(Learning that the words “Alpine Start” means dragging my ass out of bed at a silly hour in the morning to hike… alot! Beautiful sunrise though.)
It all started with a simple email… “I will be coming over in a week”. Little did I know that those eight words would soon lead me on a wild and insane adventure that would open a whole new world to me full of choss, granite, and probably the scariest twelve hours of my life.
My adventure began with that little email and then me getting my old Jeep Wrangler’s transmission fixed… the syncros became worn and destroyed- whatever that means… so after $900.00 I was set with a rebuilt and working transmission! After 12 hours of working till 4:00 in the morning to re-install the damn thing… I thought I had a reliable vehicle that could get me where I needed to go. How very wrong I was.
If you know the geography of Colorado there is an extensive mountain chain that rolls through the center of the state… these are known as the Colorado Rockies… very beautiful and very unforgiving. I live on the western slope of the mountain chain… and I needed to be on the other side. Armed with water and a pack of climbing gear I headed off towards the Denver International Airport. After travelling about 100 miles in the pouring rain my Jeep- which had been dubbed White Lightening- sputtered and exploded. I had three hours to be at the aiport to pick up my friend- I was two hours away driving time… and my car was slayed. What was a boy to do?
The answer… call everyone in my phone… Luckily and by some sort of miracle I wound up getting a tow and a car from some old friends and still managed to get to the airport before her plane landed to pick her up on time! It is pretty crazy how some pieces fall together sometimes.
The next three days were amazing… I climbed in Boulder Canyon on a classic line called China Doll put up by Mike Patz- a hard climber from my neck of the woods. The conditions were terrible… I suck at slab granite climbing- but I managed to make some large links in the problem and I am excited to head back there to nab an ascent of it later this fall (if time permits). After watching my partner send the 5.13 C version of the China Doll we felt psyched enough to head back towards the western slope of the rockies to get ready for the Salt Lake City Trade Show and spending time with my puppy!
After getting everything all set… we realized that we had a few days to climb before we were meeting up with my friend Rob Pizem to go to the show. So I decided Rifle was the place to climb… mostly because it is my favorite crag ever! After coming from small junky granite holds the big beautiful limestone jugs of Rifle filled my happy meter and my psych for sending became high.
I tried to finish an extension to Apocolypse a 5.13b/c put up by Andy Raether; but didn’t quite redpoint. So fitness pitches became the goal… sending was not a strong suit of mine at that moment due to stress, lack of sleep, and the memory of a corpse car that I would have to deal with at some point. However; there was not enough time to focus on such silly things as reality… and we were off to the trade show to hang out with old friends and new ones!
After a chaotic three days at the show and hanging out with the Five.Ten and Adidas crew the three of us all headed back to Colorado! Rob finally got to slow down from his trip from the Bugaboos and spend some time with his wife Jane and his son Rowan (check them out at pizem.blogspot.com) so we split our trio and two of us went to go complete some routes and photos on Independence Pass. There was a route that I wanted to finish called Gym Class... again made some major linakge but blew the send! I only had a few hours to try this route so I ran the warm up bolt to bolt and hopefully hit the next send. It didn’t work for me that time … although; I did leave some incentive for me to get back up there and finish the route… which will go soon. After that quick session it was off to go climb the Diamond on Long’s Peak in Estes Park.
(The Diamond in Estes Park)
I am not a big wall type person… in fact I have never done a big wall… but I figured hey it is exaclty like doing a bunch of one pitch routes in a row right? Wrong… very wrong… there is almost no comparison… Alpine, big wall, and chossy Granite on a 5.12 established by Chris Weidner called Hearts and Arrows was wildly unlike anything I had ever encountered before. I was slayed both mentally and physically from this route; but managed to climb all the way up the Diamond- terrified and sketched out of my mind. To be honest I top-rope heroed like a champ! It was really kind of fun once I hit the summit and stopped being emotional
(Racking up to start the free solo to Broadway which turns out the Diamond generally claims many lives… perhaps not the best plan)
(Mayan curxing through Hearts and Arrows)
(Crazy and awesome… slightly scared. Go team!)
After completeling the Diamond, we charged back to the car and drove down to Estes Park for dinner with a new friend at his cabin. His parents made us Salmon Burgers… and Key Lime Pie! It was a gourmet meal- I couldn’t help but feel that even though I was mentally bonked I had accomplished something… and that a whole new world of climbing I thought I would never do had opened up to me. It was incredible insightful… considering the fact that I was fairly certain I was going to die for most of the climb due to wetness… choss… and completely unknown territory. Now it is back to training and comp. season! Ah yeah…!
WARNING! A friend explained to me that Alpine elevation or Mountaineering may cause brain damage or memory loss… because for some reason whatever it is you are doing, there is a constant question of, ”Why the hell am I here!?” Then two weeks later you seem to forget about that experience and pretty much repeat the pattern again.
(Me at the Summit of the Diamond… ah… my…ah Diamond Thank you to 5.10, Adidas, and Sterling Rope… with the right equipment even the scary climbs go smoothly)