Monday, November 30, 2015

Loving the Granite of Little Cottonwood Canyon

I've arrived back in England so now I've got some time to do some retro-posts from my time in the States.  I'll start out with some pictures from Utah's beloved Little Cottonwood Canyon.  Hope you enjoy.......

Little Cottonwood Canyon seems to be one of those areas you either love or hate (for the record I lean heavily towards loving it).  This boulder strewn canyon is located just 20 minutes from downtown Salt Lake City and is a huge selling point for climbers that move to the city.  Regardless of whether or not you think LCC is destination worthy, there is no denying that is would be a phenomenal place to have as your local haunt.  

Little Cottonwood of course refers to the entire canyon but the bouldering is actually quite varied depending on which of the many sectors you visit.  The entrance to the canyon provides climbing at lower elevation for the colder/snowy months and the alpine areas high up provide a respite from the sweltering summer months.  You can even optimize temps by choosing either the sunny or shady side of the canyon and if you really want to get nerdy you can select you area by the rock itself as the granite can vary between areas.  

The climbing itself tends to cater to more technical climbers and it helps to be good at mantling as crux lip encounters are common and many a strong gym-rat have left the area with their egos slightly bruised (this also might explain why some folks don't like the area).  That said, the bouldering is pretty extensive so I'm sure you can find something to fit you style....... 

Here are some photos

Located at the Secret Garden sector, Copperhead is a crimpy test-piece on one of Little Cottonwood's best boulders.  It essentially boils down to bearing down on the sharp crimp Ann is reaching for in the picture.  I actually never thought I'd do this problem but having done all the other straight-ups I figured I'd give it a shot and miraculously found myself on the top.  Sometimes I surprise myself.  

Elizabeth stares down the crux of Lance's Dihedral.  This problem is on the same boulder as Copperhead and is not to be missed if visiting the area.

Dain give St Nicholas a raspberry.  Also at the Secret Garden this problem comes highly recommended and is one of the first problems I'll go back to when visiting the area.  Unfortunately I don't have a photo that shows the problem better so you'll have to settle for Dain looking swoll.  

The Round Room is a hidden gem that is worth seeking out.  This gentle scoop requires some technique to make the use of non-holds and is fun for the whole family......unless you are short, in which case you'll find yourself reduced to tears.

Another angle of Kyle on The Round Room just reaching for the crux move.

Bronson Arete at the Riverside area is one of my favorites.  In this shot Noki sets up for the big move out right, which he was just able to span. 

Austin on Bronson Arete

Also at the Riverside area is Alzheimers.  There are two solutions to the crux final move and Carrie opts for the heel-hook right hand up method instead of the deadpoint/dyno with the left hand.  Both options are hard and it's just a matter of what fits you better.

One of my favorite problems from this trip was the tricky Gerbils.  While it might not look like much this problem packs a considerable amount of climbing into its two moves and should be a rite of passage for folks hoping to master the subtleties of Little Cottonwood.  Tommy trying to find balance for the reach to the lip.

Just to the right of Gerbils is Duct Tape.  It is also a two move problem but of a very different style from Gerbils.  You do get to use this amazing sloper and hope it provides enough purchase to do the dyno crux.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Back in 'Merica and a Moab Drive By

Man it still feels great to be back in the USA.  We've been here for almost 2 weeks and I've got that hankering to move back.  Maybe some day......
The kids and I flew to NM and moved into the Motherload (our beloved van) to make the initial journey to Salt Lake City.  I've missed life on the road and while adding a couple kids to the mix certainly complicates things there is still nothing quite like the joy of van living and I'm glad I get to share it with my family.  Of course I'm not sure how much the kids appreciate the long drives as they can turn even the best behaved kids into grumpy little monsters.  Fortunately since arriving in SLC we've spent minimal time in the rig and the long drive up included occasional stops so the kids could stretch their legs and dad could climb some boulders.

Here are a few pictures from the start of the trip

My dad knows how to make the grand kids happy.  Fortunately this is a rarity but damn are donuts delicious.   

You got to love the Southwest.  Looking Glass Rock just a bit south of Moab. 

One of the quick stops on the trip North was in Moab.  I opted to check out an area I'd never seen that was a short walk and a nice place for the kids.  Zen Garden (aka Ninja Training Cave) is a pretty cool spot with a trickling waterfall feeding a little pond next to this amphitheater.  

My mom, who came along for the ride, helps Nalani wash her hands in the waterfall.

I believe this climb is called Shaolin Donkeypunch and is one of the two main lines in the cave.  I imagine there are tons of variations and links to be done if one is so inclined.  It's also worth noting that the climbs do topout but most folks seem to opt for dropping from the highest jugs as I did.  I'd love to go back with a spotter as the high dirty top just wasn't worth it this time around.

The crew at the Ninja Training Cave

I also stopped briefly in Price Canyon for a little sandstone.  I'd been to this small area about 11 years ago and it works great for a quick hit.  The Price is Right boulder provides several sweet lines but some of the holds can be a little tweeky. This problem is either called Off the Couch or is some variation of Showcase Showdown.  Regardless of name, it is a nice problem.