Slickrock - McCall, Idaho

May 19, 2003

Dave Svilar, Matt Alford


This is how I remember the route.

My idea of a desert road trip wasn't camping out on a snow-covered road in sub-30F temperatures.  Our attempt the day before on Independence Tower in the Colorado National Monument was thwarted by thunderstorms, so we had made a quick dash to Idaho (of all places).  After waking and trying to warm my stiff limbs I almost wished to be struck by lightning instead of enduring the frigid cold.  After our breakfast routine we fired up the Nissan and drove the final two miles on top of a frozen 1-2 feet of snow.

We had made the final part of the drive the night before, so everything seemed brand new to me now that it was light.  I could see why Matt liked the area - pine forests, snowy peaks, and large piles of granite.  The largest chunk of granite was the 1,200 feet tall by almost as wide Slickrock.  Hopping out of the truck Matt promised a logjam footbridge across the creek that separated us from the base of the climb.  My hands were still freezing and the thought of jamming them in an icy crack did not appeal.  To make matters worse the logjam seemed to have un-jammed meaning we would have to wade across the ice-cold creek.  We shed our shoes and pants to make the leg-numbing crossing.  Finishing the 30 minute approach I finally felt the first sign of warmth creep into my body as we queued up for the first pitch.

The climbing on the route was very moderate (5.6 - 5.7) as the granite rock was never vertical for any sustained period.  Matt didn't even place a piece of pro on the 2nd pitch and we ran a belay on the third pitch.  Reaching the crack systems we finally decided to set up a real belay.  About this time the snow on top started to melt forming trickles down the face.  The climbing got more exciting near the top, especially the last pitch that was partially snow covered. 

Dave trying to negotiate snow near the top of the climb.

Matt had done the climb a couple of years before, and I had been waiting to hear him reminisce.  His climbing partner two years prior had been the lovely Miss Canada.  As we sat at the top of the climb  Matt recalled happier days sitting in the same spot - carefree, in the sunshine, and with the lovely Miss Canada.  Poor Matt.  Now he found himself shivering in the snow, with the stinky Dave Svilar.

The hardest part of the climb was descending the steep snow gully in our tennis shoes and re-crossing the frozen river.  Even more difficult was trying to drive the Nissan back down the snow covered road.  In fact, it was impossible - the Nissan was stuck.  The only thing to do was wait until morning when the snow hardened.  This didn't concern either one of us in the least bit - we were unemployed, the Nissan was our home, and we had sunset enhancers.  There was nothing to do except lean back the seats, put in some tunes, and eat. 

Matt braves the cold while scrubbing his pits with a #3 cam.

The snow hardened as expected and we drove out the next morning.  We made a pit stop in Pullman, WA and then headed to Leavenworth, WA to find something drier to climb. 

- written June 2003

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