[warning: the first part of this report is climbing-intensive!]

July 16th - The First Flatiron and Happy Hour Squared

Indy awoke early again, and after a hasty breakfast, dashed back out the door to head back down to Boulder (but first he repacked his car for the next leg of his adventures), where he met up with Cro-Magnon Man and his SO. Cro-Magnon's SO decided she was going to rent a bike and just tool about Boulder for the day, so Cro-Magnon and Indy decided they would tackle...the First Flatiron!

The two companions headed to where the trailhead to the Flatirons started, geared up (Indy's rack, Cro-Magnon's double-ropes), and started up the hill. While not steep, the hill remained true to what the Cliff Swallow had mentioned a couple days before: approaches to climbing areas are uphill. This was no exception. Along the way up the two discussed which route they would engage. Cro-Magnon had had very little climbing during his part of his trip, and wasn't looking for anything outrageous. Indy just wanted to climb something. Cro-Magnon was pushing for a 5.4 route that cut across the face from left to right of the First Flatiron. Indy was okay with it until...

As the two drew close to the First, Indy saw the rock before him, and heard The Call. That irresistable Call of the rock, a route, summoning the climber forth. Indy's feet and legs suddenly took a 90-degree turn and he headed straight for the lowest point of the First Flatiron.

"Hey!! Where are you going?!?" called out Cro-Magnon

"We will do this route here," replied the entranced Indy.

"What? What's it rated??" inquired the nervous Cro-Magnon.

Indy's gaze slowly drifted up the slab-face before him, examining the route, checking for places to put pro (or lack thereof), reading the fine, subtleties in the rock...

"5.6," he finally replied.

"Your lead then!" was Cro-Magnon's response, as he eyed Indy warily.

"Be happy to!" said Indy happily as he dropped the rack and re-rigged to do the climb.

Cro-Magnon got the ropes stacked and asked, "What's the guidebook say about this route?"

Indy read it to him. "Urp!" came a noise from the back of Cro-Magnon's throat upon hearing that there was only 1 place for protection on the first pitch of this 6-pitch route - and that was supposedly a bolt maybe 40-60' up!

"Pshah!" snorted Indy, " I see two bolts up this first pitch!"

Indy tied in and, with Cro-Magnon belaying, began to climb...

East Face Center, also known as East Face Direct, is rated at 5.6 and basically ascends from the lowest point on the First Flatiron to intersect 6 full-length pitches later with North Arete, a 5.4 route that rides the north arete of the First Flatiron from about halfway up to the very summit. It is primarily a slab-route, with very little in the way of protection for much of it. But it's also quite an easy route, and you can run it out for long ways before wanting to put protection in, anyway. Many of the Boulder locals use this route (or some variation therein) for solo runs up the First Flatiron.

The East Face Center is rated at 5.6 only due to the first pitch (which is pretty run-out), but seemed more like 5.4 or so to Indy; nothing terribly difficult, but you had to watch where you put your feet. And there were only two eyebolts for protection on this first pitch (in 140'; did I mention it was a little run-out?). There was more protection on the second pitch, some on the third, and plenty on the fourth and fifth pitches. The sixth pitch, as well as the third pitch done by Indy and Cro-Magnon, were variants to the whole route, but nothing outrageous or exceedingly difficult. In fact, pitches 4 and 5 were easier than the first 3 pitches due to the numerous yodel-inducing jugs that are to be found in that section of rock - even though that section is also significantly steeper than the rest of the Flatiron itself!

Due to time constraints, Indy and Cro-Magnon were not able to finish by going to the summit via the North Arete, but did get in pretty much the entire East Face Center. They opted for a variation to the 6th pitch that led them to where North Arete begins.

As Indy ascended the first pitch, he felt surprisingly calm, collected, without even the tinest bit of wigging evident. Indy was...one with the rock. He and Cro-Magnon carried on a conversation as Indy reached, clipped, and climbed past the first eye-bolt.

