Monday, March 21, 2016

The Past, the Present and the Future

Though we've been out a few times since November and squeezed in some kayaking as well, I have either been too busy to write about it or when I try, quickly I realize the stories start to sound the same. Sort of the calls from climber to belayer.  Belay on? Belay is on.  Climbing. Climb on.    Story Posted?  Posted.  Reading.  Read on.

Today's story its about people.  Have I ever told you my story about Dale Bard?  It's a good one, with a moral and everything.  But that's for another day.  Having just returned from Jack's Canyon (I hear quiet clipping sounds as Jim is unpacking... arranging his racks as I type) we have been reminiscing about the past, the present and the future.  That happens more and more these days as we find ourselves surrounded by younger and younger climbers.

When we went to JT in February we met a couple of 20 something Aeronautical Engineers for the Navy stationed in San Diego.  We shared our rappel rope at Split Rock/Isles in the Sky area.... and dinner! It turned out that their camp site was just a couple hundred yards from ours at Jumbo Rock. It's the least we could do for our military boys. (Shout out to Justin and Will)

This weekend at Jack's Canyon we met Kaylen and Loren both teachers from Las Vegas on their spring break.  We shared a few beers and campfire stories with them.  Kaylen works at a Gym in Vegas and they frequent Red Rocks, only minutes from where they live.  We squeezed them for beta on where to climb and where to camp (or not....there's not much space) and are already planning that trip....I'm thinking Red Rocks Casino Resort.
Looking down into Jack's Canyon

On Saturday, just as we thought we were exhausted, we ran into (well came up upon and politely asked to watch) Trish and Pete from Flagstaff who sent Sacrificial Lizard (5.11b) like they'd done it 50 times before (they have) and then lent us their top rope so Jim could give it a go (he did it, though not as pretty as they did :)

Then there was Brett from Durango, CO, who thankfully let us use his coffee press each morning.  Somehow we brought a percolator without the percolating parts.  He was with a group of 5 climbers and 3 dogs. We repaid them with HopKnot!

On Sunday morning we went down for one more pitch before packing to go home. The place was hopping.  Teams were on Casino Cliffs at every route.  We crossed over to that side and tiptoed through the deck areas full of gear, shoes, ropes and stuff we all use. We found a route on our "to do" list open "Sports Book" (5.10a).  As we geared up it wasn't long before we were joined by 2 climbers with an 18 month old baby (in a carrier on daddy's back.) Having fallen on my butt on the way down myself, I cringed at the thought of carrying more than rope and gear down that path.  But Caleb and Loren are young Climbing guides from Phoenix, though they were not guiding that day.  They were on their first outing with baby sans back up (ie: no grandma, no other couple...just mom, dad and baby) If it is testament to their guiding style, they were nothing but calm and composed, with things well in hand.

Caleb easily sent Crack Dealer (5.11b) after which, his wife Lauren gracefully waltzed up behind him.  Each carefully belaying the other with one eye on their partner and one on the baby.  With mom on a top rope, dad had a little more flexibility and displayed a most unique, controlled one armed (full body) method of "taking" up rope that I had ever seen.  With a sudden flash of WWSS (What Would Steve Say?) I feel compelled to name the process I had had just seen "Babylaying"   I was ready to grab the baby should he have left daddy's space, but ninja like "grandma reflexes" were not to be used that day.  If you'd like to learn more about Caleb and Lauren, check out their website at

It didn't take long of course for Jim and Caleb to discuss Phoenix rock.
    Jim: Do you ever climb at Pinnacle Peak?
Caleb: Yes of course.
    Jim: Have you done Loafer's Choice?
Caleb: Oh yea sure.
    Jim: That was one of mine.
Caleb: You are Jim Zahn?
    Jim: (smiling inside) Yep, that's me.  I did a number of first ascents back in the day. Mostly Pinnacle Peak, or The McDowells and a couple in Tucson, Cochise Stronghold (Abracadaver 5.11a)  and Mt. Lemon (Over the Rainbow 5.12-)
Caleb: You did that with Jim Waugh right?
Jim:  Did a number of first ascents with Jim Waugh back in the day.
On the way home it was hard to shut my husband up. We feel very good about staying in our sport and holding our own (at our age) against "some" of the younger generation.  He considers himself in the category of "old guys that crank" but when someone remembers you as a young guy that can kind of make your day.  Jim Zahn was glad we decided to climb at Jack's Canyon this weekend.

Funny thing too.....after we returned home, we met up with Jim Waugh (whom we have seen very rarely since he moved to Thailand a decade ago)  He's here for a summer guiding job in Colorado with a friend of his, Stewart Green of Front Range Climbing Company.   Jim and Stewart stopped by our house on their way to Colorado and conversation brings us around the two guides we met just that morning.  Believe it or not.......Caleb once worked for Front Range Climbing.  Small world, where the past catches up with the future in one quick move.  Like a rope that has just cleared its rappel anchor, floating right back down to where you stand.