Cathy's boss at the US Fish and Wildlife Service gave her six months to work from anywhere in the world. After Chamonix, we spent two months in Moab, Utah. Our rigorous schedule involved climbing a few days, then working on computers for a few days. We lucked into a small rental house from Geo Keyes. Geo is part of a desert tortoise research clan, several of whom are mutual friends in Anchorage.
In recent years, Cathy and I have developed a knack for Mediterranean sport climbing. Desert climbing can't be any different. The desert cracks are physical and brutal and attract posses of loud 20-somethings. Mediterranean crags are quiet, yet packed with climbers age 5-70. Reverse culture shock for Cathy and Joe!
Keeping expectations in check, my tick list included: Ancient Art, Castleton Tower and Indian Creek. We spent the first week at Wall Street remembering how to climb cracks. By the second week my tick list was complete. The rest of the trip exceeded all expectations. That's the nature of desert climbing. It's like nowhere else in the world.
My favorite route of the trip was Program Director, an overhanging 170-foot 5.10 wide crack in Long Canyon near Moab. I started up the route with 43 cams, including ten #3 Camalots. Over the years of prepping for this trip we accumulated six sets of cams, a minimum needed for climbing the parallel-sided desert cracks. At the crag, climbers share cams to supplement their meager racks.
We didn't have mountain bikes, so we ran trails on our days off. Slick rock domes and sandy trails up Wingate-walled canyons to pre-historic arches. It was difficult to control ourselves and not waste the energy we needed for climbing.