Anniversary Trip to Estes Park: Sept 28-30, 2007 (Part I)

October 3, 2007 at 2:53 pm

There’s a few shots from Saturday up in the gallery.

For our anniversary weekend this year, Mark and I decided to take a trip back to Estes Park, Colorado. We found a nice little hotel in town, with hot tubs in the room. Friday evening was cool when we arrived, with the sky begining to cloud up and a chilly breeze blowing. We ate junk food appetizers at Ed’s for dinner and then retired a little later than we should have for climbing the next day.

We woke in the morning to a cloudy, dripping sky, and a hotel office that wouldn’t open until 9a. We hit up Ed’s again for breakfast (just can’t get enough of that place, I guess!) and then stopped by the hotel to check in for the weekend. The rain was coming and going, so we decided to try out climbing on the IronClads for the day. On our drive into Estes, I declared that we would climb nothing this weekend that I didn’t lead. This was supposed to be my weekend, and I intended to make the most of it.

I started the morning with a nervous and slow lead of Dirty No-Gooders (5.6). This was one of the more run-out sport climbs I’ve ever successfully lead (sad, I know, but true). I made my way up muttering the mantra “Big holds, big feet”, assuring myself that I would not fall. Mark was wonderfully patient and encouraging, but reveled later that if I had asked to come down at any point he would not have let me!

After I put the rope and draws on the route (it was no red-point, I hung on the second-to-last bolt), we pulled the rope and Mark lead it. Then we pulled the rope again, and I lead it on my own draws. This time, Mark kept up the chant “Keep moving, keep climbing, keep it smooth” and I made my way up the easy route in no time.

After feeling good about this lead, I decided to take on the more vertical and more straightforward Shaking Hands with the Unemployed (5.7) . This climb was much more thin, but somewhere in the course of my lead, I remembered how much I enjoyed climbing on tiny little footholds. I took a little lead fall near the top of this route as well, when I panicked trying to mantel onto the large ledge near the top.

After I hung the anchor on this one, we pulled the rope again and Mark lead it. On the third time, I simply climbed on TR, and then moved the anchor to the left so we could take a go at one harder climb. This was an exciting accomplishment for me again, as I usually find myself terrified of the whole anchor-moving process. But if I wanted to stick to my rule, we could not climb this unless I hung the rope on it.

Of course, as I lowered down, it began to sprinkle, so Mark was the only one to get a chance to climb Slap and Tickle (5.10b) that afternoon. Which was fine by me, I was tired and that roof looked hard. Mark found an elegant way through it, of course, and then cleaned the route and rappelled off in the rain. It was nice to have Mark doing the clean-up for once!

Mark Rappels off in the Rain

In the evening we toured Elk Fest in Estes Park, and got to see real wolves from the wolf sanctuary near Durango, but no elk. Dinner was at the Chalet in Mary’s Lake Lodge, and as fantastic as last time. Mark was here two years ago when I had a migraine and threw up on the Stanley Hotel rather than eating there. While I laid in bed at our hotel that year, Mark got take-out from Mary’s Lake: a beautifully crafted Chicken Saltimbocca for himself and chicken fingers for me. This year I was healthier and we ordered an array of interesting items from the Stuffed Portabella appetizers to my pistachio and cherry crusted sea bass.

The climbing wasn’t epic, but I felt very proud of my day, and the food seemed a fitting reward. As was the jaccuzzi full of bubble bath and candlelight when we got back to the hotel that night.