Monday, October 31, 2011

10_15/16ish_2011 Desert with Rick Accamazzo

The story of the 56 year old desert VIRGIN begins over a cold one at Old Chicago's in Louisville, CO... I'm sitting next to Rick A., a very long time climber from a galaxy far far away (e.g. Yosemite/Josh/Tahquitz etc. in the 1970's) and we chat a bit about upcoming adventures. Rick says "yeah, I'm thinking about heading out to Moab next weekend" - with my new full time life in the land of corporate cubes I'm totally jonesin' for any adventure I can squeak in, so I ask him, "you got a partner??". He says no and that actually, he has NEVER been climbing in the desert (e.g. the Colorado plateau). I say WHAT?? NEVER been to the desert?? Dude, let's go do some TOWERS! You'll love it! Rick says yes and the next thing you know, he's waking up in the dirt, with the first day's objective looking right at him.

On the drive out after work on Friday, I throw out a few options for packing in a bunch of fun over a very quick 2 day trip to the dez. I suggest warming up on the North Chimney on Castleton, then head over and climb Fine Jade for our first day. Rick says that sounds good, so we load up the packs and start up the talus cone.

I can see he is enjoying the morning 'warm up' hike up the talus as we take in the killer views all around. We gain the ridge along the base of the towers, then head over to Castleton to see if anybody is on the North Chimney.

We get close and unfortunately, the North Chimney is already packed with 3 parties (it's about 9:30am). The Kor Ingalls route is also busy, so we decide to head over and start the day with Fine Jade, one of the best routes in the desert (IMO anyway)...

Now, while the North Chimney on Castleton is a good warm up tower route, Fine Jade packs a bit more of a punch, especially first thing in the morning. The first pitch is pretty physical and gets the blood flowing. Here is Rick coming up P1 (5.10d/11a), just past the very steep crux section which is out of the pic due to the angle of the dangle...

We did the route in 4 pitches, but it can certainly be done in 3, or stretched out to 5 short ones. We were in no hurry, so I opted for the nice stations and kept the drag on the sharp end to a minimum since I was packing a few corporate pounds that made the climbing a bit more challenging.

The next pitch involves some strenuous finger locks over a bulge (5.11a) followed by cool thin cracks and a small roof. Sorry, no pics on that one, hard to get good shots from above. I combined a short section of the next pitch with the 11a/b bolted headwall finish to get us to the top in 4. I've done this route a number of times, but I'd only done the bolted face finish once and I remember it being pretty hard and reachy for me, as it proved so again. I even had to employ the "multi colored rest" at one point, how shameful! Rick found it a bit much as well, but gave it an excellent try.

As many of you know, the summit is very cool, with great views in all directions. We cruised around a bit and took the obligatory summit photos. Rick enjoyed his first desert tower summit - a desert virgin no more!!

The temps were pretty warm, so we rapped off and enjoyed some water and snacks at the base. We contemplated heading over to Castleton for round 2 for the day, but the draw of a cold one down at the car won the coin toss, so down the choss cone we went... We ended up going into Moab for dinner and the town was a zoo! Apparently, there was a marathon scheduled for the morning that would close off the road back into Castle Valley, so we opted to go cush and stay in town for the night. We decided day 2 of the adventure would be in Arches National Park. Our first climb of the day was the Right Chimney on the 3 Penguins. What a heinous start to the approach.

Racking up at the base of the route, right above the road. You could drop a cam into an RV if you had a steady hand! The Right Chimney consists of 2 short 5.10d pitches. The first is a steep corner that goes from fingers to fists just below the belay.

The 2nd pitch starts out with some steep hands to fists, then goes to OW. Not my favorite, but I'm thinking it shouldn't be tooo bad, right?

After about 25 minutes of thrashing around and scraping various body parts, I emerge at the top of the wide stuff and top out on the very cool summit. I am sad to report however, that a couple of rests on the rope were required - I'm not so good at rounded 6" cracks me thinks! A bit degrading, but what the hell, it beats cube land!

Rick came up second and demonstrated his arm flexibility by styling the wide section with a series of quality "chicken wings" and soon he joined me on top where we were quite the hit with the tourons below!

After descending, we decided to do one more short route before heading home. We drove over to the Park Avenue area and hiked to a one pitch Indian Creek style crack called Heart of the Desert.

This was a pretty fun and somewhat strenuous hand to fist crack in a corner, about 90' to a fixed belay.

Well, after that it was time to pack up the car and head home for another exciting week in cubeland. However, we had a great time in the desert and Rick was no longer a 56 year old desert virgin. We'll be back...........

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

10_02_2011 Fall mountain biking at Twin Lakes

We are behind on blogging! I've been waiting for Dave - since he's doing all the fun stuff - to get me photos. Here they come!

My friend John and I decided to head out for a mountain bike ride at Twin Lakes, on the east side of Independence Pass, south of Buena Vista and east of Aspen. The fall colors were peaked and the temperatures were great.

Beautiful early fall weather in the mountains! The ride started with a partial loop around the twin lakes, with a bonus spur ride up to and along part of the Colorado trail. After that we continued around the lake for a while on fairly easy rolling terrain until we came to a creek, where we headed sharply uphill on some very steep and technical terrain for about 800' of vertical gain.

Note the complete lack of pictures during this gnarly portion of the ride... What comes up must come down, so after traversing at the top of the drainage for a bit, the trail drops down some pretty darn steep terrain back down to the lower valley.

Again, note the lack of pictures during this sometimes hair raising section... Back to John's truck along some rolling terrain and then it was time to head home. A really fun ride with fantastic fall colors!

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