Climbing, South Dakota and a sprained ankle

The weekend after my lazy weekend I went to Arkansas climbing for the final time. It was the weekend of Horseshoe Hell, a 24 hour climbing competition at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch. Competitors get points for each route they complete based on it’s hardness and bonus points if they complete a route each hour of the 24 hours. UK Health and Safety would have a field day! This year many people completed over 100 routes. The team record (teams consist of two people) was 402 in this case split evenly between the two people. A Kansas City based team even managed over 90 trad routes each. Madness!

Anyway we got down to HCR about halfway through the competition and after a little bit of supporting the competitors headed to bed. Carol had invited me to go climbing at Red Rock Point with her, some guy she’d met on her previous trip and one of his friends. Red Rock Point is on private land and so it’s normally quite difficult to climb there but the person Carol had met vaguely knew the land owners and so was able to get permission to climb. His friend had barely climbed at all so I did an easy lead – treating it as a solo – and then moved a top rope around. At the end of the day I did brave a lead only to get rained on half way through it – and boy did it rain! Eventually I managed to finish the route and get my gear back before 4 drenched climbers left the crag. Was glad to have been able to climb at Red Rock Points as it’s definitely a very nice crag but, in my opinion, it also wasn’t as great as it looks from the road – maybe the allure of it had been increased in the past by not being able to climb there. Photos are here.

After being pulled over on the way back for running a stop sign (I wasn’t driving) and stopping off for food we arrived back at HCR where we joined the party that follows the competition before I finally headed to bed after several beers. It rained over night which meant that next morning everything looked a bit damp and the people I rode down with didn’t fancy climbing or staying around to see if it dried up. Not the best way to end my last trip to Arkansas but unfortunately we can’t control the weather! Having got back to Lawrence quite early I took a walk round Lawrence to get some more pictures of the town before I leave. I haven’t uploaded the photos yet but I’ll update this post when I have.

The next weekend I finally went to South Dakota. I’d been planning on going hiking in South Dakota pretty much since I’d arrived in Kansas but for one reason or another (mostly climbing related) it had never happened. The original plan had been to go for a week but a lack of time off and having lots of other stuff to do meant that it became a planned 5, actually 4, day trip. Things were rather complicated by the federal government shutdown which meant all the national parks and such were shut. Further complicating things was the large amount of snow that had recently fallen in that area. I’d been aware that it had snowed but not how much. There was a lot! A trip report is here.

By this stage I was starting to run out of time to organise everything for leaving Kansas so the next weekend I had designated my “sort things out” weekend but I still managed to do rather a lot of other things. Mary Ashley had arranged a leaving party for me on the Friday evening and although it was a small group I believe a good time was had by all. The theme of the party was America so I brought doughnuts and Bud Light (as a representative of the worse kind of American beer). The later back fired on me a bit as I was then made to drink rather too much of it!

Following a rather slow start to Thursday I headed to Cliff Drive for some outside climbing. The original plan had been to head to Trappers but this turned out to be inconvenient for most people so we headed to Cliff Drive instead. Had a good afternoon’s climbing which included climbing the decent trad crack climb there – it went much easier than last time I did it.

Sunday was mostly spent organising leaving but towards the end of the day I headed to The Strength Lab – the bouldering gym in Lawrence for a small amount of bouldering. This was all going rather well until I got on a hard (for me) problem at the end of the evening. Turns out I didn’t position the mat properly – partly because I didn’t think I’d get too high – so when I fell off I first hit the edge of the mat before falling off it. This lead to a reasonably badly sprained ankle. Exactly what I need a week before I headed to Red Rocks for a two week climbing trip. Dave, who runs the gym and who I’ve known since before the gym opened, was very nice about it all and stayed rather late while the pain subsided enough to walk and then very kindly drove me home in my car with his bike in the boot/trunk.

The rest of the week was mainly spent organising leaving and working when I could – both of which were complicated somewhat by my ankle. Jamie, Mark’s PhD student was defending his thesis on Wednesday so I dragged myself into the office on Tuesday to watch him practice his presentation before going in for the real thing on Wednesday. He successfully defended his thesis so we all headed out for food and drinks that evening. My ankle cut my evening short a bit as it meant I’d driven down so couldn’t drink too much and it also started to hurt. Still I managed to have a good time before I did leave.

Thursday was a Kansas City Climbing Club meeting. I’d agreed to give a presentation on Climbing in the UK which seemed to go down well. After showing them the falls clips from E11 and trying to explain the British grading system to them I think I successfully convinced them that all Brits are mad! Friday I headed off on my climbing trip to Vegas and I’ll cover that in my next post.

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