I had started going to the local climbing gym (IBEX) with my friend and neighbor Andy in early August. I had only been climbing a few months but jumped at the chance to go climb some real rock. We left on Friday, October 28th for Horseshoe Canyon Ranch and got there in time to get in half a day of climbing. We checked into our cabin and waited for Andy's friend Bob to arrive. The three of us headed up to The North Forty and they started me off with an easy 5.6, Cotton Candy. I had gotten to the point where I could climb most 5.8's at the gym, but my first time on the rock was a bit scary. First, most of the routes are a bit higher than the gym, and secondly, getting used to the feel of the rock and being able to grab anywhere (rather than having obvious holds in from of you) took some getting used to. By the end of the weekend though I was hooked! I ended up climbing the following routes Friday before we headed to The Ozark Cafe (the main restaurant in town, and excellent food!) for dinner:
Cotton Candy (5.6) | Sundial (5.7+) | Girth Hitch (5.7+) | Groovy (5.8+) - A
Saturday we headed back up to The North Forty for the morning, starting off on some easy 5.7's. We ran into Paul from the gym and his family, as well as their friends Sarah and Roman. We shared some belays and Sarah convinced me to get on The Greatest Show on Earth, my first outdoor 5.8. I have to say I was a bit nervous, but did not want to be rude and pass on an offered belay. After all, I was climbing 5.8 at the gym so I should be able to do it here too right? It was a bit of a mental challenge, but I got to the top without any trouble...and my confidence soared! I climbed the adjacent African Herbman, also a 5.8 before Andy, Bob, and I headed over to the East Side. All in all I climbed 6 routes on Saturday with one failed attempt:
Tunnel Vision (5.7) | Little manly man (5.7+) | The Greatest Show on Earth (5.8) | African Herbman (5.8) | Rubber Chicken (5.6) | Gracie's Eight (5.8) - A | Montezuma's Toe (5.8)
Sunday Andy and Bob took me to Titanic Boulder for a photogenic climb of Squirrel Deck and then the two of them headed off to climb Gimp and Wheezer. Knowing it was well beyond my abilities I headed back to The North Forty to look for Paul and family. I found them on Cotton Candy and gave it another climb. They were packing up after that to head home but Roman was wanting to stick around and climb. Sarah agreed to leave her rope with us if we would make sure it got back to Paul. Now, I had been seeing Andy and Bob take turns leading and then "cleaning" the route. I knew I was not ready to lead, but cleaning seemed fairly straight forward and I had been trying to give it a try...to no avail. Andy and Bob wouldn't let me clean since I hadn't been taught...Sarah almost did but then asked if I had done it before. When I said no she flatly refused and I could tell there was no point arguing. Roman however was a different story. Not only did I give him my first lead belay, but he was more than willing to let me clean the route with a bit of instruction. Now I would not recommend that anyone clean routes on their first time out unless they are absolutely comfortable in their abilities and have received proper training. I was completely comfortable, though not without a bit of nerves, and was very pleased to clean Paul's Redemption! To me it was one more skill acquired and one more step to a life of outdoor adventure and the freedom that comes with it. Soon, Andy and Bob met up with us. They climbed Strongman and then Roman tackled a 5.12. I ended up with only 3 routes that day, but was worn out none the less. It was an excellent first outing...only it was too short!
Squirrel Deck (5.8+) | Cotton Candy (5.6) | Paul's Redemption (5.7) | Strongman (5.9) - A
[A = Attempted]