First stop Colorado....
Where to start?! I think a summary of what is planned for the next 3 months is in order!
Two people, one van and three months of investigating what the US has to offer; from the alpine areas of Colorado to the desert sandstone of Joes Valley and finishing off with the flawless granite boulders of Yosemite. If time allows we hope to visit Independence Pass, Ibex and the high marble like boulders of Bishop.
Now this is the plan, will we stick to it?! Who knows! Already we have stayed longer in Colorado than planned as the heat wave hitting the mid-west of the United States continues the alpine is the only place to take refuge. We were here earlier in the year and I have to say we had an amazing time but not due to the climbing! It was just too hot and we slunk back to Blighty with our tails between our legs like a couple of whippets ousted from the tracks.
Although it is still hot in Boulder as you wind your way up the mountain roads the temperatures dip with every mile passed on the odometer and a cool, crisp breeze brings freshness to the air that reminds me of a cold day out in the Peak District. Picture painted? Air tickets bought? Don’t be too hasty! Since being here we have had three days of continuous thunderstorms and an average temperature of at least 25°C but nestled between that misery a few pukka days also.
While in Boulder we are staying with Jackie, Chris, Kevin and Royal aka fuzz aka puppy, he is a malamute not a homosapien. This gives us time to lap up the luxuries that life has to offer and kit out the van with everything we need for being on the road. We bought a 1992 GMC Vandura when we here in the summer; although old it is pretty palatial; electric windows and bed, cruise control, captains seats, wood veneer and of course 2 CD players for listening to Genesis and Elton John at the same time!
Our Little Beauty in Bear Lake Parking, RMNP.
At first I wasn’t a fan of Boulder but I am definitely getting used to being here and actually starting to really like the place. Boulder is also much more bearable in 30°C than 40°C! At this time of year the Aspens are changing their leaves; yellows, burnt oranges and deep reds adorn the mountain sides and the highest peaks have a dusting of snow like icing sugar on a Victoria sponge. Pictures can’t do it justice.
Golden Aspens nestled between the charred remains of a wild fire.
Aspens on the way to Mount Evans.
Arriving back in the UK dejected after what was supposed to have been a fruitful summer trip to Colorado, I decided to get back into serious training mode. I trained hard for 10 weeks with a short rest in Fontainebleau in the middle to recuperate my psyche and energy and nurse some painful elbows. During this time I went through pain both physically and mentally as I always do when training hard but I dug deep and clung to that far off dream of US rock climbing! I have to say I am glad I did! Colorado was a time for me to get back into what it feels like to climb on rock; pulling on wood and resin might make you stronger but it doesn’t prepare you for the real deal. It was also the place I was least bothered about climbing specific things; my list for Joes and Yosemite is over 50 problems long!! However there were a few gems I was keen to try-
Great War for Civilisation at Lincoln Lake was swiftly scrubbed from the list as snow meant the road up there had closed earlier than expected.
Both Sides of the Spectrum at RMNP has of yet still not been climbed on since a few sweaty attempts in June. However colder temperatures are promised for this weekend so fingers crossed.
Veritas at RMNP is an on-going process; I managed to sweat and grease my way off the top of it the other day, again colder temperatures will hopefully bring glory, and what are we without glory (name the film climbing geeks)?!
On the up side…..
I climbed No More Greener Grass at Mount Evans in a few goes which is all my skin would allow for. This line is a case of beauty and the beast; a stunning line with good movement but unfortunately this movement is on beastly crimps that cut and bruise leaving the finger tips with the feel of a tenderised piece of meat!
Other success comes in the form of Tetris at Wild Basin, a compression prow that is 11 hand moves long. Squeezing, hugging and grunt was what it took to slay this beast, glad I worked on my power endurance over the summer!
And how about a surprise to put the cherry on top; yesterday evening I managed to fight through numb, hot ached fingers and burning flash pump to climb Bush Pilot first shot. A classic at Lower Chaos in RMNP this thuggy little number has a stopper last move involving dead pointing off a ridiculously high foot to a right hand edge.
And that has been Colorado in a nut shell or maybe a coconut shell looking at the length of this piece. Mina is also climbing really well; and making a habit of dropping the last moves on really hard boulders, a fall and a blistered tip the other day has slightly set her back but with her ankle taped she will be on a role soon!
Next stop Joes Valley….
Contributed by: David Mason