Belay Specs Blog

This blog has less to do with Belay Specs and more to do with our employee's climbing and outdoor outings.  We'll talk about exciting news about Belay Specs but we'll talk much more about the trips we've taken and the places we've checked out.  We'd like to share some of our experiences in the hope that they inspire you to check the areas out for yourselves. If you read about an area or activity in one of our posts and have questions on beta, route recommendations or anything else, leave a comment and we'll try to fill you in.

My friend Buddy wanted to get out climbing for the afternoon so we headed up to Hellgate in Little Cottonwood. Little Cottonwood Canyon is most well known for the granite climbing in the bottom half of the canyon but just near the town of Alta, home of the ski resort, limestone stones cliff provide some high altitude climbing.

The 14 year old Falcon Guide Rock Climbing the Wasatch Range lists nearly 40 routes and developement in the intervening years has added at least another 50 routes at areas including the Melting Mud Wall and Goatland Wall. Most of this development was done by Greg Martinez. Some folks think his routes are a bit over bolted but that makes them good for those who don’t like runouts. A small paper guide of these routes as well as other new areas not found in the Wasatch guide can be purchased at International Mountain Equipement, aka IME, in Salt Lake City (3265 E. 3300 S). The proceeds from sales goes to buying gear so that Greg can put up more routes.

Buddy had a plan in mind so we headed up to the Hellgate Towers. The three towers are on the lower eastern side of the cliff band and offer a variety of climbing. Unlike the new Martinez routes, these routes can be a bit runout. We warmed up on Little Hellion (5.9) which starts in the gap between towers 1 and 2. The first bolt was a bit high on easy terrain but the second bolt was just after an awkward mantel with questionable rock. The route continued up the left side of a cave and onto the slabby face above. Overall a fun route that makes you think a bit.

Little Hellion goes up the rib to the left of the overhang
We walked over to the gully between Towers 2 and 3 which is known as the Shooting Gallery after the rocks that occasionally rain down it. We got on a couple more sport routes, The Big Chill and Social Realism (both 5.10a). Both routes have some techy moves and are a bit runout. The first bolt on Social Realism is pretty high so we clipped it while rapping off of The Big Chill just to be on the safe side.

I’m excited to climb more routes up here when its too hot to climb lower in the canyon. There are lots of opportunities for good days out climbing.

 

Bram and I debated what to do on my last day in Kentucky. The rain the day before had soaked most of the routes and I was too worn out to climb anyhow. We decided to do some tourist stuff that I had somehow avoided in the three and a half years that I lived in Kentucky. We drove out to Frankfort where the Buffalo Trace Distillery sits next to the Kentucky River. If you are looking for a good rest day activity while on a trip to the Red, bourbon tours are a pretty great option (and generally free). The tour goes through the process of how bourbon is made, what makes bourbon unique and how it accidently came to exist.  A quirky law from the 1800’s meant we couldn’t sample any bourbon  because it was an election day but we got some bourbon chocolate balls.

We only had about an hour to kill after the Buffalo Trace tour so we stopped by Keeneland, the horse racing track next to the airport. Keeneland only has live races for a couple weeks in the spring and fall so it was quiet while we walked around. The grounds are really well kept and the buildings are old and classy. The place is filled with the escence of old southern wealth. I am amazed that a place that is used for such a short amount of time each year can make enough money to support such nice grounds. If you happen to be in the Red during the spring or fall meets, a trip to Keeneland also makes a great rest day activity.

 

After a weekend of getting together with friends, going to a Kentucky wedding (in a barn with 8 types of bourbon) and another day of climbing at an unpublished area, I headed back to Drive By with some friends for my last day of climbing. Bram, Josie and Terri picked me up and we went to the new slabby area of Drive By. I warmed up on Sojourner Truth (5.10c) and then scooted over to The Dangling Participle (5.11a). The first couple bolts are a bit off to the right of the actual line. I stick clipped the first and clipped the second off a nice hold after balancing through a tough section. Falling before clipping the second bolt could be ugly. Overall, a really nice route. Josie has been working on getting her lead head back after she broke her wrist a couple years ago and decided that top roping this route was the way to go. She sent with grace and agreed that the route was a nice 5.11a.

While walking between routes, a large rotten tree root gave out under Terri’s foot and in her resulting tumble, she torqued her thumb pretty bad. We were going to pack it up for the day but she and Bram decided to head to Koops, the closest gas station/convenient store, to get some ice and re-evaluate when they got back. Josie belayed me on Junior’s Gesture (5.11a), another slab route. The moves on this route were tricky and tough. I managed to eek out an onsite but made it look a bit too hard, Josie decided she wasn’t interested. Bram and Terri got back with a bag of ice plastic wrapped  around Terri’s hand. Bram went up Sojourner Truth (5.11a) as the sun was coming over the ridge. We packed up and headed over to the main Drive By Wall.

Bram was excited about Hakuna Matata (5.12a), a crimpy, technical vert route that is atypical of the Red . He took a go trying to remember his beta and hanging the draws. I hopped on it and was quickly shut down. The route requires a bit more mental energy than most and I couldn’t muster it. Bram got on a second time and managed to send it before the rain really started. Much of Drive By stays dry in a rain, another reason why it is such a popular destination. I managed to climb through the crux of Check Your Grip a classic 12a jug haul as the rain started coming down but stopped just after the crux as the next draw had water running down it and the finish was drenched. The rain was coming down in buckets so we did a couple more routes while we waited for the rain to let up and headed back to Miguel’s to pack up my gear.

When I set up camp I chose a spot next to the small frog bond on a slight hill. I knew there had been flooding issues in the past and I was hoping to avoid them by camping on a high spot. I had left the fly on my borrowed tent open with my computer near the door. I was amazed that I had just a small puddle in my tent and that all my gear was dry. Other folks did not fair as well. In the open pasture area known as the Goat Field (less than 100 yards from my site), tents had been submerged in 2 to 3 feet of water. The pictures were amazing. So I recommend trying to find a high spot if you’re camping at Miguel’s, even if you have to deal with the annoying frogs in the pond.

 

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As much as I enjoy the clear image of my partner climbing, I'm actually more pleased with the amount of peripheral vision I have when he takes a fall.  Belay Specs make catching on a project so much nicer!

Audrey Gale-Dyer, Lexington, KY

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