We’ve now been in Fort Collins for a bit over two months. Where, indeed, has the time gone? In terms of climbing, it has gone to finding and working projects, while trying to sample as many easy and moderate classics as possible.
If you take a peek at our Facebook photos, you’ll see some of the places we’ve visited during the summer. Mostly we go alpine bouldering due to the warm weather, though even at 10,000+ feet of elevation the temps have been quite warm, often reaching the mid 70s. Upper Chaos, Lower Chaos, Emerald Lake, Moraine Park, Lincoln Lake, Mt. Evans Area A, The Abyss…the list goes on. Yet we often do the bulk of our climbing in the warmer parts of the day, when the tips still slide around on edges and slopers stay slick.
Since we haven’t had prime conditions, sending projects has been less of a priority. What we ought to do (or should’ve done two months ago) is invest in a couple of lanterns, so that we can stay past dark and exploit the chilly evenings. In other words, we should take a lesson from a particular blog title…but we have been fully enjoying our time meeting and climbing with new friends, exploring areas and shopping for projects.
Bouldering at one’s limit requires several factors to align properly. One must be in good shape, with proper rest beforehand (the older I get, the more time off I need after training or climbing). One must be warmed up properly, but not yet tired or flash-pumped. Skin must be callused and dry, but not cracked or worn. You need some glucose in your blood, but you don’t want a full belly. I personally countenance large quantities of caffeine, the legal ergogenic drug of choice for most power athletes. It also helps get the “morning glory” moving through the guts, so you can be at your lightest.
Preparing for a hard send starts much earlier than the warmup. It extends backward at least 36 hours from when you pull onto the starting holds, and includes resting, preparing your climbing day’s nutrition, and taking care of skin.
While pushing our personal limits is a high priority for us on this trip, sending is not everything. The benefits of bouldering go far beyond our tick lists. The friends we’ve made, the scenery that surrounds us, the feeling of euphoric exhaustion at the end of the day…these factors are what drive us as much as the satisfaction of succeeding on a particular sequence of moves.
That said, both Vikki and I have some projects in mind. Here’s a short list of problems we’d like to do, with a short blurb about each. You can see our 27Crags ticklists here (Vikki) and here (Spenser). Clicking on a link will bring you to a video of that climb.
- Whispers of Wisdom (V10) at Emerald Lake – This is one of the best boulder problems I’ve ever tried, and it comes in at #7 on Urban Climber’s Top 100. Each move requires your full attention, if not power. In fact, there is likely no single V10 move on the climb, but a series of powerful moves up a very steep prow that ends with a tension-y crux at the lip. Even at the lip, you must make a couple of spicy moves over a landing that is safe but thought-provoking. It ends in a 5.8 glory slab, with a view all the way down the canyon you hiked up. The crux is to climb your sequence perfectly.
- Storm Shadow Stand (V10) at Emerald Lake – Despite a broken sidepull, the climb still goes. The moves are fun, and require a big span. This plays to my strengths, squeezing big features. The landing sucks as you’ll hit one of two boulders at the base every time you fall, but who cares…it’s safe and the line is fun.
- Left El Jorge (V11) at Upper Chaos – This climb revolves around a very long lockoff on a good right hand sidepull and bomber left heel. Nailing the triple bumps after the intro moves is tough, and then you must make a balancy-yet-powerful move to the top. I’ve done all the moves, I just need to link it!
- Eternia (V11) at Upper Chaos – A sick roof put up by Dave Graham. You follow an awesome seam for 20 feet, with no move harder than about V8. The crux is at the lip. Apparently Graham chucked a dyno for the lip, which, while juggy, overhangs a big dropoff into talus. Subsequent climbers have found a way to turn around and climb the end of the roof feet-first. Once I work out the top section, it should be just a question of climbing the beginning fast enough to have the juice for the last crux. A stunning, and soon-to-be-satisfying, climb.
- Riddles in the Dark (V10) at Upper Chaos – A couple of hard moves on decent crimps gets you to an easier finishing sequence. The sit, Riddles in the Park (V12) seems beyond me, but the stand is a great climb with a cool sequence. The landing sucks now, though, since the snow melted.
- Free Basin (V11) at Wild Basin – I tried this with Tim Rose and Fernando Jiménez during a warm and humid day. The start is tricky and involves a painful toehook, but the rest of the problem climbs very well. Some say Dave Graham chooses some whack starts for his problems, but in this case I must say that it maximizes the moves in the roof.
- Both Sides of the Spectrum (V12) at Moraine Park – #28 on the UC list, this pure piece of perfect granite is very straightforward. We tried this one warm day, and I was able to slap the sloper. I couldn’t have been further from sticking it had I been wearing mittens. If we stay long enough for some frigidity, I could imagine this problem happening for me, and I’d be psyched!
- The Kind (V5) at Emerald Lake – #80 on the UC List. Continuously referred to as the best V5 in Colorado, this is a wonderfully powerful problem. Every move is difficult, but not impossible, for me, so this is a good test-piece of my progress in Colorado. I have done every move, but need to stick the big right-hand move out to the first jug. Can’t wait to go back to Emerald for both Spenser and I to send our projects there!
- Steep Grades, Sharp Curves (V5) at Lincoln Lake – a short, crimpy problem with funky feet. The left hand bump continuously evaded me last session, but I think I’ve figured out what I did wrong (I am not able to keep my right foot on as I bump) and am reasonably confident I will send this our next trip out there.
- Autobot (V5) at Lower Chaos – This one is a mental game for me, but I love the blocky characteristics of this line! I can’t seem to shake the scariness that the fall instills in me, even though there is a rock ramp that follows you through all the difficult moves. Looking forward to going back with a clear and determined mind.
- Tommy’s Arete (V7) at Lower Chaos – I’ve only worked this route once and it kicked my butt. Even the first move is tricky for me, and the problem only seems to get more difficult (mentally and physically – it’s a lengthy problem that starts low and ends high with a proper Chaos landing). If I am able to even do all the moves on this problem before we leave Colorado, I will be stoked!