Surgical Air Strike '09 (aka my Fall climbing trip)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Prior to "lift off," I calculated that it had been over 17 months since I'd last taken a Western climbing trip. In those 17 months my life has been made infinitely richer by the birth of my daughter. My climbing has suffered, but seeing as she is now showing an interest in scaling the climbing wall in the cellar that may be changing! Anyhow, it was with great excitement that I booked my $0.40 ticket to Las Vegas (I love credit card points!) for a climbing trip with my good friend Eric Hörst. Reality is still a 15-month old girl at home, and two working parents, so this trip was not the 12 day climbing fest that I so often try to book. This was a four day blitz of all-new climbing locales!

Three AM Wednesday morning I was up and coaxing myself out the door for a 6:00 AM flight out of MHT. By 10:40 AM we were both wandering around LAS baggage claim trying to find each other. A Crackberry is a useful tool, but it won't help you locate someone amongst a throng of eager, soon-to-be gamblers and night crawlers. By 12:30 PM we were parked at Red Rocks and ready to climb!

Several routes later we were exhausted -- more from our early flights than the climbing -- and departed for dinner and our drive up to Mesquite where we would be staying. Our agenda was a couple of days in the Utah Hills. For anyone traveling to this area, I highly recommend staying at the Falcon Ridge Hotel. It's super clean, comfortable and cheap ($60/night including taxes).

Thursday morning, still on East coast time, we were out the door way to early and headed to The Cathedral. Cold fingers on the warm-up led to a fantastic send for Eric with a redpoint of Space Shuttle to Kolob 5.13a.

Space Shuttle is a little out of my pseudo-retired-league (well, that's how it was beginning to feel!), so I enjoyed shooting photos and getting on other climbs. The routes here are steep and sustained, and therefore loads of fun. Around mid-morning, we met up with Misty Murphy and her husband Bill Ohran, along with John Star. Super-nice locals; I benefited greatly from their beta!

Resurrection 5.13b was on Misty's agenda. Rad looking climb, and strong showing Misty!

Friday was another early start, but instead at the Black & Tan Wall. B&T is a much sunnier crag (The Cathedral does not get any sun this time of year), so it was nice being in shorts and T-shirts. This was a mileage day, and I was excited to climb as many or more sport pitches on Friday as I had climbed all season back here in New Hampshire!

On Saturday we headed to Mt. Charleston outside Las Vegas. I loved the pocketed climbing at The Hood area, but even more so the Aspen trees that were starting to turn!

We climbed several routes at The Hood, and then chose to end the day at a smaller crag called Pirate's Cove. The climbs were shorter and fun, but I would like to add also the sharpest stone I have ever grappled! I hear Robber's Roost is similar, but I hope not since there are climbs there that look like fun for future trips! We finished on two side-by-side, steep, pocketed 5.11 routes that were a perfect end to a fantastic day, and trip.

That's right, the end of the trip. Saturday night Eric and I had red-eye flights back to PHL and MHT, respectively. As I mentioned before, I would have loved to have had a much longer trip with rest days thrown in, but if you are going to do a four day climbing trip, I love the efficiency of actually only being gone four days and getting four full climbing days in, even if the travel was a little exhausting. I was back in NH by 9:30AM Sunday, and home with Abby and Rebecca by 11:00AM, having been climbing in Vegas less than 12 hours earlier!