In Colorado the seasons change drastically from sweltering heat and daily thunderstorms to dry, crisp, and cool conditions. For most of the summer I was focused on setting and most recently coaching at Movement Climbing and Fitness. It wasn't really until September that I had enough time to get outside and climb, just in time for the prime conditions.
September is always a good month for climbing - Jon Cardwell
Last week I got a message from Carlo Traversi, he said conditions were prime in RMNP, fall has arrived. We were off immediately and straight to one of my unfinished objectives, Aslan V14. We warmed up and for the first time all year we were shocked by the conditions, in a good way. Everything seemed to click while warming up and I managed to finish Aslan on my first try. Carlo climbed a variation to Aslan, the Alley V13 soon after and I followed up with an ascent. The day was a success and a clear sign that the majestic Colorado fall season has arrived. While driving down I reminded myself that there were still unfinished objectives and I made a plan to finish them. Weekends would be the prime time. Climb and work all week in the gym setting and coaching, rest on friday then spend the weekends outside in the mountains.
The next objective was a classic Tommy Caldwell line, Grand Ol' Opry at the Monastery. Originally Tommy rated the route 5.14a but in the recent years repeaters have confirmed the Opry at around 5.14b. The style is intense, completely different than anything I have tried before. The wall is around 90 feet tall, close to vertical and the granite is sheer, offering minimal features and rests. The Opry sort of has a reputation for being a difficult and technical master piece. I was hooked immediately. It's intimidating at first so my initial attempts were on top rope as you have to skip a bolt at the crux risking a near 40 foot fall. The next weekend I was back in the mountains with Paige Claassen. The weather seemed a bit warm but I was motivated. After warming up I was able to climb Grand Ol' Opry. The ascent was intense and I was nervous about skipping the bolt but I climbed efficiently a with confidence. Seems like the plan is working out! The next day I was up in RMNP with Cameron Maier and Jamie Emerson, author of the recently completed RMNP and Mount Evans bouldering Guidebook. The objective was more or less a relaxed day to check out some some new boulders and to see what felt good. It was great being up in the park again, a place that always blows me away by its breathtaking scenery. Once again, the weather seemed close to perfection and I managed to climb two cool boulders The Lochness Monster and Imperial Wildcat both V12. The weekend was great and almost felt like a mini vacation. Now its back to the gyms and back to work... until the weekend!
Photo Credit: Beau Kahler