A blog about climbing full time on the road.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010



Last weekend we took a trip down to Escalante with the climbing club. The goal was Egypt 2 and 3, but the journey there is half the adventure. We took the back roads down through Torrey to Boulder to Escalante since in the van, you can't go 80 on the freeway, so you might as well take the scenic route and enjoy the ride. The road from Torrey to Boulder takes you from the red rock at the entrance to Capitol Reef up boulder mountain through aspen and pine forests with meadows to break things up and give you an amazing view of the ridges and buttes of the Utah desert. They also make for a popular hang out for deer, so there can't be too much daydreaming about the beauty of the trip. Matt got some great shots while I was driving of the Aspens and scenery in the setting sun.


From Boulder, the road gets even crazier. It winds through the slick rock putting you up on a very narrow as in there is no shoulder, no guard rail, no nothing on between you on the road and the valleys and canyons below. Since it was dark by the time we got there, I chose to creep along in the middle of the road to put a little more distance between the van and the void.

Once you've survived the driving excitement and 16 miles of the most washboarded road you can imagine, the canyons have built themselves up to be pretty spectacular. Matt decided not to do the canyon trip since his knee has still been bothering him since our Nebo trip. It's much better, but didn't think it was worth the risk of re-injuring it.

the rappel into Egypt

We had a group of about 20 people going down the canyon. We started at the top of Egypt 2 which starts with a 250 foot rappel off of the back of Doug's Toyota. In spite of all of the jokes of hope the parking brake is on, it was a very secure set up. After the rappel, Egypt 2 was a fun canyon with a few water holes, short but a little bit tricky down climbs, lots of mud (which does not help your sticky rubber shoes stick very well), and lots of moqui balls which are those little round knobs in the sandstone which look really cool but start to be really painful while you're scraping your way along the sides of a narrow canyon.

Stemming in Egypt 2

We hiked out of Egypt 2 and back down into Egypt 3. Egypt 3 was amazing!! This canyon had it all. It had amazing scoops and turns in the rock, and at it's narrowest point is only about 10 inches wide! At 10 inches wide, you take off your pack, walk side ways and can not turn your head. It's pretty dark at this point and the sky is just a little slit way up above. Fortunately you could still get through the canyon if you are wider than 10 inches, you just had to stem your way up higher where it got a bit wider. There was also one more water hole -- even though I'd already gotten wet in the earlier pot holes, everyone was bridging themselves over this one which means your feet on one side, your hands on the other and you are the bridge. People before me were making this look pretty easy, but they were also all taller than me. I was pretty sure I was going to be taking a nice belly flop into the water, but had to give it a try and luckily made it! We were also going up this canyon rather than down. To get out of it there were a number of short pour overs that we had to climb up. These were tricky since sandstone that has had water running over it is very smooth, but with help in a couple spots from a hand above or a little assist from below, everyone made it through no problem.
squeezing through

We got back to camp after a long day with a great treat of fresh baked bread by Matt from the sun oven and finished the day off sitting around the campfire with friends.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Our Trip Map

Okay so my mom asked me for a better idea of where we might be on our trip and when we might be there. Now understand that all of this is subject to change. We have an idea of what we might want to do, but we don't know how well any of this will work. Weather, climbing conditions, and a host of other factors may change this, and we have absolutely not committed to this route. That being said it seems like reasonable route and one that could make sense.

So here's what I did. We have a few static pages we can create on our blog. I've create a new one called "our trip map". It's a page with a google map embedded in it. I can change the google map and the page automatically changes when you reload it. Pretty cool really. I've put one of our trip ideas out there for people to see. You can click on the placemarks to see what area we are interested in visiting and a month that we might be there. As we actually go on the trip we'll update this page so you can see where we've been, get to blogposts for those areas, and see where we might be in the future.

Click here to get to the Trip Map Page. 

Mud and Stars

Cassie went to Oregon last weekend to watch her dad run in a marathon. Leo trained for months to get ready and we were all really proud and impressed that he finished! He even did the marathon in the rain which makes it even more amazing. So, congrats to Leo for such a great accomplishment.

I stayed in Utah for the weekend and went climbing by myself. It had rained a lot during the week and the rock was wet and everything was quite muddy. Not a ton of pictures were taken so bear with me. Basically I took some pictures of a big mud puddle and tried some night shots of stars. Yeah I know it's a weird combination.

Rainclouds over the mountains. 

The Milky Way and the cliffs at Joe's.

Mojo loving the muddy water. He would have played in it all day if I had let him.

Weeds and muddy water.

