Of all the areas I've been to in the Queen Creek Canyon area, this is the most beautiful so far. The approach is maybe a bit more than some climbers are willing to take on, but totally worth it.
We stuck to the Diamond Dog area both days. I planned on finally leading some more outside (it's been quite a while), but decided to TR my first route (5.8,), which turned out to be pretty heady even with the rope already up. I wasn't too sure about leading at that point, but when I walked up to the next climb (Shock Treatment, 5.8,) I said "to hell with it" and just tied in and grabbed some draws. It wasn't too bad; I've had better though.
It was then decided that my next climb (Second Thoughts, 5.8,) would also be on lead. I wasn't too keen on that one because of the big layback flake with possibilities of a pendulum swing. I jumped on it and worked my way up, clipping in a draw or two.. then moving left and trying to work up the layback. My hands were so greasy and I was so nervous! I kept watching my feet and trying to figure out where best to put them, just in case, but afraid to move them up for fear I'd slip and fall. Lucky for me, my hands couldn't hold any longer and slipped right off the flake. I gasped a single "falling!" under my breath, swung far out right and.. my toe barely snagged the rope, resulting in a very soft *bump* to the wall. Even though nothing bad happened, I still wasn't a fan.. but I wasn't about to just give up! I worked my way back up, clipped my next bolt, and then it was all cake from there! First outdoor lead fall!
The next one up was a 5.9 -- Devil Dog. This one turned out to be just my style, working up to just under a roof and then skirting around it. A bit on the bouldery side, so it was perfect! Second onsight of the day. I finished off on Mixed Beans (5.10b), which at that point in the day I knew wouldn't be an onsight. But I figured why not? So I took a bag of cheese and grapes with me, hanging off the harness, so I could snack on them at each of the two rest ledges on the climb. This one gets tougher as it goes up, so having as much strength (including psychological cheese strength!) as possible, can be very helpful. I fell three times at the anchor itself -- the crux of the climb.
I did finally get it. Maybe next time it will be clean.
The next day I returned with a slightly different group of people. My "climbing zen" seemed a bit off that day, as I went to lead a 5.8 but forgot to change out of my hiking shoes. I spent the rest of the day lead belaying.. I guess some days you just don't feel it, and that's okay. It was a very eventful weekend in the beautiful AZ wilderness.. there's nothin' better!