– The seasonal exodus from the Yampa Valley generally begins right as the ski lifts stop running. Although I was not able to escape the walls of our snow-globe till the beginning of May, it seems I subconsciously planned my climbing holiday quite appropriately. The day after I dipped out of Steamboat and found myself climbing in the internationally renowned Rifle Mountain Park, it was brought to my attention that while we were scaling the Limestone walls of the canyon, it was snowing in Steamboat, a welcomed miss in weather systems. Despite being in Rifle, my eyes were set on the Ed Abbey country, the Utah desert. I had grand dreams of splitter cracks in Indian Creek, Towers in Castle Valley and Big Walls in Zion. Fortunately, all these dreams became a reality, they were not as easily attained as expected.
My journey was a combination of solo and partnered. I was able to tie down a few friends for a handful of days each week, but this left gaps in days where I would have to do my best to wrangle up someone to catch the dull end of my rope. This predicament forced me to be outwardly social and meet new people, which I thoroughly enjoyed and aided me in making new friends for life. In the Creek, I would often walk up to Supercrack Buttress, find a friendly group, strike up a conversation that often entailed the phrase “I have a $h!t ton of cams in my pack!” which was always well received and lead into tying in with a new, soon to be friend. Although I had confidence in my newly acquired friends, my climbing was more reserved and cautious with a new belayer on the other end of the rope. I was fortunate enough to have good friend and Ski Haus co-worker, Kyle Babcock, come join me for a few days and enjoy his first Creek experience; there sure is something special about sharing a first Indian Creek journey with a good friend. In addition to Kyle’s first experience, I was lucky to meet my new friend Ali, also a Creek virgin, with whom I shared my limited crack climbing knowledge.
After a botched trip to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon; turns out May 14th is just one day too early to see the immense chasm of the Colorado River; I was off to Zion to meet up with close friend Patrick Meyer for some wall climbing, or so we thought. After a soggy first few days in Southwest Utah, we found ourselves clipping bolts on Limestone crags near St George, an area with a tremendous amount of diverse climbing. If you ever find yourself in the area go visit Crawdad Canyon and give me your personal opinion of the enigma of the walls that surround the Veyo community pool. I find it interesting to see the polarity in opinions of this specific “Rock Climbing Park.”
After some dry weather and the welcomed, abrupt and unexpected arrival of my best friend and favorite bro-mance; Kevin Jansen, Patrick, Kevin and myself found ourselves suspended from the walls of Zion climbing Lunar Ecstasy, my first big wall climb. These three days were possibly the greatest experiences in climbing I have had to date, learning the ins-and-outs of wall climbing was way more then I would have ever expected. To become privy to the physical and mental rigors of big walls had a learning curve like no other. The journey up to pitch seven of “Lunar X” and the necessary bail require its own individual write up to give it the justice it deserves.
As a week in Zion came and went, I found myself back in the Moab area and this time I had my sights set on a tower I have lusted after since the beginning of my climbing career, Castleton! As I do have a fond admiration for the late, great Layton Kor, I certainly planned on sending the uber-classic Kor-Ingles route to reach the summit of this monsterous desert monolith. Knowing this climb is one of the 50 Great Climbs in North America, it was littered with climbing parties looking at the same line. Understanding this before hand, me and my then partner, Eli, set ourselves up for success by bringing a rack suitable enough for both Kor-Ingles and the North Chimney, which entailed adding on one green big bro to a standard rack to protect the infamous Rusty Star-Drive on pitch two of the North Chimney. The climbing was moderate and sustained with slick footing thanks to my new nemesis Calcite. The climb was a success even with a brief weather concern, the summit was enjoyed by watching a storm roll over the La Sal Mountains, and the descent from the base of the tower back to camp would have wind, rain and hail to heighten the experience.
After a few weeks on the road, sleeping in the bed of my new truck, evading the Utah State police, I have a renewed passion towards the climbing experience. I look forward to the possibility of making another great climbing expedition, sooner, rather than later. Since returning home in the Yampa Valley, I find myself climbing at every opportunity possible; striving to become a stronger, more fluid and technically proficient jock on the rock.