Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The City in All Its Splendor!

The City of Rocks has to be one of my favorite places to climb and to simply BE. Nestled in the Sawtooth range of southern Idaho, this magical place has a history as rich as its sights. Around the gold rush era of the 19th century, folks traveled through these parts in their wagon trains and found it to be a great place to stay on their way to California.

Check out a more detailed history at the National Park Service's site

There is plenty to do here even if you aren't a climber. I noticed that it attracts a lot of families - plenty of young couples there with young kids and dogs - lots-o-dogs! However, "The City" is very well known for its rock climbing. There is something here for climbers of almost all levels and types. Trad, sport, mixed. Single pitch and multi-pitch. Easy approaches and more arduous ones.

My first visit here 5 years ago was in the fall. October is a great time to climb here, although the weather can be chilly, especially at night.  May and June of this year turned out to be unusually cool and rainy and as a result, by the time I arrived the first of July, the wildflowers and the green pastureland were beaming in full, brilliant color.
Beauty in The City!
There were some pretty hot days, especially around the holiday weekend.  But the great thing about the climbing here is that you can chase the shade.  The rock formations face all sorts of directions - north/south, east/west.

This is moderate mecca. Oodles of quality routes from 5.7 to 5.10+.  Beth and I were both hoping to get on some routes we had never climbed before.  (She has climbed her 3 or 4 times before as she is just a day's drive away).  There are many classics here and we certainly enjoyed ticking some off.  We also jumped on some less popular routes and discovered some fun throughout the park.  With the July heat being pretty intense by mid-day, we developed a sort of daily routine: Climb until about noon or 1:00 pm, then take a long break in our camp chairs under a shade tree. We would eat lunch, perhaps read and often take a nap! The we would head back out about 3:00 or 4:00 and climb another route or two.  Cold beer and dinner back at camp, then off to bed and wake up the next day and start it all over again!  Not too bad a life.

Columbine and rock

Memorable climbs are as follows:

*Snakes and Ladders (short but sweet)
***Rye Crisp (super fun super flake)
**Conceptual Reality (the ultimate hybrid route - watch out for fire ants at the base!
**Scream Cheese (exciting face climb with juggy crux)
***Private Idaho (fun and easier than it looks)
***Colossus (super juggy fun sport route)
***Coffee & Cornflakes (another jug-fest sport route)
**Fall Line (easy or hard on bolts)
***Thin Slice (excellent & varied, more mental than physical)
**Batwings (memorable because I fell on this one, after flailing on the harder direct start! Don't take this one for granted!)

Wild roses at the City
This is a place to return to again and again.

Terrific camping.
Caring park staff.
Endless climbing.
Forgiving, friendly rock.
Great food and socializing in town.
Easy approaches.
Moderate mecca.

The City just plain ROCKS!!!

Morning Glory Spire and Anteater formations 

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