The road trip is only two-thirds over. The final third will be in Chris's Honda Element. What a cool car! My son is appalled that I like them: "They are made for teen-agers," he tells me. But the Element is amazing. All of our gear goes easily into the back, and she can wash it out with a hose when we are done. Unlike the Caddy, which should be detailed.
What next? Oh, we're in Boulder. Tons of climbing to do, although I've never really climbed here. This is Chris's turf; she knows the areas and will be the guide. We settle on Lumpy Ridge in Estes Park, about an hour north. We're off, and it is a beautiful morning. But by the time we get there (I slept in because I didn't get in till midnight) the thunderheads are already starting to build. No problem, we'll beat the storms. Usually it doesn't rain till 3 pm. It's only 1 pm now. Just as we arrive at the rocks, the first drops begin to fall. Thunder claps overhead. With our tails between our legs and Goretex on our heads, we trudge disgustedly back to the car and make the worthless drive back to Boulder. A wasted day...damn! Rain coats the road...lots of rain.
We need a new plan. 'We should have stayed in Vegas'. 'It was too hot!' 'This is ridiculous...it's been raining for a month!' We check Laramie, Wyoming, only a couple of hours north. Slightly better report: A 30% chance of thunderstorms the rest of the week. That means it will be raining hard on us more than 30% of the time, I think. But it's our only hope, so we make the mental adjustment and head north, up 287, through the "L" towns, Louisville, Longmont, Loveland...through Fort Collins, to Laramie and Vedawoo.
Wow, this is a beautiful place. The campgrounds are so clean and well maintained, and at the senior citizen price of $5/night it's a great deal. We have our pick of sites, so we get the highest, best, sunniest place: picnic table, fireplace, close to water and restroom...it doesn't get much better.
Vedawoo is old rock: a very course granite with large feldspar crystals poking from the otherwise smooth surface creating tiny hand and foot holds. They also create a sharp, abrasive surface that scours the skin and scrapes the body. The guidebook tells us to 'tape your belly' for one climb. Hmmm!
We wanted to get on the rock right away, so we dived into Chris’ guidebook and found 'Walt’s Wall', the most prominent feature, directly north of the campground. A route called “Ericson’s Crack” took a direct line up the face, and since we had been climbing a lot of cracks recently, we thought this might be just the ticket for an introduction. The crack was slightly more difficult than the guidebook grade had led us to believe, but we were honed and breezed up the pitch. It felt good to be on the rock again; we had begun to have climbing withdrawal symptoms, not having been on the rock for several days due to travel and weather. Large expansion bolts at the top of the climb allowed us to rappel down the ropes to the bottom.
Walt's Wall, Vedawoo
Don in action on 'Etude for the Right Hand'
In the 'Bombay chute'
Gillian stems out on 'Piton Perch'
Gillian squeezes over the giant chockstone
Chris and Gillian at the belay ledge, third pitch up
Gillian and Your Guide at the top!
Gillian prepares to rappel down the rope 200' in mid air
Mary does the splits up the overhanging crack
Chris climbs a big flake on Walt's Wall
The Merry Band at the rappel point
The Legnano Italian race bike at the Rio Grande Cafe