Black Diamond athlete Chris Schulte recently sent us this video and report of his early season bouldering forays into the Colorado high country. Nice to see the trees budding, the snow melting and boulders drying out! The video was shot a couple months ago, and now the alpine bouldering season is in full swing.
Winter has moved on, and the infrequent snowstorms that passed through the Front Range have given way to spring showers, feeding green shoots and tiny buds, washing the chalk off the lowland grips and intermittently confining one to a rest day or a gym session. As the seasons revolve along, the sun burns away the tiny amounts of snow we got up here in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, and with the exception of a wild winter wind having deposited some unusual drifts here and there, the alpine season is starting up quickly and nicely.
It’s always a treat to head up into the higher zones at the beginning of each new season: the journey takes one through a few different layers in the climatic strata, down roads often travelled but not seen for many months. It’s a nostalgic trip, and the familiarity of the roads and trails sets a pace and a mood for the day. Early in the season, the journey is just as valuable as the climbing, if not more so.
The first forays are little reconaissance sorties into the middle layers, the roadside sectors of the mountains, like Guanella Pass or the Bear Lake Road. With that, a good guess for what’s going on up high helps you pack up and head out for a full day of what amounts to alpine climbing with a pad. These little trips are, for me, a grounding experience, and I can take this time to try and repeat established problems, to re-set my counter a little for the coming months of hiking and hunting new lines.
With the wild weather up there, it can be like stepping out into space, high up, just below treeline, with the winds blowing and the sun shining, or the snow turning to rain, turning to hail, and moving on.
The warmer it gets, the higher we go. The passes and roads to some of the best bouldering in the U.S. are opening, week by week, and another season is beginning in some of my favorite places, higher and higher up in the mountains, further and further afield.