Summer is my least favorite time of year. Besides being covered in a glaze of sweat all day, the heat makes rock climbing feel ten times harder. My mind keeps whispering for me to give up and come back when it's cooler. Luckily, Colorado has numerous high altitude climbing areas that are 30F° to 40F° cooler than the Front Range. So instead of suffering in the 100F° weather around Boulder, or waiting until the Fall for good conditions, we drove 3.5 hours to Independence Pass and explored a totally new area.
I have been interested in this area for years but the pull of Rifle always kept me away. However, my options at Rifle have dwindled to super hard, and my interest in mega projecting is extremely low, so I finally made it to Indy Pass.
The first day we went to the Grotto Day Use Area and checked out Gollum's Cave, and The Ice Cave. Louder than 11 recently put out a video http://vimeo.com/43867547 that featured the bouldering in the Ice Cave. Being a sucker for climbing porn, I got super psyched about the idea of bouldering in a unique, ice sculpted cave with an ice floor.
|Layers of ice.|
|The Vampire. You can lead this as a 13a traditional climb or boulder it at V7.|
Once we got there, reality set in. Besides the fact that the floor had unevenly melted at least 3 feet since the video was shot and most of the problems are PG13 or R rated, it's a tourist attraction! There's a constant stream of screaming kids, and people falling on the ice. It's like being on the trail to Chaos Canyon, where everyone asks you annoying questions about your crash pad, only you never get away from them. I hung out for about 20 minutes, and then decided to whole scene was way too stressful.
Later in the day, we headed to the Lower Grotto, and got thoroughly spanked on a super chalked up, benign looking 12c/d called Scene of the Crime. Maybe it was the altitude or because I skipped my morning coffee, but this is the first 12+ I haven't been able to redpoint in a couple of tries in over 5 years. Just goes to show that rock climbing will always humble you.
|Kurt Smith on Scene of the Crime on the late 80's.|
Anyways, the weather was perfect, and the climbing was awesome. So if you are looking for a good Summer location, check out Independence Pass!
|The view from the top of Independence Pass looking towards Aspen.|