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April 15-16, 2009: Rest day and climbing in Donnelly Canyon

April 15, 2009: Rest Day!

After spending a rest day in town and dinner at the Moab Brewery (guess when I wrote that last blog posting, eh?), MattR, Kevin, and I headed back to camp while Bojan and MattL stayed in town to get Bojan’s car fixed (what an epic that turned out to be!).  As I write this, on a subsequent rest day, the car still isn’t fixed (but the part is ordered, phew!).  At least it turns out that Bojan’s 5 cylinders (out of 6) is enough to get around with.

Anyway, the climbing, what about the climbing?  Let me give you a taste in a few words:  Matt L. and Bojan has an encounter with a Toaster sized block (which never goes well), Waaaay Rambo (or not), Snow, and … jugging!

Kevin’s first day in town coincided with our first rest day… so on the way to Moab, we stopped at Blue Gramma cliff and I belayed him on Mexican Unicorn (5.9+).  What a great intro to Indian Creek for him!  It wasn’t quite a perfect handcrack… It was a bit too wide for that, but he got up it and then cruised up it again on TR, proving that those rusty crack skills were still around somewhere!  We retreated to the car and headed into Moab while the wind grew in intensity and stirred up the most horrendous dust storm I have ever seen.  Later in the afternoon, some more rain came through … well, I guess you could call it rain, but it was more like mud!

Mud Rain ... another new experience in the desert

Mud Rain ... another new experience in the desert!

April 16, 2009: Donnelly Canyon

I have taken to camping in my truck, because it turns out that my tent is just a giant sand trap.  We woke up in the morning to cold and overcast weather, but no precipitation.  So after breakfast we headed over to Donnelly Canyon for some fun.  We started on pitch 1 of Elephant Man (5.10).  A good varied sized warmup for Matt R. and I.

Tad heads up Elephant Man (P1) (5.10)

Tad heads up Elephant Man (P1) (5.10)

Just left of it is Chocolate Corner (5.9) … Someone is always on Chocolate Corner, and today (even in the cold) was no exception.  We ran into Jim Donini guiding a couple of climbers for their first time in IC.  (If you don’t know who Jim Donini is, a quick Google search should fill you in).  Kevin was lucky enough to score a belay from Jim so that he could tear down their anchor.

We meet the famous Jim Donini.  L to R: Tad, Jim Donini, Matt R., Kevin B.

We meet the famous Jim Donini. L to R: Tad, Jim Donini, Matt R., Kevin B.

After Matt R. and I led Elephant Man, and Kevin TR’d it, Matt turned his attentions to Chocolate Corner, which turned out to be pretty easy for him, and perhaps a small taste of what was to come.

What’s this?  Snow?  You have got to be kidding.  Is it really snowing on us?  Yes indeed.  The flurry increases in intensity as we pack up and head on over to The Drainpipe, which I start leading as the snow starts to become heavy enough to leave wet spots on the exposed ground as it evaporates.  The climb is back in a flaring V shaped water polished corner (good thing it was snow, not rain!), and luckily the snow swirled around at the base but left the climb itself dry.

Tad leading Drainpipe (5.10) as the snow falls

Tad leading Drainpipe (5.10) as the snow falls

This climb was without a doubt the hardest 5.10 I’ve ever climbed.  I almost had Kevin give me tension at one point, but sacked up and pushed on through to the end.  Damn, I’ve rarely been as pumped on a climb as I was when I arrived at the anchors.  I was so spent that it was all I could do to clip a quickdraw to one bolt, clip the rope in, and hang for about 10 minutes while I got my breathing back under control and could start flexing my fingers again!  Phew!  Then what happens?  Of course, the sun comes out for Matt R’s attempt!

Then the sun comes out and Matt R. gives Drainpipe (5.10) a go

Then the sun comes out and Matt R. gives Drainpipe (5.10) a go

Next up we did the really fun (deserving of many stars) unnamed 5.10+ left of Drainpipe.  It starts with a short wide slot and then lots of low(er) angle purple camalots interspersed with good hand jams, before a full body wedge/rest before busting out from under the roof in a perfect hand crack up to the anchors.  Matt R. lead this beautifully.  I had one hang about half way up because I got a rigid stem friend stuck and then trying to fix it I got my link cam stuck, so I finally put a #2 camalot in the hand jam just below and hung to try to fix the stuck pieces (which I eventually had to leave and deal with on the way down).

Tad making his O-Face on the wide section of the Unnamed 5.10+ left of Drainpipe

Tad making his "O-Face" on the wide section of the Unnamed 5.10+ left of Drainpipe

Kevin seems to have an eye for wide-ish cracks.  Not quite offwidth, and not quite cruiser hands… So he boots up this nice short unnamed 5.9 left of Dos Hermanos (which looks absolutely steller, and is a must do under better conditions!).  We all took turns leading this fun thing for the last climb of a good day, even with uncooperative weather.

Kevin getting into the swing of things on the Unnamed 5.9 left of Dos Hermanos

Kevin getting into the swing of things on the Unnamed 5.9 left of Dos Hermanos

Meanwhile, Matt L. and Bojan narrowly missed injury when Matt pulled down a toaster sized block off of a climb on Wall Street near Moab.  Matt took a nice lead fall pulling this block out and over his head where it exploded into pieces near Bojan, narrowly missing him and his car!  Navajo sandstone … yuck!  I’d say we had the better day on bomber rock!

Ciao, -Tad

4 comments to April 15-16, 2009: Rest day and climbing in Donnelly Canyon

  • rich

    Great pics! I feel sore just looking at the drainpipe.

    • Tad

      Yeah, no kidding! If that climb were even a couple of feet longer, there is no way I would have made it. I really had to give it everything I had. Phew!

  • Danielle

    Awesome choice on climbing shots! DLove the facial expressions. I can’t believe the weather …. sand, mud, snow … what’s next! Can’t believe you met Jim Donini .. did you have a chance to chat about his Patagonia ascents?

    • Tad


      Yeah, it was the worst weather I have ever seen in IC. Luckily we were able to climb most every day, and the worst of the weather coincided with out rest days.

      Didn’t chat with Jim in much depth, mostly just shooting-the-shit remarks about climbing, and finding out about some of his FA’s in Yosemite.

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