Climbing Cowboy Ridge in Zion National Park

I’ve spent a lot of time in Zion National Park over the last few years and it’s no secret that the climbing here is outside my comfort zone. Maybe that’s why I keep coming back–because there are “easy” climbs like Cowboy Ridge that have mocked me from afar. It’s a 5.7 filled with route-finding, loose rock and lots of elevation gain. It’s a long day and it’s far from civilized comforts should poor planning or blood sugar fluctuations interfere. It’s not the dark side of the moon, but it’s more involved than lowering down off a single pitch climb and ‘calling it a day’. Maybe this is part of getting back into the swing of things, but I’ve been more intimidated by this “loose end” than I’d like to admit, so I decided to tie it off ASAP.

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Zion climbing and hiking

Zion climbing and hiking is always fun–even when it’s not. But let me clarify that statement because there are two types of fun. That’s right, I wasn’t just making a pun about my type 1 diabetes. Type 1 fun is enjoyable in the moment. It feels fun. Type 2 fun on the other hand just doesn’t. One of my favorite quotes (I believe attributed to either John Long or Jim Bridwell) is “It doesn’t have to be fun to be fun“. Type 2 fun is more enjoyable when it’s over and you’ve survived. Or healed. Or cleaned your soiled underwear. The beauty is that there is a choice to have fun which circumstances can’t take away. Seems like this might apply to Type 1, too.

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Joshua Tree type 1 meetup: March 2016

By now I hope my mission to share the health benefits of adventure in the outdoors is resoundingly clear, but in case it’s not, I’d like you to come to our Joshua Tree type 1 meetup. It will be happening March 4-6th in Joshua Tree National Park. It’s free to join and there’s plenty of fun outdoors to entertain people of all age groups–from the most adventure tolerant to the risk averse. If an unincorporated gathering of adventurous people with diabetes sounds like something you’d like to be a part of, read on!

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Custer State Park: Climbing in the Needles

As I mentioned in the previous post, we left Rushmore with the intent to go straight to the town of Custer, set up camp there, and save the climbing for the following day. We had to head through Custer State Park to get from point A to point B anyway so I twisted Stefs arm to get her to let me check out a few routes that we might want to come back to on subsequent outings.

As we made our way up through the granite spires known as “The Needles” I pulled the car to the side of the road into a small pullout. The Needles Highway is quite narrow and as crooked as a Chicago politician. I extricated myself from the cramped vehicle and dodged a minivan full of gawking tourons and made my way down towards the spires. The charm of the Needles lies not only in the barely protectable nature of the climbs but also in its elusive layout which, taken with the shortage of quality guidebooks can leave a visiting climber completely lost only a few hundred feet from the road.

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