Friday, July 14, 2017

Can't get enough of the Rockies

After an amazing trip to St. Vincent we were revived, rested and ready to get back to climbing mountains and rocks. We started with a hike up Twin sisters peak, a short 7.3 mile hike.

 On the way up

having lunch at the peak

The next day we were back to rock climbing at Jurassic park. At this point I don't recall all the climbs we did. I did take a photo of this 5.8- that we started on. I forgot to mention before the trip to St. Vincent I had a 15 foot fall. It was not bad but did freak me out, so I had some trouble trying to get my head right to lead a climb again. I lead an easy 5.6 route I did before and I felt good. We were also both climbing in new shoes so that took a little getting used to.

 Nice guy at the trailhead parking lot we talked to took this

 Looking up at the 5.8- Matthew lead

Someone putting a cam to good use lol

Our next challenge was Longs peak. We planned to hike it before St. Vincent but didn't have the right gear for the snow. After a week away the snow had melted enough that we could hike it without crampons and an ice ax. So, longs is a 15 mile hike to 14,259'. I've never been to that elevation before so it would be a challenge. We discussed how to approach this for a while since we didn't know how difficult it would be for me. One option was to hike to 13,000 and camp, then peak the next day. We decided to just go for it in one day and if I got sick or something we'd hike down. The other tricky part is needing to peak and be off the peak before the afternoon storm hit.. which is most days. We also would turn around if the route looked too sketchy.

On the day of the hike we started at 6:30 am. This is very early for us as we usually sleep until 8 or 8:30 am (I know, poor us). We hiked to a nice waterfall, stopped for breakfast then continued on. It was a pretty long ascent and once we made it to the boulder field (the campsite at 13,000') we stopped for lunch. We then hiked up to the keyhole, which a popular turning point. Beyond that didn't look bad so we kept going. To avoid the snow we scrambled on some rocks and I started to freak out from some rocks slipping and it looking like a long slide down the mountain. I then decided I had enough and would not go one. Matthew felt good and wanted to keep going. I sat down resigned to wait for 2 hours for him to peak and return. After about 30 min I got impatient, got over my fear and decided to keep hiking as long as it felt safe. I figured I would meet him at some point then turn around. Well by the time we met up again I was almost to the peak so I just kept going. The rest of the route was NOT easy. It was technical and thanks to my rock climbing skills I made it up safely, but it is not for the faint of heart or ill prepared.

 first stop for breakfast

 view of the peak on the way up

 scrambling to the keyhole

the keyhole

view from the keyhole

struggling after the rock scramble, starting to question my life choices lol

 glorious marmot Matthew saw on the way up

 Matthews peak photo

My quick proof of peaking before scrambling quickly down after the sound of thunder

We took a good 4 days of rest after that hike. Our entire bodies were sore. It was a full body workout. We met with a friend of Matthews from childhood named Ashley. She lives in Boulder and we met for breakfast at her favorite breakfast place, The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse. It was one of the best breakfasts I've ever had. I had an Indian crepe with curried eggs and mango chutney. Holey guacamole it was good. I'm sad to report no photos because the food and place was beautiful. Ashley is just a cool human being and we wanted to spend more time with her but she is a busy girl. We are planning to see her again when we go through Denver.

rocking my new skirt from St. Vincent in Boulder

Next we headed south to explore more of Colorado that we skipped over. Our first stop was Twin Lakes. The highest peak in the Rockies is located here, Mt Elbert at 14,440', so naturally we had to do it. It was a fun hike, gorgeous views, 11 miles long and way easier than Longs peak.

 view from the peak

 peak from the other side

We then went to Aspen to do a 3 day backpacking trip along the Four pass loop, a 28 mile hike that goes over 4 passes that are 12,500' or 12,420'. We were told we would need crampons and bring an ice ax if you have one. I found some nice lightweight crampons that hurt my wallet but were worth it. I just brought a trekking pole (the gear shop didn't have ice axes I could use), Matthew had his crampons and an ice ax. Matthew has already posted about the hike with photos so here's a link to that

The day after that trip I felt surprisingly good. I had some slight soreness but nothing like post Longs peak. We headed out of Aspen and on to Crested Butte. The ride was gorgeous, as most are out here, and we passed several small adorable towns. Crested Butte is another small and adorable town, with a 15 mph speed limit in all of downtown, a ton of overland rigs, log cabin homes, people riding around on bikes, funky shops and just a great vibe. We are sitting in a tea house right now with the plan of hiking tomorrow then heading to Gunnison to rock climb.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Vacay from vacay... climbing and a trip to St. Vincent

Before heading out to St. Vincent we did a few days of climbing, first at the Monastery, then at Jurassic park. The Monastery is a collection of very tall walls. The hike in is rough with a steep down and up hill climb. By the time we found the wall my legs were already feeling like jelly. Then came the task of wandering about trying to find climbs. The first day didn't go so well, we were 'off' and only did a 5.6 climb. It was mid-afternoon by then with all the wandering about so we called it quits.

The next day was a lounging around camp day. We returned to the climbing wall the following day and had a little less trouble looking for climbs. We found a 5.6 climb and we both lead it. Then while trying to figure out where our next climb was we came across two other climbers, Ed and Joe. They are buddies from Iowa that came out for the weekend to climb. Ed is a lively, nerdy, older gentleman and Joe is a funny, sweetheart that looks like a tough guy. We loved both of them. We teamed up to try to figure out where climbs were. After some stumbling around again we made our way to a 5.7 and 5.9 that shared an anchor. As is goes both parties assumed the others were better climbers.. we were right. And so, Joe lead the 5.7, set up a top rope and we were able to do the climb. Then Ed started to lead the 5.9 but had trouble at the crux so Joe tried it, and although it was tough he made it through. He set up a top rope and the rest of us climbed it.

 Joe leading the 5.7

Ed at the top of the 5.8, with Joe belaying

We then made our way around to another climb, this one was a 105' 5.8 climb. Ed was the first up and he lead the climb with no trouble, saying it was actually the easiest climb he'd done all day, including the 5.7 which was supposed to be easier. Everyone lead this climb, but since Ed went first the quick draws were already in and we only had to clip the rope in as we went up. When I was up... I wasn't thrilled about leading a 5.8 but after watching the other two I figured I could at least try and if things go south I can back out. I did the whole climb, at about 90' it got a little tricky and I started to freak a little but something Ed said stuck with me "fear is an option". I don't know why but it gave me a different way to feel about it, to accept it. It didn't hurt that the rock was excellent for feet and I found some really good placements. I never slipped or felt like I would.

After a day of climbing together we didn't want the fun to end so we went out for dinner and dairy queen that evening in Estes park. Yay for new friends! We are now official on facebook and I look forward to more climbing adventures with those two.

We were in climbing mode after this and went to Jurassic Park, at Lily lake. The hike in was much shorter but pretty steep. We were a little worn out and did a few easier climbs, ended up doing a 5.6 and a 5.7... we were taking it easy that day because we were planning on doing Longs peak, which is at 14,259'. It didn't work out anyway because I don't have the right gear... don't honestly remember what we did instead.

Lily lake, with the rocks we climbed in the distance. What you can't see is the moose that was swimming across that lake, it was too far out to get in the photo.

 hiking up to the climbing wall

Climbing a 5.7

Our Trip to St. Vincent was full of adventure, fun, laughter, and delicious food with people I love. I didn't keep up with writing about it while there and rather than take the time to recall the entire trip I will simply convey it through pictures.. which are worth a thousand words anyway, so there. 99% photo cred to Mietta. Btw, they are not necessarily in order.

We are back in Colorado, going to spend several more weeks here. Then... go west or north.