June 19, 2010

Moab Weekend

With a couple of days to dedicate to climbing, I figured the best thing to do was figure out where the warmest weather was.  Moab was looking pretty good, so I called Eric and Rob in Utah and they were already thinking like me!

We decided to throw back to the "old days" of dirtbag climbing when we would toss our gear and just enough food into the car and head for the desert crags of Zion, Moab or St. George.  Those days are responsible for some of my fondest memories and this trip proved very similar.

Someone said it's the simple things in life that make a person happy.  I figure that if they meant the smell of chalk, a tall finger splitter and the feel of cam slotting perfectly on the first go, they sure had it right!

I hit Top 40, a lieback crack rated 5.8 for the warm-up, while the others scattered to put ropes on various faces and cracks along Wall Street.  Dave Clawson and I had our eyes on Baby Blue (5.11a)  and after leads on Lacto-Mangulation (5.10b) and others, we headed down the road to start slamming some cams into what appeared to be a GREAT finger crack.

Just as Dave roped up for the first lead, a few drops of rain began to fall and we wondered if we had traveled far enough south to get out of the wet weather that has been extending the already too-long spring season.  Undaunted we huddled in close to the rock and realized that the route was overhung enough to be protected from the rain.  We smiled...BIG!

I spotted Dave on the cruxy start until he could slot a yellow Metolius and clip the rope.  Powerful moves requiring left-handed ring-locks resulted in upward progression.  One orange Metolius cam, two blue, another yellow and one #7 nut later Dave finally found a spot where he could alternate hand jams and wiggle the pump out of his forearms.  Since the crack flared over the last 15 feet, it took some creative cam placements above the bomber #2 BD that protected the slightly runout finish, but Dave showed us his mad Joshua Tree crack-climbing skills and pulled a
powerful finish through the flared finger crack to the chains.

With raindrops falling faster and in greater quantity, I tied-in and began the ascent, cleaning the cams as I went.  The movement on the lower 2/3 of the route was AWESOME!  Powerful toe jams, ring locks and modified lie-backs kept the climbing interesting and creative; and smooth, fluid upward progression was the reward of my labors.

I too found the crux finish difficult for my slender fingers as I battled the deceptively flaring crack that ran the final 15 feet.  After four falls I finger jammed like my pride depended on it as passers-by stopped their vehicles and took a couple of photos.  I finally made the final 10 feet (thanks largely to a toe jam that cranked some serious pressure onto my little toe) and pulled up to the chains.

Baby Blue proved to be all we hoped it would be and was definitely a good climb to get the season started.

Dave Clawson leading Baby Blue, 5.11a 100 ft.

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