City of Rocks

We woke this morning to the sound of rain drops on the tent. Peeking out the flap I could see a grey over cast sky with low clouds. Seems a storm system moved in over night.

The past two days in the City of Rocks had been absolutely beautiful-- temps not to hot and clear skies above. This was fortunate, because having made our way up from Salt Lake City and the Outdoor Retailers show, all of us were eager to get back to the business of playing.

The drive in was long and involved a series of missed turns. We ended up going out of our way by at least 40 miles, the majority of which was on a maze of dirt roads. Eventually we pulled into Almo, a town consisting of exactly one restaurant one grocery store and one gas pump. Being Sunday, every thing was closed except the restaurant, The Outpost, where we eagerly chowed lunch.

An old guy named John served our food, and believe it or not he was wearing a Timex Expedition watch. It looked several years old, but it was cool to again see our sponsor's product being used by yet another random person we'd chanced upon.

Entering the City of Rocks, one can clearly see how it got its name. Huge formations dot the landscape of the valley like a sprawl of buildings. Some areas more dense-- obviously the inner city area. Other areas spread out-- the burbs no doubt.

Before finding a campsite we set out to get in a couple of climbs before the end of the day. Bath Rock was near where we had stopped to scope out the sitch, plus it held several good practice routes 5.5 to 5.8 to get back into the swing of things. We hooked up a couple crack climbs on the shady side and enjoyed the massive hand holds and easier inclines.

I suck at rock climbing, so 5.6 level stuff is great. I enjoy the thrill of hanging out way up on the side of a rock formation and checking out the view, but I struggle up the really technical climbs. Routes like those on Bath Rock or the 3rd Flatiron suit me well.

Rom and Adam are more interested in pushing their limits and excelling at the sport. Both have been kicking ass on this trip and improving by leaps and bounds. The second day at City of Rocks they hooked up a 5.10 route on Elephant Rock, and although it was challenging, they both made it. I had to post stuff on the internet for you kids, so I missed that climb.

Camping that night was uneventful. We made tents and slept.

The next morning, while pulling out of the campsite, I backed over Cody's mountain unicycle then managed to get the Truckster caught on a large rock. The uni suffered a severely bent wheel and is now just an over glorified pogo stick. The Truckster fared much better, suffering no damage. After a few attempts we managed to free it from the rock.

The morning had hardly begun and already I was getting grief from the crew. The lessons learned: A) Before the first cup of coffee, it's advisable to be extra damn careful in this world. B) When your friend's Unicycle is behind the car don't simply tell him it's there and assume it will get moved.

Most of the second day was spent on Elephant Rock doing some sport and trad. With routes with such names as Pretzel Logic, Columbian Crack, and The Pygmies Got Stoned, Elephant Rock sounded fun. Routes from 5.8 to 5.10 were on the agenda.

Cody's going to post the play by play of Elephant Rock, as I took off to a town 50 miles away (100 miles round trip) to do some posts, gather food for the evening and fuel the Truckster. I ended up missing most of the action during the afternoon, and therefore I cannot be relied upon for specifics.

I can say that by the time I had returned, Elephant Rock looked more like Party Rock. Tens of people congregated at the base, while every route on the eastern face was being climbed or rappelled. Small children ran about and a couple of dogs napped.

We moved on to another formation named Practice rock, a wall with 5.6 to 5.8 routes. I managed to suck yet again, struggling on areas where foot and hand holds were not easily defined. Rom and Adam continued to conquer and improve, picking apart the difficult sections as if they'd been climbing for years. Adam even led his first route, placing pro along the way not just in the event of a fall, but for practice as well.

If I don't talk about Cody much it's because he's the seasoned climber in our Crew. He kicks ass every time out and uses terms that I must ask him to explain. Suffice to say his climbing skills are superior to the rest of the Crew combined... so when I fail to mention how he did, just assume it was stellar.

Sometime shortly before the sunset, we decided to call it a day. The weather had been awesome and the climbing spectacular, but now the Crew was ready for some of the beers I purchased in town.

As Cody cooked up fajitas back at the campsite, twilight turned to darkness and clouds began to move in. It was the beginning of the storm that would greet us in the morning... and the storm that would send us on our way to the next destination.