Climbing [how not to] Crash Course

It seems everywhere I look I find out that Boulder, Colorado is the mecca of something or the best of something else.  Recently we’ve been thrust (willingly) into the massive climbing scene that is Boulder. While our friends have been nothing but helpful and totally willing to share their immense knowledge base, we knew we had to increase our climbing IQ and quick!  So in typical Jess and my fashion, it was time for a (how not to) crash course in climbing.  Like everything else we get into, it always starts with some background research.

Step 1.  Learn the basics of Anchor systems and the foundation of climbing outside starting with Toproping

Toproping by Peter Lewis is a great intro to toproping and climbing outside with a nice layout and emphasis on safety.  After reading this one it became obvious that knowledge of setting anchors is vital, so we picked up Rock Climbing Anchors: A Comprehensive Guide by Craig Luebben to get a good comprehensive look at that aspect.  While some of it is a little advanced for our current needs, it is definitely a great book that we can grow into once we start leading 5.12 trad routes 😉Finally, we had to get an idea of where to go practice these skills so we came across the Front Range Topropes book by Fred Knapp.  Great resource for toproping hot spots in Boulder and the rest of the Front Range.  I really like how it describes the type of anchors and what kind of gear is required to set them up.

Now, based on these books we’ve got a gear list we need for toproping and skills we need to practice while sitting in front of the TV at night.

  • Rope, Carabiners, Slings, Webbing, Cordalettes…
  • Pre-equalized 2 and 3 point anchors
  • Self-equalizing 2 and 3 point anchors
  • Self-equalizing 2-3 point anchors with limiting knots

Now back to the books… we’ve still got to learn uphaul systems and mechanical advantage problems for this weeks RMRG meeting/practice.

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Bouldering Ralph Stover

Earlier this Fall, Ryan and I went for a quick bouldering trip to Ralph Stover State Park!

Here’s the thing about bouldering – it scares me!  Yeah, I just found that out this past trip.  It would’ve been nice to know AHEAD of time.  I would much rather do a multi-day climb up El Cap and sleep on the face of a rock like in those Patagonia ads than to boulder 10′ off the ground.  There is something to be said about having a rope and harness attached to me!!

Long story short:  It was cold and the air was moist.  My hands were 10-11′ above the ground with my feet about 6′ off the ground… and the ground had a sudden drop off into a river.  So, yeah, I’m thinking:  Don’t mess up!!!  And that was a very helpful tip that I should’ve remembered when BOTH my feet SLIPPED off the rock and I was hanging on by my finger tips.  Because, newsflash, OUTSIDE on a real rock, sometimes the rock face isn’t littered with big jugs with cushy crash pad underneath you!  I do believe I cried out for Ryan to “spot” me and, thankfully, he did spot me so I could get my feet back on the rock so, no, I didn’t die.  (But mostly I was really rusty at any and all types of climbing and I kind of suck at it since I don’t climb nearly enough.  I just need to boulder or climb more often.)

Oh!  And another cool “discovery” is the fact that Rogue absolutely FREAKS OUT if you climb over 2′ above the ground.  It’s like she thinks you’re doing something far more dangerous than playing in traffic.

But, all in all, it was a really great time just being outside with Ry and Rogue and enjoying some of the terrain out here.