Friday, March 11, 2011

Quadzilla (Arkansassy or Bust)...

The weekend conspired to be yet another adventure back to my roots of Rock Climbing. Yes I love to ride bikes, but I have to tell ya; the view from the saddle vs. the view from a summit obtained by ascending vertical rock is a little bit different - in a big way.

With our freakishly random Kansas City weather dampening any hopes of dry trail, I was psyched to get out with the old crew and head down to one of the many awesome sandstone crags that Arkansas has to offer. Friday night after work was our planned departure time. Beej, Silent Killer, Jimbo and I met at Tall Bitch’s house to load up the Camp Mobile van, which we officially dubbed Quadzilla. [The] rig is a beast, fully equipped for a 4x4 Moab Expedition and more. We rolled in style with a large screen DVD player, surround sound, leather and a surprisingly smooth ride. Five hours and one drug/alcohol checkpoint later, we were at the trailhead to Stack Rock.
None of us had ever been to Stack before. We gathered info from guidebooks, the inter-web and friends alike. We caught word of a nice bivy cave and a short but ‘slightly uphill’ approach and went for it. We arrived at camp at 12:30 p.m., stoked the fire and kicked back for a few beers. After relaxing a bit Beej decides that we need to summit this rock formation before we crawl into our sleeping bags for the night. Jimbo and I oblige. Stack is a band of sandstone bluff that wraps around the top of an Ozark-sized mountain-top. We circumnavigate the bluff line to find an easy way to the summit and succeed. Then we decide to hike around and check out the place. There had been an ice storm recently that had destroyed the forest. Trees were down and broken everywhere; it looked like a war-zone or a tornado had hit. A total mess which made hiking more of a bush-whacking experience, thwarted often by relentless thorns or a large hole where trees roots once grasped the earth. By the time we stroll back to camp it’s 4:30 a.m. – we are more than ready for a few hours of hard sleep.
Saturday we awoke to perfectly clear skies and 50+ degree temps. Perfect Arkansassy climbing conditions. Our group heads out for a quality day of cragging. We climbed a good half dozen classics, taking turns on lead or top-rope and called it a day late afternoon. The solitude of Stack made for a pleasurable time relaxing, tossing back a few cold ones, and of course one of my favorite past times; slacklining. Slacklining is a great way to train your mind and body, build core strength and to kill some time. Simply put, it’s like tightrope walking but rather than on a taught cable, we use a slack piece of 1” wide nylon webbing tied between two trees. Just a freaking blast and very difficult to do well! At dusk we all cooked-up some grub, did some gribblin’ and kicked back by a perfect fire in our bivy cave until our eyelids failed.
Sunday we slept in. After awaking to yet another perfect day, a pot of fine coffee (roasted by my pal Andre) and some breakfast – we head out to summit a rock formation called the Slackline Pillar. The pillar is a 70’ tall sandstone tower that can be climbed one of three ways. We of course chose the most challenging of the three, a route called Sanctified (5.10c). What a classic and exposed steep climb this turned out to be. WOW! Beej and I summit the tower and took in the awesome views of rolling hills and valleys. The Ozark Mountains are a wonder to see.

Here are a few photos and video clips of Beej climbing Sactified on the Slackline Pillar which do the route no justice. The route is so steep you end up a good 20+ feet from the base when you lower back to the ground. Freggin' Steep!

Other than watching Super Troopers during our drive back to KC, that pretty much sums up our trip. I re-dubbed ‘Quadzilla’ and now call her ‘The Church Van’. I call her this because every time I ride in that beast we are headed out on some grand outdoor adventure. The outdoors is my church, so the name seems appropriate.
Now it’s back to the grind. Awoke to snow again this morning, and the long wait for dry trail yet again…

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