Monday, April 23, 2018

Arch Canyon and Texas Canyons

Matt, Matt and I decided to head out to Texas Canyon and check out 'Lone Star' which is a tower I had been wanting to climb ever since Clay and I saw it over a decade before.  For the standard approach Lone Star is guarded by a long rough 4wd road.  For this trip we decided to opt for the rim approach which is an easy drive but requires a rappel and longer hike.  This approach was great because is offered a different view of the canyon and allowed us to scope out some other towers that were on the way.  Pickren lead pitch 1 and 4 while I linked 2 and 3.  This allowed our group of 3 to skip the hanging belay and go ledge to ledge.  Matt obviously hadn't climbed in the desert much recently before this trip as he kept complaining on the pitch 4 bolt ladder that the bolts were moving.  Matt had forgotten that movement is a safety feature of desert bolts.  The movement acts like a shock absorber when you fall on them.  We rappelled and hiked back to the vehicles vowing to return to the towers we had passed on the hike.  Pickren headed home and Matt King and I set up camp for the night.
Matt and Matt on top of pitch 4 on Lone Star.
The next morning we hiked into Dream Speaker.  After looking at both routes on the feature we decided to do the North Face route as it didn't mention any sections of loose rock.  Unfortunately they just opted to leave that part out of the description.  The start of pitch 2 requires pulling on some very fractured rock, the rest of the route though is great.  Again on the hike out to our fixed lines I scoped out another small tower that was unclimbed as far as I knew.  We headed back to the vehicle and back to Durango.
Matt following pitch 2 on the N. Face of Dream Speaker.
A few days later Pickren and I had 2 days off and started out at Broken Tooth Wall in Indian Creek.  We got in some great pitches and then the crowds descended so we headed back down to Arch Canyon.  By the time we got down there we had just enough light to go try the small tower I had scoped out by Dream Speaker.  We left the truck at 18:30 hiked to the rim, rappelled in, and climbed the tower.  Unfortunately there were bolts on top.  We learned later that the feature was called Sun Tower.  We did a FA but didn't do the FA of the tower.  We jugged back to the rim and hiked out getting back to the the truck at 20:00.

The next day we headed back to the towers we'd seen hiking to Lone Star.  We started with a tower we knew had been climbed called Cerro del Perro.  Then moved to a small spire that hadn't been climbed just below Cerro del Perro.  We called this Hair of the Dog Spire.  Next up was another small triangular tower that be believed was unclimbed.  Unfortunately once again it had been climbed.  Can't wait to head back out that direction!

Cerro del Perro with Hair of the Dog below.
Hair of the Dog

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Fun with Alternates

Adam and I had been planning on heading to Mexico in the end of March for the last 6 months.  Unfortunately schedules didn't quite work out to allow that to happen but we were able to get out for a few days.  We visited some great limestone sport climbing areas in the St. George area and then climbed two routes in Zion National Park.
Adam on pitch 1 of Tatooine.
Adam folloing a pitch up high on Tatooine.
A disturbing 'welcome' to Mt. Kinesava.
 After climbing with Adam I headed back to work for 2 days.  Then it was time to go to Arkansas to visit Grandma Boyer.  Unfortunately the weather was bad enough that Arkansas was flooding.  So Amanda and I changed plans and once again headed west.  We stopped in Springdale for a few days to visit Geoff and Janice.  Geoff and Janice had to work but we were able to visit in the evenings and then go climbing while they were at work during the day.
Lime Kiln Canyon with Amanda.
The next stop was visiting Clay and Linda in Yucca Valley.  The last time I was in Joshua Tree was in 2002 so it was time to revisit the area.  Our finger tips were trashed from 3 days of sport climbing so our first day there we did some hiking and sight seeing with Clay as our guide.  Then a day of climbing at the Hemingway Wall.  On our final day we decided to go checkout the Mt. San Jacinto State Park.  We took the tram up and were pleasantly surprised to find a mountainous paradise with cool temps and all!
Visiting Clay in J-Tree!
Walking to the Hemingway Wall.
Yucca in bloom.
Mt. San Jacinto State Park with Clay and Linda.
We split up the drive back by climbing in Lime Kiln Canyon again.  Two great trips back to back!

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Cody Ice Climbing

Tim, Jaaron, Aarona, Cory and I made it up to Cody this year for some ice climbing.  We all split a super plush cabin right near the climbing which cut our commute to the ice down from an hour to 10 minutes.  It was a great year for ice this year, many routes that rarely form were very fat.  I had a list of classics to do while we were up there but didn't really do any because we kept finding stuff that rarely forms to climb.  We figured we might as well save the stuff that always forms for next year.
Tim following 'Cabin Fever'
 After around 17hrs of driving because of horrible roads, we arrived at our cabin at 1am to -22 degree temps.  Needless to say Tim and I took it easy the next day.  We climbed 'Cabin Fever' with the planned of tacking on 'Wyoming Wave'.  Unfortunetly after climbing CF we walked past WW's first pitch saying, "that can't be it".  Well apparently it was.  After postholing up the wrong drainage for a very long time we finally decided that the small frozen falls we had seen likely was the correct pitch.  We turned around, climbed the pitch and called it a day, skipping the last two pitches.
Tim leading the 4th pitch of 'Spying and Flying'
 The next day we decided to hike in and check out 'Spying and Flying' and Ro Sham Bo'.  Somehow a 2 mile approach took a solid two hours of pretty fast hiking to complete.  Tim had been back there before but luckily for me he hadn't done all the pitches he had wanted to.
Tim following 'Ro Sham Bo'
We got back to the car well after dark but got some great pitches in!
Tim leading 'Sendero Illuminoso'
 After all the hiking the day before we wanted a shorter approach so we opted for 'Sender Illuminoso' which apparently rarely forms as big as it did this year.
Tim following 'Scratch My Itchy'
On what ended up being our last day of ice climbing we climbed 'Super Blue Moon' which is to the left of the uber classic 'High on Boulder'.  We climbed its 3 pitches and continued up the drainage to the spectacular 'Scratch My Itchy'.  What a great way to end a great trip!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Stairway to Heaven

