Vacation 2009 – Utah and Wyoming

October 15th, 2013

Below is a recount of our trip to Utah and Wyoming during the summer of 2009. The location was selected primarily due to the fact the Chris was competing the SCS National competition in Salt Lake City. Chris climb strong and finished in 7th place in a field of 33.

Further down the page are some other videos from our trip out west, including videos from the competition.

Click on the thumbnails to see more pictures for that particular day.

Camping near Salt Lake City

Sunday, July 5th, (Happy Birthday Chris!) was our travel day leaving Orlando at 7:30 and arriving in Salt Lake City later that morning. While waiting for Jason’s plane to arrive we set off in search of an Albertsons. We now believe that the address we had was for an Albertsons warehouse that is no longer there. We did manage to find a Super Wal-Mart and accomplished all of our grocery shopping. <p/> After picking up Jason at the airport, we head up into the mountains in search of a campsite. None of the campgrounds take reservations so it is all first-come first-serve. Our first choice was up Little Cottonwood Canyon. No luck there as the campground is still snowed in – it’s July!!! Argh. <p/> We did find a campground in Big Cottonwood Canyon called Redman. There was plenty of availability and we found a real nice spot with a tent site right next to a stream. Over the next four nights we would see deer and moose wondering through the site. Chris also saw a badger on the campgrounds. There were also quite a number of ground squirrels, chipmunks, and other rodents affectionately called “pot-gut”. <p/> On Monday, July 6th, we spent a couple of hours at the Quarry Climbing Gym. We found the routes rated higher than what we were used to, but the routes were reasonably well set. Monday afternoon we were supposed to go paragliding. But the winds were not favorable and we watched several paragliders trying to get up in the air without success. Watching them have such a difficult time, I was not terribly disappointed that we didn’t go. <p/> Tuesday, July 7th, we headed over to Park City and the Olympic Park. The Olympic Park was really interesting as we took a guided tour of the facility where some of the sports were hosted during the 2002 Winter Olympics. We saw the bobsled and skeleton runs as well as the downhill ski jumps. The facilities are used during the summer as a training facility. In fact, the Australian team was there practicing on the 90 meter jumps. They would jump and land on the artificial grass. <p/> Wednesday, July 8th, we met the rest of Team OTE at the Quarry for a team practice. We kept is pretty light and only stayed for a couple of hours. Afterward, a few of us went to the Timpangos Caves. It was about a mile and half hike up to the caves for a tour that took about an hour. The caves were refreshingly cool – about 45 degree inside. I carried a small travel tripod with me and took some “natural” light shots. I say “natural” light because there is no light down there except for the artificial lights that have been placed in the caves. At one point during the tour they turned out all of the lights and you could not see your hand in front of your face. <p/> Thursday, July 9th, time to break camp and head into the city. We need to get to our hotel and get checked in. Later this afternoon we have an appointment with a massuase. I have an RC (Regional Coordinator) meeting to go to at 5:00 and Chris needs to check in with the competition registration.

SCS Nationals 2009

Pictures of Chris at Nationals. I did not get any pictures of Chris' semi-final route as the light in the gym has not very good.

Granite Hot Springs

After the competition, we started heading north towards the Teton National Park. Since Chris had done so well at Nationals, we stuck around for the award ceremony. The awards ran late and we were not able to get as far as we were hoping for, but we did make it to Idaho on the west side of the Tetons. The next day we completed the trip stopping at the Granite Hot Springs near Hoback Junction. While we did not get in the water, we did capture a number of pictures, including some big horn sheep. The males with the big horns were further up the mountain, but we did capture some of the females and babies near the river.

Scenic Wildlife Rafting Trip

After getting to the campsite and getting our tents setup, we took a quick drive around where we caught our first sighting of bison. Throughout the trip we wound up seeing many more and many of which turned out to be more photogenic. We also found a beaver lodge alongside a roadside stream. On the morning of Tuesday, July 14th, we took a wildlife scenic rafting adventure with Micheal. Michael was very knowledgeable and we had the opportunity to see Canadian Geese, Rocky Mountain Elk, bald eagles, and a beaver while rafting down the Snake River. Following the rafting trip, we were lucky enough to find a bull moose eating near the raft take out. We soon discovered that the easiest way to find the wildlife is to spot where there are a large number of people standing around with cameras and binoculars.

Teton Drive

Following the rafting trip, we took a drive north to see what we may see. Lo and behold, we caught a glimpse of a brown bear running across the field. We also saw a number of antelope… well they don’t call them antelope anymore… they are now called pronghorn. They are the fastest land animal on the North American Continent reaching speeds of 60 mph. The are not antelope, nor deer, but related to the giraffe. Wierd, I know. While on our drive, I found a location to capture a real nice reflection shot of the Tetons. Later in the afternoon, we took a tram ride to the top of some of the nearby ski slopes. From here, we had a real nice view of the surrounding area while Chris played in the snow.

Wildlife Drive

Later that evening, we took another wildlife tour via van with Kira as our guide. We saw some more bison, pronghorns, and even a coyote. The light was getting real bad by time we saw the coyote, but I did have a picture or two that were somewhat decent. Jason captured some video of the coyote which, by the way, was dealing with some digestive issues.

Geyser Basin

Wednesday morning Jason was to begin his trip home, but before we dropped him off at the airport, we stopped to take some pictures of the most photographed barn in the world. We found a resturant where we could have breakfast while enjoying a great view of the Tetons. After dropping Jason off, we made our way up to Yellowstone and visited the Geyser Basin where we paitently waited for the Grand Geyser to erupt. Wow! what a show. More spectactular than Old Faithful, but it does not erupt as often as Old Faithful.

