Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Holiday Sessions

Christmas didn't fall early enough in the school break for us to make a trip to Hueco this year. We spent a week with Ashley's family in Colorado Springs instead. As it turned out, we did as much climbing, left the girls at home (thanks Pam!), and had better weather than we got at Hueco last year. Our first session was at the Snake Pit Area, Garden of the Gods, on Christmas afternoon.

After warming on the Nose Lunge Block, we turned our attention to the Traverse Boulder. Ashley got really excited about the lowball traverses.

I found a dyno to play on. It was pretty easy one handed, but for full V5 glory, the guidebook said I had to do it double handed.

The double felt awkward. I was jumping into the rock, but launching backwards as well, which made the grab difficult. I didn't get the problem I wanted on Christmas.

All I got was a bloody flapper.

On Sunday, I super-glued tape over my finger, and we checked out the Buddha and Berthoud Caves in Castlewood Canyon.

The rock there varies quite a bit from awful choss to perfect turtle shell textured patina that feels like Dakota sandstone.

Most of the climbing is on cobbled conglomerate that falls somewhere in between choss and perfection. Both the cobbles and the huecos left behind when they fall out make good climbing holds. The Buddha and Berthoud Caves were sheltered from the breeze, and caught direct sunlight all day. Perfect for a winter day.
Ashley warming up on "Sometimes Wet."

Ashley climbing "Phillip's Problem"

We climbed a lot of problems in Buddha Cave and then moved on to Berthoud Cave. Benningfield's star ratings didn't suite us. All the single star problems ended up being our favorites.
Here I am working the moves on "After Berthoud." I was trying to keep up with Ashley, but my skin gave out before I could send it.

One of the favorite problems we climbed was "Berthoud Canal." It had one move that was really long for Ashley, but she caught the dyno, and then asked me to put down the camera so I could spot. After the dyno, you heal hook by your head in order to reach left and then get to the "top out" five feet above the lip.

On Tuesday, we were quite surprised by how good the bouldering is at Ute Valley Park in Colorado Springs. We had been there many years ago, and all I remembered was a very small area with sandy moderates. Equipped with a guidebook written by Brian Shelton and Stewart Green, that I bought at the Mountain Chalet, we climbed and attempted many classic problems. The sandstone is soft, but it has incredible features. I'd recommend staying off the rocks for a day or two after rain so the holds don't brake off. Weather permitting we'll be heading back on our next trip to the Springs.
Ashley warming up on the Galley Boulder.

V4 doesn't get much better than the problem pictured below. It's called "Wedgie."

Ashley climbing "Wedgie"

My favorite ascent of the day was when I accidently sandbagged some locals who were working on "Floater." The fact that it was unintentional made it even more fun. They were nice guys who were just at the wrong place at the wrong time. I shot this picture as they walked away. I'm sure they'll send it soon.

We had great sessions without driving to El Paso to get them. 2008 was a good year, and I'm excited to see what bouldering 2009 will bring. My only resolution at the moment is to get back to Needle Peak.

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