Saturday, June 12, 2010

Mount Evans

On Wednesday, I had to opportunity to actually take a full day to go out climbing. I had not been to Mount Evans in a long time and wanted to see the place again. I was accompanied by Ferdinand Schulte, a boulderer from Holland who competed in Vail in the World Cup. It was hard to tell who was better acclimated since I had not been at altitude since last year sometime in August. The walk was long as usual and the warmup on the Ladder at Area was less than inspiring, though viewing the mountain goats on the cliffs above kept the motivation up. I was mostly looking for a tune-up hike and to see if Clear Blue Skies would be feasible.

We walked up to the Dali Boulder and hopped on Puddle Jumper a stout V2, crimpy and balancy and one of the finer moderate problems there. After that Ferdinand wanted to try Pat's Arete, a tall and intimidating V7 arete on the left side of the Dali Boulder. I wasn't interested but took pictures of this fairly threatening line as Ferdinand made it look reasonable enough. A committing and proud line but maybe on another trip for me.

After this, it was time to try the Dali. This is one of the great problems on an amazing boulder. I took video of Ferdinand's second-go send.

Dali Sit V8 Mount Evans from peter beal on Vimeo.

After a few half-hearted tries on the lunge move on the Dali, I got to work on the main reason for visiting, Clear Blue Skies. For anyone who enjoys small crimps on a steep wall, this is pretty much a textbook problem. I had tried this on a my previous visit to Evans four years ago, back when it was "V13". Now it has been given a grade as low as V11. After a few tries on all the moves, it seemed very hard for V11, certainly the upper end of the grade, more likely a softer V12. In any event, despite my relatively tired and under-motivated state, I put in some work, getting good progress on all the moves. The real crux is certainly the last throw, a longish move from a very small edge to a good flake but the cross-through off the micro crimp is a stout challenge as well.

After we were done at the Dali, Ferdinand wanted to try Seurat, the well-known thin crack problem.This is a unique and difficult problem which is one of the trademark Evans lines. Many walk away frustrated and Ferdinand did too. I got a few good photographs though.
Ferdinand wanted to try Bierstadt for his last problem of the day and after a little bit of work sent on his second try. I feel confident in saying that this is the hardest looking V9 I have ever seen with long reaches, lots of heel hooking and poor sloping handholds. It will be a long time before I do it, I am sure. The hike out was a bit of a slog but we made it in pretty good shape. Two pads plus gear and camera is a good beginning

I was really happy to get out for the day and the trip reminded me of the difficulties involved in getting to these alpine areas; the drive, the hiking, the short season all conspire against anyone with limited free time. Yet the problems are amazing and the setting is beautiful. The crowds and hassles that Evans sometimes see were blessedly missing that day, for which I am grateful,and the weather, while hot, was still good. I hope to get back to work more on Clear Blue Skies but I will admit that RMNP is looking more and more like the easier option.

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