Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Notes from the Field: Utah with Jess Jablonski

Day 1-Saturday

The group walks across the Petrified Sand Dunes in Snow Canyon State Park.
We left Saint Mike’s around 9:30am.  The previous night we had a Packing meeting so, everybody was ready to go that morning.  Our plane was leaving from Albany, but it got delayed so we got to Las Vegas later than expected. 

When we landed in Vegas it was about 9pm, we pick up our cars and went grocery shopping before heading to our final destination of St. George, Utah.  We arrived at our campsite, Snow Canyon State Park, at midnight, set up camp quick and went to bed.  We were all tired from our long day of travel.
An after lunch groups shot at the Scenic Overlook.

Day 2-Sunday

We got to sleep in a bit, because we were up late.  Unfortunately we were not able to climb. It had rained within the past 24 hours, so the rock was still wet.  Instead of climbing we were able to explore the state park we were staying at. 

We started out by hiking towards petrified dunes. The rock was so cool. It had all sorts of layers that had been eroded by wind and water, which gave the rock a step by step appearance. By just rubbing the rock it would turn to sand. The rock was sandstone with 
WP Instructor Jess Jablonski winning Farkle.
some bright red layers and others white layers. After hiking to the petrified dunes we hiked towards the overlook. At the top of the overlook we stopped for lunch. We stayed up there for about an hour. It was amazing to see all the rock from the high point.  After lunch we where able to explore the top of the overlook. Just after leaving the overlook, we found a lava cave and we went exploring.  We think an air bubble that had been trapped in the lava created the cave.  The top of the air bubble had broken through, exposing the cave.  After exploring the lava cave we headed back to camp.  Even though we where a little disappointed we couldn’t start our trip off climbing, it was nice to get to explore the State Park. 

When we got back to camp we had a little down time before dinner.  After eating dinner we played our first game of Farkle. Farkle is a simple dice game that everybody enjoyed.  We turned in early because we had to get up early for our first day of climbing!

Day 3-Monday

Jess Jablonski leads a 5.8 out at the Black Rocks.
We got up to a chilly morning and we also got a bit of a late start. We left at about 8:45 for the Black Rocks, which is only 15 minutes away from our campsite.  The Black Rocks are a canyon that you can't see from the road or from the approaching trail, so it was a surprise to us when we got to the canyon edge. The canyon ran north to south so half was in full sunlight while the other side was constantly in shade. We started at the sunny side for warmth.

We started climbing some easy/moderate routes, 5.7s, 5.8’s, and 5.9’s. After climbing at the sunny side for a while, a larger group moved in and it started to get warmer, so we decided to walk to the other side of the canyon and climb in the shade.  We only did a couple of climbs on the shady side, a 5.9, two 5.10’s, and a 5.8 that I lead.  Josh also tried a 5.12, which everybody enjoyed watching.  We left the Black Rocks early in the afternoon and headed back to camp.

We made dinner almost immediately after we got back and went to bed right after we finished cleaning up. We all were tired from our first day climbing.

Day 4-Tuesday

WP Instructor Josh Troob leads his first 5.13.
We got up and moving quicker this morning, we where leaving the camp site for the Soul Asylum a little after 8.  The drive there wasn’t too bad, but we had to hike in a little further than expected because the road was a little to rough for us to take the cars down. The longer approach gave us a change to warm up a little bit because it was the coolest it had been so far, but it was still warm by Vermont standards.

The rock at the Soul Asylum was really different from the rock we climbed at in the Black Rocks. It was limestone, with little divots and pockets everywhere. There were so many feet and they where all really, really good! Most of the climbs that we did were slabs, so it was really different climbing than what most of us were used to.  I also got to climb a 5.10c, which was over 100ft long. It was my favorite climb of the trip.

After we left, we went to the grocery store to pick up some food to make dinners for the rest of the week. We got back to camp and made dinner and went to bed early again.

WP Instructor Jess Jablonski on her favorite climb, a 5.10c/d.

Day 5-Wednesday

The group admires the scenic view in Zion National Park on the way to the Emerald Springs.
Martha McElroy in front of some huge rock formations.

