Saturday, July 26, 2008


Today we went back to the Wild Basin Boulder. After a long day on Thursday, we weren't ready yet for a big hike into Evans or Rocky. Amanda and her husband Brandon met us there. Conditions were a little slick, but we all managed to climb some problems. Ashley's been psyched on this boulder since she envisioned a project on it a few weeks ago. Ashley sent it today after about four days of work. It's a traverse of the west face of the boulder that climbs into the pinch hold and tops out on the "Pinch Problem." The start and end points are contrived, but the line generally follows the path of least resistance. Every hold on the west face has been cleaned and is covered with chalk so it's possible that this line has been done before, but no one has told us about it. I thought a great name for the line would be "The Wild West Traverse", but Ashley is sick of me naming her problems, and decided to take a stand. She named the line "Pumpalicious." I tried everything I could think of to make her change her mind, even asking "Doesn't that name sound dirty?" Nothing worked. Ashley is sticking with the name unless someone else has a plausible claim on the first ascent. Here is video of the line. I should have asked someone to hold the camera, but I didn't expect Ashley to send it so quickly.

I did a much easier line that traverses the west face and ends up the V2 problem right of the "Pinch Problem." I'm sure someone has done this line before, but Ashley climbed it before I did, and dubbed it "Wimpalicious."
It was a very fun day. Here are some shots of Brandon ending the day with a dyno problem.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Emerald Lake

Yesterday we climbed with Jacob, Amanda, Ricky, and Jordan in RMNP. Ashley and Jacob went to Chaos first, and met the rest of us at Emerald later. I had a good day on my project, but I've decided to wait until temps are cooler before I get on it again. The second crux is friction dependent. After we all got worked on various projects we went to a boulder about 70 feet west of the Kind boulder. It has a couple fun moderates that feel hard at the end of the day.
Here is Jacob on one of them.

When I finished climbing, I took some portraits.


Ashley and Autumn

Monday, July 21, 2008

Two at the Kind

While Ashley worked on projects at Chaos. I spent a couple days last week at the Kind boulder. Showing it to friends, and hanging out between attempts on my somewhat contrived, lowball and circular "Kind Loopis" project. Friends, acquaintances, and visitors from other states and countries generally followed a similar routine. 1. Warm-up 2. Climb "The Kind" 3. Get on "Mr. Wimpy."
4. Only move on if you climb "Mr. Wimpy."
Thursday was a beautiful cloudy day. We got a few sprinkles, temps were good.
Todd doing step 2.

Ricky on step 3.

Saturday was sunny and hotter. I had a rough day on my project. Either it was too hot, or I hadn't rested long enough after Thursday. Negative progress, but I witnessed an interesting exchange. A group of guys I know from the gym was working on Mr. Wimpy. Their conversation went something like this. Marty: "My armpit smells weird since I shaved it. Tony you gotta smell my armpit."
Tony: "No. Why would I want to smell your armpit?"
Marty: "If you top out Mr. Wimpy, you have to smell my armpit."
Tony: "O.K."
Tony topping out Mr. Wimpy.

Tony keeping his word.

Me: "That's going on my blog."
Tony: "O.K."

Ashley had a really long session on Saturday. I waited for hours at Dream Lake not knowing what was going on while she was scoping out Upper Chaos. It was a longer talus hike than she had expected. The girls played in the stream, and I watched hikers. My mind wandered. I saw some things, and thought about how unfairly climber impact is treated. If we lived in a fair world, there would be exchanges on hiking message boards going something like this. Any resemblance between this fictional exchange, and real message board exchanges is somewhat coincidental.

Front Range Hiking Messageboard

Stashed TP at Dream Lake- by Hiker on the Trail
"I followed a couple social trails near Dream Lake, and found about 30 piles of stashed TP. It was so nasty! This sort of irresponsible behavior is going to get hikers kicked out of the park. I even saw hikers trampling over "Restoration Areas."

Re:Stashed TP at Dream Lake- by Lenny
"Not this issue again."

Re:Stashed TP at Dream Lake- by Sock Feets
"Hiker of the Trail is all over it yo! There was a time when hiking at Dream Lake was rare enough that TP could be stashed, and no one would ever find it. Those days are over. If I see stashed TP I'm packing it out. Follow my lead, bishes! W3RD"

Re:Stashed TP at Dream Lake-by Merton
"Most of the TP is left by selfish out-of-state hikers who will never visit the area again. It sucks that locals have to take care of this problem to maintain access to this world class trail."

Re:Stashed TP at Dream Lake -by NPS Ranger
"The rangers have noticed this issue, and they follow this message board. Hopefully hikers as a user group can find a way to take care of this issue themselves other wise the rangers will be forced to impose hiking restrictions."

Re:Stashed TP at Dream Lake - by bouldering boy
"Kick the hikers out!"

Re: Stashed TP at Dream Lake - by Ms. Hikewell
"I've contacted the rangers and organized a "Hygiene Hike." Meet at the trailhead at 8:00 on Saturday. We'll pack out stashed TP in the morning, and hike in the afternoon."

