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Alpine Stylee- Colorado So Far

By July 25, 2012No Comments

Edit: The V7 corner thingy that I couldn’t recall the name of at Guanella Pass is called “Corner Matters.” Four stars, BTW. Also, the arete Alana is pictured on is called the Aspen Arete.

The heat and visual homogeneity of the midwest drives one to seek satisfaction in overindulgence. The endorphin junkie must get a fix, but exercise is too sweaty, or inconvenient, or expensive. The only recourse is stretch receptor activation, an ancient technique that I believe dates back to our hunter-gatherer days wherein one adds as much calorie-dense food to their abdomen as possible without literally busting a gut. The midwest is where dreams of climbing go to shrivel, fester, or immolate (depending on the particular type of scorching heat one encounters).

Upper Chaos Canyon

Colorado, then, is where your psyche actually has trouble keeping up. Do you see all the boulders in Chaos Canyon? Now count them. I’ll wait. Coming from a chosspile like Santa Barbara – where we would climb every section of rock possible and then some out of sheer boredom – one arrives in Rocky Mountain National Park and gets totally overwhelmed by…well, take your pick: the beauty of the scenery, the length and brutality of the hikes, the stunning nature of the lines, the amount of unexplored wilderness, the amount of unclimbed rock in well-established areas, the altitude, the sheer difficulty of so many of the boulders…

And I haven’t even mentioned the Front Range bouldering that sits at the far west end of the Great Plains, places like Carter Lake, Horsetooth Reservoir, Red Feather, and dozens more. Sport climbing, trad climbing, peak bagging…there are dozens of 14ers that are day-trippable from here. Rock stretches from eastern Colorado to the Pacific in a never-ending morass of “how do you want today to be epic?”

This leaves very little room for rest days.

So Vikki and I have been holding down the RV Project fort in a town named after another Fort, that of Collins. We’re not in Boulder, which means we’reΒ not surrounded by the infamous “scene” 24/7. In all seriousness, Colorado has its reputation, and part of it is deserved, but we’ve had nothing but good times out here, finding people to be generally quite congenial. When we first arrived, my old friend Paul Dusatko was there to show us around Wild Basin. Paul’s managing the climbing wall at Miramont, and frankly is doing a bang-up job. On the weekends, he and his lady, the talented Emily Dudley, head for the hills and the sick projects that await. We’ve been doing the same. (I’m sorry, but I don’t have any good photos of these two. Soon, though!)

Jamie Emerson’s guidebook includes Mt. Evans, Upper and Lower Chaos, Emerald Lake, and other bouldering areas in RMNP. So far, we’ve been to the Chaos’s, Emerald, and Mt. Evans Area A. Each spot is enough to spend weeks at. The stone is bullet, and wavy and trippy and beautiful. The climbs are spectacular, and skewed towards the harder grades. It’s as if anything below V5 was included as an afterthought, like someone thought “well, I might come up here with a hypothetical significant other of lesser strength, and he or she will need something to do…” If you can’t climb the grades, though, simply having a day of alpine hiking and boulder tourism will more than reward the long drive and the NPS hassle. Some of these Daniel climbs are plain nuts.

One thing about Colorado: Daniel Woods is just Daniel. And it’s Dave. Not Dave Graham. Who has time for last names with so much to explore?

One day, on our way to explore more Daniel Graham climbs, we got shuttled pretty badly. You see, there is a road that goes into the heart of the park, and the parking lots tend to fill up. If one does not arrive promptly, one must park in a satellite lot and take a shuttle provided by the nature wing of your federal government. This leads to delay and frustration, but Vikki and I were lucky enough to encounter a trio of former Portlandians named Jered, Rachel and Alana. Riding the interminable bus, we made friends and have been going out with them ever since. We’ve found, in general, that the climbers we talk to are very welcoming.

Then there are some who throw their trash among the boulders and don’t brush their tick marks, but hey, what can you do? Besides pick up after them.

Anyway, I can tell that this post is very disjointed and unfocused, but in so being it reflects our first month in this square state quite accurately. We have been utterly floored by the outdoor recreation possibilities here, and after our time in the red states it feels even more like heaven than it should. Will Wolcott (whom you might remember from our Gunks portion of the trip, or as the topdogger in TRTG) summarized it best when he wrote “Rocky Mount bouldering: Okay, I see what the fuss is about.”

There’s tons of other news to share, but right now we’re gearing up for a day at Lincoln Lake. We can’t wait, and we’ll report back with A/V proof of our visit.

Here’s some photos:

Adam Healy psyched on The Example (V2) in Upper Chaos

Vikki reaching the top of The Example (V2)

She looks calm, but she’s freakin’ out.

Rachel Belschner working her way to the top of The Example (V2)

Jered shooting photos. Note awesome geology in the background.

Vikki warming up on the Meadow Boulder in Upper Chaos. Sorry for the yard sale.

Will Wolcott floating some V8 thing at Guanella Pass

Adam Healy, providing the best spot ever. Moments before Vikki sustained a (non-serious) head wound.

Vikki making moves up a V7 thing, the name of which I forget.

Rachel Belschner on the V7 dihedral thing.

Alana Kambury on some arete at Guanella Pass

Adam Healy on the famous Dali (V8). Only Jered sent this one.

I mean, who wouldn’t be psyched? Look around!

Will Wolcott on the first move of Bierstadt (V10)

This is my try hard face. Attempting Bierstadt (V10)

Climbing Ranger Adam Baxter casually tops out Tommy’s Arete (V7). Yes, there are climbing rangers. This is the other way to get paid to climb, I guess.

Me and V on the hike out after another awesome day…Estes Park in the background

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