Day: 10
Miles: 1,900ish
Location: Panorama Point, Nebraska elev. 5,424ft
The tricky last 5.10d section of the ascent of Panorama Point
Every climber has a couple of stories of climbs that simply went all wrong. I've had some good climbs and bad climbs, but this one takes the cake. Panorama Point is Nebraska's high point. Think of a kitchen table. Now place a quarter on that kitchen table; the table represents the state of Nebraska. The quarter represents the high point. You can drive to it if you wish. You might be wondering- how could such a place turn out to be an epic climb? Well, in true Joe-fashion, it just sort of ended up that way.

So, there I was, in Pine Bluffs, Wyoming. I had to take a spider-web of county roads to get to the point. Its located in the extreme southwestern corner of the Nebraska Panhandle, just north of the Colorado state line. (If you want to climb it, directions are at the end of the blog) Its actually quite a site to see with rolling prairies and roaming antelope. Some might consider it boring, but there is a certain elegance to this part of the country. The point's entrance is located on County Road 5 which is really in the middle of nowhere.
Middle. Of. Nowhere.
That was about when DISASTER STRUCK! I walk over to the entrance station to pay the $3 fee, with the car still on. Then, the wind blows hard and closes my car door.

The automatic locking system engages and locks me out of my car.

Without a phone.

In... the... middle... of... nowhere....

I must confess, I absolutely flipped a lid. Shamelessly and violently, kicked the dust, and screamed all kinds of countless obscenities. For the record, it was a pretty serious situation. The car was still on with the phone charging inside. I have my wallet and the clothes on my back. Houses are literally 1 per 25 square miles. To top it all, its supposed to rain later. Damn.

After getting over the initial frustration, I started making my way down to the first ranch. It was actually a buffalo ranch on the Colorado boarder and about a mile away. I searched around the ranch, but nobody was home. Back to the car. I had to walk another mile north to the next house. Again, nobody's home. So I walked another 2 miles to the intersection of County Road 5 and 6 (cause that seemed like it would be a pretty happenin' place). I waited about an hour for any car to pass, but none did.
A long ways from civilization
At this point, I realized I will probably have to break a window to get into the car. So, I made a long walk back to the car and about 2 miles into it A CAR FINALLY PASSES! The very nice folks let me use their cell phone to call AAA. After a 20 minute call they finally found a company that could help me. Mind you, these nice folks are waiting in their pickup truck. Of course, it was incredibly difficult to explain where I was, but they said they'd send someone out.

I had to walk 2 more miles to the place where I'd meet the truck. Ever heard that Tom Petty song, "The Waiting is the Hardest Part"? It most certainly is. I waited, and waited, and waited and nobody showed up. Back to Plan B- break the window. For the third time, I made the 2 mile trot back to my car. The AAA people were already over an hour late so I figured they couldn't find me. Fortunately, another nice guy passed by and I was able to call AAA again. They FINALLY ARRIVED! But I wasn't out of the woods yet... turns out its very difficult to break into my car. All their equipment was too large for the windows. In a moment of ingenuity, we found some clean, simple wire lying around that was able to fit into the window. After 30 minutes of fiddling about, we finally were able to use it to roll down the window and get into the car... whew.

Another tricky section of ice climbing
Might as well climb the point! The road goes all the way to the top, but I decided not to take any chances and hiked most of it. I took several funny pictures with the ice axe; its neither a climb nor even much of a hike! However, if you are a "state-highpointer" like me, then this is just one more box to check! I do recommend seeing it if you're traveling east on highway 80, because it is scenic. Hopefully your ascent will be less troublesome.

Here is the website and directions if you would like to "climb" Nebraska!

...and please, take your keys with you!