Posts Tagged ‘rock climbing’

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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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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The omens just kept coming. First it was the train we missed by a scant minutes, then our expired tram passes. Maybe being out for just a simple day had our guard down, but the route we started climbing didn’t match the guidebook description and we didn’t know where we were.

Well, we could see the Index chair lift, and could easily bail to it. So what if the climb wasn’t what we were looking for, the climbing itself seemed reasonable and my pitch two connected with a line of bolts that was obviously on some route.

Some friendly climbers on a neighboring route told me the name of their climb, that still didn’t help me figure out where we were (turns out we were climbing the wrong part of the Gilière). Our makeshift route (portions of Mani pulite and Nez rouge – I think) was quite fun and not knowing what was coming kept the adventure high.

Not knowing when we’d hit the walk-off, I “led” a class 2, grass hike for my final pitch. All part of the adventure. Feeling like it was time to listen to all the omens, but it still being too early to call it a day, we hiked to the base of the Index (a formation we were at least familiar with) and repeated the first two pitches of Voie Brunat-Perroux, reversing the order we’d previously led them.

Complete photo album

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La Somone

After taking the two-stage cable car to the top of the Brévent, Jeremy and I were just left with a downward hike to reach our route, La somone, the perfect active-rest day route. High clouds loomed over all we could see, but still left decent views.

Approaching our route we flushed another chamois who traversed right across our future pitch one before disappearing over the ridge.

After the wildlife played through, we got the base of the route and racked up (just draws) and Jeremy took the first pitch. I kept one eye on the clouds across the valley that seemed to be lowering over the summits.

Jeremy’s first pitch was a little broken up and not much to write home about. Then we had a short downclimb and walk to the base of the next section which looked decidedly more interesting to me.

This pitch followed a crack in a dihedral and actually involved some jamming. I was happy even if I was clipping bolts. Unfortunately, we got a few sprinkles as Jeremy followed the pitch.

Jeremy set off on pitch three and ended up linking it (just barely with our 60 meter rope) to pitch four. Pitch four was the crux of the route (about 5.9) and by linking the pitches Jeremy didn’t get stuck with just another so-so pitch.

After following the combined pitches, we did a very short rappel off the mini-spire we now inhabited.

Another short hike got us to the base of our pitch four. The clouds didn’t look any more threatening, the pitch was short and it had ceased to sprinkle. Game on.

We ended up at the top of a rounded cliff with an easy walk off the back. The route still had two more pitches, separated from us by yet another hike and we seemed to have the weather for it. Post-walk, Jeremy got ready for his last lead.

I again kept an eye on the clouds, as they concealed and revealed the Dru and other summits.

One more easy pitch deposited us just off the hiking path to the tram.

It was windier now that we were on the crest of the ridge, and we quickly packed up and picked up the next cable car down.

Another pan chocolat and Americano warmed us up back in Chamonix.

Complete photo album

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