Trip Report

Six Days In The Uintas

After tackling one of my major projects for the year at work, I took my family up into the Uintas for six days of camping, trail running, climbing, hiking, biking, and fishing. With no cell service or internet connection, we were able to unwind and reconnect as a family; we even tried some new activities.

By no means are any of us fishermen. Even with a son named Fisher, we had no clue what we were doing as we found ourselves huddled on the lake shore every morning and evening. At least I knew how to tie the hook onto the fishing-line.

Our basecamp was located on the south side of Butterfly lake which was a perfect place to watch the alpenglow appear each evening.

My boys are getting burned out by all the climbing and trail running trips that we take them on, So I promised them that I'd buy the fishing poles and we'd teach them to fish. Their attention spans didn't allow for them to sit long enough to let the bait and hook to do their jobs. All they wanted to do was cast and reel, by the end of the trip they were professional casters. I eventually caught a fish with one of the mini-poles. Since it was Fisher pole, he claims that he caught the fish. I even caught a fish with my bare hands that was trapped in some shallow water full of lillypads. Indy even reeled in a decent sized fish all by himself, unfortunately it unhooked itself right when it got to land and swam away. Indy was psyched either way.

The Uintas are full of some of Utah's highest mountains. So Jennilyn successfully took the challenge of running the three tallest all in one push. I decided to dust off my running shoes too and hit the trail two different times.

I was mostly looking forward to climbing a bunch during our trip, but only got to do a little. This cliff is called Stone Garden. A very popular route called Sessions in located on the overhanging section. I was able to climb to the top without falling on my second try.

The boys had a blast. They got to bike around a large lake, get their feet wet, and do all other kinds of things that little boys to outside. They are the coolest little boys. I am a proud father when I look at them.

I could never find my shoes during the trip because the boys were busy wearing them all of the time.

A fun camping trip is never finished until you hit up the local ice cream parlor for a cold treat.

Lunar Ecstasy

Abraham Shreve and I spent 48 hours aid-climbing the notorious Lunar Ecstasy in Zion National Park, UT.

(click on any photo to start the photos gallery.)

For being my second ever aid route, I found that Lunar Ecstasy was a bit hard for me to bite into. It was right outside of my experience, but well within my reach. I guess there’s never a bad time to raise the bar. Once again we took it slow and ended up sleeping two nights on the wall. I must say, there sure is something amazing about sleeping on a nylon platform that is suspended on the side of a 1,200-foot cliff.

Snowshoeing in Big Cottonwood Canyon

The Salt Lake valley, along with the surrounding canyons and mountains, has been getting dumped on with a ton of snow lately. This always puts me in a good mood. So I decided to take advantage of all the fresh snow by dusting off my snowshoes and taking a morning stroll in Big Cottonwood Canyon.

I originally wanted to try and hike up to Blanche Lake but was unable to even park at the trailhead. The plows had barely touched the canyon road and many of the pullouts had at least a half a foot of snow on them, making parking an issue. So I kept driving up the canyon until I found a plowed pull out. I ended up hiking around on the Days Fork Trail for an hour and was able to capture a couple cool photos.

(I captured this shot after accidentally falling over backwards after I took the photo above.)

The White Rim - Rim To Rim

I'd choose a trail running adventure over a trail race any day.

Back in 2005, as a student at Brigham Young University-Idaho, my wife (Jennilyn) went on a 2 month study abroad program that required that they hike, bike, canyoneer, and canoe in the remote desert areas of Southern Utah. She was able to experience mountain biking the white rim in three days. After each day's ride, she'd lace up her running shoes and clock in some extra miles on her feet. Ever since then, she has always dreamt of running the entire White Rim "Trail".

The first thing I ever heard out of Jennilyn's mouth when I met her was, "Sorry I didn't answer the phone, I was on a 14-mile run." To me, especially at that time in my life, she sounded pretty hardcore. What I didn't know then was that I was only seeing a tiny tip of a ginormous iceberg that had yet to show itself. After 6 years of dreaming about running the White Rim, Jennilyn finally put in our bid for the camping permits needed to tackle her dream and our goal of tackling this notorious desert pathway by foot. 

