Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Two Days, Two Towers

Last weekend my friend Liz and I and her boyfriend Greg and his brother Grant travelled south to the desert towers outside of Moab, Utah. It's a place called Castle Valley, famous for its severely eroded, wind swept, decaying, beautiful, delicate desert sandstone towers. The hikes to the towers are fairly strenuous and the climbing is not easy, but the views are incredible. It is most certainly one of my most favorite places on earth. I've wanted to climb on a couple different towers for a long time, and have just now felt up to the task. It was a perfect weekend!

Liz and I showed up wearing the same outfit. Not surprising, really.

at the second belay on a route called Jah Man, located on the Sister Superior tower group. This might be my favorite climb of all time.

comparing what I see to the route topo

pretty much the best summit jump shot OF MY LIFE!! We climbed the tower in the background on the far right the next day. The summit here is only about 8 feet wide and 15 feet long. The tower itself is about 300 feet tall.

sunset hiking out.

Castleton Tower

First belay, squeezed inside a chimney. What we couldn't see was the boiling, black clouds building on the other side of the tower.

By the time we reached the summit rain was spattering everywhere and we were greeted with static electricty and this view. The sun broke through for a moment. It's scary when this happens since we were standing on top of the tallest thing around for miles. We hunkered down under the only rocks we could find up there, waiting for Greg and Grant so we could all rappel down quickly.

waiting to rappel

signing the summit log

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

My Birthday Adventure

Eric and I spent my birthday in Salt Lake, climbing in Little Cottonwood Canyon. The weather was perfect, warm, sunny. So we decided on a long multi pitch route. About 500 feet up the forecasted 20% chance of rain turned into 100% chance of lightening, thunder, and rain. Our route was not supposed to be rappelled, but we managed to get off in record time, stretching our 70 m rope to its max, rappelling off trees, and connecting as many bolted rap stations as we could. We were both soaked, and I was freezing cold! By the time we made it down to the parking lot the sun was just about shining again, and our friend Mark (who was also rained off a different climb) was grilling sausages in the parking lot. He grilled me a happy birthday sausage, which warmed me right back up. It turned out to be a perfect day!

warm and happy....before the storm!

ahhh the desperate rappel as the lightening was striking.....

this pic doesn't do justice to how completely soaked we were..

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Zion Free Climbing

Free climbing, as opposed to aid climbing, in Zion National Park is a little bit like going to Indian Creek to boulder. You are in a mecca of sorts for amazing, challenging, beautiful aid climbing. and yet we chose only routes in which you 'free climb' (ie use your hands and feet to ascend a route as opposed to pulling on gear to ascend). The Zion free climbing scene is currently developing. It is highly adventurous. It still has many unknowns. It is still very dirty. and it is hard.
and beautiful.
and inspiring.
and i can't wait to go back!

We were shut down by winds gusting up to 47 mph (how they got forty-SEVEN as opposed to "about 50 mph" is beyond me), and a rainy sunday afternoon and all day monday rain. We made the most of it though; climbed through the wind and the initial day's heat, then hiking through the rain, then driving home through the rain. It was a fantastic trip. Just what I've been needing.

Wonderful photos generously donated by Eric Dacus.