For Whom the Bell Tolls

…Time Marches On.

A winter link-up of the Bell Cord on Maroon Peak and the Stammberger Face on North Maroon

Da Bells
A few years ago I found myself reading a TR from Jordan White et al on trying to link the Maroon Bells in a day trip. He proposed a sneaky link up between the S/SW couloir on Maroon Peak, exiting to a notch that allows access along the west side of the Bells, then ascending to another notch in the NW ridge of N Maroon and finally up the W face and down the Stammberger (North) Face. They made it close, but ultimately felt it was too warm. The hook was set.

For the past few seasons, linking up the Bells has ranked near the top of my to-do list. Early spring is clearly the optimal time for such an adventure, but that brings with it uncertainty about stability, weather and an extra 6 miles of snowy approach. The approach was workable, but how often do we get early stability that gives enough confidence to venture into a mostly-unknown-to-us range. Enter March 2017, bone dry weather, improving stability, and a trickle of reports of bigger lines being skied in the Elks. And it’s still winter.

Partners bounced various ambitious lines around, but my mind was stubbornly set. I had to convince CB to cut his San Juans trip short and TH to spend another day away from his wife. Luckily my persuasion succeeded cause as TH said in paraphrase: “kinda have to go the elks”. Just to guarantee failure, I said we’d ski Pyramid too (spoiler, we didn’t). To maximize home time, TH decided we should do it all as a day trip from Summit. Ugh. Midnight alarm set…

An hour or two of half-sleep and I was out of bed. Felt decently awake, facilitated by a few frappucinos. Having left breakfast on the counter (so not really that awake), we stopped at the 7-11 in Glenwood or Basalt (I frankly can’t remember which it was). The cashier seemed relatively pleased to have what I imagine were his first sober customers in hours.

We rolled into the trailhead a bit before 3, and as often happens at that time, gearing up took about 3x longer than usual. Skins went on and we hit the road. Then TH said we had to rip and start skating; fuck. Nothing like a little aerobic work to kick off a long day. We skated for a couple miles, then thought better of continuing to burn calories at such a rate. Skins back on.

At Crater lake we ran into a group that were just gearing up to head out. We went over to say hello and found out they were headed to the NW ridge on Pyramid. Another party looked to have had an early start up the west face of Thunder pyramid. Pretty busy for a winter day, but everybody still gets to have their own mountains.

We kept our routes flexible for the day. It seemed like the garbage chute to right-Y would be the easiest ascent option. Approach was beautiful, travel mostly easy (a bit of slabby snow above garbage chute), sunrise spectacular, and weather phenomenal.

We topped out sometime around 9 with a plethora of ski choices. Direct east face and east face to Bell Cord looked to both go clean from summit. S couloir was looking firm and not connected at the top, but it would keep the day a little shorter. There was concern that the Cord would be a big nasty runnel, but it also seemed like a classic that shouldn’t be missed. And besides, when would it ever be better than early march? The snow was excellent for skiing, but not quite the consolidated spring snowpack we anticipated. Down on-sighting the ledge traverse kept the stress up a bit. Then we entered the Cord and were pleasantly surprised to find that the runnel could be completely avoided for NE facing chalky untracked pow. At one point I tried to mention how good the skiing was, but I was told to zip it, lest we jinx our good fortune. Eventually the chalk gave way to corn, which gave way to ripper mellow slopes all the way back to crater lake.

Back at crater lake, the best case scenario was holding up. No ski pen, plenty of stoke. We set our sights on N Maroon.

As we skinned the lower pitch, my skins decided they hated me and would rather glop up every step from hot to cold. A fair amount of cursing while trying to keep up, finally got me to the upper valley and our first full view of the face. Looked cold; actually getting shadier instead of warming. One section looked questionably thin, but we figured something must be there. We reached the access couloir and I asked if we could boot early to avoid more glopping. Thankfully the team was okay with that.

The snow felt great. Cold and soft. Nonetheless, with the opening traverse exponentially increasing the consequences of a mistake, we dug a pit. (Some layers, low quality shear, no propagation). Still felt heady, but what else could we ask for? The whole climb felt fairly stressful. Compounded by finding that the thin section we saw from below really was that thin and thin meant faceted sugar over rocks. This section would weigh over us for the rest of the climb until we passed it again on skis. Above the thinness we were back on track, eventually catching some day old tracks at the NE ridge. Up through punk rock and we were soon on top.

