Thursday, August 14, 2014

Estes Park, Week 2: Exaustion and recovery

Estes Park, 1-2nd week.  Many of you know how beautiful this place is.  The hiking is fantastic and the trails are very well maintained. 
And then there’s the climbing.  Below is the 3rd pitch of Osiris at Lumpy Ridge. 
My partner gettin' it done in the mountains.  Glad she wanted to lead this 200 ft pitch.  Then we got hit by a rain storm on the 5th pitch.  The wind gusts 50-60 mph made it challenging to stay on the narrow rock ribs at the top of the climb.  The rain came right at us, then split and went around the sides of the formation.  Powerful stuff, that nature.

Excited about experiencing even more powerful forces of nature, we headed into the high country this week.  We hiked to Loch Vale at 10,200 ft, in Glacier Gorge.  Perfect spot for just relaxing into the nature. 

Note the highest sharp point, or tooth, of rock in the right skyline; that’s where we’re headed.  So on up to the Andrews glacier.  Or what’s left of it anyway.  Here it is and the wall above painted by sunrise:

Note the “trail” in the lower right.  There is nothing there that normal people would call a trail.  This is what climbers call a “boulder thrash” from the main hiking trail to the bivy site.  Took us about 2 hours.  Did I mention that my girl says she is more comfortable carrying a heavy pack?  Strangely, that makes me more comfortable too.  Especially when she added an extra 3 liters of water to make sure we had enough for the bivy:

This is what you might call a pristine rugged mountain bedroom.  No tents allowed.  Sleeping under the stars, satellites and a near super moon.  One day past a super moon, makes it an awesome moon I think. You may not sleep that well the 1st night, but the 2nd night,  ahhhhh.

The boulder thrash acts as a filter.  There was no one else around, just the wild beauty of this place.  Its pristine nature is partly due to the few people that come here and - due to the poop bags.  That’s right, you have to poop in a bag and carry it out.  There is something right and dutiful about having to carry out your shit.  You ate it, you pooped it, you carry it.  Cycle complete.  The ultimate in personal responsibility.

Sorry no pictures of the bags, although I was tempted.  They seal up almost well enough not to smell.  Almost enough.  But it keeps this place pristine and its part of the ethic of RMNP.  Yes, I carried the bags out, although I don't think it equaled the three liters of water she carried up here.  Uncontrived equality is the foundation of a good relationship.

In the morning, Sharkstooth catches the eye:

The climb, on a flying buttress from the midpoint on, scales the center of the lit-up formation.  Note the upcoming boulder thrash to get to the base, which was guarded by a well-fed marmot:

Chubby here seems to prosper on food left in climbers’ packs.  In addition, he will chow on anything with salt on it, like your boots, pack straps and handles of your trekking poles.  So you have to carry pretty much everything up the climb with you.  Searching for a way to repel Chubby and avoid carrying all that extra weight up the next route, we ordered the urine of his predator.  On-line.  Where from?  You guessed it –  
Sharkstooth consists of about 6 pitches of moderate, but fun climbing. Below is the start of the 1st pitch on a bluebird day:

Brenda finally reached her physical limit (didn’t think she had one) from dehydration and previous days of hiking, so we carefully raced to the top:

Tip of the East face of Long’s Peak is showing in the background:
If you think we look tired, you’re right.  The concept: Climb/hike to exhaustion, then rest for 2-3 days.  With each cycle, you get stronger and more fit.  After about 3-4 cycles, the body responds and you’re ready to fully engage.  ‘Course that’s where the typical American vacation ends, right?