A cold wind cut me to the bone as I sat next to Rob waiting for the shuttle to pick us up and take us into Zion National Park where we would try climbing Moonlight Buttress for a second time after having to bail due to weather a week before. “This is the desert” I thought. “It’s not supposed to be this cold”.
I had already sent Stef a “hail-Mary” text asking her to run me out another Icebreaker shirt and I knew that carrying more clothing than that would be counterproductive so I gritted my teeth and knew that I would just have to be uncomfortably cold until the sun came up at which point I would make the transition into the realm of uncomfortably hot.
When the shuttle arrived we stepped on with only the barest of essentials. We had packed light for a one day ascent. I was a bit bummed to not be able to “camp” out on the wall, but saving the trouble of carrying 100 lb. of extra food, water, sleeping gear and the like was more than enough of a trade off to make me feel OK about the whole situation. We were riding the first shuttle of the morning and we had it all to ourselves. Rob promptly fell asleep, using the rope as a makeshift pillow and as much as I tried to follow suit, I found myself dreading all of the unknown and the what-if’s that the day held.
Packing light is nice in that you have less gear to haul but it means that you have less room for error and that you had better keep moving and not screw anything up along the way. While the unknown loomed in my imagination the thought of having to cross the Virgin River invaded the loop of horrific hypothetical scenarios that played in my head. I knew what that would be like–COLD! First thing in the morning and fresh with snowmelt-runoff from the previous weeks inclemency to add a bit of discomfort to the already appalling water temperatures. I could almost feel the icy water as I sat there trying to sleep on the shuttle…
Oddly enough, I didnt worry too much about my sugar or insulin. I had expected my insulin sensitivity to be high, so I began cutting back my dosage the night before in anticipation of a grueling day on the wall. In general, I would rather be a little high than low when I am climbing so I put that in the back of my mind, ate my normal breakfast of fresh strawberries, yogurt and a handfull of granola and went about my business. I felt great as I stepped off the shuttle and Rob greeted the day by shouting at some wild turkeys and heckling another party of climbers on an adjacent wall from us. “This is going to be a good day” I told myself, only half convinced.
Our crossing of the Virgin River was about what I had anticipated: it was so cold that it hurt. I had the choice to take a longer, diagonal path upstream and across following shallower currents or just wade in deep and go straight across. I chose the former, and upon reaching the other side, a great deal of salty language ensued as I attempted to dry off and clamber up the adjacent bank to begin the approach to the base of the cliff.
The first pitch of the climb went quickly since we had left a rope fixed there from the week before. Soon we were 160 feet up and at the first belay ledge. Rob generously allowed me the first two pitches to get going, so I racked up and away I went. A small roof gave way to my feeble attempts and I soon was at the second ledge, which was very spacious and allowed me some room to place the camera in a small recess and get some pictures as I began to shed layers in the morning sun.
The rest of the TR and a lot of photos are at the original blog post