Finally Indy reached the second eye-bolt, clipped it, and looked to his left where the belay stance was to be. He saw a freaky flake system that was no doubt It. He delicately traversed left on somewhat slipperier rock, and finally popped over the shelf into a naturally formed belay seat. Quickly anchoring in, Indy called down to Cro-Magnon, "I'm off!"

Cro-Magnon came up after Indy had him on belay. Cro was shaking his head, "Only two places for protection...in 140'...that's damned scary, you know that?"

Cro-Magnon seconding pitch 1 of East Face Center, 5.6

Indy said nothing, simply sitting there, relishing in finally climbing without getting wigged in any way, shape, or form. Cro took the rack and led the next pitch, which had considerably more protection potential than did pitch one!

125' later Cro-Magnon was tied off to an anchor tree on a broad ledge. Indy came up, and behind and to the right of him, a couple people (Boulder Locals) were soloing a variation to the route. Indy and Cro watched them as they just practically walked up like mountain goats.

"They don't have no ropes on," observed Cro-Magnon.

"You're right!" said Indy, clapping Cro-Magnon on the shoulder.

Indy took the rack and started up pitch 3. He found a neat crack/groove going up to the right of where the belay was right through the center of the face. It offered wonderous protection possibilities and evoked Indy to comment, "Whoever heard of a crack going up a slab??"

The comment went unanswered, and Indy climbed on.

Ideally Indy was supposed to be angling left to follow the 'official' route to some belay bolts, but the soloers told Indy they'd never seen any bolts where the guidebook indicated they're to be, and Indy was enthralled with this crack. It just kept going and going and going and...petered out some 120' above the belay.

"Hmmmm...." thought Indy. He continued climbing on somewhat tenuous ground. It really wasn't harder than 5.5, but...protection potential suddenly dropped to zero. Indy scoped the route ahead: no pro there, no belay potential there. To the left the same. To the right...maybe. Just had to drop over a sidewall/corner, and maybe find something there where the two soloers were. The soloers climbed higher and one turned back to tell Indy that there was a good belay stance right where they were - except they were already 40' beyond where Indy was climbing, and that put them a good 190' beyond where Indy had started. Hmmm...and the ropes they had were only 165'...problem...

Indy called down to Cro-Magnon that they would have to actually simulclimb for a portion of this route.

"Are you sure?!?" came the reply on the wind.

"Yep," responded Indy, "And once I'm over the overlap/sidewall and have a belay set, you'll be on once again"

Cro-Magnon began climbing, and Indy, after waiting for Cro to move up a bit, scurried up and over the overlap/sidewall, and to the belay stance the soloer had pointed out. It was a nice belay stance, too. Indy quickly slotted some pro for anchors and had Cro on belay lickety-split.

From there it was cake, and Indy watched as the soloers worked their way into the imposing steep headwall above him: the famed yodel-inducing pitches 4 and 5. Certainly didn't look like there was a lot, even with the outcroppings present. It got steep, for crying out loud. Steep! Indy frowned, and studied it further as Cro-Magnon worked his way up.

Cro-Magnon finally gained the rest area where Indy was belaying and looked up at the next pitch.

"I gotta do that?!? he stammered.

"It's your lead, but if you wan--"

"No, no. I'll do it. There just had better be some God-awsome handholds up there - that's steep!"

Cro-Magnon racked and moved up the final sections of the slab, and warned Indy of some loose flakes that, if they came free, would be heading down to the general area where Indy was sitting. Indy asked him not to do anything rash or foolish.

Cro-Magnon then hit...the steep headwall. He reached up and...

"Oh, my dear loving mother of God! Look at this HANDHOLD!! I WANT one of these!" he exclaimed, "And one of these! And one of these! And one of..."

Indy laughed. Cro moved on. After a few move moves, Cro-Magnon let out a yodel to shame all yodels. "I LOVE IT!" he cried out to the world.

