I just got back from another business trip to San Antonio, Texas - Verification Testing for JPATS TIMS v1.7.5. Despite the constant barrage of hyper-phobic messages about the Swine Flu (the school district around Randolph Air Force Base was closed the entire week because they had a reported case), and generally humid-wet weather, it was quite a fulfilling trip.
About 2 years ago, on my first assignment to go to San Antonio, I prepared by researching as much as I could for climbing opportunities. ALL of the land out there is private and most everything I looked at had caveats about climbing being closed. To my surprise, there isn't even an indoor climbing gym in the 7th largest city in the US.
In desperation, I sent out a blind, shotgun email to any person that was connected to a picture, topo or blog post about San Antonio climbing. Fortunately, Joe Sulak, a resident Human Performance Specialist and champ climber, wrote back and offered to show me around. The rest is history. Every time I've been down there we've been able to get in some climbing or Joe lets me borrow a pad or two if he can't make it out. Joe has definitely been the face of the climbing community in the area, working out deals with land owners and even looking into buying his own land to protect the local rock.
The week started wet and stormy on Monday and climbing was deemed un-possible. I planned on going to the temple Tuesday (of course the weather was clear...). I remembered from my last visit that they don't rent clothing there and so I made sure to bring my own, only to have failed to "reserve" a spot in the 8pm Endowment Session... Apparently the 4th Tuesday of the month is when all of the Spanish Wards go to the temple and they were booked. So again, I found myself doing Initiatories.
By Wednesday, I was going to climb or else... something... I met Joe, Sam (who I'd met on my last trip during some SWB (Shallow Water Bouldering) on the lower tier of Red Bluff), and Brett at the Dire Wall. The Dire Wall is a nice chunk of limestone above a fork in the river north of town. The 6+ foot roof makes up for the lack of topouts due to vegetation and chossiness. Of course the classic problem relied heavily on some pockets for the right hand - which I was worried about due to some tenderness over the last few weeks - but with tape, there weren't any issues. Joe even got some footage!
On Thursday, I met Sam, Brett and Jeb at the Cub Cave, which was honestly 10 minutes from my hotel. It's in a mini-park with constructed trails and even a big sign that says "Cub Cave" and gives some geologic data. Jeb had bolted the original routes here back in 1992 and now Joe's crew was retro-fitting the whole place. I couldn't get stoked about the routes since Sam had to take a rag to some of the holds to get the layer of slime off - but there was a cool boulder problem on the right of the cave. I was able to do all the moves, but not link it - only later finding that if I had, it could have been the FA.
Friday was my departure day. I only had the morning to climb and my friends all had work to do, so I was on my own. I decided to check out Red Bluff again and maybe do a bit of exploring... keeping in mind that "exploring" turns into "trespassing" and "I might shove my sawed off shotgun up your rear" really quick out in Texas. Hiking over to the Bluff, I realized that I had really pulled something in my back the previous session when I couldn't breathe after holding the pad out while crossing a bridge. Between that and the sprinkling rain, I had no expectations and resolved to just look around.
I crossed the river in a shallow spot and started hiking upstream. I had to keep remembering which way the water was flowing as I crossed since the wind made it look like the current was flowing the other way, and I wanted to not screw up my directions when I told Joe where I'd been. Following some ATV tracks I found a SWEET boulder resting right on top of the river bank and had to play. The sun had come out and the breeze felt perfect. Amazing pockets peppered the face, but in the end, it was a big move skipping them all that paved the way for the send. I even joked with myself that I might have stumbled upon an FA, but Joe will quickly shed the light on that.
The guys kept telling me how humid and "out of season" it was, and that I needed to come back when the climbing was good... but when I stepped off the plane in Colorado Springs and found out that it had been totally impossible to climb here due to moisture, I won't lie, it felt fantastic.