Hey, strangers! So, we’re home… here is a recap of the last few weeks.
Our final ten days in Bishop were spent exploring new territory and seeking shelter from winter storms. We actually wound up breaking our tent… yeah, the six week old one. Both xippers have broken (fly and tent door) and one of the poles is cracked. The desert is a harsh environment for tents. However, six weeks doesn’t seem an appropriate life time for a four season tent that we were told was specifically built for these conditions. We happily returned this REI model for a new one during our Vegas visit.
Back to Bishop climbing… We gave up projecting in favor of volume and had a hay day doing so. Chris loved Suspended in Silence, a super high-ball in the Pollen Grains that begins with a six-foot long dyno. Needless to say, I skipped that one. My two favorite lines were Cuban Roll and Green Hornet at Dale’s Camp. Both were on the tall side with superb movement. Chris and I came heart-breakingly close to nailing Swanky Sit and Finder’s Fee, respectively, but it all came down to time. We just didn’t have enough of it left to finish everything we wanted to. We did manage to make very quick work of Cindy Swank, though. We also briefly tried Gastonia and Zen Flute at Dale’s Camp, both which need to be sent next trip. Given how much the weather was getting in the way of our climbing (we rarely were able to climb two days in a row), the low pressure setting was the right choice.
Unfortunately, Chris and I both began to struggle with injuries at the end of our Bishop extended stay. I have what feels like carpal-tunnel in my left wrist. No idea whether it is related to my previous injury. All the crimping out in the Buttermilks I think really did me in. Chris damaged a pulley on his pinky finger the last day we were in Bishop. It was an incredibly cold and blustery day, so I’m guessing we simply didn’t take enough time to warm up.
We headed out to Vegas on March 21st to meet my dad and Kevin for a few days of sport climbing. Dad flew in the evening of the 21st, while Kevin arrived the following afternoon. Chris and I got up early to make the drive to Vegas, checked into our room, and dropped most of our items off in order to make room for my dad and his luggage. We only had two seats in the car (the back seats had been removed for increased stowing capacity), so I elected Chris chauffeur to pick up my dad. Driving in Vegas sucks. The GPS stupidly took him through the strip, making him a half an hour late to pick up Dad. Oops.
Once Dad arrived at the hotel, he was anxious to grab a bite to eat as it was already 8pm Indy time. We walked across the street and hit up the same pizza place as during the Obama ordeal. Boy, was I happy to endure a whole lot less drama this time around!
Kevin arrived safe and sound the following afternoon, and we nabbed a quick, crappy sub before running out to the crag. We attempted to avoid the crowds (and the blazing sun) by climbing at a shady wall with about six routes which required a 20min approach. The day went very well all in all, and the boys were able to get their feet back under them. We ate at Kevin’s favorite Vegas restaurant, a thai place (we always forget the name).
The next day started off like any other. Well, except that I got yelled at by the breakfast staff for taking ‘too much salsa’. The hotel provides a breakfast buffet, and every morning I eat two whole-wheat english muffins with salsa on top. I’m weird like that. The salsa is quite good and fresh. Evidently, however, three tablespoons of salsa is more than my fair share. One of the staff got in my face, raising her voice and wagging her fat finger at me. In front of all other guests in the dining area. Humiliating. I guess the salsa is there for show???
I got the hell out of there and we drove to Kraft Mountain. We jumped on two 5.9s before multiple groups began to show up, scowling at us for taking up two lines. So it goes. We were forced to endure terrible music playing on someone’s iPhone the entire time.
Once we had climbed and cleaned the routes, we trotted over to what was supposed to be a nice 5.10. Turns out it was ridiculously run out with no anchors… top-out style. We vetoed that and took a looong, strenuous hike up the wash and over numerous boulders to a pretty, dark, heavily varnished wall with two 5.10s. I rope-gunned the easier of the two, a ‘5.10c’. Yeah, right. I cried the entire way up it. I came down and anxiously handed the rope over to my Dad to see how he would navigate the climb. Dad and Kevin have become much more accustomed to searching for sequences outside of the bolt line in true Vegas style. I’m not nearly as brave, which turned out to be a blessing.
