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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Roda’s Signs of Spring Challenge🍀

There is a very short window for spring in Tucson. This week is in the 80Fs already and it is only March 9th. That means it will be too hot (for me anyway) to be hiking at the end of the month. So the hubby and I are out as much as possible right now. Soon there will be rattlesnakes 🐍 and scorpions 🦂 out and about too!

We set out to hike Soldier Trail on nearby Mt. Lemmon. The out and back trail is just under 6 miles, but has some hefty elevation gains. It was rated difficult with an 1800 ft. climb. Eventually, it does crest! And, that is where we recorded our evidence of spring in the desert 🌵

New growth on this prickly guy!

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And at the tips of this spiky plant!

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As with Sabino Canyon we found water flowing in Soldier Canyon! Look at that green color near the top of the steam, leading to a series of pools. That color won’t last long.

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The canyon itself is quite deep, and plants grow in any crevice they can find. This one is hanging off the edge.

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We went on our way and saw many examples of foliage that, somehow, thrives in this harsh environment.

 

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Here is an old, craggy life form, hitting a modified tree pose now 😜

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We are heading back to Sabino Canyon this weekend, to the Seven Falls Trail! Hoping to find some bigger waterfalls before they dry up for the season 🤞💕

 

The Final Family Climb in Tucson

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Our kids have left to return to their lives in Seattle. Dennis and I were surprised at just how much we miss them 😦 Of course, we expected to feel a little sad when they left, but it has hit us harder than we thought it would. Perhaps that is because we know, as parents, that the window to have them available to us is closing. They are strong, independent young adults with dreams and bright futures ahead of them, which is what all parents strive toward for their children. But now, when they are fun and capable we want more time with them, not less!

We all got to have one last climb in Mt. Lemmon. We climbed “feed the sweed” on Barnum Rock. This is an easy three pitch ascent that we all enjoyed!

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We climbed to the top of this guy!

It was a gorgeous day, really perfect for climbing! We drove to this spot in the picture above, crossed the street and started the hike up to the base.

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This is the base looking up to the top

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The view from the base looking over the valley. We started at the 6000 ft. level

Ryan led, of course, and Dennis followed. Alex and I were next.

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With four people and just as many iPhones, we had plenty of photos of everybody.

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Alex is making her way onto the top of the first pitch

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Alex is belaying me as I climb, while Ryan supervises.

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spoiler alert, I made it!

The view from the top of pitches 1 and 2

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Some pictures of us climbing pitch 3

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Ryan at the top!

Eventually, we all made our way up to Ryan. What a view!

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Dennis at the top

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Alex enjoying the view

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Ryan and I packing some gear, getting ready for the decent

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The obligatory summit selfie!

We had such an amazing time. The kids are really patient with us and chose a fun and simple climb. No one fell (I usually fall at least once!) and the rock conditions were perfect.

As I said before, Alex and Ryan are back in Seattle working and getting ready for classes. Dennis and I will be coping by heading to Manzanillo Mexico for a yoga retreat. We leave tomorrow, so don’t feel too sorry for us as we miss the kids!

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Standard Route on Mt. Lemmon

Ryan and I first climbed on Mt. Lemmon near the base, at “the wall of the flying scorpions”. This was a single pitch crag and near 1500ft. elevation. We had fun, even though I did split open a couple fingers in the process.

This time we decided to head up near the 4000ft area to a multi pitch climb named “the standard route“. This climb is located on Chimney rock and is only a 200ft climb, divided into 5 pitches. Perfect for me but pretty lame for Ryan!

It was a gorgeous day when we got to the base of the wall.

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Ryan placed his rope and some gear near the base and we “suited up”.

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There was a party of three ahead of us, so we waiting our turn. I watched the two women ahead of us in the hopes of learning the best way to maneuver the route.

Then Ryan lead up to the first anchor.

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There was a big ledge here to sit and wait for our turn on the second pitch.

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The view just keeps getting better!

