Park Season!

Edited Conditions:
As of 4th of July I've been up the Loch Vale valley twice and into Glacier Gorge once.  No snowshoes, crampons, axes, or boots are required for any of the rock routes, and the approaches are melting out fast. All bridges (including to Mills Lake) are fine.

 Even though the snowpack is roughly a month-behind its typical melt-out schedule here in the Colorado hills, I made two trips up into Rocky Mountain National Park last week. for some rock climbing.

My wife Allison and I climbed the Petit Grepon (one of North America's 50 Classics!) in 10 hours car-to-car. Pretty good considering it was Allison's first time out in a long while, and more than half of the approach was on snow.

Later in the week, Scott Bennett and I repeated (most) of a route I'd done once before, called Sublime Buttress. This route is definitely THE LINE to do on the Cathedral wall. At roughly 1,000' of steep climbing, it's longer than the vaunted diamond (Broadway to Table Ledges, as commonly done) and only an hour or so from the car. With a pitch and a half to go, a rain and hail storm compelled us to stop. However, in rigging out rappel and starting the descent, the weather cleared and we noticed a rad-looking hand crack and flake around the corner to the right. We un-retreated, and headed around to the right and up the flake. However, after Scott lead the first variation pitch, thunder storms and down clouds moved in again. I leapfrogged his hanging belay and kept rallying, psyched to find gear and good holds on the steep wall. I pulled up and over the top of the wall and scrambled to a belay alcove beneath an overhang. Though not shown as part of any route in the guidebook, this wall is covered in holds, so this feature may have been climbed before, but it was fun to have a bit "new routing experience" when we'd consigned ourselves to bail a few minutes prior. By the time Scott had followed the pitch, snow, hail, rain, and lightning were all around us. We shared our last snack and rocked out to some Ozomatli for 30 minutes while the storm ebbed and flowed. After things cleared we rappeled the Sublime Buttress route proper, a steep and clean descent easily done with 2 60m ropes.

Nuts and Bolts:

2x 60m ropes for rappel, otherwise 1x60m and walkoff

Rack: one blue alien, a few small wires, double cams from Green Alien to Yellow Camalot

Pitch 2 overhangs the whole way, but with good pro and hand jams

"Is there a jug somewhere around here?" "Yeah, I'm standing on it"

Delicate climbing on pitch3

The aesthetic flake that compelled our un-retreat

On Pitch 3, bring a soloist mentality. You are in ledge-fall potential for about 50' of 5.8 edging to start the pitch. On Pitch 5, go hard left just off the belay, and at the next major ledge system, had traverse hard left again, then straight an incipient crack and flake.

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