Sunday, July 7th – Repacking the car and hitting the road

Sunday morning, fueled by coffee and Greg’s breakfast sandwiches, and assisted by Chucky and Socks, we reorganized and packed the car for the next leg of our trip.

The Hefter’s provided us a great “home base” for the Colorado leg of our trip.  Thank you for providing us with a comfy bed, showers, lots of coffee, good food, and fantastic company! And not to mention thank you for letting us take over your living room with all our gear!

Friday, July 5 – St. Vrain Canyon

The plan for the day was to meet up with Mike at 7:30 am and head into St. Vrain’s Canyon to climb before the afternoon storms rolled in… the weather reports said 2:00 was our cutoff.  We planned to climb at The Coliseum.  We parked, hiked up the road, found the appropriate creek crossing… and then decided it was not a good idea.  Dave and Mike tested out the water to make the decision, while Alex made the decision without putting a foot in the water. The creek was too rough and swift moving to safely cross with packs full of climbing gear.   Back to the car we went to pick another area that was on the other side of the road.

Instead, we chose to climb at Upper Infirmary Slabs.  We made the heinous uphill hike up to the wall, carefully avoiding kicking any cacti or trampling through the plentiful poison ivy.  

First on the menu was Admission Crack (5.7 trad).  Dave led the the crack first, and decided this was a climb that Alex should lead as well.  After successfully jamming fists, arms, and legs on her way to the top, and gaining Dave’s “gear approval,”  Mike promised Alex the milkshake she had been wanting since they had backpacked the previous weekend.  

Remission (5.7 sport), and Community Service (5.6 sport) came next.  Right on time, the storms clouds began to form as Community Service was cleaned just before 2:00 pm.  We packed up our gear and headed back down the trail.

After getting back to the car, we drove down the canyon to Lyons, where we had lunch at Smokin’ Dave’s BBQ.  This restaurant has been on our “must do list” since we first ate there during Western Extravaganza 1. We have eaten the same meal each of the three times we were there…. and it has not let us down!  Ice cream was on the menu next… Alex’s reward for a successful trad climb… and it was delicious!  With full bellies we got in our cars and headed home.

Wednesday-Thursday, July 3-4 – Epic 14er’s Trip…. Or not?

Wednesday morning was spent gearing up for an a backpacking trip of epic proportions with Mike and Seth.  Mike had a vision of four fourteeners (peaks over 14,000 ft), an unnamed thirteener, and 25ish miles, in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness.

Final trip preparations involved a stop at the Denver Federal Center’s Map Store to pick up some topographic maps, and a copy of Gerry Roach’s Colorado’s Fourteeners, which has proved to be an awesome resource!

Dave worked out the final mileage, elevations gains/losses, evac points, and tediously, though joyfully, drew in the route on the topos.  

The highlights:

  • Mt. Huron – 14,003 ft
  • Mt. Oxford – 14,153 ft
  • Mt. Missouri – 14,067 ft
  • Mt. Belford – 14,197 ft
  • Unnamed Thirteener (future fourteener) – 13,938 ft
Then, with much dismay we checked the updated weather, and it looked something like this…

Take note…. SNOW!

14ers, our recent luck with weather, and this forecast, do not go well together.  It would be an epic trip…. but the WRONG type of epic.  So phone calls, text messages, attempts are reworking the routes, reworking the mileage, and looking to other areas began.  Alas, all efforts seemed futile.  Despite all hopes, and attempts at optimistic thoughts and wishful thinking, the painful decision to call off the trip was made.  Instead, we all settled on lower elevation and easier to escape the weather plans.  However, this trip will need to be done at a later date!

Thursday morning, we woke up early, organized the climbing gear, and headed to Boulder to climb the South East Arete of the Second Flatiron (5.7)…. again.  Last time we had this plan our car was broken into!  Today went much more smoothly.

Now, we can say we have done climbs on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Flatirons… and the only one we care to repeat again is the 3rd.  The 1st and the 2nd are “ok” climbs… but not worth all the work it takes to get back to the ground!

The approach!


Mike met up with us when we got down from the climb, and we planned on having lunch then heading into Boulder Canyon for some more climbing.  However, once again mother nature intervened.  Rain began to fall on us as we ate lunch, and “impending doom blue” appeared in the canyon.  So, we picked out some climbs, and planned to meet up at 7:30 the next morning in hopes of beating the rain that has been rolling in each afternoon. 

Happy Independence Day! 
Happy 32nd Anniversary to Mom and Dad Matunis!

Monday – Tuesday, July 1st-2nd – Lumpy Ridge and Rocky Mountain National Park

We woke up early Monday morning to get gear ready for climbing at Lumpy Ridge with Seth and Max, and for Sharkstooth the following day.  Both areas lie within Rocky Mountain National Park.  Sharkstooth would require an alpine start… we planned on getting on the trail around 2am, being to the wall by sunrise, and on the summit before noon.  

After arriving in Estes Park, Seth and Max let us know they were running a bit late, so we decided to head to the Lumpy Ridge trailhead and hike in to the 2 miles to the the climb.  

The hike to the Left Book

We were looking to climb “White Whale,” a classic 5.7.  We arrived at what we thought was the correct wall and geared up.  Dave led the first pitch(actually 1.5 pitches), with two brief showers of rain before setting up the belay. Just as Alex reached the belay, the thunder and rain began again, so Dave lowered her and then made 2 rappels to the ground, leaving a gear anchor in the wall.  While waiting out the storm, we evaluated what we would do next.  Realizing we were on the wrong climb and gathering information for the climb we were actually on (Melvin’s Wheel), we knew there was no way to walk up and rappel down for the gear… so we would wait out the storm and finish the climb.

Melvin’s Wheel (5.8)

Chimney at the base.
Melvin’s Wheel turned out to be a very enjoyable climb, with an AWESOME hand crack on the 2nd pitch that seemed to go on foreeeeever!  After the second pitch, Dave traversed around to the left and found a rap station that would take us to the bottom of the gully.  Rain began to fall, AGAIN, as we began to rap down.  After we were in the gully, we saw the White Whale!

The White Whale (5.7)
We walked around the base of our climb and retrieved our remaining items, hiked out to the car, and drove in to town to find food.

While filling our bellies with scrumptious food at Ed’s Cantina, we reevaluated our plans for the following day.  The unstable weather we had been dealing with was not something we wanted to deal with while attempting Shark’s Tooth.  We considered a repeat of our 2011 summit of the 14,259 foot tall Long’s Peak via the Keyhole Route as an alternate plan to climbing the following day.  After some research, we discovered winter conditions still existed on the mountain… so that was out.  We settled on taking it easier and returning to Lumpy Ridge and climbing The White Whale… since now we knew where to find it!

We spent the rest of the evening driving around Rocky Mountain National Park, taking in the spectacular views along the Trail Ridge Road before we settled in the Rav4 for the night.

The buzz of the alarm came at 5am on Tuesday morning.  However, we decided to stay in our sleeping bags until seven because of the heavy overnight thunderstorms and chill that was still in the air… and probably on the rocks.  We also knew that we made to correct choice in climbing at Lumpy again, and putting of Shark’s Tooth until a later date… maybe in August?

We ate some breakfast, drank some coffee, drove to the trailhead, and headed to mount the White Whale.

We were lucky enough to have great weather, and an uneventful, thunder, lightening, and rain free day!  The climbing was good, the weather was good, so we decided not to push our luck and instead called it at day!