Thursday, November 20, 2008

11/19/2008 - Where is winter? South Platte and Center Route Climbing

Winter has failed to come to Boulder so far. Again, it was 70 degrees and sunny so we decided to hop in the car and drive to the South Platte area to climb. Dave loves this area and states that it holds the best crack climbing in Colorado.

Mountain Project (a rock climbing website) describes the South Platte as "a vast granite playground to the south and west of Denver, is known for it's incredible crack climbs, strung out slabs and towering summits."

Further, the website notes that "to climb successfully in the South Platte it helps to be the adventurous type and like exploring. Many of [the climbs] are well hidden until you stumble upon them! The rock quality can vary widely from bullet proof fine grained granite to very coarse friable rock which can feel like climbing on ball bearings at times."

Our quarry for the day was in the Cathedral Spires area on a formation called Cynical Pinnacle. As stated on, "Cynical Pinnacle is the beautiful obvious spire that is the centerpiece of the Cathedral Spires." The line we climbed is known as "Center Route with Wunsche's third pitch cutoff variation". By the book, this is a four pitch endeavor. We did it in three.

More from "This is sometimes called the best 5.9 in the state, though it is stout for the grade. To the right of the incredible dihedral(Wunsch's) is a perfect handcrack. Follow it for three pitches to a shoulder near the top of the spire." From here, we did the cut off over to Wunsche's Dihedral to more higher to the top of the Pinnacle.

I love this warning on "Do NOT get on this route if you have no crack technique. It will seem stout to you if this is the case (even if you lead 10 in Eldo)." Haha! I should have seen this beforehand. You see, I have fantastic crack technique, but only for a very limited range of crack size. That would be a range of about 1/2". Haha!

Before getting to the climbing, one has to get to the Cynical Pinnacle formation. In the pictures to the left, you can see Cynical Pinnacle (where the route is) WAY up there. calls the approach "a brutal one hour uphill approach", one that is "steep and long and will take a climber in good shape a solid hour."

I was mentally prepared for the approach so I was happy to think (when it was over) that it really wasn't so bad. The hike did not involve any repeated high steps - it was just a steep grade the whole way up. Coming down was worse since the potential for slipping and eating it on my backside was much higher! I think it took far longer going down than up which is unusual.

We finally arrived at the base and geared up. Dave linked the first two pitches which made for an interesting climbing challenge. First, the route is strenuous, plus, he has some decent rope drag near the top. We used 60 meter ropes which required about 10' for simul-climbing.

Even with the drag and the added fun of linking two pitches, Dave climbed it like it was a walk in the park. You know, the usual.

Linking the two first pitches made for a major challenge for me. While the lower portion of the first 'real' pitch was a nice crack size for my hands, things got wider and wider and more flaring (Mmmm flares) after that. Combine this with my major suckage on cracks and my marginal physical conditioning for cracks and I arrived at the belay a puddle of ooze. I made sounds I didn't know I was capable of and for a moment thought I'd yack. I admit to using a knee to make the last move - Poor form!

From this belay stance, one just had to chimney some, the work a slightly overhanging crack to reach a fun traverse section around the corner. Once at the corner, it was much easier. Before that, not so much. I got in touch with many dark deep emotions during this period. At one point, I swore off climbing alltogether. Happily there wasn't another person within miles (except Dave and he couldn't hear me).

I finally clawed my way to the top of this pitch and plopped down. The final pitch was an aid ladder (or SUPER hard slab - bleck). We climbed this portion to reach the summit. While here, we snacked, signed the register and enjoyed the views. Dave entered some slander into the register next to his friend's names. If you summitted there before we did, you need to get back to the top and return the favor!

All that remained was to take some photos. See our car WAAAAAY down there on the road? Then we rapped our and hiked out.

Once to the car, we headed toward a wacky little town called Pine and stopped at the local tavern to split a beer. I find many little towns have really confusing signage. This one was no exception.

After the beer, we headed home. Though it wasn't my best demonstration of climbing (yet again), it was a really fun day and nice to be out in the beautiful weather.

We leave soon for Southern Utah and Vegas for some more warm weather climbing. I'm really looking forward to this stuff since it will be more my style (i.e., no cracks or slabs). I'll post up in a week or so the results of that fun!

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Monday, November 17, 2008

10/23 to 11/08/2008 - Peter Croft and Cochise Stronghold

A quick but fun entry here. While sitting atop Sheephead on our last day in Cochise, Peter Croft summited. We enjoyed some nice conversation with him and his partner on top, and during the climb down the gully.

In these pictures, Peter is trying to teach Dave how to use a spring loaded camming device! Haha :)

Those who climb won't need an introduction to who Peter Croft is. For the non-climber, suffice it to say Peter is an amazing climber (and just plain nice guy) who routinely does things on the rock that seem simply impossible. He's been climbing for many years and is one of the climbers that Dave admires most. Dave used to routinely cross paths with Peter years ago when Dave was still in the outdoor industry. I last saw him at Red Rocks in Las Vegas about a year before.

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10/23 to 11/08/2008 - Cochise and Pente the traveling Cat

As is usual, Pente went to Cochise with us. It was her first trip in the Cougar and she loved it. She found a cubby at the head of our bed which she quickly claimed as her own. She also claimed the two ottoman/cubes as her thrones. The faucets were clearly her personal drinking fountains. The windows her entertainment centers.

While she loves being in the Cougar, she definitely loves being outside more. Cochise has an abundance of grasshoppers which drove her insane. She would pounce on one just to see several others hop away. Seeing them jump, she attacks others. And others and others. She entertained herself for long periods of time chasing these poor insects.

Most of the grasshoppers were not hurt (at least physically) but instead fell victim to 'catch and release.' Others weren't so lucky. Though she has some (expensive) organic catfood to eat in the trailer, it seems she preferred the crunchy texture and taste of wild grasshoppers. Gnarly!

Her other favorite activity was engaged in at every possible moment: rolling in the dirt. And grass. How that cat can hold so much dirt and vegetation is seemingly impossible.

She did well with the birds in the Cougar. During the day while we were out, she was confined to the bedroom behind a closed and locked door. In the room she had her food, water, litter box, an ottoman, her cubby hole, two big windows and a queen size bed for lounging. She loved it there.

When we were in the camper, she had full run of the place. For the most part, she ignored the birds - however she was never left unattended. Only on a few occasions did she hear the ominous call of "PENTE!" She would quickly divert her attention away from the birds.

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10/23 to 11/08/2008 - Even More Climbing in Cochise Stronghold

Given that the other climbing post from Cochise had only photos from Abracadaver, I thought I'd put up a second entry with some of the photos from the other climbs. I won't repeat the text, so just sit back and enjoy the visual show...

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