Mark and I have taken several trips to Shelf Road, in the desert of Southern Colorado, to camp and climb during the winter. It’s a beautiful canyon filled with miles of pink limestone cliffs, and usually a warm spot in the middle of a snowy Colorado winter.
This year, we were up against a bit of a deadline. With an upcoming trip to Thailand, we wanted to get in climbing on limestone before we left. So, we went against our better judgement and headed down to Shelf even after the forecast had called for snow. Even when we knew it would be bitterly cold at night. Hoping that we’d get just a few hours of sun on the rock, because that’s all we need.
As promised, Friday night was horribly cold. My -10F REI down bag was not fully lofted, and I shivered all night long. In the morning, the sun lit up the tent and promised reasonable temperatures at the cliff. We shivered through cooking breakfast, and then headed towards Cactus Cliffs.
Once we hit the crag, the temperatures soared. It turned out to be a beautiful day – warm rock, bright sun, and lots of happy climbers! (and dogs!)
We hit it hard on Saturday, climbing White Punks on Pockets (5.9)**, La Cholla Jackson (5.8)****, I Lean (5.11a)****, The Book of Dude-Aronomy (5.10d)**, and finishing up on Politically Incorrect (5.10c)****. Three of these five routes get four-stars in the guidebook, so we got a good dose of quality with our quantity.
Saturday night was cold, but slightly more comfortable than Friday. This time, I remembered the 20 pound box of chemical warmers, and I stuck them all over the inside of my bag, the dog, and Mark. On Sunday morning, a huge cloud had rolled in from the east, and a bitterly cold wind was blowing into the valley. We decided to head home.
We had a good, long day on Saturday (for us). Mark said he felt really good, with very little forearm pump even after 5 rough routes. No finger rawness or elbow pain for either of us, so the outlook is good for lots of great climbing in Thailand!