Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ahhhh Spring!

While the grill's warming and Lindsay's sinking into a deep glass of Pinot, thought I'd write to catch all four of you (that's how many people we think check this little bloggity blog) up on what's been going down on our recent trips to St. George.  The last trip was a six day tour, we hauled "Gwendolyn The Ivory Palace" (that's the name of the Scamp) down with us and set up shop in Moe's Valley.  For the most part the trip was a success, not a ton of sending going on but we each made some significant progress on new projects and saw some new climbing which is always exciting.  We split our time between the VRG and the Hurricave.  To be fair neither would be ranked in Americas top ten climbing destinations but we enjoyed the hell out of each area.  We've been forcing ourselves to climb in the VRG despite the less than desirable interstate not 200 yards below.  The setting is truly horrid but I challenge anyone to show me more bullet stone anywhere in the world.  Once you focus your mind on the moves at hand, forget the traffic, and really dig into the moment, it's some of the best climbing you'll ever do.

Unfortunately, the El Nino pattern leaves the mountains dry and desert wet.  I know the last two words are as much of an oxymoron as anything and I wish it weren't true; alas and alack, much of the St. George area is under the seemingly constant barrage of spring precipitation.  As a direct result, the porous nature of the sandstone and even the limestone holds the moisture in for days after the storms have passed.  The VRG is no exception to this rule.  I like to think that we would have single handedly destroyed that crag, sending every route that got in our path... luckily I can "think" this because we were both spat off our routes in places we shouldn't have been due to wet holds.  I fell within a couple of feet of the anchors on my route and Lindsay slipped (almost violently) out of the jug rest on her route.  Shit.

Luckily, the Hurricave isn't far away and it stays dry when all else is wet.  Crazy steep and chock full of hard routes, the couple of days spent there left us feeling worked and a little beat down... both good things.  I was able to squeak out a last ditch, hail mary ascent of a really fun .13a called Cliff Dweller.  Lindsay came heart breakingly close also, the fatigue of previous days and an abundance of bees thwarted her final attempt.  Damn.  Though the rock in the Hurricave is total choss garbage, the style of climbing it offers can't really be found many other places in the states.  Very steep, big feature climbing seems to be the name of the game there, with some tufa's and small edges thrown in for good measure.  While not a destination crag, it certainly serves it purpose and we were damn glad to have it as an option.

So we left draws on projects and with a sunnier forecast we head back down on Thursday to conquer the freeway, the bees, the rain and our routes.  Until the next update enjoy the pics!


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Spring Training

So it's been warm here in the SLC, like really warm, like oddly warm for February/March.  With the mercury rising above the 50 degree mark in the valley and the sun shining down it's been primo conditions at the lowest walls in American Fork Canyon.  For the last few weeks we've been donning gaiters and snow pants, packing up the black cat propane heater (so key in the cold temps!), and making the slog through the thigh deep snow to the base of the Red Corners.  Much like Sinks Canyon back in Lander, the Red Corners bakes in the sun.  The low trajectory of the "burning ball of doom" cooks the little open book feature and the heat is trapped, creating truly perfect conditions for hard climbing.  With the air temp not ever getting much above 40 (the Red Corners is 1500 feet higher than the rest of the valley) the rock stays crisp but comfy in the suns rays.

Like any early season endeavor though, we've had to endure some miserable days waiting, hoping the sun would burn through the alpine haze.  The shitty days paid off though once it started warming up.  The routes we've been trying (one in particular) have some of the smallest and sharpest holds I've ever pulled on.  The RC walls tend to overhang just past vertical and are bereft of most features.  What few edges exist tend to be small, rather sharp, and quite spaced in relation to one another; which makes for powerful, dynamic movement on holds that you really wish were three or four times bigger.  Climbing in the freezing cold and blowing snow forced us to learn the moves with stiff muscles and numb fingers.  Once we could feel our "little smokies" and move unencumbered (we've been climbing in down jackets) the moves felt easier, more fluid, confident.

Even though these routes aren't the hardest things we've ever done, or the most significant in any sort of fashion, it still feels good to be climbing at the level we are, this early in the year.  Historically we'd start training for route season now by bouldering and trying to rebuild our endurance base.  Having the two gyms here, coupled with a climbing community that is perpetually psyched and always ready to help you  "push it" to the next level has sped up the timetable by a few months and we're climbing at a level we normally might not reach until April/May.  With our semi-flexible schedule and loads of spring destination climbing areas within a few hours drive, it's shaping up to be a very strong year!  On top of that, we have so many friends traveling through the area all spring long to every crag on our radar.  If only there were enough time to go and crank with everyone, everywhere....(cue the dream bubble...)

With a week long trip starting tomorrow, and brilliant looking weather after that, we're ready to start pulling hard.  Though we won't be able to climb with each and every one of our friends in the coming weeks, we'll definitely make the most of the time we do get to spend by climbing, bantering, grimacing, and laughing with those around us.  Until then here's a few shots of some of the crew sending "X" 5.13a, one of the first routes in American Fork and a real gem.  Adios~

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