Cro-Magnon wanted to keep climbing, but he had reached the end of the ropes, and nominally was in the area where pitch 4 ended. So he rigged a belay, and Indy came up.

"My God," Indy exclaimed, "These aren't handholds; they're HANDholds!!" Cro nodded happily.

Indy took pitch 5, which had more of the same, but became easier and easier until it was 3rd and 4th class ground. Finally, with the rope-drag increasing, Indy set a belay. From where he was standing he could see the start of North Arete. He checked the time, and realized that they had enough time to do a last pitch (and work their way to the edge of the rock at the same time) and get down to meet up with Cro-Magnon's SO at the prearranged time. Cro came up, took the rack and started on pitch 6.

Pitch 6, being a variant to the normal route, was one of the trickier pitches of the route. It required the leader to move up to the overlap/sidewall again (as it went far right when Indy and Cro hit the headwall and went up) and became much larger - more like a 10-15' sidewall rather than a 3-5' sidewall it was at the end of pitch 3. And all at a funky canted angle. The leader had to then downclimb the sidewall and friction across the face to a rising right-leaning crack of sorts (more like a seam or fold) and run for the large notch in the rock's 'horizon'. For the second, this was trickier, because it meant that the downclimb on the sidewall was totally unprotected, and a slip would be...well, would leave a lot of road rash on whomever was seconding. Wouldn't result in death, not hardly, but it'd certainly be very uncomfortable for the person who slipped.

Indy got to be the lucky dog to downclimb this sidewall. Not being a super-skilled downclimber (yes, he really needs to work on this), he was a little nervous. Once down, he started across the frictiony face, encountered the seam/fold, and shot to the end of the pitch. In short order he was done. Both he and Cro-Magnon were pretty happy with themselves. They got some good climbing in, and 6 pitches of it, to boot. Then Indy looked over the side to see how far down it was to the ground proper.

"Uh-oh..." said Indy quietly.

"What? What is it??" asked the suddenly nervous again Cro-Magnon.

"Dunno if we have enough rope to rap off," said Indy, "It's a solid 2 feet to the ground."

Cro-Magnon came over and looked. They both stood there, looking at the ground below them in dispair...

Making a long senseless story short, the two companions scrambled off the rocks and down the hill, which was steep at times, until they found a main trail to follow. From there they went to the car, unracked, and headed to the rendezvous point. After that, a late lunch. Then Cro-Magnon and his SO went to see a friend, and were to head back to Maryland once again the next morning. Indy waved, and went to meet with the Cliff Swallow again.

Arriving at the Cliff Swallow's abode, Indy found Britt and a Canadian netter and meteorologist Rob already there. A short bit later the Cliff Swallow herself arrived. She volunteered Indy to drive up to the crag for the evening's climbing run. Indy looked at his car...and the month of gear and supplies and equipment in it...

"I do not think so, Sam," he said. The Cliff Swallow looked out at his car, too, and shook her head.

"Guess we're driving, Britt," she said.

The four piled into the VanAgain and they headed up to...Happy Hour Crag!

Happy Hour Crag is one of the more popular climbing sites in Boulder Canyon, partly because of the fact one can top-rope or lead most all the routes there, but definitely not because of the approach - which is seriously uphill! It also has a wide variety of routes, from moderate (~5.7) to fairly difficult (5.11/5.12?).

The Cliff Swallow decided that Indy had not yet had enough fun with steep terrain, and led the group up a 'side' trail (re: 'shortcut') to get to the rocks. They ended up hundreds of yards to the right of the crag and had to work their way through a mini-bushwack run to get to the rocks. Once there they met up with Amanda 'Sundress' Tarre, Greg 'Hillman' Hill, Taimie, and several other people from the rec.climbing newsgroup, including the Valkyrie, Tony, and a friend of theirs. Mattie-monster never showed, and was presumably still sleeping from having worked overnight the night before and stayed up for an early morning meeting (that gosh durned work-stuff always interfering with climbing priorities!)

