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First outdoor trip - Sylvan Lake
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Toast_in_the_Machine


Jul 7, 2009, 4:43 AM
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First outdoor trip - Sylvan Lake
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First let me get the introductions out of the way. My name is Gordon Summers. I’d love to insert a “get the screen name” segment. But the name isn’t that clever or good. Meh. The other section I thought of having in the introduction paragraph was a bit on “it is what it is”. This TR is a TR of a guided trip by a family of 4. No more, no less.

The other participants on the trip are my wife Ann, Colin age 8 and Clare age 4. There are other people as well at the climb since it was a guided climb. I chose a guided climb for many reasons. One of the selfish reasons was so that I could climb without having to be distracted by worrying about my kids safety. By knowing that the guides were there, I could enjoy myself more. Next trip (and there will be another one soon), I will gladly shoulder the usual safety burden. I just wanted my first climb to be me and the rock.

Oh yeah, first climb outdoors.

At age 43, I had a reminder a few days before that I’m old. While on a kayak float down the Niobrara river, Clare and I were floating down in our lifejackets when she decided that she was ready to get back in the boat. I struggled to stand up and banged my knee and got a good bruise / scrape combination. Ann was a little banged up too as she had torn her rotator cuff about a month earlier. Gym climbing – natch.

I had arranged for our climb to be on the first morning that we were in Custer State Park, SD. We stayed at Legion Lake so we had to travel the Needles Highway to Sylvan Lake. There was the wonderful mix of anticipation, awesome views, and a little “carbon up the ass” reminder from Ann about my reaction to being even 5 minutes late.

While I’m filling out the last of the paperwork, one of the guides comes up and asks if we are stoked. Ann gives the “it’s all about the stoke” quote which gets a slightly confused laugh. The sentiment was appreciated, but apparently “Step into Liquid” isn’t a universal classic. Ah well. We get our gear approved for climbing and get a harness for Clare and lids for everyone.

We get to the “Beginners Rock” on the far side of Sylvan Lake and there are 6 top rope routes setup for the day. We have 2 guides and 3 other people besides our family. Our guides were Andy and Lindsay. Andy did a great job of changing the route names. For Clare the first route was changed from “Death Climb” to “Rainbows and Lollipops”.

Clare scampers up the rock and gets about 25 feet up and about 3 feet from the top and decides that is enough. Not only that, but that was enough for the whole day. One climb, goodbye. She spends the rest of the morning picking up mica and quartz crystals and bugs. I am chagrined that I paid for her to climb, but I know damn good and well what would have happened if we got there and said “everyone climbs but Clare”. I was damned no matter what I did.

By the time we have arrived home at the end of our vacation, Ann and I are already working on the “re-programmed” memory. We talk in front of her about how she climbed so well and so far and got all the way to the top. True? Sort of. We want her to remember it as an awesome experience so we keep selling her on how great it was for days to come. (Hey, I’m honest about it.)

Colin’s turn next and up the still named “Rainbows and Lollipops” he is told to “slow down”. He is out climbing Andy’s speed of pulling in rope safely. This will be the theme for Colin for the day. Climb fast.

Ann is next and moves up to the next route. She quickly and easily moves up the route gets to the anchor and is lowered down. She is grinning from ear to ear. We high five.

The post climb high five has become, in our rather short climbing history, an odd little routine. It both celebrates every successful climb as well as verifies that you can still lift your arm and also that your hand isn’t hurt that bad. After every climb a “whoo hoo” and a high five.

My turn next. It is an easy climb. It isn’t me, it really is an easy climb. I get to quickly to the top and I get lower down. High fives. Untie and back to helping Clare look for “crystals”.

I got three climbs in, Ann and Colin got four. At the end a storm was blowing in so we quickly packed up and hiked back. I could have kept climbing, but lightning sure as hail doesn’t listen to me. Ann and I have at least four conversations about climbing on our way back home. While climbing, nothing profound hits my brain. Afterwards – ditto. However, for those who are going to go through the same thing soon, here are our impressions:

The puzzle of finding the hands and foot holds outside is part of the fun. Indoors it is just annoying.

In gym climbing you never get the less than vertical “use your feet” feeling like an easy outdoor route. I don’t smear well and I’m going to need to focus on learning that skill.

Having someone not from the “lineage” of your primary expert help you is a great idea. The guides emphasized different things and so gave us a different perspective.

Knowing the geology both helps and causes too many “gneiss” and “schist” jokes.

If you can afford it, hire a guide. The Sylvan Rocks guides were excellent and I would recommend it to everyone. I would, however, recommend seeing if you can get flexibility around kids 4 years old. Next time out, she may climb and climb and climb. But at 4, it is hard to predict the mood de jure.

Part of the guides job was enviable. The part where the week before they had 40 kids in the morning and 40 kids in the afternoon was not.

It was interesting in that the guides were selling climbing more than their services. They genuinely wanted each person to keep climbing and not just so they might make more money. They loved climbing and wanted everyone there to have it as a hobby as well.

I’m sure I’ve left out a lot, including the Monochamus scutellatus, the injury Ann sustained – while taking Clare to pee, the hole in the wall view at the top, and most definitely any real insight.

Pictures:
Colin climbing fast:


Clare climbing – hey at least we got the photo!


Ann



I’m belaying Colin (guide there as backup, just barely visible)



Two obligatory shots – bad but shot and cheezy outline



Family afterwards



bill413


Jul 8, 2009, 5:26 PM
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Re: [Toast_in_the_Machine] First outdoor trip - Sylvan Lake [In reply to]
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Toast / Gordon - This is great. Sounds like a fantastic time. I like the fact that you let Clare climb only as much as she wanted. I pretty much did that with my son - sometimes making him go with me, but never forcing him to climb. Then, one day, as a teenager, he started initiating wanting to climb & I was thrilled. I think it's exactly that attitude of expose them to it, but don't force it, that has rewarded (him &) me.

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The puzzle of finding the hands and foot holds outside is part of the fun. Indoors it is just annoying.

Yeah - outdoors it's problem solving. In the gym it's grumbling about why did they put the black tape route right next to the dark brown tape route. Grrr.

In reply to:
It was interesting in that the guides were selling climbing more than their services. They genuinely wanted each person to keep climbing and not just so they might make more money. They loved climbing and wanted everyone there to have it as a hobby as well.

I think this is fantastic, and a very high recommendation.

I'm excited for ya'll - gratz!


(This post was edited by bill413 on Jul 8, 2009, 5:27 PM)


donald949


Jul 8, 2009, 10:51 PM
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Re: [Toast_in_the_Machine] First outdoor trip - Sylvan Lake [In reply to]
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Nice. Got to love taking the kids climbing. Good on you for not making the kids climb more than they want. I have found that my two boys 5/7 yo, want to rope up and climb once, then run and play. So that what I do.
Look to see if you can find other families to go climbing with. Gives the kids someone to play with the folks can alternate climbing and watching the kids.
"Monochamus scutellatus" Funnel cloud in next to last photo???


Toast_in_the_Machine


Jul 9, 2009, 4:15 AM
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Re: [donald949] First outdoor trip - Sylvan Lake [In reply to]
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donald949 wrote:
"Monochamus scutellatus" Funnel cloud in next to last photo???

Monochamus scutellatus - common name White Spotted Sawyer. Clare loves pink, my little pony, and picking up bugs. This bug one landed on the ground and she soon had it in her hand and then crawling up her back.




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