Spearhead with Brian Kimball

One of the sweet snow/ice traverses. Those spires in the background are just below the summit of Longs Peak (the diamond)

Brian on the best pitch of the day!

Birds of Fire is somewhere up this nearly 1000 ft wall.

Not sure the bird but the camoflauge is amazing!

Brian on the way to the route.

Over the years I have been lucky enough to meet quite a few people worth spending time with. Unfortunately, as we all get busier and busier it becomes more difficult to spend time together. Well as the timing was perfect, Brian and I (who I haven’t climbed with in a looong time) were able to make a last chance effort on a route he’s wanted to climb all summer in Rocky Mountain National Park. It lies just west of Longs Peak and is on the northwest face of Chief’s Head. The climb was supposed to be on of the best of its kind in the US, so I couldnt turn down the opportunity to hike up to the base without gear (since Brian had stashed it at the base back in June). To the base of the wall its about 6 miles up hill past mountain lakes of a glacially carved valley. You are constanly seeing wildlife, passing near waterfalls and watching fish jump or crossing high alpine meadows and boulder fields. It’s an uplifting place that is for sure. We arrived at dawn and began the hike to the wall and chatted about whatever came to mind. It was my first time hiking with someone who had an i-pod playing the entire time and it was kinda cool to hear music on the trail and while on the wall. Well as the day was perfect and since there was no sign of bad weather coming something had to go wrong. The first thing was that Brian couldn’t find his gear bag that he buried under rocks back in June. It took an hour of looking under every flat boulder before he found the two ropes and the rack of cams, draws, and nuts. We were lucky in that no animals did any chewing and all the equipment was in perfect condition. The next problem was that it had already started snowing at 13000+ feet and there was a lot of snow on the shady wall that we were going to climb. The high temperatures would have been around 35 degrees F where we were supposed to climb the route Birds of Prey. So after eating some crackers and peanut butter we buried our packs under some stones and headed up the wall that was in front of our face, Spearhead. Brian had climbed some routes on it before and spoke of a wonderful line called the Barb, so we started up the wall hoping to actually find it and climb the great alpine pitches. This however was more difficult than we expected due to the fact that we didn’t have a map of the route or a description. To make a long cold story short, we wandered up various cracks with a climbing rack that was wayyyyy too small, crossed icy and snowy ledges without any gear, traversed way too many pitches and grabbed more loose flakes that I care to in my life. We did managed to find some perfect cracks with some great climbing on them. After topping out with our down jackets on, we rappelled the wall and humped it back to the truck another 6 miles and watched the moonrise as it was totally dark by the time we were 3 miles from the road. Our knees hurt, we didn’t get to even try the route we wanted too but it still was a great day!

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