Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Rock n Road Trip

Rocktober rolled around and it was finally time to get serious about climbing....and throw in a bit of surfing for good measure. This year’s AMGA Annual Meeting was held in Red Rocks National Conservation Area just outside Las Vegas. It is pretty amazing that this place hold thousands of routes and remote big walls all within sight of the Strip.
While most of my week there was taken up by meetings, clinics and parties, we managed to get some quality cragging in the Calico Hills and even a couple longer routes including Unimpeachable Groping on the Ginger Buttress. I have walked past this 6 pitch bolted route many times and now I wonder why I hadn’t climbed it before? Sweet crimps and chicken heads and a couple bolted cracks on a steep sandstone wall.
Walking in to Juniper Canyon, Red Rocks, NV

Looking good after a week of climbing and camper living!

Since I had to be in Joshua Tree a week later and it didn’t make sense to drive back to Colorado and then back to Cali, Keitha and I decided to keep moving west and do some surfing. With a condo in Laguna Beach lined up through a friend, we had a chance to stretch out outside of the camper, have a shower and a real bed for a few nights. We spent the weekend at the beach surfing and paddle boarding in the sunny 80° weather. No wonder everyone loves California. Come Monday Keitha had to get back to work in Crested Butte so I put her on a plane bound for Grand Junction. I on the other hand, had a few more days until the AMGA Rock Instructor Course I was to be teaching started in Joshua Tree. Each day I would wake up in Laguna, attend to some e-mails and CBAC tasks, then head to the beach intent on a couple more waves before hitting the road. Each night I decided the next day would be the last and I would move on. Apparently I really like surfing because I stayed in Laguna and surfed everyday for a week until I finally had to leave for J-Tree. 

Catching the big one!

Having never climbed at Joshua Tree National Park before, I figured it would be good to show up a day early to get a lay of the land and try out the friction-y crack climbing. Not having a partner I decided to spend the day jogging around to different areas doing some scrambling up the walk off descents and then a bit of rope soloing to test the cracks. The style of climbing reminded me a lot of my home crag, Taylor Canyon. Both are very textured granite, funky butt cracks, run out slabs and total sandbags! I really enjoyed the climbing and the “mini-golf” style of short 1-2 pitch routes that you can rack up quickly, then walk over to the next bump and climb that one too. The camping is super convenient and I didn’t have to move the camper the whole 11 days I was there. Each day was a casual stroll to the chosen crag, and I would bum a ride into town a couple times for a shower and to check in with the infranet to see what was happening in the world. We spent election night around a campfire listening to AM radio waiting for the good news on Obama’s re-election.
Classic slab climb "Walk on the Wild Side"

AMGA swarm on Lost Horse Wall

I have enjoyed teaching AMGA courses this year. Even the first module courses are at a high enough level to make it interesting for me as an instructor, and it is great to watch the students progress and gain knowledge throughout a ten day course. After a couple days of ground school and lecturing, we managed to tick a bunch of J-Tree classics along the way. The 3 pitch slab route “Walk on The Wild Side”, the insecure “Bird on a Wire” and tips crack “Dandelion” were all sent in fine form by the students, while I got on the wildly overhanging 5.7 offwidth “Geronimo” crack as a demo. My co-instructor Amos and I got a couple sprint laps on the Gunsmoke traverse in the evenings before it got dark (at 5:30!) to get the pump on before the cold days set in. The final 4 days were windy with high temperatures in the low 50’s which kept us chasing the sun and scrambling for cover as soon as the sun set. For my first trip to J-Tree I managed to bad many of the classic moderate routes around the Hidden Valley Campground and got to scope a couple cool looking lines for the next trip as well!

A long drive home left with with tons of admin work to catch up on. For the first time in a couple years I didn't have family in town for Thanksgiving, so Keitha and I decided to head back west to Creeksgiving in Indian Creek for some warm crack climbing. It had been a few years since I was in the Creek, and man did I get spanked! Super pumpy liebacking and mega gobies reminded me that I have been planning to build that crack machine to train on in the house. I guess some extra trips to the desert might work too!

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