I feel more than a wee bit guilty spending a long weekend in Lake City while Jess is home with a snuffly little girl, but it hasn’t made the climbing any less fun. In fact, the climbing has been pretty darn good. Andy and Gretchen picked me up on Saturday morning at a little past 7:00, and we were on the road shortly thereafter. Although there was snow in the forecast, we got over Monarch Pass and all the way to Lake City with pretty much dry pavement and arrived by about 12:30. We checked into our room at the Matterhorn Motel (same place Pete and I stayed last year) and grabbed some lunch at one of the two open eateries. By the time we sauntered over to the ice park, things were well underway. The top rope and and lead climbing comps were set up in the same spots as last year, and the ice appeared a bit thinner. Andy and Gretchen walked up to the top to set up a top rope on a short little climb just to the left of the little mixed cave in the park while I relaxed below watching the comp and waiting to give advice (only if necessary, of course) in regards to rope placement. We spent a couple of hours taking turns doing laps on the climb in what was a consistent snow that soaked just about everything we had. Just as we were packing things up, someone got clobbered by a large piece of ice from an adjacent climber. It looked for a while as though he may have dislocated a shoulder, or worse, but he managed to regroup and finish the climb after a few minutes of what appeared to be intense pain. We didn’t end up with any pictures and had to hang up the ropes and gear to dry in the closet, but we had a fun time. Later that evening we made the 2-minute walk down the hill to the Packer Grill for a little ice festival afterparty and some beer. Sadly, there was no live band this year, but they did have the skills competition from the weekends NBA All Star Gala on the tube. Although the Packer Grill might be named for Lake City’s famous cannibal, I tried not to hold the decorations from Wisconsin’s famed football team against them.
The next morning we slept in a bit, as things are pretty laid back in Lake City. I made it out the door first and trekked to the coffee shop for a mocha and a bagel. A few minutes later, I was joined by the rest of the team. We chatted a bit with the proprietor before heading back to the room to grab our gear. A few minutes later and we were back in the ice park contemplating our options. This time Andy and I hiked up to the top and we ended up setting up a toprope on what was the lead comp route the day before. Since the climbs are fairly long, we used some cordalettes and a bit of static line to extend the anchor about 40-50 feet from the post glued into the ground until it reached over the lip. It ended up working well with both ends of the 60-meter cord reaching the ground and no rope drag. This was especially nice as there was about 6 inches of fresh snow along the top of the climb.
We managed about 3-4 laps each of the former comp route. It seemed to get easier with each lap despite the growing fatigue in my forearms, so either I was climbing more efficiently as the day went on, finding more of the hooks left from a constant barrage of assaults the day before (quite likely as we were slowly cleaning the snow from the route), or just making more big holes with each ascent. Regardless, we had a splendid time on the ice and thoroughly enjoyed beating ourselves to a pulp. Andy managed to clobber himself in the chin with a decent-sized hunk of ice (there wasn’t really any blood, so it ranks as fairly minor) and I got a little bruise on one knee.
After another night of bar hopping (Lake City has 3 functional bars in the winter), I’m comfortably back in the motel room able to share these pics from the weekend and planning out tomorrow’s climbing. As was the case last year, the festival was a fun low-key weekend in a city full of fun and welcoming people that seemed legitimately glad to have us in town, and just like last year, I’ll be heading back to the front range tomorrow certain that I’ll return next year. Maybe next year Jess and Phoebe will be able to come.
While Grammie and Pappy were visiting and babysitting (thank you! thank you!), Dave and I were in Ouray ice climbing. It was our tenth Ouray Ice Climbing Festival, and we had a great time, as always. Every year I expect it to be too cold or not fun for some reason, and every year it’s one of my favorite trips. Our friends Andy and Gretchen agreed to drive so that we could leave our car with Grammie and Pappy, so on Friday, January 7, we met them in the Barnes & Noble parking lot at 1:00 p.m. We had already enjoyed lunch at Noodles with Grammie, Pappy, and Phoebe, who really likes to share Daddy’s macaroni and cheese with chicken. Andy and Gretchen have been carpooling with us long enough to know that it’s more sensible to just let Dave repack everything, so they got some lunch at Whole Foods while Dave packed up their Outback. When he finished, Andy could still see out the back window! You wouldn’t believe how much stuff four people need for a weekend…and we’re not even camping. Grammie took credit for Dave’s packing ability and Don and I just got out of the way. I said goodbye to our little peanut, realizing how much I was going to miss her.