The general feeling was tired, dehydrated and a bit scared of the coming descent (at least that’s how I felt). We could have waited for hours, but it wouldn’t have created any water, nor made the descent seem any mellower. The skiing wouldnt be particularly steep, but the consequence was just so puckering. Luckily, the route gave up just enough to ski clean. Punk rock was pretty easy, but still managed to sacrifice CB’s pole. The lower thin crux had navigable spice with good dry-ski beta from TH. Everything else was great skiing. Getting through the thin crux dropped my stress level massively, completing the final traverse even more so. At the base of the face, stoke was all time.

From there it was just a bit of isothermal mank back to crater where we heard from the folks on Pyramid about their equally enjoyable climb and ski. Then, just a long slog-to-skate back to the car for beers.

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Is it pronounced Ray-near or Ray-gnar?

Skiing Liberty Ridge and the Kautz Glacier on Tahoma with Teague – Memorial Day 2017

We can go to incredible lengths to talk ourselves out of great sounding plans. Despite declaring months earlier that we had to be on the lookout for the confluence of opening roads and high pressure for a PNW volcano shred session after the solid snow-year and recent beta, we still did our best to blow the trip before it started.

I got home from Japan on Tuesday and immediately noticed the fantastic, if not a bit warm, forecast for Rainier. Teague and I bounced a few messages while I was gone, but we hadnt moved at all towards a plan. I’d be in WA in 1.5 weeks, so maybe we can just wait? But that forecast… We should make this happen! Then we looked at tickets and prices for good flights were pushing $500 RT. What’s the threshold? Clearly the best thing to do was talk ourselves out of the plan: The route would be too busy with dozens of climbers and multiple skiers on this perfect weather weekend; The skiing probably wouldn’t be great; We could just ski another route; Or maybe just stay in CO since we already know LR will be a shit-show. By Thursday, prices had hit $600 and required flights that conflicted with work schedules. When Friday morning before the long weekend rolled around we still didn’t have tickets in hand. I figured our odds of flying out were < 10 %. Nonetheless, I packed my gear in the car, just in case. Around noon I made a last ditch effort, and low and behold, nearly perfect flights leaving Denver at 7:45 PM that night and flying back 6:45PM on Monday for ~$350 RT including bags. Guess we are going to Rainier. TH and I met up at the Elbert lot and sorted various knick-knacks and do-dads into take and leave piles. Weighed our bags and we were good to go.

Still without a plan, we flipped through the guidebook on the plane. Our prediction was that LR crowds would be bad on Saturday, worse on Sunday, and the route too big to bite off Monday before our flight. Ski south side on Saturday? Kautz/Fuhrer/Headwalls?? LR on sunday? Sounds like a pain. Drive straight to Adams? Baker? All we really want to do is ski LR. Let’s take a nap and decide when we wake up. About 40 min before landing – “fuck it, let’s just ski LR tomorrow”.

We land, grab a car and are on the road around 10:30 PM. A quick stop at the Des Moines Safeway yields a plethora of caffeinated beverages and items that will pass for breakfast in the middle of the night. I think we rolled into the White River trailhead around 1 AM. Lots of folks bivying in or next to their cars. Clearly, we are screwed. We park and try our best not to wake the crowds. A mix of getting dressed, consuming breakfast and drinking beverages has us leaving the TH around 1:45. We made decent time up to tree line and were greeted to a spectacular sunrise that lasted from St Elmo most of the way to the toe of the Carbon glacier. Along the way we noted one human size hole in a snowbridge and vowed to rope up on the way back through that afternoon.

We also passed multiple parties at the various low camps along the way. Not looking good. As we turned up the Carbon, we saw skiers ahead of us, presumably looking to ski our line. 30 min or so later we caught up with them and I realized one of them was a friend from the facebook who I’d stayed in touch with over the years, but never met in person. Turns out they were skiing down the Emmons. After chatting, we moved on, finding great travel through the large crevasses of the Carbon, up to a wet slide that was providing easy access over the schrund that gains the ridge. Snow was firm on the west side of the ridge and we made good time up to Thumb rock. There we met another party of two that we’re on a more typical multi-day itinerary for the route. They were stopping to brew up. I asked if they had any extra wag bags, which they did, and I immediately put it to use. Just like that, our fears of crowds were alleviated and we had the rest of LR empty above us on Memorial day weekend with the best weather of an outstanding snow year. Touche expectations.

