San Juan mountains above Ouray, Colorado
It is so brutally hot! Castle Valley is a furnace. "Let's go to the mountains and climb the huge granite walls in the shade", I propose. So, we hop into the 'Desert Rose' and head up Utah Highway 128 east to I-80. Past the red cliffs of Colorado National Monument, and into Grand Junction. I have two life-long friends in GJ, so I persuade Chris that it won't take long to visit and veer into their driveway. Bill and Cheryl are retired National Park Service employees; Bill was a park ranger with me in the Tetons in the 70's. A short visit turns into beers, salad, dinner.... By the time we wander back to the car, it is dark, but it's only an hour and a half back to base camp at Jim and Angela's in Ouray where we can get more gear and clothing for the next phase.
In the morning Jim has coffee ready for us, and we do a load of wash, regroup, and socialize with our friends. Jim suggests we all go climbing on the "Pool Wall". Ouray is beautiful, and the rock climbing is first class: hard quartzite, tiny handholds, hundreds of climbs. It's a nice way to do a little climbing and rest a bit from the long difficult climbing we have been doing.
The town of Ouray is nestled in a deep valley of the San Juan Mountains, one of the most highly mineralized areas of Colorado. The Uncompaghre river cascades down from Red Mountain pass through a deep gorge next to the townsite. All winter long it is the home to the best ice climbing around; thousands of climbers have made Ouray a destination resort, culminating in mid-January with the Ouray Ice Festival. Hot springs burble from cracks along the river for the next ten miles, and virtually every hotel has hot tubs or natural hot pots for the guests. I love the place.
Because the rock is full of ore, everywhere we look we see brilliant turquoise colors of the copper sulfate deposits. Gold would be nice. Most of the mining shut down at the start of WWII for the war effort. A few years ago two brothers sold their hot-spring resort and used the money to go mining above town. They used up all the money, gave up and went to town for lunch. During lunch they decided to use the last of the dynamite for one last blast. It produced an absurdly rich deposit of ore. After each brother realized a million dollars profit, they closed the mine and bought back the hot springs.
The hard rock has few footholds
Up the 'Wormhole', like something out of "Dune"