Shelf Actualization (A February Trip Recap)

Marek on Gym Arete Direct (Adam)

Nowadays, good climbing trips require electrolyte infused hard seltzers, dive bars with Dave Dangle, and good weather. Great climbing trips require some Rocky Mountain oysters, meeting the voice of the Enormocast, and secret blue point competitions...

Saturday: Graham, Adam, and I ambitiously planned to send all of our projects on Day 1. Ah, Shelf, the place where great expectations go to die--although we did start strong! First stop: the Gym, where we immediately hopped on the Gym Arete, and only to hear the unmistakable voice of the Enormocast (Chris Kalous) turn the corner behind us! Awesome guy. In the company of such esteemed greatness, we all sent: Graham and Adam, the Gym Arete; myself, the direct start. Next stop: Spiney Ridge, to settle a score with Hurricane. I weathered the storm, but Adam was tragically flooded away. For dinner, we met Christina at Pizza Madness, where Graham dropped some fighting words with the waitress Nicole about the garlic bread being better than the garlic knots. On Nicole's recommendation, we capped the night at My Brother's Place, a smoky, old school, downtown dive bar with a couple pool tables. In spite having of Christina and I as teammates (our forte: pocketing the cue ball), Graham and Adam managed to play a halfway decent game of pool... under the watchful eye of former Shelf legend, now turned pool shark Dave Dangle. At least that's who we assumed the lanky old man sporting jeans, a cutoff white t-shirt, and a long gray haired mullet was. We cooled down with a couple games of mega block jingo, walked back to the AirBnb, and tried to drown all our mistakes with as much water as possible. 

Blue Point Scores (BPS): Adam 2; Graham 1; Marek 1.

Gotta love it when the photographer (Adam) makes steep vert look like slab (Climber: Andy)

Sunday: The team had two goals for the day: tick the highest rated climb on the Limestone Legends List (Freeform) and see Christina give Silverado some facial stitches. Andy joined our intrepid team shortly after breakfast, and we headed off. Somehow still simmering with stoke, Adam and Graham lasered in on Freeform while Christina warmed up on Pedestrian Gene Pool. I unintentionally cut off any chance Andy had at regaining his lead head by convincing him to warm-up on the absurdly runout mega classic Castrator (still terrifying--even with the namesake tree stump gone). I'd like to think I later atoned for this mistake by recommending Partners in Crime--the best 11c at Shelf (don't listen to Christina, she's wrong)--but only Andy really knows. Adam and I sent Freeform; Graham came agonizingly close. Alas, by the time Christina had the opportunity for a gunfight on Silverado, shade (and cold!) had befallen Contest Wall. Ignoring these conditions and displaying great confidence in her belayer (Graham), she still fought and repeated the bloody, face smashing fall from a few months ago (thankfully, this time without the face smashing). We ended the day with a Christina-lead curry dinner and a few rounds of Azul

BPS: Adam 3; Graham 2; Christina 2; Marek 1.

Marek on Weapons of Mass Arousal (Andy)

Monday: John and Casey ebulliently joined our bedraggled crew. Optimizing for warmth on a forecasted windy and cloudy day, we climbed at Spiney Ridge. We warmed on the great Toxxxic Entertainment and (according to John) the "classic" Nalalator. The crew splintered: Graham and Casey successfully tilted towards I Lean, I followed John in search of Weapons of Mass Arousal (WoMA), and Andy got agonizingly close on Purple Toe Nails. On John's first and only WoMA burn, he was simultaneously and unfortunately struck with inspiration and numbness; thankfully, the numb fingers abated faster than the stoke. Andy and Christina continued to tango with Purple Toe Nails, but only Casey triumphantly danced through it on her return. With the help of a short burst of sunshine, I dispatched WoMA. Chancing nightfall and blustery weather, on the way back to the car I convinced Christina to join me on for one last climb, and we snuck in an awesome final pitch on Crynoid Corner. For dinner, we introduced Casey to the Madness, only to be served two disappointingly burnt pizzas. Miguel's or the Madness? Team Miguels all the way!

BPS: Graham 4; Adam 3; Christina 2; Marek 1.

Tuesday: Stoke? Low. Everybody left. 2-4" of snow. Cold--highs in the teens. Graham and I worked all day. To make matters worse, I made edible but unintentionally terrible Pad Thai.

Wednesday: Even colder temperatures. More snow. We ventured to the Springs in search of a warm belay parka for Graham at some used gear shops, but found Casey and Tim instead! 

"Ideal" 17 F conditions (Marek)

Top Gun Graham, post Freeform send (Marek)

Thursday: Morning sunshine reignited the stoke, and just before noon, Graham and I found ourselves hiking through 6" inches of snow, 14 degree temperatures, and fresh rabbit tracks for revenge on Freeform. Graham went first--alternating between blowing snow off holds, warming his hands, and actually climbing. Graham also went second (it was too cold for me to climb)--and casually fired it, resuscitating his numb fingers at the no hands rest to fully enjoy the biting crux mono. Fueled by stoke, we decided to climb some more! But when we hopped out of the car in a nearly empty Bank Parking lot--there was one car with two rabbit hunters--to more clouds and 15 degree temps, we hopped right back in and returned to Canon City. Graham remarked that there may never be another day where we're the only climbers at Shelf. At the AirBnb, Graham baked some burgers, and we watched A Few Good Men. You can't handle the truth!!  

