Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Climbing at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch

The end of April is always a great time for climbing trips! Several friends and I headed to Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in Arkansas for the weekend of the 23rd and 24th. We left after work on Friday, to make the 5.5 hour drive from St. Louis, which means we pulled into camp around 11pm. As expected, the campground was packed, but luckily we had another friend get there earlier in order to grab a campsite. Even so, the place was really busy and we ended up sharing our campfire with two other groups over the course of the weekend.

Saturday morning we started our climbing at the area called Confederate Cracks where we hoped to find fewer climbers than on some of the more popular walls. Overall we got 4 ropes up in the morning before an early afternoon break (though not everyone climbed each route). My personal favorite was Treebeard, which was a 5.8 crack climb.

We had a couple kids with us on this trip (7 years and 10 months), so for the afternoon some of us went back to camp early to hang out and relax, while two of the other climbers went on to climb into the late afternoon. While on a short afternoon hike with the 7 year old, I found this neat area about 20 feet across where down trees had been gathered and then burned. There were several really neat rocks with charred wood wrapped around them in interesting ways. After the hike we set about making a great fire so that we could have hot coals for cooking with a Dutch oven. To make things simpler, we made one meal for our group. We tired out a new goulash recipe that fed 5 adults and which ended up having enough left over to feed another 2 or 3 adults. This was the first time we had used this particular recipe and we weren’t disappointed, we found it online at a site called Bryon’s Dutch Oven Recipes. For a green side dish, we also made two foil packs of Asparagus and Peppers, YUMMY! After this meal, we were so full we didn’t even get to the Chocolate Cake (don’t worry, we ate it Sunday after we were done climbing)! The rest of the evening was spent around the campfire, chatting with our camp mates.

On Sunday morning, we knew we had a limited amount of time available before we had to leave so we stayed relatively close to the campground. We started at Prophesy Wall, where we found a neat chalk wall drawing left by someone else. It was also here that I captured a great picture of my friend “catching some air” on a hard route. Next we headed to the Titanic boulder, and yes it does kinda look like a ship! The Titanic boulder was a neat place just to hang out and we soon discovered that voices carried very easily “through” the rock, as there is a crack on both sides that is part of the same split of the rock. While in this area we also got several great views of a near-flying turkey vulture. Unfortunately I was so dumb struck by how close he was that I didn’t get the camera out until he was farther away! On the way back to St. Louis, we stopped for Mexican and devoured our meal, which tends to happen after climbing.

Overall, it was another great weekend climbing in Arkansas!!

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