Andy drove straight through to Ouray with only a couple of gas and bathroom stops, so we got there in plenty of time to check into our hotel room before the first slideshow of the weekend. We always get the same room—maybe it’s the only one with two bedrooms and one bathroom—so we’re pretty familiar with it.
Creatures of habit, we put our stuff into the same rooms and places we have for years and then headed over to the theater (next to the post office) for the slideshow.
You pay your money, and you drink your beer.
The Ouray Ice Park is, remarkably, free to use. Including more than 100 waterfall ice climbs, it’s the largest ice park in the world. Liability issues mean that the town can’t charge climbers, so most of the money for day-to-day operation of the park is made during the festival. Each slideshow costs $15 per person, but comes with all the beer you can drink. Not a bad deal!
Zoe Hart spoke first, and was completely delightful and inspiring. She calls herself an “Ice Princess” and part of her story was about meeting her prince…a French Canadian mountaineer who didn’t know what was in store for him. Her talk was particularly great for those of us who get scared in the mountains; she owned up to being really scared plenty of times. Mind you, she was climbing in the Himalayas! I get scared on the Flatirons. Next was Emily Harrington, whose talk centered on a really strange and kind of cool art film she participated in as a rock climber. An artist named Matthew Barney was making a modern art film that needed a woman climbing the inside of a museum, and he thought Emily fit the part. She agreed, and showed us a “making of” presentation. The movie is really strange…but even stranger is that European climbers fall into stacks of cardboard boxes! Finally, Sam Elias talked about his life, moving from skiing to rock and ice climbing to traveling the world to climb. I tried not to feel old and lame. We headed “home” to watch crappy TV and get a little bit of sleep before climbing the next day.
On Saturday, we got a late start after sleeping in and bumming around town to get some breakfast and coffee. Dave and I headed up the canyon and checked out the exhibitor tents and ice sculptures before climbing up to South Park (part of the ice park) to find a climb.
It used to be that you couldn’t get a climb unless you were ready early in the day, but the festival has become somewhat less popular and the ice park keeps getting bigger, so we were able to find a route, although it was pretty close to the end of the canyon. Dave set up our toprope and I walked down the walkdown to let him know if the spot looked good. It looked really good! Pretty hard, with some fun mixed climbing possibilities.
(Mixed climbing is when you climb both rock and ice in one route.) Remember that I hadn’t climbed in two years…a year ago, I was pregnant, so I was the photographer instead. While I waited for Dave to join me at the bottom, I talked to the couple who were climbing on the rope next to ours. They had recently moved to Telluride from the Midwest and were rock climbing like crazy. They each took a turn on our rope and sailed up the rock to an ice pillar like professionals. It was the woman’s second climb ever! Dave met Andy and Gretchen on the way down, so they all arrived at once. I got on our rope and tried my best on the rock, but I was weak and out of practice. I ended up getting mad and throwing my gloves, but I calmed down enough to enjoy the rest of the day. We all took several turns climbing, trying to pull off some sick moves (mostly to no avail). It was really fun to be back on the ice, though. At the end of the day, I climbed up the walkdown and helped clean up the gear. We walked back down to town and made a reservation for a 6:30 dinner at the Outlaw—our favorite steak restaurant. As always, it was delicious. The show that night was a movie by Conrad Anker that Dave and I saw last year on our fabulous vacation to the Banff Mountain Film Festival. We decided to go anyway, but got in line too late and couldn’t fit into the theater. Too bad for Andy, who wanted to see it! We thought about going to the zombie party that was being held that night, but decided that we were too tired. (I’m not much for zombies, but Dave is a big fan!)
The next morning was snowy, so we took it easy getting ready, figuring that it would be warmer later in the day. Dave and I had a delicious breakfast; my potato boat was so unhealthy that I could only justify it by its deliciousness and the fact that I was going to hike up the canyon and climb that day. We decided to try to find a climb in New Funteer and found it only half full of climbers. We put up a rope and when Andy and Gretchen arrived, they put one up too. I rappelled down ours (I love rappelling!) and checked out the climb. It looked much easier than Saturday’s. I love being down at the bottom by myself…it’s so quiet and pretty. I discovered that Andy’s rope hadn’t made it down, so I tried to yell up, but couldn’t catch him.
