Monday, April 30, 2012

Valley of the Gods Part 1

Bill, Ian and I were going to the desert for a day of climbing without a plan.  Well with out a plan other then the climbing done was going to be on towers.  Bill nor Ian had been to the 'Valley of the Gods' before and I had not been since Brad and I spent a weekend there in 2006.  So the decision was made.  (Brad has some great TR from those climbs here, here and here.)  We talked to Jeff since he has climbed everything in the area to see what he would suggest.  We were told that Tom-Tom, Tommy Knocker, and Tides of Mind would make a good day.  Of the little that I remembered from my last trip, I did remember to expect some loose rock.

Tommy Knocker was first since it was closest to the road.  Besides a fall on the first pitch because of loose rock, it went well.  We did apparently did the third ascent which is hard to believe.

Starting Pitch 1.

Checking out the offwidth on the last pitch.

Bill on top of Tommy Knocker.

We had read the route description of Tom-Tom and looked at the route and were less then impressed.  So when it looked as if we could put up a two pitch link up/variation we did it.  We rapped off Tommy Knocker back to the notch between the two towers and were able to traverse a loose ledge over to the original route of Tom-Tom.  Meeting it part way through the last pitch.  Skipping the loose rock and unprotectable chimneys/offwidths below.  Tom-Tom must have felt cheated or maybe thought we didn't try hard enough, because our ropes got stuck on top of pitch one on the rappels.  Meaning we had to lead the first pitch of the original route to retrieve them.

The traverse ledge on Tom-Tom.

Ian's attentive belay for the traverse lead.

Bill showing off on the last bit to the summit.


Less then an inspiring anchor situation.

Retrieving the stuck rope.

On the hike to Tides of Mind we noticed a tower that was not in the guide books.  We made a mental note and kept hiking.  Stick to the Mission!  Tides of Mind goes all free and of the 10 towers I've done in the valley, by far the most quality!  Super fun way to finish the day!

The unknown tower...
Leading Tides of Mind.

Bill rappeling off of Tides of Mind.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Red

Ever since Sam and Liz's wedding in Kentucky last year, Amanda and I have decided that we need to make climbing in Red River Gorge an annual thing.  This year Bill, Amanda and I flew out to Chicago to meet Chris.  Chris picked us up at the airport and showed us around the town.  The next day we stopped at the indoor climbing gym that Chris climbs at and got in some laps to keep us from going crazy on the drive down to 'The Red'.  We stayed at Miguel's as usual.  It's hard to beat the conveinience of Miguels, camping, showers, pizza, wifi, covered cooking area, etc.
Thwe ever popular Miguel's.

Ben on 'Stunning the Hog'.

Amanda on the first of two sit down rest on 'Banshee'.

Chris taking some whips!



Bill going for it at the 'Solarium'. 

Amanda having a horrid time in 'The Red'.

Amanda on 'Aquaduck Pocket'.

Playing 'Angry Birds' on the drive back to Chicago.
The climbing in 'The Red' is nothing less then amazing!  There are so many walls and so much rock it's hard not to find routes that get you giddy!  I think we all have our projects that we are going to go back to next year.  Although we all would have loved to stay longer, after 3 days of climbing it was time to head back to Chicago for work and flights home.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Big Mud

It was December and thus time to aid some towers in the desert.  Marcus, Matt P, Matt K, Bill, Ian, Sean and I were headed to the Fisher Towers with no plans.  When we all met up at the parking lot we chose teams and objectives.  Bill, Sean and I (Team A) were headed for 'Sundevil Chimney'.  While the Matts, Ian and Marcus (Team B) headed for the 'Finger of Fate'.  We were both climbing 'The Titan' just from different sides.  The climbing went well for both teams.  Team B made the summit, while Team A fixed ropes on the first 3 pitches for a summit attempt the next day.  Luckily we all finished our days at the same time and hiked back to the cars together a little dirtier then when we walked in.  Matt K. and Marcus headed for some food in town.  For the rest of us it was a little tuna mac and time for bed.  Team A got up early and headed for the fixed lines.  Team B split up  to ascend some inferior objectives.  After some scary/dirty/great pitches we topped out in the dark, rappelled the route, hiked out and drove back to Durango.  All in all a great weekend in the desert with a great group!  Thanks for the photos Bill!

