Climbing is one of the few sports in which the arena (the cliffs, the mountains and their specific routes) acquire a notoriety that outpopulates, outshines and outlives the actual athletes.
-- Jonathan Waterman
It’s true. How many routes in Eldo or on the Diamond have a reputation that far exceeds the reputations of the climbers who did the first ascent? Sometimes the legends of both are so intertwined it’s impossible to think of one without the other. Think Hillary and Everest, for example. But more often than not, we know much, much more about the peak, the route, or the scary pitches than the people who climbed them first. I’m sure that annoys some climbers but I think it’s appropriate. It puts the mountains on a pedestal they deserve, in my opinion. Forget about those of us who mar them with our grimy hands and triumph over our little accomplishments. The purity, rawness and beauty of the mountains will long outlast any of us. We will come and go but, for the most part, the mountains will remain the same (maybe a little less snowy). That is an encouraging thought (except for the climate change part).
It’s been a busy week here at the School where many of us have been out climbing and skiing in the perfect weather. “Perfect,” you snort? Well, sure: it snows and we go skiing; the brilliant sun rages through the clouds, dries everything up, and we go climbing. The mountains dictate and demand obedience. To those willing to listen there is no such thing as a “shoulder season.” Powder (in May!) and corn skiing have been good so far this month. The temps are cold and crisp in the various canyons, making rock climbing superb.
Andrew Councell is a CMS Guide and year-round Estes Park resident