I got on rope first, climbed about halfway up our climb, and then traversed out to the left to try to free Andy’s rope. I spent ages trying to unknot it, but I eventually had to give up. I topped out on our climb and went to try to pull their rope up and fix it. I pulled it up, but every time I threw it again, it got stuck and knotted again. Dave eventually climbed up our climb and helped me with their rope, but it was still stuck on a ledge. He ended up rappelling down to fix it, and I came down after him. That was the first time I’d ever been warm that long! All that moving around really helped, despite the snow. We all climbed on both ropes for a while and then had to leave to get back in time for the awards ceremony and slideshow. We decided to climb out. I was last, and Andy belayed me from the top. He did a great job, but man, was I exhausted! He helped haul me up a bit at the top, and when I finally topped out, I had the screaming barfies. I shook my hands a while to warm them up and recovered.
Back in town, we had to head straight over to the theater. They handed out awards for the climbing competition, auctioned off the “Got Stump” t-shirt to raise money for current projects at the park, and then Barry Blanchard gave a terrific talk about his long career as a mountaineer. We got some chocolates from Mouse’s and ate the chili that had been cooking in the crock pot all day. We had already decided not to try to climb on Monday so that we could get back in time to have dinner with Grammie, Pappy, and Phoebe, so we did a little bit of packing and hit the sack. Despite the snow, the drive home was uneventful. I had been hoping that Phoebe would be so excited to see us that she’d flap her arms like crazy, and she didn’t disappoint. I had really missed her! But it was great to be able to do whatever, whenever, without worrying about when she would need to eat/be changed/nap/play. Hooray for the ice festival! Hooray for long-distance babysitters! Now we just have to have some other good adventures between now and next year’s festival.
Last weekend Jess and I wanted to get one last camping trip in before the end of the summer. We were pretty busy, so we couldn’t hit the road until Saturday morning. We were going to go up to the national park, but it turns out it was the last weekend of the year that they take reservations, and everything was reserved. So, we did a little searching and discovered that some of the campgrounds along the Peak to Peak highway were still open.
Come Saturday we got up relatively early and finished packing up our stuff. Most of our gear was already packed from the previous weekend’s aborted trip, but we still had to pack up the cooler. We were supposed to meet our friend Elijah in Boulder at 10:00, but by the time we were leaving the house it was clear that we weren’t going to make it there that early. As things turned out, Elijah needed a few more minutes as well, so everything worked out pretty well.
There were a few nice spots left when we got up to the campground, so we picked the most wooded one and set up our camp. Elijah was planning to sleep under the stars, but we brought a 2nd tent just in case he wanted it. We’d end up setting it up too, but despite some ominous clouds and a couple of late afternoon sprinkles, it never really rained.
We decided to skip lunch and went for a little afternoon hike. Somehow we walked right past the trails and ended up following the road for a couple of miles. We had some fun watching a guy ride his ATV through a giant mud puddle that enveloped a short stretch of the road.The rider was dressed more appropriately for the Saturday cruise ride to Kermit’s than a 4-wheel drive road. Elijah thought he looked like Sylvester Stallone’s character Cobra from the movie with the same name. I’m not sure how he managed to stay mud-free, but he looked relatively clean when he cruised through the campground again later that evening.
While we were navigating the same giant mud puddle on the return trip, Jess managed to step directly into the mud. Turns out it was about ankle deep. Of course she blamed me for not rushing to her aid, but I mean, how would another pair of wet boots have helped us? Phoebe slept most of the hike out, but was awake and happy for most of the return trip.
When we got back to camp, we hopped into the car and made a quick trip to Nederland to pick up some firewood and beer. We were in such a hurry to leave town we’d forgotten to pick up a six pack, so we thought it might be interesting to get a growler from the little smoke house and brew pub on the main drag in Ned. We’d first discovered the place a year or so ago after doing a little mountain biking on the West Magnolia trails with Andy and Gretchen and rather liked the beers we sampled. This time around we agreed on a pretty hopped-up IPA style beer.
Back at camp, we grilled up some brats and made up some garlic mashed potatoes. Elijah cooked a grilled cheese on the fire grate, and we all enjoyed a cup or two from the growler. It didn’t take long for the sun to disappear and Phoebe’s bed time to roll around. Since we’d only picked up one little bundle of wood, the timing worked out pretty well. Everyone went to bed and I poured a couple of gallons over the fire to make sure it was out. The Fourmile Canyon fire was only a few weeks ago, so fire safety was on the top of all of our minds.
