( Check out our follow-up to this: The Inaugural 5-tower day!)
Three years ago, my friend Darin Berdinka got me up at some ungodly hour of the morning (night) and we drove from Bellingham to Darrington, WA for the 3.5 hour approach to our linkup of Roan Wall and Salish Peak. The day was unforgettable, and I distinctly remember looking at my watch at 9:30AM, 700' above the valley floor, realizing that my friends and roommates were sitting in class or just waking up, while I was in an entirely different world.
Since then, I've done a big day around the solstice, and this year was the 4th in-a-row.
This year, Josh Thompson and I climbed the Sabre Spire, the Petit Gripon, and the Sharkstooth, all in Rocky Mountain National Park. These spires are shown above. Excellent weather and perfect rock made the day a blast.
Long days always present a planning and logistical challenge, especially when dealing with some snow, and carrying all of one's gear up and over a route.
I went fully Jens-Holsten-style backpackless, with the 70m rope worn as a pack, and my harness (waist loop only) worn from the car. This method has been perfected by my friends Jens and Sol Wertkin for their single-day Stuart Range linkups, and it lets the leader climb packless, which is oh-so nice. For a day like this it was the way to go. Big pockets for snacks and a stocking cap for warmth certainly helped.
People have been climbing on these spires for a LONG time, as evidenced by the copious amounts of archaic fixed gear.
Random tip of the day: When you have to clip shoes or a jacket onto your harness for a hike, or the climb, clip them in through the middle of the shoes, not the end. This will prevent them from swinging back and forth, or hanging down to low, and keeps them in closer to your body for climbing.
Here's Josh negotiating yet another rapidly-melting descent gully.