For our June mission, Matt and I decided to go on a camp-and-climb trip to Giant City State Park in Makanda, IL. Matt is an experienced indoor rockwall climber, and with his help we were both going to try outdoor bouldering (which was new to me) at a new park (which was new to both of us).
Let me be clear, Matt and I did NOT rappel or lead climb or bottom/top rope climb—the only gear we had were climbing shoes that Matt brought for himself (selfish pig). Rather, we went bouldering, which, for the rock climbing novice, simply means that we went around free-climbing on anything we could reach from the ground—much like a 12 year old child would do in similar straits. And since we didn’t bring a crash-pad, we didn’t ascend beyond 10 -12 feet off the ground.
Even still, there was a lot to do. Matt brought a guide to bouldering in Missouri, and it had a great section on Giant City Park climbing. We searched out all the bouldering routes marked out by the experts (God rest their souls), and climbed the heck out of them. It’s so strange to me that climbing routes up the face of a random wall or boulder can be identified simply by the chalk imprints left behind from other climbers. Many of the routes were nearly impossible for Matt or I too finish since most had a fairly high difficulty rating, but that didn’t stop us from working on a few handholds on every route. I swear, some of these climbs must require you to hang upside down from your fingernails or something! I’m thinking some of the cave graffiti was scrawled on the sandstone with the bloody stumps of fingertips abraded to the bone.
We had a lot of fun challenging and one-upping each other. When we weren’t climbing, we were hiking the precipitous paths along the top of the ledges looking down from the bluffs. This was some of the most fun and physically demanding Not-Rotting we have done yet. Besides, it’s also always exhilarating to simply get away and rough it—“rough it” in the sense of still having an inordinate amount of food, beer, and cigars. In case you aren’t 30 and you haven’t noticed, the body softens so quickly! Getting out in the elements with threatening thunderstorms, heat, and carnivorous insects with no blood-type preference buzzing around your head constantly really makes you realize how insulated you’ve become against the bare ground and open sky in general. The earth and I rapidly become like old friends that have lost touch, and this distance engenders fear. “And the strange character of a universe with which he has created no bond also arouses fear in him” (Simone DeBeauvoir).
Well, after the weekend, the universe felt a little less alien. AND we got some pretty kick-ass photos of us Gaia-bonding and...being stupid.
This crevice actually is in the ground...I'm looking down at Matt.
Random people rappelling
Dude on the right is reverse rappelling...face-down, military style (mission impossible).
They climb with cowboy boots out here in Mkanda, IL!
"Better to have loved and lost..."
Don't even know...
It's a kilt!!
Matt is always the first to try a bouldering challenge. Then if he doesn't die, I try it.
My first of many attempts.
Some of our hikes were across this kind of terrain in rainy weather. Had a few near ankle-turns.
Tyro beware. This may not look hard, but this was fingertips only. There was nothing to hang on to.
Hanging for dear life two feet off the ground. Our fingers were raw and slightly swollen that night.
Matt randomly challenged us to climb this wall onto that rock. He, of course, led the way.
Matt contemplates peeing onto the vanquished.
Matt negotiates an over-hang.
You're foot's slipping bruh!
Climbing strategy: hang like a friggin' bat.