Dad definitely identified easier terrain through a couple of cruxy sections. I was proud of them for that, and shook my head at my tunnel vision. However, at the little roof section 3/4 of the way up the route, even Dad got stuck. He eventually found a giant jug 10ft off route to the left, and dynoed over there. Good thing he stuck it! He sailed his way up to the top and lowered off, chuckling to himself and blaming Kevin for letting him lead the pitch.
Kevin roped up and displayed even more audacity. He consistently wandered 10-12ft away from the bolt line in search of 5.9 sized holds. It got the best of him at the roof section, though. He traversed way, way right to a chossy band of stone, and decided it would be a perfectly good bit to ascend to the chains. Um, not. The foot he was using broke off, sending him sailing and penduluming onto the slab below. He ended up badly straining an ankle. Initially, he was in so much pain that we were worried his ankle might be broken. Given our approach, we were all very worried about getting him out of there. Luckily, he and dad worked to bandage his ankle and get it in his boot. Chris pulled on the draws all the way up the climb to reach the anchors as soon as possible and retrieve our gear. Dad and Kevin got started on the hike out while Chris was climbing. Once Chris and I had finished packing up, I grabbed Kevin’s pack and we headed out.
We were surprised that we didn’t catch up with Kevin until we got to the car. We hopped in the car, picked up some first aid stuff at the grocery, and spent the evening doctoring Kevin up with ice, alcohol, and yogurt. Kevin even ate out of the dispenser.
Kevin was unfit to climb the following day, so Dad, Chris and I headed back out to Calico Hills to a new area. We found some stellar routes and had a blast. We warmed up on a 100′ 5.7 that involved a hellish approach. Next up was the thinnest 5.9 that I have ever been on. Clearly, a lot of the varnish had broken off. The thing felt more 5.11 than 5.9 to me! Dad led it in style, putting his new Katana laces to the test. We had suggested he pick them up, noticing how much his footwork improved when transitioning from an Evolv Pontas to the Sportiva Miura. We figured an even stiffer shoe might suit him even better. We were right! He fell in love with the Katanas in Vegas.
We walked back down to Cannibal Crag which housed several moderate climbs. Unfortunately, as the guidebook warned, the place was packed. I couldn’t believe we lucked out enough to find the 5.10a open. Dad floated that pitch! We hopped on a tricky 5.9, too, with a 30ft climb to the first bolt. Courageous Dad rope-gunned it and onsighted it.
Finally, another hellish approach led us to a 5.10b with two stars. The bottom of the climb needed some cleaning, but it was a fun pitch nonetheless. It was very pumpy and powerful, so not the best climb to end the day on, but so it goes. Dad made it to the second to last bolt before pumping out. He ran it to the chains and told us to take note of that route because he wants to come back and get it clean. Hell yeah!
The two old dudes flew out the next morning. Chris and I talked and decided we were better off going home, too. We were both having trouble with our injuries on even 5.7, and we all know how hard it is to rest while on a bouldering road trip. We figured we’d go home, rest up, and climb in one of dozens of bouldering areas around us (IL, NC, GA, AL, AR, etc) if we were feeling up to it. It has been a week, and Chris seems to be improving. I scheduled an appointment with a hand specialist for Thursday, so I’m anxious to hear what he thinks.
We’re awfully sad not to have made it to Joe’s this trip, but we will soon! Gotta take care of our bodies first. Sometimes, you just run in to bad luck. We hope to be back at it as soon as possible!
My favorite climbing trips involve my dad, my husband, our mutual friend, Kevin, myself, and an unhealthy amount of goofiness. Kevin is like an uncle to me and Chris. The dude has been climbing on and off for a LONG time. He and my dad met up a couple of years ago and began what was supposed to be an old, rich man partnership (i.e. taking off mid-week without notice for a climbing trip). The first time they ventured outside, Kevin made a poor decision on a route, traversed a dozen feet out of the bolt line, ran it out, fell, and subsequently dislocated a finger and badly bruised/scraped both his body and his ego. Dad and Kevin made a couple more trips together after that, but Kevin became wrapped up in his work. His ability to split at a moment’s notice was consequently eliminated.
