Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Summer of Climbing

Realizing that I have not written in very long time it seemed fitting that I continue with the stories of my adventures this summer and fall. Let's first talk about climbing... I began guiding climbing as of this summer and it was a wonderful way to get outside, make a few bucks, and get people excited about rock climbing. In the meantime, I planned my days off to head to Colorado to climb Trad. On July 20th myself and Jeremy set off for Estes Park Colorado, home of Rockie Mountain National Park. After long hours of driving straight through the night, we arrive exhausted. The first of the wildlife that we encountered was the most massive and abnoxiously loud red neck I have yet encounter. He managed to keep me awake while he took shots of Jim Beam in front of his three children that night.

The next day we woke around 5 am and headed out to Lumpy Ridge to climb some classic multi-pitch trad. The route of the day was entitled "Osiris" and was going to be my warm up route for the trip. It was a 5 pitch 5.7. I knew it would be less than 5 pitches due the fact we had a 70 meter rope and the routes were named in days of 50 meter ropes. However the routes were rated in the days of the old Yosemite decimal system. The first pitch followed multiple pocket-like cracks following a main off-width. This being Jeremy's first time seconding trad, I attempted to maintain my composure as the pitch was proving to be tricky and c aught me a little off guard. But after a bit of grunting and made it past the first pitch and continued on towards stringing together the next.

The first pitch of "Osiris"

From that point on the pitches went pretty smoothly and we made it up in three pitches with a smile.... it was good to be back on the mountain. We avoided the noon heat and decided to call it quits for the rest of the day. The next day we woke early again and headed towards, Melvin's Wheel and four star 5.8+ route. It was the very same route that I had seconded at age 18 for my frist multipitch. This route was sustained 5.8 all the way up. The pitch was solid finger crack going up and over a bit of an overhang which was challenging enough to be fun. The next pitch proved even more interesting up classic straight narrow hand crack to a large roof.

the second pitch of "Melvin's Wheel"

I reached the roof and set up the hanging belay. The next pitch was very nerve racking. It climbed a grunt worthy off-width crack through the roof, up and over into a chimney. It was my first chimney, and was not so fun. It was hugely flairing from foot width at its base to 30 feet wide at a large angle. Worst of all it had little to no protection. So up I went and my run out crept up to 40 ft, I was breathing hard and in some awkward positions...and finally found protection. Then continued up to the rap, in which we botched and ended up down climbing what should have been a rappel. It was a satisfying day. The next day we attempt to climb Longs Peak, but got off track and managed to climb the crazy scree field from Chasm Lake up to the keyhole. Jeremy and myself decided to back out at this point because, the days previous climbing combined with the scree was wearing us down significantly and we needed rest before heading to Gunnison Canyon.

Gunnison Canyon

We arrived at Gunnison canyon to the ominous rumblings of thunder storms. We met up with my friend Sevve and Collette and went out bouldering, while discussing plans to take on "Maiden Voyage". Two days later we packed up the car at 4:00 am and took off heading for the North Rim of Gunnnison canyon. When we arrived it was raining lightly and looked pretty grim. After contemplating our options we got in the car and began to drive away...but the sun reared through the clouds and we turned around got out and hiked towards the canyon. After finding the fixed rappel lines we descended 1500 ft into the canyon below. The approach was a cake and walking toward the route it looked good. "Maiden Voyage" one of the easier routes (being a 5.9) in the park which is well known for it's challenging trad.

"Maiden Voyage" followed the left edge of the Checker Board wall shown (see the climbers on the crux)

The first pitch and second pitches strung together were pretty mellow, and I set up a hanging belay under a roof next to the crux. The crux was challenging is the best of way, I head out the the edge of the roof and plugged a cam, and picked my way up... with some moments of intensity. The rest of the climb was gorgeous. I sat and smiled as I belayed Jeremy up the last and third pitch.... the rushing river echoing in the massive cavernous canyon with not a soul to be heard or seen... absolutely pristine! We left in the heat of the afternoon and headed back to Denver then homeward. It was a great trip and left me hungry for more trad climbing.