What makes a destination crag? Quality of climbing? Number of climbs? Number of hard climb? Famous people? Camping? Weather? Ambiance?
Perhaps all of the above need to be taken into consideration for a trip to be…”worth it”. As we are in Boulder right now, I’d say that Edlorado is offering me all of the above, and then some. Who can ignore Boulders unlimited organic produce, the Juice bars, ice cream parlours and tens of thousands of rich college girls roaming around in Daisy Duke short-shorts? This place is a perfect bubble. Pleasantville on steroids. Like Disneyland with a mountain view, but worse because people actually live here and the climbing is good enough that it’s hard to leave. Living is easy and it’s also easy to spend money here, no body will deny it’s an expensive town and it helps to come from a wealthy family. In fact, if I could bitch about Boulder at all, I’d say this…it’s not the rich people that bother me, I love rich people, they are usually in high spirits, friendly, outgoing and goodlooking, but what I do hate about them, is that they remind me of how poor I really am. I don’t drive a wrx and I can’t afford to dine out everynight on sushi, as much as I would like to. So every now and again I need to pack up my Ramen Noodle collection and escape the bubble. Up into the mountains we went.
This weekend we went to Rifle, a destination of sorts. Lots of Boulder climbers and Denver climbers and a mix bag of mountain locals and traveling road warriors. It wasn’t as busy as I remember weekends getting when I was a young lad. But it had it’s moments. Since the airline lost my luggage, I am now homeless without any gear, it sucks the big one. So I am using a terrible pair of big, floppy mocs, great for easy slabs and jamming cracks all day, not so good for limestone edging. Still, they seem to get me up some climbs from time to time, but I can’t help but wonder if I’m better off with barefeet. I managed to tick 8 climbs. The best effort of the day was a last move fall off a 5.13b flash. I managed second try. I knew the hold was a jug, I threw for it far too casually. The jug was about one inch deeper than the chalk mark indicated and I came screaming into Colorado air. I underestimated the hold. Idiot. I hate onsighting, it’s a game of chance. Ha ha ha ha. Lydia easily strolled her way up 4 5.11s and then had a delicious apple and sat in the sun. She is my hero.
The next day we stuck around our friends Condo in Silverthorne for a good hearty breakfast, conversation and coffee. I even watched a great Snowboarding video while I stretched my legs and worked my shoulders. Lydia and our good friend Julia did yoga on the plush rug, it was relaxing and it really made me miss having a place of my own to enjoy (we’ve been homeless for 7 months now).
Afterwards, we drove 15 minutes to a beautiful boulder tucked into the trees on a hillside, just minutes from the Keystone Ski area and on the other side of lovely Loveland Pass 11,990 feet. It wasn’t a huge boulder but it packed a vicious punch. 5.10, 5.10, 5.11, 5.11, 5.11, 5.12, 5.12b, 5.12d, 5.13a, 5.13b and one 5.14. It was (insert Cali surfer accent) “totally awesome”.
This is me on the classic 5.13b. I don’t know its name, but it certainly is beautiful, bouldery and really f_cking fun. Which brings me back to what makes a destination worth it. Here, we had very few people to deal with, prestine mountain settings, easy parking, a choice of quality climbs and for the most part, peace and quiet. As I get older I am starting to lean more and more towards these destinations, these little tucked away places that nobody ever really goes, the places with stiff grades, green lichen and few names. Gems. Just me, my flat wallet and my floppy shoes, a few close friends that I love and adore and a canopy of trees to lock in our laughter.