dimanche 19 janvier 2014

Wild West Tour 1993, Part 2

Q. What to do when it's raining heavily for the fourth consecutive day?
A. Go back to bed after a late breakfast, get up at 3.30 pm, take Scamp out for a long (wet) walk and then try and write a blog post. Simple as that.

What? No climbing today? Our bodies are aching all over after a great session at Val de Grimpe yesterday (along with just about all the other climbers down here - boy it was busy, but good fun). Anyway, spare time is good to do some thinking and planning for the future, i.e. the future after we finish work at the end of next June. And also good to think back to what we were doing in Salt Lake City, over 20 years ago.

In early 1990, I was facing a dilemma. I had to make a difficult-ish decision. For the past 2 years, I'd been testing gear for Lowe Alpine. I was one of a small team, which included Dougie Hall, Glenn Sutcliffe, John Hartley and was coordinated by Tony Ryan. I felt very privileged to have been asked to join the team and enjoyed using my knowledge of the outdoor trade to good effect. We had Beal ropes, Vertical shoes and Lowe Alpine sacks and jackets to test. It was great fun. Then I was approached by DMM, hence the dilemma. I didn't like the idea of turning my back on Lowe Alpine, but to go with DMM was too good an opportunity to turn down, as it meant access to La Sportiva shoes, Mammut ropes and all the cutting edge DMM gear at the time such as Truclips, Mambas and Wallnuts. Such fabulous gear to test and to be part of such an innovative company. It was amazing to listen to Fred Hall's ideas for the next new piece of kit and to liaise with witty and super cool dude, Paul Simkiss.

So, what does this have to do with our US road trip? Just be patient, OK?

After seeing "Masters of Stone" at Pete Kirton's in Portland, we had more of an idea where we wanted to go on our road trip. One of the must-go places was American Fork Canyon, near SLC. We remembered Paul's tales about the guy who imported DMM stuff into the US, Steve Petro. Paul described him as a really cool dude and an ace climber and told us we should try and meet up with him and his then-partner (now wife), ace climber Lisa Gnade. Whilst at Smith Rock, we met somebody who told us that John Barstow (a really talented climbing photographer) was a neighbour and all we'd have to do was look him up in the phone directory when we got there.

It was way past bed time when we finally ended up on Steve and Lisa's doorstep (at that time they were both teaching as well as setting up their business, called Excalibur, and they had to be at school the following day). John mischievously left us to it, after making brief introductions. Steve was very unimpressed and looked very mean standing in his boxers, he had the most impressive six pack and lats I'd ever seen (however, the effect was somewhat cancelled out by an enormous out of place handle bar moustache). It was turning into an embarrassing stand off and we were making our apologies and about to leave, when Lisa appeared and told Steve to let us in. Steve capitulated immediately and we crossed the threshold.

That was the start of the next part of our amazing trip. We stayed for over 2 weeks and did some great climbing at AF. Steve and Lisa were wonderful hosts and pointed us at the best routes and as the days passed we became great friends. Steve adopted me as his "little brother"! He also tried to help me cope with a particularly bad bout of farting by prescribing something called "Beano". Needless to say it had no effect, if anything it seemed to make me worse.

October wasn't the best time to be at AF, it was pretty cold and damp infact. Still, it was nice for us to send some of the hard routes in the Hell Cave, including "Melting" (7c+) and "Burning" (8a) and countless other classics such as "License to Thrill" (6c+) and "The Abyss" (7b+). Soon we were ready to head west, past the Great Salt Lake towards the sun. We headed towards TM Herbert's place in Gardnerville, in Nevada, and the prospect of steep climbing at Cave Rock above Lake Tahoe and the next chapter in our wild west adventure.
My big brother, Steve Petro about to make a trip to Hell.

Elaine and Lisa thawing out in the sun at the Hell Cave, AF.

Lisa cruising "Wizards", 5.13c (8a+).

Steve crushing "Hell", 5.13b (8a).

A more recent photo of "Burning", 5.13b (8a).

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