24 June 2007
New Rock Climbing Area Discovered Above Crestone
I've been looking for decent rock close to Crestone. Penitente Canyon is across the valley but that is a two hour roundtrip. Sure there's plenty of technical mountaineering routes above Crestone but these usually require a two day commitment. I'm looking for after work climbing or areas I can access for a day of fun.
After much scoping, I decided on a rock to check out in person. This is a serious decision because I only have time after work to run the recons. Of course, my experienced eye keeps the odds in my favor.
I started from Willow Lake TH and headed cross country. Up a hillside, down into a drainage, up a hillside, up a ridge and friggin' BINGO!! I lucked out and found my rock without much trouble. Effort - yes, trouble - no :-) And only a 1/2 hour approach.
I was expecting I would have it to myself to develop but it had been already found and developed. Routes had been bolted! The rock didn't lend itself to gear routes - hence the bolts.
We returned the next day, Saturday. First route was mine, a nice 5.8-. Then Mia led a 5.10/ 5.10+ depending on line and height. My line through the three overhangs was direct and reachy for my 5'-5" stature, leading to my grading of 10+ . This one needed more traffic. It was sort of gravelly in places. Then, I led one of the best short climbs of my life. It started as a traverse over a cave - instant exposure (see photo of me above). Then there was a belay but I continued w/ long slings to keep the rope drag down. The next bolt was 35 ft up but there were flakes everywhere. A sling over a flake kept my anxiety down. The sense of exposure was constant. The crux was bypassing a raptor's nest which was full of hair. After 190 ft of finesse, I sat on top, clipped the anchors and sucked in the view. Finesse is required on this route, the granite is not as solid as Lumpy Ridge. I've climbed a lot of good routes over the years but this one really stands out - especially for a one / two pitch route!
Here's the cliff, I'll mark in the routes as I have time. Also I'll get some GPS coords. Stay tuned.