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The Raptor!

I am not an ice climber….well, I have now gone, liked it, and I will most certainly go again!

My first experience was years ago with an acquaintance.  I wasn’t quite sure what he was looking for, but we hiked around a lot up the Lawn Lake Trail.  I never took my tools off the pack, even to this day I have no idea what moderate ice we might have been looking for.  Oh well.

All Mixed Up, Thatchtop Mt., RMNP

My second experience, was this November a few weeks after my whipper in Zion.  My experienced friend was very patient while I gimped up the trail, and even more caring when we stopped at the base of All Mixed Up to gear up and my feet were already frozen.  After attempting to warm them, feed me, hydrate me, dance around, we ended up turning around.

What a sissy!

I am from Minnesota, I used to tolerate the cold so well.  Wow, too many winters chasing eternal fall!

My third experience was just after Thanksgiving and it went swimmingly.  Granted I borrowed warmer, more appropriate, boots.

The three of us, 2 non-experienced ice climbers and a third who had previously climbed at our desired destination, Hidden Falls.  We had a leisurely breakfast, drove to Wild Basin in Rocky Mountain National Park, strapped on the packs, and wandered down the road, now winter trail, west.

Then we wandered down the road east, back tracking.  We wandered a short trail parallel to the road for awhile.  Then we wandered about another pull-out and trail.  Finally, we wandered further west definitively.  Our third, “leader”, didn’t quite remember how far to wander the road, where Hidden Falls might be hidden, and surely didn’t even know what day it was.

All in good fun.  We arrived, just as another pair of climbers was hiking out.

Perfect.  Place to ourselves.

I just top-roped, but messed around with dry-tooling (which I had done before last winter in the Cascades), but I also got to climb a few pitches of just ice.

I was enjoying my new ice tools, and the boys were also enjoying my new ice tools.  The Trango Raptors saw 8-10 pitches on their first day out.  These nice tools have an aggressive pick, are quite light, and have an excellent grip.  I really enjoyed the grip set up, allowing me to switch hands comfortably, gripping above the standard grip location was equally as comfortable and easy.

Get your new pair at http://www.trango.com/ice_gear/Raptor  

20 – 12’s in 2012

Plus one 5.13!After the June trip to Yosemite I needed an obtainable/fun goal to occupy my mind.  Summer in Estes is filled with too much work, a lot of play, and minimal amounts of sleep.  I rallied friends and co-workers, “let’s all try to climb twenty 5.12’s in the year 2012!”  Some agreed to the challenge and currently we are all working towards completing the 20.  Adam Sanders, Trango Rep. and climbing madman set this goal in 2011, trying to climb 20 5.12’s before 2012 arrived.  I stole his idea! :)So far, I have climbed 8 sport climbs and one traditional climb.  (It seems I have time for a sport wanking outing about once a week).  My one full day off each week is spent wandering the Rocky Mountains alpine splitters!

Wes Climbing a 5.12 in Boulder Canyon

So far

1.  Mistrel in the Gallery, 5.12, The Gallery, Red Rocks
2.  Days of Future Past- 5.12a, Animal World–Boulder Canyon
3.  Free Fall -5.12a, Avalon–Boulder Canyon
4.  Furious Howard Brown 5.12 a/b, Surprising Crag–Boulder Canyon
5. Threshold of a Dream 5.12-, Animal World–Boulder Canyon
6.  Wet Denim Day Dream 5.12-, Wall of the 90’s–Clear Creek (Onsight)
7.  Red Neck Hero 5.12, River Wall—Button Rock Reservoir.  
8. The Wasp 5.13-, Rock of Ages — Rocky Mountain National Park (Trad climb)
9. Rise and Shine 5.12-, Bitty Butress — Boulder Canyon
10.  The Gate Keepr 5.12a, Wizards Gate — The Crags, RMNP

My most exciting lead to date, The Wasp, occurred Wednesday.  Tuesday, I hiked out with Bronson to top rope and suss out some gear.  Previously, I had one top-rope lap on The Wasp this summer in late June.  I also have had some miserable burns on it a few summers back.  This June was the first time I top-roped it with no falls and no extreme pump.  I had to work at noon, so although I felt strong and was tempted for a lead go, I didn’t have time.

Wednesday, my girlfriend Kelly Cramer, returned with me.  Through a small debate on the hike up, WE decided that there would be no more top-roping.  I would walk up to the climb and lead the darn thing.  I fell entering the crux traverse.  BOO.  I was fully pumped.

I rested for a while, then tried again.  Feeling solid I reached the “jug” at the end of the traverse left, but had placed a piece in the way.  I shuffled around trying to jam my hand under the cam, but in my flurry ended up just grabbing it.  Double BOO.  I definitely hollered a few F-Bombs.  Irritated at my lack of mental control!!!!

 I was also worried I wouldn’t have the energy for another full effort.  I rested 20 minutes or so, then headed up for the 3rd time.  Through the traverse, I placed the cam in a better location, moved through, and stood up for a rest.  One more reachy move puts you on a “smile-evoking-foot-holds-surprise-hand-rail-of-joy”traverse right.  I placed another piece but was short a runner.  I clipped it directly and began climbing upwards towards the piton.

The Wasp, Photo taken from Mountain Project

WHEN DID THE SMALL CHILD JUMP ON MY BACK, I thought?  I just sand-bagged myself with an extreme lightening zag of rope drag.  I thought about down-climbing and taking the piece out but thought I would waste to much energy.  In hindsight, I wasted just as much energy climbing upwards with the rope drag, Elvis clipping and such.  Even with the little extra epic I created for myself, I clipped the piton, moved through the last few crimps to the jug at the lip with just enough energy!  YAHOO!!!!!!!!!

Heel hooking in the Ra’s in Boulder Canyon!  

Thanks Kelly and Bronson for hiking out there with me!

Recently, Trango has picked up Tenaya shoes, and have been testing a few.  I have always been partial to climbing with Muira’s, but am finding Tenaya’s Ra to be quite comparable.  Great rubber, stiff and comfortable.  The Masai’s are a less aggressive shoe that I am climbing in a size bigger than usual, but am loving them for long days.  They still have a great toe box and edge, but more flexibility.

Give these shoes a try!!!

 
 

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