Boulder Canyon Cragging

Adam, grinning up Grins, 5.8, on the Happy Hour Crag.

Once upon a spring on Colorado’s Front Range, it was warm and sunny, then snowy and cold, then warm and sunny again. And while it was warm and sunny, the climbing bug bit me. Hard. So I put on my T-shirt and shorts, packed a bag, and went climbing in Boulder Canyon for the first time. I had heard plenty about the historically rich climbing area west of The People’s Republic, and I must say it lived up to its reputation: fast, easy access; quality rock; a lifetime of short-but-sweet trad and sport routes alike; and big time weekend crowds.

On Friday my friend Adam and I climbed on the Happy Hour Wall. We warmed up on a couple 5.7s on the climber’s left side of the wall: Are We Not Men and Are We Not Robots. Both were exceptional for their grade, and featured an exposed, juggy mini-roof to pull over. Gear was thin but possible on top, but would feel pretty darn run out for a beginning leader. A fall on the roof would be bad news as your last pro is at our feet above [Read More]

Back to the basics

Oh well, that’s life, and it’s moving along at its usual clip. It turns grey, gets dark and snows. It turns blue, gets warm, and the snow melts in a flash. Jackets to t-shirts in the blink of an eye. At the same time life stands still with the monotony and boredom of routine. To combat the despair of such a synthetic academic existence I meditate often, attempting to shed illusion and to feel present… More often than not though I end up dwelling hopefully on future events that have yet to occur. I plan, I imagine, and I waste my time in the present. I imagine that ocean of colorful rock and that ski across the frozen lake during a blizzard. Like many, I long for an escape back to wilderness. A yurt with a little woodstove, a dog for companionship, a pair of skis for transport, a rifle to hunt with, a stockpile of tequila, limes, coffee, and a shelf full of good books. Simple enough. [Read More]

The Other Side of the Fence

Joshua Tree sunset — have to see it to believe it.

In the comment section for my last post, Kevin called me out on my end-of-the-season lamentation. He’s absolutely right, of course; I’m thrilled about the prospect of warm Red Rocks weather and sun-baked crag sessions. This winter has been great – exactly what I was after – and I’m excited to maximize my ice time over the next several weeks; but I sure am looking forward to feeling real rock again and working on my tan. As I’ve written before, there’s always another adventure on the horizon and always more being added to the queue.

You’ll hear people dismiss this desire for new places and new experiences. “Well, the grass is always greener…” they’ll wryly offer, as if that somehow diminishes the possibility that the grass may very well be greener. Of course, relative greenness is rarely the point, anyway. There’s a vital distinction between the quest for something better and the quest for something different. When I leave the stark, snowy beauty of the Bozeman winter, I won’t be in search of a place I prefer; rather, I’ll be in search of yet another example of [Read More]

Time flies when you’re having fun…

The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of activity: bouldering, sport climbing, trad climbing, ice climbing, and ski touring. Ah, the Front Range with its mild climate, sunny crags, Cabernet powder (?), and dripping ice… Oh yeah, sometimes it just all comes together for a brief fleeting momement of multi-sport bliss. But anyways, today it’s bitter cold (though sunny), and that Wyoming wind is rolling through town, rattling windows. I’m hunkered down in a cozy coffee shop, sipping an Americano, savoring a blackberry muffin, and studying up for first quarter exams which are quickly approaching. My thoughts drift to wind, spindrift, and plastic ice. The Park is calling. I haven’t been climbing enough ice… The relatively warm sunny weather was a nice dream of the coming spring, but looking outside I realize it’s early February and that we’re still in the midst of winter. [Read More]

Cables Route Attempt

I woke up at 3:00 am to the usual doubts and heartache I face the morning before a planned outing… “I’m so sleepy, this bed is so warm, why not sleep in and then go out for breakfast? Maybe go gym climbing after that?” On Saturday morning I managed to overcome myself. I got out of bed and brewed up a fat cup of coffee. The adventure beckoned. The dark, early morning hike up to the Boulder-Field always induces a state of deep introspection and hypnosis: one step after the other. On this occasion I’m graced with a remarkably beautiful alpenglow illuminating the peaks while a near full moon sets in the west. Ok, it’s already been worth the alpine start. The slog to Chasm View is another story, (snow covered talus sucks!), but kicking steps up towards the Cables Route was relatively painless on good styrofoam snow. I couldn’t ask for better weather. It’s cold, but clear and the wind isn’t too bad. [Read More]

Take what you can get!

I aspire to be a well-rounded climber. What’s a well-rounded climber? Well I believe it’s someone who holds a sense of adventure and an appreciation for nature above all else. In the most recent issue of Alpinist Magazine, Jim Logan describes how he and Mugs Stump prepared for their successful first ascent of the Emperor Face on Mt. Robson: “we’d spend the whole summer doing whatever it took. We hiked in, set up camp and simply observed it [the Emperor Face] for a few days, learning.”I believe respect and admiration for the rugged beauty and power of the mountains is paramount. [Read More]