The White Rim is a 100 mile dirt road that aggressively loops around and below the island mesa top in Utah's Canyonlands National Park. Jennilyn was able to secure our permits and recruit three other runners, a crew cheif/driver, a lead cheerleader, and some mini-cheerleaders to join the two of us. Our initial plan was to run the entire 100 miles in three days, starting at the Shafer Trailhead and finishing on the Mineral Road/Horsetheif Trail where it intersects with the main road. However, we modified our plans a bit and decided to just run from one rim to the other, totalling 80+ miles. We started at the Safer Trailhead and finished at the top of the Mineral Bottom Switchbacks.

Day One started just after sunrise and consisted of running just over 28 miles. After arriving at the Gooseberry Campground, we realized that a nasty wind had arrived and looked like it was going to stay a while. It prevented us from setting up tents, it blew sand in our faces and sleeping bags as we slept, and one of our runners lost their pillow during the night after it was swept away from the torrential breeze.

The wind didn't let up, in fact it got a lot worse and blasted us with gusts of 60 mph the entire time we ran on Day Two. With sand and pebbles pelting us the whole way, we trudged along to the Potato Bottom Campground for a daily total of 35 miles. Luckily, the wind ceased that evening and we slept like babies.

Day three was a delight. The weather was perfect and we only had to run 16 miles to reach the top of the Mineral Bottom Switchbacks. It was a wonderful feeling topping out and knowing that we were done. It was truly an adventure and it was so cool to see Jennilyn living out such a big dream.

Rumor has it that Jennilyn is now thinking of going back and trying to run it in again...but this time within 24 hours.

This is the map that we so colorfully marked up to illustrate to our crew the initial plan. 

The White Rim Runners: David Lynn, Steve Aderholt, Leslie Keener, Jennilyn Eaton, Benjamin Eaton

Our Support Crew. You guys rocked. Thank You!!

Running Table Rock

In 2009, I was able to secure a job that allowed me to end my 15 year streak of living in Rexburg, ID. I spent my teenage years, college years, and first four years of marriage exploring and playing in the great areas that surround my home-town. It was the Rexburg area where I first learned to climb. It was the Tetons where I became obsessed with snowboarding and became familiar with the mountains.

One of the last adventures that my wife and I decided to do before ending our residency in such a great place was to run Table Rock Mountain. Both of us had hiked it a couple times before, but never did it while running the whole time. So we tied on our shoes and started on the trail, hoping that we'd be the first ones to summit on that day.

We were quickly slowed down to a slow pace during the first mile due to the steepness of the trail. The trail then passes through some lovely meadows before it hits the death-switchbacks that take you up to the ridge and then on to the summit. We found ourselves taking walking breaks more that we ever wanted. This was our first time mountain running and it definitely opened our eyes.

We hit the summit after 6 miles and found that we weren't alone. Some young fellows had camped below the switchbacks and summited to watch the sunrise. After we soaked up the scenery and ate some energy, we began running again...only this time it was downhill.

My wife is a speed demon when it comes to downhills. I felt like I was putting my life on the line when I tried to keep up with her. We did get to slow down whenever we passed the hordes of people who were starting to hike up to the summit. We received many looks, some that said "you're crazy," "I'm jealous," and "I'm glad I'm not you." Many people asked us if we had already been to the top and then coughed on their saliva when we responded with our affirmative answer.

We returned to the car having ran it in a time that made us very happy. It was a great run and I actually prefer running that trail rather than hiking it. Running 12 miles is a lot better than slowly hiking the same distance.

Jennilyn and I recently returned in 2011 and ran the mountain to celebrate our 6 years of marriage. Having ran more trails and hills prior, this time didn't seem so hard and we took a lot less walking breaks. I am very happy to be married to a lovely gal that loves to climb and has kept me running for all these years.

