Archive for the ‘climbing’ Category

Brad, Pete, Tara and I spent Veteran’s Day at Staunton State Park with a mixed bag of activities in mind. Tara took off for a trail run while Brad, Pete and I headed to Park View Dome for an easy multi-pitch route.

Hey Ranger! is a 3-pitch 5.5 route that most resembles a granite version of the 3rd Flatiron. Just my kind of climbing. While I’m still getting back into the proper head-space for leading, I decided to take the first pitch’s lead and felt pretty comfortable, despite the run-out first 30 feet.

Pete and Brad followed the pitch and while Pete racked up to lead pitch 2, Brad and I started to wonder where Tara was and Brad rapped down to hunt for her.

Pete did well on pitch 2, so I followed up and finished the route’s shorter and easier 3rd pitch to the summit where I built an anchor completely on chicken-heads.

We coiled the rope and took a short hike to find a rappel tree that lead to a descent gully between the Parkview and Ranch Hand Domes.

Tara showed up at the base of the climb and we soon found Brad waiting at a trail junction for us.

After all gathering up again, we hiked up to the Tan Corridor and Brad led Reef On It! a popular 5.10 sport route. Tara, Pete and myself each took a top-roped lap on the climb before calling it a day. It was my second trip to Staunton and I’ll have to come back just for a long trail run one of these days to explore more of the park.


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After the Moab Trail Half Marathon, Tara, Brad, Chris and I retired to Milt’s for lunch then repacked for an afternoon rock climbing at Maverick Buttress in Long Canyon.

Brad and Chris tag-teamed a lead up the 5.10 Saddle Sores while Tara and I top-roped after them.

Brad then lead up the neighboring route Texas Two Step and the rest of us top-roped the climb.

Then it was back to Moab where I realized why my climbing shoes had hurt so bad – I’d received a couple large blisters from the trail run earlier in the day.

The next morning Tara and I provided some support (mostly heckling) as Brad and Chris stuffed gear into dry bags and considered swimming across the Colorado River to access a short desert tower. After one aborted attempt without wetsuits, then another where swimming in a strong current proved a tough way to cross. We shuttled the wet climbers up river to a shallower spot.

This time they managed to wade all the way across the river below the Barney Rumble Tower which some interesting hiking, canyoneering and a little bonus pitch of rock climbing allowed them to access and climb.

Since they were now out of shouting range our job heckling was over and we drove on to the Fisher Towers for a beautiful hike.

Next time we come to Moab (for the 2014 Moab Trail Marathon?) we really need to make it at least a 4-day weekend.

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Staunton State Park is a recent addition to Colorado’s state park system and opened for (legal) climbing only last summer. With climbing limited around much of the northern Front Range due to last month’s flooding, Tara, Brad and I took a trip out 285 to check out the rock domes here.

Despite doing fairly well in an orienteering race the day before, I managed to get us started on the wrong trail and we got to do some bonus mileage on the way to Staunton Rocks. Armed with the free guidebook from Fixed Pin we found our way through the Tan Corridor and up to the Marmot Tower. The 5.5 trad route “Maybe the Marmot Ate Your Baby” was our warm-up goal. I took one look at the continuous crack system and felt a sudden desire to jump on the sharp end of the rope. I asked Brad for the rack and suited up much to Tara’s surprise.

Sure I over-protected the route, and fiddled in marginal gear from less-than-ideal stances, but I still felt pretty good for my first time leading in well over a year.

We played around on the neighboring routes: Baby Steps (5.9) and Shoes for Dessert (5.8+), with Brad leading Shoes and all of us top-roping Baby Steps.

The weather was clouding up so we started our hike out, but couldn’t resist stopping in the Tan Corridor where Brad led 80 Grit (5.10) and Tara and I top-roped the route.

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The last few weeks have been busier with normal life stuff than I’d like and while I have been out hiking, running and raced an orienteering meet, the blog has certainly been quiet on those smaller events. However, Tara and I got out for a weekend trip to Shelf Road, a destination rock climbing area of sunny limestone southwest of Colorado Springs. A normal 2.5 hour drive was delayed by rush-hour traffic through Denver and the campgrounds were all full so we eventually punted and got a hotel room for the first night. Disappointing since I was looking forward to camping in the high desert more than anything.

Saturday morning we rendezvoused with two other car-loads at the Sand Bank area and hiked into the Contest Wall. I’ve barely climbed in the last year+, so getting up The Opportunist (5.9) felt significant and once on top I setup a second anchor and took myself out of the climbing rotation and became the trip photographer. Being on a separate anchor and rope I could move up and down and capture more professional-style photographs from above and avoid the all-too-common “butt shots”.

After our group climbed the two 5.9’s (The Opportunist and Enterprise), Brad tried leading Phase Dance (5.12b) and had a handhold break off sending on a fairly major (but ultimately safe) fall. I wish I hadn’t been rappelling off my anchor at the time and had a lens pointed at him.

We moved on to Regroovable (5.11b) and Lime And Punishment (5.11b/c), neither of which I climbed, but the first I ascended and took up an airy perch for more shots.

At the end of the day I did top-rope one more route and we found a dispersed camping site to enjoy sleeping out in the desert air.

