Monday, January 3, 2011

Colorado Climbing Christmas

We spent our Christmas break with Ashley's family in Colorado Springs, and were able to climb on three days before the Canadian cold front came in. But before we left we climbed for a day in Sinks Canyon, spending most of our time toproping "Mo."

We drove past Sweetwater Rocks on the way, and I was surprised by the lack of snow. There may have been some climbable days there in December.

But the area was snowed in when we drove back, and the wind was so intense I decided not to pull over for a picture.

On Christmas afternoon we took advantage of incredible weather at the most convenient bouldering in Colorado Springs, Ute Valley.

It's on a ridge above a housing development within town.

We warmed up on the Hueco Boulder, and ended up spending the whole session there.

The boulder is small, but very nicely featured. Every problem on it climbs like a Hueco problem, and the top out isn't high so Ashley committed to the dynos.

I bashed my elbow on the rock, and was making a bloody mess. The first aid kit was forgotten in our sport climbing gear, but I had a Three Ball Climbing sticker from the CWC comp in my bag and some tissues which made a good bandage.

We got back to Ute Valley for another session a couple days later. I climbed "Galley Traverse" on my first attempt after working out the moves. I'd been on the problem days before we moved to Wyoming, and hadn't been able to do it. Unexpected improvement.

We ended the day on the Tie-breaker boulder. It has a good traverse that Ashley did in both directions.

A climber highballing at Ute Valley.

On our final day of good Colorado weather we decided to check out some Dakota sandstone bouldering west of Pueblo. Unfortunately all the sandstone in the region is on private land. John Gill was active there for many years, and he discovered many exceptional problems and areas. Most of these areas are now closed, but I'm under the impression that the owner of this one place allows climbing access. We weren't able to find contact info for the owner (though I did try.) Newlin Creek was a backup spot, we could visit if things didn't look good. But when we checked it out there were no signs posted along the faint access trail, no livestock or houses in the area, and the rock had fresh chalk on it. So we climbed.

We warmed up on a well featured block.

Climbed some short roofs.

And a good line on this boulder.

We climbed most of the uncontrived roof lines in one session.

The area has a lot of traverses, and many possible dynos. John Gill had the vision, and Dakota sandstone is the perfect medium for gymnastic movement. The small canyon has incredible stone, and a beautiful, subtle, intimate atmosphere. Like climbing in a natural garden. A quarry not too far away is cutting up Dakota stone for landscaping rocks, and I'd hate to see any of Gill's areas destroyed by quarrying. Hopefully the Access Fund will do all it can to acquire these historic areas if they ever have the opportunity.

I hope you all had good holidays too. The days will only be getting longer.

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