The Cathedral

Rock climbing is an addiction. It’s like golf.

Golfers base their vacation plan on the resort or city that has the better golf course. They pay the extra baggage fee to check their bag of clubs onto the plane to avoid using rentals. Golf addicts will make the golf season last as long as they can, rain or snow. They can’t stop from thinking about the sport. They will always desire to perfect that swing. Every golfer wishes that one day they could hit a hole-in-one.

At first I felt silly for being so obsessed with rock climbing. I grew up trying all types of sports. I played neighborhood baseball, city league basketball and football from grid-kid to high school. I’ve taste tested the majority of outdoor sports and have enjoyed them all. However, rock climbing has been the one sport in which I’ve always desired to excel.

I love running, kayaking, mountain biking, snowboarding, and backpacking. But I’ve never really cared to double my speed or perfect a certain trick as much as I’ve desired to achieve a certain grade or reach a certain height in climbing.

Why climbing? What is so cool and special about scrambling up a rock face like a spider or a monkey? What is there to benefit? It’s just rock.

Well…it’s places like the Cathedral that remind of me of the answers to these questions. This limestone cave resembles a pipe organ rising high up out of the canyon with overhanging routes that don’t allow for the pre-hung draws to touch the rock. These routes vary from 50 to 120 feet high and challenge all climbers with grades of 5.10b to 5.14a/b. It is a sport-climber’s place of worship.

The Cathedral is located just southwest of St George, UT. This picturesque formation of limestone sits on the hillside up in the Welcome Springs Canyon. It is a scenic and easy hike into the canyon, following the dried up wash until the steep approach is reached that climbs from the wash to the base of the routes. The steep approach is constant switch-backs followed by ropes and ladders that assist in getting up onto the large ledge of rock where all the fun starts.

While on our 2 month excursion, we were able to spend only a couple of hours at this spot of “heaven on earth.” It was a warm day, but the very tall and shallow cave rarely sees the sun and there was a wind that made your teeth chatter.

The DVD player wasn’t good enough to take the boys’ minds off of the cold. They were miserable. So Jennilyn, Sam and I quickly took on some routes, knowing that we could leave at anytime and not have to worry about cleaning our gear off these steep walls.

The climbs were pumpy and challenging in their own ways. Not only were they steep, but the holds were hidden deep inside all the large pockets and alcoves. At times we had to reach our arms as far in as our elbows, bypassing the smooth rock inside to access the actual hold. It was amazing. I was sad to have only experienced that place for a handful of hours, but it will keep me dreaming until I can go back there and enjoy it to its fullest.

So what is it that attracts men and women to the sport of golf? Why it is so enjoyable to swing a stick to hit a ball inside a very small hole? What is there to benefit?

The answer lies within the heart of the addict. Golf may never interest or benefit me like rock climbing does, but it can truly make someone else feel the same way that I do when I am above my last piece of protection and throwing to that unknown piece of limestone.

With that said, to what are you truly addicted and in what are you passionate to excel?