Our team’s last climbing adventure was over a year ago in St. George, Utah. My dad and Kevin met up with Chris and me while we were road tripping. They initially planned on living the experience by camping out with us and sport climbing. It didn’t take Kevin long to change his mind, however, and he begged us to let him and Dad bag us a hotel room. We eventually complied, thankful for a clean bed. The trip wound up being one of a lifetime and a total riot. Dad, Chris, and I have been trying ever since to get Dr. K to come out and join us, but the old man has been busy busy with both his personal and professional life. Luckily, we were able to steal him away from his obligations for a few days of climbing in Vegas this weekend.
Chris and I had been planning on meeting up with Dad and Kevin Thursday morning, but the terrible Bishop weather chased us to Vegas a day early. We drove down on Tuesday, found a hotel room at a Ramada just off the strip, and went bouldering the following day. Let me say, it’s not easy to find a decently priced, safe hotel room that isn’t located inside a casino and is far enough away from the strip that we can sleep in peace. I was a little worried about all of our expensive items in the car. Thank goodness, we woke up the next morning with the car still intact and all of our things inside. We darted out to the boulder field and wore ourselves out. Unfortunately, there was a search going on for a lost hiker that made me feel guilty for enjoying myself. Apparently, lost hikers are common out here. Please be smart and take someone with you, or at least plan your route and a return time, then give a copy to someone who can call for help if you’re not back.
The Vegas bouldering was decent. I’d say it was a step above Moe’s, but several steps below Bishop. My favorite problem was the The Ultimate Grandstaff SS (V7). The SS was a ridiculously low and awkward one. I began sitting down with my toe on a ledge on the left arete, my left hand on the arete, and my right hand on a non-existent crimp. I had to pull like mad to rock over onto my foot, then slap up to another bad crimp. Afterwards, you just kept slapping up to slopers on the left side and sloping rails followed by a final sloper on the right with bad feet. It was desperate and fun. Chris made a lot of progress on Bubble Butt (V7), a gnarly sloper problem.
After bouldering, Chris and I ran into the Desert Rock in search of a stiff pair of downturned shoes. Chris has been on the hunt lately, favoring stiffer shoes while bouldering as opposed to the super soft ones he wears while sport climbing. He tried on the TC pros, but didn’t think they would fit the bill. He is keeping an eye on a pair of Boreal’s and a pair of Scarpa’s. Too bad neither of those brands are widely available to try on.
Next we headed to REI to look for a new tent. Chris bought a Nemo last year after wearing out his 10yr old Eureka. Unfortunately, we have NOT been pleased with the purchase or Nemo’s customer service. The zipper on the tent is completely broken (zipper pulls are worn out and several teeth are broken), seams are delaminating, and the tent leaks with minimal precipitation. I know we use and abuse our equipment, but this tent has seen 100days of use max. Nemo has refused to own up to the poor quality of their product. We are very frustrated and will never purchase from Nemo again. Anyway, we picked up an REI Arete 2 tent. We love REI’s customer service (who doesn’t), and it’s wonderful knowing that if we’re not satisfied with our purchase, we can return it any time for a full refund.
New tent in tow, we drove to the Westin Element hotel to see if we could check in early for the old men. We were greeted by dozens of police offices and secret service agents. We were asked to park in an adjacent lot, and were forced through a metal detector upon arriving inside the hotel. Unsure of WTF was going on, we decided to hit up a Starbucks and wait for my dad to arrive. His flight was scheduled to land around 6:30pm and it was 5:30pm. Kevin was set to arrive the following morning.
Well, our Starbucks run went worse than planned. Several roads were blocked, so we couldn’t get anywhere. Finally, after driving for thirty minutes in a circle, we attempted to drive back to the hotel and wait in the parking lot for my dad. Too bad. The entire hotel was closed off. We hailed down an officer and asked what we should do. He told us to park ‘over there’ (a ten minute walk from the hotel) and wait for an hour. We did as we were told. We tried to go into another coffee joint, but it was closed. Instead we grabbed a table at a pizza place and waited for my dad there. He was having an equal amount of trouble getting out of the airport as there was a hold on the bags. Turns out the President was in town and everyone was being held up. We sat around for a long time while our grumpy waiter kept asking us if we’d ever order. Finally, Dad arrived and we had a nice pizza-and-beer meal.
