City of Rocks, Idaho

July 2 – July 18 (Park City, UT; Eden, UT; City of Rocks, ID) —

I’ve sworn for years that I fart sunshine and butterflies.  Now I have proof.

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The National Enquirer will soon be running this photo next to the Jesus toast article.

We spent the first week of July cashing in our “frequent stayer” points with Bus at her place in Deer Valley.  Plenty of laughs, food, and drink, as well as the Park City parade for the 4th of July.

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No 4th of July is complete without ribs
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and cornbread
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and a grudgingly eaten salad

We also road the Mid-Mountain (8000′) trail from Deer Valley to The Canyons, which was a trail that V previously hated riding (having crashed and scraped up her face during the firm retreat one year).   It was a very different experience this time around and we had fun until the thunder and lightning started.  We quickly dropped down to Park City and retreated to the High West Saloon where we had awesome burgers and fries:

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After leaving Park City, we headed to our old haunt of Eden in the Ogden Valley and did Bacio’s favorite hike.

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What V calls Table Mountain — the hike goes up the left shoulder, sort of

It’s a long hike — 5 hours roundtrip — but the views are worth it.

Bacio on table mountain
Bacio at top of Table Mountain in December 2011 (picture by Adriano)

After the first 30 minutes, the trail fades out and it becomes choose-your-own-adventure.

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The reason that we did the hike was to leave Bacio’s ashes in one of his favorite places and to say goodbye to our friend who died last November.  Appropriately, the clouds let loose a short drizzle of rain just when we poured his ashes on a small boulder at the top.

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James Peak — B’s favorite backcountry ski route — in the background on the other side of Table Mountain

After a quick stop off to see V’s mom in Logan, Utah, where she and her husband have been spending the summer, we headed north to Idaho.

On our way north, we ran into a bit of a storm and, given that the road to our next destination was pure gravel, we stopped off on the Utah side of the state line in the town of Snowville.  The town had one restaurant, one gas station and one RV park.  We needed to dump our tanks anyway, so we headed to the RV park with low expectations.  We were completely blown away by how wonderful it was.  Payment was on the honor system, views were outstanding, and the owner had created a golf driving range out of part of the cow pasture, which was free for guests to use (clubs and balls provided, again on the honor system).  I gave V her first lesson, which necessitated a few Jack & Gingers.  For both of us.

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The weather cleared , and in the morning, we made it to our next destination:  City of Rocks.

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City of Rocks is in the middle-of-nowhere Idaho, but is an internationally renowned climbing destination due to its beauty and quality of the rock.  It more than lived up to its reputation.  The campsites were gorgeous and right next to the rock.

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With one exception, the approaches were short and easy.

Our first day, we planned to climb Raindance, a 5.7.   New rock is always a challenge and the fact it was V’s first multi-pitch had V a bit nervous (multi-pitch meaning simply that you have to climb more than one length of the rope to get to the top).  The route was great and the views were outstanding, although V was a little off her game at the start.

[V here:  Let me walk you through my inelegant moves pictured below:]

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First, hug the rock
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Then hug rock again but stick butt out for balance
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Lean on rock
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Finally, stand up and smile

She worked through her anxiety but, unfortunately, by the time she joined me at the top of the first pitch the clouds on the horizon had turned to thunder and lightning.  We thus made a hasty rappel down to the bottom and retreated to the comfort of Tigger.

We returned to Raindance the second day but there were a set of climbers working a project off of the rappel route on the top pitch, so we settled for climbing the first pitch again (with V no longer needing to hump the rock).

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Back in the day, I used to climb a lot and would dabble in the 5.10+ range.

glory days

Since picking up climbing again recently, my progress has been a bit slower than desired.  At City of Rocks, I wanted to push myself by climbing a 5.8+ called Jug Massacre at the nearby Castle Rocks State Park.   The approach to Jug Wall was the one exception to easy approaches – it took us two hours of bushwacking, crawling between slots in rocks, crawling over rocks, downclimbing from boulders, and baking in the sun before we found it.

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Chuffed that we found the climb
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Start of Jug Massacre

The route was what I was hoping for as it was made up of huecos — lots of big hand holds (aka “jugs”).  I therefore could get by on brute force and ignorance rather than technique.    The first move was exposed and enough to get my heart rate up.  I was able to get through the next 60’ or so of climbing relying on dho technique – aka BF&I– but was tiring quickly.

2013-07-17 Jug Wall 003The last move/bolt was 65’ off the ground and required me to deadpoint to a blind hold – essentially, I had to pull myself up as hard as I could and extend my arm to reach a hold that theoretically was just over the edge.


For twenty minutes, I tried to find another way to reach that theoretical hold (which I never saw) that didn’t require me to blindly throw myself at a hold out of reach (and 65’ off the deck).  I failed to find another way to the top of the route and would continuously retreat to my hidey-hole – the massive hueco to the right of the penultimate bolt that I could literally stand in (and face away from the wall).

By this point, even if I had to courage to fling myself over the edge, I no longer had the strength.  I ended up retreating, defeated, back down the route.  After another adventure finding our way back to Tigs, we were both shot and retired for the day, chalking it up to an interesting hiking day if nothing more.

[As an aside, when we stopped in the climbing shop in Ketchum, we got to talking with one of the employees about various City of Rock routes.  He told a story, unprompted, about how the owner of the store was climbing “a route called Jug Massacre, which was totally within his ability” when he froze at the last move for 15 minutes before eventually having to retreat down.  I didn’t feel so bad.]

After three fun days, albeit not so successful, we debated what to climb next.  Sitting in Tigger, the answer was easy when the guidebook mentioned a little-visited area of the park called Heffalump with some moderate but fun routes.


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It sort of does look like a Heffalump, aka elephant

We enjoyed ourselves.  Amongst other climbs, I lead and V followed on Pork Chop (5.7+), V lead on Sweet Roberta (5.6) and then I lead Pooh’s Honey (5.8).

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V at top of Sweet Roberta —  her second lead climb ever
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is that a butterfly coming up from David?
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Me at top of Pooh’s Honey

With a body and mind abused from a ton of climbing, a bright light appeared before me.

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And I thought, I will see you again . . . but not yet . . . not yet.

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