Alpine climbing offers a degree of reward that is unmatched by any other rock climbing discipline. There is something very magic about climbing up high, something that a lifetime sport climber will simply never understand. Describing an alpine day to a sport climber or a flat-lander can often sound like well organized self torture. However, those of us who do find the courage (stupidity?) to venture into the high mountains always seem to come limping back for more. At the end of a ridiculously long day, with battered legs, throbbing feet and growling stomachs, there is an unusually strong feeling of accomplishment. For me, the buzz from trying hard in the high mountains lasts every bit as long as redpointing a sport project. Nothing quite compares to leading a long beautiful pitch, with hundreds of feet of thin air under your ass, while the sun is shinning and a waterfall showers somewhere in the background. This is what the Colorado high mountains is all about, and it's worth the hike.
As you could maybe tell, I got up high last weekend for my first Alpine outing this year. Marisa and I did an amazing classic on Spearhead called 'The Barb' 5.10c III. We decided to do it at around 10:45pm the night before. It was a long day, but the weather held out for us (until the minute we got off the climb), and Marisa onsight followed every pitch on her second ever Alpine climb. It was fantastic. My legs are still sore, but my head is filled with all the possible ways I can make it up high again in the next week.
Obviously, I did end up staying home from the Lander Climbers Festival, which is a bummer. I really felt like if I could stand to wait another week or two my finger injury would be totally healed, 100%. So I stuck to climbing granite and gave my finger an extra chance to get strong. This weekend I also got out to Animal World in Boulder Canyon for my first time. I was highly impressed with an old project that my buddy Chris Weidner finished up last year called 'Closer to God' 13c (aka Animal Antagonizer). This turned out to be a great climb, with a super tricky and engaging finishing crux sequence. It is one of those cruxes that at first feels stupid to impossible, then some 'oh-whatever-why-not' beta ends up working beautifully. I would highly recommend this route, but you're going to have to figure out the beta on your own for full value!!
Photo: Notice the heard of elk in the foreground.. classic. and Marisa's gets her crux pitch send face on!