We couldn’t fit my dad’s luggage in the car (or him, for that matter), so he and Chris walked over to the hotel together while I drove the car back. Unfortunately, Dad had made reservations for the wrong day and the hotel was completely booked for Wednesday night due to President’s ‘sleepover’. The Westin advised we try the Red Rock Hotel and Casino down the road. Chris and I left Dad on a street corner and drove to the hotel to pick up a room. Chris made the wise judgement call of parking the car in the back left hand corner of the casino lot, the FURTHEST distance from the hotel possible. We ended up jogging 20min to the hotel entrance, leaving Dad standing in the cold that much longer. I can’t believe he puts up with us! We were supposed to send a taxi back for Dad, but no taxi driver would go and pick him up. He had to call and book a taxi himself, causing further delay. Poor old man! He gets the worst treatment.
We all eventually made it up to the hotel room at 10pm. I had picked up a pint of milk and a box of Chex for my dad (his midnight snack ritual) and wanted to throw the milk in the mini fridge. I began taking out various sodas when my dad piped in, “Make sure the fridge isn’t pressure sensitive or they’ll charge you just for taking those out!” Sure enough, in small print on the inside of the fridge door it warned that removing a beverage would immediately be charged to the room. Horrified, I began replace the dozen sodas I had removed and begged Chris to call down to the front desk to notify them of the mistake. Too much adventure for one night! We all went to bed at midnight, and I slept uneasily.
I woke everyone up the next morning at 7am and we went to breakfast down in the casino. After investigating our options and figuring out that hardly anything opened before 8am, we settled down at a small diner. It was nice to sit down and spend time talking to good ‘ol Dad.
Kevin landed at 10:30am, rented a car, and picked us up from the hotel around noon. Kevin was starving so we grabbed lunch before going climbing. As Kevin was ordering a beef schwarma pita, the waitress cautioned against it. He opted for the chicken pita instead, which all the boys wound up getting. Full, we headed out to the crag.
My belly felt heavy on the hike in. We got lost a couple of times, but finally made it up to Panty Wall. It was a chilly, overcast day. The guys scrambled up a few 5.8’s as a confidence builder. They climbed well and quickly became comfortable leading, cleaning, and belaying each other.
We had the good old fashioned pizza and beer for dinner. We hit up a place we had visited before and really enjoyed. Unfortunately, both the service and food were sub par that evening. For the first time in my life, when the manager came over to ask us how everything was, I told the truth. She had admitted earlier that the pizzas were overcooked when she brought them out after an extended wait time. She apologized and told us dinner was on the house. That certainly was not the response we were expecting. Dad left the waitress a very generous tip and we hopped next door for frozen yogurt. This became an after-dinner tradition.
Chris and I met Kevin downstairs at 6:30am the next day. He seemed anxious to climb. We sat with him, ate breakfast, drank coffee, and I did some laundry. By 9am, Kevin was out of patience and went banging on Dad’s door. They went out together to get Starbucks and Einstein’s, then we were off to The Gallery.
The hike/scramble was another long one, with Kevin foolishly following Dad through hilarious chimney squeezes. I pointed, laughed, and took pictures. What a helpful guide I am! Once at the wall, the boys climbed very well. Chris (and I through Chris) worked with Dad and Kevin on their belay technique. Their belays drastically improved throughout the weekend. It was a blast watching Dad learn to redpoint a 5.10c, finding unique sequences that worked for him and figuring out where to rest, clip, and place his feet for optimal energy conservation. I was WAY proud! We even got Kevin to take a lead fall at the end of the day on a cryptic 5.10b. Everyone got their fill! It was a beautiful day minus a loud, whiny ‘boulderer’ who panicked on top-rope. Kevin seemed thankful when he left and the energy certainly became more positive.
