A blog about climbing full time on the road.

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

capitol reef

We're still catching up from the last two weeks of driving off to the desert and climbing. Last weekend we went on a club trip to Capitol Reef National Park. This is one of the lesser known parks in Utah, but has amazing rock formations, canyons, petroglyphs and crack climbing. While Capitol Reef is sandstone crack climbing, it is very different than Indian Creek. I should learn my Utah geology a bit better, but the rock is lighter colored, a bit coarser grained and while there's nothing easy at Indian Creek, the cracks at CR seemed much friendlier. Matthew fixed his goals on the first crack we came to. A really beautiful splitter line with a pod 3/4 of the way up. He practiced placing gear a few times on TR. You have to be pretty precise with your gear in the desert since sandstone is not as strong or forgiving of rock as granite or some other types of rock are. After a few tries, he was confident enough to lead it which he did flawlessly. This was his hardest trad lead, so he was quite excited about it. I set my goals on trying as many different types of climbs as possible. Taking advantage of the club setting up ropes on things we wouldn't climb on our own. so, everything from a really hard thin layback crack to a chimney that I had to wedge myself into and push my way up it. This was the first time I've ever enjoyed a chimney, I think it was the exact right size for me.

Sunday we did a few short hikes in the park. One to a big natural bridge and another down a gorge to some cool natural water tanks. We had to leave mojo with friends since dogs aren't allowed in the National Parks. Hiking isn't quite the same without him though, but was probably for the best since it was a bit of a loose scramble with rattlesnakes hiding in the rocks to get to the base of the climb. I learned from my coworkers that these are midget faded rattlesnakes we thought they were juveniles and while they may be small, they have very potent venom. Fortunately they were content to just curl up in the sun and weren't too concerned about us.

This weekend, we are happily going nowhere!! We will be winterizing the house and cleaning up from our last couple trips. Sometimes you just need a weekend at home to appreciate all the other fun things.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Indian Creek (a weekend of crack climbing)

Last weekend we met up with our friends Paul and Mike from Bishop. Unfortunately Pauline had to work and was stuck in Santa Cruz (not a bad place to be stuck though). We took Friday off and had a great 3 days hanging out with all the climbing crew.

Indian Creek is about an hour south of Moab, Utah. It's in the desert and is a really scenic spot on the way to Canyonlands National Park. A small little stream has cut it's way through huge sandstone cliffs and the resulting sandstone walls have been polished to perfection. On each of these walls are very interesting cracks. They can go all the way to the top of the cliff in some places, others just stop after a few feet. These walls go on for miles and miles. It's safe to say that even with hundreds or probably thousands of routes there are still unclimbed cracks. The camping is free which is great and the cottonwoods along the creek are beautiful now that they are starting to turn with the fall colors.

It's a funny thing to go to the Creek, because normally Cassie and I are the ones leading and setting up topropes for the newbies, but with Indian Creek and super crack climbing we aren't quite there yet. We just need more experience on hard crack since Indian Creek pretty much starts at 5.10 and some of the 10s can even have off-widths which really throw us for a loop. Crack climbing seems to be very technique specific. We can't just muscle our way through a hard move, it requires more understanding of exactly what technique works for what size crack. For example sometimes you'll go from a handcrack that feels super bomber, then the crack opens up an inch or two and all of a sudden you're flailing on a fist jam or an off-width. It's all hand size dependent and it's some of the hardest climbing we've done. It did turn out to be a beautiful weekend though and we enjoyed camping and climbing. We went out on Saturday with the crew and started on a hard handcrack. After that was a finger crack with some liebacking and the final one was a long hand crack that had a cool roof with stemming and some interesting face moves before a final lieback to the anchors (if you don't understand what I'm saying I'll explain it to you with body language the next time we see each other:)

Sunday the crew wasn't feeling super energetic so we did a climb and then headed to Big Bend just outside of Moab to go bouldering before we had to head back to Sundance. Our new friend Simone (spelling?) who has bouldered V8 highballs came with us and we sent some fun bouldering problems.

It was a beautiful fall weekend and was well worth the 5 hour drive. Thanks much to the Bishop crew for putting up with us newbies and showing us such a good time! Congrats also to Mike on his first tower! As always, you can click on the photos to see larger versions of the images, and see a lot more photos from the trip on our flickr page.