Thursday, July 29, 2010
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
When men climb on a great mountain together, the rope between them is more than a mere physical aid to the ascent; it is a symbol of the spirit of the enterprise. It is a symbol of men banded together in a common effort of will and strength against their own true enemies: inertia, cowardice, greed, ignorance and all weaknesses of the spirit. -- Anonymous
This is one of the highlights of guiding, getting to share this bond with all sorts of people, helping them achieve goals that, whether they know it or not, run deeper than the physical mountain they're climbing. Ahh, the things that mountains teach us.
And there are so many good climbing objectives here in the Park, so many mountains and each one with it's own lesson. For a recent trip report up one such mountain, Pagoda Mtn, check out my blog. There you'll find photos of the route we climbed and surrounding area.
"Just returned from two nights at the Spearhead Bivy and wanted to report on the Arrowhead-McHenry's traverse. We started on the South Ramp route of Arrowhead, which is 3rd-class with a pitch of easy 5th on nice rock. It's mostly walking up talus/grass ramps in the middle of a huge face. Fun and casual. Then we walked from the summit of Arrowhead down to the NE Ridge (aka Arrowhead arete) on talus with low-angle slabs with a couple spots of 4th-class. Things get interesting when the ridge steepens. We stayed climbers' right of the crest to avoid the up/down on the towers and found a lot of 4th-class. The rock gets solid again towards the summit and kicks back to 3rd-class. We descended the SE Ridge, which, with good routefinding, only has a couple of 4th-class sections. We descended Stoneman Pass a bit south of the pass proper, following grass ledges and a couple of 4th-easy-5th downclimbs, all the while trending southeast. We brought axes for this, but could have gotten by without them. This is a great day up high, with lots of variety and awesome scenery."
If you read my trip report on the aforementioned blog, you'll get another shot of Glacier Gorge climbing conditions.
Andrew Councell is a CMS Guide and year-round Estes Park resident
Thursday, July 22, 2010
|Kieners in red (photo from May 2010)|
We began hiking at 1:30am and by 4:30am were gearing up at the base of Lambslide, a 40-45 degree couloir that accesses Broadway Ledge, the middle portion of our route. Temps that night never reached freezing so Lambslide was still soft but that gave us good edging and steps most of the way up. Sunrise at 5:40 greeted us on the southern edges of Broadway, where we stopped to soak up the rays, rest our legs, rehydrate, and get a bite to eat.
Broadway is amazing! The further along you go, the greater the exposure as the Lower East Face drops precipitously away below your heels. We enjoyed dry conditions all the way across to where the Ledge intersects with Upper Kieners. Soon we were climbing Longs’ perfect, dry granite in one of the most amazing settings in the Park. 400′ of climbing took us through the crux of the day and into the fatiguing scrambling that would eventually deposit us on Longs’ broad summit. Perfect, clear, warm, calm weather allowed us to revel in the summit views for nearly 30 minutes. The Front Range far below was socked in under a cloud all day; to our east the valleys and plains were covered under this blanket and made us seem so much higher.
Then we were off, descending the North Face, another technical route. Careful scrambling above the 2000′ Diamond brought us to the first of our rappels. Steve and David cruised through with no problems and we were able to pack away the technical equipment while checking out the stunning vista from Chasm View. The altitude was finally catching up with Steve and David so we hustled down to the Boulderfield and then to the trailhead. Our round-trip time was just under 13 hours, an excellent time for any roped team especially for guys from sea level. The weather couldn’t have been better, the conditions were great, and we had a great day enjoying a fun climb on an amazing peak.
To see more photos from this trip, please visit my personal blog: http://andrewcouncellmountainguide.wordpress.com/ Longs Peak and other mountains in the Park are in awesome shape right now; take advantage of the good conditions and come enjoy Rocky Mountain National Park this summer.
AMGA Rock Guide and year-round Guide for CMS
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
This past weekend I had the pleasure of guiding Bella on her first and second multi-pitch climb. We first climbed Gina's Surprise and then Chrome Plated. Ohh... Yeah... I forget to mention that we did this in a day! That is 10 pitches of climbing and about 4 miles of hiking in a day. Great job Bella.
