At the end of October 2012 Hilary and I planned to enjoy a Halloween get-together with friends on the summit of Castleton Tower in Moab, Utah. Hilary and I were climbing the classic Kor-Ingalls route while other friends planned on climbing the North Chimney and North Face routes, meeting at the summit for snacks, dancing, and old-fashioned goofiness. As fate would have it though, a climber from a party below took a substantial ledge-fall resulting in a rescue 225 feet up Castleton Tower.
The weather has been warming in Salt Lake City and spring is definitely at our doorstep. We’ve had several days of warm sunshine, birds chirping, and tulips popping up in the garden amidst quick-changing weather involving wind, rain, and even snow. On March 31, Hilary took a much needed break from school work and we climbed Spring Fever on The Thumb in Little Cottonwood Canyon. The Thumb is one of the longest rock climbs in the canyon; our route was 9 full pitches and 3 shorter ones. Spring Fever is a great route on The Thumb that doesn’t see the ‘traffic’ that S-Direct or the Standard Thumb receive, leaving you with even more adventure. It’s also not as sustained as S-Direct though the crux moves are more challenging, going in at 5.10a/b.
Mountains are not fair or unfair, they are just dangerous. -Reinhold Messner
While on a guide training course with American Mountain Guides Association, I was told a very pertinent story for guides and climbers alike: At the edge of a glacier in Canada, a group of aspirant guides were discussing mitigating objective hazards. Meanwhile, an independent party of two climbers passed the group of guides and proceeded to follow the “trail” leading directly under an impressive section of seracs, which are large blocks of hanging ice waiting to collapse at random times. Still under these widow-makers, the independent party came onto a flat section of firm snow and stopped to take a snack break. Bewildered, the aspirant guides commented to one another about the blatant recklessness of this scene. The instructor calmly explained “These climbers will never return to this glacier and it will likely be several years before they even return to another. You, as guides, on the other hand will return again and again to pass under these same seracs, continually loading a bullet in the chamber and playing a game of Russian Roulette.”