8.16.2005

Back to the Outdoors

It was back to my usual exercise routine this weekend. Saturday my friends Ben and George went up to hike Huron Peak with me. The peak is one of the smallest of the fourteeners, in fact it is the second shortest at 14,003'. The peak itself is hidden to the west of taller neighbors, and is farther from a paved road than most of the peaks in its mountain range, the Sawatch. The hike is pretty straight forward, and is on a trail most of the way. The initial section of trail through the forest starts out on a steep slope with a series of switchbacks. The terrain levels out as it approaches a large flat basin near 11,500' where views of the peak itself finally start to open up. This flatter section of trail serves as a sort of rest zone before the trail starts to steepen again towards a saddle on the north ridge at about 13,300'. This is where the first views to the east open up, including a great view of the west ridge route on Missouri Mountain, which is the route I used to climb that peak last year. The remaining 700 feet to the summit are on a steep rocky ridge, but there are still many segments of trail along the way. The summit was narrow, but able to comfortably accommodate us and a few other climbing parties. A few of the other people on the summit were announcing that this was their first fourteener, and it was an excellent choice for a first one in my opinion. For one, the route is mostly on a trail so it is not too difficult, and also the summit view included close to 2 dozen other fourteeners (almost half of them), a great chance for people to preview their future climbs!

Sunday my friend Drew and I went to an area near where we live called the Klutter Gardens to go bouldering. Bouldering is sort of the sister sport to rock climbing, but on a smaller scale. The object is to free-climb (no ropes) to the top of large boulders. The difficulty varies from easy "walk ups" that hardly require you to use your hands at all, to extreme overhangs. You typically climb with a partner and a mat, the partner helps make sure if you slip you land on the mat. I stuck with the easier routes where I was using mostly my legs to climb, and no overhangs. The nicest thing about the Klutter Gardens is the variety it offers, there are plenty of routes for beginners and many of the boulders have easy ways to climb down that don't require any rock climbing skills at all. They also have some really crazy routes for people who are interested, Drew and I just marvelled at the chalk marks from previous climbers and wondered how they were able to do it! I figure it was good practice for some of the harder peak climbs where they have summit blocks that require scrambling to get up. It makes sense to me to be comfortable with these kinds of moves when they are close the ground before trying them at the top of a mountain!