It was the weekend, so what else would Mark and I do? We headed south to Eldorado Canyon to try out some climbs we’ve been eye-ing for several weeks now. Unfortunately, it seemed like every climber in the northern Front Range had similar ideas. Also unfortunately, there are only a few faces in the canyon that are warm enough to climb on this time of year, so we all descended upon Wind Tower like fanboys at a Valve demo.
There are a few photos from the day in the gallery.
The tower was crawling with climbers when we got there, but we were late enough in the morning that a few groups were leaving. We were able to climb a couple classics despite the crowds and mass confusion.
The Bomb (5.4) – This climb starts on a ledge that we traversed out on to, and left us racking up in an already exposed position. We climbed to the new chain anchors, which ended up being almost exactly half of a rope length. The climb was not hard, but the pro was tricky and the exposure was very nice. With all of the people climbing around us, and the raging creek in the valley below, communication became difficult about 10ft after Mark left the ground. Another problem with climbing in Eldo on a busy day — the constant yells, screams and calls between climbers and belayers are confusing, and often the cause of accidents.
Recon (5.6) – While belaying Mark up the second climb of the day, I actually had a party throw their rope down on me. They tried to avoid rappelling on my head, but as they pulled their rope though the anchor it flew down and smacked me on the helmet. Then another group came down from the anchor, and again I got hit on the helmet by their rope as they pulled it through the anchor. By the time I was climbing, there were snowflakes floating down, people screaming on all sides, and I was not happy.
This climb was just as easy as the first climb, proving that grading in Eldo is nearly meaningless. Mark wanted to continue on to the top of the rock, but I convinced him to head down by pointing out the dark clouds that were beginning to blot out the sun, and the group of more than six climbers that were vying for position to use the next set of anchors to rap down. In order to traverse over to the rap anchors for our pitch, I had to cross over some poor guy’s lead line, and then jump infront of another pair that had just rapped down to our ledge. As we set up the rappel and came down, the other couple trying to get down traversed the ledge under, over and around three other pairs of climbers to get to another set of rap anchors.
I know Eldo is busy on the weekends, but this felt creepy and unsafe. I hope that it is because there are so few places for climbers in the warm weather, and that climbs will free up as the snow melts. Otherwise, these two pitches might be the last climbs we do in Eldo for the season.