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Recycled Trip Report (Rifle/Jacks)
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roughster


Aug 22, 2003, 9:25 PM
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Recycled Trip Report (Rifle/Jacks)
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NOTE: I wrote this TR up a few years ago while in school. I have plenty more
of these that sit around in an old folder if anyone is interested in hearing
others :)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------
-------------------------------------------
..... Serenity Now! The words came from an old episode of Seinfeld, but they
seemed to be rather appropriate as my partner and I sat out another 2 hour long
afternoon thunderstorm in a damp humid cave in Western Colorado. Or was it
North Eastern Arizona? Either place it didnít really matter. You see, I just
got back from a trip that I had hyped up to be at least as great as the Second
Coming Of Christ, but turned out to be as bad as Noahís Flood. Forty Days and
Forty Nights Of Rain, well maybe it wasnít that horrible, but while SoCal was
on the receiving end of 100 + temps, we had rain 10 out of 11 days.

..... The trip was planned months ago. Time off of work secured, supplies and
equipment purchased, guidebooks scoured for the exact day to day plan of
routes, all seeming to add up to a great trip. I mean what are the chances of
rain in Western Colorado, when its been so damn hot around here? We (my partner
Paul and I) left on Tuesday afternoon, and the plan was to drive straight to
Rifle, no stops sans re-fueling. We loaded up the Mighty Mitsu and were on our
way.

..... The miles were gobbled up as we sipped Diet Cokes and blasted Creed, all
the while traveling at a pace damn near the current land speed record. Around
Baker, we decided to listen to some Vegas Radio for a change of pace, and for
the 1st time in my life I heard the Emergency Broadcast System cut out the
station. A gravely mono-tone voice informed us of severe thunderstorms and
flash flood warnings for Clark County and Northern Las Vegas. Extreme caution
was advised if you were to be traveling that way. Unfortunately enough, that
was exactly the direction we were headed.

..... Coming down into the valley preceding Stateline was a scene out of
Maximum Overdrive. A wall of pouring water washed over our truck as we barreled
down flooded freeway. Within minutes, we had seen 2 accidents happen, one a
semi flipped over into the middle divider, while the second was a car spinning
out of control only to come to rest straddling the guard rail on the right
side. Needless to say, our driving went from Days Of Thunder to Driving Miss
Daisy in a hurry!

..... We stopped at Vegas to refuel and it was barely raining. I thought we had
gone through the worst, WRONG! About 30 miles out of Vegas, we hit the worst
rain I have ever drove through. Masses of cars and trucks were pulled over on
the side of the roads due to 6 inches of standing water on the freeway. The
rain was so thick, you couldnít see the white lines on either side of you.
The wind was actually creating waves on the road. It looked more like boating
than driving. Meanwhile, Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt sped by us chasing a
tornado. I mean it was that bad. I was seriously waiting for the floating cow
to let us know our time on this earth was over.

..... Some how we made it through. It set us back a few hours, but the weather
improved as I swerved my way through the VRG. Hey, a few glimpses of the
Blasphemy Wall are worth risking crashing into the guard rail. Sprinkles
followed us through Utahís freeways, which by the way get my vote for the
worst damn roads in the U.S. By the time we reached Colorado, I was delirious
and beating myself up as bad as Mr. T knocking Rocky around in Rocky III. Paul
could only laugh as I pinched and punched myself awake.

..... We pulled in to Rifle around 4 AM. Pitch black and still sprinkling, we
drove the canyon and caught our first glimpses of the insanity that is Rifle.
Huge limestone walls sprouted from either side canyon. Many running over
several hundred feet tall. Massive caves dotted both sides as we drove to the
campsites. Unfortunately for us, this trip was funded on a shoe lace and a
prayer, so we found the $10 a night camp fee a little high. I had heard of free
unimproved camping above the park in National Forest Land, but as we drove up
we found that all the camping was $7 a night unless you drove 5 miles up shitty
4-wheel drive roads. We turned around and decided to just pull over on the side
of the road outside of the park, and just crash in the back of the truck.

