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Posts Tagged ‘sport climbing’

Lately I’ve been obsessed with a climb called Helix in American Fork Canyon, about an hour South of SLC. Back in its heyday AF was at the forefront of hard sport climbing and had some of the hardest climbs in the world. It is kind of a trip to go there because there are plenty of walls where almost every climb is 5.12 or harder. Its also fun to be able to see climbs I remember reading about way back when they were first put up and everyone was amazed that someone could climb such a thing.

Since we are still trying to figure out the moves on Helix, and it is way hard, we spend a lot of time falling off and hanging in the air so I thought it would look cool as a timelapse.

We’ve been trying to get down there after work but there isn’t much light left these days. Climbing with only a headlamp in total darkness at the top of the cave is pretty awesome, kind of like being underwater or something. You see the edge of the roof of the cave and then blackness. I once went scuba diving where there was a 3000 foot wall down to the bottom of the ocean. We were at floating 60 feet down facing the wall which was full of huge amazing coral. Behind us was this endless inky blackness. I’ve never seen deep endless blackness like that. It was blackness that could hold a scary thing of any size. Hanging from the roof in the mouth of the cave reminded me of that. The ground drops off so steeply below the cave that in the dark I couldn’t see anything, the darkness just swallowed up my headlight.

I was having fun until the centipedes started crawling out of the cracks to hunt and then there was that giant spider in one of the holes in the roof that made me wonder about what was in the holes I was blindly sticking my fists and feet into.

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I’ve been trying to get back into climbing again. It is hard to find the time between working and taking care of Leo. If I go away and climb all day it just means Kathi has to be on baby duty for another day, so I don’t get out much.In the American Fork guide book there is a photo of someone doing a climb called Helix. I’ve been staring at it for probably 8 years now. On Sunday I decided I was finally going to try and climb the damn thing. I managed to drag my friends Adam and Naomi out with me to check it out.

The climb goes at 5.12c which these days is about 4 grades past anything I’ve climbed in the last 6 years. But hey, I’ve been wanting to work on something as a serious project. I’m also interested in seeing how much harder you can climb when you practice something in a concerted way.

Lucky someone had put up draws on the climb already which made it a lot easier to try since it would be a nightmare to clean your gear off of it.

The climb has a total sucker start because there are a bunch of fun, big dynamic move that make you feel like a hero even though they aren’t that hard which gives you the mistaken impression that you might be able to climb the thing. Until you get to the roof and then it becomes insane. The perspective up there is so weird, the first time I got to the roof I fell of because I couldn’t tell which way gravity was pointing and I leaned in all the wrong directions.

So Adam and I went back yesterday (Wed.). We had to go after work and the sun goes down at 7:30 now so we only had about an hour and a half to try it.

I managed to get past the crux move at the top and do the rest of the moves. What an amazing climb – after you leave the right-hand wall, you climb left across the inside opening of the cave, and then back into the middle of the roof so about a foot below your feet is the 50 foot drop to the ground. There are no holds really, just this series of deep holes in the ceiling so you are stuck trying to get a solid fist jam in the back of a hole while looking down into the void below you and wishing you’d remember some climbing tape for your hands.

The last move is particularly ridiculous. Clipping the anchors requires you to under-cling at the wall and then extend your body out until your body is completely horizontal. Then you have to take a ton of slack and reach out as far as possible while your arm starts to shake. If you blow it you end up dropping probably 10-15 feet and hanging in the air in the middle of the cave.

Some might say it is contrived – I say it is f’in awesome!

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