Monday, June 18, 2012

Three Times a Charm

Recently got back from my third trip to "The City." That's right, the City of Rocks in Almo, Idaho.  The climbing, people, setting and quality of this place makes it one of my favorite places in the country to go climbing.  Super short approaches; clean, safe and affordable camping with tremendous views; tons of moderate sport and traditional climbing; easy access to top shelf microbrews & homemade pizza at the local establishment Rock City; showers at the state park campground; and a spirit and history that draws you in and sparks the imagination.  The California Trail went directly through this place as over 50,000 people passed through during the gold rush era.  Some stayed and homesteaded, until the dust bowl drove them out.  Cattle ranching is still active there today and we were fortunate to see cowboys and cowgirls driving their herds through the park - fun.

The trip was great for many reasons, but when the weather cooperates (or not) it certainly makes or breaks it.  While mostly we had warm sunny days, we did get a mountain storm one Monday night (it was in the mid-80s that day and the next night it snowed!).  Wind is commonplace there and our REI rental tent eventually bowed to mother nature when one of the poles snapped and ripped a 5 foot gash in the rainfly.  We were glad it was near the end of our visit so just 2 nights sleeping in the back of the rental car provided comfort.
Our sad tent pole surrendered to high winds
The climbing there is so good that is a pleasure to repeat routes already climbed.  There are many classic lines that are worthy of repeating.  Being my 3rd visit I was able to do plenty of that as well as try a few new ones.  I generally find the grades a little soft compared to the east coast climbing grades I am used to - BUT, as most climbing areas go, it is never consistent and the occasional sandbag gets thrown in for good measure.  The best example of this I can recall is a 5.7 called Triple Roofs on the breadloaves.  While still a fun and worthy route, it felt much harder than any other 5.7 I've climbed there - MUCH harder.  Of course every day is different and maybe I just wasn't climbing that route very well. At the opposite end of that same 5.7 spectrum is a highly recommended climb on Rabbit Rock called Hesitation Blues.  This was a cruise for the grade but tons of fun in a wonderful setting.  The nearby Roadkill (10b) deserves more stars than the book gives it IMHO - a  nice hybrid route with the first half a challenging crack and the second half a super spicy bolted slab. Just do it!

When we got back home the work had really piled up for me and it is my colleague's turn to go on vaca now - so I have been too busy to put together any quality blog posts and videos.  I created a fun slideshow set to music but of course due to Copyright laws I cannot post it on YouTube with the music.  So here it is without the intended audio so if you are ever thinking of going to The City you can have a little extra motivation! Enjoy!

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