Another stinkin’ hot weekend on the Front Range. We had a great Friday night and Saturday hanging around the Fort and being a bit lazy. The plan was to head up to Greyrock mountain on Sunday and climb a new route on the Northwest face of the mountain. We thought the peak might be high enough in altitude to be a little cooler, and that we might get some shade on the north face. We thought wrong.
Photos from the day are up in the new gallery!
The day was oppressively hot and more humid than I’ve experienced in a long time. The heat just sapped the energy out of us, and the long walk up to the mountain (2.2 miles) felt like an eternity of slogging. We weren’t on the trail long before conversational topics like “Well, we don’t have to climb anything to get a good work out today” and “You know, if we were at home we’d be doing such-and-such better things” started to pop up. You know you’re in trouble when these thoughts start to wind their way around your brain.
After almost 2 hours, we popped out below the mountain, and immediately took off through the trees and brush to try to scramble up to the back side of the mountain. We got a bit lost a few times, but eventually found ourselves staring up at a gulley below the northwest slabs. Right at that moment, the first dark cloud of the day drifted into view. The scramble was a bit committing, and I found myself sitting, looking up at three or four pitches of climbing and really feeling I didn’t have the energy, even after all the work to get there.
Mark didn’t need too much argument. We scrambled back down into the trees and took a break for some lunch and to pull hundreds of little grass burrs out of our socks and shoes. Eventually, we made it up to the southwest slabs and I started racking up to lead Fun Flake (5.6). It wasn’t long after I left the ground before the thunder started to roll through the dark, thick clouds above us.
I actually felt pretty good on lead that day. I wasn’t in that cloud of irrational fear, my feet felt stable and strong, the moves felt easy and fun. But four pieces and 20ft up, I knew I wasn’t going to be anywhere near finishing before the rain set on us. The thunder was getting louder, and the prudent thing to do seemed to be to lower off and let Mark run up the climb so we could finish and get off the rock before lightening found us.
So Mark finished the lead quickly, and I climbed and cleaned it. We grabbed our stuff as the first bolt of lightening hit a hill to our west, and booked down to the trees below us.
On our way out, I almost stepped on a large flock of Ptarmigan right below the slabs of the mountain. Mark and I were both pretty surprised, as we had never seen these birds below 10,000ft. Further down the trail, we stumbled on another flock, and had fun taking pictures of them, and listening to their quiet, haunting calls.
As usual, the hike out took much less time than the hike in. We walked out in occasional rain squalls that felt good after the heat of the morning.