Cathy and I sold our packrafts and committed to vacationing on rocks. Oh, the tough decisions of the good life! This summer, between work, courses and travel, Cathy and I climbed in Alaska, California, Idaho, France, Italy, Switzerland, Slovenia, Croatia and Colorado. Here are some of the highlights.
In mid-July we went to the Elephant's Perch in Idaho's Sawtooth Mountains. It's a solid chunk of stone, with an easy walk off, placed in a range of crumbling stone. I'd been hearing about the Perch's since I was a kid—a dream come true. Our food bag hangs above our micro tent, to keep out the ballsy chiselers.
A few days earlier we shook off the Alaska moss at the City of Rocks near Boise. The City was the most beautiful place we visited all summer. Massive blocks of granite in a high western grassland. I expected to see a pioneer wagon train moving across the distant prairie.
Cathy leading the first pitch of the Mountaineer's Route on Elephant's Perch. This six-pitch route is rated a soft 5.9 and is the easiest route at the Perch. All other routes at the Perch are not soft.
Cathy belaying me on pitch two of the Mountaineer's Route. The crux was near the top, described as an off-width, but was actually nice crack climbing.
After a swim, I chilled in camp with Cathy and Tom.
Rude awakening on day two. We found this first 5.10b layback pitch on Astro Elephant to be a stout, old-school pump-fest. Pitch seven had the notorious grade of old-school 5.9+ with runout face holds on a prow above 1,000 feet of air. Wow!
Cathy on the ninth and penultimate pitch of Astro Elephant. Our camp is on the granite isthmus between the lakes below.
Cathy on Slick Rock near McCall Idaho. This 1,300-foot 5.fun route was 20 minutes from the Flanagan family reunion lodge in McCall. This year was Cathy's turn to organize the family reunion. I helped her select a strategic location.
- Backside Clove: When transitioning from climbing to rappelling, or when transitioning block leaders as a team of three, use the backside clove to free up the ends.
- Air Clove: As a second, when clove hitching into the anchor between your knot and a belay device in plaquette mode, build the clove in the air, not on the locker. If you build the clove directly on the locker, it could prevent the plaquette from catching.
- Clove Belay: When belaying using a plaquette, you can air clove your second into a locker as they approach the belay. Belay them in the final bit by adjusting the clove.
- Tangle Free: When guiding two clients on two ropes, assure the ropes are tangle-free before you start leading. If clients encounter tangles when you are 150 feet away, they may untie to solve the problem. You don't want clients to untie!