Gap: Building Trails and Building Skills

HMI Gap, sport climbing, moab, adventure and conservation, climbing stewardship

Written by: Flynn and Haley

Hello from snowy Leadville! We just arrived back after a pleasant month spent under the desert sun.

Since our last blog post, we recently spent 4 days working with the Front Range Climbing Stewards to improve the Scarface Wall approach trail in Indian Creek. Despite temperatures getting to the single digits, we persevered and continued to move big boulders up and down steep hillside with umph! Then we dug big holes and placed said boulders in said holes, creating very sturdy stairs.

We finished service at about 2 or 3pm every day and spent the afternoon exploring local attractions, including the petroglyphs on Newspaper Rock, the Six Shooter towers, and plants in the wash behind our camp site. One day after service we hiked up to Scarface Wall and spent the afternoon climbing. It was satisfying to see our hard work pay off on the approach.

We then moved camp to the Big Bend Campground where we focused specifically on sport climbing and multi-pitch, with a little bit of trad thrown in. Everyday we split into different small groups and travelled to different crags based on what each person wanted to focus on that day. A couple of our personal highlights were topping out the “drip castle” tower of Ancient Art and going night bouldering near our campsite.

On Anchient Art, we climbed a few pitches up to the last bolted anchor where we convened on a very crowded ledge and then took turns walking out the “boardwalk,” a thin ledge that led to the summit spire. At the end of the boardwalk is a large blob of rock, “the diving board”, that sticks out and requires either belly flopping or getting your foot above your head to get on top of it. Once on top, there were only a few moves to the summit, a tiny platform that we stood on. We could see the rest of the Fisher Towers and Castleton Tower in the distance. The descent was a thrilling 70 meter rappel. 

On our last night in Moab, a group of us went bouldering in the dark. We made it to the boulder guided only by the moon and our headlamps with high hopes of sending a project everyone had been working on. However, no matter the outcome, the group was stoked to be climbing one last time. For about thirty minutes everyone there fought against the boulder. We called it a night as the cold creeped in, returning to our sleeping bags for one last time in Utah.

Other highlights of the week included first sport and trad leads, first multi-pitch route, and first lead falls, as well as delicious baked goods and endless laughter. And now, here we are after a long drive and thorough cleaning of our gear, lacking some skin on our finger tips, but enjoying pizza in a laundromat and reminiscing on the great adventures we had.