Ashley on a traverse variation into the topout of "Undercling Roof."
We repeated some lines we hadn't done in many years, and Ashley did this nice problem north of the trail, that isn't listed in the guide. It has a sloping landing, but Ashley committed to it.
Ashley warming up on "Warm Up."
Part of my excitement in getting back to RMNP was getting to climb on some established, graded problems again. We've been climbing first ascents for so long now, I worried my ratings might be getting off base. While working on the guide, I'm coming up with a lot of ratings, and re-rating some established problems that feel incorrect to me. When I give a higher rating than is published, I worry that I'm making things soft. When I rate a first ascent, I'm very aware that I don't want to overrate problems, but then wonder if I'm sandbagging people.
So it would be nice to see what graded problems felt like again. But "Beginner's Luck" V3 didn't feel any harder to me than "Warm Up" V1. The three star "V6" on the cube boulder felt easier than the two star V5 just to the right, and much easier than the one star V6 just around the corner. And how do you compare a one move wonder like "Kneebar" to a tall, consistently difficult, somewhat dangerous line like "Hanging Arete?" They both get the same number, but feel quite different. So I wasn't able to recalibrate my sense of the grading scale as much as I had hoped to. I'll just need to do my best to have Lander bouldering be as internally consistent as possible. Boulder problems will always fit people differently anyway.
A three star V6 on the Cube boulder that feels pretty easy for the grade. It's a really fun line though!
RMNP bouldering is great, the scenery unmatched, and the hikes feel short when you're used to the Falcon's Lair. It's some of America's best bouldering!
The next day we warmed up on a juggy, gymnastic V2 that I named "Doom Doom." It's named after the sound the huge flake makes when you hit it twice. If it breaks while you're climbing it, you would be smashed dead. But the Rock Shop stone is so good, we decided to trust the wedged flake with our lives.
Ashley grabbing the "Doom Doom" flake.
Once we had warmed up, I took Ashley around the boulder to her anniversary gift. A fully cleaned, forty five foot traverse, awaiting a first ascent. I know what my wife likes!
A few photos of Ashley towards the end of "L'anniversaire."
We toproped the highball line up the center of the face. It's high quality, but insecure, and the top out will need a more thorough lichen brushing before it's ready to be bouldered. A proud highball that reminded me of "Hard Rock Cafe" at Flaming Gorge. The height, angle, difficulty and quality are similar, though the movement is really different up widely spaced rails with angled feet. It's just one of three quality highballs boulder problems to be done on this face.
This is becoming a long post, but I still have a couple more things to share. I've spent a few recent evenings climbing things for guide research. Jeremy shared an old topo with me to the granite on Fairfield hill that included some boulders I'd never heard of. The Slug boulder just uphill northeast of the parking area on the Fairfield 4WD road was a pleasant surprise. It isn't a tall boulder, but it has a lot of nice problems on perfect stone. Uncontrived lines top out at V4, but traverses or eliminates could offer some difficult problems. It will be in the guide, and I'm looking forward to taking the family back there on a cool evening.
The Slug boulder.
A final thing that felt like a discovery is the book Desert Towers by Steve "Crusher" Bartlett. I knew the book existed for a while, but didn't feel like spending fifty dollars on a book I'd never seen. Neptune Mountaineering had a copy, and after looking at it, I decided that I needed it. It's been an inspiration! Obviously a labor of love, Steve has assembled the most enjoyable climbing history book that I've ever read. If you enjoy climbing in the desert, climbing history, or colorful stories about the activities, attitudes, and motivations of people who dedicated themselves to desert climbing, you will enjoy this book. It's been a powerful reminder of all the things I love about climbing, the things I hope to avoid, and a push towards adventure and discovery.
The world will always be full of things to discover, or rediscover.