Archive for May, 2010

Friday morning comes with a day off and I get some alone time in the car with the new album The National and an americano as I drive south to Colorado Springs. Once the visitors center at Garden of the Gods opens up I get a climbing permit from a lady who looks just like Sarah Palin. I look towards the park (and Pikes Peak) and spot the route I’ve come to climb, New Era.

Kevin meets me in the parking lot and we circle the park to hit the parking area we want then hoof it towards the southeast side of Grey Rock. The alcove at top of the second pitch helps identify the start of the route and we gear up in the shade of a large boulder.

I find the climbing on the first pitch to be pretty easy, but I remain careful around the sometimes horrible rock quality here. For the most part, the rock is good, except where it’s covered in bird crap. One ledge partway up pitch one is a veritable superfund site that I gingerly work around. I could probably easily link the first two pitches, but decide to go into the crux on pitch 2 with most all my gear so I belay at a not-so-great stance that results in a hanging belay.

Kevin quickly follows, only taking one short fall while trying to get a nut out. He’s less than excited about the hanging belay, but glad I didn’t link these two pitches as he feels a bit out of climbing shape.

For pitch 2 I start left of the belay and run it out a bit before I reach the layback crack. Actually, I mix laybacks, jamming and stemming to get past this section then hit a better belay stance at the obvious alcove. Kevin follows and takes advantage of my lack of cam placements above the crux to move right onto easier terrain then traverses back to the alcove.

I depart for the final pitch by exiting right and stop to capture Kevin’s belay and the road below.

Pitch 3 is easy, but wanders a bit and involves trusting some rock flakes that didn’t seem like they’d be around for a long time. I ended up exiting into a gully and belayed Kevin up then we scrambled to the summit.

We exited Grey Rock to the south, keeping the downclimb to 4th class to 5.0 as we followed a couple different gullies.

The final cliffs to the base were rappelled thanks to some large eye bolts.

Adam’s complete photo album
Kevin’s photo album

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Forgoing rock climbing for an evening, I decided to take a hike. I hadn’t yet been to Golden Gate Canyon State Park so I made the 30+ minute drive and headed out on the reassuringly-named “Mountain Lion Trail”.

A mile or so brought me to an old quarry were I took off towards Blue Mountain. The ridge I was following got a little interesting and I stuck to the crest as much as possible and found some fun scrambling.

After passing a small water and spotting a fox, I plateaued at a little saddle and bore right for the summit. More rock outcrops provided some entertainment along the way.

I eventually reached the summit and leafed through the register, spotting several familiar names.

For the descent I headed east off the summit then worked my way back south, hitting the trail and jogging some of it back to the trailhead.

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For our second day of climbing together, Gary and I again headed to the West Ridge in Eldo. At the Unsaid area we scrambled up to a ledge and Gary took pitch one of Chianti (5.8+).

The crux was right off the ground and Gary suffered a bit from the heat of the afternoon sun and a run earlier in the day. Tired out he reached the tree belay at the end of the pitch and I followed. Pitch two was shorter, but rated just as hard.

Reaching the tree in the above photo was easy, then the climbing got slightly overhanging and I started to get pumped out towards the top. At least the holds got larger, but the stances weren’t ideal for resting and placing protection, so I ended up running out the top to easier terrain. Going over the top of the ridge I found a nice seat and anchor in the shade with a great view of Redgarden Wall.

The rappel anchors at the top of the route Atom Smasher didn’t look very confidence inspiring, so we scrambled down to the anchor at Washington Irving and started the two pitch rappel back down.

The second pitch returned us to our packs and water which we sorely needed.

Resting up for a bit in the shade, we decided to do something easier to finish out the day. Hiking back to the parking lot we reached the Whale’s Tail formation and I agreed to take the first pitch of Clementine (run out 5.5).

Gary got the exposed but easy 5.2 second pitch.

A single rappel and a bit of scrambling returned us back to the ground.

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After two weeks away from Colorado I was thankful to be back home and have a great weather day. Pete and I decided to tackle the Fatiron, a rock formation just north of the Maiden near Boulder.

We knew most of the approach from our climb of the Maiden a month prior, then we just headed up a gully and eventually decided to scramble up the rocks to the base of the climb.

For some reason, I though we were a little lower down and not actually at the start of the 5th class climbing, so we did some extra scrambling when we probably should have broken out the rope earlier.

After reaching a flat-ish spot, we switched shoes and got out the ropes and hardware. I traversed right to reach the regular start and began up a nice finger crack only occasionally marred by bushes. Pete followed and reached my belay at a stout tree.

The next pitch had a fun bulge and plenty of easier climbing.

I found pitch three to be easy, but very run out. I ended up threading more potholes than placing cams.

Pete arrived at the summit and we took a short break to enjoy the beautiful day.

After scrambling west off the summit we reached a tree and its rappel anchor to get us to the saddle.

To the south I watched a pair of climbers start the traverse along the west ridge to the north side route on the Maiden.

I started up our forth pitch and was able to walk the first 30 feet or so without using my hands. Above the climbing got marginally harder so I reverted to all fours until I reached a nice belay stance.

The last pitch was run-out in spots, but pretty easy and I just barely reached the summit in one rope length.

Pete climbed up and we watched the climbers on The Maiden reach the tree belay.

Then we moved to the west side of the summit and found the last rappel anchor.

We descended the north side of the Fatiron, then scrambled back over the saddle at the base of our route to meet up with our earlier path.

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