Well not too much to say about the 26th of May. We climbed today, that is to say, we fell off our projects over and over again. Other than that not too much exciting happened on the routes; I suppose when you are out long enough mediocre days are bound to happen.
We did have a nice evening with our new friends from Austin. The night was spent around the campfire swapping stories and telling tales of climbs past.
The morning saw the departure of our camp mates, but we hit the walls with renewed fervor after hearing all the climbing tales the night before. However, just as we got on the wall, they came… Like locust they descended in a swarm upon the wall. No less than 45 children from a nearby climbing team had come to the shelf to warm up for a competition later that week. Every single rout on the wall had a rope up it and kids waiting in line to climb it. Now normally I would have reacted rather poorly to this kind of invasion, but honestly, the adult leaders were so kind and the kids were so well behaved that I couldn’t even be mad.
After the invasion we decided to bail for another wall up the road. This brought us to an area called The Vault, where we met a lovely bunch of climbers from nearby. The routs up the wall here were stout—not tall like many of the climbs at shelf, but hard! I don’t think I have ever seen Merritt so shut down as I did on this techy face climb he jumped on. The moves were tiny and the feet were scarce, but after a few pulls on the clips, he was able to pull the chains.
We woke up this morning and were relieved to see the climbing team packing their bags and making for town. We made our way back to our projects and got to work. After a sketchy warm up on the aptly named “castrator,” Merritt took a burn at his project, falling at the penultimate bolt. I then took to my project and fell similarly. After a quick rest I jumped back on my route and was able to get the send! Merritt took this momentum to his own route, but lost his footing going for the chains! Frustrated, he rested while we ate lunch. Feeling rather tired after two burns, Merritt once again took to the wall, this time dialing in each move and successfully red-pointing!
Later that day we met a group of guys who all guide for a living and did a bit of climbing with them. That night we spent the evening with those same guys, doing a bit of slack lining and cactus jumping (a new and painful game they introduced us to).
We slept in today, and then rather lazily made our way to Rifle via The Great Sand Dunes National Park. Now for anyone who has been following our trip closely, you will see just how inefficient our path has become, but I suppose that’s the price you pay for going places on a whim…
The Great Sand Dunes were amazing; the pictures will never do tem justice. Now, as for myself, Lawrence of Arabia is possibly my favorite of all movies so I couldn’t help but quote every line I could remember all the way to the top of the highest dune! This hike was only a little over a mile up roughly 750 feet, but being that it was sand, it was one of the hardest hikes of my life. It seemed every step you took forward the sand would fall and bring you back half a step, but in the end, the hike was totally worth it. If you get a chance check out the Dunes—even if Lawrence isn’t your thing, there are still plenty of Frank Herbert references ready to be made!
|...there is nothing in the desert. No man needs nothing.|
The drive to Rifle took us strait through the Rockies, and after spending the afternoon in the desert, we found ourselves in the midst of a snowstorm around Leadville. After a long drive we finally made it to rifle, found the right park, and made it to bed around 1:00AM.