A Season of New Routes

by Mark Anderson

I spent the end of 2015 bolting a bunch of new lines. With a huge “To Do” list looming over me, I focused my winter season on ticking off as many of those new lines as I could. The weather during February and early March was amazing (from my perspective)—highs in the 50s or 60s most days and zero precipitation—which allowed me to get a lot done.

As the snow melted, I worked my way up Clear Creek.  I polished off two crags in the canyon that I’m particularly proud of. The first, dubbed the Iron Buttress, is a brown shield of rock I had been eyeing for a long time. When I finally hiked up there, I was a bit disappointed the cliff wasn’t steeper, but the rock quality exceeded my expectations. In the end the routes turned out really good—among the best I’ve established in the5.10 to 5.12- grade range—and the fact that it’s not super steep means that more people will get to enjoy these climbs.

Climbing Good Time To Be Pretty, 12a, the best line at the Iron Buttress. The name is a Tina Fey punchline. Just to the left is an excellent 5.10 jughaul, Chocolate Bandit, named for my daughter Amelie who is almost scheming ways to steal my Dove Dark Chocolates.

Climbing Good Time To Be Pretty, 12a, the best line at the Iron Buttress. The name is a Tina Fey punchline. Just to the left is an excellent 5.10 jughaul, Chocolate Bandit, named for my daughter Amelie who is almost scheming ways to steal my Dove Dark Chocolates.

Irony Man starts up this sweet arête, but deteriorates a bit on the upper half. To the left is another ultra-techy 5.12, Iron Maiden.

Irony Man starts up this sweet arête, but deteriorates a bit on the upper half. To the left is another ultra-techy 5.12, Iron Maiden.

The original Chocolate Bandit helps daddy camouflage some hardware.

The original Chocolate Bandit helps daddy camouflage some hardware.

The second crag was actually bolted over a year ago, but I never got around to climbing the routes since high water in Clear Creek prevented me from reaching the crag over the summer. “The Talon” is a precarious, jutting finger of rock that overhangs on the north and west faces, creating a super sick overhanging arête on the northwest corner. There are two other great lines, to either side of the arête, but Where Eagles Dare, 13b, is the premier line.

The west face of The Talon. Where Eagles Dare climbs the arête just left of center, essentially following the lime green lichen streak.

The west face of The Talon. Where Eagles Dare climbs the arête just left of center, essentially following the lime green lichen streak.

The rock on the arête is outstanding, with beige quartzite intrusions reminiscent of Yosemite’s Tuolumne Meadows. The line offers true arête climbing, with many slaps and heel hooks.

The rock on the arête is outstanding, with beige and knobby quartzite intrusions reminiscent of Yosemite’s Tuolumne Meadows. The line offers true arête climbing, with many slaps and heel hooks.

Entering the high crux of Where Eagles Dare. This send was somewhat epic—on my second go I sent to one move past this point, and as I was midway through the last significant move, the hold I was hanging from exploded. After I pulled back on, I found another hold that worked just as well, but at that point I was six burns into the day, and wasn’t sure I would have the energy for another quality attempt. On the next go I barely made it to the same spot, sure I would fall on the final dyno to the lip of the tower, but I went for it anyway and somehow managed to stick it.

Entering the high crux of Where Eagles Dare. This send was somewhat epic—on my second go I sent to one move past this point, and as I was midway through the last significant move, the hold I was hanging from exploded. After I pulled back on, I found another hold that worked just as well, but at that point I was six burns into the day, and wasn’t sure I would have the energy for another quality attempt. On the next go I barely made it to the same spot, sure I would fall on the final dyno to the lip of the tower, but I went for it anyway and somehow managed to stick it.

Full beta for the Iron Buttress can be found here and The Talon can be found here.

In related news, back in January I applied for a seat on Jefferson County’s inaugural Fixed Hardware Review Committee (FHRC).  I was selected in February along with six other great folks from the Front Range climbing community.  While I would certainly prefer unregulated bolting, an FHRC is much better than an outright bolting ban.  We’ve had three 2-3 hours meetings since then, trying to define our internal procedures as well as attempting to establish new fixed hardware approval processes.  I’m really optimistic about the direction things are headed.  The Jefferson County Open Space staff has been a real pleasure to work with.  They are incredibly receptive to the FHRC’s recommendations and have proven to be very reasonable and open-minded in their approach to climbing management.  I can’t really speak on the record about what is in the works, but hopefully there will be an official update coming out soon.

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One thought on “A Season of New Routes

  1. Lucky you don’t have to deal with Portland politics! Around here, every public process set up to discuss recreation opportunities eventually gets railroaded by rich NIMBYs with connections to city council members. A few rich folks living near the woods are thus able to block all kinds of public access to the same woods they enjoy.

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