The Titan.

Ben on pitch 1 of Sundevil Chimney.

Belaying Sean on pitch 2.

Bill leading pitch 3 with Sean belaying.

Ben getting scared on pitch 4.




Sean on pitch 5 with Ben belaying.

Setting up the rappels.

A long exposure on top.

The Titan.

November Reunion

Brad, Koren and Owen moved to California a few years ago, leaving behind multiple sad climbing partners.  They returned last November with an additional member of the family, and we were able to get out and climb a little.  We met in Moab at the hostel, which we had discovered as a great place for big groups years ago.  9 people wanted to climb, well really it was 8 people and a gimp since Matt had a broken hand.  Lots of time was spent pouring over guide books trying to find something that would be a) a tower, b)new for everyone and c)enjoyable for everyone.  Quite a challenge!  We finally decided on a feature called 'House of Putterman'(H.O.P.).  The drive out required a little four wheelin' which is always fun when there's a caravan of vehicles.  Ryan and Marcie decided to do another tower near by called 'Echo Tower' and disapeared in a cloud of dust.  As soon as the rest of us parked Matt spotted a small unclimbed tower.  He grabbed Bill and the two of them headed off with the drill.  Since H.O.P. was right next to the unclimbed tower, we sorted gear at the trucks and then gave chase.  Matt started drilling as Brad started up pitch 1.  As the 5 of us climbed H.O.P. Matt and Bill topped out on their tower, rappelled and started jugging lines we had left fixed for them on H.O.P.  The unclimbed tower was dubbed 'Putterman's Nub', and was free climbed on toprope after our 7 person ascent of 'House of Putterman'.  Always a pleasure to see the Brandewie family!  Let's make it happen again soon!  Thanks Bill for the photos!


Matt on 'Putterman's Nub'.

Amber climbing pitch 1 with Brad belaying.

Bill finishing it off.

Amber on pitch 2 with Brad at the pitch 1 anchor.

Ian A. on the final moves.  Nice lead Ian M!

Brad sensing that there will be trouble.

The crew on top!

Free climbing 'Putterman's Nub' on TR.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Free Zion

As is usual with a Zion trip we drove straight to Zion, got in late and found some free camping.  After a good night's sleep, we cooked up some breakfast burritos and chilled in the car to get out of the cold wind until the temperatures warmed up a little.  We wanted to climb a classic route called 'Monkeyfinger'.  Eventually we got out of the car and started the 5 minute approach.  'Monkeyfinger' ended up being pitch after pitch of stellar free climbing, definitely the highest quality free route I have gotten on in Zion.  It's easy to see why its a classic.
When we got back to the ground we still had some light so we waded across the Virgin River to get to the 'Pulpit' and the 'Pulpette', both of which are small towers.
Following pitch 3.

Matt following pitch 4.

Me following the crux pitch.

Matt topping out.
Rappelling 'The Pulpit'.
The next day we got up earlier and started the 1.5 hour approach to West Temple to climb a route called 'The Big Lebowski'.  If you haven't seen the movie I highly recommend it!  (I ended up taking a tumble during the approach and cut up the back of my hand.  5 days later I pulled a small stick which had impaled itself during the fall out of my hand.)  We got to the base of  the route all cut up from bush whacking as the sun was coming up and started the route.  With our 70 meter rope we were able to link two pitches into one long pitch most of the time, making the route go fast.  The climbing ended up being less then stellar, with a few exceptions.  Back at the base it was another 1.5 hour hike back to the car.  Giving us a car to car time of 15 hours.  On the hike out we went over the route and gave each pitch a 'good' or 'crap' rating.  The route had a 75% crap rating.  At the very least it was a long adventurous day.
Matt on pitch 4.

Starting the offwidth on pitch 8.  

Matt starting a pitch with a rack rigged for battle.

Matt starting the pitches 'Walter's Whites' and 'The Jesus'.

Matt on a 'good pitch', pitch 18.

Looking toward Springdale from high on the route.