"Not all those who wander are lost"

Posts tagged “Salt Lake City

Summer in SLC


Man is the most insane species. He worships an invisible God and destroys a visible Nature. Unaware that the Nature he is destroying is this God he is worshipping.

-Hubert Reeves


My summer in Salt Lake had a few trips here and there to Blacksmith, Joe’s, or the Cottonwoods, but it wasn’t until July that I was able to do more climbing again.  I took two weeks off from work and got a ride with a friend up to Ten Sleep for a couple weeks.

My life was in full color again.  I was finally back in one of my favorite places, doing my favorite thing, with a bunch of great people.  I was out of shape, but set to work trying to get back to where I was climbing before Salt Lake happened.

I quickly got amped on Burden of Immortality (12d/13a) and decided it was my goal for the trip.  It’s a great route that builds some pump before throwing you into a sequence of long powerful moves on decent crimps and pockets.  One move in particular was hard for me to unlock or maybe just hard to commit to.  The first real hard move involves a thread mono (if your fingers are my size) that felt likely break my finger off if I fell on the move.  I tried every way possible to jam two fingers in, pinch it, but no matter what I did I fell every time I didn’t commit to the finger breaker and stuck the move every time I committed to it.  My first day on Burden, my fitness was poor enough I wasn’t even able to make it to the top on my second try.

Then the 4th of July happened.  I headed into town with a group of friends and watched rodeo.  It was an experience: all sorts of cowboys (and girls) in their best button-up shirts and bolo ties.  The people-watching was pretty great, but the event just looked extremely cruel to the animals.  It’s definitely not something I would go back to.  After the rodeo, we headed back up to the canyon for the climber party rather than hanging out for the street dance in town.  The weather was not very conducive though; it rained on and off all evening.  The group that persisted under the tarps and around the fire maintained good cheer and we still managed to have a fun night.

The next day it was back to Burden.  In fact, the next several days were back to Burden.  Maybe trying something hard isn’t the best way to get fitness back, but after a couple days of two attempts on Burden I was feeling like my third try might be the best.  After taking many 30+ foot whips (because I was skipping a bolt in the middle of the crux), I managed to pull out the send on my last day in Ten Sleep.

I hitched a ride with a climber down to Lander for the Climbers Festival where I had a ride to Salt Lake lined up.  As usual, the Festival was great.  They screened Wind & Rattlesnakes, a movie about the birth of Lander as a climbing town, I helped out with a clinic on rigging for climbing photography, and did a little climbing.  Then I loaded up with my friend Phil and headed back to SLC.

Going back to work after Ten Sleep was rough.  I had the taste of freedom that I’d been enjoying for two years and I had to give it up again.  On the bright side, I met a friend in Ten Sleep who lived three blocks from me and was the most psyched climber I knew in the city.  The next two weeks of work flew by, climbing in AF several mornings with Kate, a weekend in Blacksmith, and all of a sudden it was OR.

The most important development after my return from Ten Sleep, was my acquisition of a new vehicle.  I say new, but really it was just new to me.  It was in fact, the newest vehicle I had ever owned: a 96 Honda Odyssey.  For anyone not familiar with this generation of “mini-van” it is a mini-van in the most literal sense of the word.  With four normal doors (no sliding here), and a small third row seat that folds down, it looks as much station wagon as it does van.  But it works.

For anyone who has not been, Outdoor Retailer is a huge outdoor trade show with companies from every outdoor activity imaginable.  The entire event has the electric vibe of lots of serious business combined with a huge party.  By 4 booths are handing out beers, and every night there’s some kind of party.  A spent several days wandering the floor, pushing climbing holds, chatting, drinking some beer, and of course, gathering schwag.  I went for a few more late night bike rides and as quick is OR came, it was gone again and I was free at last.  Done working. Car loaded.  I was ready to go.

Bouldering and Breaking down

It’s not how we fall. It’s how we get back up again.