Above Thumb, we moved to the east and the snow was immediately hot and wet. Rockfall was starting up, and we didnt linger long. Probably should have stayed on the cold side. If the upper east aspects – the only clean skiable line – had this warm snow, we’d be doomed. We climbed higher and the snow got colder. We dodged blue ice via 1-2” of seasonal snow over that same blue ice. Luckily it felt well bonded. At some point the lack of sleep and 10+k of vert became noticeable. The schrund provided a few body lengths of vertical neve, which we’d have to rap on the way back down. Then just a stroll to the top of liberty cap. Summit conditions were exceptional. Barefeet. Shirts off. Could stay all day, but that might not be prudent.

The skiing starts out mellow, but ramps up as soon as you drop back in toward the upper schrund. Perfect chalky, steep skiing down to the schrund rap.

Clear that and the exposure gets even better. We tread lightly around the alpine ice, but find the lingering seasonal snow to provide excellent skiing. We run back into the 2 parties from earlier and do our best not to knock anything else down on them. It’s rather fun to be skiing next to folks climbing with two tools out.

As we descend lower, we start to fear the warming slopes that we left hours prior. Luckily, those slopes have now started to cool as the sun has passed across them, and the skiing is fun, and easy with just a bit of mandatory wet slough management to not get raked over the 3000’ of cliffs and crevasses below. As soon as we can, we cut back the west side of the ridge where conditions fluctuate between pre-corn and something firmer, but always enjoyable. The skiing is spectacular.

All too soon, we are crossing over the bottom schrund and ripping ripe corn through crevasses on the carbon down to 7k.

7000’ of one of the best fall lines I know of in the lower 48 above us. We eat and drink most of what we have left and start the slog back to St. Elmos. A bit of skiing mixes in, but it’s mostly a traverse. The east side of Elmos is overripe and stick;, oh well. Eventually the snow runs out and I find myself cursing the painful down-hike in my too-small boots. The hike goes slow in pain, but eventually we wander back into the parking lot thoroughly satisfied with one of the best days of skiing of our lives.

After LR, we stopped to visit with some friends who we thought we might see on-route, but ended up with a gear malfunction. We realized we should have grabbed another permit if we wanted to ski the next day, but now all the ranger stations would be closed. As we drove around to Ashford on the south side of Rainier, the wear and tear from the day set in a bit, and we realized skiing the next day probably wasn’t in the cards. A better plan was lots of sleep and a monster breakfast. Then we rolled up to Paradise to scope conditions. So much skiing to be done, it was hard to decide. Finger/Thumb/Wilson all looked a bit dirty and already had some tracks. Kautz glacier was gleaming pristine whiteness, so that had to be the call. We snagged a permit and headed back down the hill, bed time at 7:30 PM, alarm set for 12:15 AM. Seemed damn civilized compared to Fri-Sat’s shenanigans.

Temps at 2:30 AM were warm. Freeze down low was non-existant. We headed up a beaten path in the dark and just started moving. Eventually, we decided we’d gone too high to split down to the Nisqually, so we did some rather dark tree skiing down to a lower bench. No tracks anywhere. Oh well, maybe we screwed up. We started moving uphill again, eventually finding some tracks at the moraine. Travel on the nisqually was easy and we made good time up towards the Wilson. Like Saturday, we kept the pace casual, but sleep sure makes casual feel casual.

One of the best treats of the trip was experiencing sunrise from both sides of the mountain on the same weekend. The northside starts the day with a wide spread glow eventually rendering the city lights in the distance useless. The southside is a lot slower to get things lit. As we gained the upper turtle, we noticed the low lands were in a cloud and Tahoma had cast its shadow across the valley and clouds.

We gained the Kautz glacier and found what looked to be a great set of ski pitches with excellent snow coverage. Above the 2nd “ice pitch” we started the traverse to Columbia Crest, gaining the top a bit under 6 hours after we started.

Once again, we were all alone on a summit of Rainier, this time the main one. We had some time to kill before the Kautz ripened. Teague was upset that there werent any steam vents around, but quickly found some to remedy that problem. Geothermal heating makes the corn-nap much easier. Teague commenced with some high-altitude-vulcan-glacial-free-caving exercises. I mostly just shifted around looking for the hottest rocks I could find. Eventually other folks from the Emmons or DC started showing up and with a couple hours rest under our belts, skiing seemed prudent. Not before I dropped my phone in a vent…

On the way up, it was clear that the best way to ski the Kautz was from point success, so we made the easy ski over to our final Tahoma-summit of the weekend. The upper pitch was a bit steep and firm, but still great skiing.

