Pancake, doughnut, 50-feet of climbing, pints, fries.
That pretty much sums up last Sunday — an amazing climbing day I spent with my friend Adam, mostly in Eldo, partly at the Southern Sun.
Though we only managed one short pitch of 5.8 each, it was one of my favorite climbing days in recent memory. And it’s one of several days when I’m glad I got out, even if things didn’t go as planned.
Jenn Fields blogs about Boulder’s great outdoors at fieldnotes.pmpblogs.com.
A few weeks ago, I had plans to go out on another warm but windy winter day, and it turned out to be a favorite, too, even though I nearly canceled. The wind was battering my house when I woke, so I called my partner to check that we were still going, thinking he’d say no.
“Why wouldn’t we try?” he said.
I busted out two of my hardest climbs to date that day, on routes sheltered from the 40 mph gusts by surrounding rock.
This is why you should try — you never know when you’re going to have type-one fun, even if the forecast is calling for type-two at best.
If you’re not familiar, there are three types of fun:
Type One: Fun that’s obviously just fun, like skiing a powder day.
Type Two: Fun in hindsight, like a rainy backpacking trip with a boon companion that is laughably miserable.
Type Three: Not at all fun. In fact, it was probably never a good idea.
A few winters ago, I’d head to Brainard Lake for a ski tour every weekend, knowing I was gambling with the types of fun.
I had all types of days, but the most memorable was a late-season day: Clumped snow stuck to my skis, turning them into stilts. Gooey warm-conditions wax was smeared all over my hands and gloves. And I was carrying a heavier pack than usual, to stay overnight at the CMC cabin, so when I gave up and tried walking, I postholed. I nearly swore off ski touring altogether.
That’s type-three fun.
Last Sunday in Eldorado Canyon with Adam, it was type-one fun despite only climbing a single pitch.
When I arrived at the parking lot, Adam pulled out a Ziploc bag that contained a plate from his kitchen with a pancake on it, a container of syrup and a knife and fork.
He wanted me to sample the new recipe he was working on. I handed him a doughnut — part of my Eldo tradition — and we tailgated.
The 50-foot climb that should have been our quick warm-up went epic when I placed a cam I couldn’t remove. I came down for a rest and Adam went up and fiddled so long that our conversation covered several topics, including religion, and just as Adam said he’d reconsider his agnostic/atheistic ways if we had a miracle with the cam, he fished the thing out.
We howled. There are no atheists in gear retrieval.
We moved down to the Roof Routes and found them in the shade. The wind raced through the base of the climbs there, and Adam and I hesitated long enough to notice the sun was coming back around.
I psyched myself up, tied in and tried to wring warmth into my fingers. Adam squeezed into my too-small puffy jacket for the belay. He looked ridiculous. I clutched the hand warmer in my chalk bag but couldn’t steal any warmth. The sun was thin. With a final exhale, I headed up the rock and after a few moves, headed right back down.
“You want the stick clip?” Adam asked.
“No, I want to not climb,” I said, laughing. “The rock is cold — like death!”
Adam asked if this was a good time to go for beer and confessed he’d been thinking about it for a while.
“Why didn’t you say so?” I cried. “I was thinking the same thing!”
Neither of us wanted to bail, but now it was clear the day could turn into type-two fun or worse. Two hours later, cheeks aching from laughter at Southern Sun, we knew we’d made the right call for a type-one day.
Jenn Fields’ Field Notes runs every Monday in the Colorado Daily.