So, we’d been doing a lot of biking and it was time to throw in some climbing. I had my good friends and adventure buddies arriving from Boulder soon. They are expert mountain bikers but climbing noObs. They have gym climbed a few times, and Lisa, especially, claims to have an acute fear of heights…but she still wanted to give it a go. We’d also had a chance to spend a few days with Jaybro before he headed out to Balch Camp. He had me sitting on the edge of my sofa telling us about that and the approach. He shared many pictures and I was in awe. It’s not something I could ever do…but it did give me some motivation to pick something special for us.
My motivation was to find something we could all do and still represented a challenge. I love open air rappels and we needed an easy enough climb so everyone could do it. My first thought was Wall Street, but geez, you just drive up to Wall Street and belay from your front seat. Plus it didn’t give me any rappels that would be of interest.
So, I thought, since I’m motivated about hearing about Balch Camp (best trip report ever :http://www.supertopo.com/tr/Balch-Fest-2013-Two-Days-in-and-Around-and-On-The-Flake-The-Official-Trip-Report/t12199n.html); and its gnarly approach I’ll challenge myself. And after some “research” I decided on Looking Glass Rock. The approach would be a challenge for sure compared to Wall Street, my trusty old friend, the climbing good for beginners and oh yes, the beautiful, 185 foot open air rappel.
So the first challenge was the approach. One encounters barbed wire. One way to get past it is go under it. Little did I know if I had looked eastward about 50 feet I could have walked around it.
No poison oak here...
Then we all know about the Crytobiotic Soil in Moab and do not trample!
Ahhhh…..is this crypto on sterioids???? Or is this dessicated cow turds? Regardless, best not to trample.
Dawn motor crossing with her husband.
The ritual of gear sorting completed and we are at the base. Michael suddenly remembers he has forgotten the SAT phone in the car. Well apparently not a problem since Art’s cell phone rings. He’s not retired yet and is now making international deals to make the world safe for democracy at the base of Looking Glass. Then Mike’s phone rings as he fields a local call from Pagan Mountaineering who wants to charge him a lot more for gear, that, he politely explains to them, he could walk down to Gear Heads and get for a lot less. Oh boy, now Dawn’s phone goes off and she is reassuring her teenagers back in Boulder they can make their own sandwiches and get off to school.
Finally, the climb is on. Lisa and Dawn have harnesses on as well as we put swami belts on them. They aren’t going anywhere with out backed up and redundant protection. Art leads. Lisa and Dawn follow. There are some little whimpers but all appears to be going according to plan. Mike goes and then I will clean.
I give the rock a hug and ask for the spirit of Looking Glass to be kind to me. I think about my local Moab climbing heroes and what they might divine. Jaybro, kinda zen like might say, “flow up the rock, like water flows down it” Larry would scold me for forgetting a hoola hoop and summit beer.
So I start the 5.5 crux move. Right foot up, stem across with the left and reach for a handhold. Ooops, a small part of the handhold breaks off. What was a nice 5.5 start is now a 5.5a. Oh boy…and I think about angering the spirit of the Indian who did a petroglyph on the backside of the start. Am I doomed? Will the Boy Scout leaders come out and obliterate the start because now I have made it "unsafe????"
The first pitch is low angle, lots of features, we all navigate it easily.
The 2nd pitch has a short 5.4 face move which seems simple enough until one puts their foot on it and it cries fine grand sand. Foot does not want to stay on this little face section. Skates right off. I regrade it a 5.4s for "sand" move. A few features to climbers right, a quick move and onto pitch 3. Pitch 3 is just a walk up to the summit.
Missing photo ID#332511
The summit is huge..with lots of room to run around, eat lunch, look at the views feel the wind starting to BLOW.
Art checking out the guide book for the rap anchors. He looks around and finally looks down into a slot and says “this will be interesting”. Suddenly Dawn and Lisa perk up with a shaky “what???” as they start to run towards Art to check it out. I yell out that it’s probably not a good idea to be running towards Art without ropes on. The rap anchors are down in a little slot which we will all need to get into and then we will exit through a "keyhole". Yup, interesting for sure!
Dawn gets ready to be launched…big smile
And the next day the girls were back to their bikes and headed to the-not-so-Flat Pass.
Moab rocks, but anyone that's been there knows that!