Friends with (Climbing) Benefits: MT Lemmon Style👊🏼

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I am just days away from heading off to yet, another climbing adventure, with the child on top of this rock with me. And, I realized that I have not posted about all the fun we had the first 4 months of this year 😳 I am so behind on my blog!!

One reason I haven’t blogged about this period of time is that I had soooo many pictures to sort through! Much like the trip I made this time last year, with my blog buddies in Montreal. I have been blessed with an abundance of riches 😊 Just like then, I had to sit down and force myself to pick the best moments out of a mountain of happy memories. So, here it goes!

Our first stroke of good fortune was that our son, Ryan, decided to spend the winter months with us in Tucson. He stayed from January to April, which meant I had an outdoor climbing buddy at all times 😆 The second was that our dirtbag pals (a dirtbag is a person who lives in a van, traveling from one climbing area to another for weeks, months or years at a time) made a stop at our place! Joan and Dean are on a mission to climb and visit every national park and climbing area in the US🌟

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Left to right: Dean, Dennis, Joan, Ryan and me

There is no way I could document every time we were out cragging. Often there was some subset of this group out, and with other local folks mixed in, climbing, biking, or at an acro yoga class! This was an intense period of physical activity to be sure! So I will attempt to hit the highlights.

One of the earliest trips up the mountain involved all five of us. We made our way up to Goosehead rock, which has several routes of varying difficulty. This is a mile past Windy Point, as you head up MT Lemmon.

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Dean belaying Dennis

 

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Dennis is on the left, at the top and Ryan is leading a harder route on the right

 

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Joan and Ryan met while working at Vertical World, and have been serious buds ever since!

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Joan on the left, cruising past me on the right 😂

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Yes, Dean is wearing shorts even though there is snow on the ground. That’s just how he rolls👊🏼

As you can see, we had a colder than usual winter in Tucson this year. More snow and rainfall than usual. This meant that we had to get out whenever we could get a weather break. And, sometimes we had to head indoors to get in a climb.

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Dean is patiently waiting for me to figure out this 5.10c lead beta, he looks thrilled! 😂

We did get another chance to make it up to the Windy Point climbing area. Unfortunately Dennis was working and Joan was not feeling well, so it was just Ryan, Dean and myself. I say it was unfortunate because this was, by far, my favorite day of climbing😊 The sun was out and we hit up two of the most picturesque climbing areas on the mountain.

We set our sights on Hitchcock Pinnacle Rock first. I have wanted to get on top of this the moment I laid eyes on it last year 😍

We had the area to ourselves, and made a simple plan. Ryan would go up first, leading the easiest route on the right (5.7) and then belay up me, and then Dean.

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A huge thank you to Dean for these great photos! I will cherish these always❤️

Now it was Dean’s turn!

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Of course, summit selfies at the top of all of us!

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Dean is King of the World! 

 

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I love the reflections in Ryan’s glasses

 

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There is another route, a slightly harder (5.10a) on the left side that we wanted to try. So we rappelled down and went back up! Check out the right side of the tower, see that ledge? near the base? The climber has to pull over that roof.

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After we finished playing here😆 The guys wanted a bigger challenge. We made our way a short distance to the other side so they could climb Steve’s Arete.

This is a gorgeous climb and a 5.11a, not something I wanted to try, so I just took the pics

I believe that Dean went first

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then Ryan

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Both of these guys are strong climbers, and they struggled at times to send it. When Dean said “now it’s DeeDee’s turn”, I said “pass”! Next time😲 maybe.

Of course, they were interested in the harder route on the right, “Green Ripper” is a 5.12b and it took Ryan several tries to send it, but he got it!

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You can see his climb here: on his youtube channel! Its a three minute video.

After this the weather turned cold again, so our next two trips out had to be at lower elevation on the moutain. We made our way to La Milagrosa canyon a couple times, which required passing through some water. Off came the shoes😂

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The first time found us at a crag called “the beach”, mainly because it is always in the sun☀️ Ryan spent a long time working an overhanging 5.12, he came close but didn’t quite send it. It did make for some pretty pics!

