There is no way to do justice to all that has happened in the past month. I left you all with the promise of a second alpine adventure. I had planned on it being lengthy but so much time has elapsed and there is so much more to fill in that I will just say that it was a full blown epic. Caught in a thunderstorm on an exposed ridge we had to create our own descent route. Leaving behind a large amount of gear and having many stories worth of adventure. We finally got back to the car around 3 a.m having learned more than we asked for. I think that as far as learning experiences go, epics have a lot to teach.
We spent a few days recuperating in Jackson, before heading off to the City of Rocks. That is a beautiful place. Every climb that we did there left us smiling. We spent two days running laps on moderate climbs before deciding to venture onto harder terrain. I made the mistake of hopping on a hard climb without warming up and immediately had to step off due to a sharp pain that coursed through my shoulder. I needed a rest week. After giving Matt, a couple of belays we decided to take the rest of the day and the next day easy. We drove around, got pizza, and decided we needed some intentional downtime and Matt needed to move in. So we headed back to Walla Walla.
After some days of downtime we headed to Trout Creek. Where I realized yet again how spectacular that area is. Everything was excellent the climbing the environment. A truly wonderful area… and we had it all to ourselves. And again we returned to Walla Walla.
After some days of apathy Chris and Jack both arrived. By then, Matt had decided he needed a break from climbing and the weather in the Bugaboos looked incompatible with climbing. So we decided to to do the last leg of my road trip in reverse. We headed back to the City of Rocks (CIRO). My shoulder felt great and we spent three awesome days getting on some very difficult climbs, that were on my ticklist from before. These included the overhanging jam crack Interceptor, and the delicate technical face climbs on building block rock. The City of Rocks leg culminated with us scrambling to the base of interceptor and staring up at the 20 ft perfect hand-sized crack in all its intimidating power. Bouldering up the short offwidth to get to the roof was fun, but I’ve never understood the meaning of improbable until I was contorting myself to maneuver into the crack. Once I had my hands comfortably locked in and began climbing my feet cut leaving me hanging on two jams. Sticking that and getting my feet back in the crack was one of the coolest feelings I’ve ever had. After that it was a very sustained and pumpy 20ft to the chains.
After CIRO we headed to Tetons. This time we did it right. Taking advice from Hock, we got up at five and started the four mile approach to the climb Open Book. Our cinnamon bun breakfast proved to be just enough, and we made it to the climb in decent time, but not without some seriously cool stuff. On the approach we were headed off by a black bear who was making a meal of the massive quantities of huckleberries. While he/she was ambling up the hill we were making massive switchbacks timing them just right that the bear would cross the switchback just as we were. It made for three or four bear sightings. Pretty incredible. The climb was spectacular one of my favorites. Each pitch would be a classic in its own right. Varied and sustained the climbing and the companionship made for an incredible climb that only got better as we topped out to see that we would be navigating around a pristine alpine lake on our descent trail. After a bath we finished up our hike and got back to the car just in time to make mac’n’cheese while the sunset glowed red from behind the Tetons. It was and epic day, but this time the best kind.
We woke up excited about a rest day, so we after some complicated logistics discussions Jack went off with two friends to climb in the Cirque of the Towers, and Chris and I went to Lander to go have some pocket pulling fun. From pictures and words it sounds like Jack had a great time. Chris and I did too. We woke up early and got started and finished just before dark. One of the great things about the limestone in the Lander region is how short most routes are. Few exceed 60 ft. Chris and I managed to do eleven routes in a day, which beats both of our previous records by… a lot. We also got on some of the hardest rated climbs we had ever done. I think the highlight from this part of the trip was just the sheer number of climbs we did and realizing what style of climbing I really need to improve on.
Then (hang with me I’m almost done) we headed back to Walla Walla just in time for Scamble leader training. We met up with our fellow climbing leaders, Tia, Kemper and Wes and all headed down to the sport climbing paradise of Smith Rock. We met up with our “trainer”/guide Max and proceeded to have three incredible days hanging out and occasionally getting gnarly on the many tuff test pieces.
Today is the 20th I’ve returned to Walla Walla… again. Tomorrow our scramblers come. We’ve gone grocery shopping, pulled climbing and camping gear. All we need are our freshman and we’re good to go down to Smith… Again.