Monday, August 17, 2015

Telluride After Fifteen Years

Back in 1999, Colorado Bouldering by Phillip Benningfield came out.  The next summer, Ashley and I used it to take a bouldering trip through Morrison, Durango, Telluride and Marmot Rocks.  On that trip, Telluride stood out as an incredibly beautiful spot, and a very cool mountain town.
 But it was out of the way, expensive, and the Illium boulders didn't have any hard problems, so we hadn't been back since.  Then last year, Ashley's family started discussing places where we could meet up for a family trip/reunion.  One place that they hadn't seen yet was Telluride.  Plans came together, and three weeks ago we met them there.  As part of the family trip, we rode inner tubes down the river through town, hiked to multiple waterfalls, and rode the gondola based public transportation many times.  But this is the climbing blog, so I'll just report on the bouldering that we did.

To break up the long drive down there, we stopped for a night in Grand Junction.  We planned to get up early enough to beat the heat at Unaweep Canyon, but only ended up with forty good minutes before it got much to hot for bouldering.  Just enough time to do a few warm ups.
 A highlight of the short session was seeing the famous dinosaur bone imprint in the Fossil boulder.  It's crazy to think about the dinosaur being buried before this sand was even compressed into stone, and how far this shape has travelled through time, to be observed by us now.

On this trip, we also had a copy of Christian Prellwitz's A Guide to Bouldering In The Telluride & West End Areas. So on our way we used it to check out the high quality Wingate sandstone boulders in the Dolores River Canyon, and marveled at the staggering quantity of boulders around Naturita.  But it was too hot to climb at both of those areas, so we kept driving until we reached the Illium boulders.

We spent three good sessions at the Illium boulders that week.  It's a collection of a dozen or so solid Dakota sandstone boulders in a beautiful aspen and fir forest, just a few minutes from the road.  It isn't a large area, but it packs in over one hundred boulder problems.  Most are in the V0-V4 range, but it also has a handful of harder climbs. The grades are old school, so V2s are still a challenge, and V5s here would probably be rated V6 or even V7 at a newer area.

One example is "Bert's Butt" a V5 that Ashley and I couldn't send until we spent a second session on it.

 "Itsy Bitsy Spider" V7 felt a little harder, but went faster for us.  I solved it with small jumps from crimp to crimp to crimp, and a dyno to reach the top.  Ashley matched on every hold, and didn't need to jump after the first move.
 We also visited the Mine Boulders.  I remembered being somewhat intimidated by the First boulder's height on our last trip, fifteen years ago, and Ashley had refused to climb on it at all.  But this trip, with better pads and more experience, we really enjoyed climbing the many tall lines on wild cobbles and incut anti-cobbles.
Also, with a more complete guidebook, we found the Second Boulder and climbed "The Lightness of Being" V5.
The day got warm, and annoying flies came out.  So we ended the bouldering session early, and took a hike up to Bridalveil Falls.

The town of Telluride has gotten busier over the last fifteen years.  There is much more jeep traffic at the Mine Boulders, and the town doesn't feel quite as idyllic as I remember.  But the scenery was even more beautiful than I recalled, and the bouldering hasn't changed a bit.  If you ever have an opportunity to check it out, I recommend it.

We drove home from Telluride.  Unpacked.  And then it was time to start packing for another trip into the Winds.  And I'll write about that trip, next week.

1 comment:

Christian Prellwitz said...

Hey there--

Glad you enjoyed the bouldering. And good to hear some additional feedback on the grades. I'm actually working on an update to the guidebook at the moment and there are so many great new areas to check out. If you ever head that way again, let me know. I'd be happy to show you around the newer spots.

And yes, for the new edition of the book, I have adjusted the grades of many things. 'Bert's Butt' is now given v6/7. And 'Itsy Bitsy Spider' is v8. Happy to have any additional rating suggestions that you might want to share. I'm always looking for feedback since the climbing community in Telluride is fairly small.