Saturday: City Of Rocks
On Monday we find out that Shirley’s company is sending her off for a business meeting in Boise, Idaho on the coming Friday. Given that we only have to buy one airline ticket ourselves, we start making plans to get some climbing done “out east” on the weekend. Given also that that particular weekend is the “fall-back” time for the clocks, we’ll have an extra hour. The possibilities are endless!
Shirley – who flew out to Boise on Friday morning – wraps up her work meetings by 5pm and by 10:30pm she picks me (and the remainder of our 175 pounds worth of gear) up from the Boise airport. Where do we go?? The logical plan would be to hit City Of Rocks 2+ hrs away, but the forecast there looks questionable at best. As does the Moab forecast (9 hrs away). Jacked-up on caffeine, we start speeding east on I84 with a tentative plan to shoot all the way down to Red Rocks (sunny skies and mid-70’s are an easy sell despite the considerable driving time).
As we near Burley, ID the night sky is still clear however. No sign of the 40+% chance of precip. as forecasted. We quickly decide to give The City a shot – granite, sandstone – it’s all good. Get to The City by 1am and set up camp. Sometime in the night, the sound of rain awakens me briefly. “Shit!.” By morning however, there’s a swath of clear blue sky over most of The City.
Even though the temps are lower than we’d like, we grab the gear and head for the Parking Lot Rock hoping to hit some 3-star semi-classics on the backside (east face in hopes that it would be dry first). The first choice route starts up a slab that is still quite wet. OK, let’s try our third choice: an OK looking 5.9 crack (Funky Bolt) with a short face section midway up (…protected by a – well – funky bolt…+ a good bolt 2 feet higher). As I make my way up it, light rain/snow begins. By the time Shirley is nearing the top of the 150-foot pitch, we’re in full on rain. The blue hole that we saw over The City earlier in the morning is gone. The sky is dark and nasty! As Shirley tops out, I get an enthusiastic “OK!” from her when I suggest going for the desert.
We rap down, hike out (there was a hard core duo roping up for what looked like Delay Of Game in the rain – the only other climbers we saw in the park that day), toss the wet tent and its contents in the car and are soon speeding down the dirt roads headed for Salt Lake. The ever-evolving plan is to go for Red Rocks and try to tick off a mid-sized route on Sunday before pulling an all-nighter back to Boise for our 7am Monday morning flight home.
Sunday: Indian Creek
Driving through Salt Lake, we decide to give Moab one more chance (it’s a bit closer to Boise than Red Rocks and we want to taste some cracks) and call up the local climb shop. “Skies are clear and more of the same for Sunday.” NOAA was full of it! OK, the plan changes again and we head off I15 and across the Wasatch. Get to Moab by 9pm. We sort the gear and make plans to head for the Six Shooter Towers on Sunday morning.
Pre-dawn wake-up on Sunday and soon we’re driving past Indian Creek looking for the access dirt road. One mile from the highway, as I watch the beautiful sunrise illuminate the North Six Shooter all I can say is: “Fuck, I can’t believe it didn’t clear!”
The sedan-friendly northern access road proves too much for our Neon. In a failed attempt to cross a small ditch, I have effectively plunged and buried the nose of the car in the red dirt. The front wheels are hanging over a small ditch and spin helplessly through air. Thinking on my feet, I quickly elect to turn on the 4WD only to realize that our rental must have had this feature dismantled. One of the rear wheels is also hanging a couple inches in the air. The thoughts of nailing the tower are quickly replaced with thoughts of making it to Boise by 6 am next morning. As I struggle (in vain) to prove my manliness by single handedly lifting the front of the car out of the ditch, Shirley yanks out the jack from the trunk. A brief hour and a half later, we’re back in business but by this time we don’t have enough time to do the tower (and hold on to our jobs).
Instead we head back to Indian Creek and hike up to the Supercrack Buttress. The trail meets the buttress near 3 AM Crack. Since it’s empty and looks reasonable, I give it a go. Things are going well till about 20 feet from the anchors I run out of blue Camalots (I thought the book said 2 of those!) and the balls required to run out the last 20 feet of slightly flaring crack. I downclimb, clean a #3 from below and try to make my way back. 10 feet from the anchors, I can’t feel my arms and thus hang (destroying my once in a lifetime opportunity for an onsight – I’m going to jump off a bridge!!). Shirley enjoys the red Camalot opener of the route (and the yellow stretch) but curses the #3 flaring sections up above.
We move over 30 feet and are soon looking up at the Incredible Hand Crack. Looks cool and the guys who just did it give us some beta on rest stances. The route has some good ones (more so than 3AM) but the crux overhanging traverse under the roof is much more difficult for me (needless to say, I test a yellow placement with a small fall). I realize that my sweet spot crack size is indeed a tight blue Camalot and not a nice yellow (as it is for most normal human beings). Shirley enjoys the route much more than me. I have suffered enough! I check the guidebook and Supercrack calls for 5 blue Camalots! My kinda of size!
Hike over further (a whole 150 or so feet!!!!) and join the line at the base of Supercrack (a.k.a. Luxury Liner Of The Desert). When our turn arrives, I start up the initial 20-foot pedestal and it works me pretty hard!! In retrospect, gaining the pedestal (above which THE crack begins) IS the technical crux of the route (C. Burns agrees with me in his guidebook). After catching my breath, I’m just about ready to plunge in….well, one more breath. The business end of Supercrack opens with about 20+ feet of yellow Camalots, then the crack passes a tiny “roof” and opens to blue Camalots immediately above. It stays in the blue Camalot range all the way to the anchors 110 feet above the deck. The going is awesome! Incredible in fact!!! I’m panting but don’t really feel like I’m going to slip out (once in the blue Camalot portion). It’s the most incredible piece of crack I have ever climbed!! I feel redeemed – at least I’ve done this classic clean the first time around (I guess it cannot be onsight since I’ve read the guidebook many times before…..whatever). Once I lower off, Shirley is up. Once again she enjoys the yellow Camalot land but the wider portion above is off-hands for her. She fights valiantly but needs to rest a couple of times.
We rap off, chit chat with the guys at the base who were kind enough to take some shots of us on SC and head back to the car. Quick stop in Subway in Moab and we’re off chipping away at the 600 miles separating us from Boise, ID. Get to Boise at midnight and splurge on a Motel 6. Next morning we catch our flight home and are both back at work by 9am. I sit through yet another boring meeting this time with a grin on my face daydreaming about crack climbing while all around me the standard “blah, blah, blah…” goes on. Life’s good.