The original plan this weekend was to compete in The Spot’s Psychedelia competition last saturday night, but at the last minute my friend got off work for the weekend and we planned a trip to Shelf Road. Shelf road is one of the closest limestone areas with a wide selection of climbing from 5.6 to 5.14. The limestone is a little looser and dirtier than the limestone climbing in Wyoming, but it still holds a lot of classic lines.
My main focus for this trip was to tick off as many classics as I could and get used to the rock as much as possible before going for one of the Shelf Road test pieces. We woke up early Saturday morning and ate breakfast on top of The Dark Side with an amazing view of Cactus Cliff and the surrounding areas. Immediately we began spotting chalk on the really classic routes and formed a general idea of what we wanted to get on. My friend had his eyes on the super steep route: Head Cheese 12d at the Gym while I had my eyes on two 12c classics: The French are Here and Ejection Seat. With this in mind we warmed up on two easier classics: Dihedrus 5.10b and Gravitations 11d. Both routes went really smoothly and I was ready to tackle my first goal. The French Are Here 12c.
I started up the route and quickly cruised the first bulge and the long reach to a bomber three finger pocket right before the crux. After hanging out a bit to read the beta, I launched into the really thin crux and with a couple hard moves I was through and on a nice vertical face. The face turned out to be easier, but as the angle became less steep, the holds became smaller and a lot harder to find. I topped out in the blazing sun and headed over to the gym. We hiked over to Head Cheese and sat at the base gazing at one of the most intimidating 12’s I have ever seen! I started up the route having no idea what I was getting into. I traversed out over the first roof and made the hard deadpoint to a sharp two finger pocket and out of desperation i quickly put the draw in, grabbed it, clipped in, and hung. My left fingers were on fire and the pocket had nearly cut through the skin. I let my finger rest and looked up at the next clip and went for it. In another desperate clip and grab I was hanging on the next bolt baffled at how hard it was just to clip those two draws! I pulled the crux over the second roof, found out the beta for the last crux roof and was on the top without any problems.
The next attempt on the route I made the first desperate clip moved up and just barely clipped the second hard clip before giving up and falling. I lowered off and gave up on the route and let my friend work it. After belaying for a while and resting I headed over to my second goal Ejection Seat 12c. This route is a lot more intimidating than The French are Here, but has a much more straight forward sequence. I cruised through the opening boulder problem and the crux without much problem and finished the route on perfect two finger pockets. We hung out at the base and headed back to camp with everyone excited about their ascents.
The next day we packed up camp and headed back to Cactus Cliff to warm-up and go retrieve my draws still hanging on Head Cheese. I quickly warmed up and onsighted: Hurricane Hinzi 11d, Almost French 12a, The Smoking Pickle 12a, and Spontaneous Combustion 12a. Then headed over to Head Cheese. I had no motivation to get back on it, but in the end my friend convinced me to try it again before we had to leave. I started up the route with unease whether i could pull off both clips and execute the crux. But both clips went really smoothly and I found myself pulling over the two lower cruxs to the nice rest pockets with a small pump going. I rested then fired the last crux roof. Coming down I felt so psyched and happy about getting back on it and sending it. We ended the day by doing the classic Crack of Dawn 10b then headed back to Boulder.