Patagonia climbing ambassador Pete Whittaker, climbing partner Tom Randall, and photographer friend Alex Ekins recently arrived in the U.S. with a singular – if not enviable – objective: tick off America's nastiest off-widths.
If you follow the global climbing scene, you might recognize the duo for their impressive gritstone resumés. In addition to floating many of the UK's hardest and highest-consequence lines, the pair earned big smiles and hearty recognition for setting a world record for the most number of routes climbed in a day (550 .. . each). Add to that the pair's thirst for unique challenges, and their desire for the ultimate thrash-and-dangle road trip starts to make sense. Case in point: Pete's also traversed the full length of Stanage [read: 4-mile-long boulder problem]. If that sounds like a good time to you, make sure your dad's name isn't Warren Harding.
The pair is about two weeks into their U.S. tour and just finished climbing at Vedauwoo. Read on for an excerpt from their "arrival" post, and stay tuned to their blog for the latest from the land of hungry cracks.
We’ve finally made it over to America – the plane didn’t get turned around and customs didn’t find my huge stash of offwidth porn. Pete, Alex and I touched down in Salt Lake City to perfect blue skies and 20 degrees temperatures. The start to the trip was pretty much perfect and it went steadily downhill from there…
Getting to Vedauwoo, wasn’t too difficult; although we did have a few issues with the gaps between petrol stations and what a “pickle chip” was. After driving through the night we arrived at a brilliant little campground surrounded by complex domes of rock. Pete and I couldn’t really contain our excitement and ended up running off into the woods with head torches looking for any route we knew.
The next day dawned with drizzle. It then turned to steady rain and finally mist with some more rain mixed in. Arse. The ultimate British holiday take-down had struck – a whole pile of shit weather. Forlornly we searched in the rain for some of the test pieces we’d climb later in the trip. For a day and half we traipsed around in the rain, desperately trying to find something dry [Pete insists that he didn’t traipse, but “soared like an eagle”]. Fucking rain – it’s such a killer of climbing psyche.
Photo: Pete gets psyched as he finally spots some clear sky!
On Wednesday a trip was made back to Laramie to nurse our weather-depression with coffee and cakes. Local crack legend Justin Edl came to meet up with us and eventually reassured us that the trip wasn’t going to be a total disaster care of the rain. He gave us a tick list of glory to be going on with and we ventured back up into the Vedauwoo mist.
We'll put up a blog post in a few days once we've hopefully ticked some more stuff and can put it all together. Until then, there's some cool photos on Alex Ekins' blog of our first forays onto the lovely coarse rock of Vedauwoo.