Indian Creek

There is something about the southeast Utah desert. Something I can't explain. But I know that it beckons me.

I grew up in New York and Idaho. These areas both built inside of me the love for trees, rivers, mountains, and wildlife. When I met my wife, she always expressed her love for the deserts. The red sand, solitude, and artistic rock formations. Having so much in common, I saw that our love for different landscapes was the opposite factor that attracted us together.

After almost six years of marriage, I have ventured off into the deserts, mostly in Utah, with my wife on many occasions. I now see what draws her to a place that I once thought was full of dryness, death, and heat. Though the desert will never beat the mountains in my heart, I now crave that desert for its magnificent vistas, stupendous crack climbing, and its comfortable temperatures and sunshine when everywhere else is too cold to do anything.

This last spring, we took advantage of living only 3.5 hours from Moab, UT, giving us prime access to Indian Creek. Indian Creek is a land of sandstone buttresses, one right after the other, with inspiring splitter cracks with short approaches and bolted anchors. In March we spent a couple days here with a friend, Jason Flaster, that flew in from New York. Then in April, Jennilyn surprised me with a secret Creek Trip for my 28th birthday. 

Now that the temps are higher than 100 degrees in this land of climbing paradise, we are anxiously waiting for fall to arrive for more desert action.

Indy (5) and Fisher (3) love going on adventures with Mom and Dad. Indy has proven that he can hike any approach at Indian Creek by himself.

Indiana Eaton (5) getting ready to climb at Indian Creek.

This kid progresses every time he put on his harness.

View of Battle of the Bulge Buttress, from the Super-crack Buttress.

The Eaton Family in Indian Creek, UT

Canyonlands NP, UT

Canyonlands NP, UT

Canyonlands NP, UT

We call this set up "Home" more than we say it about our apartment.

Jennilyn Eaton testing out Puma at Indian Creek
Photo by Ben Eaton

A classic view of Indian Creek.

Ben Eaton chugging the chimney section of a 5.11 route on the Cat Wall
Photo by Jennilyn Eaton

Jason Flaster leading up Railroad Tracks on the Battle of the Bulge Buttress in Indian Creek
Photo by Ben Eaton

Fisher Eaton (3) trying to hold his patience as the rest of us climb.

The Gash

Tucked away in a little out-crop of granite cliffs along CO Hwy 133, near Carbondale, is a series of narrow hallways of blocky granite. The area is known to climbers as The Narrows. There are a handful of sectors that offer a variety of difficulty and style, both sport and trad.

The Gash is one of those sectors that is hosts to some tall and steep sport routes. After-work evening sessions are great options at this place to get some laps in and to beat the heat. In my opinion, the climbing here is a bit beta dependent. The fractured granite offers great holds and movement, but you have to hold things a certain way or place your foot in a certain position to advance up to the anchors.

In the photos below, I've captured Jeff Jackson and Kirk Meyers as they do their work on two quality routes: Easy Spankin' (5.12c) and 30 Meters of Meatballs (5.12b/c).

Jeff Jackson on 30 Meters of Meatballs (5.12b/c)
Photo by Ben Eaton

Kirk Meyers on 30 Meters of Meatballs (5.12b/c)
Photo by Ben Eaton

Kirk Meyers on 30 Meters of Meatballs (5.12b/c)
Photo by Ben Eaton

Jeff Jackson on Easy Spankin' (5.12b)
Photo by Ben Eaton 
Kirk Meyers on Easy Spankin' (5.12b)
Photo by Ben Eaton

Lime Creek

Ben Eaton redpointing Snipe Hunter (5.12c)
Photo by Kaush Allison
Last weekend, Jennilyn and I (along with Indy and Fisher) were able to spend some time with new friends in the Ruedi Reservoir area near Basalt, CO. We stayed at their cabin and explored the limestone cliffs at Lime Creek.

I quickly fell in love with this place. The limestone here reminds me of Logan Canyon, just sharper. We were able to sample three of the walls in that canyon in our efforts to chase the shade. The climbing was great, the scenery was amazing, and the company was terrific.

