Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Colors of Climbing

We returned a week ago from a 9 day trip to Denver, CO for a family wedding.  The first half of our trip was mostly consumed with family events. But I did get to sneak out one day with Randy to climb.  That day it was cold and rainy (even a few snowflakes) in the immediate Denver area. But the forecast looked good se we headed south to Colorado Springs for the day.  It was there that we both embraced the unique climbing experience at The Garden of the Gods. This city park boasts beautiful sandstone sculptured rock formations.  Rock climbers need only fill out a form for a free climbing permit and be on their way.  What I found most unusual was that other visitors and tourists are walking throughout the park directly beneath these formations some of which have climbers ascending them.  I couldn't help but think how dangerous that is for the folks on the ground - one dropped carabiner, belay device or a piece of broken rock could spell curtains!  Needless to say I was especially careful handling our gear.

Our first route was The North Ridge of Montezuma's Tower - this thin rib or sliver of sandstone rises about 120 feet from the sand floor. The route climbs along the rib or ridge - providing incredible exposure as you tip-toe along the balance beam with minimal protection opportunities.  The photo of Randy coming up does not accurately depict the feel for this climb.

Looking down at Randy climbing up the North Ridge of Montezuma's
After the wedding events came to a close, we headed to Shelf Road, a popular sport climbing venue near Canon City, CO.  Here the rock is limestone, a sometimes sharp and crumbly rock to climb on.  We enjoyed camping and climbing with Randy and Dan for 2 days there with unseasonably hot temperatures our second day.  I found most of the grades here a bit soft for what we are used to in places like Rumney.

What struck me most about the routes at Shelf was how many cracks had a line of bolts next to them.  Many of these routes were likely climbed on removable traditional gear in the past and could be today. Yet the sport climbing mentality has trumped tradition here in my estimation.

The evening view of Cactus Cliffs at our campsite at Shelf Road
Annie roped up and ready at Shelf

Climbing a bolted crack line called B & C

Our last rock venue in Colorado was Clear Creek Canyon near Golden. It was simply too hot to climb in Eldorado Canyon, so our tour guide Randy knew the cool spots to go not far from home base.  Annie was our "rope gun" the first day, putting up 4 routes in a row at the East Colfax wall.  The next day we climbed at The Canal Zone at the bottom of the canyon.  Great sport climbing with well protected routes.  Again, a little soft for the grade with a couple of exceptions.

Our rope gun at Clear Creek Canyon

We returned to mighty fine fall weather in Vermont.  While foliage is not at peak yet near home, it certainly is up north.  On Saturday we went back up to Groton, VT the home of Marshfield Ledge.  The 3 pitch route we climbed rewarded us with a view as magnificent as I have ever seen.  Words cannot describe it. See for yourself.

This is Marshfield Ledge from the flat road approach...

Pitch 2 of "Just For Goobs", Marshfield - just look down!

View west from the top of Marshfield Ledge

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