Matt and Joanne’s Page

March 5, 2008

Life on the Road, Sedona Pictures

Filed under: Climbing, Roadtrip — Matt Stamplis @ 3:53 pm

We thought we’d spend a little time in this post to give you an idea of how life on the road is treating us. As you can tell, we’ve been climbing a lot: when the weather (and our muscles) permit we climb two days then take a day of “rest”. A rest day is pretty much anything but climbing and isn’t always restful – like hiking 14 miles. Some rest days truly are restful – I often wake up and cook pancakes or bacon and eggs for breakfast. We then might spend the rest of the day lounging around, maybe taking Yogi out for a walk or two.

We’ve both taken advantage of our new found free time; Joanne has learned to crochet and is working on an afghan. Although right now she’s been sidetracked by some books she’s been reading. Hopefully the afghan will get done and it will keep us nice and warm. Or maybe it will just end up as a scarf! (December ’08 Update: she hasn’t worked on the afghan in many months. Never to be finished?) I’ve been working on my Chinese, trying (again) to learn the language. Progress is slow but I’m able to study it every couple of days: maybe next time I visit Malaysia I’ll be able to say a few more words. If only I knew some Cantonese! (December ’08 Update: I’ve forgotten most of what I learned already – d’oh!)

Aside from crochet and Chinese, we’ve both been reading a lot. For me this has been real nice: I’ve always loved reading but I’ve found so little time for it the last few years. On the other hand, we’ve had no time for TV/movies. It was 2 weeks after the Super Bowl when I found out who won and we have no idea what’s going on in the news. It kind of feels like we’ve been living in our own world, very much isolated from everyone. Kind of strange at times…

One other thing we’ve been enjoying immensely while traveling: food!! We hardly ever eat out but we’ve been cooking so much more than at home. When at home, we would get back from work and look at each other: no one would feel like cooking so I would end up eating cereal and Joanne would eat Ramen noodles! But now, when we go shopping we load up on fresh veggies/meat and almost every night we end up having something good to eat. For example, today we ate Chinese Brocolli with rice. Yesterday was mini pizzas baked over a campfire. The day before was beef and brocolli stir fry. And before that was Linguine with ground pork, bell peppers, and mushrooms in a tasty Vodka sauce (courtesy of Trader Joes). You can tell we’re certainly not going hungry!

Well, that’s enough rambling for now – here’s some pictures from Sedona!

Mark drove up from Phoenix and visited us in Sedona. It had snowed/rained for the first day so we couldn’t climb: Mark took us on a hike of Mt. Wilson. Here’s a picture from near the trailhead. The trail was super muddy and then there was several feet of snow near the top. After wallowing through snow for a half hour we decided to turn around.

Here’s Sedona’s beautiful red rocks from one of the popular vista points.

Yogi decided to pose for a portrait too! Joanne gave him a haircut just a couple days after this: check out the picture of him farther down the page for comparison. He doesn’t even look like the same dog!

We couldn’t climb in Sedona while waiting for the sandstone to dry out so instead we went skiing for the day in Flagstaff. And in case you don’t believe us, here’s proof that we went skiing in Arizona.

Our first day of climbing in Sedona we wanted to try this route called Mars Attacks! We got slightly lost trying to find the route from our guidebooks description. Hint: don’t take the Devil Bridge Trail, use the small wash a quarter mile up the road. You’ll save yourself a lot of trouble! It took us 2 hours but we finally made it to the base of the route. This is Matt leading out on pitch 2, a fun, exposed traverse on a band of limestone.

Looking up pitch 3 of Mars Attacks. This follows a nice crack through a whole bunch of different crack sizes: a real fun pitch. Actually, the whole route was really fun! (although, a bit stiff for 5.8, we thought)

When rapelling down from Mars Attacks we saw this really nice crack (Big Corner 5.10+). We had to climb it! The 2nd pitch (the top is shown here) is amazing, ending with this beautiful fingertip lieback (crux). Unfortunately, the 1st pitch is a bit loose. We heard that Sedona has a lot of loose rock and we found some here!

When Joanne was climbing the first pitch of Big Corner, she stepped on a big rock that came tumbling down towards me. I jumped out of the way but a tree branch caught my shirt and arm. I managed to avoid the rockfall but my shirt (and arm) got shredded pretty bad!

After the close encounter with rockfall, I decided to eat some manly appetizers. A big hunk of sausage on each cracker – yummy.

The Mace was the first rock climb to be completed in Sedona and today, it’s still the most popular. The Mace is the prominent, somewhat mace-looking spire on the left here.

This is me looking down at Joanne from the summit of the Mace. If you can see Joanne’s face, it’s probably not very happy as she’s contemplating how to get from her position to where I’m standing (on the summit). Between us is a three foot gap with 200 feet of air below it. To get across you have to step or lean out over the gap until you reach the other side. Then you step across and climb to the top. It’s completely wild and more than a bit spooky. At first Joanne refused to try it but finally I managed to get her to do it :). *Joanne comment* The step over is by far one of the most intimidating thing I have ever done. I kept looking down and yelled at Matt “You got me? You got me??” to buy some time prior to making the move. Instead of hands first (which is what Matt end up doing), I did a foot first and I wasn’t sure if my leg is long enough to bridge the gap or not. Thank god, it’s just long enough :).

And just in case you needed proof that Joanne made it to the top, here she is (kind of) smiling next to the summit register. The summit register is bolted to the top and you get to rappel from it to get down! We were surprised to see how few people climbed the route: we made the 2nd ascent of 2008!

A hard-earned rest day spent with the pooch .

Our last day in Sedona, this hot air balloon touched down right near where we were camped.

Route Info + Beta

Climbing Quality: Cool spires but mediocre rock takes some of the “fun” out of it.

Camping: Free but a big inconvenience (several miles outside of town and the climbing). Also worth noting that having an RV around town sucks: the trail head lots are too small to accommodate big vehicles.

Rest Day Activities: Do the tourist thing, look at art galleries, go vortex-hunting, find your inner child.

The Mace (5.9+) is “classic” for a reason. Might make a great climb to humble a “hotshot” climbing partner. I spent 10 minutes trying to find a graceful way through the crux 4th pitch before just muscling and grunting my way through it. Incredibly memorable! Bring two ropes to get down! Also, trying to link pitches might cause more trouble than it’s worth (linking 3+4 causes ridiculous rope drag after the already painful crux).

Mars Attacks 5.8 is a great 4-pitch route. Sustained at the grade and with a sandstone slab, a limestone traverse, and a crack to round things out, the variety will keep you interested! Great protection, mostly bolts but you’ll still need a rack for the 3rd pitch. I can’t remember if it’s required (there are intermediate rappel stations) but we did use two ropes to rappel.

Also worth mentioning is the approach can be a bit confusing. Bloom’s Sedona guidebook has a map showing two possible options: we tried approaching from Devil’s Bridge and got ridiculously lost for 2 hours looking for a trail. Save yourself the trouble by taking the wash that is located maybe a quarter mile past the Devil’s Bridge trailhead. Much easier to find the way!

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1 Comment »

  1. awesome pictures, esp yogi’s portrait! 🙂

    it’s a bit unreal that you can ski in flatstaff… then again my friend has just reported tons of snow over in cincin too, so maybe it shouldn’t be so surprising afterall…

    Comment by Lil — March 10, 2008 @ 8:28 am


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