Sunday, October 24, 2010

Salt Lake City

Our first climbing stop in Utah was at a local bouldering crag just outside of the city of Ogden, which is about a half hour north of Salt Lake City. It is made up of Quartzite boulders spread along the foothills of the mountains just outside of the city. Here is a picture of the city from one of the boulders.

We got on a few fun problems but put the camera away for most of the day. The real excitment of the afternoon came as we were leaving and saw two rattlesnakes at the base of one of the boulders we had just been climbing on half an hour before.

From Ogden we headed down to Salt Lake City, and figured we would spend quite a bit of time bouldering and climbing in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Unfortunately it turned out that all the public campgrounds in Salt Lake county, including the one conveniently located in the canyon, were already closed for the season. There weren't really any other nearby camping options either, and we ended up in a private RV park litterally 100 yards from the I-15. Needless to say, with the sweet, lulling sound of freeway traffic, the sprinkler system waking us up at 5am, and a half hour drive each way through the city to get to the canyon, we were pretty annoyed. Granted there are some advantages to urban camping, including showers, laundry and wi-fi, but in the end we could only spend two days climbing before hitting the road again.

The first day we spent bouldering, and climbed quite a few fun problems. Here I am on Fat Albert Gang V4, a really awesome arete climb.

The next day we decided we would climb the Indecent Exposure route up The Thumb, which is the peak just left of center in this picture.

At 9 pitches, and over 1000 feet of climbing, it would be one of the longest routes we had ever done, but it was graded relatively easy, so we figured it wouldn't be too bad. It turned out to be one of the most grueling days of climbing we have ever had. The 9.5 hour round trip from the parking lot, with 6.5 hours of climbing, weren't particularly atypical for one of our long climbing days. But the nature of the route, the two days of bouldering beforehand, and the long, steep and dirty gully descent all contributed to us being completely exhausted by the time we returned to the base of the cliff. Man, were we thankful for the hot showers at the campground that night!

In the end we climbed it in 10 pitches, skipping 2 of the pitches described in the guidebook and adding 3 of our own. Stuff like that sometimes happens. There were probably only 4 pitches that had what we would consider quality climbing, and some of that wasn't really all that fun. The rest was chossy, scrambly, and really not that great.

Here is Kristal on the wide and comfortable lunch ledge, 4 pitches up, when we still had some energy left.

Here I am heading out on the 5th pitch, which started with some really nice layback climbing and turned into some fun, but awkward climbing up a deep water groove.

Here is Kristal just after climbing the gruelling 6th pitch chimney. I think the look on her face says it all. The 5th and 6th pitches really took a lot out of us.

Here is Kristal just about to depart on the 9th pitch, much happier with the end in sight!

Even though The Thumb is only half way up the canyon wall, the views of the canyon and the city were pretty incredible. Pictures do not do them justice.

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