Thursday, September 9, 2010

Labor Day at Lincoln Lake

Looking down at Lincoln Lake
I finally decided to visit the area that has been the focus of many of the most active boulderers in the Front Range for much of the summer. Lincoln Lake, AKA WolverineLand, is a pile of huge boulders below the Mount Evans Road, just above the lake. The access was pretty straightforward. After paying for a pass and driving up one of the most spectacular roads in the lower 48, you park above the lake and make your way down the tundra to the boulders, which sit somewhere around 11,700 feet. This is a steep hike and at some point a switchbacked trail is going to need to be marked. Erosion could soon be a concern given the inevitable popularity the area will enjoy.

I soon approached the boulders and had no idea where things were. There are so many literally house-sized boulders that it is difficult to see anything or find your way. With the aid of some other climbers I found Unshackled, a spectacular roof problem that sits more or less in the middle of things. There are about a thousand photos and videos of this problem so I am not posting one here. Suffice to say that for a granite boulder, this kind of a feature on such a steep wall is remarkable and an indication of the incredible potential that the area is yielding. After a few minutes of scoping it out, I decided to go over to check out Small Arms.

Trying Small Arms V11, photo taken by Caroline Treadway
I really wanted to try Small Arms, a crimpy V11 put up this summer by Carlo Traversi, and after bumping around the talus I found it. Small Arms is found on the north side of the talus, close to the bottom of the slope, climbing a beautiful steep wall on edges and small crimps. It vies with Unshackled for the most beautiful line here.

Sizing up the last move on Small Arms, photo Caroline Treadway

Small Arms felt very doable and much easier than Clear Blue Skies, its oft-compared counterpart on the other side of Mount Evans. The second and the last moves are hard,while the others went very quickly. With a spotter and another pad (and a more healed tailbone area) I think this problem should go pretty soon, assuming the road stays open.

I had to get back to Boulder so after packing up, I headed back up to the road, stopping on the way to chat with various friends and acquaintances. Angie Payne, Flannery Shay-Nemirow and Jamie Emerson were trying a new Dave Graham problem, Little House on the Prairie, an innocuous looking V13 high up on the slope.

Jamie Emerson, Little House
Angie Payne, Little House

 The view to the southeast, approaching the road

The walk out was tiring but oddly enjoyable as the views expanded across the Front Range and the sun added a warm glow to the ridges and broad slopes of Mount Evans. Given all the hype that this area has received recently, I wondered if it would actually be that good, but having explored only a little bit of the possibilities here, there is no doubt in my mind that I will be back soon.


Anonymous said...

Good to see a mention of the need for a trail system. Many people mistakenly believe that establishing a well-marked trail adds to the impacts of recreational use. In fact, it's far more damaging to allow multiple trails to develop as everyone wanders about on the path they believe is best. Creating a well-marked trail and doing some occasional work on it would be a great idea, as there's more to developing a climbing area than scrubbing the boulders and publicizing the routes.

Peter Beal said...

I think the need for clear trails in alpine areas is self-evident. Confining visitor impact to hardened or at least designated access points just makes sense. I have no doubt that Lincoln Lake will become one of the most popular summer areas in Colorado. The access is easy, the climbing is very good and the weather is cool all summer. Time to get ahead of the curve on this one.

Flannery Shay-Nemirow said...

Hey Peter, I have heard that Small Arms has broken, do you have the story behind that? Thanks.

Peter Beal said...

Next post will have details