Climbing Lilly Lake

July 11, 2009 at 8:50 pm

It’s definitely summer. The monsoon has broken for a few weeks, the skies are beautiful and blue, the garden is growing like gang-busters, and we’re out trying to climb every rock we can. Which, unfortunately, doesn’t leave a lot of time for writing blogs.

After reading Doug’s update from the past two weekends this morning, I decided two things. 1, I better hurry up and write. And 2, I should let everybody know a little secrete. I keep most of our photos in the gallery here on the site, only putting a sampling of my favorites on our Flickr site. So, if you want to see all the new pictures as they come out Subscribe to the RSS feed for our photo gallery. It’s pretty cool. I recommend it.

Liz, Doug, Jo and Mark hike along the wide sidewalk towards the rocks

So, after our fun weekend of clippy-clippy sport routes in Shelf Road, we thought we’d enjoy some more, at a slightly more comfortable altitude. On this Saturday adventure, Mark and I met Doug, Liz and Jo in Loveland, and we all drove up to the Lilly Lake area of Rocky Mountain National Park.

The rocks crowning this hillside are known as The Jurassic Park crags, and they have seen a lot of recent bolting and development – in a good way. Our guidebooks were all completely out of date, and I printed a basic topo off from Mountain Project, but there was still plenty of information missing.

If you do head up to this area, and I highly recommend it, I also recommend (1) spending time printing out information from, or (2) going with somebody who really knows the area, or (3) having a great sense of adventure. On Saturday, we went for option 3.

Jo climbing in the mountains

Jurrassic Park has been a sport-climbing area of Rocky Mountain for a long time, development began back in the late 80s by Estes Park locals. The approach is relatively mild, beginning on a flat sidewalk on the edge of beautiful Lilly Lake, and then hiking straight up the side of the mountain to the bottom of the rocks.

Since I’m not feeling particularly wordy right now, I’ll just made some brief notes on the climbs we did.

There’s more photos from the day in the gallery.

Mark on the Slab

Coloradoddity (5.6) – In an effort to continue my happy good-feeling leads of the last few weeks, I hopped on the sharp end for this one. It is a surprisingly long route, and thinner and more insecure in some sections than I expected for a 5.6 sport climb. But lots of fun.

Stout Blue Vein (5.8) – Doug led this route, just to the right of mine, while I was on Coloradoddity. He was surprised by the thin, tricky moves at the crux traverse between the 2nd and 3rd bolts, but pulled through and finished the climb cleanly. We all took a lap on it, but Mark and Doug were the only ones to have a clean ascent. I swore loudly after falling just PAST the crux (grrr), and the slide down the slab delaminated the sole of my right shoe. Crap.

Liz belays amoung the flowers

T-Rect (5.7+ R) – Mark led this one in the late afternoon, and I thought it was a great example of how well thought-out development in this area has been. The “R-rating” was because of a run-out between the 2nd and 3rd bolt, which might be a little scary, but wasn’t hard. The run-out is there because there is a beautiful horizontal crack that takes great gear (Red Camalot). So, if you remember you’re in the mountains of Colorado, and bring a few cams, even to a sport area, this route is definitely not R.

Critical Morass (5.10d) – Doug re-climbed his 5.8 lead, and then past the anchors to set a top-rope on this one. We all took a turn on it, and had a great time. The route had two thin, tricky cruxes one at the crack on the steep slab, and one at the top pulling over a bulge with a thin finger crack. It was definitely the best climb of the day, and we all really enjoyed it. Even those of us with no rubber on our right shoe.