As I mentioned before, there were a few light sprinkles, but the sky was already clearing by the time we made it into the tent. I planned to get up in the middle of the night in order to take some star photos with the new camera if everything looked clear. We’d also forgotten the changing pad we’d used as a baby-sized sleeping pad, so we put little Phoebe between us to help keep her warm. She again slept great, even if her hands and feet got a bit colder than I would have liked. I, on the other hand, got pretty cold taking photos in the middle of the night and couldn’t warm back up once I returned to the tent.
The next morning, we switched things up a little and Jess cooked some breakfast while I packed up our tent. We headed back into town so that Jess could do a little more of her Phoenix work. We also had some friends from church coming over for the first gathering of a new discussion group that sprung phoenix-like from the ashes of the book group. I managed to get everything ready with Jess’s help just in time for the hordes to arrive.
Last weekend, I got out for a little hike with Phoebe around NCAR while Jess was still away at her business trip in Washington, D.C. It didn’t last long, because Phoebe zonked out pretty quickly. We had a few minutes to walk around inside the little museum, and then took a lap around the little trail just outside the Mesa Lab. I read all the interpretive sign to Phoebe, but she wasn’t too excited to learn about temperature inversions and the like. Later that night, Jess came home. We were super happy to have her back, and just in time too; Phoebe had finished up the last of the frozen breast milk earlier that afternoon.
The following day, we spent a little time relaxing with a breakfast burrito from Santiago’s II in Lafayette and a cup of coffee at Cannon Mine. As we were getting ready to go, someone noticed that there was an awful lot of smoke on the horizon. I popped outside and could easily see a large orange-brown haze hanging over the mountains. The wind was really blowing, and you could smell the smoke and see ash falling all the way out in Lafayette. This was the beginning of what is now being called the Fourmile fire because of its origin along Fourmile Canyon just outside Boulder. The fire is already the worst (with over 170 homes lost) in the history of Colorado and is still raging. Luckily no one has been killed or seriously injured, but the fire is only about 50% contained.
We were planning to go for a little hike that afternoon, but the fire pushed us a little further away than we’d planned. The smoke was quite heavy in Boulder, and most of the mountain roads heading out of town were closed. We ended up going all the way up to the national park in an effort to escape all of the smoke. It was a beautiful day in Estes Park, and we ended up riding the shuttle bus up to the Glacier Gorge trailhead. Though it may seem odd, we’d never hiked up to Mills Lake or any of the area beyond the split in the trail that leads to Loch Vale. So, we loaded up Phoebe and headed for some new sights. Over the years we’ve heard that Glacier Gorge is very pretty, but of course, that entire part of the park is spectacular. There really isn’t a bad choice amongst the trails available.
After about an hour and a half of hiking, we were finally standing along the shore of Mills Lake and Phoebe was finally awake from a little nap. Already it was getting late, so we didn’t hang out long. The wind was also blowing fiercely, so we put Phoebe into her little jacket for some added warmth. We switched the backpack to give Jess a try and I snapped a few pictures before turning around. We made great time back down the hill to the parking lot and only had to wait a few minutes for the first shuttle bus to arrive. We made it back to the parking lot and drove back to Estes Park. Phoebe was getting a little hungry, so we stopped in town to give her another snack. Afterward, we walked around town for a few minutes, and Jess tried on a unique jacket with a built-in mitten. I grabbed a cup of coffee—yeah I’m an addict—and we drove back to Lyons.
Since it was still technically our anniversary weekend, we stopped at Oscar Blues for a nice dinner. Phoebe was awesome and let her mommy and daddy enjoy a nice dinner without any drama, and she even flirted with all of the waitresses—one enough so as to earn a helium balloon. By the time we were leaving, it was dark outside, so it was hard to see the smoke. As we were approaching Lafayette, you could see the red-orange glow from the fire lighting up the smoke.
Fast-forward to this weekend, and we’re back at the coffee shop having a burrito. We were planning to go camping; however, Jess is a bit too busy with teaching at the University of Phoenix, and she has a little copy editing project as well. She’d have ended up working the entire time, so it didn’t really make any sense. Hopefully we’ll be able to reschedule for a couple of weeks from now and get decent weather as well. Phoebe has been having a fun weekend. She’s becoming a really expert sitter and has even learned a few new tricks. In the video below she uses one rattle to fetch another rattle. Wow, using tools already. She’s also discovered that instead of crawling towards her toys, she can just pull them to her along with her blanket. Pretty cool.