Re: Stashed TP at Dream Lake - by Hard Hiker
You weak legged losers are ruining my hiking experience. You don't hike in the Park much. Me and my buddies never see you out there. Hikers like you are bad apples ruining the taste of the cider. Ms. Hikewell you should go on Prairie Home Companion and strangle yourself while NPR listeners everywhere can tune in to your last choking gasps."

Re: Stashed TP at Dream Lake - by Sock Feets
"Dawg! That was out of line. Elitist Crud! Ms. Hikewell is doing a good thing. Mikey, please delete that last post. W3rd"

Re: Stashed TP at Dream Lake - by Hiking Honey
"The elite hikers at Dream Lake are doing hikes beyond the physical imagination of most of the hikers on this board. They shouldn't be expected to hike out their TP."

Re: Stashed TP at Dream Lake - by Estes Hiker
"The problem is the Marmots in Rocky don't eat the TP like they do in the Evans Wilderness Area. We need to introduce some Evans marmots."

Re: Stashed TP at Dream Lake - by K Why
"Bubble Butt hiker bappy blip TP hip. Cuddly Squeezes"

We don't live in a fair world. Climbers, boulderers, and the impacts they cause are put under the microscope while the impacts of hikers and other mainstream activities are completely ignored. Don't go off trail near Dream Lake if you can help it. The TP issue really needs to be addressed by someone. Messageboards are almost as disgusting, but I can't stay away.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Rocky Mountain National Park

We're back from a seven day trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. Ashley thought we could save gas by camping in the park. I'm not sure it worked, but we had a great time. On Tuesday last week, the skies were mostly clear, but storms gathered right over the Wild Basin boulder. Half way through our session, rain and hail came in. We ended up caught under the boulder, as rain dripped closer and closer, and lightning crackled overhead.

Thursday we all hiked up to Chaos. Getting our daughters over the talus, and snow was pretty rough. I was exhausted before I even got on any problems.

Autumn was even more tired.

We still had a good day, mostly working out moves.

On Friday night a dry cold front came through, and cooled everything down by at least 15 degrees. Saturday conditions at the Wild Basin Boulder were perfect. I climbed the slightly less sandbagged V6 on the boulder. A dyno problem that moves right from the start of the "Pinch Problem." Here is a beta shot.

I also made progress on the "Slot Problem" which is the other "V6" on the boulder. I managed to really get my hand into the slot on it, and found out the slot is actually a really bad sloper that I can't move off of. If you get on the problem, or have been on it, let me know what you think. It just might be the most sandbagged problem in Benningfield's guide. Some friendly boulderers named Eric and Seth showed up. We shared Wild Basin contrivances, and info on arcane Colorado bouldering areas.

Eric having a go on the "Slot Problem"

Seth sending a highball they cleaned previously, between two established problems.

Yesterday we went back to Chaos, but the daughters only hiked to Dream Lake. We took turns watching them there while we each got a session in by ourself. Without the daughters, the hike and talus crossing flew by. For about a half hour, I think I had Chaos all to myself. It was wonderful, and a bit intimidating at the same time. A quiet, focused session.

The trip was a great way to begin our alpine bouldering season. Here is video of the "Potato Chip", and Ashley sandbagging us on the "Slot Problem."

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July from Ft. Collins!

The finale of the Ft. Collins fireworks show. Shutter was left open about 10 seconds.

Swoosh Session

The original plan was to visit RMNP yesterday, but it looked really rainy and cool in the morning so we changed plans. We've been hearing good things about the Swoosh area, and it looked like a reasonable day to check it out. As we drove up to Red Feather we got above the fog and clouds. We stopped worrying about rain, and started worrying about heat. The sun was powerful, but a gentle breeze that was slightly cool kept things bearable. Jacob met us up there, and gave us a tour of the problems close to the parking area. Here are a few of them.
Fred's Roof is moderate, but was the most classic problem we got on in my opinion. A spicy landing heightens the commitment as you turn the lip.

From there we went to Hurricane Katrina. It looked great, but a long reach to the first crimp kept us from doing it. Ashley did two crimpy problems to the left, one from a sit start. They looked fun, but felt sharp. My pinky got punctured, and I quit trying them.

Our next stop was The Product aka Chuck's Rail. It was very different than I expected. Photos I'd seen didn't show the angle of the problem. I thought it was a flat sloping rail over a flat landing. It's actually at a 45 degree angle and the landing is at 45 degrees as well. Ashley enjoyed working on it.

I scouted around a bit, and found a nice looking boulder to end the session on. It had three good looking lines on it. The center looked the best and the most difficult. I knew my skin was too far gone for it, but Jacob gave it some tries.

The crack to the left was a great line to end the session with. High quality, not difficult, but high enough to get my attention.

The Swoosh is an incredibly beautiful area, with more patina and a higher problem concentration than you'll find at most Red Feather areas. Yet much of the patina is fragile and sharp. Worth trips, but don't expect rock as smooth and solid as the Buttermilks.