In My Element

Hey all! It’s been a while, I know. Things got a little crazy after the last post–it’s been a blast being home and surrounded by my friends and family, but with all the socializing and work prepping the car for the trip, I haven’t had much time to write!

Actually that’s a huge lie, I’ve had plenty of time but the toxic combination of a lot of free time and a brand new Kindle has led to a hopeless addiction to reading. I haven’t read this much since I was a kid! I’m loving it and excited to head out to the desert area around Moab tomorrow with a huge stockpile of books and a hammock. Rest days are going to be great.

Here’s the brief highlights of the last few weeks:

Zion

Zion was cool, although I had absolutely no idea what a destination that place is. Having very little camping experience outside of random climbing areas that don’t tend to hold the attention of Joe Q. Public, I definitely wasn’t ready for the zoo that Zion proved to be. I barely got one of the 280ish super-expensive campsites in the canyon, despite it being kind of early in the season and a weekday. I subsequently realized I could have camped for free elsewhere, but I’d already paid so I figured I’d stick around RV-land and people watch.

Angel's Landing

Knowing I only wanted to spend a day there, I got up at dawn and caught the first shuttle into the canyon. If you haven’t been there, you can’t just drive around the main part of the park–you have to take a shuttle. Anyway, I headed straight up to the classic hike Angel’s Landing. I initially scoffed at the fact that it was a mostly paved trail, and eventually involved scrambling over steps chipped in the soft sandstone, but it was a gorgeous hike and surprisingly burly and dangerous for something in a national park. Definitely showed its age–the trail was established in 1926, in an age when legal liability wasn’t such a concern.

The rest of the day I just wandered around mostly at random, getting good views of Moonlight Buttress and Touchstone Wall, two famous long climbs in the area. Looking at all this rock and not climbing it kind of started to drive me bugfuck, so eventually I just found a nice warm rock by the Virgin River and sat in the sun reading and napping for a few hours. The next day I broke camp early and hit the road for home!

Boulder

I drove into Boulder in the middle of a blizzard with 100 foot visibility, and the next day it was 70 and sunny. Talk about an appropriate homecoming. Being here has been a blast. It’s been great catching up with family and some of my good friends from high school, and the abundance of climbing here is impressive.

The First Flatiron

Despite the presence of all this great rock so close to the city, it’s been a little odd trying to climb here. Unlike most of the climbing areas I’ve been to, there is no centralized campground in which to meet partners–everyone who climbs here just lives in the city. The rock itself is spread out over a few different canyons, principally Eldorado Canyon and Boulder Canyon, making it hard to pin down a particular crag as a good place to meet partners. And because it’s so easy to get out for just a few hours and climb, most people do just that, eschewing full climbing days in favor of shorter morning or afternoon sessions.

Definitely been an adjustment for me, since I don’t know many climbers in the area and I’m used to either going out for a full day or not at all! On the whole, though, I’d say it makes for a nice mellow scene. It’s great being able to get a little bit of climbing in around whatever other errands you might have to run.

It has been a weird twist, though–being on the road by myself means I actually have to seek out climbing areas that are at least moderately crowded. I’ve spent a couple of days fruitlessly wandering around Boulder Canyon looking for partners, and mostly just wound up doing a lot of lonely bushwhacking! Probably going to the wrong crags… although I did get lost and wind up meeting a really cool couple from Vegas at the High Security Crag. They were wrapping up for the day, but at least we all got beers together. Next best thing to climbing, right?

Speaking of errands, my principle project while I’ve been home has been souping up my Honda Element to turn it into a faux-RV. I’m mostly going to let the pictures speak for themselves, but everything turned out great. The bed is comfy, the storage is ample, and putting this all together with my dad was a ton of fun. It definitely would not have come together without his help.

Shelf Road

With the platform basically finished, I decided to take it on a dry run down to Shelf Road in Southern Colorado. I arrived on Friday, and after getting really lucky by running into a group of visiting climbers as they headed up to the Gallery area, I had a great day of climbing on some really interesting limestone with some cool people. Frank, Mary, Lauren and Jonathan–thanks for having me along!

The rock at Shelf is limestone, but it’s an odd sort of limestone without too many pockets and generally about dead vertical. There are long blank sections where your options for feet are very proscribed, followed by bands of prickly rock that feels like grabbing a cactus but sticks to your feet like glue. It was a blast climbing there, but after getting out with my friends Cisco and Katrina on day 2, my tips were about shot!

The platform worked out great, so I headed back to Boulder, narrowly dodging several inches of snow that came in a few hours after I left Canon City, and have been enjoying some R&R the past few days while I say goodbye to people for a little while. Tomorrow I head out to the Moab area, where I’ll be climbing desert cracks and towers for three to four weeks.

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One thought on “In My Element

  1. I’m real interested to hear what you think of the climbing around Moab. I’ve mountain biked there a few times but never climbed. Maybe someday I’ll find the time to drag you back you back down there – I’ll lead the mountain bike rides and you lead the climbs.

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