Our Journey South

For spring break me and Dave left on a whirlwind trip we visited St George for two days then went to Red Rock canyon, Las Vegas for 4 days, back to St. George for a day and then on to Joe’s Valley, Orangeville for a day before heading back to Bozeman on Sunday.

Our first day we went to the Chuckwalla and turtle walls. I was planning on just taking an easier day to get into the swing of things but it quickly became a bit harder than I wanted but not without some great rewards. We hooked up most of the routes in the turtle cave in the shade because it was too hot to climb in the sun.

The Chuckawalla under moonlight

The next day we went back to the turtle wall after a better warm up at the Chuckawalla. I was able to finish up my project and Dave finished up Dancing Fox (12b) which he had tried a few times the day before. Then we went back to Chuckawalla after the sun went down to try Second Coming by headlamp so that Dave felt ok with taking a rest day the next day.

On our first and only true rest day we drove to Vegas and found a campsite right away thankfully. As is happened we got the site right next to the group of 9 from Bozeman and a group of 3 meet up with us and asked to share a site for a day or two after Dave and I got back from out tour of the Vegas strip. I really liked how multicultural Downtown was I haven’t experienced that in many of the cities I’ve been to in the US.

On Tuesday we went out to the sandstone quarry to try my project for the trip: Monster Skank. We warmed up at the Pier, not much of a warm up more of being thrown into overhanging slopers and little crimps. When we headed into the front corridor we meet Jonathan Siergrist as he was trying Sunsplash (it gets the same grade but looks impossibly harder than Monster Skank). I gave a few goes at Monster Skank figuring out the hard to read intro sequence. I have to give Siergrist props because he made the absolutely huge reaches look reasonable and moved with a poise I am truly jealous of. On my 4th go I made it all the way to the dyno and then desperately tried to rest as the pump was building. As I moved up I wasn’t sure exactly how I was catching the holds, I felt okay (making clips with relative ease) at every hold but I was way too pumped to make the next move. Before I knew it I was at the 2nd to last hard move to the 5.10 section that brings you to the chains and I fumbled the sidepull and came off with a wild yell. I’m sure I gave 150% of my effort into that go. I was so exhausted when I got down I’m not sure I’ve ever tried that hard on a single attempt before, especially outside. But with that go I had nothing left and had to give up for the day. I ended up making the hard decision not to come back because I really wasn’t sure if I could finish it even if I was at 100% and I really just wanted to move on to other things. It came down to the fact that I’ll be back and it will still be there and now I know how to do the moves it just comes down to execution! It really is as good as everyone says it is.

We went out to dinner that night because I wasn’t in the mode for cooking and I wanted to get a bunch of calories that I had lost from trying Monster Skank 4 times. I wanted to do one longer route while we were in red rocks so we looked through the book to decide which one to do, we finally settled on Tunnel Vision. The next morning we got up early but took our time racking our gear. When we got to the parking lot we were the 2nd people there and the 2nd group on tunnel vision for the day. I’ve never been the best at memorizing route information. We showed up and for the first pitch I stopped too soon but other than that small hitch we found the rest of the route just fine. The group behind us had 4 people so we never meet up with them. The tunnel pitch was crazy and harder than I thought it would be for 5.6 the sculpted water smoothed features were harder to figure your way up than I thought they would be. But by far the hardest part was the descent… a long walk down a scree filled gully behind the wall.

Tunnel Vision Photo by Dave

Thursday happened to be our last day at Red Rocks so we went out to the Cannibal Boulder. When we got there I wasn’t feeling particularly great but good enough to see what I could do with the routes on the boulder. Keep in mind that this “boulder” is about 60 feet high has 5 routes to a side approximately. We warmed up on a 9+ and a 10a after we finished the ten I went to tape up my finger but I had forgotten the roll of tape in the car. We walked back down and that’s when something magic must have happened. We returned to the boulder and tried the 11a next to a group that was learning how to rappel. next I moved over to onsight Pickled (11c) and Save the Heart to Eat Later (12a). Then Dave tried Maneater (12a) on the back side of the boulder. I flashed it after Dave gave a great first go and figured out the moves. Dave gave a few more goes and got all the way to the end of the crux on his best go. I moved on to New Wave Hookers (12c) onsight which was the hardest route I’d ever onsighted until I moved on to Wonderstuff (12d). Then to finish up the wall I onsighted Fear this Sport (12b). When I clipped the anchors for Wonderstuff I was just floored, I couldn’t believe it was happening. Looking back I guess the rest of the trip was leading up to this point with a least one 5.12 onsight per day that we were climbing hard. This possibly might have been my best day of climbing. We left after I climbed Fear this Sport and headed over to the Pearl that Dave had tried earlier in the week. Unfortunately Dave’s attempts at Maneater wore him down and even though he tied his high point again he wasn’t able to finish it up.

Dave wondering about the moves on the Pearl

We left Red Rock and drove back to St George for the night. In the morning we headed out to the Utah Hills to go to the Soul Asylum for some long easy routes before heading to Joe’s Valley. We got to the road and found that the whole thing had been washed out by a huge river flood that made the road impassable by the large majority of cars at about 0.7 miles up the 2 mile road to the old parking lot. We walked up anyways for about 3 miles and got lost on the way once where we headed above the cliffs and had to circle around to get to the Soul Asylum. The limestone was very sharp but good quality otherwise, The Gorilla Cliffs is probably the best limestone I’ve had the chance to look at deep dark blue and bulges and sweeps. We did manage to find one of Dave and my favorite routes climbing up a water runnel with some crazy water sculpted pockets.

The Soul Asylum Photo by Dave

When we got to Joe’s Valley the normal campsite was open and It didn’t look like anyone had used it since we were there last November. The weather was cooler in Joe’s than the rest of the trip had been, I actually had to wear my downy in the morning. The cool temperatures made for great climbing though. I took Dave on a tour of New Joe’s where we did all the classics Super Sloper, Warm Me Up Scotty, Joe Cool, and Dave got his first V5 outside Self Service, then we went and to the Chips and Planet of the Apes. Where Dave got very close to getting his first V7. It was very busy around the boulder I think in the hour or two that we were there about 20 people shifted to and away from the area to try Chips for the most part. From Chips we left and went to the left fork where Dave got a driving tour on the way to the Big Joe Cave. I had unfinished business with Nerve Extension and wanted to give it a go even though we only had our two postage stamp pads. I tried Big Joe once to remember the moves and then tried the last moves twice for Nerve Extension and got the move clean both tries. Then I tried it from the beginning and got it my second go. I have to thank Dave for moving our two pads around a bunch throughout the problem otherwise I probably wouldn’t have tried it cause I never felt good on the crux of Big Joe.

Dave on Self Service

We had planned to do two days in Joe’s Valley but both of us were so drained from our tour so we drove back on Sunday without climbing. It was a great time, now that I’ve been to St. George and seen what amazing climbing is hidden there, I might have to spend more time down in the retirement home for Utah. The only problem with that area of the country is that it gets way to hot for me in the summer time, so I can only hope to make a few more trips down to the St George-Vegas area again in the future.

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