Seth and I took a whirlwind four-day trip down to Colorado after Labor Day. We had a few days off of work and thought a quick trip to the mountains before the wedding would be a great use of the time. It was our pre-honeymoon. We flew to Denver, spent two days in Boulder doing some climbing, and two days in Rocky Mountain National Park for some hiking. (I’m writing about the climbing here, and the hiking will be in its very own post).
On Monday morning, we met up with some new friends in a parking lot in the middle of Boulder. Breakfast sandwiches in hand, we hopped in our cars and headed up Boulder Canyon. 15 minutes later, we were parking our cars on the side of the road to head up to the crag. 15 minutes. That’s how long it takes me to drive to the climbing gym here, just across town. Suddenly it made sense to me that folks in Boulder can go out for a morning climb. Or an afternoon climb. Or hit a few routes in the evening after work. On rock. 15 minutes (I’m just jealous, guys and gals).
The crag of the day was Avalon, a great sport crag with a good mix of 5.9s and 5.10s for us to climb. In order to get to the wall, we had to cross a river, which was a bit too high to safely do on foot (unless you’re Josh and just leap over it all). I was glad the river was high, though, because that meant it was time for my very first tyrolean traverse. There was a fixed line already set up over the water. Harnesses on, packs securely on our backs, we each connected ourselves to the line with a quickdraw and sling/biner. Hanging from the line, we pulled ourselves hand-over-hand to get to the other side. It was great fun.
A few minutes later we were at the crag. It was a rock-climber’s playground; lots of great, well-bolted routes on solid granite. I loved it. Josh and Sarah showed us some routes and got things started by putting up some ropes. We had a great mix of people, some new to climbing, some old-timers. Everyone was happy to be there, and was cheering each other on.
Both Seth and I did our very first outdoor sport leads that day, on Sword in the Stone (after gaining some confidence by climbing the route on top rope first). We both also learned how to clean a sport route and rappel back down. A great day of challenges and firsts with a great group of folks. Much thanks to our crew, and especially Josh and Sarah, for the fantastic instruction as we learned these new skills. You two are great!
We climbed into the afternoon. A short drive from the crag and we were back in town for naptime.
The next two days we were up north a bit hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park. When we returned to Boulder on Wednesday, we met up with Josh once more and went climbing at The Spot climbing gym. This is a gym that I’ve heard about from Minnesota, so it was really fun to actually see it and climb there. The entire gym is dedicated to bouldering and there is a LOT of it. Walls line the entire perimeter of the space, ranging from vertical to very overhanging. Situated in the middle are two large boulders that are meant to be topped-out (you climb up and over the top instead of jumping back down to the ground). There are rock benches up there and a nice, easy descent built into each boulder.
Topping out on boulder problems was fun (another first for me). Climbing in that gym was fun. I’ve never gotten ‘hooked’ on bouldering; I’ve always done it because I know it’s good for my climbing. But here I actually *wanted* to be climbing. I’m sure the great company had something to do with it, but the space was really great to be in as well. Really fun.
So, Boulder climbers, I bow to you. Lots of great crags within a short distance, three climbing gyms in town, including The Spot… it’s a good place to be. If you’re ever headed to Boulder for a little vacation, take your climbing gear with you. You won’t regret it.