June, '02 


My first trip to Shelf Road

    A couple weeks ago, Guillaume and I both woke up to find that our ladies had run away for a month. Koren to Idaho and Jennifer all the way to Italy. After two weeks of moping around Fort Collins, (READ: climbing and drinking all the time) we decided that a road trip was in order. Apparently this decision was made on a drinking night because on Saturday morning, we were heading south into a beautiful desert environment and 100 degree daytime highs.

    Shelf is one of the premier sport climbing areas of Colorado with over 500 bolted routes. The area is administered by the BLM but requires a $4/night registration fee for the campsites. The sites come complete with a flat tent area, fire ring, picnic table and outhouse. Not a bad deal really, but I hate paying extra fees to camp on land that I am supposed to own.

     Our first destination was an area called The Dark Side. As you might expect, this area offers shade for most of the day, which was a requirement given the heat. We left a note on the truck with directions for Jason, who was meeting us later in the day, and started the 8 minute approach. I was excited since this was my first time climbing on limestone. By the end of the first day however, I felt as though I had been punished for my bad technique. The stone was often sharp and a careless knee scraped across the rock quickly turned into a strawberry.

      We climbed most of the day at The Dark Side. If there routes were 5.10b or below,  Guillaume and I would both lead them. If they were harder, which they often were, Guillaume would lead them and I would toprope them. This was great from my perspective since this meant I got to climb lots of 5.11 routes.

     The next day, we overslept and then headed to The Bank which was in the morning shade. I led a few routes and Guillaume continued to setup 5.11 topropes for Jason and me. Guillaume climbed a 5.11d! After a while we went back to the Dark Side. We did a few more routes here and then packed up and headed to the truck. On the way out, I coerced Guillaume into going to another area before we left. He had already been there but agreed to go when I reminded him that we had nothing to get home to. Jason was also keen to hit another area. This time it was Contest Wall.

     In convincing Guillaume to go, I had agreed to lead all the pitches. This turned out to be a little more exciting when we left the guidebook in the truck. Guillaume walked up to the first area and dropped his pack and said, "I remember this, it's not too bad". I could not decide if he was sandbagging me, but I tied in to the rope and started up. It wasn't pretty, but I eventually made it. Later I found out that it was only rated 5.10a. Still, it was my favorite climb of the weekend, and my favorite area, so I am glad we went. We toproped the one more climb from the same anchors and called it a weekend.

    Unfortunately, the lighting was not good for photographs. Still, here are a few...

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This is me preparing breakfast burritos on Sunday morning.

Jason and Doser hanging out on the canyon rim Saturday Evening.

Guillaume toproping a difficult climb on Sunday.

Guillaume lowering from a bolted crack climb at The Bank.

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