My travels through the States were somehow inspired by English songs, so I was thinking I would just follow the lyrics from the Eagles that mentions Arizona. I didn’t “have seven women” or men “on my mind” (what are they singing about?!), but CLIMBING. So “I was standing on a corner in” Benson, Arizona “such a fine sight” after 28 hours of sitting in a bus to see a familiar face again. This time it was a Slovenian friend, Peter, who I actually didn’t meet in my homeland, but while climbing in Ceuse (France) three years ago. He picked me up and we drove to Cochise Stronghold.
I was psyched for climbing outdoors, so the next day we went to the route ´Welcome to the Machine´, which was a nice introduction into climbing the Cochise granite. Seeing the walls made me wonder if the mushrooms in yesterday’s dinner were special or not… But the colours were REAL and it is a really special place… especially regarding climbing: face climbing with very mental and devoting moves in trad or terrably bolted routes. The first multipich route was a nice warm up going from easy to well 5.11- … and then it was there again… another converting moment, where I just didn’t know what grade I was climbing. It being my first time on this kind of granite, getting to meet Mr and Mrs Crimps on the wall made me feel like a total beginner. But I managed as second and after that came rappelling in the wind, meaning pulling trapped rope, climbing up again, rescuing the rope and rappelling down and… REPEAT of course.
I did one nice and easy multipich ´What’s my line´ with Jack on these funny flakes called chicken heads. Holding this was such a nice moment after crimping nothing. The special thing about this route is that you have to do a pendulum in the first pitch to get to the good holds. Since I had never done it before, I didn’t even understand the word PENDULUM and when Jack started to explain that I need to swing to the right on the rope, I just thought, well let’s see. When I got to the part where I would have to swing, I thought NOPE and decided to crimp shit with my fingernails instead and to move to the good holds by static movement.
After four days, Peter and I moved to the other side to climb the Sheepshead. We did the route Stampede, which has a lot of slabs in 7 pitches, which made my feet burn. As you can see from photos, we were always wearing jackets, so it was cold during the day, and during the night??? Well it was literally freezing , since it was always below 0 (the coldest night was -6°C). Wildcamping in the tent with these temperatures really got to me, even with a warm sleeping bag, my body was just freezing all the time.
The last route we did in Cochise was on the West side in Whale Dome named ´Call Me Ishmael´ and this was my favorite tour. The approach to the wall was an adventure on the wash with some boulder climbing. To get onto the route we took the start of ´Blood Brothers´ and it was amazing how diverse it was in terms of climbing style. The only problem was the wind… I was shaking because of the cold and my experienced friend said: “I have never ever climbed in such a cold conditions in my life”, so nice to hear that I wasn’t alone in this. Not being able to feel my fingers and toes did not make the climb enjoyable, but I just wanted to get out of the shade and away from the wind, so I grabbed the quickdraws once I had the chance. Unfortunately the route was not that well bolted, so I needed to pull myself together and climb as fast as I could.
On the next day we decided to go to Homestead, which is two hours away from Phoenix. What is special about this place? Long approach (walking one hour on the dirt road), limestone, tufas and… giant cacti 🙂 . We spent two days climbing there. Peter pushed me out of my comfort zone and encouraged me to fight my fears. But sometimes it is just not the right day for it, so from time to time you have to TAKE IT EASY 🙂 . Until the next time in the next State 😉 .