Garden of the God's. Taken from Cowboy Boot Crack.
After driving about 11 hours straight, we arrived in the Garden of the God’s Visitor’s Center parking lot. After taking a quick restroom break and picking up our climbing permits we drove into the park and headed straight for Red and White Spire. It’s been my tradition for the last three years now to climb Potholes (5.7 PG13) upon arriving to Colorado. Usually, it stops here and he head on into camp, but we had plenty of daylight left so we wandered around a bit and found ourselves at the base of Cowboy Boot Crack (5.7), a climb I had been told numerous times I should do. However somebody had already occupied the climb. We stuck around a bit and talked to the guy that was belaying his daughter up the climb. He worked high angle rescue in the park and gave us some beta about the place. His beta was basically, don’t place cams and don’t trust the old pins. That wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear, but he told us of people placing cams behind flakes and falling. The falls generate enough force to explode the flake, sending the person falling, and the flake on top of them.
A climber goes up Crescent Corner in Garden of the God's. Click for larger view.
After that bit of information we headed over to The Drug Wall to climb Mighty Thor, a 5.10b that didn’t look too bad, but the first piton was pretty run out so I opted to lead Crescent Corner instead, a 5.9+/5.10a. This one was fairly run out too, but I managed to make it to the first piton with one piece of sketchy gear placed before that. The next move was pretty committing and the feet were horrible, nothing but flat, downward sloping dirty sandstone. I ended up hanging on the piton to rest, along with several others along the route. From a distance the climb looked like an amazing crack with deep jams, but there was nothing but laybacks on a thin seam, just large enough for fingers. After much grunting and hang dogging I made it up the 80-90ft route. Naren seconded and finished the route with only one take that I recall. After this we decided to call it a day and headed to camp in the National Forest just above Woodland Park. To our dismay we were far from solitude. While setting up camp at least four cars drove past our camp and set up nearby and played loud music late into the night. We apparently chose a campsite, probably the one they actually wanted, that the local kids in Woodland Park come up to party at.
The next morning, after a surprisingly good sleep (ear plugs work wonders). We headed back to Garden of the God’s to climb Cowboy Boot Crack and Montezuma’s Tower. But, once again Cowboy Boot Crack was occupied by other climbers. We contemplated waiting for the climb to free up, but I was antsy to climb and they didn’t look like they would finish anytime soon, so we headed over to Montezuma’s Tower, a two pitch classic 5.7 climb. This ended up being one of the most fun climbs I have ever done.
Naren on to of Montezuma's Tower in Garden of the God's.
Naren lead the first 5.7 crux pitch without much of a problem. Committing to the first bolt was the hardest part, but placing a large number five Black Diamond cam a few feet below the bolt gave him the confidence needed to make the move. After the first of four bolts on the entire climb, things eased out a bit (in terms of grade), but was very mentally committing. The moves were easy, but protection on the climb was sparse. It made for a challenging climb as the second too. After moving above the crux you start traversing out right and then up a narrow spine. Moving up the spine was the scariest part, even going up as the second, a fall would result in a huge and dangerous swing. While making this move, your only protection is a sling running through a sandstone pot hole. But, I moved up the spine with confidence despite the potential fall factor. I find it pretty amazing when I actually collect myself and move through the hardest part of climbs with the greatest of ease! It’s when I start freaking out that I slow down, begin doubting myself, and risk injury.
Upon reaching the belay perch I took a quick rest before starting the short second pitch. It was about 40 feet straight up, slightly overhanging and only protected by 1 piton about 12 feet from the belay. I did manage to place a couple more piece of gear up higher though before reaching the rappel anchors. One of the funnest parts of the climb was just sitting on the belay perch while bringing up Naren and watching the tourists take pictures of us from the sidewalks. Anytime a climber gets on the rock out there it draws a crowd. I’m pretty sure there were people that watched us climb the entire thing, from start to rappel.
Me, on top of Montezuma's Tower in Garden of the God's.
After finishing up this classic fin, we headed across the street to Red Rocks Canyon open space, a city owned open space. We brought the guidebook with us, but pretty much settled for the first climb we found. I don’t remember the name of the wall we were on since we didn’t even open the guide book, but the pair that had just climbed it before us let us know it was a 5.7+. It was a fun slab climb with the crux occurring before you even reached the first bolt about 20 feet up. The rest of the climb was fairly easy and toped out above a hand-sized crack. The area is fairly popular and easily accessible so a lot of the climbs end up with polished rock, especially at the base. I recall working on one 5.8 climb a couple years ago that was likely more like a 5.10 now because of a super polished foot hold that was key to completing the crux.
After we finished this route we decided to go ahead and call it a day so we could make the drive into boulder and get settled into our room at the Boulder International Hostel. The stay there ended up being somewhat unpleasant due to not having any AC, and being stuck on the third floor in the far outside corner. This left us having to sleep with windows open and having to deal with all sorts of rowdiness outside, from firecrackers to gun shots. It was quite an experience.
The next day we climbed the Direct East Face of the First Flatiron, but you will just have to stay tuned for that portion of the trip report. I will be posting that sometime within the next week. Also, and a side note I have started working on a business plan to start selling my raw energy bars and other snacks I have made. I will be based out of Austin and will likely start locally with online orders available, so be sure to keep checking back for more information about that as well.