Exiting “The Cave”

June 1, 2008 at 6:03 am

We climbed “The Pear Buttress” on “The Book” in Lumpy Ridge (Estes Park, CO) which finishes at an area near the right shoulder of the formation which is called “The Cave Exit.”

Mark setting a belay below the Cave Exit

This particular exit is indeed a cave and is generally rated 5.7+, though you will see in most comments that the moves are awkward. From a distance, I saw 3 people climb through it and that bolstered my confidence. I figured I could do it as well.

I stepped to the back of the cave and started working my way up slowly. As I approached the fixed piton, I was about one move away from it and got a good look at an amazing amount of air that I was about to hang my ass over, so I placed some of my own protection and then moved into and clipped the piton. I got myself into a good splits position between the two walls of the cave and started trying to figure out how to get up and through it. Kate said she could occasionally see my head poke out right next to one of my feet. Quite awkward! I toyed with lots of body positions that could have worked if only my elbow had an 180 degrees of bend. I continued to turn face-in and face out until I found a position I felt certain would allow me to get into the roof with some easy moves. Ready to proceed, I pushed up with my legs and my harness tugged me back down.

Mark: “Something’s caught or snagged, can you see it?”
Katie: “The rope is wrapped all around you a couple times!”
Mark: “Do you think it would clear up if I unclipped the piton?” (I had other protection already)
Katie: “I’m not sure, it’s all around your legs”

I did a little dance to shake rope off of each leg until it made an unobstructed straight line through the protection to Katie. Even if I fell, it would have been at most one or two feet and a rope wedgie. With all that straightened out, I could give the roof a go. It wasn’t too bad (5.7+ if you don’t climb like me) and the view from the top was fantastic.

Looking down on the cows in the meadow so far below us.

I set an anchor and brought up Katie to admire the view as well and we eventually made out of the valley having had a perfect day.