Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Eldo Season Has Officially Started!

We finally had some warm temperatures here in Boulder, but the tremendous winds on the drive over to Eldorado Canyon had me thinking that Derek and I would just be doing an afternoon hike instead of our first outdoor climb of the year. Alas, the weather was very climbable, though we both wore our wind shells.

I asked Derek if he'd like to do Wind Ridge (5.6) or Touch and Go (5.8+/5.9-). He'd had more than a little trouble with the burly, technical start of the latter route and I figured he want to start out easy. I was wrong. He immediately chose Touch and Go. We hiked over there and found a couple on it. The guy had just finished the first pitch and I asked the girl if they were doing the second pitch or not. She wasn't sure, but then the guy asked to be lowered to the ground. When he got there he told us, "We're going to be here for awhile." I asked, "So, you're just going to do the first pitch over and over?" He said, "Yes, while we have the rope up there." Dang...

From my 100-pitch Eldo training, I knew the 5.9 variation to the first pitch on the right and I led up that. The climbing here is a bit tricky, a bit runout in spots, and pretty slick. I moved slowly and methodically, placing good gear and making sure I was solid. I was just getting used to Eldo climbing again. Derek followed remarkably well, cranking the crux 5.9 without much hesitation.

I led the second pitch along the ramp to the second pitch of Touch and Go and then up the steep, thin dihedral above. Once again, I placed solid gear at frequent intervals, nothing like the last time I did this route with Hans simul-climbing below me. Derek followed very nicely. I was impressed. Onsighting this route shows that his gym training has made him a stronger outside climber as well.

Derek then "led" us over to the rappel anchors. This was technically his first lead, though he didn't place any gear. We then did two rappels to the ground. The significant fact was that Derek rappelled by himself for the first time. I'd been overly protective in the past and just lowered him down. We never took the time to teach him how to rappel before, but early this year I taught him in the gym. It was easy for him to learn since he was belaying and lowering climbers and it's basically the same thing, but with yourself. He did great and was pretty smooth by the second rappel.

We pulled the rope, packed up and hiked back to the car. The round trip from the house was about three hours. It was great to finally get outside on real rock.

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