19 September 2006

Climbing the Curecanti Needle

The rain fell heavily as Bob, Chris, Chuck & I talked about whether to pack up and paddle in or to go to the Telluride Blues & Brews festival. Tough decision ... Chris said we should check out Curecanti Needle from the Pioneer Point. We drove over, heaters on. It was cold. Not enticing boating weather. (Image to left, courtesy of ghostdepot.com - click on image.)

The view was spectacular as was the wind. The rain tapered off so we decided to go for it. I wondered what we were getting into as we carried the boats, climbing gear, beer and camp gear down to Morrow Point Reservoir.

Being the least familiar with paddling inflatable kayaks, I was plied with the threat of tsunamis from dam releases, fierce rapids and other jokes - as they turned out. Despite these fears, I survived the inital rapids in decent form. After paddling about 4 miles, we reached the Needle with stable weather, and headed up to scope out the route potential on the West face.

Bob & I ended up doing a nice, thought provoking 5.10- line. First ascent of this route? Maybe but who really knows .. or cares. Fun is fun! (Well, maybe that last stretch of offwidth/ chimney wasn't fun but ...) Chris & Chuck found a fun line around the corner.

It was getting dark as we rappelled off. We paddled across to the other side for beer, camp, dinner and a welcome campfire. It was a cold night. Next day we did some fishing and I caught a kokanee salmon. They guys thought we'd do better later. So I released it. What a nice fight that fish put on. It turned out to be the only fish we caught.

Getting back to the trailhead was a chore. The Blue Mesa dam was releasing - meaning we couldn't paddle close to the trailhead, due to the current. Lot's of work getting the gear to the trucks but what a hell of a weekend trip!! Climbing, boating, fishing, camping and oh yeah, Chris's single malt!

Paddling this water was a dream. Rock walls overhead. Scoping new routes, thinking of the lunkers down deep .. I might have to move down here.
Trip photos here.

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