We werent in much of a hurry, so before the lower pitches, we sat down to burn another 30 min or so. The result was perfect steep corn. Just dreamy.

The Kautz often ends with a counter ascent back to the Turtle. Not this year. A firm snow traverse and 6’ of horizontal dirt was the only mandatory un-snow we’d contend with that day. Turtle skied warm but well, with better conditions as we turned things slightly SW. Unfortunately, with Paradise to our east, an aspect change at some point was mandatory. Oh well. Schmooooooo it is. Even the counter ascent to paradise was easy. 50’ or so of booting, then skiing the footprints back to the parking lot.

Such an incredible weekend that we almost let get away from us due to warranted or unwarranted concerns. Sometimes you just gotta go for it and see where the cards land.

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The finest ski tour in RMNP? Keplinger’s Couloir to Flying Dutchman

A bold claim, but one that I’ll stand by for the various tours that I’ve done in the front range.

For whatever reason, I tend to obsess with how ski tours look on a map. For that reason, loops and logical link-ups tend to get me way more excited than simple out and backs. In spite of all the skiing we’ve done in RMNP the last few years, I hadn’t yet skied from the summit of Longs Peak. For clean ski descents there are generally only two viable options from the summit: the North Face and Keplinger’s couloir. Both are very appealing. The North Face wins for position and exposure, but is very short when it can’t be linked past the camel or the boulder field. It is also rare for the NF to go clean.  Keplinger’s isn’t quite as steep, but is around 3x as long and in a remarkable location. Both runs are fickle, sometimes coming in for only a few days, and other years not at all. Both runs also have fairly long standard approaches, so it makes sense to ski something else when you’re in the area. That brings one to the question of what link-up looks the best on a map, and provides the correct aspects for a solid day of good skiing. Ideally the day should start with S or E facing runs and end with N or W facing. After some thinking, I decided that a link of Keplingers and the Flying Dutchman would be the best choice, possibly including a run on the North Face if time and conditions allowed. In the end, there wasn’t time for the N Face, but the rest of the tour was awesome.

Our approximate route is below:

At around 7000′ of vert, it isnt much more than the standard wild basin approach to Keplinger’s (6kish), but it has the added benefit of mixing in the awesome run down Flying Dutchman and a bit of proper climbing on the NF.  The only other consideration is that it is probably prudent to bring a rope, harness, and super light rack on this tour, both for climbing the NF of longs, and for rapping the crux on Flying Dutchman.  There’s also the risk that Keps will be out, but there is plenty of other snow sliding to do in the area if you look past the desire for a summit descent (Trough, Notch, Lamb Slide, etc).

Gear notes in addition to the standard ski kit:
1x whippet
1x lightweight ice axe
1x Al crampons
2x 30m x 7.8mm ropes
1x 0.5 Camalot
1x set of nuts
1x ultralight harness/belay device/carabiners
and most importantly, carry over your approach shoes for the hike back to the loft. That kind of talus is no fun in ski boots.

Keplingers-Dutchman - 1Keplingers-Dutchman - 2Keplingers-Dutchman - 3Keplingers-Dutchman - 4Keplingers-Dutchman - 30Keplingers-Dutchman - 5Keplingers-Dutchman - 6Keplingers-Dutchman - 31Keplingers-Dutchman - 7Keplingers-Dutchman - 32Keplingers-Dutchman - 33Keplingers-Dutchman - 34Keplingers-Dutchman - 8Keplingers-Dutchman - 9Keplingers-Dutchman - 10Keplingers-Dutchman - 11Keplingers-Dutchman - 12Keplingers-Dutchman - 14Keplingers-Dutchman - 15Keplingers-Dutchman - 16Keplingers-Dutchman - 35Keplingers-Dutchman - 36Keplingers-Dutchman - 17Keplingers-Dutchman - 18Keplingers-Dutchman - 37Keplingers-Dutchman - 19Keplingers-Dutchman - 38Keplingers-Dutchman - 39Keplingers-Dutchman - 40Keplingers-Dutchman - 20Keplingers-Dutchman - 21Keplingers-Dutchman - 22Keplingers-Dutchman - 23Keplingers-Dutchman - 24Keplingers-Dutchman - 41Keplingers-Dutchman - 42Keplingers-Dutchman - 25Keplingers-Dutchman - 43Keplingers-Dutchman - 44Keplingers-Dutchman - 26Keplingers-Dutchman - 27Keplingers-Dutchman - 45Keplingers-Dutchman - 28Keplingers-Dutchman - 29

 

As the last pictures below might allude, you can no longer get gas 24-7 in Lyons, so plan accordingly or face a very stressful drive home.