..... Around 7AM, I woke to severe rain. It was pouring again, and all our shit
was getting soaked. Weary with fatigue, we stamped our feet to stay awake and
decided we had better find a place to pitch our tents. Driving back down the
road we found a fairly sheltered pull out that had a grove of trees that would
keep our tents hidden from view. We pitched the tent and crashed around 10AM.

...... Late that afternoon we managed enough motivation to drive back in to
Rifle and buy a annual pass to the park. It was worth it considering itís $4
a day/car just to park inside of park boundaries, and it can save you $3 a
night on camping. By the time we drove back out to the park, we had just enough
time to sample our 1st routes. We hiked the Upper Ice Caves trail till we found
an easy 5.8, 5.9, and 5.10a. All 3 were excellent routes, and a great
introduction to the phenomena called Rifle Polish. I knew limestone polished,
but to really experience true polish, a trip to Rifle is truly in order. Holds
that you could hang on all day on granite, seem forearm draining when you have
to squeeze with all your might just to hang on. If you want to know what its
like, go grab a bar of soap, run it under the faucet a few times, and then
squeeze it as hard as you can. Thats about as close a Rifle Polish as you can
get. Now yes, this is only when its 100 % humidity, but as mentioned earlier it
rained every day we were at Rifle!

..... As we pulled our rope off the last route, it started raining again. We
hightailed it to the Arsenal. If your familiar with Rifle you know why, but for
the rest the Arsenal is a gigantic overhang amphitheater that is so tall and
steep that it shelters your car if you park in front of it. It is also the
unanimous vote for the focus of the Rifle climbing scene. We found about 50
people all huddled in the cave, all the while 3 people were still on their
route of choice climbing away. It so steep that 100 foot long routes stay dry
in the middle of pouring rain! Paul decided to indulge himself on his primary
goal on the trip, drink as much beer as possible.





The Arsenal

...or simply put, shit you will never see in SoCal!


--------------------------------------------------------------------------
------
..... Fortunately after talking to some of the locals, we found out that good
free camping was to be found at what became affectionately known as the "Dirt
Pile". The Dirt Pile is an old abandoned Iridium mine. We were later to find
out that the place had barely passed the previous weeks EPA testing for
radioactivity. The camping here is on loose pack sand/clay and is REALLY messy
when it rains. This gave us the incentives we needed to give our projects "one
last burn" since we knew what fucked up conditions were waiting for us back at
the camp. Sharing our camping sites were other dirtbag delegates to the United
Nations of Climbing Bums. Three Slovenians, 1 South African, 1 Korean, 1
Oregonian (probably the strangest of them all) 1 Alabamite, 2 Texans, and
several Boulderites. It made for great conversations at night sitting around
our trash bonfire. Weird positions and wild gesturing were the norm as climbing
charades was played out to tell about the days triumphs and failures.

