Another bittersweet parting from our latest climbing comrades. The past few days of climbing and Food Ranching have been full and wonderful. We’ve had days of climbing amid repeated waves of snow flurry armies, a visit to the museum in nearby Castle Dale, and yesterday the most productive yet playful circuit day in ages with the perfect blend of Canadians and Southerners (even though we’re all considered “southerners” to Canadians, eh?).
So much has happened it’s hard to document it all. I can’t express how grateful I am for Good People. This trip really would not be the same without them. New friends are not the icing on the cake – they are the flour. Or maybe the baking soda, to help it rise and give it a nice cakey shape. Friends are also the zero degree sleeping bag that keeps your toes toasty at night, traded for just a box of chocolate chip cookies. (Thanks Todd!)
The weather in Joe’s Valley has been almost perfect. This is the longest stretch of sunny yet cool days with minimal moisture. The only “bad” weather occurred a couple days ago while we were up at Eden area on the Left Fork. Drexel and a huge crew of dudes were working Eden V10 when we saw a fog in the distance. As it came closer, tiny motes of ice flew by in increasing numbers, until we were completely under attack by a barrage of snow. We sought shelter under a rock and waited for it to pass. Ten minutes later, the sky was blue, the sun was out, and the ground was dry. The guys got back on Eden for a bit before the next wave of blizzard hit. This occurred perhaps five times before everyone’s psyche plummeted. Drexel sent during the last eye of the storm and then everyone quickly scurried down the mountain.
[13 Seconds of snow on the mountain: https://vimeo.com/90478860]
When our skin was too raw to climb and our ankles too caked with dirt to feel good about ourselves, we took a rest day in Castle Dale. Only five minutes away, this tiny town holds the cozy Museum of the San Rafael, with dinosaur bones and Native American artifacts aplenty. The folks who work at this museum are just wonderful! Castle Dale also has the heated Emery County pool with hot showers for $4/day, which feel like magic.
….I take back my previous comment about the weather. Staring outside the Food Ranch window right now, I’m shocked by the torrential downpour that has transformed the normally colorful arid landscape. The power has gone out, and we are crossing our fingers that the store stays open (and doesn’t kick us out into the storm). This weather is such a contrast to yesterday’s sunny and cool day of perfection.
We had started our day with a quick glimpse at some super strong climbers crushing Ghost of War V11. Excited to climb ourselves, we moved on to our favorite warm-up area in New Joe’s at the Pimpin Jeans and Sphere area. Excellent, as usual. We met up with the Canadians and moved on to the Chips boulder as we put our serious faces on. I’ve been projecting Planet of the Apes V7 since our first day here, and finally… it happened. The feeling of accomplishment was tainted by the realization that I had spent all my time trying to figure out the more-difficult short-person beta, and then sent as soon as I decided to just do it the normal-person way. It was so much easier. I couldn’t believe it. I don’t know what the message in there is, except maybe it’s a wake-up call that I had gotten stuck in a tiny mental box of shortness, and I need to think bigger.
While I was on Planet of the Apes, some guys were trying the awesome big move on Chips V7.
The group of Southern boys we were climbing with got on these climbs as well. Jeremy was two moves from the top of Planet of the Apes when his pinky pulley popped, and that was it for the day. Injuries like this are always a huge upsetting shock, but somehow he seemed to be in a relatively jolly mood for the rest of the day. I think the ability to laugh in the face of hardships is 100x more impressive than sending a hard climb.
We moved on to the Self Service area and had a blast playing around on this boulder. And I mean, ALL around. We (re)flashed Self Service V4 and then shimmied up the arete while inventing new top-outs. Dave made ferocious tiger faces as he climbed. I squeaked. And thus began the climbing playtime. I think it’s important to find a healthy balance between intense projecting and goofing around, and we struck that balance. We got on the often overlooked Scary Baby V4 and Blender V5 behind Pocket Rocket V7, then got a little crazy making up V0/V1 FAs on the unknown nearby boulders (only to find out the next day that these were actually the Griptape boulders). If you’re ever in the area, definitely check these out! (p.21 in the Caldiero guidebook)
The day still wasn’t over! Next up was the Resident Evil area. Matt sent Spam, my favorite V7 in Joe’s Valley! I flashed the gorgeous, fluid looking Stumble Bum Traverse V5, followed soon after by Leslie. No matter what grade you are projecting, it would be a real shame to skip out on any of these gems. I mean, come on, LOOK at that rock!
The rain has calmed down and the power has returned to the Ranch. Drexel is itching to get back on Ghost King V11, but that might have to wait until tomorrow. For now, it’s best to accept the enforced rest day, do some good stretching, drink a lot of water, and watch movies. If only the Canadians were here, we could play 7 Wonders…