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We finished packing on Thursday and loaded up three nice wheely duffel thingees with camping and climbing gear. Me and my brother also had a backpack each, and I also brought my camera (pictures coming soon).
We woke up at 4am, loaded up the car, ate breakfast, took one minute showers, and were off… almost… where did the itinerary go? And where are the directions to the airport that I printed out last night. Err, we should have woke up earlier, it’s now 4:30 and we have to catch a 5:50 flight. I ran down to my computer and reprinted the directions and itinerary. As I run back upstairs, my brother hands me the printouts from the night before that he found lounging around on the couch (how did they wind up there? I don’t remember putting them there). So now we’re off!
My mom was driving us since my dad would have to have woke up at 2am and had his dozen cups of coffee before he would be functional enough to drive. She likes to drive exactly the speed limit even when everyone else is going 10mph faster and passing her on a two lane road. Why not save a few minutes?
Baggage check and security took all of 20 minutes and we arrived at the gate with plenty of time to spare.
After takeoff we got to watch the sunset and I tried to read a bit. I wound up napping after a few pages and we touched down in Atlanta for our three hour layover. I sent John a quick text message about our arrival. Seconds later my phone rings, John asks which airport in Atlanta are we at? I said “I dunno, the Atlanta one? I think there’s only one.” He said he just got into Atlanta too and asked for our gate number and stopped by. Originally he told me that his layover was in Texas, but apparently it was Atlanta, since he’s here now. Turns out he is on the same flight too (Which makes since since it would have been a little weird if there were two Delta flights going to Colorado Springs from Atlanta both leaving at exactly 12pm).
I got a good amount of reading in on the second leg. What’s with airline food these days? They used to give you a nice little meal if your flight was more than an hour. I remember getting chicken fajitas on the way to Florida a bunch of years ago. All we got was a quaker granola bar and some apple juice.
Baggage pickup took all of 10 seconds after the carousel started and we headed over to get the rental car. The guy convinced us to get a mini suv for $5 more per day, it was totally worth it. I would never buy one myself, but it was a 2007 Kia Sportage LX… it was really really nice and really really new, totally worth the 18 dollars a day. We loaded up the rental car, stopped at a sporting goods place to get fuel for the stove, and headed off to Shelf Road.
We got to the campground and there were a few people there already. We set up the tents and by the time we got everything situated it was around 5pm. Not really enough time to climb, maybe do one route if we were speedy. We decided to hike over to Mensus Prow, figure out what routes we wanted to do the next day and take some pictures. We hiked to the top of the Mensus Prow mesa and had an awesome view. It was pretty good that we hiked instead of climbed, otherwise we wouldn’t have gotten the nice view and a ton of cool pictures.
Back at camp the rest of the crew had a nice fire going and were chowing down on dinner. We worked on rustling up some grub as well. We didn’t hang out at the fire for too long since we wanted to get a good sleep for climbing on Saturday. There were some new arrivals, some new people and some I’ve met previously, a good crew.
Friday night was the best sleep I’ve had in a really long time. There’s nothing like sleeping outside on a cool breezy night. We made some oatmeal and raisins in the morning and headed back out to Mensus Prow. I found an unoccupied 5.8 and headed up. I set up the anchor for a toprope and John and my brother climbed it as well. There were some people on a 5.7 on the California Ethics Pinnacle who asked to trade topropes, so we climbed that route too. I also did a 5.9 on the other side of the pinnacle which is a really cool route. The idea for today was to climb the regular warmup routes and then get on some stuff we haven’t done before (so much for that idea). I wanted to do the second part of a route next to the pinnacle which starts out at 5.10d and then at the anchors turns into 5.11a. I toproped it last year and I was interested in leading it. I was feeling pretty good and I’m definitely a lot stronger than I was at this time last year.
I don’t think we did a long enough warmup. The 10d really kicked my butt badly. After the first few bolts I was resting on the rope after pretty much every move, aughh, terrible. I was in no shape to even think about doing the 11a section, so I set the anchor and came down. My brother had a good attempt on it and John passed. It was getting pretty hot in the sun and it was lunch time so we headed back to camp. The plan was to make some lunch and then head over to the Dark Side. It gets shade all day long and has a ton of really really fun routes.
We never made it out of camp. We sat in the shade of some juniper bushes and helped a fellow shindigger make chili. Me and John chopped onions and peppers, and my brother stirred the dutch oven over the fire pit. The shade was so nice and comfy. We were all pretty beat. It was probably a combination of 15 hours of traveling, the dry climate, the higher elevation (5500 feet), and the hot sun. I just wasn’t feeling up to climbing more. I did have energy to climb, but if we climbed more, we probably would be finished for tomorrow, so we just lounged around until the chili was done, and chowed down.
Sunday was a great climbing day, really really good. The morning was unusually cool and very cloudy. It warmed up a little bit but was still really cloudy, nicely protecting us from the sun. We headed over to Cactus Cliffs since that usually gets baked in the sun all day long. The clouds will be a nice change. We did a really cool short crack route for a warmup and then headed over to Spiney Ridge.
We did four more routes at Spiney Ridge that were really really fun and then headed back over to Cactus to do a 5th and last super cool route. Climbing with a party of three always takes way longer, so we didn’t get as much climbing in as we could have, but we had a good time nonetheless. It was about 6 (and it gets dark at around 7:30) so we headed back to camp, made some dinner, packed up most of our stuff, and hit the sack.
The morning was bitter sweet. The day was turning into a lovely fall Colorado day. Cool, breezy, and just great. It felt so good to be back in Colorado and it was bugging me we had to go back to work on Tuesday. The flight back was uneventful. I got a ton of reading in and baggage pickup was really fast again. We got back in Albany at 11pm and our parents picked us up and gave my brother the lovely news of how much it cost to replace his muffler that weekend (before the trip his muffler kinda… well, just fell off).
Next year we should stay a week or something, so we can get a good solid warmup in, and a good amount of climbing.
I need to start bringing in a sweatshirt into the office since they keep the air conditioning on full blast throughout the day… it’s colder today than usual.
A friend of mine invited me to join him on the MS Bike Tour in Dover at the end of September. My brother, with his job and everything probably can’t actually join me on the previously planned climbing trip. I’ll see if I can get Nick or John to come along instead. Worst comes to worst I’ll bail on the climbing trip and do some backpacking in the Shenandoahs. Ideally I can do that all in one shot. Drive down on Friday and visit Cindi till Sunday morning, do the bike tour, and then bust to either climbing or hiking, and then bust out home.
There’s actually a slight problem with that plan though. If I’m planning on doing the 150 mile tour, I’m going to be really beat the next day. I could drive down the previous Friday, spend the weekend with Cindi (yeah this is sounding much better), do climbing/hiking/etc for the week, visit Cindi again the following Friday+Saturday, do the bike tour, and bust out home. I think that’s the plan now.
There’s also the fourth annual Shelf Road Shindig outside of Colorado Springs on the 8-9 weekend of September. I can’t miss that one, I should go get my airline tickets while they are still cheap.
September is going to be pretty busy, Most of the weekends are booked up with something occurring outside of New York.