Spiral Jetty and a moment of insight and some arches

Some clarification after some people asked :)
- R is my wonderful hostess, without whom this trip wouldn't have been possible and making it my newest favourite lifestyle spot in the world
- B is R's good friend, and has been a fab guide to some of the areas along with joining me on some highly silly adventures while climbing (more on that later).
- CB (aka CoffeeBean) is R's dog, and my constant sidekick since I got here. Who'd have thought that you could be licked that many times by a dog and still laugh at it?

Names are shortened to protect identities, especially after minor incidents in one of the National Parks ;)

NOTE: more pics posted to Flickr here
I hope some of you have figured out how to subscribe using Google Reader (or something like that, this was just an example) to save you having to check all the time.......

Firstly, a moment of apologies. This article contains deep thoughts, well as deep as my brain goes ;)

So, next on the agenda for touristy things to tick off was the mythical Spiral Jetty. For more info, see Wikipedia here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiral_Jetty

Basically, it's this mad art sculpture at the northern most end of Great Salt Lake. Built in 1970, it was submerged and has only recently reappeared due to lower water levels. It's not on most tourist trails as you begin to realise after the road (let's be nice and call it that) that must be taken. So, another two hour drive (the lake is 100 miles long after all) dumped us at the end of a dirt track and, well, a spiral jetty! How very odd. I must say it was sweet to see it, but it wasn't as big as I expected?
Anyway, the unexpected bonus was that the view was outstanding. So very peaceful....which brings me onto the deep moment. Who'd have thought but I suddenly found myself very very chilled out with all that water to look out over. Surprised myself at the calming effect on me. I've seen it before but never really appreciated it. Well, who'd have thought?.......will have to remember that for the future if life ever goes pear-shaped!

By the way, did I mention the cold?! It's the coldest year on record and the snow is crap (similar to the rest of the world, although they're doing slightly better in Utah than most). Boy, is it cold. Sub-zero temperatures even when standing directly in the sun.........You'd all better like those photos cause I lost some feeling in my fingers for those :). It was MINUS 32 celcius in one of the northern Utah towns over the weekend......

So, what next? Well, sing along cause we're ""on the road again.......", this time in the direction of Moab and Arches National Park. We'd seen sense thankfully so a quick stop-off was arranged in R's family home. So, a quick visit to Price, Utah was involved as it was perfectly halfway. And what a welcome! Constantly amazed by the welcomes I've received everywhere over here.
CB also had a laugh after finding Rachel's parents to have 1 dog and THREE cats. You can see what happened :)
Highlight of the stay was the joke comment made by R that I'd a craving for French Toast (well, I did......) and waking up on Monday morning to 'you guessed it' :) thanks again!

so, off it was to Arches National Park, in southwestern Utah. Basically, lots of sandstone pillars that have formed into large arches. Trust me, they're amazing, and I'm sure some of you will have seen pictures of it (especially Delicate Arch - climbers note: this is the one Dean Potter pulled his stunt on last summer by climbing it). Yes, I took lots of pictures and yes, lots came out crap :) Only kidding, I did get a few good ones, as usual posted to the Flickr gallery. Again, there was no-one there and again, it was freezing. Sub zero. You better like those photos once again ;)

See below The 3 Amigos after having a quick 'wander' into Fiery Peak. Yes, you're meant to have a permit.........

So, after passing a few hours here before we decided to go get some 'real' excercise. You guessed it: climbing!!!!!! The options were for either Indian Creek, or Mill Creek. My decision was made after the option between trad or sport. Considering it was cold in the car, I wasn't placing gear so sports climbing won :) Not that I minded of course :)
Mill Creek is a crag that no one visits. O.k., so it's at over 8000feet (2000+ metres) and some of the climbing is run out, but IT'S FANTASTIC!!!!! That's the only way I can put it. 2,500+ routes (that's not a typo) in a creek with routes on both sides. Sandstone with a limestone sheet on top of it......

My best description of it is to completely rip off an advert:
Bolts? CHECK
Sub-zero temperatures? CHECK
No hiking boots for the walk-in through shin-deep snow? CHECK
belay in the shade below an amazing 35metre route? CHECK
numb fingers/toes/body before even climbing? CHECK
Unbelievably cool climbing (more on that later)? CHECK

The complete experience: Absolutely priceless, and a great memory of adventures in Utah. I owe you one B for dragging me down that pitch, and to R for the photos (I'll try post some soon).

do I like Mill Creek? absolutely, and even more so that usually at most there's only SIX people at the crag in high-season.....

So, now as I sit down at 1:30am to finish this posting off, I think it's time for bed. CB will be looking for excercise in the morning ;)
Have a great week y'all, I know I will!

Snowboarders/skiers: I'd a night out in Park City on Friday. As European as the resorts come over here, although it felt quite rich! Good night out, but it's definitely not the same as back home but that could be due to the fact that they don't serve Guiness ;)

Climbers: Mill Creek is rad (and yes, I'm resorting to American lingo for this!). It's good. Adventurous climbing, with abseils/rappels into a lot of the routes. The single pitch we did was at least a 5.12 (no idea after that, it's hard and it was freezing so had to feel anything for the first 4/5 bolts). The climbing involves crack lines, sidepulls, slopers, and a willingness for dynamics! The first (of many cruxes) involved a match of a crap sloper, feet onto nothings, and then throw horizontally to the right for a metre to catch one-handed a 2-knuckle deep ledge with feet off. Like I said, it's rad :) And that was only one of maybe three dynamic lunges on the pitch and completely ignoring the highly technical cruxes as well. I'm tired just thinking about it. And no, I didn't do it clean!

Itchy fingers & rip-off prices

The ultimate boy-racer track!