Saturday, June 8, 2013

Days 11-15


The morning was cold, and a fog hung in the air. Through the dim morning light I watched as deer moved across the creek from our camp. This was the scene to which I awoke this morning. Having driven in after dark, I had no idea what to expect when I woke up. The land was so different from where we had been all last week: tall trees, babbling brooks, and greenery surrounded us.

We reloaded the car after breakfast and were on our way to the front of the park to climb when a red minivan with flames on the side caught my eye. This unmistakable vehicle belonged to some dear friends of mine I knew from back in Beaumont. Apparently they were back in the states and living out of their car as well. After spending a week climbing desert towers in Moab, they had come to rifle as well. We stopped by and had some coffee with them, and then the four of us set out to climb.

Rile is famous for it’s concentration of 5.14s and other hard routs… I am not a 5.14 climber! The day started with some 5.11 warm ups, which is really more in my project range, and moved into a day of 5.12 climbing, well more like 5.12 top-roping for me.

Even after six years of climbing I had never really done in climbing on fixed gear. After lunch, I found myself halfway up a 5.11 that was protected primarily with nylon leaver draws. Now, these draws were all in good enough shape, but I quickly found I harbored a rather serious selection bias against them. About a third of the way up I was petrified by the fear of climbing on gear I hadn’t placed. Luckily, Josh was on the neighboring 

The climbs here are hard! Not just because the grades are high, but because the moves are so full body. Just climbing 5.11 out here took every bit of core and major muscle strength I had.  By the end of the day I was shot…

We finished the evening with a pasta potluck that we scrounged up between all of our provisions. It was nice having a bit of diversity in my diet.


The next morning was cold again, and on top of this my body felt like it had been hit by a freight train! We hit the walls early, as Josh had to get back to town later that day. We spent the day throwing ourselves at some short but incredibly trying 5.12s. It was around lunch when Joe Kinder came by, and we were able to watch him “warm up” on one of the harder 5.12s… I guess when you are climbing in Rile that sort of thing is bound to happen.

Merritt's hands after jamming some crack!
We called it a day early, said goodbye to our friends, and went back to our camp for a nap. We may not have climbed long, but we climbed hard. Later that afternoon I took the opportunity to go for a bit of hike along the creek and took some pictures.


We slept in as late as we could today, which in the car means we made it until about 9:00AM. Earlier, we had received a call from a good friend of mine, Jane, in Moab inviting us to come crash with her at the white water rafting company she worked for! So we decided to pack up and make our way to Moab. While we were on the road we found out that she would be out on the river all weekend, but that we could still crash at the warehouse. With no need to get there so soon, we decided to head to Arches National Park and check it out.

We decided to head to delicate arch, the one from the Utah license plate. The hike was labeled strenuous, but in reality it was pretty innocuous, which made me feel a little silly for packing up so much water and such. Regardless, whatever the hike may be, it’s worth it. The arch was really cool to see up close! However, if you want a picture of the arch with no people in it you may have to wait a while.

Later that evening we made our way to the World Wide River Expeditions warehouse, where we met a few of the people who worked there. We were able to grab our first real shower in two weeks—a most enjoyable experience!


Because Jane was still out, she had arranged for us to meet up and climb with one of her friends who lives in town. Early Sunday morning we met up and she took us to a rather secretive local climbing spot with some wonderfully crimpy sandstone. We spent most of the morning and afternoon climbing and then decided to head back to the warehouse to wait for Jane to get back! By this point we had met many of the people who worked at World Wide; everyone is super chill and incredibly accommodating. If you are ever looking to raft in Moab you should definitely give them a call!!!


By far one of the greatest days of the trip, and we weren’t really even climbing! Everyone was upstairs eating breakfast when one of the guys announced that he was planning a trip to go swing one of the little known arches situated outside the park. About seven of us loaded up ropes and made the drive out of town to the arch. Upon arrival we were met with a towering wall of rock, no arch to be seen. It wasn’t until walking around the bend that the arch came into view.

After soloing a couple of pitches of scramble we were at the top!

A small split in the rock reveals a hole clean through the top of the arch and some bolt anchors. We set up a double rope rappel and everyone made the 120 or so foot descent back to the ground. After getting everyone down we each took turns hiking up the back of the arch and swinging out into the desert! This was some classic Moab fun!

After everyone got their fill of swinging, we made out way to a local eatery, Milt’s, and ate way too much food. I ordered a veggie burger melt, a large fry, and one of their famous milk shakes… It was amazing, and I regret nothing!

Despite the inevitable food coma that set in, Jane took us out on the river that evening to do a little white water kayaking! The water was cold and the canyon was beautiful, you could not have asked for a more adventure filled day! 

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