Trent and I headed out Sat morning to attempt his birthday challenge. It was something he’d concocted a while back. I’d put a little thought into it and came up with this plan. Since this time my shoulder had gotten injured and Trent hadn’t been riding much and had not gotten on all of the routes. But we both had a day free and decided to give it a go. We weren’t at all sure about what to expect, but that always how birthday challenges go in some respect.
We left Trent’s house at first light carrying everything we thought we’d need for the day: rope, draws, belay device, running shoes, harnesses, climbing boots, food, and tape. Um, was there tape? There must be tape, right? Who doesn’t have tape in their climbing pack? We wore all the extra clothing we thought we might need and carrying our water on our bikes.
At City Creek we encountered out first obstacle: hunting season. The canyon was closed to bikes and there was a guard outside in the dark to make sure we followed the rules.
Other than a little extra walking, part one went well. We warmed up on a 5.10, then Trent lead and I followed Bat Cave, 12a. No falls, a quick clean, and soon we were on our bikes to ride across town towards Parley’s Canyon.
Canyon two promised to be the crux. I’d been on all of the routes and felt Leviathan, given 12a, was the toughest. Trent hadn’t been on it but I thought it would suit him. After all, he climbs 5.13 and he’s tall. Most steep routes favor shorter climbers. This one, I felt, seemed to favor someone taller. It also had the longest and steepest hike of the day. If we could tick this portion that rest of the challenge would fall into place, or so it seemed.
First go Trent fell at the crux. He worked it out. Tried again. Same result.
Re-evaluating, he figured out an unobvious sequence that seemed to work. I went up and concurred. Next try for sure.
Somehow we’d overlooked bring tape—fundamental for any hard climbing day. At this point, a simple piece of tape wouldn’t guarantee success but it would give Trent a chance. By now the route couldn’t be more wired but we were too far from the bikes to go find tape.
Using a bar wrapper to stop to temporarily stop the blood, Trent gave it three more goes, falling at the final sequence each time, and each time leaving the route looking like a battleground. We were finally forced to cash it in and call it a day of recon.
But there was still plenty to do. Romney met us with some tape and we headed off to Little Cottonwood Canyon to see how much of our list we could finish.
Looking pretty cooked on the last 10% section of the grade, Trent rebounded and hiked Cool Your Jets first go. Again, I cleaned and we were soon headed down the canyon. At Ferguson, we decided to skip Condor and ride up Big to see how much light we had left. Trent was cooked and, by the time we got to Highlander, we were too late to both climb it and ride back to his house.
We could have climbed and ridden to my house but Trent figured he was weaker on the bike so riding home was the option we chose. The ride home felt long. Combining hard climbing adds a new element to a challenge, and things hurt that we weren’t used to. We rolled up to Trent’s house just after dark—a fine day of recon and training finished.
We had time to get it done. With Leviathan properly whittled down, all we need is for the weather to hold long enough for Trent’s finger to heal. It’s a good hard day. It would be nice to do it in style.