Looking around the crags, it was decided that the Cliff Swallow would lead Two-Fers, a 5.8 route with a freaky little roof and hidden handhold (due to lack of time, Indy never did get a chance to get on it), Hillman would lead the 5.9 classic Dementia (again, Indy didn't get on this one), and Indy would lead the 5.7 I, Robot (mistaking it at first for Are We Not Men, another 5.7 right next to I, Robot; Indy was just as happy to have led this route as he is an Alan Parsons fan...).

I, Robot is a neat little 5.7 route that starts in at the left-most of a series of small right-facing corners, and works its way up to two parallel vertical cracks, the left one wide, the right one fingery. The pro is pretty decent on this route, and the moves are pretty reasonable. At the top it is possible to set it up as a top-rope problem using some long (30+ feet) of webbing to some trees far back from the cliff edge, backing it up with some pro here and there in some of the solid cracks up top. Must be careful up top as there is a lot of loose rock all over the place. A slip could be Bad.
The rest of the evening was spent top-roping whatever routes people could get on in the fading light. Indy managed to play on the bottom half of Are We Not Men but could not finish the upper half due to the positioning of the top-rope anchors. He also re-did I, Robot to see what it was like without leading it, and the awkward Giant Spit.

Giant Spit is a very interesting 5.9 route. It's not really a classic in that sense, but it really never lets up, and it keeps you thinking every step of the way. You make a couple moves and the characteristic of the route suddenly and drastically changes.

And then you've also bio-hazards, such as the pile of poop that was found on the one ledge 1/3 of the way up. No idea how it got there (was someone leading the route and got the shit scared out of them??), but it proved to be right next to a good handhold necessary to pull a particular move off, and was itself in another good handhold.

Giant Spit starts out on a slick blocky right-facing corner to a smooth corner capped with an overhang. From here you move left onto a ledge (the aforementioned bio-hazard ledge) as you are pushed backwards from the overhang. After you successfully avoid the bio-hazard and are standing, you go up and over a smaller 'hang, ending up on a steep(!) face with thin holds. After this you work through vertical, odd-balanced flakes, and finish on easier cracks and blocks. Cool route, always changing, and sustained.

After this darkness began to fall rapidly. Not so much from the setting sun, but by the gathering storm clouds. Everyone started taking down their ropes asap. Indy, Cliff Swallow, Britt, and Rob hustled it down the main (and more direct) path to the road, and to the car. As the light grew dim, there was a FLASH! And a K-RACK! And a *BOOOOOM*!! The Weather God was on the warpath again. The four scurried back to the VanAgain, piled inside, and drove off, back into town...for Happy Hour!

They drove to a pre-arranged establishment where everyone else would congregate upon. The Weather God's fury never did open up on them; instead it went around Boulder. Maybe the Weather God was confused with Indy being in the close proximity of the Cliff Swallow and Britt? The group went into the food establishment and met up with those who had arrived ahead of them. They all got a table and sat down to eat, drink, tell tall tales, be merry, and, best of all, eat!

After a fun evening of food, drink, and story-telling, the various members of the party drifted off their seperate ways. The Hillman took the Canuckian meteorologist back to his hotel, and Indy returned to Britt and the Cliff Swallow's abode for the night. They put him up in their renovated (but not yet totally finished) basement/guestroom, and went to bed themselves. Indy soon fell into a deep sleep...

July 17th - The Long Drive

Indy awoke early the next morning, before the rest of the household. He quietly took a quick shower, then got the paper. Cliff Swallow arose and they had a quick breakfast. Then Britt got up and all readied for work (well, all except for Indy, who was heading towards Idaho that day). They said their goodbyes, and Indy drove off...off...off towards Wyoming...through Wyoming...through Wyoming...through Wyoming...through...do you get the feeling that Wyoming's a big state? Especially when you drive from essentially one end to the other?? At least it has more topographical features than Kansas...