On our way out, Kevin drove the Yukon like a mad-man around the loop road, making us laugh and nearly vomit. Ever since our trip to St. George, we have made fun of Kevin’s driving skills. He seems to make up for his height (or lack thereof) by renting gigantic vehicles and driving them over and through everyone and everything in his path. In St. George, the Suburban he rented was subjected to the elements on the gnarliest road I’ve ever seen while we drove out to a remote cliff. The saying became, “Oh, don’t worry. It’s only a rental! I’m in a SUBURBAN!”
For dinner, I chose a sushi restaurant that had been very well reviewed. Somehow, the place was closed. Like, permanently. Who knows. Kevin was disappointed, but we made up for it by going to our favorite thai restaurant. Dad and Kevin started off with two fragrant, delectable soups. The boys all ordered a different curry, although they favored Kevin’s duck curry. Kevin adores duck, and duck fat even more. The Thai place ended up being Kevin’s favorite dinner, in fact. He was supposed to pick up the tab, but ‘forgot’ his wallet in the car. We teased him the rest of the night and the next day about it. We rounded out the meal with self-serve yogurt, of course.
We started off the third and final day at The Magic Bus, which was a huge hit. After cruising the two 5.8s, Dad was feeling bold and wanted to lead a 5.9+ with well-spaced bolts. It was another proud moment for me, to see Dad so comfortable and confident. We’ve been working for a long time to get him to this point, and it is clearly paying off! Both these old dudes are on fire. They onsighted/flashed the pitch with absolutely no trouble. We also got a recommendation for a sushi restaurant from another local climbing group. The Magic Bus was a hit!
Kevin had suggested that morning that we find a 5.11a for he and Dad to ‘project’. I had one in mind that was supposed to have big holds and powerful moves, which the guys excel at. Only thing was it was miles of scrambling away. Probably one of the scariest approaches I’ve ever done. We scrambled up hundreds of yards of slab, where a fall would have been fatal. No joke. I can’t believe we drag these 55yr old men around like this! They are BURLY!
Anyway, we managed to get to the wall in one piece. I have no idea how. Dad had VERY sore, blistered feet, but otherwise we were ok. The guys wanted to get on a 5.10a, and there was supposed to be a nice one around the corner from the 5.11a. Well, we got there and noticed that it started on a humongous boulder (at least 40ft tall). The ‘approach’ involved free climbing the slab next to the boulder then hopping across to the boulder itself. I decided to take off my pack and scramble up there first to make sure it was safe. I got up there, deemed it very much un-safe, and nearly peed myself on the way back down. It was a total choss pile, and I was breaking off chunks of stone left and right. I was disappointed with my choice and poor judgement, but was happy when I reached the ground. We walked back over to the 5.11a, and threw ourselves at it for a good half hour. The first move was a dyno and none of us could do it. Frustrated, we quit and were going to attempt the 5.11b next door until we noticed how badly a huge, epoxied on flake was flexing. Kevin tossed his arms in the air and said, “Forget this. Let’s go.” I sincerely felt guilty that I had led everyone out to this wall only to be totally bummed about the stone quality. Can’t win ’em all.
On our way out, we stopped at the Gallery and I encouraged Dad and Kevin to jump on a line just to end on a good note. I know it makes a big difference as far as my mental state goes when leaving an area. Even if it’s V1 or 5.8, if I’ve had a disheartening day hiking all over only to accomplish nothing, I like to end on something fun that will leave me grinning. So, we sent the boys off on their own as a final exam and let them climb and clean a pitch sans supervision. They learned a tremendous amount in just a few days, and were climbing, cleaning, and belaying like pros. They are forming an awesome partnership.
On our hike out, Kevin babbled to a couple of young kids and offered to ‘hold’ their beers for them. What a gentleman. We passed the time on the loop road by joking about us being the Ice Cream Police. Dad gave us ININ jackets that he had handed out to his developers as a gift during the IC 4.0 release (the latest version of his product). We cackled till we cried about how IC stood for Ice Cream, and went on and on about how we were going to invade the yogurt shop and get free ice cream. We were the ice cream police, so we wouldn’t need cups. We would simply place our mouths under the ice cream dispensers and open wide. Goodness, we are goofy. Guess ya gotta be there. This goofiness does indeed make the loop road go by faster!
