first two routes we saw. It began with some face climbing on positive holds, until it leans back 50 degrees to the 5.11 moves that Chris described as "Jug, crimp, cross through crimp, Jug" It is certainly worth repeating. Chris gave it a go as well: http://ice.prohosting.com/thebud/november2004/original/Chris% 20Promised%20land.jpg http://ice.prohosting.com/thebud/november2004/original/Chris% 20Promised%20land2.jpg However, Chris noted that the beta he was giving me has since required alteration. The "Jug" had broken off, and was now a marvellous crimp. He was sharp enough to notice "Yeah- that changes things." He was pumped from not having climbed routes in a long time (like a month) and lowered off the last draw. We left the rope hanging and would deal with it later.
I turned around the corner to find a 5.10 route that tends rightward, and also kicks back near the top. I read some of these moves well, hit the sequence, and nailed the dynamic throw. However, I was making noise on the rock, and it wasn't long before I heard, "ooh! ooh! Birds! Look at the birds!!" Apparently I had startled some wildlife that took up inhabitance on one of the ledges near this climb. Then Amanda looked more closely- "No! They're squirrels! Flying Squirrels!!" I glanced down to see her walking closer to get a better look, and Chris (my belayer) following her. "Hey!! Could at least One of you Please watch me?!!" The route finally fell, and I lowered off to untie, and quickly grab my camera. This is what a flying squirrel looks like when it isn't flying: http://ice.prohosting.com/thebud/november2004/original/Flying% 20squirrels.jpg
Amanda tackled that route after me, and began cleaning it. Meanwhile, I belayed Chris on the previous route, toproping through the last draw. His plan was to Down-Lead the climb, but after climbing the whole bugger, the plan didn't sound so cherry. While he was considering why it would be dumb to unclip the draw, and then fall onto the next one, I started to hear yelps coming from Amanda. As it turns out, she had clipped into the anchor (via cowtails) and threaded the rope. Only, she threaded the rope around one of her cowtails, and upon weighting the rope (on rappel), the cow tail was now pinched through the two strands of rope. She couldn't get it out. However, through all the cluster frigs, Amanda figured out whatever she was exactly doing up there, and Chris summoned the strength to pull the last couple moves and get to the anchors. Even though he clipped in to the rope with a quickdraw in order to "Tram" his way down, since the route was so overhung, that turned into an episode itself. Yet, all told, we escaped the climbing that day unharmed.
We still had to hike out. It was dusk by now, and Chris told us it would be quicker to hike out past Groovy Marcia and up the dog walk, so we pursued that venture. I pulled on my hat and gloves, and Amanda donned her "mit-tens." The hike out was pretty straight forward, even though we weren't exactly always on a "trail" per-say, because two of the three of us had thought to bring headlamps. Otherwise, it would have been epic. Our second narrow escape.
When we got back to the parking lot, we saw that Tony's car was still there. I was shining my headlamp in it, commenting on how it didn't look disturbed from this morning, when I heard Tony shout, "Andy??" We were supposed to meet up with them that morning, and saw their car, but no sign of them. They had toured most of Jackson Falls looking for us and climbing whatever routes they encountered (though I doubt they quite had the cicumferential experience we did).
"I lost my mit-ten." What? "My mit-ten! I lost it!" No Way.
So as Amanda and I hiked back to the dogwalk to look for a "mit- ten", Chris, Tony, and Gabe, headed towards where we had left the tent that morning. I went down the dogwalk, but to no avail. The Mit-ten was gone. Amanda and I sat down and listened to somebody playing an acoustic guitar while the glow of their campfire bounced off the wall between the East falls and Yosemite Slab. I was bummed that we couldn't find Amanda's Mit-ten, but she said it was okay because, "We saw flying squirrels!"
And so we hiked down the road towards the campsite. We were walking along, everything being cool, when we saw a truck with a car close behind coming towards us. Certain it was the trio to supplement our quintet, we stepped aside and waited for them to pull up. Chris rolled down the window, and with angry incredulous eyes managed to spit the words out: "Someone stole our site!" What?!! "We got there and there were 7 cars there. There were tents on both sides of your tent. They didn't just take our site, they swallowed it!!" Squatting another's camping ground, like stealing someone's gear off a climb, is taboo. Dirtbag. Not.Cool.
Chris and Tony and Gabe had walked over, and picked up our tent from their midst, with all our belongings in it, and crammed it into the back of Chris's truck. They were kind enough, however, to take the poles out first.
We were going to find another campsite, when Chris asked if we wanted to just go to the bouldering area he would be showing us the next day. Sure. So we went through Murphysboro, stopping at the 17th street BBQ as recommended by Tony, a food connoisseur if there ever was one. When asked what was good on the menu, he said, "The sides are really good. I like the baked beans, but don't eat the chicken."
We camped at a campground in Murphysboro, but because we had another lazy morning (despite some goose honking at all retarded hours of the morning) the ranger found us before we got out of there. $10. Bummer.
Then, we went Bouldering.
Chris was the only one who had been to this area before, so he took the lead and showed us what it had to offer. It was some pretty decent bouldering. Chris showed us one problem that he'd been working on, and so we grabbed our shoes and gave it a go. On one of his later attempts, Chris fell off and struck his big toe directly into the ground. Through the rest of the day, he gave us reports on how green it was turning. I really felt bad, not because of his toe but because I sent the project on about my fourth try. We didn't have the camera out, so I got back on it and sent it again. It was one of those problems where you just really enjoy doing the moves. It just felt Good.
Most of the rest of the day went relatively incident free. Perhaps the one last thing worthy of commenting on was the presence of bad spotting. I didn't do this intentionally, but I've captured images of Good and Bad spotting. So for those who don't know, I'll walk through it..
Good Spotting: Here is one of me spotting Chris. My hands are open, I'm looking at his center of mass, and I'm ready to control his fall softly into the mat. I'm not trying to catch him, just slow him down. Notice that my fingers are open. Having closed hands will get your fingers Jammed, I've seen it happen. http://ice.prohosting.com/thebud/november2004/original/Chris%20(the% 20Red%20sea).jpg
Good (but weird looking) Spotting: Tony is spotting me here by watching my shoulders. This climb is close enough to the ground that there is no way he could support my hips in the event of a fall. Here, he can only try to stop my shoulders from striking and my head slapping into the rock. http://ice.prohosting.com/thebud/november2004/original/Andy%20(the% 20Red%20sea)1.jpg
Bad spotting: Here, Amanda has her arms in the air. Though beautiful, she looks ready to jam her fingers while catching me with her face. This angle doesn't show it well, but she's spotting a fall towards the right- the one direction I won't fall. http://ice.prohosting.com/thebud/november2004/original/Andy%20V2.jpg
Bad spotting: Gabe is not spotting. He should be. Amanda is 12 feet in the air. While he is behind her, for her safety from a fall, he should offer to spot. For his safety from me, he should stop staring at her butt. http://ice.prohosting.com/thebud/november2004/original/Amanda% 20bouldering3.jpg
Through it all, this was probably one of the most fun weekends of climbing ever. Perhaps even the best. Times like this are the very reason I climb. It was excellent.
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