One of the first things I noticed in Boulder was the people; almost all of them were in shape. You could tell right away this place had much to offer to those that enjoy the outdoors. The other thing I noticed: not very dirtbag friendly. But I did manage to find a nice spot to camp up one of the sides of the canyon.
On Saturday I drove down the canyon looking for the pullout with the most cars. More cars = more climbing partners. Where I stopped turned out to be the Boulderado. I met up with Ryan, Kristen, Sally, and Brandon. We mostly just did some easy trad. At the end of the day, Ryan invited me to join them the next weekend down in the South Platte.
Wanting to get some sport in I looked for areas with that type of climbing today. Avalon looked good so I thought I would go for there. It turns out the place I went to was not Avalon, but Watermark. Thankfully it had good sport climbing too and some cool people to climb with.
After warming up we found a really fun and super easy route (if you go there, it is farthest to the right). After everyone got a chance to lead it, I suggested we try doing it without using hands. It was a slab climb with pretty solid feet, so it would be a good technique exercise. It was really fun to try and definitely improved my footwork. Then we decided to do races. We all tried multiple times, but I won with a final time of 36.1 seconds. It no longer felt like climbing but a mix of of running, jumping, and clawing. It was just pure fun.
I then led a 10c with an interesting roof. Again with my affection for weird moves, I used my head on an arate.
My favorite climbs are multipitch. They are just so amazing. I find being so high up to be just an incredible experience. So I jumped on the chance to climb Tonnere Tower with Chris (we connected on Mountain Project) and then we went for the total opposite: bouldering.
I don’t like being close to the ground when I climb but I figured I should climb bolder and climb boulders while I’m climbing in Boulder. (Yes, I just wrote that sentence and I enjoyed it.)
I actually like bouldering more than I thought I would. Not that I am any good at it though. Boulder-ers are really strong. I am not.
Today I couldn’t find anyone climbing in the Canyon so I called Chris and we went bouldering again. I did it for four hours and sent a V4. At the end of the day, I felt totally broken. Rest day tomorrow.
Today I decided to go back and find the real Avalon. I did find it but didn’t find any partners there. There are far more bikers than climbers here in Boulder. The climbers that are here basically only climb on weekends. I am one of the few dirtbags here. So after waiting a bit, I headed to the Second Flatiron.
I am not a free-solist, but I did climb this sans-rope. It was only a 5.0 though. It was super fun and free feeling to not be burdened with a bunch of gear. Just my shoes and hands on the rock. There was one move that was intimidating at first: a jump. A rock feature that was surprisingly similar to a diving board formed a small runway for leaping across a 7 foot gap. Tons of fun.
Today I tried Avalon one more time and had success. I met Chris (different Chris than before) and Regina. They had just got back from teaching for 5 years in China. They were both very friendly and said I was welcome to join them.
After a couple warm ups, we hopped on a super awesome 10c. At the crux I blew my feet but saved it by cranking a compression on sidepulls. Totally thought I was coming off the wall. After that, I did a slightly harder 10c. A controversial route (bolts next to a crack), but it is so fun. Overhanging enough to get to you with interesting moves. The route did in Chris and Regina, so we called it a day.
I decided to go with Ryan & Friends to Turkey Rocks in the South Platte for the weekend. FYI, you need a good bit of clearance under your vehicle to get down the roads there. It was fun.
Once at the rocks, we decided to set top ropes to start and see if we wanted to lead later. So Dan (one of Ryan’s friends) and I worked together on an anchor. The rock in the area is very interesting. Mostly solid fine-grained granite, but there are bands of totally rotten rock so we needed to work around that. It was a fun problem solving exercise (one of the reasons I enjoy trad) and in the end we had a super bomber anchor. Later another climber passed by and said, “Wow, you guys have a beautiful anchor up there. It is gorgeous.”
I started out following on an 8 offwidth with a couple thorn bushes growing in it. As I was cleaning gear, by partner (belaying me from the top) called out “Sounds like you just got out the six.” Cams that big do make a distinctive clang.
Some of the people I climbed with here said with the wide flaring cracks, the style is very similar to Veedawoo (a place I need to get to sometime) but the rock is much smoother here. I guess that is a blessing and a curse. I was fine not using tape gloves (much to everyone’s surprise), but the rock is a little slick.
I did a couple other offwidths, one very awkward and one very flaring, and rather enjoyed them. I think sometime I will need to dive into that style of climbing more fully.
Back in Boulder today. Sport Park is one of the more controversial places in the area, so I figured I would check it out. One of the criticism is how busy it is. Everywhere in Boulder is busy on the weekends but dead during the week. There was only one car there when I arrived and it belonged to Chris and Regina. I was really glad to meet up with them again.
One of the things this place is infamou for is being over bolted. But on one of the first climbs I did, I actually brought up a couple cams to supplement. So not all of the routes are way over bolted. But there are some the other way of course. We did a route that was probably around 40-50 feet tall and it had seven bolts on it. Seven! One of the few climbs I had to actually worry about z-clipping on.
We also did a super cool route (Rubber Chicken, 10c/d) that was nicely bolted (not too much not too little) but there was a chipped hold down low that didn’t make sense. I found it quite easy to avoid. Chipping holds is one thing, but this was a completely worthless chipped hold. That being said, I had a lot of fun on the route. The thin and frictiony feet with an emphasis on balance makes for a great climb.
On the rap, Regina set up a top rope on the 11b next door (Chicken Lips). I love TR-ing on stuff I can’t lead yet. The crux on this one was oh so thin and very vertical.
After everyone got to the top, we did a cool down on a nice 9. The moves at the top were super fun and I was sad that the route ended so soon. Regina, who had been struggling with getting her “lead head” on, gave it a go and cruised it. A good end to the day.
Today I was climbing with Gavin (I met him while soloing the second Flatiron) and did Tonnere Tower again. Just can’t get enough of multi-pitches. As I was finishing up the first pitch, Chris and Regina passed by while rapping down. It was fun to seem them here again.
Once on the ground, I got my first 10d onsight lead right next door. It was that perfect level where it was enough to be a challenge but still totally doable as an onsight. Gavin then suggested I go for an 11- that was just around the corner. The first bolt was pretty high and there was a good drop from the ledge we were standing on, but I asked for a spot and went for it. And I got it! I was so psyched.
Today I took Chris and Regina to Eldorado Canyon. They said they had wanted to climb there, but they didn’t have a lot of trad experience and less trad gear. So I rope gunned a top from for them to go up and practice placing gear and stuff. After a couple of laps, Regina took the lead. After cruising to the top, she belayed up me and Chris. I took the second pitch up a kinda weird and wide chimney. There were a couple of parts that were run out like 20-30 feet. I was glad it was only a 6. The last pitch was very short and pretty easy, so I suggested to Chris that he lead it. (He had practiced placing gear, but had never led on it before). I followed and cleaned his gear and found a couple of pieces that were solid. He said “Oh. So basically I was free-soloing that.” I think that everyone’s first trad lead is like that.