Climbing in the Desert, Part 1

February 28, 2009 at 8:23 pm

Last weekend, Mark and I snuck away for an early season trip to climb at Shelf Road. I’m sorry that we did not invite anybody on this trip, but we wanted a chance to truly suck without feeling self-conscious. Luckily, our climbing turned out a bit better than we expected.

There’s a lot of nice photos from the weekend in the gallery. I didn’t get much in the way of climbing action shots, but I tried to get a lot of pictures of the area, to give a good feel for the perfect limestone cliffs in the high desert of Southern Colorado.

View of the mountains from Cactus Cliffs

On Saturday, we had clear skies and bright sun, with a brisk northerly wind that kept the whole area feeling just a little chilly. We climbed in long-sleeve shirts and pants. I love my MH Butter Topper, it is now my new favorite piece of climbing clothing.

Our last climb on Sat - Amiga (10b/c)

We ticked off 5 routes on Cactus Cliffs on Saturday, including classic favorites like Crynoid Corner (5.7), and Red Eclipse (5.10c/d), which Mark and I were convinced was actually rated 5.9. We then finally had a chance to get on the popular moderates Black Slabbeth (5.10a), Ol’ 47 (5.9+) and finally Amiga (5.10b/c).

Mark and I agreed that all of the climbs on Saturday were lots of fun, but Ol’ 47, surprisingly, took the crown. It was a lovely, short, perfectly fun slab climb, with lovely balancy moves and a tricky little top-out. By the end of the day, our hands were raw from the sharp limestone, and our feet were aching from the slab work. We hiked out in the late afternoon, and then drove into town to buy me a cheep replacement sleeping pad, as mine had evidently sprung a leak, and I slept mostly on the cold ground Friday night (ick).

Camping in the desert

We cooked dinner, had a little fire, and then I spent about an hour running around in the desert night taking long exposure shots of stars, cactuses, and our tent. At one point, I put my hand down to steady myself in the dark, and ended up grabbing a prickly pear. I yelped, and ran to the car looking for tweezers to pull all of the barbs out. Luckily, it seemed there was little overall damage to my hand, and I slept great on my foam pad from Walmart on Saturday night.