August 25, 2018

The Arm and Hammer

Astonishingly 18 years ago, I found myself, my brother and our friend Brett up on the top of Arm and Hammer's infamous Zion Curtain. It met every hope back then, and I still vividly remember it. I was climbing a lot more back then, was younger and my oldest kid was only 1 year old. "Back then," there was no "mountain project," or other blogs that provided beta on routes. Luckily inspiring climbers like Brian Smoot and the Ruckman brothers had wonderfully documented routes in their respective Wasatch Guidebooks.  

A lot has changed over those nearly 20 years in the world of climbing and the proliferation of information, however yesterday, Jason Dorais and I  found that the Arm and Hammer luckily hadn't. 

We linked the first two 5.7 pitches of the Ellsworth Mc route into one.  Then indulged in the 5.10 A0 tension traverse pitch. Jason climbed up the Zion Curtain with nothing but smiles. Pitch four, 5.9, following the ZC pitch was one of our favorites with the varied mix of crack climbing diversity. Pitch five, 5.easy took us to the top of the route. We did 4 rappels I believe.  We racked up doubles to #3 and one #4 which came in handy at the top of pitch 4 on the left side of the roof. At the base of the climb, before we roped up, we discovered we had forgotten our wired nuts. I was freaked! As an old school guy, (who still frequently uses stoppers) before we started I just stared at Jason. He looked at me and said "today we are going to make you a modern day climber old man." 
The route delivered on every hope.

JD looking for stoppers

Pitch 1

Me starting the Tension Traverse Pitch

JD coming up the bolt line on the spectacular first Tension Traverse Pitch
Moving over to the ever sacred Zion Curtain
As good as it gets
Me start of pitch 4
On top
Brilliant day. Top of last pitch
One of several rappels

August 5, 2018

Irene's Arete- Grand Teton Range with my son

Last Monday, Carson, my 17 year-old son and I spent some time in the Tetons together. Carson is an excellent climber. He has trained consistently on many Wasatch multi-pitch routes and works hard in the gym during the winters with family and friends.  The Tetons for more than 28 years have filled my mind with memories and cherished experiences. Routes climbed with friends I consider family. I draw on these all of the time, especially when life can sometimes get beyond trivial. These peak experiences for me, can fuel life in a way nothing else can. These mountains are sacred to me and sharing their aura with my sons can be among the greatest moments of life.  

We left our car in Lupine at 430 AM on Monday and hiked steadily at Carson's pace until reaching the Meadows, from where we hiked up nearly to the Caves and then traversed east over to our long-awaited objective. Irene's Arete stood as the blade of a sword pointing to the southern sky. The ridge looked as it always does, incredibly exposed and gorgeous. We arrived at "the tree" at the base of pitch 1. Irene's is captured by the great ring of peaks from Nez Perce to South Teton, Middle and at the foot of the Grand and the south shoulder of Disappointment peak.

After getting gear sorted and readying for the exciting ascent, we finally started at 8 AM under perfect skies. We racked up to #3 Cams, a set of wired stoppers and twin 50 meter Beals.  Pitch one, 5.7 went great up steepening cracks on beautiful rock and stopping about 140' or so up just under the hanging tooth, start of pitch 2. Pitch two 5.8 was killer. Right out the gate an off-width like double crack on a hanging tooth like rock that then ascends up a steep crack system onto a huge ledge about 120' I think. Pitches 3 and 4 consisted of elegant moves on opulent rock, with roof sections of black and gneiss crystals and climbing back and forth on the arete.  These pitches were our favorites as the exposure was lovely and the climbing superb. The westerly wind added to the excitement. I think pitch 3 was 5.7 and pitch four, 5.8. Pitch 5 had some incredibly great face climbing, some crack moves with most of the climbing left of the arete, 5.7. On pitch 6 we took the crack next to the tree which goes 5.8 but I think we made it harder as we moved right, mid-way up away from the crack and onto the face and up through a notch, after which we gained lower angle climbing to the ridge. Pitch 7 was a lovely arete traveler's dream and the climb reached a crescendo. 

I could not have been more proud of Carson. As he topped out at 12:30 PM, Was he tired? Sure was but charged more than I had ever seen before. Times like these are fleeting treasures found only through self exploration. The Tetons have given me so much over my life. What I appreciate most from them are the moments where I can be connected to my sons through a rope and see the joy in their eyes when they accomplish something profound while gaining appreciation for these incredible mountains.

We descended off the east side of Disappointment Peak to Amphitheater lake and concluded an incredible day in the hills together. We arrived back at the car at 3:30 PM that afternoon.

Irene's Arete (middle) from Meadows

Carson topping out Pitch 1

Starting Pitch 3
Carson Pitch 4 I think

Top of Pitch 5
Carson top of Pitch 6
End of the line
Happy Carson