Maple (Canyon)

We are out west again, this time in Maple Canyon, Utah, rock climbing for two weeks. We’re doing routes this year, at the behest of our friends in Arizona, who couldn’t swing a trip to Hueco Tanks earlier in the spring. For those that don’t know, Maple has a rather unique geology–massive, arching walls of sandstone cobbles held together with a cement of sediment. It’s a wonder that the routes stay together at all, or that the bolts hold more than body weight. The routes do mostly stay together (newer routes tend to have loose cobbles, and even established lines can shed pebbles sometimes), and a bolt hasn’t failed yet.

The climbing, too, is unique–likely as close to gym climbing as I’ve ever experienced. In four days of climbing, there has been exactly one move on one route that lacked large footholds. The cobbles themselves ranges from small crimpers to massive basketball slopers, with lots of good handholds in between. So what makes it challenging? The steepness and the length. We’ve spent all of our time at the Left Fork, where the routes are generally at least 80 feet high, and almost always overhang. I’ve yet to do anything “hard,” failing at the top of several 5.12 onsight attempts. Fitness is king here, and I am lacking (it seems I need roughly ten more feet of fitness–with that, I may have a reasonable tick list already).

Even will all the failures, the climbing is still loads of fun. The movement is interesting, and rarely scary (though I will admit to some nerves at the top of a 35 meter 5.8, silently praying one of the cobbles wouldn’t escape the matrix whilst I stood on it), meaning it is easy to push yourself, and enjoy yourself, even if you are falling your way up the route.

Internet connectivity has been rather limited, so we’ll hopefully have photos available when we return to PGH.