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Shelf Road Trip: Photos and Stories

We just returned from an eventful trip to Shelf Road. Sunshine, snow, heavy winds and rolling clouds marked a weekend full of climbing and friends. Eli and others took some amazing photos.

Tommy onsighting Tractatus (5.11a) (Photo: Adam Scheer)

Enjoy some stories and images from the weekend.

Eli Powell: Photographer. Enough said.

Unlike other Shelf trips in which I’ve avoided a climbing agenda, this trip I had a definite goal of sending Gym Arete Direct (5.12c). The Gym at Shelf has the largest concentration of harder lines, as well as a few classic 5.9s and 5.10s. Because of the long(ish) hike past Cactus Cliff and Spiney Ridge, the Gym often doesn’t get as much traffic on busy weekends.

The lower crux of Gym Arete Direct (Photo: Lizz Cohoon)

The Gym Arete Direct is a super-continuous line with a burly start followed by a race to the chains with no rest. The easiest move on the 80 foot route would make for a 5.10 crux. Unfortunately, I one-fell the route twice, once on Friday and once on Saturday. Fortunately, the climb is so much fun that I can’t wait to get back to it in a few weeks when the Nebraska horde invades.

Worst stick clip ever. Ian preparing to work The Example by lifting half a tree to the first bolt.

The Example (5.13a) is right next to the Gym Arete Direct and has been Ian’s project for the last several Shelf trips. This time, after reworking the bottom, he figured out the V7 crux. I admire his persistence and am happy to see him making progress. If he can piece together this testpiece, it will be well deserved.

The view from the Gym

It seemed as though everyone had on their sending shoes. Tommy, Tyler and Kate all onsighted Tractatus (5.11a). Tommy and Tyler pushed themselves to lead tough lines and now have a few routes worth working. In an “epic” onsight, Eli dispatched one of the Cactus Cliff classics, Gravitations (5.11d). Lizz got 20th Centurary Man (5.10b) clean, her hardest send to date. Everyone pushed themselves, making the beers around the campfire that much more delicious.

Tommy leading Lats Don't Have Feelings

The theme Friday was tears. While trying to enjoy a few pleasant routes on Spiney Ridge, a mom and dad arrived with their ~14 year old daughter. After the dad (we’ll call him Pidy) put up a 5.8, the mom (we’ll call her Pardy) grabbed the camera. The daughter (we’ll call her Poopy) tied in and started up. Within 5 minutes, Poopy started crying halfway up the route while Pidy and Pardy tried to calm her down and give her some beta. Tyler and Lizz were in the middle of tense climbs while Tommy and I belayed in hysterics as Poopy yelled out sobbing condemnations like, “This is the opposite of fun!” and “You lied to me about this route!” Pidy and Pardy didn’t seem fazed in the least, apologetically sending encouragements Poopy’s way. Alas, nothing seemed to quench the tears and Poopy came down to curl up and cry some more on a nearby rock. Poopy, Pidy, Pardy and their ilk are the opposite of the family in which I was raised.

Don't fall into a cactus at Shelf Road.

Later, when we arrived at the Gym, two little tykes fell into a cactus despite their mother’s warnings. Their tantrum could be heard in the Sangre De Christos.

We were in a good enough mood to laugh at all the tears and the PBR that exploded in my bag all over my hat and gloves. Even Dahlia got in the mix, yelling “Uh Oh” at my lamentations.

Fun around the campfire

Tommy and Kate always enjoy camping on their land up the road from Cactus Cliff and are nice enough to invite all of us. I bounced my Chevy Malibu up the rocky road but am always wary of getting a flat, bottoming out or skidding off the road in a two-wheel drive sedan on roads meant for Jeeps. So when I woke at 2 am on Sunday morning to accumulating snow and forcasts of 2-4″, Lizz, Tyler, Ian and I packed up camp and bailed. The weather turned out to be fine the next day, but it wasn’t something I was willing to risk. One advantage of a Shelf alpine start is the lack of traffic on the way back to Boulder.

Shelf Road thawing in the morning

Many of our Boulder crew members will be at Shelf in a couple weeks to meet the Nebraska contingent on their annual trip. We hope to see you there.

The endurance crux of Gym Arete Direct

Now the only question is who wants to give me a belay on Gym Arete Direct…and maybe hang the draws…and maybe carry my pack…and give me a back massage?

Thanks to Eli for amazing photos. All photos with the CH label are from him. We always appreciate it when his talents are volunteered to document our climbs and our lives. Thanks Eli.

Mother Oviatt - Beautiful photos and enjoyed the commentary…didn’t understand all the jargon and was hoping Dahlia wasn’t one of the toddlers tackling the cactus.March 29, 2011 – 6:05 pm

Adam and Tyler's dad - Cool pictures. If I ever make it out while you guys are climbing, I’ll volunteer for the job of watching over the beer. I’ll do a good job. I wouldn’t be in a good mood if a beer exploded, even a PBR!March 30, 2011 – 3:51 pm

Will - Congratulations to Lizz, Eli, Tyler, Kate and Tommy on their sends! That is great! I am very jealous wish I could have seen this in person! I am pumped for Adam to send Gym Arete Direct – sounds very tough – but I am glad to hear you are still excited to get on it; must be a great line.March 30, 2011 – 5:28 pm

Adam - Pam – Dahlia doesn’t get poked by cactus needles, she pokes them.

Dad – we’d love to have you out. You can “watch” all the PBR you want. And your damn right that a lost PBR is a tragedy. I’ll be bringing a bouquet of cactus needles woven by Dahlia in two weeks to the site of the incident in remembrance of a beer that once was.

Will – thanks for the positivity. If you’re going with us in a couple weeks, we should go do Gym Arete Direct. It’s only like a V4 boulder problem and 10 V2s and a V3.March 30, 2011 – 8:25 pm

Mary Ann - Wow! Fabulous photos. Wonderful remarks.April 1, 2011 – 7:09 am

Jon - I can’t wait to see you guys, either. Adam, I would be happy to give you the A+ belay on Gym Arete Direct.April 3, 2011 – 6:49 am

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