O nce upon a time, my route-selection philosophy was that with so many classic climbs around Boulder that I haven’t done, why track down random out-of-the-way routes?
But something changed my mind. Maybe too many stories about friends having a jolly good time at crags I’d never heard of. Maybe I felt a little more adventurous. Maybe I was foolishly, even greedily tempted by the idea of hidden gems, greener pastures here in rocktopia.
Whatever the reason, I convinced the hub that we should head up Boulder Canyon for a mini-tour of obscure crags on a recent pristine fall weather day. It would’ve been easy to talk either of us into anything outside, since we’d spent the previous day in a state of increasing decision fatigue at Ikea.
We started at Nip and Tuck, a crag I would qualify as neither obscure nor popular. But it had a supposedly rad finger crack that I was psyched to try, and as long as we were going to little crags, why not?
There, we walked on to a warm-up climb, where someone was giving a belay.
A hip belay.
Nothing quite says old-school climber like a hip belay. I’m a new-school climber, but there’s some beauty to a hip belay, kind of like that Ikea furniture — it’s simple, requires no special equipment to put together and is generally serviceable…but perhaps isn’t as sturdy as you’d like it to be.
The hub and I both loved the finger crack (and the hip-belay guy — he was a nice fellow) but we agreed to move on to a more obscure crag.
The Nursing Home has two areas for roped climbing. The lower section had a scramble to a ledge, then a short wall. We didn’t like the idea of falling onto a ledge if we slipped rubbing the lichen (obscure routes have growies) off the short wall. So we walked to the upper section.
There, we were greeted by an overly excitable dog and several climbers. One was knocking down rock without yelling “rock!” The belayer, who was wearing a strange harness, no helmet and had a cigarette tucked behind her ear, didn’t seem troubled by the flying rock.
The dog seemed excited to eat my sandwich.
I was excited to leave.
As we walked away, the hub whispered to me, “Do obscure crags attract obscure people?”
We drove down-canyon, to Trout Rock, which is in plain view of the parking lot for Animal World and Sleeping Beauty, across the creek.
No big deal, I thought. We’d crossed to climb at nearby Black Widow Slab many times before.
We went downstream in search of a crossing. Too far.
We went upstream. Not far. But after we crossed, we bushwhacked through a mix of fall colors and thorns (gah!) to get to the empty crag.
I saddled up under a sport climb our guidebook generously graced with two stars. Were it my book, I would’ve graced this sketchy, slabby awkwardness with a bomb.
We went home to put together the new bookshelves for my office.
Next weekend? Classics, or that finger crack again. But not obscure crags, nor Ikea.