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The second time we hit up the “Main Wall” I really liked this area, even managed a few lead climbs myself 👊🏼

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Joan on lead, with Dean belaying

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the belayer does not seem to be paying attention!

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Ryan’s happy to get this 5.12b “Ecstatic Electricity”

The weather shut us down for a few days for climbing. So Joan and I did some partner yoga🧘🏻‍♀️because of course, who wouldn’t!

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Did I mention that Joan is crazy!! I guess I am too 🤪

Our last climb was back at Windy Point, but Hawk Rock this time

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Dean in space

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While the guys worked on a couple routes, Joan and I climbed up the back way to watch from the top. We also wanted to take a look at a slack line that was set up on a nearby peak.

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It was such a windy day, we never saw anyone try to cross this!

 

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Dean topping out

 

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I’m just goofing around here, but the rock was a little sharp 😉

After a few other climbs, here and there, Joan and Dean departed for Red Rocks in Vegas. They would be meeting up with Ryan while he worked his way northward. It was sad to see them go, but we are all planning on climbing again next winter.

It was time for our daughter, Alex, to visit for the weekend. Alex, Ryan and I went to “Crags Against Humanity” which is low on the mountain and very easy to get to from the car. We went so Alex could get in a few climbs, and to help Ryan train for a rock rescue drill that he needed to perform at his AMGA rock guide II course that he would be taking at Red Rocks.

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Alex’s first lead at MT Lemmon

 

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My turn to lead

 

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Ryan “rescuing” me, I am supposed to be unconscious! 

 

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And I am saved!!

So now I am caught up!! Until Monday (three days from now) when Ryan and I start climbing at Smith Rock State Park. We went as a family two years ago! I wrote a post about it but I haven’t been back, until now.

So excited, and lucky, to get to climb with my kids💕

If you want to learn more about Joan and Dean’s adventures, you can find them on Instagram @love2dirtbag

Ryan is on IG @rtillson_  and he posts climbing videos at youtube: Ryan Tilley

OR click here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6kqvEAyZZHVkIjfLCRo0Yw

 

 

 

 

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Climbing and Hiking in Red Rock Canyon, Vegas Baby! 🧗‍♀️❤️

Meet the climbers😊

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Climbing trips are a fluid affair. So many factors have to come together to make these happen. Weather changes, people pop in and out, skin rips and muscle aches can get in the way…. You get the idea.

I tried to remember all this, and temper my excitement for this adventure. But how can you not get excited? Look at the beauty of this place! 😊

The genesis for this trip began months earlier, when our son, Ryan, told us he would be joining us in Tucson for the winter months. Of course, we would be climbing in Arizona, but what else could we do? Ryan had the answer to that! Red Rock Canyon is only a six-hour drive away, and just outside of Las Vegas, so plenty of campsites, hotels and restaurants in the nearby area. So, the planning began…..

 

While Dennis and I drove from Redmond, WA to the Rose bowl in Pasadena, Ryan and his buddy, Elle, would head directly to Arizona (with our cat in their car 😼), and we would all meet up at our house, in Tucson.

Ryan and Elle spent a couple of days at our house, recuperating from the 22+ hour, marathon drive, with Monti. By the way, the cat did great in the car 😲. We were all shocked by that! Which gave the three of us an opportunity to do a little climbing at MT Lemmon.

The following day, Ryan and Elle set out for Red Rocks. Dennis and I would not leave for another couple of days, this gave Ryan and Elle an opportunity to climb without us slowing them down! They are both very strong, and fast climbers!

Finally, we packed our car and set out, I was getting very excited🤩

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We arrived later in the day, as the sun was beginning to lower. Ryan wanted to send his project, a route called “Yin and Yang“, which turned out to be a 5.11a trad, crack climb found in Gateway Canyon.

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Look at this monster!

The hike to get there was rather steep, but Dennis and I welcomed the chance to move around, after the 6 hour drive. But, when we saw this….😳 gulp!  Ryan asked me to film his attempt.

The hike into Gateway Canyon was quite pretty.

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And Dennis found a great spot to watch Ryan climb

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As the light was fading, it was time for his best shot 🤞

 

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Ryan preparing to climb

Here are a few shots of him sending this!