For the last two winters Amanda has ice climbed a day or two each winter.  Even with her minimal days out each winter she has been steadily picking off San Juan Classics.
Approaching Stairway to Heaven
In years past she climbed, Ames Ice Hose, Bridalveil Falls, The Calling, and Whorehouse Hoses.  On Thursday Tim, Jaaron, Amanda, and I got out and added Stairway to Heaven to that list.
Tim belaying Jaaron on pitch 1.
 We split into two teams with Tim and Jaaron climbing first and Amanda and I trying to keep up.  Although the temps were a chilly 4 degrees at the trailhead when we left the vehicles, it turned out to be a beautiful pleasant sunny day.
Amanda and I on the way down.  

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Hite Towers

Trevor, Emily and I made plans to check out some towers near Hite, Utah.  I'd never been that far west of Blanding on 95 so I was stoked!  I got out of work and drove straight to Blanding to pick them up.  We filled the Ranger with camping gear, climbing gear and people and headed out.  By the time we got out to our first objective it was afternoon.  We pulled over under Middle Finger Tower and racked up.
Middle Finger Tower with the Henry Mountains behind. 
Emily took the first pitch ending on a rubble filled ledge.  I was up next, a mix of aid and free slowly got me to the top.  The pucker factor was high in spots but luckily everything worked.  This little tower turned out to be super cool with spectacular views. 

The sun was starting to get low in the sky so we hurried back to the car and drove on.  The road got rough for a bit but we made it through and found a camp spot below the next day's objectives.
Sewing Machine and Sewing Machine Needle
This was our main goal, The Sewing Machine Needle.  A beautiful thin wind gate tower in a remote location!  If things went well the plan was to check out the butte next to the needle, it was aptly named the Sewing Machine.  We couldn't find any reports of routes on the butte and thought maybe we'd be the first to climb it, or at least put a new route on it.   The Needle was chilly to say the least.  We started in the shade and by the time we got into the sun the wind had picked up.  I lead the free first pitch and Trevor took the long aid pitch to the summit.

The Sewing Machine Needle
 It was afternoon by the time we were back on the ground and thinking about the butte.  We decided to at least check it out.  We walked the western side looking for possible lines.  We decided on a line on the southern tip that wasn't proud but would get us to the summit quickly.  I took the first pitch stopping 20' below the summit because of bad rope drag.  Unfortunetly, as soon as we summited it became apparent that we were not the first to climb the butte or the route!  There was an anchor with fresh looking bolts and webbing.  Still a fun climb and summit to cap a great day.

Hiking back to camp.
Having completed all of our planned objectives, that night we brainstormed for tomorrows possible objectives.  We settled on The Bishop.  Another windgate tower just up the road in North Wash.  The next morning we four wheeled back out to 95 and turned west once again to find The Bishop.  Although the approach looked heinous from the truck it went quickly and we were at the base of a super cool, little 3 pitch free route before we knew it.  I took the first pitch, Emily styled the second pitch splitter and Trevor took the wide summit pitch.  Once again a super fun desert trip comes to an end.  Thanks for the fun times!  Oh and Trevor and/or Emily took all these photos....

Monday, November 27, 2017


Although the Black Canyon has the reputation of being full of loose rock, poison ivy, and scary climbing, there are the occasional gems that avoids all three of those things; Blacksmiths on the Hooker Buttress is one of those routes.
Stoked on the warm sunlight.
I had given up on the idea of climbing at all in the Black in 2017.  Schedules and weather never lined up.  Luckily with the mild and dry fall we've been having the season was extended and we were able to squeak in a route.  I saw some photos of Noah on the route in the end of October and texted Matt immediately.  We hadn't done a Black route in mid November before and I for one was a little worried about the minimal light and cold nights.
We started early, leaving the car with 30 degree temps.  Per usual however, half way down the SOB I was in a t-shirt and sweating.  With a plethora of beta we were able to get to the base of the first pitch at first light.  The route allows a few pitches to warm up on Dry Hard before veering off left over some big roofs. 2 1/2 pitches of traversing puts you at the base of the hard climbing.
Feeling the exposure.
Matt was up and onsighted through the hard climbing, and fell off due to rope drag on the wandering pitch right before the anchor.  I convinced Matt that we should lead in small two pitch blocks since he was rested from belaying and I was pumped from following the last pitch.  He lead up the next crux pitch and gave it a valiant effort but apparently he gets tired too.  Who knew?  I lead the next to pitches and Matt took the last, topping out at 3 with lots of light left for the half hour walk back to the car.
Matt on the first hard pitch.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

24 HHH

This year Ben Griffin and I amazingly got into 24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell.  The event has gained a lot of attention over the years and is increasingly difficult to get into. 
In addition to the two of us, Amanda and Katy came to heckle us and climb before and after the competition.
Although our "strategy" of trying to climb the good looking lines didn't really pan out with a win.  We did at least get enough points that we can preregister for 24HHH next year.  Having never been to the area before, I'm pretty happy with how smoothly things went.  With all the energy from the other climbers around getting through the night climbing portion was definitely easier that anticipated.
Before registering for 2018 though, I'll first have to forget how much the skin on my hands hurt near the end and after the event.