It’s been a winter full of afternoons holding weather that teeters just on the cold side of those sixty-degree sunny days that make thousands of Boulder-area climbs beg for ascents. Andrew and I were lucky enough to find two beautiful Saturdays promising warm weather, and we headed outside to climb Bitty Buttress in Boulder Canyon, and Perversion, in Eldorado, two fantastic 5.9’s.
Lured outside by weather reports promising temperatures in the upper fifties and abundant sun, Andrew and I strapped on our helmets, laced up some comfortable shoes, and set out for some trad climbing on Boulder Canyon’s Bitty Buttress. This fun, three pitch outing has great movement, and a slippery, run out crux that Andrew handled with ease, despite numb fingers resulting from the fact that the weather report was a dirty, dirty liar. The temperature never topped forty degrees, and the sun never made more than a hazy wave of greeting from behind a thick bank of clouds.
Regardless of the cold, the climbing was spectacular, and Andrew and I both enjoyed the day. At least I did. