The climbing at Maple Canyon is probably the most unique climbing area I’ve ever been to. The rock is a conglomerate embedded with pebbles and rocks of various sizes. The routes are difficult to read from the ground, and require a lot of endurance to onsight, since you never know what kind of hold a cobble is going to be until you grab it, so you end up spending a lot of energy trying to find the right cobbles to use. However, b/c of all the cobbles, we discovered that Maple is also a place that rewards good footwork. No matter how hard it might be to hang on searching for good cobbles, you always had really good, obvious feet. I for one thoroughly enjoyed the climbing there, and felt like it agreed with me.
Day 1 Routes ~
Monkey Nuts – 5.9 – Good intro to the cobbles. Felt really soft for the grade, which was not surprising based on what we had heard going in to the trip.
Your Little Sister – 5.10a – I can only imagine how much fun the first ascensionists had thinking about all the inuendos folks would come up with when they chose the name for this climb…fun route though, got a bit pumpy towards the top searching for cobbles.
EIS – 5.10b – Straightforward at the bottom, got pumpy and a bit thin up towards the top.
Raindrops on Lichen – 5.9+ – pretty fun route, crux was moving up over a bulge about halfway up.
Taking the Bullet – 5.11a – I can see why this route is a classic! The technical crux was down low, and was pretty difficult, but then around the 4th bolt, things back off a little. From that point on there were no individually hard moves, but it was l-o-n-g and sustained at what felt like low 10 range. I left the ground with every intention of hanging if it got hard, but the farther up I got, the more confident I felt. Towards the top things got pretty steep again, but I decided that I had come too far to blow the onsight with a hang, so I kept climbing and just when I thought I was getting too pumped, I found a sinker jug, stood up, and saw the chains. I was really pleased that I stayed with it. This was my first 11a onsight since the shoulder injury. : )
Unknown – 5.10- – We originally thought this route was Crime Scene, but decided it felt WAY easier than 11a. We later found out that there are a couple extra bolted lines than what are listed in the guide we had. Our consensus is that it was 5.10-. Whatever it was, it was fun – big moves to big holds on an overhanging face.
Hit Man – 5.11b – so I didn’t finish this one…was really excited that I pulled thru the low roof at the start, but then ran into some trouble at the 4th bolt. I could get to the bolt, but for the life of me couldn’t get the bolt clipped. I took a 12 foot fall after dropping the quickdraw into the creek (not one of my more graceful moments…) and got my head together. I figured that after I shook my arms out a bit I’d be able to get the bolt clipped using the same sequence…unfortunately I was wrong (I think 5 days in a row of climbing was catching up w/me), and I took a 15 footer that would have been routine except that when I came back into the rock I bashed my right knee into one of the sharp cobbles above the 2nd bolt. It obviously hurt, but didn’t feel like I did anything “bad” to it, except that the area we were in was quickly looking like something from the set of CSI b/c of all the blood. I left a bailer carabiner for only the second time in my life and lowered off the third bolt. We cleaned it best we could, wrapped it, and since we had already decided that was going to be the last climb of the day, headed back to the campsite.
Originally we thought all would be well, just a flesh wound, until I bent my knee getting out of the shower 30 minutes later and it was as if you turned a bloody faucet on. We decided a couple of stitches might be in order, so Steve drove me 20 miles north to the podunk town of Nephi (while I felt sorry for myself and ate an entire bag of Skittles). We were THRILLED to find out that attached to the hospital was a Medical Clinic that was open late ONLY on Thursday nights so we didn’t have to do the whole ER thing. The verdict was that while I thankfully didn’t do any ligament/tendon/bone damage, the cut was really deep – into some nerves, and all the way into the bursa (like when you get bursitis…). So after a local anesthetic and 5 syringes worth of irrigating, I exited the clinic with 4 stitches on the inside, 4 stitches on the outside, a drainage tube in the middle, a splint (which appeared to have been given to me in direct response to my question, “Does this mean I can’t climb tomorrow?), bandages, some antibiotics, some painkillers, and a blue pen that says “Nephi Medical Center” on it. To say it was more than we had anticipated would be an understatement.
We stopped for our second Frosty of the week on the way back to camp, where we gave Manuela and Norbert the play by play (and Steve showed them all the gory pictures.) I then crawled into my sleeping bag where I melted into a sea of vicodin and sleep for many, many peaceful hours until I woke up at 7…unable to move my leg more than a couple of inches b/c of the pain from the inflammation and stiffness. It was a major ordeal to get me out of the tent, but once I got up and moving (and took more vicodin) it wasn’t that bad. With it being Day 6 and all, I think everyone was feeling pretty lazy…we didn’t head up to the canyon until around 10 or so, and everyone climbed the easy stuff in the Schoolroom Area while I alternated between taking pictures and taking naps. Here’s the climbs everyone else did…
Drowing Baby Fish – 5.7
Extra Credit – 5.7
Moss Pocket – 5.6 – kudos to Manuela for leading this one : )
The Redemption of Madonna – 5.8
Bob’s Bolts – 5.4 – I think everyone’s highlight of the day was seeing Norbert getting on the sharp end and leading this one!
The Big Kahounah – 5.10b – I think Steve would have onsighted this earlier in the week
So…closing thoughts – What can I say – It was a fantastic trip, full of adventure and excitement! We were truly blessed to do an activity we love in such a spectacular setting with friendly people we enjoy being with. Of course I wish I didn’t hurt my knee, but compared to all the reasons that could land you in the hospital on a climbing trip, my reason is really rather trivial. I didn’t make a questionable mental error, my equipment didn’t fail, my belayer was paying attention – nothing out of the ordinary happened other than my knee being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I could have just as easily gotten the same or worse injury hiking along the trail earlier in the week, or in a car wreck on the way down to SLC. When it comes down to it, its nothing more than a deep flesh wound, which I am very thankful for. I am also grateful that God allowed it to happen on Day 5 and not Day 1. Our bodies get scuffed up sometimes, and if I have to get hurt, I’d rather have it happen while I’m out there living life than doing something dorky at home like falling down the stairs. And who knows, I may even get a pretty bad-ass scar out of it…