Clear Creek Canyon, Matthew-Winters Park, Elevenmile Canyon, Flagstaff, Penitente, Rifle, Shelf Road, Table Mountain, Morrison… The list is growing, along with our list of fun climbing partners. And how can we live 15 minutes from the mouth of Eldorado Canyon and not climb there yet? Yeah I don’t really have a great answer to that except that there is just so much to explore!
It’s hard to imagine we have lived in Colorado for over 6 months now. In fact sometimes it’s hard to believe we actually live here and it’s not just another phase in an ever changing adventure. Now that summer is in full swing and the stresses of finding and adapting to new jobs are over we have really started to settle in. We’ve agreed on a budget that helps us pay down loans but isn’t stifling and we’ve begun to explore the many beautiful crags our new backyard has to offer. Through it all we are feeling healthier and stronger by the day and Fall looks promising to be one of our strongest climbing seasons yet.
While Colorado is a long way from home, we have been blessed with the company of some great friends and family. My dad came to visit for a long weekend and Will took his precious few days off from fire season to meet us at Shelf Road for some climbing. This was the same spot we wished Will luck as he entered his first season on the hot shot crew in Taos. Tomorrow JP and Michelle arrive for what I can only imagine will be an epic week of alpine annihilation, and Dan and Tess will join us on Wednesday for a visit during their trip out to see family in Estes Park.
The climbing scene in Colorado is a bit overwhelming at first. There are so many places to keep track of and loads of climbers of all abilities. You can find solace at an obscure block or turn the corner and rack-up with 30 of your new closest friends. You can climb alpine granite, power-endurance limestone or sculpted gneiss. Take your pick, they are all on the table this time of year. Although we are continuing to explore, a few crags are rising to the top of our list of favorites. One of which, and possibly the most surprising is Rifle. Robyn and I took Vincent out for a long weekend over the 4th of July. A test to see if he was mechanically sound enough to make it to Rocky Mountain National Park in late August to meet my folks. A very long story short, Vincent made it, although we climbed both passes (Vail and the Divide) at 25 mph on the shoulder of I70… Phew!
Rifle has an undeniable image to the average outsider. Before you go there all you can assume is that there are a bunch of cocky knee-barring robots climbing 5.14 chossy limestone caves. It probably has a lot to do with climbing media and the coverage the place gets with its difficult sport routes. What is omitted from these accounts is the absolute beauty of the place. A narrow cool canyon with beautiful walls of all shapes and angles converging on manicured picnic grounds along a crystal-clear creek, ample camping, and a vibe that was less than hectic. Add to that the number of challenging routes, and the easy access and you have a winning combo. Upon returning from Rifle, we immediately went to the gear shop to pick up a guide. We will be back this fall to build up our power-endurance and enjoy the crisp temps and fall colors.
One not-so surprising favorite is Shelf Road. Robyn heard the words “technical limestone” all the way from Idaho and her mind was immediately awash with pockets and crimps of all shapes and sizes. There was no escaping Shelf. Nestled on the arid side of the Rockies on a desert plateau, Shelf offers nearly year round climbing along miles of interesting and beautiful canyons. Meeting Will on his weekend off, we climbed with our friends Adam and Matt on one of the best weekends of the year. Adam and Matt both bring a psych for climbing that had Robyn and I immediately stoked and they have quickly become two of our best climbing partners.
And then there is good old Clear Creek. The same creek that bisects Golden on its way to the Coors Brewery. Clear Creek is just across the ball fields from our apartment, and gushes from the mouth of the Canyon after a wild descent from the divide. Rafters, kayakers, tubers, and fisherman flock here at different times of the year. It’s easy to look past your backyard crag, but the more we climb there, the more I love it. I can’t say that I’ve been on a bad route there yet, and the awesome routes are beginning to be to numerous to remember. As far as I am concerned Clear Creek is my new home crag and with money tightening up at the end of this summer, we will be seeing a lot of Clear Creek.
Two weeks from now we will say goodbye to Colorado for the first extended period of time since we arrived in January. Our annual trip to see Ben on his birthday will again bring us to Tensleep, WY for a week of camping and crushing. Ben has been on a tear this year recently sending his first 5.13! Can’t wait to catch up with him, and spend a nice week relaxing in the solitude of the high green meadows by a crackling fire.