Monday, July 26, 2010

Maple Canyon Climbing: The Beta Page

Planning a trip to Maple? Here's our thoughts from spending two weeks in this cobble-filled canyon...

  • You can book online and pay $8 a night. The benefit of this is you reserve your campsite (most are booked solid on the weekends). You also get one of the 12 "nice" campsites that have firepits, several flat tent spots each, big table and shade. It's also possible to just turn up, and if one of the $8 sites is free, you can book and pay, but more interestingly for dirtbags are the $3 per night campsites. These are a first come first served basis and are great for long termers. They're not reservable.  They are less deluxe, not having a table, and might be a big hike to the nearest toilet.
  • There are several pit toilets located within the campground. They are kept in quite good order.
  • There are no showers.
  • There is no water. Bring your own.
  • You'll get no phone reception anywhere in the canyon.
  • Nearest and best is the coin laundry behind the Fast Trax service station in Mt Pleasant.
Food and water
  • In Ephraim, you can buy groceries at either Kent's Market (very cheap specials for dirtbags) or Wal-mart. Nephi and Mt Pleasant also have supermarkets.
  • For rest day meals, there is a Subway and McDonalds in Ephraim. Nephi also has a Wendy's. I recommend Roy's Pizza (formerly known as Fat Jack's) in Ephraim or Cavalier Pizza in Mt Pleasant. And for something sweet, you can't go past Ephraim's Malt Shop for great shakes and slushes.
  • Water is easily obtainable at the service station adjacent to Ephraim's Wal-mart (near the air hose).

  • Various unsecured home routers on main street of Manti, good for picking up emails on the move, or updating your scorecard ;)

    For longer stints you have two options: 
  1. McDonalds in Ephraim has power, free wifi and endless soda. Use the ice machine to top up your esky on the way out.
  2. Computer lab in the Snow College in Ephraim. Drive around Snow College until you spot a bell tower. Park there. The building left of the bell tower is the computer lab and has free Internet access on very fast computers.
  • There are $2 hot showers and an indoor pool in the Gymnasium/Recreation centre at Snow College in Ephraim.
  • There is an online guide available (link) for $12. It is not a new guide. It is over 10 years old but is the best that is on offer currently. Supplement this with the online information on Mountain Project. Ask around for info on new sectors if you're interested.
  • Routes tend to be endurance affairs. Holds tend to be open grips, but there is some crimping to be found where cobbles have fallen out. A 60m rope is fine. There is enough to occupy the 5.10 climber (unlike Rifle), and plenty if you climb harder than this. Because of rockfall, helmets are good. Especially for belaying. And for routes 5.12 and above, you're going to want your kneebar pads.
  • Grades of routes are all over the shop at Maple. For example, routes at the great cliff "The Minimum" are so ridiculously soft I'm surprised the bolts don't fall out. And yet, routes in Box Canyon are often quite stout. The best thing to do is take the grades with a large pinch of salt, and if you want to see what consensus is saying about a route, check it out on's Maple ticklist. And if it's obviously soft, don't take the higher grade ;)

If stuff changes, email me and I'll keep this post updated.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Spray-A-Thon and Rifle wrap

Well, Rifle was terrific.

Check your ego at the door and prepare to be humbled. That's the approach that works best. If you send - woohoo. If you fail - good training! :)

Highlights of my two week trip are as follows (I've gone with the euro grades as, after all, this is sport climbing):

Spray-A-Thon 8a+ - 5th shot (super steep with one tough crux. My first grade 30 on foreign soil.)
The Anti-Phil 8a - 4th shot (gently overhanging with brutal campus-snatching around a low roof)
The Beast 7c+ - 4th shot (slipperiest rock on the planet?)
Pump-O-Rama 7c+ - 2nd shot (just like Mt Coolum in Australia. Technical kneebars not an issue :)
Beer Run 7c+ - 3rd shot (my fave in Rifle, varied and amazing)
The Blocky Horror Show 7c - 3rd shot (stepped roofs, then hugging headwall)
Hang Em High 7b+ - onsight ("proud onsight dude!" pumped off my dial)
Pretty Hate Machine 7b+ - 2nd shot (slippery steep route)
Easy Skankin 7b - onsight (best sport 12b in USA they reckon!)

And here's some pics of me doing Spray-A-Thon on my final day. Big pressure!

Getting set up for the dyno. Off the right hand undercling, you jump for that hole. Very cool move.

Clipping in the crack section.

