A Visit to The Park

I’m sure a lot of you are probably curious about last week’s snow storm. Well for us here in the Vail area it wasn’t really much of anything. The higher mountains got some, a lot of which is still around above 10,000 feet on the north facing slopes, but the south and west facing slopes are all pretty much melted out. We maybe got an inch in my town, but farther east they got hit much harder. They warmed up quickly though and it was all gone by the weekend. Loveland Basin ski area did open last weekend though, and Arapahoe Basin is tentatively scheduled to open Friday, so some good did come out of the snow!

This past weekend I didn’t climb any mountains, but I was still able to get to the outdoors. My friend Drew and I headed out on Saturday to go and check out the climbing offerings in Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park. The town itself is the gateway most people use to one of this country’s most popular National Parks. Over 3 million people a year visit the park! Estes Park has lots of restaurants, shops and hotels to keep people occupied when they are not hiking, climbing or camping. The most famous hotel is probably the Stanley, Stephen King stayed there one night and was inspired to write “The Shining” as a result. In fact before 1979 the hotel was closed for the winter because it didn’t have heat! No horror stories for us on this trip though, and all we really did in Estes was eat lunch on our way to the park. Our goal was an area called “Lumpy Ridge”, which is visible from town, a climbing mecca in the area. There are several rock formations popular with traditional climbing routes and over 250 named routes exist on these crags. At their base are several bouldering areas as well, most of which have a handful of individual boulders offering dozens of routes as well as some smaller ones that would make a perfect places for young kids to learn how to climb. We tried our skills on several of the boulders with intimidating names like “Jaws” and “The Tooth” but didn’t find much success. The rock itself is rather feature-less, unlike the boulders near where we live that are loaded with cracks and jugs to grab onto. The rock at Lumpy Ridge had much smaller holds, and the rock itself (granite) was actually quite sharp. While climbing though we did see to separate pairs of deer grazing nearby and we saw a small herd of elk when we were in town, they were just hanging out at the town park! The National Park does not allow hunting, so the animals are much more visible, seeing as they are less afraid of people knowing that they are not going to get shot at. The town is famous for herds of elk and deer roaming the parks, and it is getting to be elk mating season so it is a popular time to visit. The elk are more visible in the park’s major meadows at this time, and it is also when the bulls bugle to warn other bulls to keep their distance! It was a fun time, even though we weren’t very successful bouldering, it got us to a different part of the state for the day to see some new things. Sunday I mostly spent around the house, but I was happy to get to watch some playoff baseball. The White Sox are now in the World Series, imagine that… A Chicago baseball team in the Series! It sure has been a long time coming, and while I know most of you wish it was the Cubs, this is definitely an exciting time for the city.