observations on gear, adventure, and the world

Ruth Lake Bombing Run

What have we been doing all summer?!? Climbing a bit, that’s for sure. But why haven’t we been doing it in the Uintas? Ruth Lake, it turns out, is not that far from our front door, the temps haven’t been nearly as brutal, and the climbing is high quality and concentrated.

Something that I’m still learning to wrap my head around in the Wasatch is it’s spacey-ness. I’m used to Barn Bluff, Devil’s Lake, and Taylor’s Falls where about a million routes share the same approach. So yes I’m spoiled, I’m getting over it. Though you still should move to Boulder instead of Salt Lake – Boulder is waaaaayyyy better I promise. Trust me, I have your best interest at heart. The Uintas by contrast have the route concentration I’m used to, and there are a solid double handful of lakes so I feel a little more at home.

Photo: David Eckles

In a recent post I wrote that my motivation to climb harder grades comes from wanting to be able to go out and get on routes in amazing places and have fun. This trip validated that thought resoundingly.

The work Data Mike and I have been doing all summer really paid off. I was able onsite 10a on lead, 10c on top rope (there wasn’t time for the lead) then lead a few really high quality moderates, and cap it all off with my first pitch of trad in 15 years! The 10a was an incredible pitch, the sort of climbing where grades melt away and the pure excitement of climbing is all there is in the world, until you clip the chains and realize you’re above one of the most incredible landscapes in the world with some great friends.

It’s not the grades that matter. It’s that experience. Being able to just loose yourself in the movement on one of the best routes in the West is all the motivation I need to hit the gym and the hangboard all winter long.

And all the work on Black Monday (11a) and Big in Japan (12a) was more than justified when it gave me the confidence to rack up and rally a great 5.7 finger crack on gear. The difference between this lead and my last trad route, Cleopatra’s needle, is all the grade funny business. Sure grades don’t matter when you’re comparing yourself to the hard-folk in the gym, but when you’re comparing your abilities to the routes you want to do is incredible. When I was 15 years old groveling my way up the needle with far more gear than I would ever use I missed out on the fun! Now with a lot of harder terrain under my belt I was able to really enjoy the climbing and the context.

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