Taking A Gamble

1 04 2010

We finished off our time in Vegas by gambling a little and walked away $50 lighter. We then went up to the observation deck of the Stratosphere to take in the views. It was really windy which is something that we where going to have to contend with for the next day. 

The Stratosphere


Vegas From The Top Of The Stratosphere


After leaving the Hotel we took a ride down the strip to see the hotels and made a quick stop a the famous Welcome to Las Vegas Sign. 

Justyna In Vegas


From there we headed North East to Zion. One of the things I love about traveling is discovering the unexpected along the way and on the trip from Vegas to Zion we passed through the Virgin River Gorge which was absolutely spectacular. At a couple of points in the gorge the walls of rock rise right up from the side of the roadway for 500′ or more. 

The Virgin River Gorge


From the Gorge we continued on to Zion where we ran into the same old problem of  full camp grounds so we headed back away from the park and found a spot where a few people where camping down by a river and set up there which not only turned out to be very sheltered, the wind was still blowing, but also free. 

Free Camping!


In the morning we got up to looming dark clouds from an approaching storm. Our plan had been to climb one of the buttes in Zion by a technical route but the weather did not look so good so we packed up camp and headed into the park and drove the scenic road before we decided to drive up to where the approach to the route was located. It was still windy and the clouds had lightened a little so we decided to rack up and give it a go. Well even though we could see the base of the route from where we parked getting there became an adventure. One thing we learned is that what may look like an obvious path doesn’t always work out that way. You would be hiking along only to have the gully you are in pinch off or have a 10 foot wide 50 foot deep chasm appear in front of you. Well after and hour of scrambling, canyoneering and hiking we somehow made it to the base of the climb. 

Are We Lost?


Canyoneering On The Approach


Almost There


The route itself followed a big feature less slab for 800′ up the South side of Aries Butte and was called Led By Sheep. The entire route was friction climbing with hardly a single hold the entire way. If I thought the climbing in J Tree felt insecure the climbing here takes it to a whole new level. Although the overall angle of the climb is never really steep the rock is extremely sandy which is really scary when you are relying completely on friction. To top it off sometime you can break off entire pieces of rock which just turns to sand. So again this climb had no cracks for protection but was sparsely bolted with placements every 50 to 80 feet. But over all once you got used to the rock and kept cleaning the sand off your shoes on your pant leg the climbing became extremely fun. We climbed for a total of four rope stretching pitches before making a short scramble to the top. One really cool thing about Aries Butte is that there is no non technical way to the top and other than Big Horn Sheep (amazing climbers and who the route was named after) the summit has probably only been visited by a handful of people. 

Justyna On The First Pitch Of Led By Sheep

At The Second Belay


Leading The Third Pitch


View From The Route


Justyna On The Top Of Aries Butte


Well we had gambled on the weather and even though dark clouds constantly loomed it did not rain which as you could imagine could have been a serious problem if you are friction climbing. But the one thing that had changed was the wind. As we neared the top of  the butte  wind speeds had increased and by the time we had to rappel back down the winds where gusting to 50+mph. This Becomes a real headache while descending as rope seem to tangle and tie them selves in knots all on their own. After being sand blasted for an hour making four long and frustrating rappels we finally made it back to the base of the route. 

Rappelling The Route


So now we had scoped out a different way out from up above and hope not to get lost again. Well we where wrong and after several dead ends, steeps slopes and cliff bands we finally navigated a way through the labyrinth and made it back to the car. 

Lost Again


Another Impassable Canyon


Aries Butte, The Route Climbed The Left Side Of The Face


Back Safe At The Car


From Zion we headed to Bryce Canyon where the storm finally caught up with us. We are staying in a hotel and are going to check to see how the weather is before we venture out as there has been a winter storm warning issued.




4 responses

1 04 2010

we miss you, ania asks about andy every day !
looks like you are having fun

1 04 2010

More great pics. Love the shot of the “impassable canyon” full of water and the one of you all camping out.

Brrrr…. stay warm you two!

1 04 2010

Hey nice to hear from you. We have to plan a trip to Red Rocks you would love it even for a long weekend would be fun.Tell Julianna to visit the site and put her email address in on the right side of the home page to be notified when we add something.

1 04 2010

Hello both of you.

Looks fantastic, I wish I could be out there running around too.

Hey add Juliana to your post: JulieM4@comcast.net.

Miss you.


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