The main attraction for me was the outdoor recreational opportunities. When staring up at the Wasatch Plateau with the aspens turning yellow and just below them the maples turning red, the beauty almost inspired me to go for a hike. Then I snapped back to reality and realized I don't like hiking.
The maples in the Wasatch Range.
The second best thing about the trip was having the chance to climb in Maple Canyon. Back in 2008 while traveling through Utah, I had the chance to climb there but had to decline so that I could get to my next destination in a reasonable amount of time. Since then I have wanted to experience this unique type of rock. I say it is unique in that it looks as if some kid walked through a river bed, gathered a bunch of pebbles and rocks from the bottom of the stream and then glued them to a wall of varying angles. This conglomerate rock is very interesting to climb on. The cobble stones create this interesting puzzle of route finding and figuring out how to use certain holds. Also, you are always wondering if that cobble stone you are pulling on or standing on it going to come loose to send you and itself falling towards the ground.
The first thing I noticed when I got to Maple were the maple trees. Throughout the canyon and up on the surrounding mountains were all of these small maples trees displaying bright red fall colors. I was lucky enough to visit when then were nearing what seemed to be the peak for the fall colors. The next thing I noticed was the short approaches. There were some climbs that you could potentially belay from your vehicle. I would not recommend that due to the potential for cobble stones coming loose and breaking through your windshield. The normal approach is 5-10 minutes on easy terrain. This was quite different than what I had grown used to in North Carolina where you have to hike 15 minutes at the very least.
Since I mostly climbed with Jill who is still kind of new to climbing, we did a fair amount of moderate climbs. The first day we went to the Orangutan wall. There we did a few 5.7's and a 5.8. Jill cruised the 5.7's but struggled on the 5.8. The one thing I noticed about the climbing was that these routes were hard to read. When you have about ten options for every move but only one of them is a good option, it can take a while to find that one hold you are looking for. Later we did a few climbs at Pipeline with some of Jill's coworkers. There the climbs are harder and overhung. These climbs were easier to read but were pumpy. I ended up attempting to onsight a 5.11c only to mess up the crux move at the last bolt. I ended up getting back on it a bit later to get it clean.
Britt toproping the 5.11 with Jill belaying
Later in the week we went back after Jill got off of work. We did more moderates and once we were joined by Russ, we moved to some more difficult routes. My two favorite routes were these two 5.10's at the bridge area. They are long and slightly overhung allowing for a nice pump to develop in your forearms. I onsighted both routes and wanted more but it was getting late.
The final day of climbing was just with Jill. We ended up climbing at the Road Kill wall. There we did some fun moderates and a 5.10. The funnest route was this long 5.8. It had a boulder problem start leading to fun moderate climbing on this exposed face. Once above the trees you are rewarded with a great view of sections of the canyon across from you. It was a great way to end the climbing portion of my trip.
For the rest of the time, I hung out with Jill. On our final day, we headed up to Salt Lake to just hang out before I caught a midnight flight back to North Carolina. Salt Lake is a nice town with plenty to offer. The best part seems to be its quick access to the mountains. Just to the east, you have these rugged looking mountains that offer climbing, hiking and amazing skiing. Hopefully, one day I will be able to sample a bit of what it has to offer.
Brit and Russ's dog Eva spectating