We apologize in advance to our mothers for our actions.
Video Edit: Sunshine | Words: Andrew
And then there were two. Sunshine and I set off to climb a classic line up the guillotine wall on Sundance Buttress on Lumpy Ridge in Estes Park, CO. There is a lot of info in that sentence… We made it through the approach which was exhausting given our current state of generally being exhausted and sore. The last many weeks of activity finally started to take a toll on our bodies. Nevertheless we were stoked to get on Kor’s Flake. Sunshine led the first pitch which took us through a narrow squeeze chimney and out through a sort of birth canal. It was as weird and awkward as it sounds.
I led the second pitch which turned out to be quite an affair. The beta recommended that we bring cams up to #5 for the off-width section of the route. We do not have any cams up to #5 so we figured the hell with it, let’s go for it anyway. I was really in the thick of it when I was about 30ft run out past my last piece and squeezed into an awkward off-width with only the fear and a knee jam holding me in place. As I shimmied my way towards a solid stance my jacket stuff sack was ripped off my harness and I watched and listened as it fell deep into the crack. Oops. I did not care too much at the time because I was pretty focused on not following in its footsteps. After a few more minutes of mental turmoil I made it to the belay and watched as Sunshine scurried up. As he was climbing a huge gust of wind ripped up the flake and showered me with his chalk. When he got to the belay he lamented that his chalk ball had been blown out of his bag. We laughed about the wind and on he went.
Sunshine led the third pitch which was fantastic. He climbed around and over a roof to some slab and up a sweet hand jam crack to a ledge. As he got under the roof he leaned over and picked up the chalk ball that had blown about a hundred vertical feet UP the face. Crazy! Then, in an even crazier turn of events the wind hit him again and blew his chalk ball out of his bag. We both watched as it floated around above us for a second and then slowly dropped…right into my hand. Success! The climbing was really phenomenal. It had varied moves and sweet, sweet exposure. He admitted to getting the fear a bit when the wind was trying to blow him off the face during a heady hand traverse. I was stoked to follow it. Really enjoyable climbing.
I led the fourth and final pitch over another roof with some cool, exposed face moves and then up some slabby friction climbing. Right as I found a suitable belay I began to notice the lightning strikes to the west. Oops, again. So we entered the urgency zone. Sunshine cruised up to me and we bundled our rope and ran for shelter. We found a safe-ish spot and organized the rope then searched out some rap slings. We both felt much more comfortable after a couple rappels brought us down a few hundred feet. To our chagrin we looked up as we cleared the base of the buttress and saw blue skies! Rocky Mountain National Park, you are so fickle!
Overall we really enjoyed our first experience on Lumpy Ridge. Montane, please send me a new jacket!