This is the start of the second, and my least favorite, pitch. This is the chimney, which is just large enough for your body to squeeze into the gap. You can see the last climber in the group ahead of us as she tries to work her way up the rock face.

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Eventually, Ryan and I got up, through and over this pitch. Below is the top of the chimney and the start of my favorite pitch, number 3.

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We waited here for a bit while the other group made their way up.

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Helmet hair!

 

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Ryan was tired of waiting at this point and was ready to head up.

The view from the top of pitch 3.

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After talking with the group ahead of us, we all decided to combing pitches 4 and 5 and went to the top!

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This rock teetering on the spike, was another 1000ft or so above us. Would love to climb in that area!

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The obligatory Summit Selfie!

 

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We waited for our turn to rappel off the top.

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Ryan goes first and I wait for him to yell clear, then I head down. When we are both on the ground, we pull the rope through the anchor.

But the rope did not cooperate this time. Ryan had to climb back up and retrieve it!

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This happens sometimes! Luckily he knew what to do because that rope is $300.00, Yikes!

After a fun climb there is only one thing left to do!

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Happy Hour at Zona78!

Our next climb will be with the whole family!

And the Winner is…..

Tucson, Arizona!

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This is the view from our new backyard!

If you have been following me from the beginning, then you know that I have been searching for the answer to the question “what’s next?” The reason I began this blog was to work through this extremely tough question of transition, as we move from full time parenting into our empty nest phase.  This has been a tumultuous year, to say the least. We have been roaming around, renting houses in a variety of states and environments looking for what feels right. We have spent time in Idaho, Eastern Washington, Oregon, Kansas, Nevada and Arizona. In each place we checked out the running paths, yoga studios, golf courses and climbing gyms. We wanted a place that was not too far from our extended family, all of which are in the Seattle area, and provided the activities that we have been enjoying the past few years. There was one more big requirement: SUN!

We love Seattle, especially in the late spring, summer and early fall when the weather is fabulous and the running and climbing are to be enjoyed outside.

But then, somewhere around mid October, it gets dark and the clouds open up and begin to pour and it does not stop until May! No, I am not exaggerating!

In late February we went to Scottsdale to explore the area. Now, we have been to Sedona and Phoenix before, but this time was different. I wrote a post about some of our time there, a few others as well. But when it came time to leave, it hit me. I knew, somehow, that I could be happy in Arizona. I told my husband and we talked about nothing else the entire drive back to Seattle. By the time we got home, we were making plans to look, really look, at the potential of buying  a second home in AZ.

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We got pre approved, found a realtor and went to Tucson for the first time ever. We liked the views, the mountains, and the potential for all our outdoor activities that we have become  accustomed. We arrived in June, when it was 115°F, not exactly the best time for driving around and house hunting! Our first stop was the local indoor climbing gym. Rocks and Ropes which turned out to be perfect for us. The routes are tougher and longer than our home gym, which will keep us challenged while we are in Tucson.

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We also made our way up Mt. Lemmon, which is great for hiking, climbing and has a ski resort in the winter.

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Can’t wait to be these guys!

Near the end of our trip we managed to get in a short run (it was 80°F at 8am) at a bike/run path that runs the entirety of the downtown area.

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This path runs along a dry river bed which is full during the monsoon season

We fell in love with the place. Did I mention the views?

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This is one of the five mountain ranges around us

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Tucson is one of the premier star gazing areas in the country. There are city ordinances governing the lighting in downtown to preserve the star quality. This is another view from Mt. Lemmon

Our home was the third property we viewed on the first day of house hunting. We both knew, as soon as we set foot inside the door, that this was the place for us. It will take several months or so to know for sure if this snowbird lifestyle is right for us. In the meantime I am excited about moving in (we close in August) setting up the house and making it a home! I waited to post about the new place to make sure it would go through (you know, inspections and paperwork). I am sure there will be more posts and pictures to come once we take possession of the house.

Since today is our 27th Wedding Anniversary I decided that this would be the perfect time to talk about our new phase and life direction. Thank you for reading this far and sharing this special moment with me!