After all of the weekends spent with family, Mark and I had one day left of Memorial Day weekend to get in a little climbing. The summer monsoon was back with a vengeance, so we opted to head out early and try to tick a few routes at the Palace in the Poudre Canyon.
We stopped for sandwhiches in the morning, and then drove the narrow winding road up the canyon. At the first bend, the road snuggles up against the river at the Picnic Rock recreational area. And there, in the middle of the river, was the wildest thing I had ever seen.
Somebody must have spent hours building this stack of rocks. It was probably 6 feet tall, and made out of beautiful, round, perfectly balanced river rocks. I made Mark stop, and then ran into the river and started taking pictures. I didn’t have my tripod. I didn’t have my ND filter. I had to do a little PS to make the picture look as pretty on the screen here as it did that day. I vowed to come back later with the right equipment and shoot the pillar again.
We drove the rest of the way up to the Palace, now a little later arriving than we had hoped. The river was still deep, and flowing quickly. There’s no Tyrolean for this approach, as there are no real trees to hang one from. Plus the river is VERY wide here. Usually, this time of year, the larger rocks in the middle of the river are dry and we can hop from one to the next without getting too wet. Not this year.
Liv started wading out into the river behind us, and quickly lost her footing. We’ve always thought she was part of the 1% of dogs that can’t swim. And as she started being carried away by the swift current that morning, it reinforced the idea. Mark grabbed her as she floated by, and ended up crossing the cold, deep river twice: once carrying the dog, once with his pack.
Climbs for the day included
Churchill Rejects (5.9+) – The classic warm-up for the area. I’ve climbed this route cleanly about 15 times on TR. Someday I’ll get around to leading it. Mark had no problem, as usual.
Monstrosity (5.10b) – This was our goal for the day. We figured we’d burn ourselves out fast and be ready to go when the rain arrived at 1p. Mark worked hard for the RP of this huge, long, overhanging route. The holds look good, but they’re all ledges, not positive at all. Doug and Liz showed up as Mark was about halfway up, and helped cheer him on the rest of the way.
I threw myself at this route, and had a miserable performance. Ok, so, I like cracks and slabs! I, evidently, really suck at huge, overhanging routes. I got stuck in the first roof, and despite throwing everything I had at the climb, couldn’t get any further. I lowered off and let Doug clean the route.
For Doug’s first climb of the day, he attacked Monstrosity. He monkey’d his way up the climb, making it look much easier than I just had. He cleaned the route, and got about half-way down on rappel when we all noticed that he had left a few directional draws on the route. There was no safe way to retrieve them other than to climb the route again. The anchors are big and solid on that route, so Mark took another lap on TR, and picked up the draws. This time, he made the route look fluid, easy and fun. Jerk.
The Ogre (5.10a) – I think we’ve been to the Palace more than 20 times over the last few years. And probably 80% of those trips have included doing this climb. Despite Mark’s ultra-workout on Monstrosity, he lead up this climb cleanly to finish the day. Liz and I worked the route and eventually found our own way up. I found that I also am no good at overhanging crimp-fests. Perhaps I should boulder more? Doug campused the first crimpy moves and flashed this route on TR. He cleaned it and rapped down with all of the gear this time.
Shameless photo stealing from Doug and Liz (who also took pictures that day):
The day was late, and we had to ford the river carrying packs and dogs to get home. Everybody accept Liz ended up taking a dunk on this trip. Liv got so frustrated with Mark slipping and dunking her under water that she escaped his reach, jumped from submerged rock to submerged rock for a while, and then, eventually, SWAM across the river! It was incredible. I’ve never seen her so calmly navigate deep, rushing water. Heck of a dog.
On our trip home, we saw the stack of rocks was gone.