We left at 8am for Zion National Park in Utah. We needed to take a rest day from climbing so we decided to do some light hiking at Zion. It was chilly in the morning when we got out at the welcome center, but we weren't in the sun yet. Our first hike was the overlook, which was awesome. We were able to see the winding road we came up on, and we had a panoramic view of the cliffs. By the time we left overlook it had started to warm up and get really hot.

After the overlook we went to the emerald springs. The hike to get there was longer than the overlook hike, but it lead us to two waterfalls and springs that where fed by the waterfalls.  When we got to the main waterfall we stopped and had lunch.  It was shady and cool; it was the perfect stop to stop for lunch.  After the main waterfall we stopped a little spring that fed the lower waterfalls.  I went to cross the pool and slipped.  I got myself and a French lady soaking wet. 
Fearless Leaders Eben and Andrea

After leaving the spring we split up from Andrea and Eben. They took the same trails back to the cars to meet us while we hiked out a different trail.  When we met up with Eben and Andrea we decided to look at some gift shops in the town right outside of Zion. 

When we got back to camp we made dinner and planned out the last two days of our trip.

Martha and Meghan climbing at the Sumo Wall.
Day 6-Thursday

After getting up and making a quick stop at the campsite shop we where on our way to the Sumo Wall.  Martha and I had found it the night before and it looked like it had climbs in the right range for our group so we decided to give it a try.  The parking lot was packed with other climbers camping and living out of their cars.  At first we where worried that the cliff would be pack but fortunately there are lots of other climbs in the area and we had the cliff to ourselves. 

The base of the cliff was really rocky and uneven.  We had a difficult time finding a good stop to put our packs.  But once we found a good spot we began climbing.  The rock was limestone, like the Soul Asylum, but the routes and even the holds on the rock were so different.  It was steeper and the climbing felt more difficult.  I think that we all felt that the Sumo wall was our hardest day of climbing, physically and emotionally.  We had a tough time transitioning to the different type of climbing that we experienced at the Sumo Wall.  

When we got back to camp we made ourselves dinner and decided on going back to the Soul Asylum for our last day of climbing.

Professor Trish Siplon loving the warm weather.
Meghan Lynch climbing a 5.8
Day 7-Friday

Guide Andrea Charest climbing a 5.13
When we got up it was a little odd because we all knew that it was our last day in Utah.  We ate breakfast and started packing up a little bit before heading off the Soul Asylum at 8.  We started in the same spot as last time, on the easy long slab.  But we then moved off the right of the cliff band to climb on some new routes.  There, Trish climbed her first 5.10, which was a great way to end the trip. 

I also tried the 5.13 with Josh and Andrea.  It was a really interesting climb, totally unlike all the other climbs that I had done.  I didn’t finish the climb, but I really enjoyed getting to try the climb.  I got about half way, which was further than I expected, so I was happy with how our last day went. 

We left Soul Asylum a little after 3:30 and when we got back to camp we finished up the packing we could do, then we got cleaned up for dinner.  We decided to go out to dinner for the last night.  We went to a little Mexican restaurant.  We had a great time at dinner.  It was fun way to spend our last night together.

WP Instructor Andy Hogan was tricked into leading a 5.10.

WP Instructor Jess Jablonski on the 5.13.

Josh, Martha and Jess leaving their last day of climbing in Utah.
When we got back to camp we went right to bed because we had to get up at 4:30 to catch our flight.  It was sad to be leaving, but I know I was tried and missing my bed. 

Day 8-Saturday

We got up at 4:30 and finished up packing.  We took down the tents and packed away our sleeping things.  When we made our way back to Las Vegas the sun was just coming up.  We got to the airport and said goodbye to Andrea, who was staying out west to climb for a little bit longer. 

By the time we got back to Saint Mike’s it was about 9pm.  It may not have been late but I was exhausted.  The days of climbing and hiking and all the early morning where catching up to me.  Even though I missed the warmth and sunshine of the desert, it was nice to be back and in my own bed.  

The group at the end of a sunny day in Zion Nation Park.

Thanks to WP Instructor Jess Jablonski for writing up a great blog post! To see more of the Utah trip go over to our Facebook Page or check out WP Instructor Josh Troob's Awesome Video.

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