I checked my knot—through two, two in, two out, a clean and sturdy figure-8—and sank into the heady reality of my present. Bamboo stalks clacked with the breeze and dried leaves clattered noisily to the forest floor. The swirling limestone cliffs towered above me, as much home to wax bees and honeycombs as tufas and overhangs. An anthropologist and lifelong wanderer, I always figured one day I’d wind up in Thailand. But I’m quite certain I never imagined I’d eat my best meal from a metal to-go bowl, lounging on a hand-built bamboo shelter beneath Crazy Horse Buttress. I never thought I’d establish my own ritual, each summer stemming up a flawless vermillion corner beside a painting of the Virgin of Guadalupe in southern Colorado. And I never pictured myself, suspended from webbing 100 feet in the air, wind gusting and sun blasting as I belayed my partner up the next pitch of soft Vegas sandstone.
|Following on my first multipitch route in Vegas.|
|Leading Crynoid Corner (5.7) at Colorado's Shelf Road.|
- Chalk bag
- Belay device
- Rope (70m is ideal for most single-pitch, and make sure it’s dynamic)
- ATC (if your belay device is something different)
- Rack (14 quick draws should get you up most sport climbs; a trad rack will require a much larger investment in an assortment of nuts, cams and other gear)
- A system for clipping into your anchor when cleaning.
- Don’t top-rope on fixed gear. Use your own anchor!
- Try to rappel off once you’ve cleaned the anchor.
- Respect the sanctity of the outdoor experience—this typically means no radios, making sure kids or dogs don’t harass other climbers, things like that.
- Leave no trace: Pick up your trash and use designated toilets when they’re around. If they’re not, bring a shovel and dig a hole.