After spending much of the summer projecting in Rifle, it was refreshing to climb in Maple Canyon, forgetting about projecting and attempting to on-sight for a week. But most importantly of all, it was rejuvenating to spend some quality girl time with one of my best friends from Las Vegas, Elizabeth.
Elizabeth is amazing. She is beautiful, brilliant, and a passionate rock climber. Not only is she a 5.13 crushette, she is a dedicated mom and ER doc. Badass, right? Oh, did I mention she is in her forties but looks 25? The difference between her and other successful women is she has a heart of gold. It is rare to meet and have a deep friendship with such an insightful and inspiring lady, and I am eternally thankful to have her in my life.
We left the boys to their own adventures as we met up in Maple Canyon, UT. Maple is one of those magical destinations that ever climber should experience at some time in their lives. It is famous for its conglomerate cobble features, and, in my opinion, hosts some of the most fun and unique rock climbs in the world.
However, Maple is not for every climber.
Elizabeth and I decided to check out some of the newer, less traveled crags for our trip. In part we were searching for adventure, but also attempting to avoid crowds as we knew it might be crowded after the Salt Lake City Outdoor Retailer Trade Show.
And so, we became a team of “choss-aneers.” I’ve never sport climbed in a place where so much rock falls both randomly and while climbing- yikes! Regardless, we took precautions when belaying and actually started to embrace the adventurous feel of the less popular crags. We had fun experiencing many of the “hidden gem” sport climbs.
Elizabeth and I had not been able to have our own “girl time” in years, and so the days were spent focusing on climbing with lots of giggling in between, and the evenings spent with deep thoughts and insights over a glass or three of wine.
The last day of our trip, we both had an amazing climbing day.
I had acquired a “mini-proj” called Loser, a burly 13a at Box Canyon, and thought I’d give it another whirl. I had tried it three times and figured out my beta, ready to give it a redpoint burn.
When we showed up at the crag, it was crowded and there was a line-up for the route. I wanted to try to on-sight a 12d up canyon and thought what better time than now?
We spotted the gorgeous line called Jesus Freak, 12d/13a. Draws were hanging and it was calling for me. Looking up at the climb, it was intimidating. Super long, steep, and it had quite the headwall. After climbing in Maple for five days however, I was getting used to the style. It looked like my style- if I could get through the boulder problems, find the rests, and hold on- I might have a chance.
I started up the climb and found the first third to be really pumpy, but fortunately was able to slot some knee-bars and find good rests. I kept making my way up the climb, able to recover and evaluate the cruxes. Half-way up I was in a rest and realized it started raining. Okay, down-pouring. I began to have thoughts that my on-sight attempt was in vain because the headwall may be soaked by the time I got there.
I barely made it through the crux, desperately making the huck to a glory jug hold, with only the 15 foot headwall left before the chains. By now there was not only a deluge behind me, but lightning and kamikaze cobble rock fall all around me. It was apocalyptic. I wondered if the gods were trying to punish me for not believing in them. How ironic that an atheist was climbing a route called Jesus Freak!
I was able to recover at the rest and finish out the climb. Miraculously, the headwall was dry- pretty steep! I was so excited to on-sight my hardest route in less than ideal conditions with my best girlfriend.
We headed back down canyon and the route Loser was soaked. I didn’t care at all. I had just accomplished a goal exceeding my expectations. To top it off, Elizabeth was able to on-sight a 12b later in the day- a goal she dreamed of and was able to accomplish!
As climbers we rarely revel in our victories. To us, the day was ours and nothing could ever take away the internal success we felt for our respective accomplishments. We danced and sang and didn’t care what others thought. Today was a day of victory shared amongst the best of friends.
I cherish my best girlfriends. They are so special and irreplaceable. Our time together is sacred and I am eternally grateful for the deep relationships we share.
Cheers to Elizabeth! Thank you for being such a beautiful friend and kindred spirit. May we continue to share many adventures together in the future!