Bella and Me
Bella cruising Gina's
It is a great time to get out and do some climbing. If you are interested in climbing, don't hesitate to contact the office. I'd be psyched to work with you.
Mark Kelly, CMS Guide
Friday, July 16, 2010
What can we say? The kids had a stellar performance at the USA Climbing SCS Junior National Championships in Atlanta. In the overall team championship standings we took 2nd place in the nation; something that we have not done before in sport climbing. Matty Hong placed 1st in difficulty in what is his final year as a junior competitor, moving up 7 places from last year. Elly Czajkowski placed 4th in both difficulty and speed. Both of them will be representing the United States in the Junior World Cup this fall in Edinburgh, Scotland. Dallas Milburn turned in a strong 8th place finish along with Abby Czajkowski who placed 11th overall. In addition both Remi Arata and Mica Hartman turned in strong performances; Remi having made it to his first National competition and Mica having turned in her best performance to date.
No time to rest though. It’s time for the kids to get ready for their summer team trip to Europe. This year we will be traveling to Spain for paellas and steep limestone! Stay tuned. . . .
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
“Flowery action words can’t hide a lack of accomplishment in life. I like it when someone lists things like ‘mountain climbing’ in their resume, because it means he’s geeky enough to feel it’s necessary to prove that he’s not a geek, yet not so geeky that he’s anal retentive.”
Given the relatively high unemployment rate around the country, this seemed like an appropriate quote to start off with on this report. See? Climbing can serve many purposes. So if you want to add “mountain climbing” to your resume (and want to do so safely) why not hire a CMS guide to help you on your way? Aside from helping you get that job, climbing is fun, healthy, and takes you to the world’s most beautiful places. This year in Rocky Mountain National Park is no exception; we are really having an excellent climbing season so far so get out there and accomplish something!
I’ve had many days of climbing in the Park since the last update and the thing that has stood out to me the most has been the lack of climbers. There are lots of people, to be sure: hikers, fishermen, young and old, but not that many climbers. As the Front Range continues to heat up, I’m sure this will change. Early starts are the best way to beat the potential afternoon weather and the hordes escaping the heat. No, I’m kidding…there are never really hordes of climbers in the Park; the hikes are too far for many. The busiest areas are always the same: the Diamond, the Petit, Hallet’s N. Face, and the Book at Lumpy. If you branch out to other places or even less-travelled routes in those places, you’re sure to have to formation or the route to yourself.
“There is no snow on the entire approach to Lambslide, where the snow was already quite soft by 6am. We experienced a bit of balling up but mostly good cramponing. Broadway was functionally snow free; some patches but very easy to avoid (including crossing the base of the Notch Couloir). Upper Kieners was also snow-free though wet in a few places. Warm temps, mostly light winds on route. Rain finally got us between the Boulderfield and Chasm Junction with strong winds and very cold rain. A few booms in the distance but not a very violent storm, passed fairly quickly. On the N. Face it was wet (read: wet rope) and there was one significant snow patch that we plunge-stepped down after the rappels but we probably could have avoided it by veering over by Chasm View. We did not see any massive rockfalls. There was one other party on the route and no one on the summit.”
CMS Guide Mark Kelly was climbing on Hallet’s N. Face, specifically on “Better Than Love” to “Love,” and reports overall dry conditions with a few wet spots to negotiate. Mark also replaced the tat on the second rappel with some new material and two steel quicklinks. Thanks Mark! CMS Guide Steve Johnson was climbing the “Great Dihedral,” also on Hallet and reported that the rock was a little more damp in some areas but overall dry as well. Both guides reported cool temps on the wall, anywhere from the 40s to the 60s…much cooler than anything you’ll find along the Front Range. In fact, this week while on a couple of alpine objectives, I was nestled deep within the comfortable confines of my puffy jacket more than once. During the day.
Andrew Councell is a year-round CMS Guide and Estes Park resident