Saturday, April 13, 2013

A week in Zion

The towers of the virgin


Finally (and not a day to soon), I got a whole week off from school and teaching to head to the desert of Utah in an effort to create some vitamin-d, climb sandy rock, and stare awe-struck at the looming walls that are characteristic of Zion National Park.  Bridget and I started our drive from Bozeman, MT, and spent the night visiting friends in SLC.  It was a fun night exploring the city and hanging with the Volkenings. 

We entered Zion National Park during the busiest ever recorded time in its history.  But somehow the cliffs and walls were empty of climbers. The buses, however, were packed to the max with tourists who asked us questions about our strange climbing gear and on why we were covered in sand and blood (most were polite enough that they didn't recoil at our stench and we didn't recoil at their cameras).



Montana wildlife near West Yellowstone
 
Finally in the sunny and sandy land of Zion
 
We started the trip by climbing the fun "right toilet crack" at the temple of sinawava. It was a butt kicker for "only" being 5.10-, but it was fun and we had the route all to our selves.
 
Bridget following on the first pitch of "right toilet cracks".
 
Bridget on the second pitch of "right toilet cracks".
 
 



 

Bridget on the 4th pitch of "right toilet cracks"
 
myself striking my best warrior pose on the top of "right toilet crack"
 
Bridget becoming one with the universe
 
We then climbed "lead by sheep" on Aries butte during a day when it was predicted to rain (which it didn't). What a strange yet satisfying route. Run out 5.7 climbing on petrified sand dunes brings one to the summit of this feature with great views all around.


Bridget approaching Aries Butte
 
pictographs

Bridget on the first pitch of "lead by sheep"- Aries butte
 
Bridget climbing on "lead by sheep"
 
View from near the summit of Aries butte
 
 
 
 
Bridget bouldering
 
After "lead by sheep" we geared up for 'Space shot" on the leaning wall. We planned on spending a night on the wall and got an early start. Once we reached the fourth pitch we were in the full sun and baking under the heat. I managed to lead the C2 pitch in two hours. I am not an aid climber and this was the hardest thing I had ever lead on clean aid; it kinda fried me out with the mental weirdness and the intense sun beating down on us. I decided that I didn't want to lead the next pitch (also C2), so we bailed and were back in Springdale by supper. It was a learning experience for me for sure, I need to get my wall climbing techniques down better.
 
Space shot ascends just to the left of the great arch in the background.  (photo by Kevin Volkening taken from the base of moonlight buttress).

 
psyched!
 
Bridget leads the second pitch of Space shot

Bridget being cognizant of the buses below
 
Merica' - myself rigging our "cheater stick" with some pride. 
 
Myself on the first C2 lead (pitch 4) of space shot
 
This is about when I decided that aid climbing may not be my thing.

Even when we bail on a route Bridget keeps on smiling
 
Bailing from space shot

 
A scorpion that was under our tent
 
We spent the next day climbing the best route of the trip- "headache" near the tunnel. Three great 5.10 crack pitches brought us to the top with poop-eating grins on our faces. 
 
 
Bridget on the first pitch of "Headache"

Myself on the second pitch of "Headache"
Myself on the third pitch of "Headache"- tight-tight hands.
 
Mt. Kinesava from our camp site
 
Unfortunately our camera batteries died with a few days left on the end of the trip. We did some really good climbing sans photos. We got on "Iron Messiah" A pretty cool route. The first pitch was the best by farrrrrr- but don't blow the first three clips. We also headed to St George where we finally were able to take a shower and camp with a flush toilet in the beautiful Snow Canyon State Park. We climbed the ultra-classic "Living on the edge" a great 4 pitch (5.10) sport route (except for the last 5.9 pitch) that climbs right on the edge of a small arch and then takes a plumb line to the top of the formation. On the descent Bridget and I ran smack dab into a Gila monster that was as large as my forearm!

I had a lot of fun on this trip and I can't wait to head back this coming fall with a rack full of offset gear!


 
Cheers, Loren

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