Triassic Bouldering

This mild November has been great. Each time I get out for a ride, or some other outdoor activity, I expect it to be the last. But I've filled the whole month that way.

Today was bouldering at Triassic (South of Price) with my friend Jeff and our families. I've dabbled in climbing, but never tried bouldering. I enjoyed it. With no gear or rope to mess with you spend most of your time climbing. You put a crash pad (yes, that really what it's called) below you to cushion your landing should you fall. A spotter helps make sure you come down on your feet. It's pretty simple. The toughest part for most routes is topping out - it seems the last few moves getting on top are sketchy so there is a fear factor.

Jeff encouraged me to try a step harder route than what I had been doing. It had only thin holds and required good footwork. One move about 2/3 up I had to trust my feet to stick on shallow dishes in the face and a small feature while I leaned into the rock to move a hand. I was sure I was going to peel off the rock, but I was just leaning in enough to make the move and finish the route. But it got my adrenaline going.

The weather in Utah Valley was overcast, but out at Triassic it was sunny. It was windy, but down in the rocks it wasn't bad and I was in short-sleeves the whole time.

Me moving tentatively up one of the first climbs.

Jamie works her way up a crack route.

Rachel starting up.

Jolene looking for the next hold.

Kade ran around, under and on the rocks the whole time.

Kara up in the wind.

Rachel and Jamie pose after reaching the top.

Wesley (Jeff's son) showing good form.

Jamie stepping high.

I'm almost to the top.

When I got home I had just enough time for a ride on the BST before dark. My legs felt lethargic on the climbs so I thought about cutting the ride short. But when I got to the start of the long descent to Battlecreek I couldn't resist the lure of that sweet downhill run. I did OK coming back up it - I guess my legs just needed to warm up. It was perfectly still, and although overcast, the view was more dramatic with the threatening clouds. Just a fantastic ride. From the trailhead above the Orem Cemetery to Battlecreek and back without stopping. And the trail was in great shape with hard packed dirt and a few damp sections and only one spot of thin mud.

This November has been good to me.

My True Love

Like most guys, I enjoy fun and exploring the world. But with my lovely wife as my partner, the adventures have been far sweeter. She has enriched my life immensely.

Happy birthday, Jolene!

I hope you enjoy this photo collection from the last year. It reminded me of the good times we've had and how lucky I am to have you in my life.

From our ride today at Lambert Park.

The above photo was from Jolene's birthday ride last year. We got a ride in today, bringing us full circle for the year.

Pre-Thanksgiving Ride

Mark and I got out for a ride this afternoon before he heads to Idaho for Thanksgiving. It's been a while since we've been on a ride together so it was good to ride some prime Corner Canyon dirt on yet another unseasonably warm November day.

Me cranking up Ghost Falls (photo by Mark).

We went up the Creekside trail - it's a surprisingly nice climb. Then up Ghost Falls where one bobble denied me the ascent without stopping. Meanwhile Mark was keeping up his single-speed skills even while on the geared bike by staying in the middle ring.

With the Thanksgiving theme, I'm thankful there are so many ways to pursue cycling, as we demonstrated on this ride. Few things more consistently bring out the kid in me than cycling. It's just fun to goof around on the bike.

Next we climbed up the dirt roads heading to the top of the Jacob's Ladder trail. Tony caught us on the climb on his rigid single speed - nice work! (I just had a little panic that I got his name wrong - if so, I apologize - set me straight in the comments.) At the top we got this lovely view of the Salt Lake Valley:

Folks, we are breathing that filth! Makes me want to climb every ride to get out of that soup. I wasn't excited to plunge back into it, but down we went.

Jacob's was a sweet descent - it's in good condition and has such good lines. On a little hump where the trail takes a slight left turn I got some air and kicked the rear end right for a tiny tail whip. I don't think I'd tried to do one of those before and it was a fun little stunt that I'll practice more.

Mark rolling down Jacob's.

We pedaled up the road and flew down Clark's. It's in excellent condition - hard packed with no mud, just a few loose rocks. We only encountered one group of people (mountain bikers) going down - sweet! But it was chilly.

