November, 03

 

Chasing the Sun to St. George

With Koren, Paul, Ian, and Heidi

 

 

    Over thanksgiving weekend, Ian, Heidi, Koren and I met Paul in St. George, Utah  for four days of sport climbing and  mountain biking. Originally, our plan involved Indian Creek and sandstone towers, but cold temps forced us to seek sunnier skies on the Internet. Paul's report that Red Rocks was overflowing with climbers provided the final impetus to for a trip to St. George.

    After our six hour drive, we climbed on vertical and overhanging sandstone at Chuckawalla Wall. This is a great crag, sporting a couple dozen lines and a 3 minute approach. It was relaxing to clip a bolt every 5 feet, much different than Moab would have been. In fact, I relaxed so much that I found myself wondering why I don't sport climb more often. Of course, as soon as I did, some sadistic personality inside me interjected with a list of scary routes that might cleanse me of these impure thoughts. That was the beauty of this trip. I was going to sport climb for three days without a hint of opprobrium.

    Koren and Heidi ended their day with a short loop on their mountain bikes. Ian finished strong on an 11b. And I tested our rope repeatedly.

   That night we paid $35 to sleep in a tent at Snow Canyon State Park. It was a textbook example of a State Park raping the patrons with absurd fees. The climbing in Snow Canyon was absolutely fun though. We climbed at the Dunes area on slabby sandstone. The highlight of my day was watching Koren float a 10c with no falls.  Another highpoint was watching Ian get sandbagged on a 9+ that the book called 5.7.  Wheeee...

    On the third day we went mountain biking on a stupendous single track that offered lots of short, steep hills. It felt like slickrock on dirt. Ian dug it the most, as this marked his first time on a bike since childhood.  I rode pretty well on the psuedo-scary technical stuff; it feels like BMX biking. But Koren and Heidi cheated on the long up-hills. They brought huge lungs that seemed specifically designed to extract more O2 from the air.   Ian agrees and he's a chemist!    Enough said!!   :)      

    After the ride, we found a BLM campsite 15 miles out of town  for $5/night.

    We spent our last day at the Black Cliffs. The volcanic basalt offered a stark contrast to the sandstone of the previous days. Where the routes in Snow Canyon had yielded to a combination of foot smears and sandy palms, the Black Cliffs demanded finger strength and quick decisions. The routes were too steep to hang out and think about the next moves. Really fun medium though, with lots of big reaches between tolerable holds. It was a nice way to end the trip. 

   Overall, I found the climbing in St. George to be quite fun and varied.  I wouldn't recommend it as a destination spot, but if you have a few days, and you like to sport climb, it wouldn't be a bad call.

 

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Ian, cruising the crux of an 11b at Chuckawalla Wall.
The climbing here was quite good. Steep lines with reasonable holds.
Starting a 10c on the right half of the wall.
Route finding is relatively straight forward at this crag.  :)
A closer view of the previous shot.
Ian and Heidi at the base of Chuckawalla Wall.
Heidi, working a route on the right end of the formation.
The love of my life leading a beautiful route?

Priceless.

The next three shots are the crux sequence of a 5.8 that Koren led.
The route has big holds but your feet are hidden so you have to remember where the holds are to place them.
What a great day!
Ari, relaxing in Snow Canyon State Park.
Ian warmed up on a 5.8 which finished in a mammoth hueco.
The routes are steep enough to require good footwork.
Heidi,  learning to trust her feet on a sandy 9+ in Snow Canyon.
This is me nearing the anchors on a 10c. This was the best route of the day. Though I shouldn't have worn a red shirt. :)
Koren climbing 10c on the first route of the day! 
Paul and Koren at our $35 campsite. I will never stay at Snow Canyon State Park again.
Heidi and Ian at the base of the Black Cliffs.
Heidi exploring the fun moves on a 5.8 to start the day.
Koren working an unnamed 5.10.
Ian, finding a rest where I could not.
Chalking up for the crux. Most of the routes we climbed were dead vertical.
An unnamed arÍte at the Black Cliffs.
Paul, sending a 5.10 arÍte near the end of the day.
It was nice to get to climb with Paul again. We made tentative plans to climb the Titan together this year. Gulp.
The end of the day.

Right on brother.


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