September, '03



A 5-day, Front Range climbing binge.




   It happened.  I managed to get back to Colorado for five glorious days of climbing before the cold of winter reared it's ugly head. It was sublime. I fell in love again with the climbing on the Front Range.    It seems endless.      It is endless.

    Andrew and Matt took me to a new (to me) crag in the Poudre on the first day and we climbed several excellent routes in a beautiful setting. All day I thought of the many days I had climbed with these two and all the adventures we had shared. It had been seven years since Andrew took me on my first multi-pitch rock climb and started teaching how to climb.   How little I knew then about how my life was going to change.

    The second day, I climbed with Jason and Lisa at Lumpy. I wanted a new Lumpy experience and after sifting through my guidebook, Climb of the Ancient Mariner surfaced at the top of my tick list. (Although I do admit it seemed odd to travel to RMNP and then clip bolts on a face climb!)  What we ascended was a superb line of awkward stems, hand cracks, roofs, and a sea of tiny holds. The light smattering of bolts provided the spice. Coupled with the panorama of the high peaks and two close friends, it was something special.   However, the day was not over...  Feeling exuberant and a little cocky, I decided I could lead the Little Twin Owls Finger Crack. 5.11a     Ha!  I was again reminded that I have much to learn; and that I have fun even when I have to aid a little. :)

    Day three dawned rainy, but I drove to Estes anyway to meet Lisa and hang out. We spend the day lounging around her apartment and then met Jason and Pina at Combat Rock in the afternoon. Jason and Pina climbed the Diagonal while Lisa and I linked Pearl Harbor and Eight Clicks to Saigon. I think everyone of us was challenged this day. 

   This was the first time I had seen Jason leading 5.9 trad and he climbed confidently and smoothly.  He had climbed harder routes, but I had been in Utah. I couldn't help feeling proud that I had taught Jason how to climb and now he was leading a 5.9 next to me on his own gear.  Not only that, he was leading his girlfriend up her hardest climb ever.  It was official, Jason had graduated from the In over your head all the time - School of Climbing.

    For our part, Lisa and I worked the crimps and smears of our route and managed to get up without weighting the rope. A feat that threatened to escape us until we climbed around the 10d crux at the top.  :)   Logan Canyon must be making me soft because that felt hard for 10d.

    On day four, Jason and I climbed the Yellow Spur in Eldo. I must say that the first pitch had my full attention. Especially the overhanging part that wanted to turn my smooth confidence into a desperate thruch. Yea...  Jason liked that part too.  We cruised the rest of the route but took our time to savor the final exposed knife-edge on the last pitch. After a spicy down climb, we rapped and hiked down to the Bastille where we met Kurt.

    I was feeling content at this point and suggested that Jason lead Kurt up the first pitch of the Bastille Crack.  Fortuitously, we had the route to ourselves the entire evening save for one free soloist. Jason sailed up the pitch with nary a pensive thought or hint of anxiety. This despite the fact that the first bomber protection is 30 feet up and the whole route is polished from so many hands. Kurt seconded the route and climbed better than I had ever seen him climb. Kurt is another friend who began climbing with me.    Again, all was well in the Universe.    We finished up by top roping the Northcut start to the Bastille Crack. Seemed like a sandbag to me at 10c, but what do I know, I'm not even a local.  :)   or is that   :(

    On the day I left, Lisa, Kurt, Jason and Pina all met me at Horsetooth and we bouldered for 4 or 5 hours.  It was the perfect end to my trip. Not one of them had climbed at the Torture Chamber and their excitement was infectious. Lisa, Jason and I got the roof problem, which I had never done without a toprope. We finished at the Piano Boulders and pulled until everyone had sore fingertips. Jason even found another poor soul willing to do his mantle problem.  :)

    I left town with a smile that has yet to fade.

Back to Top
Matt, leading a fun pitch near the road.
Andrew turning a 5.9 roof.
Andrew on second after letting me lead his new favorite route in the Poudre.
Love those foot smears...
Matt working with crimpy sidepulls.
Jason studying the 10a crux of Climb of the Ancient Mariner. In the background is Lisa, pulling the roof on the first pitch.
Lisa, also examining the delicate nature of the crux. 
A shot of me starting the second pitch of Climb of the Ancient Mariner. It's a little run out.
Lisa, high on the second pitch.
My favorite cragging view of all time.
Jason stepping it up and leading Diagonal 5.9 on a stellar afternoon. 
Approaching the footless crux section of the Diagonal.
Lisa above the roof on Pearl Harbor 10c. We linked this with Eight Clicks to Saigon for one of the best routes on Combat.
Lisa and Jason at the side by side, bolted belays. 
Jason on the lower pitches of the Yellow Spur 5.9. It's easy to see why this is such a classic route.
Jason trying to go up where I traversed. Should I tell him?...
A little less slack please?
There is some exposure on the Yellow Spur! 
Kurt belaying Jason on his first Eldo lead, the first pitch of the Bastille Crack 5.8.
Stepping left to the crack and the first piece of bomber protection...
Which wouldn't be so bad except he's 30 feet up already. Jason has steady nerves when falling is undesirable.
Ahh, that must feel good. Did I mention that this may be the greasiest sandstone crack I have ever climbed?
A close up of the previous picture.
Cruising the route. I should have picked something harder.  :)
Kurt discovers the joys of climbing an Eldo Classic that's polished from the passing of so many hands.
Kurt must have warmed up properly on this pitch; in a half an hour he'll be cranking through some much harder moves on the Northcut start. 5.10
Trying to campus an overhang at the Piano Boulders.
Lisa pulling through yet another roof on her first visit to the Torture Chamber and the Piano Boulders.

Back to Top