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More flatiron Ice

Although the climb is easy, catching it in condition is not. I probably made 5+ actual attempts to climb this thing over the last few years. Not to mention all the numerous winter days I speculated whether it was in…
So cool to have this kind of climbing less than a mile from your office!

change to full screen 720p for best results

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Red Rocks vacation

Chris and I made a last minute 5 day trip to Vegas. We did things in fine style, staying in a hotel, and climbing every day. The result was a great trip filled with super-classic routes.

Day 1 was shortened by the flight and a need for supplied. Still, it was a great chance to test the waters for future shady climbs. We headed to Whiskey Peak in Black Velvet Canyon, where we climbed the short, but super classic Triassic Sands.

Day 2 was the big day for the trip, climbing Levitation 29 (IV, 5.11c). One of the the all time Red Rock classics. I thought this route was a great challenge, with numerous difficult (for me) pitches. While the quality of the rock varies a bit over the route, the steep, well-protected climbing made the climbing awesome. Chris and I both climbed the route with no falls, which I am pretty happy about. This was the most technically challenging long climb I’ve done, and I had to fight pretty hard for the crux.

Day 3 – “Rest Day” We climbed the classic 5.7 Olive Oil. I was pretty blown away by the quality of this one. It is really a beautiful climb, and a great way to spend a mellow day. The downside came when I ripped a gear loop off my harness while leading the 2nd pitch, dropping a significant amount of our already spartan rack. We still made it through, and some surly Austrians returned our slightly banged up gear to us.

Day 4 – We climbed Dream of Wild Turkey’s on Black Velvet Wall. 10 pitches of awesome crack and face climbing up a remarkably steep and moderate wall. Considered one of the world/country’s great climbs for the grade, I’d be hard pressed to disagree. On the 4th pitch we bootied 2 cams and a pretty new 60m climbing rope. Unfortunately, our luck would run out on the 2nd rappel, when our own rope became hopelessly stuck. Chris had the honor of ascending our 7.8mm ropes and fixing the problem.

Day 5 – Another late start day, with a climb of Unimpeachable Groping on Ginger Buttress. We thought the climb would be in the sun, but that isnt true if you arent there first thing in the morning. Nonetheless, we stayed warm enough. After the somewhat hollow and low-quality first pitch, the climb delivered a lot of enjoyable and varied 5.10 sport climbing, with a great 5.8 slab finish to a pretty cool mini-summit.

Pictures

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A nice early season mini-epic

It has been a while since I had a really long day in the mountains. Luckily that was remedied last weekend in RMNP with Doug and Kevin. Kevin has the whole story on his website (Alpine Ambition), but the short story is: change of plans + unknown route + difficult terrain + deteriorating weather + short days = bail

Anyhow, here are some of my favorite pictures. Notice the rapid change in weather.

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The Scenic Cruise – Black Canyon of the Gunnison

In addition to Pervertical Sanctuary on the Diamond, our other big summer goal was to climb the Scenic Cruise in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. The Black Canyon is famous for high adventure, poor rock quality and generally scary climbing. Bits of this are found on the Scenic Cruise, but luckily those parts are few and far between, separated by some of the finest sustained moderate free climbing I’ve ever seen. The climb is about 1700′ long and it feels as though more than half that length is on moves 5.9 and harder. In the middle are two beautiful sustained 5.10 pitches, and in between them the fearsomely reputed 5.10- pegmatite traverse. With the shorter days of fall, we knew we’d have to move fairly quick to finish the route in the light. This seemed like an easy proposition as we quickly dispatched the first few guidebook pitches. By the time we encountered the first sustained 5.9 pitch, the true nature of the route revealed itself. From here on nearly every pitch would present some form of challenge. We kept at it, running out of water regrettably early in the day. We brought 3 L compared to 6 L by the party climbing behind us. Chris did a great job on both of the technical cruxes, while I dispatched the peg traverse with only minimal whimpering and a few hesitations. The climb had so many memorable passages, it is staggering. It certainly ranks among the very best climbs I’ve had the luck to complete.

