We went rock climbing yesterday on Montezuma’s Tower (5.7) in Garden of the Gods. I’ve talked about this climb in an earlier blog entry, but this time I have video!
So, I condensed some of my videos from a roadtrip I took with my friend Scott this summer. I’ve been having some really f’ing annoying issues with editing videos lately, so low and behold the video is all tiny. But I give up!
We visited a flooded reservoir in Arkansas, hit up some local bar (a truly surreal experience), and spent a drunken weekend golfing in Nebraska. We also went to some cool rock climbing spots in the area, including Sam’s Throne, Arkansas and Keysinger Bluffs in Missouri.
Finally, another post about rock climbing! Screw all that rice cooker shit. Despite the fact that the Hawaiian island chain was formed by volcanic magma, there isn’t a lot of rock climbing in the area and I feel that the area’s full potential hasn’t really been discovered because everyone is too busy surfing. However, there is one spot called Mokuleia Wall in northern O’ahu that definitely deserves a visit. It’s off the Framingham highway (or Highway 2) past the Dillingham airfield. It’s right after the YMCA camp, at a slightly ambiguous left should pull off. The trail is shrouded in tall grass, so it can be a little hard to spot, but it’s there and improves drastically after your get above the grassy lowlands (Hide was EXTREMELY nervous going into the grass…I don’t think he fully believed I was right when I said it was the trail). Rock Climbing Hawaii is a great online resource of information on rock climbing in Hawaii. Coming down the trail is definitely steep, so I recommend following this website’s advice about coming down while you still have daylight.
The crag is a mix between bolted sport climbing and trad climbing. A cool feature is bungy cords that run from the bottom of the routes up to the anchor. You can tie your rope to the cord (with a clove hitch) and pull it up and through the anchor instead of having to lead climb. It took Hide and I a while to figure out this system and I found it a bit frustrating (you have to be a little bit creative at getting the rope through the anchor) but it is certainly good to have. The rock was pretty smooth and I thought the routes were sandbagged, but all in all we had a great day rock climbing. Fortunately, the wall was in the shade all day, so the temperature was really nice up there.
Mokuleia is also right by a state park and the beach there is beautiful. I saw a sea turtle swimming in the water, which totally made my day.
Bill and I went up to Rumney this weekend for an ‘outdoor sport climbing tutorial’ to prepare him for our trip up to Acadia next weekend. I took him over to the Meadows, No Money Down Wall at first…but the routes were easy and it was SOO crowded (basically like a dirty indoor gym with trees).
False Modesty 5.7
Way easy and a good first lead (there are no ‘panic’ sections). I’d rate it a 5.6 though. 4 bolts to a quick clip anchor.
Mr. Popular 5.9
Seriously, the first two moves are the crux. Stick clip the first bolt or you’ll be driving home with dirt all over your pants. After you find a way to get on the wall, the route is fun. 6 bolts to a quick clip anchor (slightly overhanging).
Bored with the beginners’ area, we decided to up the ante over at the Orange Crush wall. I scared the shit out of myself leading Purple Microdot 5.10b (10 bolts to quick clip anchors) and then scared the shit out of Bill by making him climb through the crux and actually touch the anchors. The daylight faded fast so we didn’t get to stay as long as I wanted. Orange Crush has some serious, overhanging routes and I can’t wait to go back.
Everything about Rumney rocked with the exception of being eaten alive by mosquitoes… AGAIN. Even when I put 100% deet all over my body they still feast on my flesh. And I think I’m developing some weird allergy to them…all of the bites I’ve been getting recently have swelled up really big and stuff. I thought about taking a picture of one and posting it on here, but I figure that no one really wants to see that. So consider yourselves lucky. If I get West Nile I’ll be sure to turn this blog into a record of my death.
Also, Bill and I forgot to take any pictures of our trip. I’ll post some Montezuma’s Tower pictures and a route description later this week and will be sure to take lot of pictures/video of Acadia next weekend. Stay tuned!
Scott and I left on Friday morning and headed up to New Hampshire. Unsure of how the weather would unfold over the weekend (with the shockwave of Hurricane Hanna echoing up the coastline), we decided to do a bit of climbing in Pawtuckaway State Park off Highway 101 and take advantage of the fleeting sunshine. A brief note about finding this place – Don’t Follow the Signs to the Park!! They won’t lead you to the right place. Instead, take the 101 to the 07 and then turn onto Reservation Road. The road to the crag is dirt, but it’s well maintained. However, it doesn’t connect through to Deerfield Road, so you can’t access it from there. This cute crag was right by the water of a small pond (Round Pond) and the rock was easily top-roped. But, it’s also by some ‘marshes’ (AKA swamps) and the mosquitoes got pretty vicious as the day cooled off. Essentially, the routes were nothing more than long boulder problems, but there were some tricky finger and hand cracks…and an annoying off-width crack that I grumpily lie-backed to the top.
Up in Maine we were a bit too far south to hit Acadia, so we decided to check out North Camden (across the bay from Acadia). We ended up at the Verticals (parking is located at the Maidenhead trailhead) for sport climbing and top roping. I love the rock in Maine (it’s crimpy like cwazy!) and I was in no way prepared for how beautiful it is up there. We also lucked out on the weather and it didn’t rain us out.
Bolt Ladder 5.9+
I’d recommend leading this route and then setting top ropes for the others (trad protection is tricky, there are spots that run-out). This route runs up the face of theVerticals and it fairly crimpy. To start step out past the belay ledge (fairly exposed) and climb up to the first bolt. There are four good bolts and a few bombed-out pitons towards the top (but trad protection is better near the end).
This is a fun, but eay flake climb to the left of the Bolt Ladder. Classic flake climbing.
