The approach works it’s way through a flat plain, up a 100 ft lip to a Mesa, then on to a longer scree slope, about 200 ft tall, where the base of the actual climb starts. The path is clearly delineated by an entirely reasonable spacing of obvious cairns and the approach took about an hour. Upon arrival at the start of the first pitch, we discover two things. First, clouds have rolled and the wind has picked up, shifting us from a wonderful and breezy morning to a frigid afternoon, and second, another group had approached from the opposite side and just gotten on the first pitch. It becomes a cold 40 minute wait.
As soon as the party ahead clears, Paige starts up the first pitch, with Brian attached to a proudly placed 5, giving her a belay. By the time ever we relay that Paige is indirect to an anchor, the wind now making communication all but impossible, Brian’s hands are shaking uncontrollably from the cold. We decide to try to make things move as quickly as possible. He heads up the first pitch, I give him a little space, the I start leading up for my trio. The climb itself is an easy 5.6 with great protection, but it meanders a long way, eventually wrapping almost entirely around a boulder. The groves worn in the sandstone from previous ropes are testament to the absurdity of the rope drag along the route, even significantly extending each placement. By the time I get to the anchor Paige had set up, I have to haul on the two tailing lines like a sailor hauling in the main during a storm. Brian offers a helpful laugh at my struggle as he belays Paige up what turned out to be the middle of the second pitch.
It was a fantastic day.