A rather delayed report on March

Well it’s been nearly two months since I’ve updated this blog. No real idea why it’s taken that long. Well, other than the normal – me being useless. As it has taken so long I’m going to split this into two posts and fake the date on this one.

When I left you I’d just got back from a brilliant week in Texas. Since then I’ve pretty much been back in the same old routine you’d have heard about so many times before, although at least some of the climbing has been to some new and exciting places.

It would appear that nothing exciting happened the weekend after I got back from Texas, or at least if it did it wasn’t exciting enough for me to remember now. The weekend after that I was off to Arkansas again. Saturday was spent at Candy Mountain. This was somewhere new as although the guidebook includes it in Cave Creek where I’d been before you park somewhere different and it really doesn’t feel like it’s the same place despite being on the same cliff line. I was with Carol and Seth so it was always going to be a day of doing, what for me, was some quite hard stuff. However I wasn’t really expecting to lead a 11a with only a couple of falls – even if it was a very slow lead. Did manage a single clean route – a 10a, which had a nasty wide chimney start where you had to switch to one wall and then hand traverse a break. All quite exciting given that it all happened quite close to the ground.

Sunday morning brought rain. 🙁 Eventually everyone was up and the weather was looking a little more promising so we went and got lunch while deciding what to do. The options were either a hike or climb at HCR so we started to head towards HCR as that was the way we’d need to go for either and being the decisive lot we are we still hadn’t made a definite decision. Pretty much as we were driving past HCR we finally decided to go for a walk. We hiked a section of the Buffalo River Trail before deciding to try to take a different path back. Why we all agreed to that I don’t know as it involved a river crossing. Had I mentioned it had rained a lot the night before? We found where the path seemed to cross the river but as we all appear to value our lives none of us thought it was a wise idea. however, as there seemed to be a vague path on our side of the river we decided to follow that. Eventually the cliff on one side of us and the river, on the other, decided to meet and the options were get wet, try to find our way up the cliff to the BRT or head back the way we came. It had taken us quite a while to reach where we were so none of us fancied going back, nor did we want to get wet so up it was. After some scrambling around and a short section of what was definitely solo climbing we eventually reached the main path.

The Friday after this I headed over to Kansas City for a brief evening climb at Cliff Drive. Nothing exciting to report about the climbing but I was in a small car accident on the way. I just clipped the rear of a car when they broke heavily in front of me. Accident black spot as I always see accidents there – there’s way too much traffic for the road in rush hour and it’s virtually impossible to maintain a good distance as people will take the gap. Still definitely my fault. Police turned up and I got a fine as apparently they have to fine someone if they turn up. Bizarrely I ended up making money though as my insurance company just gave me a check for the damage and as it was so minor I wasn’t planning on repairing it and they don’t require I do.

The next weekend I’d been planning a more “beginners” type trip however the weather forecast saw to it that this didn’t happen and we had some snow on the Sunday – enough to stop the indoor climbing plans I had but not enough to have any lasting effect as things quickly got back to normal. That Thursday was my birthday so after climbing indoors we went for the normal beer and tacos which turned into a rather late and drunken night for me. Oh well a good time was had.

Friday I headed down to Arkansas for my birthday trip. The plan was to go to Mount Magazine and Fern – both crags I’d not been to before. As these were in a slightly different part of Arkansas the trip down involved a different route down which included both cities and mobile reception in Arkansas which was somewhat of an oddity. I also had the novel experience of filling up my tank with exactly 20 cents of gas / petrol – turns out the gas station we’d stopped out was pretty much dry!

Saturday morning brought rain. This was as forecast and it was meant to clear up later in the day. While we were waiting for it to do so we walked round the small reservoir we were camped out before eventually heading to Mount Magazine. After we signed in at the visitors centre we headed to the climbing. After a fun descent down a wet gully we reached the crag. The climbing looked wonderful. Unfortunately it also looked rather wet as there was a waterfall over pretty much all of the crag. There were a couple of dry routes at one end and I managed to lead a 5.9 trad in not great style. I’d assumed the crux would be by the one bolt, but oh no, it was just below that above, well, not the best gear. Oh well I manned up and got it eventually. Carol and Seth left the crag shortly before us but Rob and I somehow managed to make the exact some navigation error they had and we found them about to solo up a short section of cliff as we’d all ended up rather higher than we should and we were all too lazy to head back round and back up the wet gully. So for the second trip in a row we were soloing random rock to get out of where we’d ended up.

Mount Magazine is a state park and has a rather large lodge at the top. This lodge also has a restaurant and as it was quite late by this time we decided to eat there. After negotiating the requirements for buying alcohol – one of us had to become a member, for free, and then the rest of us had to sign in as their guests, we had a nice meal before driving to Fern and setting up camp.

Fern is a really nice climbing area but nothing that exciting happened there climbing wise. Lots of climbing was done on a nice sunny day. There was also some “swimming” in a couple of the pools there. Well I say swimming, it was more get in, get immersed and make your way out again as it was pretty darn cold. Was still very enjoyable – especially the first one where I slid off the edge into a big plunge pool. All in all a very enjoyable weekend.

Well that covers March. April to come shortly… hopefully!

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