Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Conditions Report

As we all know, there are fires burning throughout many areas of Colorado.  Climbers are calling our offices to find out if and what climbing areas are being affected.   Here is the local breakdown.  The following fires are all within 50 miles of our office:

Flagstaff Fire (Boulder):  0% contained, but still relatively small.  Eldorado Canyon and The Flatirons are closed until further notice. Boulder Canyon is currently open. For the latest updates on what is happening in Boulder County: Flagstaff Fire.

Highlands Ranch Fire (Estes Park):  100% contained.  Was put out several days ago.  No climbing areas have been effected.

High Park Fire (Fort Collins):  65% contained.  This fire is 15+ miles Northeast of Estes Park.  Winds have been out of the West since the fire began, so Estes Park residents have not had to deal with breathing the smoke from this fire.  The smoke has been blowing East toward Fort Collins and the plains.  Horsetooth Reservoir under partial closure.

Waldorf Canyon Fire (Colorado Springs):  5% contained.  Garden of the Gods is closed until further notice.

Colorado is a mecca for climbing in the United States.  With so many great climbing areas in and around Boulder, Estes Park, and Rocky Mountain National Park, there are a multitude of climbing options available.  If any of our courses or outings are affected by a closure, we will contact these clients individually.  At Colorado Mountain School we have been extremely fortunate to have escaped the dircet path of these fires thus far. We wish everyone who is dealing with fires right now the best, particularly in Colorado Springs and Ft. Collins and would like you to know we are thinking of you here in Boulder.

If you would like to volunteer or donate, please visit

Rocky Mountain National Park conditions:

The trail to Black Lake has been cleared of downed trees.

The following conditions were observed by CMS guide Rainbow Weinstock on Friday, 6/22:

We left the trailhead at 1AM and were at Mill Glacier under the North Chimney at 4AM. There was a significant amount of snow extending well into the boulderfields where people bivy, though there are still plenty of dry spots to bivy. Even though it was a very warm day, we found that at 4AM the snow was still very firm. With stiff approach shoes we were only able to make minimal penetration attempting to kick steps up to the North Chimney. We did not bring crampons or an ice axe with us so we resorted to chopping steps with sharp rocks and using a nut tool in the other hand for stability. Covering all the terrain up to the North Chimney this was very slow, taxing technique, but secure. *I would recommend crampons and possibly an ice axe (otherwise grabbing a sharp rock.)*

We went up the slabs to the left of the bottom of the north chimney and found that rock to be dry. As we continued up the North Chimney we encountered quite a few firm snow patches that we travelled across. I was appreciative of being in approach shoes in the North Chimney, so I could feel good going back and forth from snow to rock. Crampons would not have changes things much there. In the higher parts of the North Chimney there is a significant amount of snow in the gully proper, which forced us to a clean, 5.5, left facing corner system 30' right of the gully. There is snow in the last couple hundred feet of the chimney, where the gully steepens and rock quality deteriorates. This led us into terrain I have always used, which is steeper and cleaner 5.6/5.7 corners and slabs 50-100' right of the gully which bring you up to Broadway.

I've attached a couple of images of Broadway. There is medium sized snowpatch below and to the left of the Casual Route, which one can readily walk around. Of greater note is the significant snowpatch on the far left hand side of this section of Broadway, under the Obelisk - it wouldn't effect travel for any of the climbing, but *it provides a significant flow of water in the afternoon to fill up after a climb. *We were there on a very warm day, with highs in the upper 90s in Boulder and highs in the upper 60's at the NOAA Long's Peak point forecast at 13,000, but it was flowing profusely at 12PM. Hopefully it will be there for at least a couple more weeks.

As for the climbing itself, it's in excellent, dry conditions. We climbed Pevertical Sanctuary, and found dry rock all the way to the D7 raps and T-shirt conditions till noon. We then climbed the Casual Route route in the afternoon and although it was cool enough to warrant insulating layers in the upper pitches, the pitches were quite dry. There is a large block of snow on a large, sloping ledge on top of the first corner pitch beyond the traverse. It had big steps in it that allowed us to easily make a few steps on it in rock shoes, but didn't effect our travel much.

The D7 raps and Crack of Delight raps are all in good shape.


The following photos were taken by CMS guide Luke Terstrip on Saturday, 6/23 from the Camel Descent. If you were on the wall on Saturday morning, feel free to contact us - we probably have pictures of you.

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