American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Colorado, Colorado Climbs, 1981

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1982

Colorado Climbs, 1981. A very warm winter led to a virtual explosion of rock-climbing activity in many of the more popular areas of Colorado, but the lack of snow and sufficient cold weather also greatly reduced that on ice. Nevertheless, a few winter climbs of note were made. Steve Mestdagh and Charlie King made the second winter ascent of Hallet’s Chimney, taking two days in January. John Myers and Tom Luman probably made the first winter ascent of the Arnold-Michael Route on Crestone Peak, taking a direct variation over the huge chock-stone at two-thirds height; this involved aid out a 10-foot roof and climbing an unprotected, 50-foot 5.9 corner. They were forced to bivouac just below the summit. Peter Hutter and Peter Lev climbed a moderate but pleasant ice route, Avocado Gully, near Redstone. Despite its proximity to the road, the climb is only visible after a short walk, hence its late discovery. Eldorado Canyon saw an extraordinary amount of activity, with 200 or more new routes being added over the past year. An energetic and aggressive group of locals, including Carl Harrison, Skip Guerin, Bob Horan, John Baldwin, Jim Stuberg, Mike Brooks, Dave Hague, Sandy East, Chip Ruckgaber, Mark Lane, Dave Kozak and Mark Rolofson, were mainly responsible, along with many others; details of specific routes are far too numerous to mention here, but can be found in the news section of Climbing #67, 69 and 70. Also of note are the first free ascents of two older Eldorado Routes: Rock and Ice (5.12) by Pat Adams, and Wendego (5.11+) by Jeff Achey and Leonard Coyne. A newly discovered area on the south side of Big Thompson Canyon was developed by various combinations of Mark Wilford, Randy Joseph, Bill Wylie and Skip Guerin; the routes are in the 5.9 to 5.11 range and, although short, are mostly of good quality. Jeff Lowe and Tim Kudo climbed a very hard new route on the Ames Wall near Ophir, Seamstress Corner (5.11+ or 5.12-). With three pitches of 5.10, two of hard 5.11 (or 5.12), and a finish through a rotten band, Lowe called the route “One of the hardest long free climbs in Colorado.” This climb was done placing whatever fixed pins and bolts were needed (on the lead), and nuts only are necessary to repeat the route. Estes Park and environs also saw a big increase in activity, although heavy rains in the summer slowed the pace a bit. Lumpy Ridge predictably saw the majority of traffic, with Billy Westbay, Aaron Walters, Malcolm Daly, Bill Wylie, Randy Joseph, Tim Hansen, Scott Kimball, Karen Johnson, Doug Snively, Jeff Lowe, Sandy East, Mark Rolofson, Eric Doub, John Allen, Dan McClure, Mark Wilford and Skip Guerin all being active. Most of the routes were in the 5.10 to 5.11 range. (See the news section of Climbing #67, 69 and 70 for details.) An old area near the Twin Sisters, The Crags, has seen a renewal of interest, with Scott Kimball being the driving force behind development; the area should be noted for its large number of easy and moderate climbs on generally solid, knobby rock, although many harder climbs also exist. In the Garden of the Gods, a number of new routes were added by Bob d’Antonio, Pete Gallagher and Mark Rolofson, with various partners. Rolofson solved one long-standing problem with the first ascent of Ninety-Nine Percent Pure (5.11+). The climb is a direct start to Cocaine, and involves intricate slab climbing; due to the excellent rock and the puzzling sequence of crux moves, the route is destined to become a true Garden classic in years to come. Of note in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison was the second ascent of the Hallucination Wall by Lou Dawson and Rich Jack. The pair did the route with three bivouacs in early September; Jack broke a finger in a fall midway through the third day, and described the route as “Difficult, but with no real death leads.”

Michael Kennedy

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