Tags: City of Rocks
Last week I road tripped south to the City of Rocks National Preserve, a wonderland of high desert, granite crags, and autumn color. Camping out in the preserve was very quiet the first three days and we felt fortunate to be there amidst all the fine quaking Aspen, fire yellow and the beautiful sunny days. We climbed four days in a row and were thoroughly tired and ready for a break. We spent two days each in the City of Rocks and at Castle Rock State Park to the north about a twenty minute drive. The weather was perfect for climbing and photography, and taking advantage of the Grigri, I was able to snap several good photos of my climbing partner. With many great single pitch routes, numerous multipitch climbs, and high quality granite, the City of Rocks is a great place for beginner rock climbers, children and experts. This was my first multi day trip to the city therefore, I had the great opportunity to on-sight every climb I led. With rock climbing having been a focus of mine this fall, I was in decent shape and made lead climbs on grades between 5.7 and 5.11a. All were fun and exciting and great learning opportunities. At the end of the trip and with some hindsight, my favorite climb and location of the trip was the south face of the comp wall at Castle Rock, where we climbed the bolted, south facing, 5.10 three pitch route to the summit. The afternoon light, the high quality climbing, and the setting alongside a beautiful red streaked cliff were inspiring. I took two leader falls on this trip, one on a bolt on the 5.11a third pitch on the southside of Castle Rock and another on the last morning on the opening crux of the trad route Bloody Fingers 5.10a where I fell on my orange metolius cam. Both of these falls helped me transcend my reluctance and I gained good insight into working through difficult cruxes with focused intention on the sequences involved and needed to climb at close to my top level. Alongwith reading the Rock Warrior book and finishing it on the trip, I managed to get to a deeper personal awareness level both on and off the rock, and without any injuries!
With unusually warm weather and a forecast calling for light winds, I ventured north to Flathead Lake with my Uncle Stanley to sail out of Dayton Harbor bound for Wild Horse Island. The folks at the harbor were busy hauling boats out of the water for winter dry dock, and after the paperwork shuffle, we were hastily launched out upon the lake. Catching the breeze, the 22 foot Capri tacked nicely on a close reach into the easterly wind. With alternating winds blowing no harder than 15 knots as a gust, we cut the blue water lake in very smooth surface conditions, nary a whitecap in sight. Stanley, being the experienced sailor ran the ship while we alternated hauling lines and manning the helm. Once we made it to the big, open lake the wind effectively died, so we turned toward shore and ran downwind as tight to the shore as we dared, enjoying the cruise past the north shore of the island and its fine stand of Ponderosa Pine. With a lunch of fruit, bread, cheese, nuts and beer while underway, it was a relaxing adventure. We sailed for about four hours before returning to port, which we manned into the slip under sail. As my first sail on this wonderful lake, I was glad to have finally made another foray into what western Montana has to offer the outdoorsman. With miles of secluded shoreline and more than a few islands to explore, after our half day sail, I realized that one could easily find interest and enough room on this lake to sail continuously for up to a week. May the time come when I can pull that trip off!