Chris scopes out the route while we wait for daylight

From black canyon

Chris starts up the 5.9 boulder problem. Next time we’d probably just take the 5.7 start to the left.

From black canyon

The first of the challenging pitches sets the tone for the next 1000+’ of climbing

From black canyon

Chris on the sustained 5.10 crack

From black canyon

Chimneying up the giant flake before the wild 5.7 step across

From black canyon

The higher traverse pitch. The climbing starts with an awkward hand traverse before some difficult 5.9 face climbing with 2/3 of the bolts belonging in a museum.

From black canyon

Pano

From black canyon

At the Rim

From black canyon
From black canyon
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Otis Peak – Der Sudwand Buttress

A day after returning from Europe, I was eager to get out climbing. I wasn’t too psyched on waking up early, but for the right adventure, I made an exception. After perusing various pictures of rocks in RMNP, we settled on an attractive looking buttress on Otis Peak. We have no idea what the buttress is called, or if it has ever been climbed before. We certainly didnt see any evidence on route.

The buttress is located in the center of this photo, just right of Otis Flower Tower

From Otis Peak

After the short approach, we broke out the binoculars to look for a climbable line

From Otis Peak

From there an only slightly unpleasant scramble up the gully led to the buttress

From Otis Peak
From Otis Peak
From Otis Peak

The climbing started at an obvious ledge, where Joe took the first pitch. The rock was occasionally loose, but still fun. It started out nondescript before entering a nice right facing corner (5.6).

From Otis Peak
From Otis Peak
From Otis Peak
From Otis Peak

I took the next pitch, moving left from the belay, then back right to the obvious ledge below the roof. Generally solid rock, and easy enough to outweigh any spice factor. (mid 5th)

From Otis Peak

Chris took the next pitch, which even from below was obviously going to be the crux. Initially we thought the line might go directly through the roof. Chris started from the right side of the ledge, with just enough pro to keep things reasonable. After sussing out the direct roof, he instead opted for an awesome, airy underclinging traverse to the right. It took some pressing from me and Joe, but eventually he committed to the moves. After the traverse the climb entered a great right facing corner, reminiscent of the upper pitch on the SE corner of the Saber. One more spicy move, and Chris found a decent belay to bring us up. Even on TR, the climbing was quite exciting. Definitely a great lead by Chris! (5.9)

From Otis Peak
From Otis Peak
From Otis Peak
From Otis Peak

From the belay, it looked like a cruise to the top. Joe took over, and was immediately stumped by the 5′ headwall in front of him. It turned out to be some fairly tenuous 5.8 climbing that then broke way to much easier terrain above.

From Otis Peak
From Otis Peak

From there we hiked up to the most logical high point where it took us about 10 tries to get our jumping high-5 summit shot.

From Otis Peak

To descent we hiked south along the ridge top, passing the true summit of Otis Peak before descending a gully to Andrew’s tarn.

From Otis Peak
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Pervertical Sanctuary

At the end of last summer, Chris and I decided that our goal in the park this season would be to climb Pervertical Sanctuary on the Diamond on Long’s Peak. Although we often climb harder at the crags, the climbing on the Diamond is all above 13k feet, making things quite a bit more challenging. We kicked out of work a bit early on Friday so we could make the nice approach to Chasm lake with daylight. As usual, it was hard to sleep with fears of snaffelhounds and other rodents all around us. By 4 AM, we were more than ready to get up, but unfortunately, on the first great weather weekend in a while, so was everybody else. We made it up to the north chimney and almost got suckered up to fields by some misguided folks. By soloing 90% of the chimney, we managed to pass two other parties headed for our route, leaving only the folks bivying on broadway to contend with. Luckily none of them were planning on PV, so we were good to go. Within minutes of reaching the base, the other parties caught up, but we were there first, so it wasnt much of a concern anymore.

