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Castle Rocks, Idaho. Yeah, it was pretty cold.

March 9, 2010

I think it was after midnight, maybe even 1 AM when Seth called.

We are going to Castle Rocks to climb tomorrow.  Do you want to come?

Of course not.  It’s early March and it’s too cold to climb outside.  I’m going skiing instead.

No, it will be fun.

Okay you convinced me.  I’m in.

About 8 hours later I met Seth, Megan, and Scott at Seth’s house and we loaded our gear in Megan’s Subaru.  I felt rushed and under-prepared, and the overcast sky was giving me second thoughts.  Maybe I should have slept in and gone skiing. . .

As we drove to Castle Rocks we drove through rain that turned to snow and we all agreed that maybe we were just going to take a scenic drive to Idaho and come back without ever climbing anything.  We were okay with that, but when we got to Rock City it was warmish and you could almost see the sun through the clouds.  Let’s go climbing.

Seth and Megan. Photo by Jacob Buckner.

Seth and Megan had planned to climb a 4 pitch 5.7 while Scott and I did a 3 pitch 5.8.  However, Seth and Megan got a climb that turned out to be 5.11 b or c, which turned out to be quite a challenge in the cold.

Scott and I had a pleasant hike and found our intended climb with little difficulty.  We geared up and I led the first pitch.

Cool, coarse granite and easy climbing.  The joy of moving over vertical rock was transcendent.  Searching, feeling, committing – the climbing was beautiful.

Scott on the lead. Photo by Jacob Buckner.

At the top of the second pitch, Scott suggested that we try the 5.10c variation of the climb.   I stared at the pitch above us.  It was obviously going to entail some serious friction climbing.

Scott.  I hate friction climbing.  It’s scary, difficult, and not even that fun.  But I’ll follow it if you really want to lead it.

Scott had a brilliant lead as the wind picked up and it started to get cold.  He was 8 feet above the fourth bolt, and about to commit to a crack system when we realized something important: we had not consulted the guide-book about the 10c variation of this climb.

Scott didn’t want to downclimb, and he didn’t want to commit to the next move, so he balanced on the rock while I tied him off on the belay.  I checked the guide.  “Take small to medium cams and nuts.”  Oops.  We didn’t have a lot of choices at this point since downclimbing would have been terrifying and dangerous, so Scott made a sketchy traverse that looked both terrifying and dangerous.  He made it to the anchors of the 5.8 route.

I followed the friction pitch with much difficulty.  It was getting really cold and I was starting to shiver.  I didn’t feel confident making the traverse as I am not nearly as good at friction climbing as Scott, so I rigged a few quickdraws together to get me to a positive hold and made Scott go back for the draws.

The last pitch was cold.  The rock was featured and interesting, and the climbing was fun, but the wind was starting to blow.  Snow fell and it looked like the weather was just going to get worse.  We climbed fast.

Scott and I at the top. Photo by Jacob Buckner.

The view from the top of this granite spire was beautiful.  Snow and clouds made the setting dramatic and Scott and I hid in a cave to get warm.  We contemplated cooking up some chili (I brought a stove and can of chili for lunch on the summit) but decided we’d rather eat pizza somewhere warm.

Scott looking down from the top. Photo by Jacob Buckner.

Scott on rappel. Photo by Jacob Buckner.

And the pizza was delicious.

Megan is about to eat this pizza. Photo by Jacob Buckner.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. March 10, 2010 9:37 am

    hey jake. read my blog. if you feel like it.

  2. March 12, 2010 3:47 pm

    Holy Crap! That looks dangerous! I will stick to my recliner and remote control!

    Although, the pizza, I could do!

  3. March 12, 2010 10:26 pm

    Hmmm. I am thinking you are NOT the Lil Dub that Mamaface speaks of and needs to go to Target for and pick up Tighty-whities for? LOL.

  4. March 13, 2010 9:10 am

    Hi I’m friends with Mama-Face..and you have an exciting life…any way in the pic of the can not see where the rope begins..that is so looks as if it is coming from the heavens…great photo..!

  5. March 20, 2010 3:50 pm

    Face, long time no see. Your photos are AWESOME! I found your blog through Facebook and it is awesome. Go, you.

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