Last weekend the Brutes and I had a nice weather window, so we headed up to Rocky Mountain National Park to do some ice climbing. We had several objectives in mind, with West Gully up near Black Lake the primary objective. It is a 450 foot, 5-pitch, WI4 ice climb that forms up pretty consistently in the fall, and even though this year the ice is pretty lean it was still in. Dan and I climbed the route in 4 pitches, him taking the crux pitch and me leading the enduro-slabs at the top of the route. The descent from the top turned out to be the hardest part, and we hiked out in the dark. You can read Jeff Fox’s account of the trip on his blog.
This weekend I was a bit iced-out, and the weather was going to be nice and sunny. We headed down into the South Platte to do a bit of crack climbing at Turkey Rocks. Turkey Rocks is known for great crack climbing, and it didn’t disappoint. I climbed a few routes to warm up, then we headed over to Dan’s project, a 5.11- crack climb called Whimsical Dreams. I scrambled up over the top, and rapped in from above to take some photos from above. It was a great day with good weather at a super-nice crag.
Climbing, climbing, climbing. This past month has seen some vertical action and I finally got up into the Park to do some alpine rock. I had been climbing a lot in Boulder Canyon mostly to take advantage of the cooler weather there, but also to climb some more sport routes on granite. If you find a shady area in the upper section of the canyon, it can be quite comfortable even when the temperatures in Boulder hit the 90s. I did get to Eldorado Canyon once this month to climb Rewritten with Fabio, still one of my favorite routes there.
Mike and I went up to the Park on Wednesday evening to start BivyFest ‘08. We had planned on bivying for three nights and climbing three alpine rock routes, but the weather was not cooperative. We were able to bivy below and climb Spearhead, but bailed on the trip after that climb due to weather. It’s gonna snow up there today! We got a bit wet on the hike out, but luckily we were able to avoid the worst of it.
On our hike out from Spearhead, we saw a small herd of elk grazing above Black Lake. After seeing several smaller elk, we spotted the big daddy of the group – right in the middle of the trail! We snapped some pictures and waited for a while (as we were being eaten alive by mosquitoes), but he stood his ground in the middle of the trail. Finally we made enough noise that he moved off to the side and we were able to quickly pass. His horns looked sharp!