Sunday, August 10, 2008
A Week in Vail
We spent last week in Vail with Ashley's extended family. We had four bouldering sessions, and I spent one day searching for new boulders.
Session 1: Last Sunday, we climbed on the Aircraft Carrier boulder near Red Cliff. Eric, who we met at the Wild Basin Boulder a few weeks ago, gave us great directions, and we found it easily. The highlight of the day was climbing "Star Crossed Lovers." When you imagine a perfect boulder problem, something like it should come to mind. Ashley also did a harder sit-start problem a few feet to the left. I was very disappointed that I forgot my camera bag that morning at the condo.
Session 2, 3 and 4: Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday we spent at the Kluttergarden just outside of Red Cliff, a great set of boulders in a beautiful aspen forest. It has changed slightly since my last visit, 5 years ago. Someone has built wooden sitting benches at almost every boulder.
The temps were good, but the humidity was incredibly high.
Holds felt slick and looked wet after being held. We got stormed out a couple afternoons. Not good for sending at our limit, but we still had lots of fun. We didn't see any other boulderers during our sessions. Quite a surprise at such a good area.
The area's stand-out problem is "Return of the Jedi."
The crux of "Return of the Jedi."
Ashley climbed the problem, and I came very close. I'll post video of Ashley on it soon, and I'll be heading back for another go in the fall. The area has many great V5 and V6 problems. Here are photos of Ashley on various moderates.
On Wednesday, Ashley watched the girls while I went searching for new boulders. There are some great looking boulders shown on hiking websites from the Mt. Holy Cross wilderness area. Like this
and this of the same area near Tuhare Lakes.
With this area as my goal, I went 8 miles west on Homestake Road and parked at the base of Jeep Trail #759. I started hiking up the Jeep Trail, and came across this giant boulder in the aspen forest.
It had some chalk on it's North face, but a few more highball lines could be done on it with proper cleaning and courage. I looked around it a bit, but didn't find other large boulders nearby. Another mile up the jeep trail I saw this boulder in the firs.
It also had cleaned lines, and chalk. The hike to this point was a mile and a half, all uphill. It doesn't make sense to me that someone would hike this far uphill for the problems I saw, but a quick search didn't reveal any other boulders nearby.
I was expecting the Fall Creek Trail to be marked, and have a permit station like the trail at Mt. Evans. It didn't, and I ended up passing the trail. If you don't want to miss it, look for some strange wooden structures blocking motorized users just after the no snowmobiling signs. Unaware that I had missed my turn-off, I kept hiking. I think that the miles of Jeep Trail in this area probably has a greater ecological impact than all the vegetation degradation inadvertently caused by boulderers in the state. Bouldering does have a concentrated impact under popular boulders, but the areas are quite small when compared to miles of this.
I even found a stashed jeep!
Soon I came to Holy Cross City, and realized I was off route.
I kept hiking uphill anyway, and got this overview of the Fall Creek Trail Area.
This boulder caught my eye, and I could see the trail I wanted to be on.
I hiked back down the Jeep Trail, and got onto the Fall Creek Trail which enters Designated Wilderness. The boulder that caught my eye from the overlook wasn't visible from the trail, and I ended up passing it without getting to check it out. All the rock in the area was perfect gneiss.
The rock resembles that found in Chaos Canyon, but something about the geology has caused almost all the rock to be in boulders the size of small cars or smaller. If you're into two move, sit start, first ascents this is your mecca. If not, it probably isn't worth the hike. Occasionally, I found a boulder large enough to have good problems, but they were very spread out. This area will never be anything like Chaos or Evans. Here are some of the best faces I came across.
My shoes got soaked from water flowing down the trail, rain clouds started coming in, and I had hiked far enough that I decided even if another "Kind" or "Mushroom" boulder lay beyond the next bend in the trail I would never carry a pad so far to climb on it. I never even made it to the Tuhare Lakes boulders whose photos brought me to the area in the first place, or got to check out the best boulder I saw from the overlook. It will be at least a year before I get back, so I thought I'd share what I found. Maybe one of you will find the area worth checking out. Be warned. The hike is brutal. I predict this area will only become popular when future generations are athletically enhanced through chemical, genetic or mechanical means. Until then, the very occasional boulderer that loves hiking, camping, or has a jeep with a winch, might enjoy the area.