We were a bit weary of the opening pitches and their reported runout nature, but they turned out to be very reasonable and quite pleasant. The climb ramps up nicely in both difficulty and quality. The wall becomes steeper and the features more defined. Wild climbing on the third pitch brought us below the crux hand crack. As usual I psyched myself out pretty well going in to the lead. The climbing was exhausting at the altitude, but I managed to hold it together for the 100′ of difficult climbing. The splitter crack continues on for the next crack. Chris had good beta to keep moving up his large cams, and made steady work of the nearly 200′ pitch. From an awesome, comfy belay ledge, it was just one more moderate pitch up to table ledge. As the first party on the raps, we had no waiting to endure, making for a relatively care free descent back to our camp.

Overall, an outstanding quality climb. The only downside was the dangerous feeling race up the north chimney in the morning. I think in the future I’ll keep my Diamond climbing to weekdays.

PHOTOS:
At the end of last summer, Chris and I decided that our goal in the park this season would be to climb Pervertical Sanctuary on the Diamond on Long’s Peak. Although we often climb harder at the crags, the climbing on the Diamond is all above 13k feet, making things quite a bit more challenging. We kicked out of work a bit early on Friday so we could make the nice approach to Chasm lake with daylight. As usual, it was hard to sleep with fears of snaffelhounds and other rodents all around us. By 4 AM, we were more than ready to get up, but unfortunately, on the first great weather weekend in a while, so was everybody else. We made it up to the north chimney and almost got suckered up to fields by some misguided folks. By soloing 90% of the chimney, we managed to pass two other parties headed for our route, leaving only the folks bivying on broadway to contend with. Luckily none of them were planning on PV, so we were good to go. Within minutes of reaching the base, the other parties caught up, but we were there first, so it wasnt much of a concern anymore.

We were a bit weary of the opening pitches and their reported runout nature, but they turned out to be very reasonable and quite pleasant. The climb ramps up nicely in both difficulty and quality. The wall becomes steeper and the features more defined. Wild climbing on the third pitch brought us below the crux hand crack. As usual I psyched myself out pretty well going in to the lead. The climbing was exhausting at the altitude, but I managed to hold it together for the 100′ of difficult climbing. The splitter crack continues on for the next crack. Chris had good beta to keep moving up his large cams, and made steady work of the nearly 200′ pitch. From an awesome, comfy belay ledge, it was just one more moderate pitch up to table ledge. As the first party on the raps, we had no waiting to endure, making for a relatively care free descent back to our camp.

Overall, an outstanding quality climb. The only downside was the dangerous feeling race up the north chimney in the morning. I think in the future I’ll keep my Diamond climbing to weekdays.

PHOTOS:

Loaded up with the essential gear, most importantly a Hot ‘n Ready pizza

The Diamond near sunset.

Last minute preparations by headlamp.

The north Chimney

And why it should be avoided on weekends:

Sunrise

Almost ready

pitch 1

pitch 2

pitch 2, looking down
pitch 3

pitch 4, crux

Looking down the crux

Starting the steep fists on pitch 5

Almost done and nobody on our heels

Finished (i used a dead mouse as a handhold here)

D7 Raps

Parting Shot

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Straight up the….

buttress. On Saturday, Chris and I climbed the Flying Buttress on Mt. Meeker. Even though this route gets tons of stars on the internet and in the guidebooks, it doesnt seem super popular. I really can’t imagine why. The rock is perfect and the climbing is consistently interesting and occasionally outstanding (i.e. the roof). On the way up, Chris decided to pioneer a new approach that avoids any semblance of trail after the 1st five minutes. Aside from the constant doubt as we wandered in the dark up the treed hillside, the new approach paid off with beautiful sunrise views from the alpine ridge. The great morning light provided an opportunity to test out my new toy (camera). The new approach only cost use a bit of time, and we met it up and down the climb well before the forecast storms kicked up.

Pics from the new camera:

From Flying Buttress

Finally out of the woods

From Flying Buttress

Sunrise

From Flying Buttress

Sweaty Chris

From Flying Buttress

Morning Pano: Meeker on left (buttress splits the middle), Ships Prow in center, Long’s on right

From Flying Buttress

Moon over Ship’s Prow

From Flying Buttress

Cold and dejected Chris

From Flying Buttress

Sending

From Flying Buttress

Decisions, decisions: 5.10- direct, or 5.9 bypass?

From Flying Buttress

5.10 Direct

From Flying Buttress

Me on the roof

From Flying Buttress

Extreme nut cleaning

From Flying Buttress

More sweet climbing

From Flying Buttress

On top of the buttress, with clouds starting to build

From Flying Buttress

Go this way

From Flying Buttress

Socked in 5 minutes later

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