Mammoth Elk

Thursday we went white water rafting down the Yellowstone river. We did not get any pictures as I was not about to take my camera out on the white water. But we had a good time. One of the highlights was when Chris decided to board the other raft. The plan was to take out the other guide… as we neared the other raft, Chris moved to the front of our raft. Once in ranged, he half jumped and was half tossed into the other raft. Once in the raft, he immediately scrambled to the back of the raft and tackled the guide. He kept his feet moving until they both were in the water. The expression on the other person’s face was priceless as he had no idea why this kid was attacking him. The funniest part of the whole thing was that the person guiding the raft was not the real guide! They had switched places a little while back and nobody mentioned to Chris who he was supposed to take out. Afterwards we did go sit in a hot spring that flowed into the river and then took some photos of some elk that just hang around in the town Mammoth.

Yellowstone Falls

Friday, June 17th, we stopped to see some more of the geyser basin stopping at the Black Sand Basin and the Midway Geyser Basin. The Emerald Pool and the Prismatic Pool were both fascinating, but I think the Prismatic Pool would have been much better seen from a higher elevation looking down on the pool. Afterward we stopped at the Brink of the Upper Falls to catch a view of some waterfalls. For dinner we went on a chuck wagon tour. We rode out in a covered wagon, seeing more bison along the way, before arriving at the cookout. The all you can eat buffet with cornbread, beans, steak, and more was great. I think I went back for 3 plates of food before all was said and done.

Yellowstone Kayak

Saturday we had to break camp and get over to Yellowstone Lake where we would spend a few hours kayaking. Chris was placed into a solo kayak where he quickly mastered steering without using the rudder and also feathered his paddles. He pulled some really nice turns and was pretty much showing off. Another party in the group was struggling and that particular mom could find no right in her son. Pretty sad. We did get to see some geysers right next to the lakes edge and a moose and wandered down to the lake for a drink. After kayaking we begin the drive south toward Moab, UT. On the drive out we spotted yet another Bison… this time walking in front of some steam vents.

Moab - Wall Street

Sunday we were going to go to a dinosaur exhibit in Salt Lake City. After finding it closed, we decided to go take in the latest Harry Potter film showing at the theater next door. The slow paced weekend allowed us to get some laundry done, update the blog, and rest up before our climbing and canyoneering adventures were about to begin. Monday evening we went out with our guide to Potash Road or Wall Street. This was our introduction to crack climbing in the desert. We climbed 30 Seconds Over Potash. This had to be the hardest 5.8 I’ve ever climbed. I know part of it is just being outdoors, and part of it is crack climbing, but wow that was hard! Afterward we moved over to Flakes of Wrath which is rated 5.9. It took me two tries, but I was able to get this one.

Moab - Indian Creek

Tuesday morning we started really early meeting Aimee at 6:00 and driving out to Indian Creek to climb Twin Crack (5.9) and then Gorilla (5.10). Gorilla pretty much did me in… I was exhausted at the end of the climb. I felt like most of climb I would make a couple of moves and then rest while Aimee had me on belay. Tuesday evening we followed Aimee’s husband, Jim, out to a campground in Arches National Park. The cloud cover was pretty heavy when we went to bed. I was hoping for a spectacular view of the stars as this is supposed to be the darkest skies in the U.S. I was rewarded when I awoke about 11:30pm and saw stars that were phenomenal.

Moab - Fry Canyon

Wednesday morning Chris was itching to go on a bike ride so he took Jim’s bike and went on an 8-mile ride on a loop near the campground. Vicky and I drove the loop to capture some photos of some arches. Afterward, Jim took us on a canyoneering trip into Fry Canyon where we did a 75 ft repel and saw some Indian ruins. We also caught a glimpse of an owl – Great Horned Owl we believe. After the canyoneering we took a scenic drive on our way back to Moab. While the drive was nice, we didn’t get back to town until 8:30pm and we still needed to setup camp, get groceries, shower, eat and get ready for bed – and we have to meet Aimee and 6:30am. No rest for the weary!

Moab - Ancient Arts

Thursday turned into one of the highlights of the trip as we set out to climb Ancient Arts in the Fishcer Towers area. Vicky and I both used aide (5.8 A0) to help us get up the route while Chris freed the route (5.10d) to the summit.


During our wildlife drive, we saw a coyote which we captured on video. Word of warning though – the coyote was dealing with some digestive issues. Other videos include Bison crossing the road and Old Faithful.

Here are the videos of Chris’ climbs. Each is about 5 minutes long and will take a minute or so to load depending on your connection speed.

Qualifier #1

Qualifier #2





Old Faithful

  1. Dad
    August 4th, 2009 at 19:06 | #1

    That looked like fun. It looks like you had a lot to see and do. You wouldn’t catch me climbing those unless I grew wings so I could glide down.

  2. August 6th, 2009 at 15:25 | #2

    I am impressed, Socks. Your grace and energy efficiency are obvious hallmarks of your climbing ability… something I remember seeing in Lynn Hill and other big guns of years past. Congrats on coming in so high in the finals. But most of all, kudos for being such a centered, smooth climber. Some of those moves (in all videos) were nail biters but you pulled them off. Awesome!!!

    Looks like it was an awesome trip to boot. The desert southwest as my playground for a good 25 years and SLC was my home for seven years. I’m glad you got to taste it. You’ll be back.

    Best always, Virginia

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