Double kneebars (sort-of) before the first bulge. I figured out some great beta for this bulge that even the locals now use. Energy conservation is all about using momentum!

The crux move! Might not look much, but you're reaching left hand for a hold known as the "pencil". But I reckon a pencil would be a better edge.

So thanks Rifle, you were great. I love you.

All pics © Jason Huston 2010

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Rifle Kneepad Ritual

A quick pictorial demonstration of what you have to do to climb here at Rifle.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Updated P-wall topo

Dan and Brian getting out while the getting was still good. We went to climb at the P-wall and in the morning, the clouds left and gave us a beautiful day. But by lunch time, our luck was up and it was time to get out!
Brian and I still able to see each other in the thick cloud that covered Mt Evans.

Me, just hanging around on my latest new route, A Vacation from Your Problems.
Taylor came out to check out the P-wall and liked what he climbed on. Here he is at the top of Rocky Mountain High.
The latest topo of the P-wall. There are two new climbs at the base of the wall. The new routes are both mixed with crack gear and a couple of bolts where the wall was blank. The left of the two new climbs is called Baby Steps (5.11-/pumpy) and the right line is called Tenacious P 5.12/technical). I just want to thank J-Star for coming out and rock climbing with me on the routes and for helping unlock the sequences on the two new first pitches to the wall. Now this place is starting to look and feel like a crag!
So a quick summary of the routes and their estimated grades:
Back to the Earth 5.13 c/d (mixed gear to 1 inch and bolts)
A Vacation from your problems 5.13b (all bolts)
Open Arete Project (V12/V13 bouldery 2 bolt route) (all bolts)
Hopeless AKA High Hopes Closed Project 5.14ish (all bolts)
Rocky Mountain High 5.12+/13- (mixed gear to 3 inches and bolts)
Aqualung 5.13- (mixed gear to 2 inches and bolts)
It's a Homonym 5.12b (mixed gear to 4inches and bolts)
Tenacious P 5.12c (mixed gear to .75 inches and bolts)
Baby Steps 5.11- (mixed gear to 1 inch and bolts)

Get out and have fun, I hope to see you there!

piz : )

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Vacation From Your Problems 5.13

Dan Gambino took another round of photos the other day.
They really let you see the wall and where the heck we are climbing on the P-wall.
Enjoy them and if you like contact Dan and buy one up!

piz : )

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Rifle USA - home of the kneebar?

Rifle Mountain Park, Colorado USA. Where the strong come to send (eventually) and the weak come to weep.

First impressions? Way more beautiful than I expected. Rifle is a long canyon with 60-80m high limestone walls on either side (which means there's always shade, even in summer) and a rushing alpine stream running through the middle. The stream is conveniently filled with brown trout so you'll share the campsite with fisherman and camping families. Bring your fishing gear or buy a complete setup for $16 at Wal-Mart like I did.

The camping in Rifle costs $7 a night, plus $5 per car, or buy an annual car pass for $40, which makes sense if you're staying for more than eight nights. Amenities include toilets and firepits. That's about it. The nearest showers and food are in at the town of Rifle which is about 20 minutes away by car, or (better) Glenwood Springs (45 minutes away).

Easy routes? Pfft! Good luck! There's maybe one or two sectors which have a handful of routes in the 5.8 - 5.10 range (17 - 19 or 5c - 6a+). If you're climbing under 7a / 23 / 5.11c I wouldn't bother. Just go elsewhere. But for this grade and upwards (especially the 7c / 27 / 5.12d grades) the place offers some serious quality. To me, the routes all seem hard for their grades. Who cares though when the quality is so good?

Walk-in's vary in length from zero minutes to about 1 minute. Great for lazy sport climbers.

I've found the climbing to be less steep than I'd imagined. With far fewer kneebars damn it. Maybe I'm just not finding them? There's lots of just gently overhanging sectors (which I love) and the routes demand a ton of endurance. There's a lot of polish, so you have to learn to trust those "buttery footholds".

Nearly all the routes have clip and lower anchors which is nice. And nearly all the classics have permadraws like these. These are also nice, although the wear on the biners means that your rope will turn black (from the aluminium oxide) and you should wear gloves when belaying.

So we're one week in and those are my initial ramblings. As for routes, I really enjoyed Beer Run 5.13a and Easy Skankin' 5.12b - both rated as the best of their grade in the wider Crankinverse. And I've fallen in love with The Anti-Phil 5.13b, so I'll see if I can get that sent before we leave.

Enjoy some pics...