Thursday, January 17, 2008


Some days of climbing are just perfect. These days don't require a hard climb or an exotic destination; sometimes, in the usual places, quite by surprise, everything just seems to click. Last Sunday, with few options because of tight schedules and high avalanche danger, Greg Sievers and I headed to the classic frozen waterfall Jaws in Rocky Mountain National Park, even though we suspected it would be hyper-crowded on a sunny Sunday, it might be too warm to climb safely, and we'd both already done it a bunch of times.

To our surprise, perfection happened. Because the approach is so short, we could sleep in, and we didn't arrive at the trailhead until around 9:30—freakishly late for a climb in the Park. Just as we pulled in, two fat coyotes loped by the parking lot. The trail was packed but not icy. When we arrived at the route, four climbers already had ropes on the climb. But two of them were just finishing up for the day, and the other two were busy on one side of the broad formation, leaving us plenty of room to play on the other. We quickly banged out two laps, including a fun variation I'd never done, linking the tops of separate pillars in a rising traverse. Although the ambient temperature was well below freezing, it was warm enough in the sun to belay in a sweater. Wind whipped snow from the treetops overhead, but we were protected in an amphitheater. After a quick lunch on a sun-deck ledge, I led a steep pillar on the right side, now safely in the shade. I climbed well enough, and I was happy.


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