Team Indecision B, comprised of Ryan, VA and Ken, can be taught a new trick!  (And y’all thought we were old.)

Let’s start the story at nighttime, sitting in front of a fire, with a bottle of beer, burnt smores and a lot of talk about what we are going to climb the next day.

“If we are going to do Lightening Bolt Crack on North Sixshooter (a 5.11, 3 pitch tower route) then we should plan what gear we need tonight and what time we are going to get up in the morning…” says the sage Ken.

But do we actually do this?  No we hem and haw and say maybe we’ll go craggin’ tomorrow instead.

“If the weather is good in the morning we should go for it,” expresses Ryan.

“Yeah, and we should probably be out of camp no later than 8am.”

That’s about as difinitive as it get.

So, morning comes.  Ken and Va make coffee and look at the amazingly clear blue sky wondering if any decision had been made.  Ryan wakes up and breakfast is fixed.  By the end of breakfast, just past 9am, the team cheers, “Let’s go do the tower!”

Right, so a frantic scramble occurs.  Gear is sorted, water packed, dishes cleaned…a good all around frenzy of activity.  And off we go in the Taco to find our way to the tower.  I mean, you’d think that getting to the very obvious chunk of rock pointing into the sky which can’t be missed for miles around wouldn’t be too hard.  However it ends up requiring some pretty serious off-roading for the Taco, in and out of washes, across narrow roads of slick-rock, dodging and occassionally hitting the unavoidable deep-deep ruts.  And that’s not the end of it.  We haven’t even started the approach at that point.

Next we have to pick which ridge to try and walk up.  Select one and there is no turning back.  Up and down, around and delicately we pick our way trying to find the “climber’s trail” which supposedly leads to the top.  Again, we ask ourselves, how hard could it be?!  The guidebook suggests giving one’s group 1.5 hours to make the approach and it ends up taking us about 2 hours…let’s just say we didn’t exactly take the most direct route.  And to our defense, the directions in neither guidebook are clear.  One says drive until you don’t kill plantlife then hike up.  The other says something even more vague.  But eventually we do find the climber’s trail and get to the climb.  Ken leads up the first pitch, sets anchor and Va has a thought, “I wonder what time it is?”  Turns out it is around 3pm, and it gets pretty durn dark around these parts around 6:30pm.  So, learning from previous adventures and knowing with 100% certainty that it would NOT be fun to go down the scree slope and mudmounds in the dark (there would be no reflectors to guide our way this time) she takes one for the team and lets Ryan and Ken do the route together.

Watching them do the route was quite neat acutally.  And I didn’t mind missing out on the move out of a little chimney on to the face of the tower at the start of the 3rd pitch that makes you feel like you are literally in the middle of the sky with nothing around you.  I was feeling fear for both Ken and Ryan when each individually pulled the move and I swear you could see both of them quake either in surprise or in healthy respect for the laws of gravity.  You’d have to ask them how it made them feel, I suppose.

But to shorten the story, we do make it down to the truck before dark.  It involved a little down climb of a chimney, zig-zaggin’ across some different cliffs and one good jump off a mud mound…all after the scree slope.  And just as we are watching the final last glimpses of sunlight, we get a small bridge built to get Taco out of the wash and back onto the road.  So, you could say that we learned a lesson in Squamish.  There was no epic decent just a weary drive back to camp.  Maybe next year I’ll get Ryan to hike back up that path to the tower so I too can see the top of the world.  But, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Beyond that we are loving life and living large.  We’ve seen all sorts of animal prints in the sand–bird, coyote, deer and even a mountain lion.  One night Ken says he heard the coyotes outside his tent whining and yelping, we suspect to try and lure a dog out.  Fortunately it seems that the dog owners around here are savey to the desert ways.

Ryan and I’ll stay here until the end of Oct. but we lose Ken this Monday.  Thanks everyone for keeping us updated on your lives.  Tamara, hope the baby birthing goes well!  We can’t wait to meet the new addition to your family.  Steph, you’ll get really strong really quick…maybe when I see you in Rocktown next time I’ll actually be able to keep up with you but I doubt it.  Kipp and Karen, we look forward to seeing you in Arkansas, and Matt and Amy T., we’ll catch you sooner rather than later, we hope.  Dr. Bob, when are you going to come out and play?
Cheers to everyone.

Love,

Va and Ryan

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