We took the Silica Pit trail then tried the stairs trail. I couldn't make it up the stone stairs. I tried to go slow and finesse them - denied. I tried to hit them fast and just bash my way up - fail. I had a nice fall since I couldn't clip out and landed on a branch that jabbed me in the butt. Only a flesh wound. I know there were guys who made it up these stairs at the night ride. dug was telling riders you rock your way up. I'm not getting it. I'll keep working on the stairs.

We finished off with the Gas Line trail, a few jumps on the dirt road and dropping lower Corner Canyon. Just a nice ride that got me feeling happy.

I'm glad I have cycling to give me a boost, a shot of joy. Cycling is my Prozac. (There's your quote for the day.) It's definitely one thing I'm thankful for.

P.S. I added What Dreams May Come to my list of Very Odd Movie Gems.

Climbing Castleton Tower

Last week my friend Jeff was climbing the Fisher Towers near Moab. This reminded me of climbing Castleton Tower in 2004 with Jeff, my brother and a few other guys. Of my outdoor adventures, it's in the top 5. It was an exceptional experience. Here's the story.

Looking up at Castleton Tower from the floor of Castle Valley.

Friday, April 16th around 5 PM we drove into Castle Valley and parked at the foot of Castleton Tower. (Note: Castle Valley is what you see into from Porcupine Rim. Castleton Tower is plainly visible.) We were anxious to see what the route (North Chimney, 5.9) looked like so we hiked 1000 feet up the talus cone to the foot of the tower. There was plenty of daylight so we decided to try the first pitch. Long story short, three guys climbed to the top, mostly in the dark (they had headlamps) and arrived back at camp around 1:30 AM.

Castleton Tower from the north ridge.

Looking up the North Chimney route.

The next day we hiked up again and the rest of us began the climb, with Shane leading again (he also lead the night climb the day before). Note that this is a traditional (trad) climbing where the leader places pieces of protection (cams, nuts, chocks, slings, etc.) to prevent a long fall. Our group was Shane (lead climber), my brother Kurt and myself.

Looking down the 1st pitch.

The first pitch was good climbing, but the seam has a calcite deposit that has been polished slick by climbers over the years which adds to the difficulty. I did OK but struggled a bit on the bulge near the top.

Kurt belaying Shane up the 2nd pitch.

Me at the 2nd pitch.

Looking up the 2nd pitch.

I had a hard time getting past the bulge at the start of the second pitch. It had no real holds, just dishes and I just couldn't put the moves together. I finally made it and the rest was pretty easy climbing as we went deeper into the chimney (wide crack).

Kurt belaying Shane up the 3rd pitch.

Shane traversing across the top of the chimney on the 3rd pitch.

The third pitch was deeper inside the chimney and had some strenuous moves. My favorite move of the climb was on this pitch - at the top of the chimney you had to stem across the gap and shuffle out near the front face and then step across the chasm. It was trippy to stare down 250 feet of empty air and then step across to the safety of the ledge.

The last pitch to the summit had some really good climbing, but I was pretty tired by now so that made it more difficult. This pitch was out in the open and you could feel the exposure after the last two pitches in the safe embrace of the chimney.

When I stepped up on the summit I felt a sublime sense of exhilaration. Toiling to climb up this 400 foot tall sliver of rock put me on the summit of a viewpoint 1400 feet above the valley floor. It was a dramatic rush like I'd never felt before.

Enjoying the thrill of the summit.

Kurt on the summit.

Looking north toward the Priest, Nun and Rectory.

Looking south to Porcupine Rim. The famous mountain biking trail runs along the top of that cliff.

QuickTime VR panorama - click and drag to look around.

(If you don't see the panorama above, try this direct link.)

After savoring the summit and signing the register we rigged up the ropes for the rappel off the top. The rappel is done in two stages. Shane went down first and found the midway anchors. Kurt went down then me. I've done a lot of rappelling but this one was heady - leaning back over the edge of a 400 foot drop gets your attention. After clipping into the anchors we pulled the ropes and re-rigged for the final rappel to the ground. The only annoyance was the wind that was gusty at the summit but was now blowing stronger. Back on terra firma I felt a deep sense of satisfaction from the experience.

Kurt almost down the first half of the rappel.

Hanging out midway down the rappel off of the tower.