Marc on the summit of Notchtop.
Notchtop from the trail.
I spent the weekend climbing in Rocky Mountain National Park, one of the most beautiful places in the world. Saturday I took my roommate on her first multipitch climb, a 5.7 crack that she exclaimed (after the first pitch) was "the scariest and hardest climb she's ever done!" (And she boulders harder than I do!) Then I dragged her up an overhanging, 5.8+ fist crack. (oops!) I really didn't mean to do that, but the other option, a totally lichen-covered 5.8 "hand crack" looked incredibly unappealing. Luckily, she managed to struggle her way through the fist section and actually do the route, though with a few falls. It was exciting for both of us. At one point she hollered up, "Lizzy, I don't think I can do this!" 200 feet away and sitting on the very tip of the Bookmark Pinnacle, I didn't have any opportunity to help her.
"You'd better figure it out!" I shouted back down to her. I'm so psyched she did, both because it empowered her to figure her way out of a very uncomfortable and difficult situation, and because I didn't have to descend (i.e. down lead) the not-so-well protected and very exposed arete that I had just climbed. It would have been quite an epic trying to deal with that situation.
Lizzy on top of Notchtop.
The next day, I met up with my favorite climbing partner, Marc Hemmes, and we headed out at 5 a.m. to climb Notchtop, a 12,149-foot formation with a gorgeous, wide 1,000-foot face that juts out of Odessa Gorge. Neither of us remembers the name of the route we climbed, which is fine because we didn't actually climb the 5.8+ that we planned on climbing, or at least we didn't complete the correct route. We attempted to find some obscure hand crack in a left-leaning corner that was put up by Steve Komito in the 50s. We think we did the first pitch correctly, but rather than do the second, supposedly splitter finger crack up a face, we ended up on a totally sketchy face where we were forced to do 5.9 moves over hollow sounding plates of rock that were plastered on the wall with dry dirt. Hemmes led that pitch, and he took so long (very uncharacteristic) that I knew something was amiss. As I climbed the route, my respect for him increased (as it often does), as I nimbly tried to avoid the large plates of rock, which I knew would not feel good smashed against my chest if I tugged on them off by weighting them. Needless to say, it was a bit scary. But we managed to top out, and the only other epics we experienced during the day were my chewed up Evolv approach shoes (damn marmots), Hemmes having to downclimb 200 feet to retrieve his precious chalk bag, and a stuck rope on the rappel (which I retrieved via prussiking up a full pitch of 5.8, which was actually quite fun--a route put up by Chris Kalous a few years ago).
We proceeded to Ed's Cantina around 2 p.m. and drank margaritas until Hemmes' dear gal, Diana, returned home, at which time we met up with her for some chatting.
Pictures to follow.
Marc looking down at his chalk bag, lying 200 feet below. Lizzy took a brief nap in a very cozy, sunny and grassy niche while Marc downclimbed the 200 feet to his precious chalk bag.
1 year ago