Sunday, February 07, 2010

Redstone Winterfest

I just spent two days at the Redstone Winterfest, in Redstone, Colorado. Redstone is a small town on the western side of the Colorado Rockies. I've spent a bunch of days in the area over the years kayaking, hiking and a little bit of bouldering, but it's not a place I've ever really thought of as an ice or mixed climbing location. I was wrong about that, there are some great ice climbs and a whole horde of really good mixed routes, all on this interactive soft red sandstone.

I showed up on Friday morning, and wanted to warm up as I've only done one of day of mixed climbing this season. Since about October I've been focused on ice climbing, huge quantities of ice climbing; this has left me with pretty good endurance, but a little low on mixed power. Fortunately the first route I got, an M9, had an aggressive in-your-face boulder problem overhang to start with. Why, out of all the Redstone routes, did I get on that one? I am an idiot at picking warmups, but the local vibe was good. I fell off right away to get that over with and then spent an hour figuring out the intricate hooks, pebble grabs and micro-ice placements. Thanks to MB for the long belay. In what was to become a pattern, I got pumped right away, but the routes there often have cool rests if you're creative, so I'd de-pump, do a move or two, rest, sketch up a few feet pulling on cobbles, it was super fun but definitely a new style of climbing for me!

The locals run rock shoes sometimes, and switch back and forth from rock shoes to rock shoes with crampons bolted on, sometimes twice in one pitch! Chalk bags are common, and as the air temperature is often around freezing you don't really need gloves once you warm up. It's odd to bust out a 5.11 pebble move in the middle of a mixed route, but after a bit of a head-fake mentally I got into it, it's super fun!

The rest of Friday and Saturday turned into two of the more "pumper" days I've ever had. So pumped, almost falling off, hooks breaking, the smallest icicle I've ever successfully stood on (perfect temps for small icicles, warm but not too warm), just on the edge of pitching off but making it to the anchors. That type of, "I'm falling off now! No, wait, not yet, no falling, snagged a hold, OK, de-pump" climbing is pretty much my favorite thing to do in the world. I had a couple of decent onsights that I was psyched on given my relative lack of "M" fitness, super fun to get back into the mixed game! Lots of old friends from the Colorado days also showed up; Colorado was my home for almost ten years, and a piece of my heart will always respond to the blue sky, warm sun, mountains and good times I had with people there over the years.

I finished out my visit with a couple of laps on "The Drool," a classic pillar. Blue ice, red rock, Redstone! Thanks to the crew who let me rotate in with their TR session, good form.

I'll definitely be heading back there, maybe as a tie-in with the Ouray festival next year. I have some good-looking routes left to do, and some of 'em weren't even in! And this whole mixed climbing thing with a chalkbag has got me interested, Duane Raleigh and Jeff Jackson are coming up with some new ideas for sure.

Thanks to DR, AO, MB, Quint, Jefe and the rest of the psyched crew there, great trip!

1 comment:

BJ Sbarra said...

Nice meeting you at the Drool Will. Glad you had a good time, hopefully next year more of the routes will be in!