Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Rock Climbing Road Trip - Part 2: City of Rocks

Rock Climbing Road Trip

May 17 - 27, 2013

Smith Rock, OR and City of Rocks, ID

Continued from Part 1 (click here)

On Tuesday May 5, we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at the Super 8 hotel and headed for City of Rocks.  We made a stop in the last major town before "The City", Burley, ID to do our grocery shopping and then we left the interstate and headed further south. After about 4 hours of driving for Boise, passing through small towns and farm lands, including the closest town to "The City", Almo, ID, a small western town and closest place to get showers, we finally arrived at the park. We set up our campsite and went for a drive to explore the park and find the water pump.

We stopped and checked out a few lookouts and a few climbing areas to get a feel for the park. There is rock everywhere and some really cool campsites tucked in around the rocks. 

Once we got back to our campsite we hiked to the base of "Lookout Rock" hoping to climb the 5.5 ridge to the summit, but with minimal beta on the descent we decided against it.  We opted to go to "Practice Rock" instead to get a taste of the climbing.

We led up "First lead" 5.6 and then top roped a couple of 5.8s "Betwixt" and "Original Left". We also did a bit of scrambling around the area up the "Little Kids Slab" 5.0 and around on the higher rock ridges to check out the area..

The scenery and landscape at City of rocks is
amazing, and we enjoyed our first evening of camping and exploring, but we did quickly learn that they books aren't lying where they say its often windy in the park.....

The next day was a bit cold and very windy, so we slept in to wait for the day to warm up a bit. Once we got up we made a gourmet hash for brunch and headed out to climb at the crack of noon. We went to the Bread Loaves Crag to explore and ran into some other climbers who shared some beta with us on the Super Hits area of the Bread loaves.

We ended up doing two 35m long sport routes: a 5.7, that we both led and a 5.8 arete "Twist and Crawl", both excellent , full value routes. At the end of the second route the wind was so strong and cold that we were freezing and decided to call it a day. We drove into town for some groceries and spent the evening hiding out from the wind in the cab of the truck.

On Thursday, our third day in The City, we woke up to a layer of snow on everything! Not what you want to see on a climbing trip. Once again we went back to to bed in hopes that it would warm up and the rocks would dry out. When we got up again a couple hours later the snow had melted and by time we had brunch the rocks had dried out.

We drove down to the main info area and chatted with the climbing ranger about good places to climb.  He informed us that we could get top-ropes on lots of routes, all you had to do was scramble up the 5.4/5.5 routes....yeah, right! So instead, we talked to some other climbers, got some beta on the Lookout Rock descent and headed back for a summit attempt.

 We scrambled along the 3rd/4th class ridge right from our camp site and then climbed the 5.5 section of the ridge in 2 pitches. The view from the summit was amazing and well worth the climb. We rapped the route off of some slings we left on the blocks near the summit and reached the end of the ridge just in time for another snow storm to start up. We waited out the storm for a couple of hours reading books in the truck and then relaxed over a tasty pasta dinner.

On Friday we got up at 8am and headed out for our last climb in City of Rocks. We had decided to take a run at "Theater of Shadows" of Jackson's Thumb, a really cool looking spire with a 5.7, 4-pitch sport route up to the summit, that was supposedly "bolted do your grandma can lead it".

The route description did not lie, the route was crazy fun and incredibly well bolted. It turned out to be my favorite route of the trip with its adventurous feel, fun climbing, excellent views and the added bonus of summitting the spire.

The free-hanging rappel off the back was kinda cool too; not as scary as Monkey face. We were back in camp for a late lunch and then went and explored some of the touristy areas of the park.

After our exploring we went in search for some hot springs that are listed in our guide book, but it turned out that it was just a city pool, so we opted to pay for showers at Tracey's General Store in Almo instead.

 We spent the evening enjoying a rare windless night around the campfire enjoying some cheap American beer and watching the full moon.

On Saturday we got up early and decided to make a run for the Border. We left City of Rocks at 8am and after one or two shopping stops, and a late-nite visit with my parents to pick up our cats, we rolled into our garage at 1am. A loooooong day of driving to end an awesome spring road trip.

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