Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Rockies Report

Last week, we took a short trip to the Rockies for some climbing.  The thing about climbing in the Rockies is that routes can be scary run-out, particularly if you don't carry pitons (and I don't carry pitons) or loose, or both. Climbing in the Rockies you have to expect some loose rock, but loose run-out rock isn't my idea of a good time, so I find it important to pick routes carefully. Of course, if you want a real bold adventure, you could just go climb any route. However, if you are like me and want a mellow day out climbing, or want the climbing to be relatively safe, then some discernment in picking routes is a good idea.

As it turns out, we had typical Rockies summer weather (bad), so we didn't get as much climbing as we had hoped, but, we did alright.

The first day we hooked up with friends who wanted a crag climbing day so we went to the Black Band area at Tunnel Mountain. Easy approach (although it does feature the usual loose Rockies scree trail to the base) and we managed to spend the few hours that we had on the same section of wall which makes for efficient climbing. The grades are easy, the bolts plentiful, and the climbing pleasant if not spectacular.

Our second day we hiked up to Guides Rock on Mount Corey and climbed Aftonroe. Officially this is nine pitches but the climbing is all easy (nothing harder than 5.7) and the pitches short so you can easily link pitches. Climbing easy fully bolted multi-pitch routes on solid rock is great fun, and this climb is well worth doing. After rappelling off, we climbed the two pitch route Cheese Grater that is right by Aftonroe. Rated 5.8 and 5.6, the 5.6 pitch has harder moves than anything on Aftonroe, but the rock is super clean and the bolts are adequate.

Back of the Lake was our third day, but we got shut down early, by heavy rain and thunderstorms. I find the climbing there steep and technical and the routes we did felt way harder than any of the other climbs we had done grade for grade, but, sometimes you just need to time to get used to different rock.

After a rest day, we went out and climbed Beautiful Century on Nanny Goat. This climb is somewhere between 6 and 8 pitches, depending on whether or not you link pitches, and, has a spooky first pitch that you want to be solid on to lead, as, if you fall in the run-out section before clipping the anchor, you'll hit the ground from 20 metres up. I started up this pitch then backed off and Doug finished it. Funny thing about backing off, half the time, I realize I shouldn't have backed off, and the other half of the time I realize backing off was smart. This was one of those occasions when backing off was smart as a ground fall from that height is gonna be bad.

Then, as it does in the Rockies in summer, it started to rain.... 

Beautiful climbing on Aftonroe

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