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Into Thin Air

June 26, 2012

If it’s 100+ degrees in Boulder, what do you do?  Head to the hills!

The climbers: Jackie, Leici, Ehrin, and Ben
Hydration: Various beer from Oskar Blues

Even after an epic on Saturday (lesson learned: just because Mountain Project says there are a few boulder problems near sport climbs, do not bring your crash pad because the approach to the crag might be ridiculous), I could not pass up a bouldering trip to Rocky Mountain National Park on Sunday.  The last time I was in the park I had a torn ACL and did no climbing, so I even was willing to meet at 7:30am for this.  The reason for the early start was that the road to the Bear Lake parking lot closes at 9am during the summer to shuttles only, so those of us with crash pads need to arrive before then in order to not get sardined in a shuttle bus with tons of tourists.

Our first destination was Emerald Lake to climb The Kind (V5), which Urban Climber rated the 80th best boulder problem in America.  Not bad.  Leici and Ehrin had worked on this problem before (Ben had already sent) and were excited to get back on it before Ehrin moved to Tennessee this week.  All I had to hear were the words “overhung with heel hooks” to be totally in.  However, my full body exhaustion from the previous day’s adventure combined with the high altitude (about 10,000 feet) made the hike in pretty difficult for me, even though it wasn’t very steep and less than 2 miles.  I really wasn’t sure I could climb an overhung V5 that day, especially after I couldn’t find the strength to top out the short V1 warm up problem on the right end of the boulder.

Still, I gave The Kind a shot even though I felt pretty weak.  The boulder was quite popular – good for a long rest time in between gos and plenty of pads!  Ehrin and Leici had already worked out  most of each of their beta, but the move they were doing to the 2nd right sloper-jug was proving to be somewhat strenuous when starting from the beginning.

Ehrin on The Kind (V5)

But, after Leici saw another girl use a toe instead of a heel to go for the hold, both she and Ehrin found that beta to make the move easier for them.  And that was all Leici needed for the send!  Ben also re-sent, or didn’t unsend.  Both of them then went on to work the sit-start and some of the other variations.  Ehrin kept getting really close.  I was getting a little frustrated because I was falling off what-should-have-been solid heel hooks.

Leici sending The Kind (V5). Notice her super sweet toe-hook beta.

Gradually, though, I began to feel a little stronger as I got more used to breathing the alpine air.  I kept wanting to go up to the 2nd right sloper-jug with my left hand, keeping the heel on instead of using the toe like the other girls, but couldn’t get the left bump to the next hold like most of the guys were doing.  One Bhakti Chai and almost two Naked Juices later (good thing I had decided to stock up on beverages after Saturday’s trek!), I got the power up that I needed.  Thanks to some beta from Leici, I kept my left heel on and went up left hand to the 2nd right sloper jug, then stemmed my right foot out and matched on the hold before bumping my left hand up.  I felt extra elated after this send since I had fought through my tiredness and didn’t just give up because I was exhausted.  The problem did live up to the hype – I especially love problems like The Kind because there is no one set of beta and the trick is to figure out how to play to your strengths.  Even us three girls did not use the same beta – Leici toe hooked through some of the opening moves when Ehrin and I were heel hooking, I kept my heel on when Leici and Ehrin used a toe through the crux, etc.  And, of course, I loved it because heel hooks are my thing.  (Take that, CATS! :-P)

Jackie on The Kind (V5)

Ehrin got all the moves but her subconscious would not let her connect them because she needed a reason to return to Colorado.  We decided to hike to the Lower Chaos area to check that out.  After scrambling through the talus pile, we tried a V3 (called Warm Up) since we were all pretty tired.  Well, this V3 did not prove easy, and only Ben could hit the long move and send.

Ehrin on Warm Up (V3)

We ended the day by climbing through the talus to look at Tommy’s Arete (V7), another RMNP classic.  Ehrin sent the freezing alpine lake on the way.  Even though Tommy’s looked pretty sweet, none of us had the energy to work the long problem so we headed out.  On the way back, we stopped at Oskar Blues and luckily finished our food and beer right before it started to pour.  After the drive, my legs were so sore that I had trouble walking.  Must have been a good weekend.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Ehrin Irvin permalink
    June 26, 2012 10:51 pm

    Great Post Jackie!! You should post on my husbands site CRUXN.com. it’s a blog aggregator, lots of posts. I’ll get you the details.

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