Larry Earley and Don Taylor.
Hot and smokey in New Mexico and most
climbing areas closed. Lets go to Colorado where its cool.
Independence Pass area is high up and has a lot of small areas I
have always wanted to explore. The guide book is "Independence
Pass Rock Climbing II" by Tom Perkins and there is a nice
here. There are national forest campsites on both the Twin Lakes
(east side) and Aspen (west side) of the pass. The locals call it
climbing on the pass. We stayed at the Lincoln Gulch CG which is in
the heart of many areas. Its small and is a steep $16 a night. Its
10 miles to Aspen. You can see a lot of rock from the camp site and
there is a stream.
Don and I started on some sport routes in the Outrageous Overhangs
Area. Wait I said moderates and overhangs?? There are some easy
climbs there too. We went to the Junior Olympic Wall and the Olympic
Wall. Its a nice or not too nice hike in and up a ways to the easy
climbs. The rock is weird too. It is some granite mixed with gneiss
and maybe some funky quartzite stuff too. Well its not the best rock
actually. We started on
Junior Olympic Wall [Ready (5.7), Set (5.8) and Go (5.9)]. Set
and Go were ok. Don started his trip with a strong dislike for the
route bolter and guide book author Tom Perkins. Tom bolted a lot of
routes on the pass. Some were good, some were ok and some were bad.
Maybe he was high for several bolting sessions. He was a 5.12
climber and well he did not relate to moderate old climbers needs
and wants. The climbs on
Olympic Wall were ok too but there are all these black streaks
that are sort of wet too. I did a cool mantle to an anchor that was
wet and slick. We didn't want dry and smoky so we got our wish.
The next day we tried some trad on Turkey Rock. It was a shorter
approach and a nice looking rock. We started up The Nose of
Turkey Rock (5.8) and this was a really great first pitch. A
right in your face start up to some old pitons gets you thinking.
Then its one nice surprise after another. Hidden holds appear and
interesting gear placements keeps it fun and safe. Great pitch up to
a ledge with bolted anchor. The view is worth the trip. Amazing. You
see the Pyramid Peak 14er and the nearby 13ers. You can't get this
view anywhere else. Fantastic views. Next its easy climbing 5.4
150ft to the top. High quality easy trad. The views on top were even
better. I saw Maroon Peak I think too. Pitch one had some weird rock
but the top slab was nice granite. We rapped down the route Smoked
Turkey 10a and then went back up. It was 155ft and 13 bolts. Nice. A
hard start (crux) leads you up a fun quality pitch. Excellent. There
are a couple hard looking 11s nearby.
Next we went to a hidden area called Phat City. Don led the so
called moderate Candy Apple Red 5.8. It was a hump up to the rock
which was deadly quartzite surprise. We stick clipped the first bolt
which was needed to protect the 10a start overhang. I had to hang on
this start on top rope. Its 10a if you are tall like Don. Next you
cruise up some 5.9 and then you better have some cams too when you
hit the 10c sections. The cams protect dangerous falls on to ledges.
This was probably a typo in the book when it said 5.8. Don did a
great lead without hanging or falling. It was 70 feet with 9 bolts
but you better have cams unless you lead 11s good. The top was a
reachy clip or ledge fall depending. I had to hang again on the 10c
cruxes. We packed up and left then.
We moved to the
Sunset Cliff up a steep slope. I tried Unnecessary Buffness
10a/b but bailed. It was a long way to the first bolt on a slab. It
looked like a nice climb. I made it to the first piton but it was a
ways to the next bolt.
Well we tried again and found some other weird rock with black
streaks at Pooh Corner Area. Tom Perkins bolted some sad routes here
too. We picked one with nice features called Eeyore's Revenge 5.8.
It was another deadly climb with dangerous fall potential going past
bolt #3. It was 10a with a ledge. We got to the top only to find a
really bad anchor too. Don was again trash talking about Mr.
Luckily there are a lot of areas and routes within a few miles. We
got finally some nice climbing at
Clairabell Mine Wall. This was a short approach with good
granite and well bolted too. We loved Master Blaster 10b which was
awesome. One Stick or Two 5.9 was good too but had a couple polished
areas so watch it. There is a great mine entrance and you can see in
a ways. There were a couple 11s too and a 12.
Well Independence Pass was cool, not crowded, lots of climbs, lots
of variety and lots of bad rock too. We checked out a couple routes
for next time. Zanzibar Dihedral 5.8 trad looked great as well as
Cryogenics pitch one 10a trad. There is also some free camping at
Lincoln Creek area. It was real and it was fun but it wasn't real
fun. The first night camping it dropped to 37 degrees so I nearly
froze in my old summer bag. Give it a try if you are hot and want
some cool climbing. Choose your routes wisely.