Saturday, April 18, 2009

One of my favorite places

The whole point of this blog is to share my stories and photos from my travels so I figure it probably wouldn't hurt to tell a few stories from over the years and not just concentrate on the new stuff. A theme you will start to pick up on in my tales is that the conditions are never optimal, I am of the firm opinion that the more miserable the conditions the better the story is.
One such trip was my first trip to the Black Hills in South Dakota for three days of bouldering with three buddies. We decided to leave about 5 pm on friday and drive through the night since there were four of us to handle the driving. At about 3 am I am driving through Rapid City, SD  Jake is navigating and keeping me awake. All of the stop lights are flashing yellow so I am just taking it slow. Out of no where Jake tells me to turn left so I make the turn from the left lane instead of the turning lane since no one was around or so I thought. As soon as I made the turn lights went on behind us, I had failed to see the two different cop cars that were laying in wait. Come to find out that even though the lights were flashing yellow I missed that the turn light was red. Leigh who was in the back seat had woken up by this point which is good since I was driving his car. We told the cops where we came from, where we were going and that we were looking for a place to get off the road and get some food. Luckily the only thing the cop gave me was directions to an all night truck stop. After breakfast we hit the road again an hour later we had made it to Hill City, SD and to Sylvan Lake State Park just in time to scramble to the top of a cliff to catch the sunrise. We climbed till around 2 pm and headed off to set up camp. Once the tents were up it started to rain, hiding out in the tent it wasn't long before the night of no sleep caught up to me, I was out. The next two days were a blur of cold October days and nights but the sending was perfect, I even managed my first 5.10 lead, course none of us knew what the grades were guesses were as close as we had. The last night there we decided to get a room which proved to be a smart idea. It got so cold that night that the LCD screen in my DVD player I brought with froze, now it only plays in black and white. 
Two years later I made it back with my friend Aaron. I had planned a big project for that trip, I had about eight people lined up to go but about a week before everyone bailed out except for Aaron so we went anyway. This time around was in May so the weather was great but Aaron ended up coming down with the stomach bug his kids had when we left. But even that didn't stop him from sending V7s with ease. In all the years I have been climbing Aaron is probably the most talented climber I have ever seen, great blend of movement and power. The best part of the 2006 trip was meeting a climber by the name of Peter Lev. He used to guide for Exum and was now retired. He did a slideshow the night we met him, all of the images and stories were about his exploits in the Himalayas and other far flung destinations on government sponsored trips in the 60's and 70's. Back when we had to beat the Russians when ever we could. He told Aaron and me about a climb he did in Minnesota where they used a the steering column of his VW bus as an anchor to repel to the bottom of the cliff.

This guys name is Luke, met him on the 2006 trip with Aaron.
                                                                     Aaron 2006

Aaron in 2006

                                                                    Aaron 2004

                                                     Jake on a possible first ascent 2004

                                                             Bouldering right in camp.


                                                      Leigh warming up before a climb.

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