"We should climb at a place sometime where there is zero approach...."
Approaches are always the worst. If it is long and steep it's heinous and unforgiving. If it is short, flat and next to the road it's too crowded and you feel like a caged animal.
"You think this is the fork we are supposed to take a right at?" I dunno....
"How about this one?" I dunno....
We couldn't find it; a super-classic Lake Sylvan climb and it was hidden. Man, I just want to find this climb! The Conn Diagonal is an area super-classic for the grade. At 5.7, it is described as intimidating and amazing yet challenging and thought-provoking. Cool.
We finally found it and there were no climbing partners on route or at the base. Awesome!
"Ouch!" What just happened?! I turned around to see Mollie, hunched over, holding her head. Did she just do what I think she did? "Are you ok?" Yup, she's ok, I can laugh now...Mollie, while climbing through a tight squeeze between some boulders and flakes had leaned forward to much and smashed her head into the rock. Classic.
We roped up, I told her that this was going to be a long one, and gave her my standard, "I'll see you up there!" departing comment. Off I went!
This first pitch was 170 feet of bliss flake pulling, ridge-esque climbing I have ever done. It was an overall right-traversing pitch. You climbed vertical flakes that stood up like mini-ridges. The crux move, in my opinion came at the end. You clipped an old piton, moved a few feet right then head to make a committing down and out step to reach the next flake. That was awesome!
This was just the warm-up, though. The second pitch was the famous pitch. It was a 60 foot hand traverse out over space. I was so giddy I could barely hold it in. Mollie arrived at the belay with a huge smile on her face. We switched the belays over and off I went to start the pitch I had been waiting to climb all trip.
I wish it was longer. The 60 feet went by so so fast! I ended at a ledge, built the belay, sat down and was looking forward to giving Mollie a shot to climb this pitch.
Then this business started. The 3rd and final pitch has two variations and both were not what I was looking for: chimneys. I've never led a chimney before. You can't protect a chimney. If you fall, you fall in a chimney...I left the belay and headed up some blocky ground to reach a fixed pin. I clipped the pin and began the chimney. You made a real awkward move, a combination mantle and beached-whale with a knee thrown in there somewhere. After gaining a ledge, you started up the chimney. It was a lot of work but I didn't fall! I stayed calm and focused on the climbing.
"I was nervous...you were making sounds you normally don't make while climbing..." Uh, what? "You were sighing a lot, like you were working hard." I was working hard! "I loved every minute of that chimney! I think it was mor enjoyable for me, though. I don't think you got to enjoy it as much as I did." Yeah, I don't think I did, either...
We sat at the top of the Outer Outlets, signed the summit registry and reveled one more time in how much we loved climbing rocks. Our next step in our adventure was Denver. Back to work, back to reality, back to the city. "You know, driving to Denver would be exciting if we weren't from Denver" stated Mollie. I guess she's right. We were anything but excited to go to Denver. But being back in Denver means one thing; our next stop is another adventure.