climbing otto's staircase in gold star canyon

Gold Star Canyon up to Otto’s Staircase

“Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.”
Ed Viesturs, No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World’s 14 Highest Peaks

“Climbing is as close as we can come to flying.”
Margaret Young

Kids were complaining pretty loudly this morning.

I blame it on the birthday party we had yesterday.

You see, following my ‘I’m a mean mom’ mantra, I only throw ‘friend parties’ for my kids every four years. Connor was only turning 9 so he just had his friend party last year. This year: family.

Mean, right?

Anyhoo- so we did lots of fun stuff yesterday: ate waffles, went to the park, had Wendy’s for lunch, got him a flute, opened presents, make/frosted/ate cake, went bowling, played Wii, went to Olive Garden for dinner…You get the idea.

So I’m going to blame bad attitudes today on the comparable bliss of yesterday.

Climbing to the rescue!

You see, if I say, ‘Let’s go for a hike!’ then there will be noisy protests. But “You kids wanna go climbing?” then it’s packs-on-get-in-the-car-let’s-go-asap!

I figured Gold Star Canyon would be just the ticket. It’s an area I’m very familiar with that I knew I could coach them up, and it would give us a chance to check out [read that as: find and explore for future exploiting] Otto’s Staircase.

I also figured it would be ice/snow-free.

I was wrong.

There were still several ice flows…from a few inches to a few feet…ice sheets coating the cliffs. I was amazed! This is notoriously one of the drier canyons. I’ve even intentionally tried to catch a flash-flood there when it’s been raining. To no avail.

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The kids had a marvelous time climbing up and up and up. Each one had their own ‘skill line’.

Eventually we reached the bench trail and soon after found the fork that leads up up up up up up to the cliff face, where we found, hidden behind an old leafless juniper tree, a rudimentary staircase carved into the rock.

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Trinity and Tim climbed quickly up it. I made an attempt but was concerned that I would be a little too uncomfortable on the return descent. Matt came to the same conclusion.

We decided it would be better to wait for an opportunity when we could climb all the way up to the top, then hike out on the upper Liberty Cap trail [with a pit-stop at Otto’s Bathtub, of course].

BTW- the views were immense!

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We went back the way we came…slowly and carefully… and hiked out the Bench Trail and the more traditional Gold Star Canyon route.

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It felt, at times, as though we were flying.

Now check out the ever impressive images Matt captured:

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And this is my favorite:

otto's staircase

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