I took off on a road trip around 11 AM September 3 from Seattle to meet Dan and Greg at the tower, about 1100 miles away. They were coming from Minnesota; the Tower is around 700+ miles from their end.
The drive was beautiful, but mostly uneventful. I was on a roll, and only stopped for gas.
There was one particularly interesting part to the drive: it was 11 or so at night just before Bozeman, and I-90 went through a forest fire. The road had been closed there earlier, but I guess it had died down enough so they let people through. It was weird: there was fire working uphill in lines on both sides of the freeway (and the median) and glowing everywhere with bursts of flame now and then from embers and snags and burning stands for a couple of miles. The fire was 50 feet from the road. There was no wind, not a huge amount of smoke. Eerie. I was shocked and never even grabbed the camera. Then I was passed it.
I just had to crash and slept on the side of a dirt road just over the Wyoming border near Sheridan. A beautiful spot.
I arrived at the KOA (which offers an outdoor showing of Close Encounters of the Third Kind nightly!) on Friday morning, met Dan and Greg, and we went out and did Gooseberry Jam a couple of hours later. I lead the first pitch. I had forgotten how relentless an offwidth 5.9- at the tower could be. I pulled it off with most of my skin still attached, but breathing really hard. I resolved to let Dan do all the hard leading and just cruise along and enjoy the scenery from that point. ;-)
We climbed every day, topped out twice (3 times if you count The Meadows as all-but-a-scramble-to-the-top) and had a great time. Dan did the first pitch of Soler and McCarthy North Face. I seconded McCarthy and was just getting up to Dan when the rope I was trailing got stuck. Dan lowered me off---and I got to climb it a second time to finish cleaning the gear. It was such a SWEET climb that I didn't mind in the least. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
The weather was superb. A bit warm on the middle two days, but no problem really.
And then there was the marathon drive home, exhausted but very happy with the trip. You probably know how that goes.
Enjoy the comments/pictures!
Dan's Comments on the trip.
I have three comments/observations about Dan's remarks.
First, I do imagine that columns have fallen, even in the last few hundred years, though none have been recorded. I think that whenever there is a big earthquake, which DOES happen every few hundred years in the midwest, a number of them must fall.
Second, a comment to Greg: I am not sure that "full disclosure" is always the best policy on these trips. I don't think I, for one, claimed to be in "full disclosure" mode.
Third, there was a bit of extra information that Dan (kindly Dan) failed to include regarding Greg's physical ... issue. Greg prefaced his revelation to us by expressing the opinion that, during our first night at the KOA campground he had been abducted, kidnapped by aliens. Experimented upon. Mercilessly.
Pictures of the Tower 2009 Trip.
A Moon Sequence.
Susanka's Front Door