In which, after a startling turn of events, we learn that our newly inherited rope is only 50 meters long, and that Mark should not be the one to carry the topo up the climb.
The plan for the weekend was simple. Find somebody to watch the dog, camp in Estes Park, climb Osiris (5.7+) on the Pages formation on Lumpy Ridge for Saturday and hike high peaks in Rocky Mountain National Park on Sunday. An easy, fun, weekend in the mountains.
Getting a campsite without a reservation on Friday night was harder than we would have liked, but we eventually found a nice site at Mary’s Lake Campground. We woke up with the sun on Saturday and made it to the Lumpy Ridge Trailhead around 7am! As we hiked out to the climb, Mark nearly stepped on a little new-born fawn just off the side of the trail. What a cutie!
Despite our ridiculously early start, we were second in line for Osiris. There was a pair preparing for the climb when we got there who worked and lived at McGregor’s ranch. Totally not fair.
It was at this point that Mark asked me to give him the photocopied pages from the guidebook that we had brought with us to use on the climb. “I’ll be leading,” he said reasonably, “I should keep the route description with me.” So I handed it to him. He put it in his pocket and then seemingly forgot about it immediately.
We watched the first pair climb the first two pitches of the route. They were able to combine the first two pitches (including taking the 5.5 zig-zag route off the ledge for the first pitch) and make it to the tree-ledge at the top of the second pitch with about 4 feet of rope to spare.
When it was our turn, Mark headed up the climb. He enjoyed the easy chimney climbing, and had fun with the few little off-widths. He decided to go straight up a crack on the left edge of the ledge at the top of the first pitch and head for the tree. He was about 30 feet off the top of the first pitch when we ran out of rope.
No problem!, thought I, I’ll just tie in and climb up a bit. That will give Mark enough rope to make it to the tree and set an anchor and bring me up. This type of climbing is known as simul-climbing, and we’ve seen a lot of it at Lumpy in last few trips. That’s probably why it didn’t seem like a big deal to me on the ground.
Mark, however, was hanging from fist jams in an over-hanging 5.8 crack when I informed him of our situation. He put two pieces in the crack and took himself off belay so I could tie into the rope and put on my rock shoes. I then climbed about 15 feet up the off-width starter crack at the bottom to give Mark some rope to work with. There was more communication confusion at this point as I tried to let Mark know that he should have enough rope to finish the climb out.
It turns out he didn’t quite. I had to keep climbing up the off-width another 15 feet to just below the base of the first chimney before Mark could make it to the tree. Then I got to stand in the off-width for several minutes while Mark built an anchor. I had solid heal-toe foot jams, and I was feeling comfortable in this easy off-width, but the people below me were kind of freaking out. They kept reminding me “In simul-climbing, the second MUST NOT FALL!” True, but there was 150ft of rope and 25 or 30 anchoring pieces of gear between us. Plus, the climb was easy. Still, their nervousness did not make me happy about my position, standing in a wide crack, waiting for Mark to put me on belay.
Eventually he called down “ON BELAY KATY!” and I started climbing the rest of the route. The chimney was fun, and the off-widths were slabby and easy. The great thing (or maybe sad thing) about Lumpy Ridge 5.7’s is that there are always so many features around, that you don’t have to do much jamming. Still, I had a great time on the pitch. I found Mark had placed the little Big Bro we brought with us, as well as the #4.5 and two #4s. The top cracks up to the belay were fun as well, I got in some great fist jams as well as some interesting hand stacks. These are all moves we do at Vedauwoo regularly, and it was fun to do them on the mild (practically soft) rock of Lumpy Ridge.
We discussed the rope situation at the belay, and determined we would have to be a lot more communicative about the amount of rope we were using than usual. Somehow, in the course of simul-climbing, improvising for rope length, and being in an alpine environment, Mark officially moved into “alpine” mindset, which doesn’t involve following “routes” in the usual sense. After setting a hanging belay in a wide crack above and to the right of the dihedral on the second pitch, he had not only forgotten that there was a topo for this route, he decided that we weren’t even really on a “route” per se, and were just climbing to the top of the rock.
So, our top three pitches were a little different and a little harder than the classic Osiris route. We never made it to the “Fang” (sorry Matt), and instead moved the belay up and right to the base of what we both decided was a “fun-looking crack.” Which it most definitely was. That 50ft section of our fourth pitch was one of the most fun cracks I have ever climbed at Lumpy. It was full of friction-y crystals, and moved from hands to fingers in a series of pods just far enough apart to require big swinging crack moves.
Instead of figuring out how to exit left, Mark kept climbing up the headwall, through wide bushy cracks and some loose rock until we ran out of rope again. Our top and final pitch was an overhanging dihedral. I was sore and tired at this point, and stared up at this intimidating feature without much love. Mark found a fixed nut in the crack and was bummed out that we weren’t the first people to end up at this spot. We both dug deep and finished out the climb by jamming the shallow, overhanging, grungy dihedral with amazing exposure below us.
The view on top was amazing, of course. I wasn’t quite as thrilled as last time, but we were, officially, on top of the Book. There was no place higher to go on this rock! I love great summits, and this one was beautiful, and totally worth it.
We cleaned up our gear, put on our hiking shoes, and scrambled down to a nice trail. A half hour of hiking later and we found ourselves about a mile from where we thought we were going to end up, and probably 500ft of elevation below where we had left our packs. Since Mark drank all of my water on the hike down, he graciously allowed me to nap under a boulder with the rope and rack while he jogged all the way back up the trail to get our empty packs.
Mark pulled out the super-hero inside of himself with that one, jogging the steep, rocky, approach to our climb and returning in a little less than half an hour. And we made it to Ed’s to meet up with Doug and Liz for beer and burgers by 5pm! Not bad for a simple day of easy crack climbing!