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And the full video, which is 4 minutes long

The rest of us hiked to the top to check out the anchor Ryan had to build.

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That’s my foot at the top, looking back down to the start of the climb

Pretty cool, huh?! This will never be me 😂 We all hiked out and had a good dinner!

The next day, it was our turn to lay hands on the sandstone, for the first time! We went to Cannibal Crag in the Calico Basin area. The route I am on is “A Man in Every Pot”. It is only a 5.8, but my first lead on this rock. I would eventually repeat this climb again on the last day of the trip, and was much more efficient on it 😊

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I set the rope for Dennis so he could top rope it.

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Elle took a turn on one of the nearby 5.11 routes

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Dennis and I climbed another of the lower rated routes

Then we went around the corner, to the sunny side of the rock-it was a cool day with plenty of wind.😬

These routes on this side were harder, so Ryan and Elle had projects to work on.

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This was also Elle’s last day 😔 Ryan took her to the airport while Dennis and I played around on Caustic, a 5.11b route that we could top rope. We gave it a couple tries but did not send it. Next time!!

Since Dennis and I were on our own for the afternoon, we went back for lunch and then decided some hiking would be in order.

You do not have to be into climbing to enjoy this park. There are tons of hikes, from very easy to quite difficult, to give you an amazing experience😄

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As you can see by the clouds building up behind us, weather in the Las Vegas area was preparing to change. We would stay dry through this hike, but forecasters were calling for rain, pretty much any day now.

We made our way to the visitor center, which was basically empty at this time of week and day. We did get our first wild burro sighting!

We toured around the visitor center, but got bored, fast!

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We needed to get out and hike!

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panoramic shot from the visitor’s center

We chose, what we would later come to understand, as the least attractive hike from the visior center. Still, not too shabby!

The next day was “arrival day”, Andy Nelson would be joining us in the afternoon. Since we needed to pick him up from the airport, and the threat of rain was in the air, we opted for another hike, which is faster than a day of climbing. We did a few miles in Pine Creek Canyon.

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We split up here. Ryan and Andy went out to climb for the second half of the day, Dennis and I decided to give them some space. We did want to climb however, so we went to a nearby, indoor gym.

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This is an old school gym, taped routes, but lots of them! We concentrated on bouldering and treated it as a training day. We met up with Andy and Ryan for dinner and said good-bye to Dennis, as he was driving home, to Tucson, early the next day😔.

The following morning, I was on my own. Andy and Ryan were off to do a long, multi pitch route, and I would meet them later in the afternoon to climb (if the weather held out 🤞). I went for a run, which turned out to be a good cross training moment!

After a late lunch, the three of us returned to Cannibal Crag for some sport climbing.

I really only had time for one lead climb, but I was happy to get out there!

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I was surprised by this run out at the top! The route, “Caliban”, had three bolts and then quite a bit of unprotected climbing to the anchor. It was only a 5.8,  but still. A fall here would have been a decent drop, and a fair pendulum swing 😲, but I sent it.

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Ryan pretty much took the rest of the daylight working on his project, “Fear This Sport”, a 5.12b/c climb. Andy was there for him!

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Ryan did not get this one. And, we were running out of daylight!

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It was actually quite dark, and cold at this point

We hiked out with head lamps and crashed early that night.😂

The following, and last full day, was difficult as the weather was really unpredictable and we were all feeling a little sore from all the activity of the last few days. We started out with a multi pitch in mind, but then aborted when we saw the massive drainage ditches that would control any flash flooding that may occur.

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Andy checking out our options!

This ended up being another hike, but with full gear😬

Off to another, safer area, at least from a weather perspective! Dog Wall had several, not simple routes. Andy started off looking for something easy, but we never found it😂

Then Ryan dove in!

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As did Andy!

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I was just a cold belay bitch at this point!!😂😂😂

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And photographer,

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This is nearby, Circus Wall. I would like to come back to this one!

We ate lunch and went back to Cannibal Crag for a few last pitches, just as the rain drops began falling.

That’s when the rain hit, hard! Ryan and I decided to end our trip early because sandstone requires a full 24 hours to dry out before you can resume climbing. And, the forecast was for several days of rain.

