So we've been ticking over; climbing at Val de Grimpe and on our board downstairs, also we've done some core workouts and some weights and generally keeping fit. Neither of us has found a project to get stuck into but we've had lots of fun ticking easier stuff at places like Chouchou Place, La Decharge, Seranon, Le Brumisateur and Greolieres. Most of the time we've been able to avoid the crowds and enjoy the peace and quiet in the mountains.
However, some super motivated Australian friends of ours (who climb and travel even more than us!) have been climbing at Red Rocks in Nevada, USA. This got me thinking and I realised that I hadn't written the final part of our Wild West Tour from 1993. So, here goes.....
After such a fantastic time with Tom and Sondra climbing at Jailhouse and Yosemite, we headed south to climb at Owen's River Gorge for a couple of days and, of course, to do some bouldering at the soon to become "spot a la mode": Bishop. Then we headed towards the desert. We weren't sure if we were going to Joshua Tree or Red Rocks. A decision was made when we found out that Liam Gartside (a friend from a trip to the Verdon in 1983) was staying in a place called Mesquite, near Virgin River Gorge (about 80 miles from Las Vegas). Liam's friends very kindly told us to "come on over".
We used to drive all the way to Red Rocks and drive back each day, which was a round trip of almost 200 miles, but it was worth it for the fantastic company (not to mention all the ice cream and pizza!). Whilst there we met up again with Pete and Cara Blackburn, who we skied with at Heavenly whilst staying at TM's. They'd been surfing down in Baja California and were keen to do some climbing for a change. (They both studied at I M Marsh with Elaine.) We also had some great days at VRG. Well, I say great but Elaine would disagree very strongly, climbing in the shade in late November and early December was never her idea of having fun. Of course I feel the same way myself these days, but at the time I was really keen to climb some of the great routes there. Not surprisingly we met up with super keen new router Randy Leavitt, who would drive all the way from San Diego each weekend.
Climbing at Red Rocks was a nice change from the volcanic tuff, limestone, granite and basalt crags that we'd climbed on up until then. Whilst the crags that we climbed on were pretty small, the rock was nice and rough being sandstone, so the friction was ace, you could almost climb just using your feet. There was one typical American "novelty" that used to bug us at the end of each day. The park ranger would come with his loudhailer and tell us all to "get the hell out of the place" before they closed the park for the night! There was some panicked climbing, if we weren't quite finished on time followed by a frantic jog to the car to make sure we weren't locked in for the night.
One rest day we visited the Grand Canyon and the Hoover dam. Another time, Liam's friend scared the shit out of me by taking me on a wild drive, tearing around the sand dunes in his dune buggy. We even went skeet (clay pigeon) shooting. We were both horrified to see the selection of guns when we went to hire the rifles and get the ammo. You could come out of the general store armed just like Arnie in Terminator with a pump action shotgun AND a 6 pack of beer. Only in America......
All too soon, it was almost Christmas and we had to head back north to Pete and Sandra's place in Portland and catch a flight back home. Before we left we took the car back to Pete's friend at the garage where we bought it (with an extra 10 000 miles on the clock in the 4 months we'd had it). He bought it back off us for 600$, which was the same price we bought it for in the first place. Pete also gave me a letter addressed to me. It was from the insurance company and it contained a refund of my insurance premium because I'd not taken the Oregon drivers test! Result! Ok, I hadn't been technically insured during our long journey but I did have the paper work in case I got stopped by the smokies. (I didn't know that was going to happen. Honest, but it was a nice surprise.)
The last night before flying home, Pete took us down to the climbing "gym". Lots of folks were keen to hear where we'd been to and many asked which was our favourite place or crag. I can remember at the time, we both said "Yosemite". However, in reality, it wasn't an easy question to answer as we'd been to so many amazing locations, climbed in so many beautiful places and met so many wonderful people (many of which we're still in touch with today, well over 20 years later). Even now, I can still remember so much about that trip. It was absolutely out of this world. I'd like to thank everybody who helped us have such a life changing experience, especially Pete Kirton and Sandra, Marla Gibson, Tom and Sondra Herbert, Steve Petro and Lisa Gnade, TM Herbert, and finally Liam's friends in Mesquite (who prefer to be anonymous). Thank you all so much for your friendship and help along the way.
|Warm up at Red Rocks (hat supplied by Pete Gomersall/Troll)|
|Puffing the cheeks on The Sissy Traverse (8a)|
|Pete and Cara at Red Rocks|
|The one everybody goes to Red Rocks for: The Gift (7c)|
|Another nice warm up|
|DMM sponsored bald person making a quick ascent of The Ascent of Man (8a) at VRG|
|Releasing the skeets, Elaine getting in some target practice.....|
|Elaine warming up on Yaack Crack|
|Elaine, Baldy, Liam's friends, Cara and Pete Blackburn|
|The moustache and the dune buggy|
|L to R: John Williams, moustache, sorry can't remember, Sondra Herbert, Krister Williams and Tom Herbert (whilst we were climbing at Jailhouse Rock)|
|Elaine, Cara and the moustache. Scruffy climbers skiing at Heavenly|
|Back at Portland, Pete Kirton and Sandra. Can you spot who's on the TV?|
|Heading north from Mesquite. "Winter is coming".|