The Sublime...

I spent 3 days this week having a BLAST in in the local alpine environments. Short approaches, no bugs, minimal brush, no glaciers, and perfect stone. If I try really hard, I can almost convince myself that psuedo-alpine climbing is more fun than the real thing! We shot laser beams, and we did some stellar routes as well.

First off, my friend Joe Sambataro and I went into the Cathedral Wall to try a new-ish (and supposedly quite good) 1,000' route called the Sublime Buttress (III 5.11c).

We found it to be an AMAZING route with lots of variety and stellar climbing. The info on this is hard to gather, so here's what we recall:

The Beta:

The Cathedral Wall separates the Andrews Creek drainage from the Sky Pond/Cathedral Spires/Etc drainage in Rocky Mtn. Park. Hike towards the Sky pond for10 minutes after the Andrews Creek trail splits off right, and you'll see the wall. The Sublime Buttress follows the prow of the longest and steepest sweep on the Cathedral Wall.

The climbing is a mix of excellent face holds, roofs, and thin cracks. Most pitches have some runout sections, but nothing harder than 5.10- or so. The crux of the route comes on pitch 2, which is overhanging for 20 meters. This pitch sports a thin-hands crux down lower, and a wild 5.11c pull around a roof up higher. Gear on this pitch is very good, with one fixed nut in place.

The sixth pitch was (I felt) the most demanding lead of the climb. I used all my runners and still had horrendous rope drag. The pitch moves left around or over several roofs and flakes, then tackles a long runout to some delicate moves before gear is again available. From here, climb through a flaky whitish band, and make sure to pull past the white rock, and over the last roof, at a spot on the left where a crack continues onward. I nearly climbed out a 2 different spots further right, both of which would have put me into the terrain of dead-ending crimps on a steep face.

The first two belays can be made at large trees. All other belays (except the summit) have one bolt and copious available gear. There are no protection bolts or pitons on route.

The first pitch, 5.6 slab. Easy and fun, but hardly a warmup for the crux.

Pulling out the roof on pitch 2. It's continuously overhanging until this point.

Joe on pitch 3 (5.8 R or X). Awesome face holds, felt like Red Rock climbing.

Pitch 4- 5.8 face and crack to the prow of the wall.

Joe finishes pitch 6 in style

The final pitch takes a 5.10 hand crack, slightly overhanging, to the sudden topout.

Gear - One 60m rope is fine, with a couple pitches (3, 5) being about 55m long. Bring a set of nuts and double set of cams from green alien to #2 camalot. Bringing several 4' slings would be wise.

Descend - Scramble up the ridge, staying on the right-hand side. After passing a couple steep gullies and fins of rock to your left, head down a large gully leftward that brings one directly to Mirror Lake. 15 minutes back down the trail, and you're at the base of the route. Bring walking shoes on route. With two ropes, one could easily rap the route (single-bolt anchors in place atop p3,4,5,6). You'd need to leave tat or gear atop the wall for the first rappel.


Following this, I spent a couple days in glacier Gorge with my wife Allison. She rocked the light-up disk for some nocturnal photo fun.

We played frisbee and swam, chased Elk, made awesome alpine desserts*, and we also climbed the 8-pitch "Barb" (III 5.10) on Spearhead Peak.

Long's Peak and cool lighting on the ridge overhead.

The route is excellent, with a bunch of splitter granite cracks and interesting knobs.

We had the luxury bivy in the meadows at the base of Spearhead, so it only took about 15 minutes to walk to the start of the climb. Allison did great on her first climb in the peaks of Colorado, and we avoided getting lightning-ed or hailed on. Thumbs up rating to 'The Barb' and our Glacier Gorge bivy, both absolutely sublime.

*Get some instant Jello Pudding. The chocolate and pistachio flavors are better than the chemical-tasting lemon or buttersctoch. Mix the appropriate amount of milk powder (err on the side of extra) with 2 cups water (colder is better), in order to make 2 cups milk. Pour in pudding powder, and shake vigorously for 1 minute. A nalgene works wonderfully for doing all of this. Immediately put the nalgene or other container into a snow bank or cold water, and leave it for 5 minutes. Enjoy the deliciousness!

1 comment:

  1. " If I try really hard, I can almost convince myself that psuedo-alpine climbing is more fun than the real thing!"

    Don't do that. Get into the mtns and suffer while you're young. You can climb sport projects at the local crag when you get older and have a host more responsibilities to juggle.

    ps. glad to see you get out with Al too.