Thursday, August 9, 2012

Climbing days around the Outdoor Retailer Show

Matt, Kenton and I headed out to Utah a few days early to get some climbing in before the trade show and another day after.

Kenton had actually been at a family reunion so Matt and I picked him up in Dolores, CO. He had a good time with his family but failed the sunscreen test. Here he is in his white skin tank top on our first day climbing at American Fork,
 Trying the route Hell in American Fork, at the Hell Cave area,
 and getting on Burning a second time so Matt could take photos and say that they are of "Lee on Burning in Hell",
 On the second day we headed to Little Cottonwood Canyon. I had only bouldered in the canyon previously and it was nice to do routes. We got very lucky with the weather considering it was August and the cliffs are mostly south facing. It was overcast all most of the day but only sprinkled for a few minutes in the morning, so the heat was very bearable.

Here Kenton follows Gordon's Hangover,
 We brought the camping stove to cook dinner on with the idea that this would save us money on food. We ended up only cooking one night so it probably was not worth bringing, but it was pretty good.

The kitchen set up at the back of the Prius,
 and the product of our labor,
 The last day before the Trade Show we headed back to American Fork. On the first day we had climbed at Division Wall and moved over to the Hell Cave in the afternoon. This day we just stayed at Division and moved around the corner in the afternoon when the main face came into the sun. The weather smiled on us once again, there was a nice breeze blowing through the canyon which had us wearing long sleeve shirts while belaying but climbing comfortably in shorts and t-shirts.

Kenton managed to flash Quicklime Girl which matches his hardest route to go down on his first try. Then later in the day sent Litmus Test on his second try which matches his hardest red-point, so a great day for KP. Here he is on Litmus Test,
 I did Liquid Oxygen which isa great, but short route. If the ground was at the level of the top of the flake that you ramble up at the start and it was a boulder problem it would be super classic,
 Matt was feeling sluggish today and it took some convincing but he eventually got on Liquid Oxygen as well and really enjoyed the climbing,
 Here is KP topping out on his red-point of Litmus Test,
 We left Salt Lake City on Sunday afternoon about 1pm after wrapping up a few things at the show in the morning and drove to Moab. The plan was to do the North Chimney of Castleton Tower. I've done the route a few times as well as a couple of others on Castleton and the associated towers of Castle Valley but Matt and Kenton had never done anything quite like it. The weather forecast was not great, meaning 95-100 degrees so we needed to get and early start as you have to hike up a 1,000+ foot scree cone to get to the base, luckily the trail is on the west side so it is shaded in the morning.

The start from the parking/camping area follows a wash through a canyon with a few steeps that you have to stem up,
 Then it is on to the "main event", here KP is on the lower half,
 and moving into a notch through a short cliff band at about half height, with the towers shadow in the background,
 A better shot of Castleton's shadow,
 Matt rounding the corner to skirt the second cliff band, this one only a couple of hundred feet below the tower,
 The rest of the towers n Castle Valley, from closest: The Rectory, The Nuns (small and attached to the Rectory), The Priest, Sister Superior and The Covenant,
 Matt negotiates the final bit of scree,
 It is incredible that this trail which was built or improved about 10 years ago is still in good shape most of the way this last bit could use a little work.

Here is Kenton starting up the first pitch, which I think is one of the best in the desert and probably the best at it's difficulty,
 KP made a typical misstake, coming from the Sandias, you can't always get good gear, so you put it in when you can get it. In the desert you can pretty much place anywhere and he only made it about 2/3rd's of the way up the pitch before he was out of gear that fit. Matt was able to clean the first piece and sent it up to KP on the trail rope which allowed him to climb through to where he could get gear that he still had on him.

After the first pitch there is a short section of Off-Width followed by a very long (really 1 and a half pitches) chimney that the route is named for. As the only one that had really climbed OW before and with the loose and sandy nature of the climbing in the chimney I lead this section finishing at a notch just below the summit of the tower.

Looking out towards the Fisher Towers from the notch at the top of the chimney pitches,
 Matt, who rarely climbs traditionally protected routes heading off on the last short pitch to the summit,
 Matt posing down after leading the last pitch,
 The mandatory summit photo,
 We hung out for a bit on top before making the rappels back to the ground. Here is Matt on the second, very long rappel that got us to the ground,
 The reason we decided to beat a hasty retreat, some very threatening looking clouds building over the La Sal Mountains. The last place you want to be is on top of a tower if things get bad.

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