After the crushing blow of never ending pump on the Cave Traverse(I really need to work endurance!!) Katie and I took a rest day and went down to check out the Organic Climbing Shop Full of Softness and Bright Shiny Colors.
We parked and started walking around the old converted factory. After one wrong turn we walked past some windows with foam piling out of them and walked inside.
Josh showed us around their two room setup and bought us some coffee and a rice krispie bar that was far too large and way too tasty. Josh and I shared some "Muffin Top" banter as we ate the treat and we hung out and talked shop for an hour or two. I think the highlight was getting to rifle through all of the chalk bags and chalk pots and see how many different designs there are.
We got to see his piles and piles of foam and also checked out the difference between his foam and his competitors. It's amazing how much nicer his foam is. I also found out that his Full Pad comes in $10 bucks cheaper than I had previously thought, so it's an even better deal!
Had to get the Organic plug in there again!
With that, Josh drew us a topo to an apparently cool roof on the way up to Duluth. Sadly we had to bypass it due to time constraints but we're definitely excited to check it out next time!
We had to take pictures of this little guy.
I made sure his belt buckle was nice and shiny...
And Katie made sure he didn't feel singled out.
We made it up to the North Shore and got ready to check out Sawmill the next day. After a nice hike in, and a bit of bushwhacking, we found the boulders and set our stuff down.
Katie on the trail, Fit Pad in tow.
My first impression of Sawmill was that the lines were really nice and aesthetic but the rock was really sharp. The rock is a type of Granite called Anorthosite and while I'd climbed on it before I didn't recall just how sharp it actually could be.
I warmed up on a short mantle near Jaws and then started trying Jaws a bit. I could never really get the momentum right for the crux slap so I moved on to Sticky Icky just around the corner.
I got past the first couple moves on my flash attempt but fell off trying bad beta when I followed someone else's tick marks. After a few more tries, I gave the correct beta a try and sent next go. Katie gave it a couple of goes but the small start holds proved too small for her split tip.
Doing it the right way.
Katie channeling Nic's foot first beta. It did not work.
See, he likes to do stupid stuff like that. I've got proof.
It felt really good to actually climb something, I will say. If nothing else Sawmill gave me a decent idea of ratings. It seems that everything at the lake gets sucked into a vacuum and comes out sandbagged a grade or two.
And yes, I know that I tried to get an extra sit start going on the topout. I had lost enough blood and went with the "More Steve on the Rock = More Friction = Less Falling = Less Blood" strategy. Funny moment, nonetheless.
After that I was bleeding from my right knee and both of my forearms so we decided to walk around a bit and see what else was there. We found the second cluster of boulders but not the third. Again, the lines were all really good and they all looked really fun but I wanted to try to have skin for the next day so we took off for town.
I literally grazed the rock with my knee and it started bleeding. So Sharp!!
We relaxed for the night and took a quick trip to a nearby lighthouse to take some pictures. We were both continually blown away by how beautiful the North Shore always was. I'd seemingly forgotten since my last trip up there.
After another nice hike in I gave Nic a call trying to get beta on what all of these problems were. Both Nic and I couldn't believe that I got any reception up there, and in fact I got better reception at the boulders than I did in town!
He gave me a blow by blow tour of the area and gave me a better idea of what I was looking at. It was great! Thanks a ton Nic!
My skin was looking and feeling pretty thin so I wanted to try two problems before I left. I wanted to try and do the Onion as it looked very doable and I also wanted to try Foreplay.
I started out on the Onion and was able to figure out all of the moves quickly aside from the left hand slap up the arete. After a few more tries and even more diminishing skin I figured that one out and started trying from the start.
The temps were good and I figured it'd go quickly if my skin held up. Sadly the sharp right hand edge took its toll after a few slaps and a split started to form.
It was cold and windy and Katie couldn't really try anything because of her finger. We packed up and headed down the trail to the car.
We definitely both want to come back in the fall or spring though. It's by far the highest concentration of "hard" problems for the midwest and all of the climbs are really aesthetic. I definitely had to manage my skin a bit but in cold temps the friction must be insane!
Excited to come back, for sure, and thanks to all the locals who offered help with beta and such. Mucho appreciated.
Katie likes having her own camera.
That's my "Baby Soft Skin" face