Monday, February 17, 2014

Rock Climbing - really?

Hatfield contacted me last week and said he was looking for a climbing partner to scout out some climbs he could do as graduation climbs for the Arizona Mountaineering Club. Carrie and I were active in the AMC from 2000 until 2004. We haven't climbed much at all since 2005. The last time I was on a rope was in 2008 with Hatfield in Durango, CO.

At 7:00am we arrived at McDowell Mountain Regional Park. The destination was Sven's Slab. We were in search of some solitude and Sven's seemed like the perfect place.

Jeff led a 100 foot face climb called Quaker Oats. It is rated a 5.5 and has only a couple of "interesting" moves for the leader. He set up an anchor and left a directional in place so that the rope would stay oriented for me.

This was my first climb in six years. I could tell. In reality, the first 20 feet of Sven's Slab is "tricky" climbing. The rest is very doable, even for someone out of practice. I goofed around on the harder start before moving up the face and into the much more climbable granite.

Not much time passed after Jeff lowered me from my first climb when two guys showed up talking non-stop. Great. This is exactly why we came to Sven's ... to avoid the noise. Low and behold we get the two most monologue-driven conversationalists in the rock climbing community. They saw we were set up on Sven's and they could have moved down the wall a bit. Instead, they decided to climb right beneath Jeff on a diagonal route that crosses the entire 100 foot wide face of Sven's. Really fellows? Really?

Blah blah blah blah blah blah ... wow dudes ... take a breath.

We were very patient with them and even though we were annoyed they did turn out to be nice guys. They cleaned (removed) our anchors for us since I hadn't done that since say 2005 or so. Not that cleaning anchors is difficult. I probably could have managed - but it would have taken me forever.

We hopped and scrambled about a half mile through Volkswagen-sized boulders to scout out some remote climbs on the other side of Sven's. One of the climbs looks fun. You have to REALLY want to climb that route to lug your gear over there.

We ended up climbing 3 routes. The 5.5, a 5.8 and a 5.7. It was fun. Here's more information on Sven's Slab.

Our Grand Canyon Excursion for 2014

He's back.

He never really left.

On February 1st, we headed down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. This was roughly our 15th or 16th trip to the bottom. It really doesn't get old. In fact, this year I learned and saw more new things than I have in previous trips.

On day one the crew headed down the Bright Angel trail. It's a ten mile walk. At mile 1.5, I shed my pack and ran back up the hill to check on one of our more leisurely hikers. He was doing fine, but I inherited most of his gear and food to lighten his pack. Just above Indian Gardens, Carrie released me from the pack so that I could go check the group in at Phantom. Her challenge was for me to get to Phantom and get back to them before they got to Indian Gardens. She's funny. I had to explain the distances.

I did make it 3 miles back up the Bright Angel from Phantom Ranch on my return trip to shuttle packs. I would walk / run back and forth checking on hikers. I turned the 10 mile walk into 19 miles. That was fun. My feet were beat down ... but as a show of respect to my Nike's from IMAZ ... I wore them to the bottom of the canyon. They are likely ready to be retired.

We walked around the bottom of the canyon on the off day. I think we did about six miles of walking that day. We were just exploring.

This year I hiked more leisurely than ever coming out of the canyon. I hung back with the Borg crew + CareBear and we talked the whole way up. It is a much different hike doing the Kaibab in five or six hours rather than three.

If you've never been to the Grand Canyon - you should maybe consider a trip.