Sunday morning was overcast and chilly. Mark and I moved slowly, making breakfast and packing up camp. Eventually we started our hike out to Jurrassic Park. The forest was dense and green, covering the trail with growth thicker than we’ve ever seen.
There’s a few pictures in the gallery.
When we arrived at the cliffline, there was a group of three other Fort Collins-ites just finishing up on the warm up climbs and begining to work a sport climb to the left. They had pulled their gear and rope off of the climb I had my eye on, but left their anchor at the top, which sounded ideal to me. Mark led up Recombent Mutation (5.6) as our warmup, and then I pink-pointed on his gear behind him. It was my first lead in a month or so, and it was nice, confidence boosting little climb. Like climbing comfort food.
We gathered our stuff up and hiked over to the real goal for the day, Slot-A-Saurus (5.9+). The last time we were in Jurrassic Park, the group hung a top rope on this climb, but Mark and I never got a chance to try it. This time we were alone, and Mark wanted a red point.
Red point? Onsight? I never really understood the difference between the two. Mark watched a few other people do this climb a few months ago, and then led it cleanly this weekend, and felt really good about it. The climb was long by Ved standards, and wonderfully varied. It started with a fun squeeze chimney, turns a little corner in a beautiful hand crack, goes up a fantastic finger crack for about 20ft, which ends at a ledge with an offwidth slot above it. Getting into that slot off the ledge is probably the crux of the climb. Mark spent about 15 minutes trying to figure it out, and then did it just fine. The top of the route is a bulge with a fantastic handcrack that Mark scrambled right up.
As Mark was working on getting into that offwidth, a huge dark cloud started forming above us. Thunder started rumbling through the valley, and as usual, the dog started freaking out. Thinking that the cloud would blow over, I suggested Mark set a toprope for me to second on, so we could have somebody on the ground making sure the dog didn’t flip out and run off into the wilderness.
As I climbed the route, the cloud did not blow over, it only got bigger, darker, and louder. When I reached the anchor, thunder was echoing all over the mountain. There was a weird few minutes as the humid air sat heavy in the valley, and all sounds echo’d around clearly. I could hear the voices of hikers on Turtle rocks a mile away, and the voices of the other group of climbers debating how best to clean their anchors and get out before the storm. I climbed quickly, fell a few times at the crux, and finished up with thunder ringing in my ears.
Mark wanted one more lap before the storm hit us, so I lowered off quickly, and Mark attacked the route. He flew up the climb in about 4 minutes, having no problem this time with the cruxy off-width. He said it felt good to climb hard back on our “home turf.” As much as we can say that.
We packed up quickly and hiked out in the start of the rain. As we drove home, the skies opened up and poured blinding walls of water down on us. It was a great weekend, and good to be back doing what we love.