Monday, May 28, 2007

Picture Perfect Penitente

It sure has been a while since the last post. I've been really busy! Finals ended up going very well, and the summer is finally here! Last weekend I got back from Penitente Canyon in the San Luis Valley of Southern Colorado. It was a really fun trip. I planned the whole thing singlehandedly, and I gained a lot of experience that I will need and use for future trips that I take. There were 10 of us guys from CU and New Mexico Tech who were in the group. We stayed for 5 days, so it wasn't terribly long, but it was really fun. We got a lot of climbing in, including several 5.10's and 5.11's and a few 5.12's. The most memorable route was a really fun crack climb up this really shear face. It was rated at 5.11c, and certainly felt like it!

It started out on a really reachy undercling move and then got really crimpy at the top. Once you reached the roof you had a "thank God" undercling, and then you finished up the finger-crack to the left. It was a very great and aesthetic climb.

Another really fun climb was this 5.10 hand crack that I led on trad. Trad is short for traditional climbing whereas you place your own protection into the wall as you climb rather than clip into the pre-existing bolts in the wall. This was a great climb! Over the five days we ventured to different areas and climbed different routes. In total I think we climbed 30 routes that week. Most of the other guys were only climbing 5.10 max, so we taught them how to lead climb, and then James Sloan and I often went off on our own to pursue some harder routes.

Another great aspect of the climb was the food. I bought many luxurious meals for us to cook, such as peanut butter and jelly, and s'mores. Seriously though, we had steak, baked potatoes, burgers, beef stew, breakfast burritos, anything and everything that sounds good while camping, we ate. The camping was quite spectacular as well. I slept outside under the stars every single night. The view of the milky way was amazing, as the moon was out of phase. The site that we were camping at was spectacular in its own right, as it was right across the valley from the Great Sand Dunes, and above that were the prominent Crestone Needle and Crestone Peak that we all had climbed just this last summer, which was an epic itself.

Overall it was a very enjoyable trip, and I am looking forward to returning again next year. We scoped out several great spots for a highline, and will definitely be setting one up next year. Also, we got on several routes that severely kicked our butts, so we'll get stronger to pull harder. After the week was over we each parted ways. It was a nice transition point between the school year and the summer. We got to blow off some steam from the crazy year, and got a taste of the awesome adventures that 2007 will hold.

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