There are some things in life that are so good, they defy description. Dark chocolate on a windy summit. Tuna and bagels on a three day backpacking trip. A steaming hot shower after skiing all day. Crusty scabs and sore muscles after a good day of climbing. Today I got to savor the sore muscles. Unfortunately, there are no scabs to pick at.
Last week, my old buddy Eric called me up to see if we could climb together over the weekend. Eric and I have been friends since middle school. In fact, he and I started climbing together way back in the day. I am not even sure why we started to climb. We certainly didn't know any climbers. We bought a rope from Farm King, fashioned a swami belt out of old blue jeans, and began exploring the chossy river cliffs of Burlington. 18 years later we are still at it, albeit with a much better rope!
So, after trading a few e-mails, we decided on meeting at Clear Creek Canyon outside of Golden. It was a nice halfway spot for both of us and neither of us had climbed there before. The girls had better things to do so it ended up being a guys day out. I cannot remember the last time just Eric and I went climbing.
We met in Golden at a local coffee shop, loaded all the stuff into Eric's car and headed into the canyon. The canyon was tight and the rock looked chossy but was actually quite solid. I think it is called schist. Blocky with nice cracks and edges but generally ugly. It reminds me of the rock up high in RMNP, like on Notchtop and Hallet. Since our parking spot was only about 6 miles outside of town and it was a warm November weekend, I was surprised to see we were only the 5th car. Still plenty of room!
After a quick discussion about who had the better clipstick we shouldered the packs and started off down the road, which was quite busy. Cars and trucks constantly zoomed by a little too close for comfort. Just before a tunnel we crossed the road, hopped the barrier and started a steep climb up to the base of the climbing area. Man was it steep and loose! It almost felt like you needed a rope. It would be tough to bring little kids here but I did see some dogs. Here is Eric getting up some of the steps
We got to the base of our wall (the High Wire wall) and were surprised to find only one other party there. The sun was still about an hour from hitting the base but it wasn't bad. Probably mid 50's.
After a little discussion, we decided to come out swinging and get on a 5.11d (or 5.12a if you check the internet) called Road Kill, which is getting pretty close to my limit of difficulty. Eric took off and lead a great slab section to a ledge, then up some vertical rock to a pair of anchors below a roof. At this point we were a little confused as to where we were so he clipped the anchors and lowered off. After a little more guide book consultation, we discovered that this route was actually two pitch route. Well, who could pass up a two pitch sport route? So, we pulled the rope down, and I re-lead up to the anchors. Wow, was that lower section hard! It was a little less than vertical but very few holds. As Eric said "if you breath wrong you will fall off".
After reaching the two bolt anchor, I rigged a belay and brought Eric up to me. Here is a shot of Eric on the vertical section, below the hanging belay.
And here he is at the belay, getting ready to head off into the next pitch.
About 20 feet above the belay was a intimidating stacked roof. This would definitely be the crux of the route. It started with an awkward mantle onto a ledge. Here is Eric setting up for the mantle
And here he is getting psyched for the upper roof. You can also get a good view of my sweet but uncomfortable hanging belay. I am hanging that green and red sling, attached to the bolts.
Here is a shot of Eric after successfully negotiating the roof
After the roof, Eric clipped into some anchors and I lowered him back to the belay. I was too chicken to lead the roof (plus I was worried that it would be hard to clean) so I did it on top rope, cleaning the draws as I went. Here is a shot of me getting into the meat of the climb. The dreads to a good job of indicating steepness.
Here I am after the roof desperately trying to shake out my pumped arms.
Once I got to the anchors up top, I was able to rappel down to Eric and we both got down to the base.
Next we decided to try out Peoples Choice, 5.10d. It was a decent route. Mostly fun easy moves with a section of really hard slab climbing in the middle. Here is a shot of me on the easy part.
Next we hopped on Double Deuce. Super sweet route! Very long. I think it was 140' to the anchors and had 17 bolts. Very awesome. Because it was so long, Eric had to belay me from the top because we didn't have enough rope to lower him to the ground. Here is a shot of Eric way up high. This shot was take well past the halfway point on the route.
Here is a shot of me just below the belay
Looking down to the road
Eric rocking out at the hanging belay
We had to use two ropes tied together to get down. Here is Eric on the rappel
I tried to get a shot of Eric rappelling with me in the frame but all you can see is my melon. If you look close you can see our backpacks at the base.
After that route, we climbed a short steep 10c that was pretty much a one move wonder (Passing Lane, I think) and then capped the day off with a stellar 5.9 called 5th of July. Excellent climb. It was long, had good holds but still made you think a bit.
By now it was starting to get dark so we packed up and headed down to the car. Back in town, Eric and I got a quick bite at Ali Babas and then parted ways. It was an excellent day. I will definitely climb there again. It was also great to climb with Eric again. It always amazes me how deeply friendships are formed when you go climbing with someone. Personally, I have many acquaintances but I can count my true friends on one hand, all of whom I have shared a rope with.