-Patrick Ness


I headed up to Joe’s Valley for a few days of bouldering before continuing on to Salt Lake then Lander to look for a job.  I was excited to spend some time bouldering because for the most part, I hadn’t bouldered in over a year.  Despite getting later in the season for Joe’s, the temps stayed pretty cold with sporadic snow flurries.

My first day I just cruised around doing lots of easy climbing including some really fun problems including Stand-up Comedian (V5), Devastator (V4), Isosceles (V4), and several more.  The high point was definitely a flash of Thighmaster (V7), although in any other place I think it may be a grade or two lower.  That said, I did go back later and wasn’t able to do it.

The next couple days I found some people to climb with and had a great time sampling some more amazing Joe’s rock.  I was still surprised at either how much stronger I was after doing so much sport climbing or how soft/suited to me the climbing in Joe’s was I managed to send two more V5’s and a V6 on each of the next two days.

I only had one more day before I planned to head to Salt lake and as usual my psyche was high so I decided to climb a 4th day on.  The result was mixed.  I had my undeniably best day of bouldering sending Arma (V7), Filla Void (V6), Glow Worm (V6), and several easier problems, but my enthusiasm was more than my body could keep up with and I hurt my elbow on Glow Worm.  I burned and ached with a furry, so I iced it in the stream and headed out to Salt Lake.










I had a great weekend hanging out in Salt Lake with a few friends.  We went out for Ethiopian food, they surprised me with a birthday cake, and I got to make breakfast for them (popovers of course).

Then Monday came, friends went back to their lives and I spent my birthday hanging out by myself in Starbucks while it rained outside so I couldn’t climb.  That was the beginning of one of the most depressing birthday weeks I’ve had.  The rain continued and my hopes of several days of climbing and hanging out with friends around Salt Lake dwindled.  I spent a couple nights crashing with another friend, but didn’t want to impose too much so spent nights on any dark street I could find.

Then things really got bad.  I headed up to Little Cottonwood to do some bouldering since I didn’t have anyone to climb with and on the way back my van began spewing white smoke and losing power.  It had blown the head gasket.  Suddenly I found myself 300 miles short of my summer in Lander, with no money, no car, no home, no friends I felt I could as to crash with, and no idea what to do about it.

The next few days were filled with scrambling to deal with my car, limping it from one side street to another to sleep, talking to mechanics, and spending countless hours at McDonalds and Starbucks trying to find a solution.  Mechanics quoted me 2-3 times what I just bought the van for so I decided it was time to cut the losses on it.  With money borrowed from my brother I had a van I could buy lined up and just needed to wait for the banks to open to get money out.  Monday morning I got the money out and was half way through the 20 mile ride to pick up the new van when I called the seller to make sure he was around.  Despite his guarantee and my explanation of my situation, the (insert expletive) sold it out from under me.  Back to square one.

On my way back to my van I got a call from Climbing Holds.  A friend of a friend of a friend worked there and was looking to hire.  I had contacted him when I broke down and he was returning my call.  By the end of the day I had a job and was able to park my van at work.  It was hardly a solution, but it was a huge step in the right direction.

Unfortunately sleeping in my broken van at work didn’t last long.  A couple days in three cops and two code enforcement people showed up and told me it was illegal to sleep in my car in Salt Lake County, posted a notice on my window, and told me if I was caught sleeping in it again they would put a no trespassing notice on it, and I could be arrested if I entered for any reason.  Wow.

Through the ordeal I managed to climb occasionally, mostly with one guy I found through Mountain Project.  Just after I was kicked out of my van, he offered for me to house and dog-sit while he was gone.  I scrambled even harder and by the end of the weekend had found a place to live where I could trade work on the house for a back room to sleep in.

And so I lived in Salt Lake City for the summer.  I didn’t know many climbers, didn’t have money for a gym membership, and didn’t have a vehicle, so I mostly just rode my bike around the city.

It didn’t help my climbing that every new friend I made seemed to be a cyclist not a climber, but I went with the flow and did whatever I could to stay active.