.....The great thing was the same guys you shared your trash fire cooked
marshmallows with, were the same guys you belayed and climbed with. This gave
us a sense of climbing scene that just canít be found in SoCal. Yeah,
sometimes Joshua Treeís drunken stupor fest can be fun, but this place seemed
to lack the attitude and spray that proliferates our scene at home. We made
great friends with Vmm, Kong, Nanut, Yanni, Klemmons, Tom, Kim, and Frog.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------
------
.....Day 2 of climbing had us seeking routes sheltered from the rain. We found
the moderates of the Sno-Cone Wall to be a great place, but quickly climbed out
the easy stuff. From here, it was decided that the Wasteland would be the
ticket. The Wasteland would be the primer wall anywhere in SoCal but here its
just another long steep wall with multiple 5 star routes. I decided to jump on
Ruckus 5.12b. This great looking climb started off steep for 3 bolts then
pulled a headwall to finish at anchor a mere 40 feet off the deck. This was a
shorter route for Rifle and I didnít want to get in over my head on my 2nd
day. Turns out this probably wasnít the best of climbs to choose. Frog told
us that 2 huge blocks had fallen off the route the day before and therefore it
may be harder. It didnít phase me as I decided to get on it anyways. Fun
steep moves led to a heinous dropknee crux that was murder. Other than that,
the rest of the moves flowed smoothly, but remained pumpy. It was rather
humbling to watch Joe Smoe Coloradian walk up and ask to warm up on a route I
was projecting, but it was definitely good motivation. I guess the all time low
was when tiny Kim (who shared our campsite and mustíve weighed in at whopping
105 1bs) practically on sighted it. Oh well! I worked the climb over the next
few days, either falling at the crux or doing the crux but pumping out a few
moves later. The many 1 hang ascents were accompanied with my appropriate
amount of warbling. I gave up around day 6 admitting my defeat and hanging my
head in shame.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------
------
.....The other routes we sampled were great as well. We tried Fossil Family
5.12a at night by headlamp, and The Ivory Tower 5.11a (being Rifles most
notoriously greasy and sandbag slabs) in the middle of the rain. Down time was
spent at the Arsenal or the Wicked Cave watching badass hardmen (or hard women)
sending 13s and 14s. Aaron Shamy sent Yellow Card 5.14a, and we watched him do
Zulu 5.14b with 1 hang. Jason Campbell showed up on the last day and we watched
him warm up by onsighting Debaser 5.12d. SICK SICK SICK!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------
------
.....About Day 7, we had had enough! We decided to opt for a drier place and
went back to the Dirt Pile to pack up. In a rather prophetic gesture when the
last bag and tent was loaded into the truck, it started to rain torrentially.
We drove by the Arsenal one last time to shout our good-byes at the huddled
masses seeking shelter from the storm and bailed. The plan was simple, head
towards American Fork until we were able to buy a paper showing Salt Lakeís
weather. Sure enough about half way there (it rained the whole time), we pulled
over at a gas stop and bought a paper. Salt Lake was forcasted for rain, so we
decided to head for the driest place on Earth, Arizona! Both Paul and I had
taken several trips to Jackís Canyon and had never been rained on. It had to
be the ticket.

.....We pulled into Jacks around 3 AM and were met with a cloudless night sky
so full of stars you didnít need a headlamp to see. I was so tired from the
drive a emptied out the back of the truck and just threw my bag down and
crashed. I awoke when the blazing sun soon heated my bag to 1000 degrees and I
began to know what Hotpockets feel like in the microwave. We set up camp and
tents and decided to head down to the canyon for a few easy routes.

.....If you havenít been to Jacks, you just donít know what your missing.
Forget all the bad crap youíve heard and go check the place out for yourself.
The rock is perfect! Its a sandstone/limestone mix loaded with pockets and
every other type of hold one can imagine. Even after visiting many other great
U.S. spots like (Rifle, Smith, AF, JT, Yosemite, Owens, Queen Creek,
Charleston, Mt Clark, Red Rocks, Mt Lemmon, etc...) Jacks is STILL my favorite
place to climb. The scenery and setting are magnificent. Your far enough away
from the city and crowds that on a rest day you can sit in shady comfort and
not hear another person for hours on end.

