...as if it needs to be a question.
We rolled up to Almo, Idaho. Yup. There's not much here. We stopped in the little country story, bought some Moose Drool, stared in awe that they sold a random selection of climbing gear, chatted with the clerk about how busy it has been and drove off into City of Rocks National Reserve in southern Idaho.
We had time that evening for one climb and I picked out Theater of Shadows on Jackson's Thumb off of Steinfell's Dome.
"Old school climbers may be shocked by the number of bolts, but this is a route your grandma can lead...."
Alright! This will be a great intro to The City and great quick climb for the evening. I started up the route and man, there were a lot of bolts. That's alright though, I won't complain and bash the developer for over-bolting. I mean, my grandma can't handle runout slab so how else is she going to get to the summit? So, I just skipped bolts. This is what I think most people should do instead of complaining or even chopping bolts. You're not hurting anyone by just not clipping the bolt! Anyway, that's a different topic....The most draws you would need is like 13 or 14 but I think I used 4 tops. Yeah, it's that bolted.
Mollie and I swung pitches and she felt the same way. We caught up to a party of two at the top of the 3rd pitch and chatted a bit. They were on their honeymoon traveling the U.S. in search of boulders, climbs and mountain bike trails. Awesome.
When Mollie arrived at the top of the 3rd, I gave her the charge of only clipping one bolt on this final pitch (you could clip like 9 or 10). She said "Alright..." in a not-so-convincing attitude.
"Off rope, off belay!" she yelled down. That was fast...I follow up and I never unclipped a draw.
"You say one; I say none." she gloats on the summit. She ran out the final pitch of 80 feet without any pro. This is awesome.
trans·fig·u·ra·tion noun \(ˌ)tran(t)s-ˌfi-gyə-ˈrā-shən, -gə-\
1a: a change in form or appearance : metamorphosis
1b: an exalting, glorifying, or spiritual change
The City of Rock guide book is like a novel. There are so many routes at The City that the guidebook does not lend itself to a pick-it-up-and-go-climb capability. You have to "read it, live it, learn it" (as my dad always said to me growing up). The days before the trip, I would flip through the book, look at the photos and when I stumbled upon something that looked "cool" (which I often did) I would stick a posted note in the page.
Mollie and I set out the following morning to climb the Classic Route up The Lost Arrow Spire. I knew there were some bolts, some pitons, a gear anchor and some unprotected slab. What more could I ask for? How about a 75 foot runout to the first bolt? Done.
I just kept calm and kept climbing. There were no bolts and no trad gear opportunities. I can't change this situation so I might as well just climb. This was the start of my climbing transfiguration. I now exalted runouts and scary face climbing. I felt that I was really in control, that I was the only thing keeping me from falling 60 feet to the ground next to Mollie. I don't want to put Mollie through that so I better just keep climbing. (see This Is A Rope, Now Use It!)
It was a bit euphoric, simple, black and white, rock solid (pun intended). This is the best thing I've ever climbed! By the time I clipped my first bolt I was 75 feet off the deck with no protection. I suavely clipped the bolt and kept moving. Then I hit a piton, then another, then another, then another, then one more but I skipped it. "Off rope! Off belay!" I yelled down to Mollie. Oh, that was suh-weeeet! I built a gear anchor and up Mollie came. I didn't think that the next pitch could top the first but I was wrong. I pulled a a few unprotected vertical moves, moved around the arête and landed myself on the edge of a sea of unprotected chickenhead covered slab climbing. Aw yeah! I cruised to the huge summit ledge and was ecstatic. Best route ever!
I felt new, better, different, confident. This was runout, for sure. The guide book didn't even list it as "R" for runout! I couldn't wait to see what was next for me. I felt confident and stoked to go crush.