I tried a project at Joe's and got really close but didn't send it. I did another climb called Runt (V7) that I tried super hard on in June but failed. This time I found the right sequence and sent it easily. Possibly I used holds that you aren't supposed to use because it was so easy that I repeated it immediately without even resting so that I could get video of me doing it. Alas watching the video it doesn't even look that good because I make it look super easy. One of the tricks when shooting good video is being able to show how hard the moves are, and usually a good way to do that is to really struggle on the climb. That seems to help make it look interesting, but when you just cruise it it doesn't make it look very impressive, especially when it's a short climb. In this case the whole climb was packed into 5 or 6 hand moves in only about 8 feet. So, I probably won't post the video because it's really not very exciting. Funny how that works sometimes something that is so rewarding to us (I felt completely elated when I finished it) just doesn't visually make that great of a story. I suppose that's because all the effort put into it is really what the story is about, not just getting the climb. So, trying to convey that effort is probably what I should really focus on in the video. Build up the story of the climb so that when I show the climber getting it the audience also feels that sense of accomplishment. Ah well, i'm just an amateur and often I just don't have the video. Most of the time I'd just rather climb than shoot video.

During the weekend I also installed our newly modified tent. Previously our tent just had canvas sides, so when you roll over you just see brown canvas. We found a custom tent repair shop in Salt Lake that would install new windows with bug nets. Over the weekend I installed it. It was great to be able to see the stars as I was falling asleep!

Before Tent was installed. 

Finally installed and ready to sleep in. The new window is behind the light.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Mo' Joes Valley

Cassie on The Angler V1

Well you can probably guess from the title that we went back to Joe's again last weekend. It was a really great weekend of bouldering and some lines went down that we were very happy about. It was also the first weekend where we got to try our new propane setup, and our new espresso setup. Both were fantastic experiments and we're certainly going to keep them on for the trip.

The propane setup was debated between Cassie and I for quite some time. We had decided to go with an old school coleman stove because we calculated the price of using those little green propane cylinders vs using liquid white gas and it ended up being dramatically cheaper to use liquid fuel. So, we purchased a liquid fuel stove and lantern only to be immediately reminded why we don't really like them. First, they almost always leak fuel when you try to fill them, and second they need pumped. That's not a deal breaker for a weekend trip. But when you figure you're going to be camping for almost 2 years straight it seems pretty unappealing. So, we did a little bit more research and found that we could get a smaller propane cylinder (about half the size of a normal bbq grill propane tank). This would allow us to continue to use propane, and after crunching the numbers we were astonished. did you know that a gallon of coleman white gas goes for about $12? and that propane runs (here in utah) at about 2.35 a gallon when gasoline is 2.85? that's about a no brainer to convince us to make the switch back to propane. I think over a year we'll save about 300 just in fuel and no messy spills or pumping!


The espresso maker was our other success. Some of you might know that I really don't drink coffee, but thanks to Bruce getting us a latte maker for our wedding present we started drinking lattes on the weekends. After cleaning out the french press a couple of times this year we started thinking that an espresso maker might be tastier and less messy. I'm not sure that it has proven itself on the less messy side, but the tasty has won us out. We also decided to get a conical burr grinder to allow us to hand grind our coffee. This means fresh espresso's everyday. It worked really well as you can tell from the pictures. Basically you just grind the espresso, put it in the espresso pot and put it on the stove while at the same time putting some milk in another container and heat it on the stove as well. When the milk is hot you simply use this plunger type thing which creates some of the creamist foam i've ever had. the espresso is usually done by then and you just pour it out. Yummm!!




We also had a great time climbing this weekend. We did a bunch of easier problems on Friday, and then went on to try Bowling Ball V4 which was excellent, and topped it off with Frosted Flakes V4 which was an excellent harder problem. The next day we went down to riverside and since the water was so low we could finally protect The Angler which is a very easy, but very high line right next to the water. The pictures were shot by our friend Lauren who did a great job. Cassie then went on to send Kelly's Arete which is a super fun V5. I was terribly impressed since it's a pretty high topout and the business of topping out isn't easy. Cassie is truly getting better about doing hard moves even when she is high off the deck. After that we went across the river to Low Tide V6 which I did in a few tries after figuring out some fairly tricky beta. We then headed up the hill to try some other V6s (Moby Dick, and Black and Blue) which both shut us down) We'll be back to try those again sometime soon.
On Sunday we warmed up at riverside and headed up to Big Joe. The previous weekend I had tried it but it didn't feel doable probably because of the warm temperatures, but even though it was out third day of straight climbing it just fell into place and I sent it. I'm very happy because I had put a goal out there for me to do a V7 before the end of the year and I made my goal early. Sorry, no pictures of that one, I didn't really think I'd send it so we didn't even bring the camera or video.

I think i might have mentioned in our last post that we've been climbing with some new friends that are staying at Joe's Valley for a while. Lauren is a recent college grad from Seattle who is on a lengthy college graduation present vacation and George is from Austria. George works at a ski shop during the winter and travels the remainder of the year. Cassie and I are both very envious of such a sweet setup. George climbs quite hard and is constantly pushing us to try harder in a super encouraging way. I daresay his positive attitude has helped us climb these harder problems.

Matthew on Low Tide V6

Ah well a great weekend it was indeed. Here's hoping with temps finally dropping back into the reasonable digits we can keep climbing hard. We also had enough video footage that we decided to put anther climbing vide together. This one is a lot more climbing that the usual one's. Hope you enjoy it!