samedi 11 janvier 2014

Wild West Tour 1993, Part 1

Planning to take a year off work is really exciting, despite the other things going on in our life at the moment. It reminds me of the last time we took time out 20 years ago....

We flew out of Manchester the same day our (ex) colleagues went back to school after the summer hols. The cross Atlantic flight was a novelty for us as we'd not been in a plane for more than a couple of hours before. We made the most of the free Jack Daniels, the air hostess even gave us the left over bottles for the internal flights! We eventually arrived in "Portland Oregon" (as said by Jack Nicholson in The Shining) having travelled via Chicago and Dallas to be picked up by Pete Kirton (the one from Ellesmere Port!) and driven back to his flat in downtown Portland. Jet lagged, we struggled with the heat and the city noise for a couple of days whilst Pete and Sandra worked long hours at Geraldi's deli.

We bought a Chevrolet for 600$ and set off for the vertical, crimpy ryolite walls of Smith Rock, armed with Glenn Sutcliffe's topo and memories of Ian Horrock's superb photos. Pete had put us in touch with a non-climbing friend of his (called Marla Gibson) who lived opposite the car park at Smith. It seemed that we'd be able to camp in her extensive garden. However, when we got there she insisted we stay in her house. The next day, she announced she was heading off on a rodeo for a couple of weeks and was wondering if we'd mind looking after her house! But we'd have to water the plants, feed the horses, feed the cats, etc. We couldn't believe our luck. After 2 weeks, Marla phoned up asking if it was OK if she stayed another week!!! We were amazed at her generosity and her trust.

September proved to be a bit too warm for Smith, but we were more than happy to get stuck into lots of new climbing. We were well prepared, having been Pex Hill regulars for many years, and had 3 fantastic weeks ticking the classics, eg. Darkness At Noon, Last Waltz, Chain Reaction, Aggro Monkey, Churning In The Wake, Kings Of Rap, Rude Boys and many more. We also visited a new area of cliffs called the Lava Tubes, with Midway/Prime Minister being a wild, steep 5.13a (7c+).

At the beginning of October, we headed on to the granite cliffs of City Of Rocks in Idaho. We were expecting plenty of rednecks (having seen the Clint Eastwood film "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot") and we weren't disappointed! It seemed weird putting the tent up after being at Marla's. Still, it was nice camping near the crags, even if the grades were tough. Unfortunately, it wasn't possible to climb on The Dolphin at that time so we settled down to ticking lots of classics between 5.11 and 5.13a (6b to 7c+).

After 4 days without a shower we were stinking and drove to the nearest civilisation (a shop at a road junction about 15 miles away). We both took it in turns to keep watch whilst we used the shower.
Smith Rocks seen from the parking lot in front of Marla's house.

Smith Rocks

Sunshine Dihedral, To Bolt Or Not To Be, 5.14a  (up the smooth wall) and Last Waltz, 5.12c (up the arete left again).
Keefe Murphy on Vicious Fish (Churning in the Wake is the easier bottom part at 5.13a).
Aggro Monkey, a soft, but great 5.13b (8a).
Ligthning over Elephant Rock, City of Rocks, Idaho.
Energizer, 5.13a at City of Rocks, Idaho.
We then headed on east towards Salt Lake City for the next chapter of our wild west tour.

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