Friday, June 27, 2008


I keep having these Boulder flashbacks... Over 20 years ago I drove an ancient, even for then, van into the Eldorado parking lot for the first time. I was blown away by the rock walls, and the climbing beat the hell out of me. I've climbed in Eldo hundreds of days since then, the place always fires me up despite it's "old school" vibe. A roaring river, epic quantities of rock, yeah!

One of the first routes I did (or tried?) back then was T2, a six or so pitch 5.9 that starts with an overhanging, poorly protected 5.11 high-ball boulder problem with a really bad landing. I remember my 18-year old hands sweaty hands sketching on the holds as my partner decided spotting was a waste of time and ran away before I could fall on him. Smart move.

Yesterday I was back early in the morning with an old friend, and despite the hour my hands were sweating on the first holds. It is possible to stick-clip a pin to protect the boulder start, but shit, a stick clip in Eldo is just wrong if you're from my generation of climbers. I could vividly remember my feet blowing, the resulting endless swing and time-creeping battle to hang on years ago, but if 20 years of climbing hasn't made me any smarter it has at least made me slightly stronger, and it all flowed. The rest of the route did too, setting belays, cruising, watching the birds circle in the morning thermals, Eldo is, to use the phrase from back in the day, "Mega!" We were back at our shoes in under two hours, about the same time it took me to lead the first pitch over 20 years ago, but just as happy to have had a great time of it.

We even had the obligatory, "I think the easy way to solo off the last bit is just over here" experience at the top to keep it spicy, but it sure is nice to climb rock that is generally solid instead of my normal Canadian Rockies diet that's generally not anywhere near solid, and even the solid bits are best treated with suspicion bordering on hostility as they often aren't solidly attached to the earth (at least on the trad routes in the Rockies, we do have some super solid sport climbing).

If you haven't done T2 you gotta go do it! Maybe bring a stick clip if you're not burdened by history... Thanks to the Punter for a good day of it.

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