2020-02 Bouldering and Ice Climbing

February 1-2, 2020

I crammed just about the farthest ends of the climbing spectrum into one weekend, and they were only about 50 miles apart on the map. I’ll say almost, because I’d say alpine climbing is at one end and bouldering is the other. I only went ice climbing, which is close to alpine climbing.

On Saturday I headed to Elmo, UT near the San Rafael Swell in central Utah for some bouldering in the sun with the Stecks. I’m not a big boulderer but the idea of enjoying the warm weather wrestling pebbles sounded fun. I haven’t been climbing hardly at all so I wasn’t expecting much. It was warm and sunny, while there was a few inches of snow in shady spots we still were able to do plenty of climbing. I tried some problems that were way out of my range right now, but they were still fun to try or modify so that I could do most of the problem. Unfortunately, the snow on the ground made for some muddy conditions for walking and we got fully dirty. Ember didn’t seem to notice though. The van did great in the muddy, icy, snowy conditions and despite Ember’s fears we didn’t get stuck at all.

Smash cut to 4:30am Sunday my alarm going off to get to Maple Canyon for some ice climbing. The plans came together quickly the Saturday night after returning home from bouldering. Case, Nate, and I were able to get some classics done in Maple, despite the less than amazing conditions. Wet Itchies (WI4) was in though sort of thin and disbonded at the top. Thankfully there are three bolts within easy reach to clip near the top. Case lead Get Whacked (WI5), a climb I’ve looked at many times and wanted to do but didn’t feel strong enough. I was tempted yesterday, but didn’t quite build up the nerves for it. It looked steep and hard to protect. On TR is was indeed steep and the pro wasn’t terrible, but did take Case some time to put in.

We also got on Bowling Ball Head (WI3) and Under Wraps (WI4). The latter climb was a new one for me and steeper than it looked, again with difficult protection. Lastly I lead Cobble Cruncher (WI4) which I’ve done a few times before. This was definitely the worst conditions though. The entire thing didn’t sound bonded. The top 15-20′ was inches away from the rock behind it and the ice was pretty thin. I put a bunch of 10cm screws in hoping that if something did go wrong, lots of crappy screws would be better than nothing. It all went well and I kept things under control so I’m happy to have had a lead that stretched the mental muscles a bit.

Unfortunately I got a little cocky with the off-road worthiness of the van and tried to pull a little too far off the road to park. I went into the softer snow off the plowed section and got a little bogged. A couple minutes of clearing out the snow in front of the van was all that was needed to get back into business. I should have known better given the amount of driving up Hyalite that I’ve done and seeing plenty of big trucks dropping tires into the ditch just off the side of the road.