Indy managed to get temporarily trapped in Kemmerer (one of those Small Towns you can't ever return from - one way in, no way out!), but escaped by subtle misdirection (even though the locals were nice folk), and continued on through the last stretches of Wyoming.

Indy crossed into Idaho, and worked his way to Bear Lake, intending on camping in that area. He found a campground, the Cedar And Shade Campground, on the east side of the lake, but they wanted $10 a night per site! No facilities (well, an outhouse here and there; water was from a pipe running to a nearby underground stream that fed the lake), no amenities...just spots. $10 indiscriminate of tent or camperhome/rv-from-hell. Indy grumbled, and decided he would deal with it in the morning. He went and found a site (and found he was the only one camping there that night; no one else was around - except some locals out for the evening down at the beach, riding their 4-wheelers hither and yon - but fortunately they avoided Indy's tent). He hung out, batted at mosquitos, and watched the sun, and the day-old crescent moon, sink behind the mountains to the west. The mosquitos began feasting heavily on him, so he retired to his tent for the evening, and went to sleep.

Around 2:00am Indy woke up and poked his head out. Totally, perfectly clear skies. Stars, like jewels on a velvet carpet, as far as the eye can see, and then some. But the long drive through Wyoming earlier really took it out of him, and he pulled himself back inside his tent, and went back to sleep. No real stargazing this night.

July 18th-19th - Food in Twin Falls, Idaho

Indy awoke at the crack of dawn (and it was noisy). He rolled out of his tent, broke camp, and left some money for the campsite, along with a note discussing his concern about the inordinately inflated price. Then he moseyed off to the northern end of Bear Lake and set out his tent and fly to dry from the dew that had gathered in the wee hours of the night. While that was going on, he made a real breakfast (instead of munching on a pop-tart, for once). Since he had time to kill (he was only a few hours from Twin Falls, and didn't want to rush to get there too soon, since Caver-Dude was expecting him later in the afternoon or evening), he went out to a pier (the only one there) and sat for a while, relaxing and updating his travel log. Finally he got up, and got back on the road.

On a whim Indy turned on the radio. He hadn't had the radio on since he left the Cheyenne/Laramie region and lost what little rock music he could pick up. He got a station loud and clear around 106.5 or so. Good music. So Indy kept it on, in hopes of learning where the station was broadcasting out of (if Idaho, he'd likely keep it for a while; if Utah, it'd likely lose it in a short while). Eventually they identified themselves...as 101.something, and were out of Utah.

101.something?!? Indy double-checked his radio dial. Yep, 106.5. He didn't get it. That was just too strange. Indy drove on.

Indy arrived a few hours later in Twin Falls, and quickly hooked up with Caver-Dude, who more than happily showed him around the museum and planetarium in which he works. Nice place. Fairly sophisticated planetarium, too. But there was some less-than-great news for Indy.

"Dude," said Caver-Dude, "I've used the planetarium computers to try and track down and lock onto the Ark, but...I'm having unusual troubles. I keep gettin interference. It's as if I can't pinpoint it to one spot, but over a number of places. About five, to be exact. But the interference pattern from those five is preventing exact locations to be determined, but I think I've worked out a deconvolution program and I think I've pinpointed one as being atop of Borah Peak....I doan wanna go back to Borah Peak. It's Evil. But I'll go if you go."

Well, gee, that was comforting. Indy decided to take a rest day and resupply, then tackle Borah Peak early on saturday. Caver-Dude nodded and planned for Sherpa-Duties.

That evening Caver-Dude and Crystal (Caver-Dude's SO) took Indy to a local pizza joint...and not your everyday normal pizza joint, either. This one served pizzas by the slice, en mass, and with a multitude of toppings. There were your standard ones: cheese, pepperoni, sausage, mushroom, green peppers, combinations thereof, ham and pineapple, vegetarian. And then some slightly esoteric ones: hamburger, seafood, brocolli, spinach. And then the creme de la creme: the Idaho Pizza.

