The first night, we all had a meet and greet over beers, where I was introduced to Greg Lowe (the inventor/instigator of pretty much every device any climber has used). I immediately attached myself to his leg and humped like a poodle in heat in hopes of getting him to spill the beans on what he’s inventing next. This sage of engineering wouldn’t give all his secrets away, but he did reveal a bag of historic devices, iconic to the revolutions of our sport and reminded all in attendance that the future is bright indeed.
The next day, I pulled away from the boulder field clean-up event and headed to the longer routes embedded into the hillsides. I’ve never quite touched rock like this before. Slick bullet-hard reddish quartz bands held plenty of sharp edges with fantastic routes, but the cracks were truly remarkable. Sandstone cracks like those in Zion a few hours away provide a gritty texture that holds against the skin and allows forgiveness for sloppy technique, but here in Ogden, the cracks are so polished that only technique will get a climber to the summit. In between my fingers popped the occasional sleepy hornet, cousins to the same hive operating out of Eldo (see previous blog), but the cool shade kept them calm and allowed me the ability to move around them on easier runs. The rest of the day went by in a blur between the slide shows, auction, and dinner, where the guests at my table were truly some of the kindest I’ve ever met, capped by a late night movie at the house we invaded for the occasion.
The next day, we convened at Casa de Lowe, standing in a numb circle around the pile of gear needed for the day’s festivities. Jeff had suggested that we work together to put up a new route, to which we all heartily agreed during a third bottle of red wine, but looking at the 100 pounds of nonsense at our feet, with heads achy from the grapes, no one was volunteering to carry the load. Fortunately, Pete had to run inside to relieve his bladder, which gave us the ability to unanimously vote him to be the designated Sherpa during his absence. Ten minutes later, even with our head start, Pete responded by burying us in his dust as he pounded up the hill with the entire load in tow.
While Mike and his bride floated up several hard routes to warm up, Pete and DeAnn “Princess of Rifle” Masin went to work cleaning a line in need of a couple bolts. Mike pointed to a crack nearby that had not seen an ascent, to which I put on my shoes and took care of that problem, then started wandering the hills to finish the tour I had started the day before. I soloed about 15 routes when I heard Pete’s howl of completion, followed by DeAnn’s dance of flexing biceps that mocked my dismal buggy whip arms of despair.
The route was quickly dispatched by everyone, but with the heat of the sun threatening a short end to our trip, Pete tossed out the idea of “a proper Reardon-style seal of approval.” I contemplated a mojo run but realized that the girls might be scarred for life, or discover I have compensation issues, if subjected to my naked nether regions swaying in the breeze above them. So a compromise was reached. I soloed the route, but not without flipping the bird as a reminder of how fun this sport is, and earning that bird back from my new friends. Typical to our collective mindset, we volunteered a variety of spicy names for our new masterpiece, most of which Hustler are using as titles for future articles, but settled on “CF1” a.k.a. “ClimbFest 1” and look forward to next year’s participants carrying on the tradition of doing a new route at each event. However, next time the ante is going up and the pants are going down.
The next day on the way to the airport, we made a quick stop to climb at Little Cottonwood. It was strange to climb there. A religious group blasted the granite slabs to create a temple of faith, but in the process created a temple of adrenaline for our reality. Both points were highlighted by a giant rusted drill bit stuck in the middle of a boulder problem covered in chalk. However, the rock quality itself reminded me of Tahquitz — sticky when cool, slippery when warm, with splitter cracks as far as the eye can see. I soloed a dozen routes and was sitting on a ledge when I realized that the rock might feel familiar, but the view was different, bordering on the surreal with it’s similarities to sights in my past. It was then that I knew it was time to go back to California. The weekend away was great, making new friends and sharing a beer with the legends was a dream, but it’s time to push my limits the only way I know how. It’s time to train with the Outlaws.