The weather has been hot and pretty horrible in my opinion but I'm also a winter type of person. I'd rather go climbing in 40 below then 100+ degree heat. Six weeks ago, I was running downhill when I tripped over a creek bed and broke my collar bone. Since then, I've been absolutely dying to get out. My recovery process might be different then the average person or more idiotic. It all depends on how you view it.
A week from injury, I was top roping safely in Eldorado Canyon with one arm along with enjoying the summit sunset on Mount Evans. The one arm climbing (and driving for that matter) continued for over another week until my sling came off. I then enjoyed the Bastille Crack with James and Jason. James and I then left for Red Rocks by Vegas for some moderate multi pitch and cragging. I came back and got rope gunned up Total Abandon on Pikes Peak for the last of the ice of the season. The doctor did tell me to get on the ice.
Paul Perea and I on top of Mount Evans
James on Big Bad Wolf (Red Rocks, Vegas)
James and Jason on Bastille Crack
My buddy Jay sent me a message about going to RMNP for some alpine rock. I wanted bigger objectives but knew I had to limit the climbing, especially run outs. As if I take a big fall or trip over another pebble, it's back to square one. Usually I enjoy taking all the scary pitches.
"You'll be upgraded to half gimp," Jay told me over the phone. I laughed at visualizing that concept.
Route drawn in with cricles as our belays
Jay mentioned the Petit but I was not extrememly motivated for it due to the crowds for the most part along with both of us having done it. I mentioned Spearhead, mainly the Barb. The Barb is a classic 5.10 that's has lot's of fun 5.9 with a brief crux. You then join the North Ridge for one 100 meter pitch to the top.
Spearhead from Mills Lake
We started hiking at about 5:15 P.M. and got to the bottom of Spearhead, our hotel bivy site, at 7:30, just before dark. The bivy site was probably the best in the Park. This is quite the place to climb at! I highly recommend it just for the night. The whole way in, Jay and I fought about who would get the crux. I've seen many pictures of it. Since I had to carry a light pack due to my shoulder, Jay carried the rope and rack. (What a deal!) In the end, I gave the pitch to him since he was carrying the gear.
High Park Fire
We went to sleep with the wind going crazy all night. I awoke from the sun coming up. We had our oatmeal and started up when the sun was just hitting it.
Jay making a belay above the snow for P1
P1 was over 100 meters long on really fun liebacking around 5.8 to get to Middle Earth Ledge, a ledge system running across the face. I lead and when I ran out of rope, Jay started climbing. We simul climbed the next moderate pitch to speed things up, always having a bit of protection between us to keep us on the wall.
Jay following P2
Soon he joined me and he let me have the next pitch as well. The climbing on this route just gets better and better! I went off on really awesome 5.6 flakes. The gear was questionable underneath them as those flakes are pretty hollow. A 5.8 face traverse leads to the crux 5.8 corner. Soon I was on a ledge. The wind was making it exciting. Gusts of 40 to 50 mph would come around the corner and almost blast you off the wall if you were not prepared. Luckily, you usually always have a good jam/hold.
Jay leading P3
Jay took off on the 5.9 P3 that was a rising traverse pitch with crimps but no feet. The smears are very good on this rock though. He dispatched it pretty quickly. I then followed just enjoying the view. The gorge around is truly amazing and jaw dropping. When I got to the ledge we looked at the time and we were moving pretty fast, at least it seemed. It had been under two hours since leaving the ground.
Leading the awesome A frame roof pitch.
The next pitch looked fun as it had a little roof. I traverse back to the crack. It went from finger locks to a thin hands traverse. You get a bomber hand jam in the minor roof and stand up. Two kind of loose finger locks get's you over the roof and then it's all splitter to the belay. It was so good! I was yelling in excitement. This is just what I needed. Jay followed and was kind of jealous.
He left the belay with an exciting run out. Soon he sent the 5.10c crux without a problem. I soon followed and had to chill out for a few seconds before the crux since the wind was so bad. So bad that it blew out half my chalk blocks from my bag and nailed Jay in the helmet with a loud sound like a rock hit the ground. The crux was barn dooring type of moves. I was threw it and followed the awesome splitter to the belay.
Jay on crux
Following the crux moves
We then basically simul climbed one long pitch through the crux of the North Ridge to the top. We hung out for a while and watched the High Park fire blaze. Jay had no interest in reaching the summit. I raced up and walked on the exposed summit only to get off being afraid of getting blown off several hundred feet to the ground. We scrambled down just blown away how amazing the route was.
The bad thing was we were staying another night so we had nothing to do for 8 hours until dark. I got attacked by 300 flies along with being as red as a tomato. Jay and I discussed how we should of climbed way slower. There are not many times I've agreed to that statement. There was just to much sitting around in our man caves. We were so sun burnt that the thought of going in the sun scared us. We even had sun screen.
I think this route is perfect training for the Casual Route for those wanting to go that direction. It has a brief 5.10 crux, traversing pitches, and lots of fun crack climbing. We brought a couple RP's, stoppers, single set up to #2 with doubles in fingers. Don't be scared away by the 5.10c rating. It's at most 3 moves protected by a bomber pin. I expected it to be much harder due to the park's ratings. It seemed maybe a tad harder then the Casual Route crux.
This is a must do route and will exceed your expectations. If nothing else, go do the North Ridge. It's a classic mountaineering route at 5.6 or better. Don't forget to visit the summit. It's unique. Enjoy!
Jay at the top of the route
Self Portrait on summit block with extreme wind in action. No smile due to it.