Not only did I get to experience a new place to climb here in Colorado, but I was able to advance myself in my climbing by redpointing Snipe Hunter (5.12c) on my second try. That is the fastest that I have ever sent a route at that grade.

Climbing that route left me pretty stoked, making me not want to get off the route. So I decided to keep dangling from my rope and practice my photography skills in shooting the girls as they cooled down on Corporate Greed, after sending all those killer 5.11s.

Kausha Allison on Corporate Greed (5.9) at The Punch Bowl - Lime Creek, CO.
Photo by Ben Eaton

Kausha Allison making the last move on Corporate Greed (5.9) at Lime Creek, CO.
Photo by Ben Eaton

Jennilyn Eaton cooling down on Corporate Greed (5.9) at The Punch Bowl - Lime Creek, CO
Photo by Ben Eaton

Jennilyn Eaton on Corporate Greed at The Punch Bowl - Lime Creek, CO
Photo by Ben Eaton

Jennilyn Eaton nearing the top of Corporate Greed at The Punch Bowl - Lime Creek, CO
Photo by Ben Eaton  

Moonlight Buttress

My bucket list has always included two specific items sleeping on a port-a-ledge and climbing a rock cliff that is at least 5 pitches high. I never really intended to knock off these two items will one swipe. Truthfully, I had already accepted the fact that my "sleeping on a port-a-ledge" experience was going to be setting one up 5 feet off the ground just to say that I've slept on one. I love rock climbing do it all the time, but I had never really considered myself as a big wall/alpine/mountain climber, so these bucket list items didn't seem that easy to obtain...until Abe came along.

On Monday, April 25, I received a voice message, text message, and a Facebook message from a climbing friend, with whom I'd only climbed two times with previously. Abe was in need of a climbing partner to aid climb a big wall in Zion National Park that following weekend, April 29 - May 1. I had mixed feelings about going. I didn't think my wife would want me to spend the money and vacation days to go. I didn't think that my boss was going to let me take more days off, having just returned from a climbing trip the week before. I also didn't know if it would be a smart idea for me to go and aid climb a big wall with such short notice and never having climbed that style before.

To my surprise, my wife encouraged me to go and said that I'd be stupid to turn down a chance to learn how to aid climb. This made sense, seeing how within the previous months Jennilyn and I had been curious to venture into aid climbing, but didn't have the gear and the knowledge. My boss also gave me the thumbs up to miss that coming Friday of work. So I was a go.

The Moonlight Buttress in Zion National Park, Utah
Abe and I decided to climb the Moonlight Buttress route of the Moonlight Buttress. Our plan was to aid climb this 9 pitch, 1,200 foot wall of sandstone in three days and spend two nights on a port-a-ledge. That was the main objective, to sleep on a rock wall, high above the ground for more than one night.

Our bivy on the top of Pitch 5. (730 feet off the ground.)
Abe Shreve waking up after a long night of sleeping in the air.
Our approach to the base of the climb was a bit epic with an unexpected 3-hour hike through bushes, sandbars, and steep hillsides. So our first day of climbing consisted of climbing the first pitch, hauling the gear-bag up, and setting up the port-a-ledge. We felt a little sheepish for sleeping so close to the ground, but we had ran out of time to go higher.

The next two days were spent climbing some great pitches and spending one more night sleeping 730' above the ground. Unfortunately, due to my unracked nerves and our lack of time, Abe was a bit forced into leading all the pitches accept for pitch 1, 3, and the top-out slab. He was an animal. And I continually thank him for fixing all the lines for me to jug up and for hauling up the gear-bag. It was a great experience observing his style of aid climbing and having him teach me the techniques. I can't wait to get back on a big wall and actually lead more using aid gear.

The one thing that I have to say about sleeping on a port-a-ledge is that it is the one time that your body and mind can just let loose. The whole time on the wall, you are constantly holding on to something and your mind is unceasingly double checking everything you do and projecting the next moves. It was amazing to just let myself go unconscious knowing that the only thing keeping me safe was the two loose "life-lines" that connected me and my harness to the rock.

