Thursday morning we left for Phoenix! When we landed in the early afternoon, the stewardess told us that it was a lovely 82 degrees outside, and that the last reported temperature in Chicago was 90. Looks like we made it out just in time.

The first thing on the agenda was to stop in and visit our cousin Jackie, who is currently living in Mesa. We made a deal with her that if we came to visit in April, we wouldn't come for her Graduation this summer. The thought of Phoenix in August is terrifying.

Jackie lives in a very swank luxury apartment building with a couple friends from school. They were all very accomodating and gave us a place to crash for the night. We spent the afternoon wandering around Mesa enjoying the beautiful weather. We had an early dinner at Tia Rosa's, which was much better than any Mexican food we've had in Chicago since our favorite place closed a couple years ago.

Later that night we also had some very good ice cream at a place possibly called Stone Cold?

Click on the pictures for bigger ones.

In the morning we got up and had breakfast before heading out to Oak Flat Campgound, where the competition was. We also borrowed a cooler from Jackies roommate, so that we could have cold beer for the weekend. Jackie promised to drive out on Saturday to meet up with us and check out the climbing scene. We made no arrangemnts as to where exactly we would meet, figuring we could use our cell-phones if we had to.

The drive out was pretty quick, and overall uneventful. A fast call from Gary and Alan confirmed that they were ahead of us, so we figured they'd have a good campsite all set up. When we arrived at the entrance the guy who checked us in said that Gary and Alan were not in yet, so we were on our own looking for campsites. The place was pretty packed - and it wasn't even noon yet! But, with a little searching we were able to find the perfect site. We had some nice shade trees, a little cliff separating us from the road and a beautiful view. A couple minutes after we finished setting up the tents, Gary and Alan pulled up and said they had a great campsite already set-up and we had to move. After much debate, and a lot of whining from Gary, they won out, and we packed up our tent and headed up the road.

After camp was set-up to everyones satisfaction, we headed into town for groceries. This went pretty well, until the drive back to camp when Alan got pulled over by a cop who had been travelling in the opposite direction. After much discussion with the police officer back at the cop car, Alan came beck with a $27 ticket for "Wasting Finite Resources" which he probably deserved for driving the huge rental Grand Marquis too fast around the desert.

Top: One of the many campsites we looked at before finding the perfect one.

Bottom: Our eventual campsite.

Another view of our camp.

When we returned from shopping, we decided to head down to the main area and try to check-in at the registration tent. There were lots of vendors in the process of setting up shop, and a lot of climbers milling around. We checked in and picked up our free goodies - Biners, chalk, sunblock, shirts, stickers, etc. - and headed back to camp. When we got back, we found our friend Dave Seavers waiting for us. We must have just missed him a couple times - he'd spent over 4 hours waiting for us at the registration tent. But at least he'd managed to find us eventually.

We had to head back into town, as we had forgotten to get money, and with all the vendors selling sttuff so cheap, we needed some cash.

We made dinner - mmm, campstove burritos, a recipe adapted from an old family recipe of Jason Lane's. While digesting we lounged around the campsite and listened to Gary point out constellations in the brilliant night sky. The stars in Chicago are a far cry from what you can see in the Arizona desert.

But enough quite contemplation - then it was back to the vendors and shopping. We ran into Noah Kaufman, who used to work with us at EAC, and who has spent the last several months on a climbing road trip, while somehow still being in medical school. I'm not quite sure how that all worked. But, he has a new climbing movie out - i believe called "Try Hard" that looked pretty fun.

Then, it was off to bed in order to be well rested for the big day of climbing.

Heather making breakfast Saturday Morning.

Below: The main stage

Saturday Morning we got up early, in order to have time to make breakfast before the mandatory climbers meeting at 8:00. Due to a time change in our favor, everyone was up well ahead of time. Heather made scrambled eggs and canadian bacon for everyone, which was wonderful.

After breakfast, we walked down the hill to the meeting, where they explained all the rules. We had fun people-watching, especially looking for people we knew, of which there were many, as well as seeing "famous" climbers walking around.

After the meeting it was time for the walk in to the climbing area - about a 15-20 minute walk. Never have I seen so many crash-pads all in one place.

The Climbers Meeting Saturday Morning

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