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.

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