Midwinter Night’s Dream: Gambling and Rambling Trip Report of Southwestern Utah

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The Roulette Dealer decided that my money was no longer needed in my wallet.  Or at least it seemed that way by the veracity of which he kept hitting Red while my bets sat lonely on Black.  If it weren’t for the bottomless Mimosas, the shittiest all-you-can-eat buffet imaginable, and the deprecating way the dealer kept taking my chips – I wouldn’t feel nearly as welcome.

Welcome to the desert. I’ll let myself in.

As all worthwhile trips appropriately start – with psych as a fuel and full strength beer for lubricant – we wandered our way in search of sunshine and warm stone.  I’ve decided now that these midwinter trips are the cure for “Gym Climbing Fever” – and as for all trips with seemingly dynamic objectives they prove to always be beneficial for the psych.

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Moes Valley, UT – one of the prestigious bouldering destinations in the west, a crater like field of featured blocs, is an endless playground limited only by the durability of the skin on your fingertips.  Andrew Lam, Anthony Hedberg, Martine Nichols, Marley Nelson, Jade Martinsen, our puppy Luna and I comprised our clan to tackle some well-earned pebble wrestling.   After warming our limbs, removing our shirts (briefly) Hedberg, Lam, and Marley gave a good showing on Linder’s Roof – a classic V9 that followings a series of decent holds to a heinous cross.


Lam making the crux move on Linders Roof

Hedberg repeated Israil direct (V8) – with much ease.  Beyond being too strong for his own good, he has the beastliest shoulders of anyone I know.

We made our rounds, repeated some easier classics and joined a crew mobbing Dead Rabbit (V10).   This problem is amazing with small but positive holds through an overhanging face.  With decent beta spray, some kneebarring trickery, and vocal support, Lam made a good showing climbing all the moves but unable to link from start to end.


With the remaining tingling feeling in our hands, we switch gears and headed to Snow Canyon State Park.  Without a guidebook, my vague glance at a topo a few days earlier was all we had to go on as we searched for the classic route, Living on the Edge.  Located immediately off of the road that runs through the park, it wasn’t hard to find. The route trends on the edge of a large alcove following amazing patina plates and jugs.  Being so close to the road, we attracted a large crowd of sightseers who jeered us on and took photos.


At 5.10, this route has moved its way up the charts in my book to the status of ultra-classic.  We made quick work of the 3 pitches, laughed at the hollowness on some of the holds on the upper pitches, and rappelled.  Multi pitch sport climbing at its best and I highly recommend it.

Thanks to the generosity of Jade’s grandparents, we were put up in their vacation home in Mesquite, NV.  We cruised down through the Virgin River Gorge, and after a hefty meal of Mexican food, we threw down for a night of light “grand larceny”.  After a short hour of straight brutality by a humorless dealer with the first name “Lino” – we settled in back at the house and correctly decided another round of the “Martini Chugging Contest” WASN’T in order.

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Warming up at the Cathedral

In the morning we slammed back homemade breakfast burritos, bloody marys, and racked our quickdraws.  We ventured out to Welcome Springs in search of the infamous Cathedral and desert limestone.  It’s in the moments on the dirt road heading out to a new area when the imagination burns and the diminutive sense of adventure and potential begin to manifest.  Followed by the moment when the beauty of the stone reveals itself and these emotions culminate.  Photos only share a fraction of the experience.  It’s the realness of being there, this portion that is left in the heart.

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The Infamous Cathedral

We clambered up into the cave of stone, covered on all sides by paths of most-resistant and fixed draws.  We traced the lines with our fingers and imagined the strength expressed during each climbers effort to triumph on the routes.

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We warmed up. Lam set his sights on flashing the project we came for, Spring Loaded, an inspiring 13a that climbs to the edge of the cave’s left flank.  He floated through the lower 12b section of the route, only stymied by a few in-obvious movements, and rested at the mid anchor.  He loaded up and got dynamic clipping the remaining 3 bolts to the upper anchor.  First 5.13!! Psyched!

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Lam hucking it on his way to the anchor on Spring Loaded, 13a

As we drifted back on the freeway headed to Salt Lake, another amazing trip with great friends logging its way into my memory,  I could only bask in the stoke for the future. The mantra stands true: on wards and upwards into the great unknown, with good company close at hand, and new experiences to share.

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