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.

A full weekend with my wife is a rare occasion so when her scheduled a four day weekend we decided to take full advantage. The City of Rocks in southern Idaho is a 3 hour drive from Salt Lake and is packed with routes. I’ve only been there a few times but look forward to every trip. As you drive in through a pass between larger formations, you begin to see large freestanding formations sprinkled along the landscapes, like huge erratic boulders. Further up the road the formations become more densley packed, a more typical climibing experience.

We left our town around 8 am and after finding a campsite in the BLM land south of town, we headed to the Window Rock parking area to finds some shady climbs. We hiked to the Lost World on the back side of the Drilling Fields, attracted by the moderate bolted slab routes. While the routes face east and it was just afternoon, it is the solstice and, due to day light savings, the sun isn’t actually at it’s apex until 1:00 pm. Slabs also stay in the sun for a long time and it looked like these routes wouldn’t be shady for a couple hours. Instead of waiting, we headed to the east side of Window Rock which is tilted slightly to the north and should move into the shade a little bit sooner.

The main draw of Window Wall are two 5.6 cracks that are supposed to be classic, Good Times and Pure Pleasure. When we arrive, the east face is in full sun except for a small alcove which we scramble into to enjoy the shade. While waiting for the 6’s to be shaded I went up Expect No Mercy (5.10c) which climbed out of our shady little alcove on bolts to a crack above. The bottom half felt atypcial for the City but was lots of fun. Pulling the lip of the alcove was a bit tough until I found the big jugs and manteled up. The rest of the route was fun, easy crack climbing with smattering of good face holds.

By the time we were off Pure Pleasure, the 5.6’s were getting shady . The routes share a first bolt which is about 30 feet off the deck up slabby, mostly moderate climbing. I headed up Good Times and set an anchor in the crack near the top so Alana could get on it. She ended up pulling the rope, grabbing some extra gear and leading up it. I was pretty proud of her because while the climbing isn’t too hard it feels a bit run out and airy. We got on Pure Pleasure next. I felt this route was a bit better, with solid handjams and nice movement although getting to the crack from the lone bolt was tougher. Alana top roped the climb, cleaned the anchor and rapped off bolted anchors to the right of the routes.

I was itching to get on something more challenging so we headed to the Super Hits wall to get on Bloody Fingers a classic 5.10a finger crack that was first climbed in the 70’s. The route varies from layback fingers, to face climbing on jugs, to hand jams and a final wierd smeary section up top. I was pretty spooked out by the time I clipped the chains.

 

Alana wanted to get some climbing in before she started work at noon so we headed up to Parley’s Canyon. I had been here once 6 years ago and didn’t remember it very fondly. The Wasatch Range forms the eastern edge of the Salt Lake valley and is full of canyons that offer space for great biking, peaceful hikes and beautiful vistas. Parley’s is the exception to the rule because it was chosen to have Interstate I-80 running through it. The routes lie a hundred yards uphil from the road way and it is hard to hear each other over the road noise. The walls are approached from above on a trail that cuts down a steep hill between the rock outcroppings. Rapping in is an option and is probably safer than hiking down the loose gravel on the hill.

After initially going to the wrong wall, we end up under a 5.8 called Gotta Be Tall or Else You’ll Fall and Alana starts racking up. The guidebook says the name is deceptive and the route isn’t actually reachy but I’m a bit doubtful. The first bolt is about 20 feet high up some slab and I’m able to stick clip it by standing on a rock. The second bolt is another 15 or so feet up and to the right, approaching groundfall range. Alana starts up and manages to get through a blank reachy area to the first bolt. She begins to move above the bolt but finds it awkward. The holds aren’t very positive and with the runout looming above, continuing on doesn’t seems smart. She downclimbs to the first bolt, lowers off and passes the lead to me. I too find the start thin and holds just above the bolt not so great. As I move higher the holds improve a bit and I manange to clip the second bolt after spending time trying to find decent holds. The crux is leaving the second bolt, getting a foot into a hole around the corner and rocking up on it. Not super hard but a bit committing and not obvious as the foot is hard to see. The rest of the route is a little runout but not to exciting. It’s a nice long line with decent exposure and nice chain anchors at the top (to rappel to the base next time).

Alana top ropes the route to clean it and finds the sections that slowed me down a bit challenging but the rest reasonably enjoyable. When she gets back down it’s time to pack up and head home. The hike out is obnoxious and we debate on whether we’ll return to explore other climbs. I have pretty low standards when it comes to climbing so I’m sure I’ll be back; Alana’s time is more valuable so she’d rather go somewhere where she knows she’ll like the routes and atmosphere. The only way she’s coming back is if I find some gems and convince her they’re work the hike and less than serene climbing experience.

 

I went up to Maybird Gulch a couple of weeks ago with my friend Buddy. We were looking for a somewhere we could knock out a few routes quickly and it fit the bill. The routes weren’t very long or very challenging but it was enjoyable climbing in a nice setting, better than being in a gym. After our recent trip to Maple, Alana was pretty excited to climb again and I thought Maybird would present the right level of challenge for her.

We didn’t have a bunch of time but the hike is short or so I rememberd. Alana was skeptical when I pointed up the canyon’s side to the rock we were heading as we unloaded the packs but I reassured her it was only a 10 to 15 minute hike. We started up and I set a quick pace leaving Alana a little bit behind me. I’d like to say that my summer activities have left me super fit even at altitude but it was really because I wanted to show that my time estimate was accurage and it was...for me at least. I got to the base of the first route in 12 minutes and Alana ambled in a couple mintues later.

Alana has been climbing for a decade but medical school and residency have limited her free time for the last few years. Her climbing comes in fits and bursts on months when working 50 hours a week seems like vacation. The speratic schedule can shoot holes in her confidence, making it hard to maintain a good lead head. The recent trip to Maple helped and we’re looking to reinforce that today.

We dropped our packs and Alana geared up for a slabby 5.9 called The Wino. The first bolts here are low and the climbing is generally pretty easy. Alana danced up this route, I cleaned it and we headed up canyon 100 yards to a wall with about 8 routes. Buddy and I had done four of the routes on this wall a few weeks ago so Alana and I set our eyes on three on the right side that I hadn’t been on. She started on the 5.9 Pump It Until It's Purple. Next up was a 5.10- The Wine Drip. Alana struggled a bit on a reach move but after some choice words, a small crimp and some fancy footwork she reached a jug and motored to the top. Not surprisingly I am able to reach through the part she found tough with much less effort. She curses “tall” people as I finish up the route.

After the 10a, Alana is feeling tired and a bit intimidated by Mad Swiller, the 5.10 that is up next, so I go up it first so she can top rope it. This was the best route we did today with some interesting movement including a cool undercling mantel type move. I’m not sure if it was my grace on the route or my assurances that the moves are easier than the crux on the previous route, but Alana changes her mind and pulls the rope to lead the route. She isn’t too happy with the undercling mantle move, evidently it was reachier than I thought but she gets through it. She continues through the remainder of the route and reaches the anchors. I’m pretty excited about her performance today, having lead four routes clean today including her hardest lead send in the last year. We scrambled back to the car and headed home. Nothing like a quick day out climbing.

 

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What our users have to say

Belay glasses greatly reduce the strain on my neck incurred watching my climber during a long steep pitch. As a result, I am a more attentive belayer, ready to pay out rope for clips and catch falls when the action gets spicy. The clarity through the Belay Specs prism is top-notch! 

Buddy Tangalos, Salt Lake City, UT

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