Since Jess had so much work to do, Phoebe and I went for an urban hike with the stroller around Boulder. We had a good time when she wasn’t pointed directly into the sun. I’ve been looking at replacing my old iPod and thought the new iPod touch looked like a pretty cool tool, but they were out at the Apple store at 29th Street. So I guess I’ll have to order one online if I want one. It looks like it can do some fun stuff like play on-line chess. Maybe I’ll be able to give Grandpa Gribble a MacArthur Park smackdown Internet style. It also has a cool video Skype-like app, but it requires talking to others with an iPod or iPhone, and few of my friends have either.
Later in the evening, we went for another walk around Lafayette. We stopped back into the mine and spent a few minutes listening to a guy sing and play original tunes on his guitar. The crowd was pretty small, but he was pretty good. Don’t ask Phoebe about the music; she slept through everything. Well, it’s time for the kiddo to hit the hay, and I’m needed for a little bed-time reading. Au revoir!
Hi All. I know it’s been like forever since I’ve added a blog post. Well today I’m making amends for that. Last weekend Jess and I took Phoebe for a little hike to Lost Lake. We packed a bunch of stuff into the car and drove up above Nederland in order to avoid some of the heat down in Boulder. As we approached the trailhead, we discovered it was a little overcrowded. We grabbed a nice roadside parking spot and Jess set to feeding the bottomless pit of Phoebe. I pulled out her kid-carrier backpack and changed into my hiking boots. The last time I tried putting Phoebe into the nice backpack she got from her Grandpa and Grandma Gribble, it was comic how large the seating compartment was in comparison to her tiny body. Even with the chin rest removed, she was practically buried in a deep hole and there were a good 3 inches of space between the shoulders and the harness in it’s smallest position. Jess didn’t think there was any way Phoebe would fit into the backpack yet, but I wanted to try again anyway. The last time it was pretty close. While she still sits down a bit, she can see out pretty well, and although there’s still a bit of space in the shoulder harness, it was clear she wouldn’t fall out. And best of all, unlike the last time I tried the backpack out, she was all smiles.
It was a little awkward shouldering the pack without upsetting Phoebe, but in short order we were off and hiking. Initially there were a few low-hanging branches to worry about, but luckily Phoebe is a bit on the small side and well protected by the back and sides of her, ahem, mobile throne. Not long after leaving the trailhead, we realized that while we had a whole host of snacks and things for Phoebe, we forgot to bring any water or food for ourselves. We decided to go for a shorter hike than we’d planned in order to avoid catastrophic parent dehydration and Jess’s bigger fear, starvation.
Along the way, we passed a number of hikers, most of whom thought Phoebe looked adorable in her new backpack. I had to get Jess to frequently check on the little tyke, as it made me slightly dizzy to turn my head far enough to see 1/2 of her head and one of her eyes out of the corner of my vision. She managed to blark a few times along the hike, which is becoming somewhat common at altitude. So much for being a native! Or maybe it’s all the uncontrollable bouncing.
Up at the lake we took a few photos and pulled Phoebe out of the chair for a little fun time. Jess provided a little snack and we had fun watching a nice doggy fetch sticks from the lake. We also spotted a nice hollow log that Phoebe enjoyed posing in once dad brushed out all of the little droppings. We put on a little more sunscreen and saddled up for the hike back down to Luna (that’s right, we finally settled on an name for the new car). Since it has a moon roof, we came up with this predictable and boring name.
On the way back to the car, I came up with a terrific way to combat our growing thirsts and hungers (Phoebe excluded). We’d stop by this “new” smokehouse and microbrewery in Ned for a plate of fries and something to drink. I was going to try a nice cherry wheat, but they had just run out when we arrived. I settled on some soda and Jess happily downed some root beer. The fries were tasty and really hit the spot.
Since we were supposed to meet up with Ben, Elijah, and Christina for a little soccer and were already a bit late, we packed up and drove back down the canyon to the heat of Boulder. When we arrived at the soccer field, we discovered that our friend Jehanne and Ben and Christina’s new neighbor Claire were already playing a little two-on-two, so we joined in for a little aerobic exercise. After an hour or so, we packed up and headed home to watch the Steelers-Broncos pre-season game. All told, it was a very fun weekend.