.....Unfortunately for the local Arizona residents, we brought the rain with
us. It wasnít quite as bad as Rifle, but it did rain every day but one for
about an hour or 2 in the afternoon. Fortunately, the rock there dries out so
fast, that within 30 minutes of it raining, the rock is perfectly dry. This
made for great forced resting breaks. The ratings at Jackís did seem alittle
soft, but that was in comparison to the slicked up snotfests at Rifle. I
quickly dispatched an old nemesis climb Wildcard 5.12a, that had shut me down
last year. Next up was Total Lack Of Jump 5.12a in 5 tries. Feeling good and
with some solid 5.11 onsights I was priming for something alittle harder. I
selected Trick Or Tweek 5.12d. This awesome route is on the main wall and
sports a devilish mono crux after some steep cranking. The final headwall is
great and a real pumper. I felt pretty good on it after working it a few days,
but alas it will have to wait until the next trip for the RP.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------
------
.....On rest days, we checked out one of the new areas around Jacks called the
Asylum. This 200 yard long wall sports overhung routes as long as 13 bolts in
100 + feet with routes up to 5.14! Jacks backwater status will be a thing of
the past when this place has itís public debut. Speaking of new areas, Paul
and I ran into Jim Steagall (he helped establish damn near 90% of the routes at
Jacks) and he told us about 3 or 4 new areas that are mind boggling. The new
guide should be out in the spring, and he promises the new areas will blow even
the hard core away!

.....Day 11 came quicker than we could ever imagine, and it was soon back into
the truck for the final 6 hour drive back home. We pulled into SoCal at 4 AM
and were officially exhausted. Two days of sleep were required before I was
even able to get out of bed. Another great trip was logged in the memory banks,
but only wetted the appetite for another!


roughster


Aug 23, 2003, 6:11 AM
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up :)


roughster


Aug 23, 2003, 1:50 PM
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I have noticed that trip reports get no love from the RC.Com crowd. Very strange :?: :?: :?:


alpnclmbr1


Aug 23, 2003, 2:00 PM
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The people that hang here on weekends tend to be a different crowd, during the week you would of gotten more of a response.
I read your TR and found it to be a well told story. I particularly like that you had a more realistic view of jack's then the common theme of "it's cool to rag on jack's"
keep it up, it is better than the average stuff on this site.
d.


roughster


Aug 23, 2003, 5:49 PM
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True, maybe I'll save some bumps for Monday heheh :)


roughster


Aug 25, 2003, 12:30 PM
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ok its monday, last bump


bluto


Aug 25, 2003, 1:18 PM
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Nice work, that's the first honest portrayal of Jack's I have read on this site. But to be honest I am glad Climbing Mag. slammed it, bad publicity means less crowds. :)


crackaddict


Aug 25, 2003, 1:53 PM
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In reply to:
If you havenít been to Jacks, you just donít know what your missing. Forget all the bad crap youíve heard and go check the place out for yourself. [quote/]

True! Alot better than people say. Very pretty area too!

In reply to:
.....Unfortunately for the local Arizona residents, we brought the rain with
us.


Dont ever worry about bringing rain to AZ. We welcome it! Besides like you said, it does'nt last that long.

In reply to:
Paul
and I ran into Jim Steagall (he helped establish damn near 90% of the routes at
Jacks) and he told us about 3 or 4 new areas that are mind boggling. The new
guide should be out in the spring, and he promises the new areas will blow even
the hard core away!


So are you gonna let the rest of us know where they are?


roughster


Aug 25, 2003, 1:58 PM
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Crack:

Actually the reason why the most prominent of the new areas hasn't received press it is invlives crossing private property to get to the canyon. I will probably even get hate mail for even bring it's very existence to light.

I am not sure if Jim has rethought his guidebooks, especially since we are talking this TR was written in 2000. Also, I have talked to a few other peeps that have eluded to the "newer" areas as well.

I guess just ask around. Best place to get beta is by hanging around at the Asylum and be cool. Your guarenteed to hook up with people in the know from there.


crackaddict


Aug 25, 2003, 2:10 PM
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No biggy. Access is an important issue. I have also heard that the FS was trying to stop anymore development in Jacks as well.

Not a problem as there are tons of new areas in AZ to be had.

Nice read though. Thanks Roughster!


ambler


Aug 25, 2003, 2:22 PM
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Nice report of your trip. Interesting how the rain (flooding the freeway, mucking your camp, pouring down at the Arsenal), not the climbing, became the most memorable part.

Response to trip reports can be thin here, compared with dopey questions and trolls. But if you've got stories to tell, by all means keep writing!


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