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Climbing in Colorado - Joel and Roger

Owner: Roger Huang

Info/Report: Climbing in Colorado

September 3-11 2005

Early Saturday morning Joel picked me up in Chicago to leave for the mountains out west. As usual, we were eager to escape the Midwest and besides me brushing up on my skills in driving a stick, we made it to Boulder, CO that night without any problems.

On Sunday we decided to head over to Rocky Mountain National Park to secure backcountry permits so that we could go attempt to climb the Sharkstooth later in the week. Surprisingly there were spots open for pretty much the rest of the week and we were able to reserve Monday and Tuesday night. The weather forecast pretty much said there was a 20% chance of rain all week. We then started heading back to Boulder and since it was still early in the afternoon decided to climb the First Flatiron. It was Labor Day Weekend and the area was crowded with hikers and runners. I was definitely feeling the altitude hiking up to the base. We opted for the Direct Route (5.6). Joel started on the first pitch and we traded leads from there. For my first route more than 3 pitches long, I would have liked to have seen more gear go in, but it was pretty much easy slab climbing all the way up. We made it to the top in around 6 pitches just as Boulder was falling into the shadow of the Front Range, though there was still plenty of daylight left. Looking to the east, we could see all the way to Kansas probably, to the west of us was the jagged skyline of the Rockies. After descending back to the car, we headed over to Southern Sun for some good eats and beverages. That evening we decided that we would hike out into the 'park' the next day and climb the Sharkstooth on Tuesday.

Monday we took our time getting packed up and started at the Glacier Gorge trailhead sometime early in the afternoon. It was another first for me, being in RMNP and it was certainly beautiful. The hike in pretty much kicked my ass. I made progress slowly as Joel trucked on unphased by the lack of oxygen in the air. Finally, the Sharkstooth was in sight which meant it was time to leave the trail and scramble through the dreaded boulderfield. At first it wasn't too bad, but after scrambling around with a heavy pack for a while, it felt just as never-ending as it looked. Joel found the rock shelter that he had camped at w/ Noah just a few weeks ago. It was quite nice with plenty of room for two and gear. We relaxed for the rest of the evening and I spent a good deal of time gazing up at the Sharkstooth, a bit intimidated by it. That night neither of us were able to sleep much. We were up at 5am and shortly after began our approach to the base of the tower. After about an hour or so later Joel started up the first pitch. While following up and cleaning, I was surprised by the effort it took to climb at altitude while also carrying a pack with water, extra layers and shoes for the descent. In this case I found it was actually easier to lead the pitches than following up. Joel and I traded leads again and somehow we were able to avoid the 3rd pitch crux involving some weird dihedral stemming I had been hearing about. It went smoothly all the way up and we made it in about 6 pitches with a scramble in the last section to the summit. We hung around and enjoyed the view for a bit and then found the rap stations. This part could have gone a little smoother. For our first two raps, our rope didn't quite reach all the way to the next rap station. We had to do a little down climbing which felt a little sketchy to me, but didn't seem to bother Joel too much. Up to this point we had been in magnificent weather all day until it started hailing on us. This only lasted about 10 minutes and then it was nice for the rest of the day. After getting back to the base where we had left our packs, it appeared that presumably a marmot had unzipped the top hatch of Joel's pack and carefully opened a ziplock bag before devouring his peanut butter sandwich. We descended back down through the boulderfield from hell and hiked out of the park the same way we came.

Wednesday we went to Eldorado Canyon and climbed Calypso, a 3 pitch route on the Wind Tower. Later in the evening we met up with Eric (friend of Chris' who we were crashing with) to boulder up at Flagstaff Mtn. It was a great time and afterwards a bunch of us went out for more food and beverages at Mountain Sun.

For the remainder of the week we stayed at Mike Magan's pad where the club's most recent thru-hiker, Ari, was also staying for the time being. It was great to see them both. On Thursday they had plans to hike up to the Sawtooth and Joel and I were easily convinced into joining them. In the evening Joel and I met up with Chris in Boulder Canyon to do a quick route before it got dark. We were able to make it up a one pitch climb called East Slab just as it started getting really windy and threatened to rain. On Friday we returned to Eldo Canyon as Joel was interested in leading P1 and P3 of the Bastille Crack. It was a great route to finish the week with and we made it up just as rainy conditions rolled through.

The next morning we bid farewell to the mountains and returned home.

Pictures from this trip

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