Diagonal Crack 5.9 R
Right angle crack to another thin seam. This route rocks and I give it three stars!! SOO fun and sustained with classic lie-backs.
Climb up the flake ramp and continue up the face. There are four bolts and a 2 bolt fixed anchor. This route is crimpy as hell.
Scott and I also stopped by the Breakwater Lighthouse in Rockport and the Pemaquid Lighthouse in Ft. William Henry. Goddamn Maine is pretty!
By far the most impressive climbing photos I have are from my ascent of Montezuma’s Tower in the Garden of the Gods, a 140 ft. spire just past South Gateway rock. Ironically enough, this is one of the easiest climbs I have ever done. Guidebooks rate this climb as a 5.7 but I’d say it’s actually about a 5.5. It just goes to show that those gnarley photos you see in climbing magazines aren’t always the hardest climbs.
In the case of Montezuma’s Tower, the foot holds look like they were cut into the rock. The inflated rating is probably due to the Tower’s height and exposure – it’s not a climb that inexperienced people should just hop onto. There are 8 bolts. About 100 ft up there is a nice belay ledge (pictures to the left). You need two ropes to rappel down from a three bolt anchor on top.
Kindergarten Rock (located south of the main park area) offers a different kind of rock than that found on North and South Gateway Rocks. It’s more like limestone – hard, sharper, more broken and less gritty. Overall, Kindergarten Rock is my favorite place to climb in the Garden. However, most of the easier climbs are trad – only the route rated over 5.10 seem to have blots – so you’ll need to bring some gear. There are some awesome multi-pitch climbs on this rock and the face is pretty steep so there are some wicked airy views from the anchors. Kindergarten Rock has some great cracks (some are really big) but they are pretty dirty and some smell bad because of the birds that live in them.
A fun, crimpy sport route that leads up the east face of Kindergarten Rock. It’s pretty sustained climbing and some slippery moves near the end definitely require good balance. This is a great forearm workout.
New Era, 5.7
A classic trad route that runs up the crack/dihedral on the east face of Kindergarten Rock. Bring medium to large pro because it’s pretty big. When I climbed this route with Arek, we reached the summit with three pitches. There are decent anchors, though the first one is tight…the first pitch is the easiest and a good place to set up a top rope for beginners – as a did when Sebastian visited.
The Manitou Incline runs up the side on Mt. Manitou along old railroad ties – basically 1.1 miles of wooden steps up a mountain. It has an 89% average grade and a 2,000 ft elevation gain. It’s also exposed to the sun, making for a brutal workout.
Barr Trail starts near the Cog Railroad and continues up to the summit of Pikes Peak. It’s about 13 miles long and an easy trail leading up to a popular 14er. Barr Camp is located off the trail just below treeline. You can camp here in lean-tos or tents – and be sure and stop in the cabin to chat with the caretakers and eat some yummy pancakes!
Adam’s Mountain Café – the best restaurant in Manitou! It serves ‘slow food’ that is organic, local and definitely worth the wait. I recommend breakfast the most, it’s a great place to eat after running Ute Indian Trail or going up the Incline.
My first outdoor climb of Summer 2008 was in the Garden of the Gods. The Garden of the Gods is a great sport/trad climbing area located in the middle of Colorado Springs, about 10 minutes west of I-25 off the Garden of the Gods exit. Free to the public, the Garden is a good place for some qucik climbing on good, gritty red sandstone. Just sign the ‘idiot waiver’ at the Visitor’s Center and carry your rope and qucikdraws down the sidewalk and climb away. Be prepared for an audience though. Needless to say, I was a bit rusty from well over a semester of inactivity, no rock climbing and still coming out of the depression that had nearly shut down my life at the end of 2007. Following my newfound policy of making rather irrational, yet carefully planned out, decisions, I climbed in the Garden with a boy I had met on the internet and had never climbed with before. Of course, climbing well-bolted 5.6s and 5.7s in the Garden is an extremely well-calculated risk…and Scott’s experience and ability far outweighed any dangers. Little did I know at the time, but meeting Scott would completely change the course of my summer and launch me into three months of travel and climbing, solidifying my love for the outdoors and Colorado.
The following day, I took advantage of another invite to the Garden, this time to climb with several soldiers who had recently returned from deployments in Iraq. This turned out to an extremely different experience, with some much more aggressive repelling and some rather large falling rocks. Three routes stick out in my memory:
Located on the west side of South Gateway rock, West Point Crack is a sandbag 5.8 route leading up to a well placed anchor. The route continues onto a second pitch, but the quality of the rock rapidly deteriorates and ultimately isn’t worth it. West Point Crack isn’t really a ‘crack’ so much as a very very big flake. Liebacks can be used but the crack is so big you can just step up it like stairs. It’s well-bolted and safe – with the exception of the first move. The route starts above the belay station on an exposed ledge – the move calls you to lean back then step up onto the ledge. It’s a bit boulder but once you get yourself on the rock the route becomes really easy. Like I said before – sandbag.
Credibility Gap 5.9
A much more exposed route that West Point, Credibility Gap starts behind the large flat rock that juts up in front of South Gateway rock. It also follows a crack/flake up to the anchor and is protected with pins and fixed pitons. The area right under the anchor get pretty bare and people seem to frequently pull off flakes of rock right there, so be prepared to do some dodging if you have a grabby climber on belay. Definitely a fun route!
Located on the Drug Wall of South Gateway Rock (the side that faces east), Mighty Thor is an awesome sport route that stems up a dihedral to an anchor. There are some big reaches, some serious liebacks, and stemming. This is a fun, pumpy route that requires a lot of balance and patience as the tourists walk by commenting on your progress. This is one of my favorite routes in the Garden, so I definitely recommend it.