Ben Eaton at the top of Pitch 6 or 7 of the Moonlight Buttress. (830 or 930 feet off the ground.)

Ben Eaton leading Pitch 3 of the Moonlight Buttress.

Pitch 3 of the Moonlight Buttress - one super fun bolt-ladder.

Abe Shreve leading the way up Pitch 4

Looking Back: Cross Country Skiing With Toddlers - 1st Time

Two Years ago on this very day, Jennilyn and I took advantage of the free admission day at Harriman State Park in Idaho. Our oldest boy was 2.5 years old and our youngest was 9 months old. We borrowed two pair of cross-country skis from my work, grabbed a two-person plastic sled at the Cal-Ranch Store, and took along our

Kelty Kid Carrier


It was a cold day. Luckily we were able to dress ourselves and the boys in our warm clothes in the back of our Toyota Sienna with the back seats laid down. Fisher was awake, so we started him out in the kid carrier first while Indy was sitting in the sled with a blanket wrapped around him. Jennilyn and I took turns wearing the backpack or pulling the sled. At one point I was handling both the backpack and the sled so that Jennilyn could zoom ahead and feel the winter breeze run through her winter cap before it ran through her hair.

We had a lot of fun just staying on the Road Trial that is 1.2 miles one way. We started at the parking lot of the main lodge and skied into the Becker Warming Hut. We were able to make ourselves warm, eat lunch and let Fisher fall asleep.

On the way back, Indy was in the backpack while Fisher laid asleep in the sled covered with the blanket as it snowed ever so lightly on us.

We had so much fun on that trip, that we decided that we'd try to gear ourselves up with the proper equipment to be able to do that more often. We have yet to buy our own set of cross country skis and all, but we did buy a

Nordic Cab

that converts into a bike trailer, jogger stroller, or a ski chariot. This nifty contraption allows us to run, bike, snowshoe, or cross country ski with our boys and it keeps them dry and warm.

Where there's a will...there's a way.

January Sport Climbing...Outside

I can't believe that I went sport climbing outside in January. In Colorado.

Jan 6 started out with temps in the upper single digits. By the time the temp reached the teens, my new climbing bud and I started making plans to trust the weather man and go climb at Puoux in Glenwood Canyon. The prediction was for all day sun and highs of upper 30s. The hardest part about our plan wasn't the task of bringing my two boys (ages 4.5 and 2.5), it was ignoring my usual requirement that the outside temp be at least 45 degrees in order for me to climb and enjoy it.

I've always heard of people sport climbing during the winter and I've always wondered how they did it. I've climbed when it was 40 degree before and my toes and fingers couldn't tell if i was crimping or edging on quarter or dime sized holds.

We decided to meet at the crag around 1:30pm. Due to natural occurances, I didn't get there with the boys untill just after 2pm. You see, 1:30pm is usually Fisher's (2.5 years) nap time. Indy usually naps too out of sheer boredom because his best-friend is off "sawing logs." Without the nap, Fisher exploded when I dressed him up in snow clothes like the little brother on The Christmas Story. He kept ripping off his clothes faster than I could put them on. With love and kindness, Fisher and I fixed the problem and hit the road.

Five to eight minutes later, we arrived at Puoux to find that this south facing wall radiated the sun rays to allow for my climbing partner to climb in a t-shirt. Ignore the fact that it was 35 degrees. With the boys bundled up in the sun and watching the new Go Diego Go dvd from the library, I was able to run up a fun 5.11 before I had to book it back home to unlock the house for my hard working wife.

For this to happen, I had to pack the climbing gear, dress the boys and their needed supplies, wrestle with "Thing 2," and carry all the stuff with my youngest in my arms for 100 yards in the snow. I may have only climbed one route, but the new friendship, the flash, the sun rays, the limestone, and the new experience with my boys made it well worth it.