We had one last half day, so Andy, Ryan and I went back to Red Rocks Climbing Center for the rainy morning.

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While the guys lead, I bouldered and traversed. Another good training session for me😊

Even though it rained, we did get a special treat! Alex Honnold and Brad Gobright were both there, training!!! 🤩 So cool to see climbing celebrities. And, no I did not get pictures of them, I would never bother them that way. I guess you will just have to believe me💕

Our last official order of business, before driving away, was to have lunch at one of Andy’s favorite restaurants.

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Momofuku is a Japanese restaurant in The Cosmopolitan Casino, located on the strip. It was my first time eating authentic ramen. Wow, pretty good stuff 😋

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We all ordered the same dish! I really liked it, and would definitely go again😄

Same with Red Rocks! There are so many climbs, and so little time! Thank you Ryan, Dennis, Elle and Andy, for sharing this adventure with me! Love you all❤️

Sally’s Baking Addiction: December, 2018 Challenge: Gingerbread House🎄🎅🏼🌟

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So, once again, I am getting this post in just under the deadline 😂. Honestly, I should be packing for our trip south, but I really want to keep my Sally streak alive! This past month has been very busy with holiday merriment, visiting with people I won’t see for several months and climbing with the kids. All great stuff, but I need to get back to blogging now💕

 

This month’s Challenge was to make a gingerbread house from scratch. Sally provided a wonderful video and great recipes for the gingerbread, frosting and royal icing. 

My daughter and I have been making gingerbread houses for years. My son was there too, eating all the candy and pointing out all our flaws😉. So this time around, I really wanted to challenge myself to construct something that truly reflected our family. So, what could be better than an outdoor climbing gym at the North Pole 🌟

My daughter and I headed off to the Candy and Cake store with a rough plan. We knew this would take several days and that we would most likely have to try somethings that would not end up working, but that was ok. We purchased gum paste, fondant, templates, molds and edible paints, we set to work on the figures first. 

my daughter made the top row, I made the Santa and last elf. 

I love these penguins, but flippers do not make for good climbers😂 We decided that they would be working the front desk!

That was pretty much the first day! We stopped here to allow the gum paste creatures a chance to dry out.

The next day my daughter was called into work, and I was on my own. I began painting these little guys. 

I added some elf ears and harness, safety first!
Two of the elves are on top rope and needed harness, while the middle one is bouldering, so he didn’t need one😊
 
 
I also starting baking the gingerbread. I made one batch of Sally’s recipe and got lucky! I was able to get all the pieces I wanted, with a little leftover for some tree shapes.

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The ginger bread is delicious! The little extra trees and bears were quite tasty! The walls need to be transformed into climbing structures. This is where the fondant came into plays. I dyed some white fondant and made marbled colors and one dark “wall”. The fondant was rolled thin and “glued” to the gingerbread with the buttercream recipe.

 

You can see the structured wall on the right, (below) the fondant was pressed onto a brick template. The wall on the left is using the marbling effect only.

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The wall on the right (below) has the marveling effect and pressed with the template. Since this is the bouldering wall, we also wanted to make extra features which was done using Rice Krispies! 

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Once the fondant had time to dry, it was time to affix the elves. They also needed ropes and holds wich we made from gum paste and fondant, and painted.

Then I had to turn my attention to the front of the gym! We needed a desk, a sign and the penguin workers! 

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I struggled, so hard with the penguin eyes!!! Oh my God! I tried paint, made them out of fondant, nothing looked even half way decent! I ended up buying sugar eyes, and they look stoned😳 

I do like the name of the gym, “Slay It”, get it?? Sleigh=slay=crush it! I am so clever😉

The desk is made out of Rice Krispies too and covered with pink fondant that was pressed onto a brick template sheet. The smaller trees have frosting decorations and the larger trees….

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So, after 5 days, a ton of trial and error, and the messiest kitchen you could imagine..

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I had to take a panoramic shot to fit it all in one frame! It is more of a diorama than a house, but I am pretty happy with it 😅

 

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I had to add some mats, safety first!!

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It is outdoors, so need some snow❄️

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Another awesome Sally Challenge in the books! I think I will just do the normal challenge next month!! No extra work for me😄 

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday 🌟