Monday, June 27, 2011

Rocky Mountain National Park

On Saturday Matt, Kevin, and I got a taste of alpine climbing on Spearhead, in Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s 12,575-foot summit stands above an 800-foot granite face; while it looked intimidating from a distance, once we made the 6-mile approach (made particularly long by the unusual amount of snow still left on the ground), the north ridge revealed the obvious moderate route up to the top.

Because the approach took us longer than we had expected it to, we quickly racked up at the base and got on the wall—Matt led the first pitch. After the first pitch, the climbing was particularly easy, so we decided to simulclimb up to the start of the last pitch. This was really my first experience simulclimbing—it was so efficient, and nice to not have to deal with managing the rope or taking the time to belay on every pitch. Kevin took the lead, placing nuts and cams for protection; I was in the middle and would unclip the gear from the rope in front of me and clip it into the rope behind me; Matt followed behind and pulled out the gear.
We had nearly perfect weather (only a bit blustery as we got higher), and we had amazing views of Glacier Gorge below us the whole way.

Matt led the final pitch, which went through a trickier squeeze slot onto an exposed ledge. At the top of the route, I thought of this quote from Enos Mills, known as the father of Rocky Mountain National Park (which was established in 1915), “Few experiences can put so much into one’s life as to climb a mountain summit, and from among the crags and snows and clouds look down upon the beautiful world below.”

We finished the route around 4pm, then scrambled down the fourth class descent back to the snow. The snow was now very slushy, which made for faster travel but for very wet feet. We made it back to the car around 8:30 pm—about a 12-hour day.

We took a more leisurely day on Sunday—all four of us went cragging at an area called Jurassic Park. It had beautiful views and a lot of fun, slabby sport routes.

We’re now back in Boulder—Matt and Kevin went to climb the famous Bastille Crack in Eldorado Canyon, while the other Matt and I decided to stay in town (to blog, etc). Kevin has to head back to California this afternoon, while the two Matts and I plan to drive up toward the Wind River Gorge in Wyoming tomorrow.

1 comment:

Benjamin said...

I like that, no matter what train station floor I am sitting on, y'alls are somewhere, doing something awesome. Even if all you're doing is sitting under a tree or crossing the street.