Drinking Beer in Mormon Country: Hiking to the Top of Moab National Park

 

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With new snow falling in Colorado, the avalanche danger has been too high for any sort of backcountry skiing (you’re welcome mom). Instead, I have managed to find a new job, finish my semester, and hit as many graduation parties as possible. This post is a kickback to my spring break trip earlier this semester when I went to Utah and as you can imagine, things persisted to get exciting in a pretty moderately extreme way:
Moab is one of my favorite places because every time I think that I know all of the best parts of the park, I find out that there is something surprisingly better. My friend Pierce knew of an area an area where we could hike to the top of Moab, do some fun scrambling on the sticky sandstone, and instead of hiking to the bottom again we would just repel over some 80 foot cliffs. He didn’t have to twist my arm.
The hike was named Elephant Buttress, and it isn’t on any of the park maps. Our guidebook (very important) led us to the Garden of Eden area, which is as pretty as it sounds. A forest of red Desert Towers dominated the area. They were easy to walk through, and started the beginning of a very unforgettable hike.

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We made our way past the desert towers, and into a deep canyon that had cliffs hundreds of feet high, and were perfectly vertical. The sunlight reflected off the sides of the canyon, surrounding us in a red glow. It was so pretty that it was distracting. We took a ton of breaks for pictures, and to eat trail mix. It was awesome until we reached a fork in the road that we couldn’t figure out.
Our trail came to a small basin, with two very difficult climbs that led into different areas. On the side of one climb was the repel that would lead us further along the trail. We tried to climb the first section of rock, believing that the trail was on the other side for twenty minutes, before finding out that we were completely wrong.
Mountian Project is a website that I believe everybody should use. If we didn’t have our phones, and access to the mountain project, we would still be trying to figure out which way to go (not literally). The website had everything lined out on a map that somebody had drawn, and we were lucky enough to have service to find it. It clearly pointed to the area on the right, which made sense almost immediately, as it was much easier to climb.

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We did our repel, and then hiked the rest of the way to the top of Moab. The entire park was layed out before us. On the right side were the elegantly magnificent Windows Arches, which attract a lot of the park’s attention. In front of us were the Lasalle Mountains, which dominate the eastern view of most of Utah. Their snowy peaks were contrasted against the deep red of Moab’s red desert. These were the most prominent features.

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Finally, under the dim light of the setting sun, we made our way back to the cars, through an 80 foot repel. It was way easier than actually hiking down the whole way, and its something I recommend to anybody who knows how to use a rope and a harness. I cant wait to go back and do it again (with some hot women).

The Semester Is Over: Time To Drink Beer, and Write Blog Posts!

 

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Its May and most people are thinking about the warm sandy beaches of summer, but I still cant get snow off of my mind. The late spring is the best time for backcountry skiing, because of the low possibility for avalanches. Living in Boulder Colorado, with Rocky Mountain National Park’s heavy snow pack still visible when I roll down my windows and drive to the grocery store, I am constantly reminded that the ski season is not over.

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Dragon’s tail is one of Colorado’s classic couloirs, and something my friends and I have been trying to tick off of our checklist. We had attempted the peak the week before, but had to turn back. Our avalanche beacons had mysteriously died sometime during the spring, and being the responsible backcountry enthusiasts that we were, we decided that the dragons tail hopefully wasn’t going anywhere in the next few weeks (you never know what the rest of the dragon is planning to do).
So this weekend, a few of my more experienced friends and myself are planning to return to that spot to finish ski the deep snow that can still be seen from town, and knock one of the classics off our list. Keep your eyes peeled for some sunny, skiing photos, steep descents, and no doubt an exciting story.