A several hour rain setup at 2am and caused some loss of sleep. Lingering clouds and cold air in the morning sent us away from the cliffs of Shelf Road and back into Canon City for breakfast and a drive home.

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30 minutes after finishing work for the week I met Pete at Chautauqua where were left the trailhead bound for the Second Flatiron. He’d never done the Freeway Route (class 4-5.0) before so that was our goal.

With just helmets, rock shoes and chalk bags this makes a quick and fun tour of a flatiron. The main (psychological) obstacle is the diving board – jump or look for a down climb?

After reaching the end of the route and a hiking trail we switch shoes and motored back to Chautauqua. Pete leaves to bike up NCAR and Tara enters stage left. We’ve got tickets for the Reel Rock film tour tonight and first hobnob at the American Alpine Club’s VIP pre-party. At least with having just gone up a flatiron I felt a bit more like a climber than I have of this year.

Saturday morning I head out for a short bike ride, made a little longer by somehow biking farther north on 4th street than I’d planned, but then made my first journey up Sunshine Canyon, to connect with the dirt Poorman road, then some nice downhill on pavement via Fourmile and then more squeezing the brakes on the dirt path down Boulder Canyon. My hands almost had more of a workout than my legs on this ride from their death grip on the brakes.

Arriving home I had just enough time to change and pack a lunch and Tara and I took off for the Denver area and an orienteering meet being held at Cherry Creek State Park. We’d signed up to do the medium difficulty (orange) course individually and placed 3rd and 4th (my better half besting me on this outing when I overran a couple controls). After resting a bit we decided to stick with our original plan of doing the green (short, but difficult) course as a team and walking it. Despite walking, our navigation was far more accurate and we finished top-10 for that course too. results

Sunday I went out for another bike ride, but keep it flatter than yesterday’s ride. About 35 miles long, it was a great 2 hour tour of the rural roads north east of town and a good reminder that exploring new roads is a big part of what I enjoy about cycling.

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Five months since I last rock climbed I agree to head to the Flatirons with Pete. During the drought of climbing I kept saying I’d be back on rock eventually and figured that “eventually” might start with a climb of the Fatiron. Two years ago we did this same climb and had a blast, this year I got us lost on the approach and we scrambled a few hundred feet on the “Forgotten Flatiron” before figuring out where we weren’t.

Having at least obtained a higher vantage point, and gotten a warm-up, we hiked back down and south to the Fatiron and easily scrambled up the north-side approach to the start of the route. I remembered the first pitch as being the crux (a thin crack with enough, if not plentiful, protection) and set off on lead with some trepidation. Slower and less confident than 2 years ago, I still got up and ran out most of the rope to an cramped belay stance that owed it’s minor “ledge” attribute to a dying bush. Pete followed with much more vigor than I’d displayed (has he been climbing in the gym these last few weeks?) and joined me on the bush.

Relieved to have the “crux” done I still found my climbing was tenuous and unconfident as I tackled pitch two. That the wind was picking up did little for my nerves and I belayed at a good sized ledge to make up for the bushy stance I’d previously parked out on.

Once again Pete cruised up the pitch and handed me the rack of gear I’d placed. I recalled pitch 3 being runout, but easy with a sea of jugs. Unfortunately, I headed too far left – up a water-polished mini-gully with harder moves and little pro. I was shaken by the time I reached the summit. At least the wind seemed more mild on top and the sun did something to restore my spirits while Pete climbed up to this eastern summit. Lunch helped even more, but I was considering bailing on the last of the climb.

After a short scramble and rappel, I was wavering in my commitment to bail. Looking up at the last two pitches to the western summit I was still having trouble summoning the psyche to continue leading and somehow talked Pete into doing his first trad lead. For better or worse, Pete set off with the rack and tackled the less-protectable-than-I-recalled pitch with more poise than I was likely to muster today. Fiddling with cams in odd spots he set a few good pieces and several less-than-ideal. I climbed up to his tree belay, helped reduce the cluster of his anchor then figured I should lead the last pitch – a pitch that turned out to be really short, really easy and easily protectable. Humm, maybe this should have been Pete’s first trad lead.

One last rappel, then some bushwhacking around the north side of the formation and a hike back towards the Shadow Canyon cutoff trail and we were out of the shadow of the Fatiron. When I got home I stuffed my climbing gear back in a box where it should stay until I’ve really got my motivation back.

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Ouray Ice Park

Trying to drive to Ouray Friday night to maximize the time available for ice climbing resulted in sleeping in on Saturday. The three-day weekend turned out to be a popular one for the ice park with plenty of guided groups. We squeezed in where we could and ended up climbing next to some people we knew who were climbing with Chicks with Picks.

Sunday we got a bit earlier start and didn’t have to walk as far as the South Park area to find a climb open. Instead we climbed at the New Funtier section of the park.

I got a couple photos of the climber next to us before we walked back to the bridge.

There we ran into a couple we had talked to in the morning and ended up doing some cool-down laps on their rope setup near the bridge.

The hot springs and Ouary Brewery were taken advantage of before we got up the next morning for the drive back (lengthened by some new snow on Monarch Pass).

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