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First Descents Climbing Camps: Moab May 2011

The Colorado Mountain School (CMS) has been very lucky to partner with an amazing organization called First Descents (FD). FD is a wonderful program that offers young adult cancer survivors a breath of fresh air, a break from their normal lives and a chance to live through the spirit of adventure. Each camp offers the opportunity for young adult survivors to share their experiences, battles and on going fight with fellow survivors. In the middle of this gathering FD and CMS offer climbing as another way to challenge the mind and spirit of the group. In April a group of CMS guides made a road trip out to Moab Utah to participate in the first two FD climbing camps of the 2011 season. 

Our group toured out to the mighty Titian in the Fisher Towers collecting photos and discussing the ancient history of the land.  We scrambled and hiked down the desert washes enjoying every step of the way.

Here CMS guide, Bob Chase, give excellent advice and great coaching to a FD camper. Not every step is smooth but that’s part of the adventure. 

We slush in desert mud puddles and cross trickling creek beds to find our way through the slot canyon.

As we reach the exit with our ecstatic group, we talk about our favorite parts of the day and what the dinner might be when we return back in to civilization.
After a great week with an incredible group the CMS guides and FD staff gear up for the second camp. We prepare for the next journey.  The next camp is all return campers with quite a bit of experience.  So we get back out in the desert and start with some more advanced climbing and prep for a multi pitch adventure.

We head out to the desert backcountry near the Island in the Sky area.  The FD folks are getting psyched for their experience. Some with more conventional helmets than others. 
This is it the climb that everyone has been waiting for. Notice the trending right leaning crack with the steep head wall… that’s going to be us.
Strong work Krash, she is working hard at the crux of the route… almost there!

Nice work FD campers!!  We all made it to the top after a full day of rock climbing and a long week of prep. There are some deep thoughts while at the summit waiting for the rappels that follow.

The FD climbing program is a great way for me to give back and to share climbing experiences with people that are so in to the present moment. These were first two of ten FD camps of the season.  I can’t wait till the next one. Check back for some more climbing adventures in Estes Park this spring and summer with the Colorado Mountain School and take a minute to see all the great work First Descents is doing by jumping on their website at:

Joey Thompson
AIARE Level 1 Instructor
AMGACertified Rock Guide
AMGA Certified SPI Program Director

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