Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Little Rock Climbing

 We happen to live less than an hour away from a world-class climbing destination, Ibex. On Sunday, we decided to make a trip out there. I dusted off my climbing gear. Back when I was in grad school, I climbed three days a week in the climbing gym and occasionally outside, but due to a long hiatus, I was feeling rusty. Very rusty. We had the book Utah's West Desert, which is an awesome guide to rock climbing, and which had inspired me. I found a route that was for kids. It was also a sport route, which I needed, as I don't have trad gear.

For those not familiar with rock climbing, sport climbing means you clip into bolts already placed into the rock, and you need less gear: rope, quickdraws (carabiners connected to a short piece of webbing), harness, and ATC. Trad (traditional) climbing has no anchors, so you have to have an assortment of nuts, camalots, and other gear that gets pricey fast, but lets you climb about anywhere.

We weren't entirely sure we had reached the climbing place we were searching for, because instead of two bolts we found a whole array of bolts. It was obvious this area is developing and people are putting up new routes. I decided we would play it extra safe and top rope. I scrambled up to the anchors at the top of the climb, threaded the rope through, and sent it down below. With top roping, as long as your belayer is awake, you won't fall more than a couple inches. Perfect for us novices. I climbed first and decided we definitely weren't on the easy rock the book described. I struggled a little, but eventually made it to the top.

Then it was time for Desert Boy to climb. He did a good job climbing, but said he felt a little scared.

When he got down, Desert Girl couldn't wait to give it a try. She did quite well, but wasn't too comfortable coming back down.

Even though it was a cool spring day, it felt hot on the rocks. I climbed again, then we packed up. I wandered down the cliffs to see what some other climbers were doing.

The rock looked beautiful!

I was happy to see some colorful milkvetch (Astragalus) blooming.

A rock wren hopped along the cliff, following me and serenading me.

This yellow member of the Carrot Family (Apiaceae) also lent some color to the desert floor.

It was a busy day at Ibex, with about ten other people there.

We were hungry and hot, so we went to the shade of the Red Monster (seriously, that's the name of the huge boulder!) and set up for a picnic lunch.

While the soup was warming, the kids and I some time to do a little bouldering. We all loved that.

Desert Girl conquers the boulder!

After lunch we felt reenergized and headed off for some more desert adventures, although not quite as fast as the pronghorn who ran in front of us on the hardpan.
I loved the feeling of climbing again, and we will be back to Ibex soon. Hopefully we will have better luck finding some really easy routes for the kids to help them build their confidence and skills.
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