How convenient that Mark's birthday fell on a Monday, the day that and Jennilyn and I always go climbing with him, and how great that it was a beautiful warm sunny day perfect for climbing outside.
Mark turned 20, and even though he's no longer the talented young climbing teenager we first knew him as, Jennilyn and I still like to feed him like one. So, after cinnamon rolls and peanut butter chocolate birthday cake we waddled up to Big Cottonwood Canyon. (Jennilyn was waddling not just from all the food but because she also ran in the Salt Lake City Marathon on Saturday)
First we climbed Goodro's Wall. This has been on my to do list since before I ever thought of having a to do list. I remember looking down on this climb with Andy on my birthday and thinking I'd never be good enough to get up something that hard, but here I was less than a year later climbing it. I almost made it clean on my second try too, but slipped off just below the chains. I'll be back to try this one again. I really wanted it to be my first 5.10 climb I got up outside clean, but that'll have to wait.
Jennilyn and Mark worked on a 5.12 climb around the corner, Big in Japan, before we headed back down the canyon to the route Mark had picked out especially for his birthday. Little Creatures. We crossed the icy cold snow swollen river up to our knees with kids in our arms to get there, but it was worth it. It was a neat climb that went up a long overhang and out a hole at the top. It was way harder than anything I'd ever done and I didn't really want to try it. Instead I decided it was time that I take the next step in climbing and lead something. There was a nice long 5.6 climb on the facing wall that was just the style of climbing I'm most confident on. Jennilyn and Mark were really excited when I told them my idea and argued over who would get to belay me up my first lead. They loaded me up with gear, including an ancient forged friend which I ended up placing, and sent me up the rock. It was a breeze, even the tricky run out traverse I did at the end to the chains on the other route was fun.(um...this picture is kind of tilted. It was a little steeper than it appears here. This look like I'm climbing a gentle hillside) As a bonus I got to be lowered down through the hole at the top of Mark's route. I'm so glad that my first lead outside was a trad route and that I got to do it in Big Cottonwood. On top of everything else going so well, Jennilyn's boys were good the entire time! It was a birthday miracle!
We climbed till dark and quickly loaded up our packs, Indy pooped his pants, and then we somehow made it safely back across the rising river without any headlamps, kids and all. This had to be one of my favorite climbing days at home in Utah and it wasn’t even my birthday.
"There's plenty of money out there. They print more every day. But this ticket, there's only five of them in the whole world, and that's all there's ever going to be. Only a dummy would give this up for something as common as money. Are you a dummy?" -Grandpa George
"Be a half-assed crusader, a part-time fanatic. Don’t worry to much about the fate of the world. Saving the world is only a hobby. Get out there and enjoy the world, your girlfriend, your boyfriend, husbands, wives; climb mountains, run rivers, get drunk, do whatever you want to do while you can, before it’s too late." –Edward Abbey
Life is hard? True- but let's love it anyhow, though it breaks every bone in our bodies. -Edward Abbey
"Candy doesn't have to have a point. That's why it's candy." -Charlie Bucket