A blog about climbing full time on the road.

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Sunday, November 9, 2008

Ancient Art

I've named this blog post after the climb we did this weekend. Sometimes there are moments in your life that truly affect how you see things and change you forever. This weekend was one of those times.

Cassie and I went with the Utah Climbing Club to an area near Moab, Utah called Fisher Towers. It's near the Colorado River and is a unique formation of rock that is absolutely unbelievable when you see it in person. Eight Hundred foot vertical towers of mud and rock have formed near a cliff band. These towers are some of the most peculiar formations we've ever seen. It's amazing to see a tower holding a capstone on it when the base of the rock is completely rotten and crumbles in your hands. Possibly more amazing is that rock climbers consider climbing these towers to be a testament to your skill, coolness in the face of danger, and just plain fun. Cassie and I agree with this assessment, though we may add "crazy" to that description of those we climb these towers.

On Friday after work we drove to Moab and stayed in a hotel since we hadn't seen each other in over a week. I had spent a week of work in Cour D'Alene Idaho and Cassie was in Phoenix for a night. We were very happy to see each other and I was totally excited to get my birthday present, a new ultra-light ultra-warm synthetic jacket!!! On the below freezing Saturday morning we woke up and headed to the towers. As we began the thirty minute hike to the towers I recognized the formation that we would be climbing and it was HUGE! Almost as crazy was the tiny summit that we would both ascend shortly. See the tiny little corkscrew on the top of the tower? That's the summit.

The club was well setup when we arrived. Though it's not a guide service (read club) the organizers had setup three topropes to facilitate us climbing. The first pitch was something like 170 ft of chimney climbing. You gain a large ledge, tie into another rope, gain a second much smaller ledge, and then being the terrifying walk across a tiny walkway before starting up the final pitch to the summit.

Let's talk for a minute about the exposure. It's really quite easy in the chimney and since there is a lot to look at in front of you it's pretty much not scary. But, when you get to the final ledge and look across this tiny walkway to the corkscrew finish it's enough to make you start praying to a higher power that if you ever get off this thing alive you will become a monk or nun for the rest of your life. Imaging walking across a two foot ledge where the drop off on each side is over five hundred feet straight down. Then imagine having to just/belly flop or "jump and hump" as everyone would cheer when you got there onto a diving board piece of rock (or crawl under for us short folks which was easier, but even more exposed and scary as you are searching for footholds with 500 feet of nothingness below you), climb around the corkscrew (while trying not to look down) and finally attain the summit. I said to Cassie beforehand that this would probably be the scariest thing I've ever done, and, even on toprope I was right. I can't say at the time that I was scared, because I must have just blocked it out and kept moving in order to keep myself from stopping. I believe Cassie was the same as she said to me that when she got to the final belay she was considering saying "that's far enough for me, I'm good." But, her motivation prevailed and she summited with much elation. After Cassie I followed suit and got in a few "YEEEAAAAHHH"s before coming back down. It was truly an amazing experience that the both of us will cherish.

We were pretty much mentally exhausted afterwards and attempted a small (30ft) tower before deciding to just go for a hike and explore. We just didn't have the energy to climb after such an fantastic experience. But, the hike was also mind-blowing. I thought, before this weekend, that we might have seen everything in Utah that could just take my breath away and inspire total awe, but I was completely proved wrong by these towers. Saturday evening we were treated to an amazing sunset / moonrise over the towers and then enjoyed relaxing around the campfire with friends.

I highly highly highly encourage you to click on the link in this post http://www.flickr.com/photos/matthewandcassie/sets/72157608814727879/ and look at the rest of our flickr account to see more pics from this trip. Looking back at these pictures, I still get butterflies in my stomach thinking about the climb and if it weren't for the pictures proving that I did it, I'm not sure I would believe I actually did it, because that's just crazy!

On Sunday we spent the morning bouldering at big bend, and though we didn't send anything (we were trying a V7 and a extremely stout V4) we were happy to get a good pump in and head home. Now we're just relaxing on the couch and looking at pictures.