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Final attempt for VEX

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Arrived in Laughlin on Friday, got checked into our hotel room and tried to connect to the internet. This seemed to be a bad omen! Then we received a call from someone who identified himself as Larry. The brain said "who's this Larry character?", then it kicked in and I realized it was Klemmer. He stopped by our room while we were fighting the internet connection. We decided to see if we could get connected in his room. It worked! we were online. The next evening the internet connection said "Your room is not configured for internet usage". This happened everyday! Call the tech and get connected and do it all over again the next evening.


Anyways, we met with Klemmer and then fossillady arrived and we went for a light supper and discussed caching and benchmarking and other things, and had a very enjoyable evening.




We got an early start in the morning and headed out for the drill holes and other Old benchmarks. We took them (Klemmer & fossillady) to T 138 to see what they will be searching for this weekend. From there we headed to VEX.




This was my final attempt at VEX. Tried to ascend from 4 different areas. First attempt was from the lower right corner (yellow arrow) of the front face of the cliff. Started up at a spot that looked like it should be solid and non-slippery - Wrong! The first thing we found was the hand holds kept letting go if much pressure was applied to them. It didn't take long to decide that this was not the best choice.





From here we went up to the top of the saddle. I tried scaling the same area (green arrow) I tried on previous attempts. Since it was dry this time I made it up to about 15 feet before the hand holds started letting loose and I decided it was better to descend by way of my choosing rather than seeing how well I would bounce.


We went around to the back side of the mesa and saw 1 possible route to the top, but it would take someone younger and in better shape than me. Also some rock climbing skills would definitely help. Forgot to get a picture of that area.



Photo by Klemer


Photo by Klemer


We descended back down the saddle to the base of the front face of the mesa. I looked over my options for making another attempt and saw 2 possible ways to get to the ridge line that would let me get to the top. I went for the 1st (red arrow) of the 2 and got about 20 feet up and then ran into a problem with the lichen that was growing on all that granite. It was causing the top layer of the granite to decompose and crumble. I was getting into an area that had quite a lot of the lichen. When ever I would try to get a solid grip on the rock the lichen would let loose and then you couldn't get any "traction". Rather than slide off the face of the slope I carefully worked my way back down to solid footing.



Photo by Klemer


There was 1 possible route (blue arrow) left to try. Got a short way up the slope then that same problem of the hand holds letting go. If I had been a little more limber and 30 pounds lighter I may have been able to get to the the ledge that goes to the top of the mesa.


We didn't reach Vex, but we did have a great time trying. We also found other Old benchmarks, like HOUSE (FTF and DNF by the USGS!) and T 136 another FTF. We even found some nice crystals while hiking to T 136.




While we didn't make it to the top of the mesa to recover VEX, it sure was a great weekend!

Edited by 2oldfarts (the rockhounders)
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We sure did have a great time! What John didn't mention is that I might have kept him from testing his "bounciness" by advising him "you really don't want to go that way" or "how are you going to get down if you go up there"? etc. etc. And by the way, Fossillady was also a great help at that.... VEX needs a serious climbing team, with experience and all that neat stuff like pitons, ropes, belays, etc. Anyone up for it? It's from 1898, unrecovered, very likely still there. A helicopter with a long rope might work instead....


He also didn't mention (out of modesty? - heck, I'm not...) that on Sunday we had three FTF's on marks from 1899 not previouly logged as found on NGS or GC: HOUSE, T 136 and T 136 HIGH. Now THAT was really, really cool! We also were kindly guided by John & Shirley to several other old (pre-1900) marks which they had previously recovered. [Edit: John's 2003 found log of T 136 HIGH was just the cairn, not the mark. Maybe he will re-consider that..... this time we found the actual mark, and even a piece of the chisel used to carve the cross!]


More pics, links & logs tonight. I better get some work done in my office.... Oh yeah, I've also gotta try to get lots of new scratches buffed out of my Jeep..... these marks were a long ways from any paved road, or in several cases from ANYTHING most people would call a road.... The Jeep sure did good!


With some help from Fossillady, we also managed to find about 6 geocaches, at least one of which was quite memorable.....


Thanks again, John, Shirely & Fossillady!

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A few more teasers for AZcachemeister:


John looking for a route up



A view of Laughlin from partway up the slope to the saddle west of VEX:



A view of the VEX area from partway up the same slope to the west saddle:



I think we have said it all. Anyone seriously attempting it, please let us know. I will be willing to provide Jeep transport to the site, and ground crew / photo support / cheerleading. You WILL need a serious 4X4 to get there, in my opinion. Soccer-mom grade all-wheel drive mini-vans need not apply.

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You guys are ANIMALS! I hope the rock face isn't really as steep as it looks in the pics! :(

It reminds me of those climbs on Mt. Desert Is. @ Acadia Nat'l Park - I get nauseated just thinking about them! [imagine barfing smilie here!]


The rock face really is that steep! That's why I needed good traction and handholds. Here is a shot showing the scale of things. The arrow points towards the intrepid trio of benchmark hunters.




Good luck to the next person who gets VEXed.



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It was a GREAT trip but believe me I am paying for it. My calves were so sore the next day that I begged off on finding the really old marks. I instead drove home and found lots of BM 's on the side of the road that required no hiking and for which I had no coordinates. I just watched for witness posts. I won't post any pictures because I seem to have set my camera on black and white and it just doesn't due justise to the views. I took one look at the slope and new I couldn't try but encouraged John to try but it just wasn't meant to happen. Thanks for the invitation and maybe we should make this and annual trip. I am sure there are more Benchmark we can find. :huh:

Edited by fossillady
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Nice to see your attempts.


Maybe one day I will get that far West.

When I do I will make sure to let you know,I am not a billy goat but I have been in some pretty awesome situations on the side of a mountian.


I know all about them breaking hand holes.

I found myself once about 200 feet up a cliff with what seemed no way out.

Everytime I tried to move the rock broke out in all directions.


Have you ever wondered what that brown stain is on cliffs :huh: ?


Well I finally made it down and go very prepared anymore.


I am glad to see you left no trace............... B)

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