We hit up the recommended sushi place called Osaka for dinner. Kevin drove over a parking median, too. Just testin’ out the Yukon! Sushi was great. Kevin, Chris, and I love sushi, although Dad is not its biggest fan. He enjoyed a curry dish while we ate roll after roll. Surprise, surprise, we got yogurt for dessert. Delicious. We joked about how we were going to make up new beta terms, and decided to start with a street name in Vegas that we could pronounce. The name of the street was Hualapai, and Kevin somehow turned that into ‘hop-a-looey’. The next time we see someone struggling with a route, we’re going to tell them, “Just do an inverse hop-a-looey,” and ridicule them when they say they don’t know what that term means. We are out of control.
The old guys left this morning and I miss them already. Time flies. Dang, these trips are the best thing in my life. After Chris, of course. 😉 We have so much fun, and I am so thankful to be able to do this with my dad and my husband. There is a plethora of laughter, but we still somehow manage to accomplish so much. It is sweet. These two old guys are the most inspirational people I know. I cannot wait to get out and try my hardest. Chris and I also hope these dudes know that we would drive across the country, sleep in a tent, and eat cereal all week if it meant we would get to climb with them. Wouldn’t give up this time for the world!
Our trip to visit my Dad in Vegas was a blast, per usual. We weren’t met with the kindest weather, so the first morning Dad ran to Kohl’s to pick up a wind-proof jacket and a pair of gloves. He came back from the store beaming, explaining how he found his wind gear on sale for 50% off. Dad knows how much I appreciate the bargain shopper, haha.
We did our best to find sunny crags that were well sheltered from the wind. Dad climbed super well. I’m always impressed by how well he transitions from the gym to outside. It takes me at least a week to get my feet under me outdoors. I think the most memorable line we did was a 5.10c with some questionable rock, but an awesome roof made it worth it. Dad plays rope-gun as much as he is willing. We want to give him the full experience! He struggled with the roof, growling, Sharma grunting, throwing the arms, and generally getting fired up. I had never seen him that way before on a route! I was proud to see him working and trying that hard. He eventually succeeded and conquered that sucker. Dad has so much more ability than he knows. Can’t wait to get him outside more consistently to enable him to build the confidence to use his skills instead of holding back.
I should mention that the ‘hiking’ in Vegas is often times more physical than the climbing. Loads of scrambling and slab climbing are involved to get to the base of the cliff. Vegas is not cut out for the physically weak or timid! At the end of the day, Dad would always get in the car and complain about how his ‘butt hurt’. He would constantly fidget in his seat during the 10min drive back into Vegas, unable to find a comfortable position to relieve his sore butt muscles.
Unfortunately, the weather conditions on Monday did not lend themselves to climbing. Dad was having difficulty staying warm in 55 degree weather, let alone 45 degree highs with 30mph winds. We all ate breakfast in the hotel lobby (I LOVE continental breakfasts – that might be an understatement) before Chris and I packed up and headed back to Bishop. We are always reluctant to leave good ‘ol Dad. We don’t get to spend NEARLY as much time with him as we would like! Then again, we’re selfish. Thank you, Dad, for being better to us than we could possibly deserve. Love you!
The next couple of days in Bishop were spent at the Buttermilks. I have fallen in love with Bishop all over again. There is so much I want to get on! We climbed around in the Bowling Pin/Tut areas, allowing me to send my first V8 in the ‘Milks. I was stoked! I had to work hard for it, as the darn thing didn’t let up until I was on the very, very top of the boulder. I figured out the bottom with relative ease, but it took scrambling on top of the boulder and locating a crucial crimp to send it. Man, did that problem WRECK my fingers!
Chris worked quite a bit on Iron Monkey and managed to send Iron Man Traverse. We sent a bunch of other good stuff, including the classic King Tut and Funky Tut on the Tut boulder. Excellent! We’ve been having so much fun. Can’t wait to get out there again. My tips are brutalized though, so today will be a day of rest. Maybe we’ll get some Christmas shopping done… 😉