This weekend had a tough weather forecast. It was my weekend to get 2 days of climbing in and both days were going to be wet. I had two options, 1 climb on my Treadwall (or go to the gym) or 2 get outside and summit a 1300 feet wall via a mountaineers style route and hang fixed lines on my next large new route undertaking.
If you don’t know me by now you may have guessed that I stayed inside. If you know me, you knew that I would go outside, rain or shine. So my friend Curtis who was lying awake on Friday night wondering whether or not I would bail was excited and nervous about what the coming day would bring us. I knew it would be an adventure and that was just what the doctor ordered.
We quested across a high flowing river into one hundred yards of uphill thorns that would become blackberry plants onto loose and sandy terrain into a passage through junipers and other sparsely growing trees that only topped out at about 10 to 15 feet tall. We were all alone in dry conditions as we pressed upward to the top of the wall.
We traversed below the base of the wall hoping to gain access to the top from a gully that looked as if it was passable through a high power lens from the road. Upon reaching the gully our packs felt heavy with the 1200 feet of static line, double set of cams, bolting equipment, harnesses and tons of slings. We began climbing the 5.7 terrain through small vertical sections and enjoyed the loose rock and grassy portions which gave our nerves a break.
My hiking boots were the perfect choice for me as my pack was nearly 70lbs. Eventually we came to a place where the wall was too tall and too dangerous to climb with packs, so I soloed the 30 foot tall wall and down climbed to where Curtis could throw me a line to haul the packs up. After the first toss, I was hauling dead weight to my precarious position. Curtis gained my high point with caution and we pressed on. We passed another engaging steep portion and were rewarded my seeing some manzanita bushes growing on the side of the cliff. Curtis noted that he thought that they only grew in California and I remarked that everything grows in Colorado.
The rest of the climb took us up more slabs and loose terrain. We knocked off blocks that bounded over the huge cliffs and snuck through trees that had only been hit by other rocks as gravity took them to the talus field below. The last 100 feet to the summit slowed us down. The rain finally came and the wall got steep enough where it was necessary to climb with a rope and gear.I then hauled the packs again which of course got stuck on the ledgey terrain. Curtis finally reached the summit through the loosest gully that I have ever climbed through and took us across an airy traverse where I nearly lost my footing just inches from the summit mantel.
At the top we were greeted by elk droppings, a consistent rain and incredible views. After 3 hours of working hard we were there, wet, tired and just beginning the new routing adventure. I wish that I had more photos of the day, but it was wet and my camera was just stolen from my car the day before the trip. Stay tuned on my Instagram and the blog for more updates as I get back to the route in the coming weeks. We have 1200 feet of rope strung up on a bunch of different terrain and I am optimistic that it will be a beautiful route with many memorable pitches through the changing terrain of the wall.