"Not all those who wander are lost"

Utah

We all try to be busy instead of being alive.

-Will Gadd

 

Maple was nearly empty when I arrived.  Apparently September isn’t the prime season there.  I walked through all the campsites and managed to find a group of three and we headed off to climb.

The conglomerate rock that makes up Maple was unlike anything I have ever climbed on.  It’s made of all thousands of cobbles, from the size of a marble to the size of a VW bus, cemented together.  The tough part for climbing is that the cobbles are all nicely rounded and polished from eons under water making most of the holds slippery slopers.

The first place we went was Pipeline, where the dry creek bed has washed away the rock leaving a seriously overhanging band with layer dirt over the bottom six feet.  The climbing was fun, but over a month on the near vertical limestone of Ten Sleep followed by ten days of not climbing was hardly good preparation for this kind of pump-fest.  I had a couple relatively competent burns on different routes, but lactic acid quickly got the better of me.

Over the next week I continued to climb with Fiona, Nancy, and Carey, as well as Dave and Alex whom I met later.  Despite the good weather I was one of the only solo travelers in Maple and the only one around, excluding people who came down from Salt Lake City on the weekends, under 40.  It wasn’t bad though, they were all fun people and it sure is good motivation watching someone twice your age flash a route you’re working on.

Between climbing I took to practicing guitar regularly and listening to my Spanish podcasts each morning.  I’ve discovered that, not only am I terrible at languages and musically talentless, but even worse at teaching myself instruments and languages.  The way I see it though, if I keep with them for long enough I’ll have learn a passable amount of both eventually.

Two routes that I tried stood out as fun challenges in the time that I had in Maple.  The first one was Point Blank (5.12b) in Box Canyon.  It’s a short, exceedingly overhanging climb with a short crux.  After a couple tries on it I thought it was sure to go on my next attempt.  Unfortunately for me, it kept spitting me off time after time.  It kept giving me just enough success to keep me thinking I would send my next try, but not more.  Two days of trying, ten burns in total, later I stuck the crux only to find myself about to fall pulling the lip.  I couldn’t see my feet, I couldn’t reach the next decent hold, and I couldn’t hold on much longer, but I was through the crux. I couldn’t let myself fall.  I steeled my resolve, tried hard, and have no what I did.  It got me to the top though so I was happy.

The other climb was the Pipedream.  Pipedream itself is a stunning cave with nearly horizontal climbing for 40+ feet on many of the hard routes.  That’s exactly why I choose one of the least overhanging routes in the area.

Deliverance (5.12c) is great climb on the right side of the cave which, apart from one very overhanging section, isn’t as overhanging as the rest of Pipedream.  The crux comes just after the steep section moving across some crimps and small sloping edges of broken cobbles.  My first attempt was so pitiful I didn’t expect to have much success, but it’s amazing how much better it felt once I knew where some holds were.  I spent two days trying and failing for one reason or another; finger getting stuck in a pocket, foot in the wrong place, or getting too pumped usually.  My third day I knew exactly what I needed to do on every move and finally executed.

 

 

 

 

 

 
My first impression of Maple wasn’t the best; it was slippery, I didn’t know how to read the rock, all the routes were very similar, and I didn’t have enough endurance for much success.  After a week of adjusting though, I came around.  It isn’t the most diverse climbing and you certainly won’t find hard vertical climbs, but the style of climbing is fun and there are lots of great routes.

With Point Blank and Deliverance both done, I headed up to Salt Lake City.  I met up with my friend Paul, who I met and learned to climb with in New Zealand.  Even though I was in New Zealand in 2009, I hadn’t hung out with anyone I met there until this year and now Paul was the third one of the year.

Paul headed out early for a weekend trip to Wyoming and I tracked down a friend from Moab.  I spent my rest day hanging out with Erin and her roommates; mostly feeling old since college students seemed so young.  It was the U of U homecoming weekend so we went to a free Brand New concern that night.  Unfortunately I hadn’t put much thought into it and wore my flip-flops to the show.  After one trip fighting through the crowd, losing my flip-flop and finding it again, I decided they weren’t worth it and went barefoot for the rest of the concert.

My hopes for an early morning were foiled by my need to do laundry.  After the delay I swung up to Hyrum to climb at Blacksmith Canyon for the weekend.  I got rather lucky and found Fionna without much trouble, despite the best efforts of my directions to prevent my success.

Blacksmith isn’t a large climbing area, but most of the rock is bomber limestone, kind of similar to Rifle without the polish.  The routes range mostly range from 12a to 13b, but if those are the grades for you it’s a great spot.

I sent one good route, Crankenstein (5.12b) and Sprayer (5.12b), each day and had a couple burns on harder routes.  It was a great place that fit my abilities well and I would have loved to stay longer, but the Yosemite Facelift was about to start so after crashing at Erin’s another night I began the long trip to the valley.

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