Thursday, May 6, 2010

3rd Rockin' and Rollin'...

I apologize for the tardy update to the blog but finally had a moment to write.  You see, the past 1.5 has been chaotic at best and (partially) stressful at least.  Two weekends ago, I was in Albuquerque, NM visiting my wonderful girl and the boy after spending way too much time apart.  Unfortunately, the company (aka.  ESRI) summoned me to Redlands, CA soon thereafter to spend 5 days learning how to write multiple choice questions for an ArcSDE Instructor Exam.  It was a good experience but mentally drained me...I was happy to be home!

Basic Mountaineering School continues.  The BMS lecture format has ended but the field trips continue as the team nears the goal of the Grad Climb.  This past weekend was termed "3rd Rock Day" and is the final trip dedicated solely to rock climbing.  The goal  - to complete a 4-pitch climb on the 5th Flatiron directly west of Boulder, CO.  Last year when I was a student, the 5th Flatiron was my 3rd rock day and it pushed my comfort zone in terms of rock climbing and exposure.  It's amazing to think what a year makes in personal growth and comfort with accepting the exposure...yet to persevere higher.  I thoroughly enjoyed the 5th this time around.

Our team met at a reasonable 7 AM at the parking lot Chautaugua Park and geared up for the 1.5 mile, 1200' hike to Royal Arch.  From there, we hiked the climbers trail to the base of the 5th Flatiron.  Weather wise - it's was ever changing but the plan was to get the 4-pitch climb in.  My team was composed of one student and two instructors for a total of 3 folks.  We set about getting geared up and from there, our rock lead Chris Bartle started up.  The BMS student, Zack Schiel, was 2nd on the team and I was 3rd.  We successfully arrived at the first belay station as a team and then proceeded up the 2nd pitch.  During this time, the weather changed from mixed sun/clouds to light snow.  As the rocks were getting wetter and the weather showed no sign of improving, 2 of 3 teams decided to bail off the rock as conditions were sketchy at best.  Our team hastily set up a 40'-50' rappel to the south side of the 5th Flatiron and hiked down to meet the team.  The 3rd team remained on the rock and eventually completed the multi-pitch climb.  All in all a successful trip.

This weekend is termed "hard snow day" as we attempt the Cristo Couloir on the south side of Quandary Peak.  Conditions are mixed as of yet but we will see what the team can accomplish with crampon travel, ice axe work, glissading, and rope travel.  If we summit this particular 14er, it's a bonus.  But if snow conditions are poor, then we focus on training.

Climb On my friends!


Anonymous said...

Robert, that's crazy to think it's snowing where you are and we had weather warm enough to go to the beach! I guess if you go high enough, it's always snowing somewhere. Glad you were able to spend time with your loved ones. That always makes it special.

Robert LeClair said...

Definitely crazy weather in Colorado the month of May. We received a few more inches of wet, heavy snow as well as good amount of rain. The mountains received about 1-2 FEET of snow with this last storm. But it will be 80+ when I'm in Albuquerque this weekend! Shorts weather!