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When You Tie the Knot, Who is on the Other End?

When talking with my friends about relationships and getting married the discussion usually follows 2 themes. One, "I will never get married, I cannot give up the lifestyle I have." Or two,"I love my wife, but I miss the way it used to be when we were all single." I have never felt this way in my 7 years of marriage. It all comes down to who you are with and what you make of it. Luckily my wife and I are on the same page about our lifestyle and have never needed to look back to the way it used to be.

This year marked our 7th anniversary living the married life. As the date approached and I wracked my brain for a memorable way to celebrate our years together, I realized the bar had been set pretty high. In the past we have used our anniversary as an excuse to take time off work and head off on an adventure. We have celebrated in the metropolises of Japan, the beaches of Mexico, the Swiss Alps. And now that we have a mini version of ourselves running around it makes it trickier to plan a long trip and disappear for a few weeks. We have learned to adapt and make the most of our 24, 48 or 72 hours of freedom when it is granted. We tossed around ideas for weeks trying to decide what would be an adequate adventure to spark the romance of 7 years together. Since we live in Salt Lake we have lots of options for quick weekend getaways. There is a lifetime of adventures within a 5 hour drive of our doorstep.

Fisher Towers, Utah

We decided on heading south for a day in a natural wonderland that is Moab, Utah. Our destination was the Fisher Towers. Among the vast desolate landscape of Utah's red rock country a group of deep red towers stand erect in a cluster. I imagine that all modern skylines of metropolises around the world are modeled after the Fisher Towers. They provide a jagged horizon of vertical summits to gawk at.

In typical fashion, we arrived late at night not being able to see the grandeur around us. We quickly set up the tent and were excited to get to bed. Excited because of the plans for the following day and also because we had new gear to use that night. Our anniversary gift to ourselves this year was an Alps mountaineering twin peak double sleeping bag. I must say my motives for getting a double sleeping bag were probably selfish at the time of purchase. But after the best night sleep ever in a tent. I think I will take it on every car camping trip from here on out, even if I am alone. It is like sleeping on a cloud in the sky filled with feathers and fluffiness.

Awaking due to the sunrise warming the tent is an instant shot of adrenaline that rivals any caffeinated morning beverage out there. At this point I look up to see giant red edifices towering for hundreds of feet above us. This is the perfect anniversary and I am not even out of bed yet. We knew that the desert sun would soon turn from warming to scolding. So we turned in our tent and sleeping bag for our cragging packs and headed off on the quick 30 minute approach to the Ancient Art Tower.

Weaving in and out of mini towers and scrambling over sandstone slabs we reached the base of the tower and took our place in line behind 2 guided parties. As we were racking up the first party on the route started rapping off the tower. It was a Californian climber accustomed to sierra granite celebrating his 70th birthday in the desert. I was inspired by his drive to always seek out a new adventure at an age when most people would rather be sitting in an air conditioned condo in southern Florida. It affirmed to me that once your heart is sparked by an adventure, it is undying and will always be with you.

Fisher Towers, UTThe climb started out with some very mellow 5th class scrambling up and over a blocky ledge where you come to the first blank slab section. There is a bolt ladder to help you pull through 10 feet of blank sandstone. It goes free in the mid 5.10 range but the draws look so inviting to grab. You now are sitting at the base of pitch 2, a long chimney full of muddy corners and lots of fun little pockets. Chimneys always give a great burst of confidence. They protect me from the exposure and give you a feeling that a fall would not be so scary. At the top of the second pitch there is a definite party ledge. This is where you hang out while those in front of you head up onto the catwalk pitch and onto the summit. The ledge is big enough to comfortably hold 4 or 5 climbers, though I heard rumors of as many as 12 queued up waiting for their chance to summit. We had to wait for about 45 minutes while the guide ahead of us gently encouraged his client to the summit. Finally it was our turn.

I step off the ledge and across onto a short section of slabby moves that lead to the catwalk. I am now standing on a 30-inch wide belay station with nothing but air all around you. I brought my wife up to join me and now it is time for the "fun" part. The last pitch of climbing is definitely not the hardest but you leave the comfort of a chimney and are instantly hit with 400 feet of exposure on all sides. Being on the sharp end of the rope I think I was much shakier than my wife. I started to walk along the catwalk towards the pinnacle and with each hesitant step the catwalk got thinner and thinner. I was focusing on my breathing and trying not to think of a misstep that would result in an ugly pendulum swing. I only had to make it to the first bolt to get peace of mind again! But I succumbed to the mental pressure.

Fisher Towers, UT

I reached down and straddled the narrowest part of the catwalk. And with a few very unattractive humping motions, I reached what is called the diving board. It is a large 4-foot protrusion jutting out of the side of the summit pinnacle. And while standing up on the catwalk, the point of the diving board hits me at the bottom of the rib cage. One more committing move is required before reaching the first bolt. At this point I am about 20 feet from my belayer and my last anchor. One deep breath, a deep knee bend and I launch myself belly first up and onto the diving board. I know climbing is an art form and many people look like artists as they move along a rock canvas, I am not one of those people. And at this moment I felt like a turtle high centered on a pebble, waving my appendages in mid air. It was not pretty! I stand up and clip the first bolt. Instant relief fills my mind. The remaining moves are very well protected and nothing harder than 5.8. The top anchor is a large rope wrapped around the top of the pinnacle. After clipping this, it is a 6-foot scramble up to the dinner plate sized summit.

Fisher Towers, UT

I plant 2 feet on the summit just long enough for Becky to snap a photo. A quick glance at my surroundings and I see nothing but 400 feet below me to the desert floor. All around me are towers that have seen many climbers looking for an adventure. Even though my nerves were telling me to get down ASAP, I am drawn to think about what adventures await me on the many different desert towers. I could get used to my climbs topping out like this.

Fisher Towers, UT

I make my way back to Becky with a combination of down climbing and being lowered. It was now Becky's turn to experience the magical summit. And unlike me, she gracefully crosses the catwalk and is on top in no time. She enjoys the top much more than I do. She looks very comfortable and takes her time enjoying the amazing place where she stands. I have to admit that I also enjoyed the view of seeing my wife smile as she stood surveying the surroundings.

Fisher Towers, UT

Three quick raps and we were standing next to our packs again looking up at our accomplishment. As we hiked back to the trailhead, I thought about how most people enjoy a nice dinner, a bottle of champagne and sophisticated conversation on their anniversary. But being the gentleman that I am, I treated my wife to meals consisting of instant oatmeal and Probars, warm Nalgene plastic flavored water for a beverage, and conversation that consisted mostly of the words "on belay" and "slack". Even though we wandered from the norm, we were just as happy as the day 7 years ago when I symbolically tied into my lifelong belayer, ski buddy, and overall adventure teammate. Marriage has become the catalyst to new adventures all across the globe.

 

Author - Pitt Grewe

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