Friday, July 18, 2008

The Sickest Boulders In The World

In the past 24 hours I have managed to do more hiking for climbing with no climbing than ever before. It pretty much rained all day. But I'll start from the beginning. Since I moved to Colorado and was guided around the the Park and Evans, I've always wondered about the potential for bouldering in Colorado. After two years out here I've managed to climb most of the established problems that I am psyched on and recently I've been leaning more towards the entirely separate realm of opening some of my own. Based on experience and knowledge of the areas I immediately set my sights on exploring Mt. Evans and the surrounding canyons/valleys. Before today I had explored both Area A and Area B but nothing more. So I set my sights on a place called Aerials, which I heard hosts the most amount boulders at Mt. Evans and the most unexplored bouldering terrain. A quick look on Google Earth confirmed these rumours. So today I set out on an adventure with friends Connor Griffith and Greg Mionske.

On the drive up to the summit we passed by another potential area. The talus field on the west end of Lincoln Lake. From afar the talus looks very small, but I wasn't convinced so I decided to investigate. According to Google Earth, the hike descends almost 1000 ft. of terrain in about a quarter of a mile. This wasn't enough to deter me and the downhill approach only took us 15-20 minutes if that. What we found at the bottom of the hill was simply stunning. At least 50 boulders the size of a house and many more smaller walls. It is twice as much rock as Lower and Upper Chaos combined. It is easiest to describe it as a maze of walls and roofs everywhere you turn. We hiked around for about and hour admiring the size and and amount of boulders, then headed back up the 1000 ft. hill. Exhausted at the topped we were still more than ready to see what lay ahead at the Aerials.

The parking for Aerials is just before the first switchback towards the summit of Mt. Evans. The hike down follows a moderately declining ridgeline and then descends abruptly through a notch at the end of the ridge into a long steep talus field. It is a descent of almost 2000 ft. into the boulders. When we first spotted the massive amount of boulders from the edge of the ridgeline it was difficult to contain my excitement. Massive looking blocks both in talus fields and in meadows filled pretty much our entire line of sight. When we finally reached the boulders I was even more amazed. Their are more boulders in this particular area than I have ever seen in my entire life. House-sized boulders, normal sized boulders, roofs, slabs, everything you could ever imagine in a bouldering area. Sounds pretty perfect, right? Well here's the catch...

80% of the boulders are completely devoid of holds, features, or anything, both at the Lincoln Lake boulders and at Aerials. I can honestly say that I've never seen more blank rock in my entire life. It was absolutely heart-breaking. Every turn yielded the most beautiful walls I've ever laid eyes on. However, upon closer inspection there was absolutely nothing available to get any form of purchase. I checked everything. We searched Aerials for about 2-3 hours and didn't find anything inspiring to come back for. Sure I could have missed some things, but for the most part, it just wasn't worth the hike, the time, or the effort. And here's the worst part. By the time we were done searching we realized that we were in a 2,000 ft. deep hole. Literally. The hike out was one of the most exhausting hiking experiences of my life (I'm a terrible hiker). We basically spent 2 hours crawling out of hole filled with gorgeous feature-less boulders.

And so for the time being I have lost hope in the future of Colorado bouldering. I will continue to train in the gym and climb on established lines. And I hear the South has got some projects.

But here are some pics from the day if you're interested. I'll have some more detailed ones up in the next day or so...
Lincoln Lake on the left and the boulders (taken from the road)

A Close-Up of the Boulders at Lincoln Lake (The bigger blocks are around 40 ft. tall)

Lincoln Lake from a different angle

Looking out from the pullout for Aerials. The trail follows the ridgeline left of center.


B-Real said...

Nice pictures. Be safe out there. Don't end up on my blog,

chuffer said...
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PontusGBG said...

Hi there! Looks like a nice boulder area! Please free to write about new areas etc at: Free to join!
We hope to connect more and more boulderers all over the world!

Best regards

Pontus A