23 March 2013

Spring Break: Some Utah Bouldering

With a pile of school work at hand and unstable weather in the long term, I opted for a Moab trip to warm the bones and find some good boulders. It had been a two year break since my last trip there, but had been in the back of my mind as a good place to return to for good boulders. In fact it is an area with immense potential for new boulders.
It has amazed me for years that the Moab area has not become a bouldering destination despite having possibly the most exposed sandstone in the country. Sure, the rock is not as featured as some other areas, but is that not part of the recipe for those amazing lines? A few holds on a superb rock is all that is needed to produce the good stuff. A boulder field of those unique lines makes for a great bouldering area. Some very good boulders are out there and some incredible lines! Likely comparable to some Red Rocks boulders that have put Nevada on the map.
Moab is surrounded by too many good boulder fields to count. Someone has obviously had the same idea, as this was the first trip in the Moab area where I've seen chalk on boulders away from the few small zones that have been known for a long time (Big Bend, Kane Creek, Indian Creek, etc...). I'm not saying I've discovered the boulders out there, but on several trips to several obvious boulder fields next to main roads I cleaned and climbed lines alone for several years. Now there is some chalk, not of mine that is out there! It's about time.
On this particular trip, my wife Marla and Amiee Dog came along. Mr. Vansickle arranged to meet us, despite his bum knee and looming surgery. He gimped, but was a good addition to the trip, his last for a couple months. The plan was to visit some known area, but my primary goal was to find a mother load of good rock. If not a mother load, an amazing problem or two. We spent the first evening in the canyon of the Colorado just up from Big Bend. We did a few new problems and looked at some of my old projects. It was a good reminder of the rock quality to come.
The second day, we drove through Moab and onto a long and poor dirt road (one I won't name just yet). The road is a designated Jeep trail and rated "More Difficult", one rating below the maximum, so was a long and bumpy ride. We camped in a pristine canyon surrounded by boulders and buttresses of beautiful cracks.
Walking a side canyon, we found a large area of good rock, wasting most of the day running from boulder to boulder. An evening of bouldering ensued but was low energy, maybe because of the sun and dry sand. The rock was great!
The side canyon of immense possibility
Maybe the best slab in Utah!
Perfect rock! Absolutely amazing rock!
We left the next day because of the threat of rain and the impossibility of driving the trail if wet. We headed over to Kane Creek after driving around Moab in indecision of where to go next. A few nice boulders are along the road there and the camping is free. We added two new lines and tried a few put up by others, all on great rock.
Boulders along Kane Creek Road

Bryan cleaning his amazing new line at Kane Creek.
Day three, because of strong wind, we returned to the canyon along the Colorado and went to boulders above Big Bend Boulders and above the group site across the road from Big Bend Campground. We walked up the hill and found chalk that was not there on previous trips. We walked a bit higher and found untouched boulders to try. Untouched, because we had to clean the lines of loose rock and fix landings on the steep hill side. Bryan picked a compression prow that was very hard, and that was the end of our trip. We were tired and had the long drive home. We were satisfied though, with the rock quality and absolute volume of possible problems.
The hard, but beautiful compression line above Big Bend
I came away from the trip excited to return to Moab and excited to see what happens there in the next few seasons. Obviously people are finally chalking new problems out there at a faster rate, and it's about time. It is an area of huge potential and big lines. It is an area that can hold the masses of boulderers in our growing sport. And it is an area that has great weather when weather doesn't hold elsewhere. I plan to return as much as possible and contribute to the expanse of boulders there.

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