rock climbing

Posted by Ellen

Blodgett Canyon, in the Bitterroot Mountains of western Montana, is a Yosemite-esque sort of place, flanked on the north by sheer granite walls of towering spires that are absolutely irresistible to rock climbers with ropes and stuff.

Our boy Hank climbed Blodgett's 600-foot Shoshone peak twice this spring; the first time, a sudden rainstorm forced a rapid rappelling retreat that left a lot of climbing gear stuck in cracks on the rockface. The second climb, pictured here, was a successful gear-retrieval mission–and also a sun-kissed flirtation with warm spring skies.

Posted by Ellen

Climbers retrieve their packs and stow their gear after a day on the rocks in Red Rock Canyon, Nevada.

Posted by Ellen

Bunch a guys were off climbing last week in Red Rock Canyon, a few miles west of Las Vegas, Nevada. Here, Hank leads the route, carefully placing little thingamajigs in cracks to hold the rope so other climbers can follow him safely. As lead climber, Hank is roped in, but not quite as safely as the followers; if he loses his grip on the rock, the thingamabobs below him should arrest his fall (with the help of the belayer down on the ground), but before they do, he could expect to fall twice the distance down to the topmost thingamabob. He didn't fall.

The red rock here is the Aztec Sandstone formation, Jurassic in age. Overlaying it in much of the canyon is a dark gray limestone, the much, much older Bonanza King limestone, from the Cambrian era. The older limestone got shoved up on top of the younger sandstone late in the era of the dinosaurs, when tectonic plates were compressing this part of the world, pushing up mountain ranges.

Late in the day, Pat is still working his way up.

Posted by Ellen

At the University of Montana, students can earn academic credit for assignments like this. Hank got an A last semester in Intermediate Rock Climbing.

Posted by Ellen

Hank swings his way up the wall in the climbing gym. Rock climbing has become a passion of his lately, but he says that climbing in a gym is not nearly as pleasant and exciting as climbing cliffs and boulders outdoors in the fresh air.