After sampling many of the varieties that came past the table, Caver-Dude insisted that Indy try an Idaho Pizza. Indy looked at Caver-Dude warily. The waitress came around, and Caver-Dude all but put a slice on Indy's plate. Indy looked at it...picked it up...bit into it...it was a hashbrown pizza!! And it t'weren't half bad! Indy did not have another, though, as he was stuffed. The three returned to the Caver-Dude's and Crystal's abode. There Indy got his first glimpses of the 1996 Olympics, and a slideshow from Caver-Dude of his last expedition up Borah Peak (where they lost all their sherpas and half their team to wild beastly things that lived high above the treeline). Caver-Dude said he didn't wanna go, but would go if Indy went. Indy was going, one way or another. Caver-Dude also warned Indy he would be hiking very slow. Indy remembered the last time Caver-Dude told him this and they went to visit Mt Rogers in Virginia; Indy had a hard time keeping up with Caver-Dude.

After this, they retired. And Caver-Dude made bread.

The next morning Caver-Dude went back to work, and Indy scouted the town for supplies. That evening Caver-Dude and Crystal took Indy to a Mongolian BBQ place. Indy had definitely not been in one of these before!

The idea was (for those of you uninitiated in things like this) you ordered by a bowl size. Either small bowl, large bowl, or all-you-can-eat. You then went up to the foodbar, got a bowl (of the size you ordered), filled it with the items you wanted in your meal (fix-your-own meals here; no prefab meals in this place), hand the bowl (with food) to the cook(s), who then cooks it there before you on a large circular hotplate/stove, and then when it's down, scoops the food back into the bowl with a flourish, gives you back your bowl, and you sit down and eat. Pretty easy, no?

Caver-Dude and Crystal explained to Indy that there were secrets to this. One, always fill your bowl with more than you are going to expect to eat - the food cooks WAY down on the stove-thing. Two, first put some stuff in your bowl to the halfway point. Then go to the meats (which are frozen strips) and stick them in vertically along the sides of the bowl. This, in essence, 'increases' the 'size' of the bowl, and allows you to pile more stuff on. Then you pile more stuff on. Then you pile on noodles, and pour over this whole mess the sauces of your choice. Indy followed these instructions carefully.

Caver-Dude and Crystal, being veterans at this, zipped through the line and had their food half-cooked by the time Indy arrived at the stove area. Caver-Dude and Crystal got their dinner and went to sit down and eat. Indy had his cooked. He watched the chef walk round and round the stove, scooping the meal along as he walked. Then he seperated the meal into two halves, and with a flourish (always with a flourish) filled the bowl he was carrying with one half. As he handed it to Indy (who was wondering what was up with the other half there), the chef indicated that Indy should stand by a moment. The chef turned, got a second bowl, filled that with the rest of the food (again, with a flourish), and handed it to Indy.

Indy looked down at the bowls in his hand. He came up with one bowl, and while it was heaping, it wasn't heaping that much! He was now walking away with two heaping bowls of food. Puzzled, he turned and went to the table where Caver-Dude and Crystal were sitting.

Caver-Dude and Crystal looked up at the approaching Indy, and stopped eating.

"Dude," said the Caver-Dude after a pause, "You are the ONLY person I know who can go up with one bowl, and come back with two!"

Indy looked helpless. "I thought you said this stuff cooked down; instead it multiplied on me."

Indy sat and ate. He was not able to finish it, so took the rest home...and got two more lunches out of it in the course of the next three days!

The three returned to Caver-Dude's abode, where they packed for their expedition run up Borah Peak. They then left that night, drove all the way to the trailhead of Borah Peak, and camped out. It was late. Midnight. They set up under the clear skies, the bright stars, and chilly temps. They crawled in and went to sleep. Indy decided to not set his alarm for 3:30am (in response to excessive grumbling from Caver-Dude about getting up so goddamned early and only getting a few hours sleep anyhow) and set it for 4:30am instead. They drifted off to sleep.


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