An old college buddy of mine is on his annual summer climbing road trip, for the purpose of staying sane between semesters of grad school. He went out to Yosemite for a few weeks and managed to tick Steck-Salathe, Freeblast, Astroman, Serenity Crack, and maybe a few others.
He’s climbing hard. I’m not.
We got on Syke’s Sickle last weekend (after unsuccessfully trying to convince him to do some of the more remote climbs Larry Hamilton opened up).
I wasn’t even going to write a TR, since the day went so perfectly, but here’s a mini…
In bed by 10pm, up at 2am, on the road and driving from Ft. Collins to Estes while fearfully avoiding the nocturnal grazing mule deer. In the Glacier Gorge parking lot by 3:30 to minor dismay at seeing 15 cars in
the lot already!
The hike in is quick and uneventful, and the brisk mountain air is a welcome relief from the summer doldrums. We’re treated to a lovely alpenglow lightshow bouncing off Arrowhead (I think) as we switch our headlamps from bright to dim to dimmest to off.
Rounding the trail and laying eyes upon Spearhead, we’re amazed to be the first non-elk megafauna out and about (although arguably we’re not so charismatic this time of morn). The route is free and clear and we’re climbing in short time.
The weather is perfect — a rarity in the park — and we’re 4 pitches up by the time we see brightly colored, polypro-and-Patagonia-clad ants industriously milling about at the base.
Out of shape am I as it’s been a while since I’ve done anything more than cragging. Michael gets the crux 5.9 roof pitch in two tries, and the “exciting” 5.7R final traversing slab pitch is mine. The lone bolt
in the middle of the slab looks to be forever and a day away. I’m mentally weak, and 10 feet out from the belay, I want to come back to the safety of aluminum and spectra bits that are rated up to 16 kN of
pity and relief.
I’m so out of practice though, that as I attempt to come back to the belay, I step down and right instead of left, and now I’m pretty much committed to the bolt. Michael laughs at my predicament, and I dredge up memories of being a somewhat respectable journeyman climber, and make a few moves to clip the bolt. Only a 5.7, eh?
The summit is a bit of scrambling away, and we converse with the magical ants who’ve blown up to person-sized people. Too soon, we’re off and on the loose descent. The 5.5 mile hike back to the car seems endless, but we can derive our proximity to the trailhead by the density of unhappy looking Texan and Nebraskan children being drug up the trail by their parental units.
Back at the car by 6:30pm, nary a cloud all day, and the Mickey D’s in Estes even has a real dollar menu, made legit by the presence of the double-cheeseburger and hot fudge sundae. Cheap calories by way of
Syke’s Sickle, 5.9, 7 pitches. Not a bad weekend for a desk jockey.