April 15, 2015

Weekend Trip to Boulder, CO

Written by Kenny Duong

As the lone GearCooper based outside of California–Colorado, to be exact–the opportunities to climb with my awesome coworkers are few and far between. Luckily, I was recently able to introduce my now-home turf to fellow Cooper Justin, who also happens to be one of the greatest climbing partners I know. We climb so well together because we both have very strengths: Justin is great on roofs and sticks powerful moves, whereas I prefer routes that require balancey technique and delicate movements, especially on slab. Justin decided to fly out to Boulder, CO for a quick weekend adventure–even though working at the Coop is fun, it’s still work, and even we need breaks from our daily routine.

Our first day out, we decided to venture out to Eldorado State Park with intentions of attacking The Yellow Spur (5.9+). This is an Eldorado classic, climbing a beautiful line to a spectacular knifepoint. Approaching the start of the climb, there was already 4 parties either climbing or waiting to get onto the climb. Luckily, we didn’t let that stop us: we moved on to The Green Spur (5.9), another classic climb which starts in a dihedral, then moves out to an acute dihedral using awkward slots and hand jams, stemming out right into a slabby finish to the anchors (pitches 1 and 2 combined). As Justin was my guest, I allowed him to lead all the pitches since I have done it before. Pitch 3 was a quick tunnel scramble that ended on a ledge, the beginning of pitch 4: an exciting and exposed position while pulling on a roof. Justin was beyond stoked on its exposure and, feeling great, we decided to link it with Rebuffat’s Arete (5.7), a blade-like arete that gives you a great view of the bottom floor. Love exposure? This is for you. Otherwise, I wouldn’t recommend looking over the edge.

After topping out on Rebuffat, we quickly descended the route to finally start The Yellow Spur, which had emptied out save for the last few people collecting their gear at the base. Our guidebook warned that its first pitch has a high potential for groundfall with a lot of drag…scary, right? We didn’t let that deter us. Gearing up, I lead the first pitch only to clip two pins. It was now afternoon and the sun’s rays were burning hot, but thankfully a breeze cooled it down just enough for Justin and I to climb through a few more pitches to reach a large roof with a hand traverse.

In my opinion, I’ve always thought this pitch and the next are the greatest! So I told Justin to go ahead and link it–I knew he’d have the time of his life (I was right). After this traverse, the route continues to a steep wall past many fixed pins. For me, the pin scars make for an unbelievable pitch. You just can’t beat cruising and climbing with a great buddy! After topping out and reaching the rappel spot, we decided to take a long sun nap on top of the rock. And why not?! We both had an epic first day!

The second day, we decided to go up to Boulder Canyon, Upper Dream Canyon, to jump on a few semi-hard sport routes. We started at Dream Dome and warmed up on a few 5.9+ routes and maybe a 5.10- (apparently our guidebook is missing a lot of the new routes). Not a big deal–but then we saw a 3-star, 2-pitch sport route: Tales of Power (5.11b), with both pitches rated the same. First pitch was a roof, and second pitch was slab. It couldn’t have been more perfect for our power duo! Justin took the first pitch and, man…just looking at that roof intimidated me. By the end of it, Justin had to take, but was still able to power through the crux. As I followed up, I realized how hard that crux move was because it entails grabbing a hold you can’t see. Talk about blind faith–glad it wasn’t me on that sharp end. Now it was my turn to lead the slab pitch, and gazing straight up the black water streak, there really weren’t any holds. It was more like little granite crystals that your fingertips can barely touch, warranting delicate finesse slab climbing, moving very slowly, and making sure every move counted. Every move was a hand/foot match, and surprisingly super smooth while smearing on what seemed like nothing. Now, imagine mantling with one arm while your other arm is single-finger-gripping an ultra-miniature flake that looks like it’s been broken off, pushing off so you can match your foot on the mantle, and oh-so-slowly standing up to clip into your protection. Bet your hands are sweaty now! Luckily, this sustained slab pitch was amazing for the whole length and I conquered it! We loved every minute of climbing Tales of Power.


Just to finish the day off, we walked down towards the Oceanic Wall and climbed Leviathan (5.11d), and its variation Dream On (5.11c) and called it a day.

Always good climbing with you Justin!