BPS: Graham 4; Adam 3; Marek 2; Christina 2.

Artsy Graham on Tits Up (Marek)

Friday: Still cold... but All. Day. Sun. Once again, nary a soul at Shelf (perhaps for good reason?). We tried waiting for the shade to leave before climbing, but impatience got the better of me. I completely numbed out Muscle Beach, nearly crying with screaming barfies when I lowered to the ground. Graham swapped the draws onto Tits Up, and we started sieging it. What a mega line--rad moves on fantastic stone. When we started getting cold, we went back to the AirBnb, ate leftovers, setup Catan, and waited for the rest of the crew. Growing bored, we started watching Up. Thankfully before we got too depressed, Christina and Adam showed up with some stoke, delicious cookie sandwiches, and electrolyte infused hard seltzers (Snowmelt). The remainder of our crew showed up an hour later: a rode-weary Sawyer, recently jobless Heidi, and their ever cheerful dog Dottie. We commiserated with Heidi until we deemed it too late and went to bed. 

BPS: There would be no sends today.

Surviving the World's End ... Brewery (Christina)

Saturday: Christina fueled the team with delicious breakfast burritos: a potpourri of Brussels sprouts, eggs, bacon, mushrooms, and some other secret ingredients. Despite bringing today's crew together (Jeroen joined in the day's escapades and we briefly met the other Adam, Adam B.), Graham intentionally took a rest day, leaving his shoes at the AirBnb. In what's now becoming a team tradition, we went straight to the Gym, and "warmed up" on our projects before they fell into the shade: Christina and Jeroen hit new high points on the impeccable stone of The Raw and The Roasted, Sawyer onsighted In the Morning You'll be Mine and gave Heidi a tour of the Gym's moderates, and Adam tested Cask Strength, only to fall from slick wet holds. As punishment for an ill timed Alex Megos paraphrase ("there's no such thing as bad conditions, just bad climbers"), I too had to climb the wet Cask Strength, and I, too, failed miserably. At least we were all warmed up. Escaping the shade, we reconvened at Spiney, where Adam charged head first into Hurricane (and sent second try!), while the rest of the team tried some high quality moderates. As the shadows grew longer, we slowly migrated back to Cactus Cliff, where I tanned on Hot Beach and Christina and Jeroen tried flexing through Muscle Beach and playing games on Beach Ball. Tired, we regrouped for food and drinks at the World's End Brewery, via the AirBnb (narrowly avoiding the bridge guarding, machete sharpening Canon City local). A handful of us went all in on the full Colorado experience, trying the Rocky Mountain oysters, which would be much easier to eat if (a) they weren't quite mediocre and (b) the rest of the table wasn't graphically describing our food with revulsion. We finished the evening off at Mose Public House (a nicer version of My Brother's Place--without the smoke!), where we met a friendly local, Bertha, who taught us pool tricks, highlighted the best restaurants in Canon City, and easily convinced us to avoid the bar-fight waiting to happen Mardi Gras party at McClure's Saloon.  

BPS: Graham 4; Adam 4; Marek 2; Christina 2. 

The AirBnb (Marek)

Sunday: Roaring to go out with a bang, we instead ended on a whimper. Graham and I were planning on firing Tits Up, but midway through driving up the ice luge to the bank parking lot, a brand new Tacoma got stuck, and our car caravan halted. With some pushing we got the Tacoma all the way up the hill, but without momentum, neither my old Saturn sedan nor Adam's Hyundai could make forward progress. Like any good horror movie, we split up: Graham and Christina went to Cactus and the rest of us drove back down and went to Mural Wall. Our crew further splintered when Sawyer had to drive back to pick up Heidi, who had just realized she was stranded at the AirBnb with Sawyer's car, but not his keys. Thankfully, all ended well--by the time Adam and I had warmed up, Sawyer and Heidi had arrived at Mural. Sawyer painted a Monet, and literally came within a brush stroke of firing the sandbagged Mural, falling from a hold 6" below the anchors. A fatigued Adam and I fought for M&Ms, but only I left satiated. Graham and Christina returned from Cactus psyched on Tits Up's but disappointed in the crowd at Cactus. Graham reached a new high point on Tits Up, and Christina had quite enjoyed top roping it. But the people at Cactus! Crusty guides snickered at stick clips, only to gasp when the first bolt was 20 feet up. A bro, dead set on finally hopping on his long term Muscle Beach project, put in an Ondra like effort getting to the second bolt, fell, ran into a corner, and then proceeded to puke his brains out. Thankfully, we were the only crew at Mural. With all our best beta, Graham tried flashing M&M, put up a good fight, but slipped out of the reachy crux. Christina and I ended the day top roping Mural: at the end of day three on, this fingery route did not inspire joy. Fingers wrecked, shorts ripped, and starving, we quit climbing, hiked through red mud back to the parking lot, and headed home. 

Final Blue Point Scores: Adam 5; Graham 4; Marek 2; Christina 2; Sawyer 1; Heidi 1.

Last day, last light crew (Christina)

What did we all learn from these adventures? 16 degrees is too cold to climb at Shelf; 26 degrees is balmy. Rest days are nice and necessary. Miguels is better than Pizza Madness (but much farther away). Bang and Rocky Mountain oysters are the perfect send fuel combination. And, as the blue point competition results indicate, if you want to send, have Adam belay you.


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