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[TR] colorado - classics (?) 12/20/2010

John Frieh

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Trip: colorado - classics (?)


Date: 12/20/2010


Trip Report Summary:

12/15: PDX -> Ridgway, CO

12/16: Finish driving; Camp Bird Road

12/17: Hike to Ames Ice Hose; chicken out. Go back to Camp Bird Road

12/18: Ames Ice Hose

12/19: Drive home


Good times with Mark Hauter (vert) in the 'rado. Epic snowfall cut this one a little short but you take what you can get. Big props to Steve for letting us dirtbag at his place.


Camp Bird climbs



Second pitch of Skylight






We found Ames in "respectable" conditions and after talking ourselves out of it on Friday (weak) we returned on Saturday with fresh beta and renewed intentions. Cool route. No pictures of pitch 2 as Mark was busy giving me a proper belay.


Ames Ice Hose: pitch one and the first part of pitch 2



Mark on the pitch 1 (Mugs start)



Mark on pitch 3



Spindrift makes leading more interesting



Gear Notes:

Dont miss the pin out right at the first roof on p2 of Ames unless you enjoy getting super pumped placing screws.


Gear (in order) for Mugs start on Ames: #4 brass nut, Purple Metolius, Red Metolius


It should also be noted for the record Mark climbs harder in Koflach plastic boots than most people do in fancy leather boots. Respect.


Approach Notes:

zoom zoom

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hey, what did you think of CO grading (compared to LW, or Bozeman)?


As I've only climbed in CO twice I hesitate to comment however nothing I climbed on the right side of the road (Skylight, etc) was harder than a WI4. Perhaps I caught them in fat conditions (???) however taking an educated guess at what thin conditions would look like I have a hard time seeing any of them as the 5/5+ the book rates them as.


I could see Ames being a 6 in super thin conditions but the 6 would IMO come from the technical nature of the gear/climbing and not the frequency (or lack of) gear to protect it... that is to say I dont really see Ames (at least the second pitch) being R rated. In the conditions we climbed it in I thought it was a solid 5... MAYBE a 5+ but doubtful. Maybe alpine has warped my opinion but generally most R rated WI climbs I have encountered werent.


I cant compare to LW (never climbed there) but I'd say IN GENERAL Bozeman climbs are a little more stout in their ratings. That said we all know Bozeman has some easier and some hard climbs at each grade. For example: climb Killer Pillar and then tell me The Scepter is a 5.


Most importantly: they're just ratings. If you climb enough (and you should!) you'll learn to walk up to something and have a good feel for what you're in for just by looking at it.


As Steve House says "In doesn't apply anymore. Either you can protect it or you cant"

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thank you for the very diplomatic response :)

i wasn't picking on CO!


i was just wondering - i had also climbed in ouray area as well as around colorado springs during two seasons in 2007 and 2008. at the time the climbs seemed plenty challenging, but looking back at the pictures i'm surprised by the raw numbers assigned to them.


having gone to bozeman and cody since then, the numbers suggest that i not only failed to improve my climbing ability, but have actually gotten worse. great. still, for those of us lacking in judgment and/or confidence to jump on any given route, those numbers do provide a convenient guideline, and i just wanted to hear another person's opinion.


thanks again!

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Oh I have no problem picking on the 'Rado... or at least the slack line, drum playing Boulder ones :laf:


I'd say if you can climb any grade (3, 4, etc) in Cody you can climb it anywhere for the most part.


Hyalite mixed climbs (at least the traditional ones) are benchmark (at least for me). If you can climb The Thrill is Gone you can climb any M4 anywhere. I feel like many of the more modern, bolt protected M climbs are a little soft when compared to the older trad routes but then again that could be the mental aspect at play.


As far as getting better more volume never hurt anyone but if "life" prevents you from racking up the days of ice then a solid pre and post season training plan is in order.



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Banff has always been the benchmark grading for me, as well as most of North America, simply because of the consistency of the ice and the traffic it recieves.


I have never climbed in the South Fork but I think it has a repulation like Index does for ratings in general.

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hey, what did you think of CO grading (compared to LW, or Bozeman)?

Maybe alpine has warped my opinion but generally most R rated WI climbs I have encountered werent.


Both that and also if you are climbing at a much higher level the lower grades all tend to blend in together a bit more, where you're only placing a screw or two per pitch in the 3 and 4 range. Kind of like climbing 5.4 when you are a 5.11 leader. The book might say it's 5.4 but you just can't really tell 5.4 from 5.7 anymore, and are just running it out.

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Yeah: I'd agree with Banff expect many of the benchmark climbs are also often picked out by the time word reaches us down here. I can think of a number of people that fancy themselves WI5+/6- leaders just because they hooked their way up Nemesis at the end of the season...


But yeah: Banff is legit assuming one can recognize and discern when a route is either super fat or super picked out.


Some of the Cody stuff can be sandbagged but a lot of it is spot on in my mind. Maybe that's why I still consider myself a solid WI4 leader :laf:

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Yeah but the climbing is more efficient if you arent swinging alot. Some of the hardest leads I've ever done have been on the featureless incredibly smooth surfaced stuff no one has climbed yet.


The trouble I generally have with high traffic routes is that sometimes the bases are so bashed out that the first 10-15m end up being kind of overhanging with very little logic for good feet.

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Hooking on popular routes later in the season is definitely easier. All of the ex foliating ice is usually gone, steps are there and screw holes can be found at the rests. Long screws on the well formed trade routes make those holes more secure. And not swinging, a big plus, done correctly it speeds you up and is secure. Reach high and fully weight the tool straight armed prior to committing your move to it. No fighting to remove for the next placement. Keep your tools sharp for this and you can feel them scratch in and bite. Crampons too can be pressed into place rather than kicked if kept sharp. The conditions that John and I found in Colorado were not what I would consider "well traveled". That ice was still pretty young and felt like home to me and I swung at it quite a bit. Even on raw, thin ice though hooking and pressing can save you a lot of energy when appropriate.

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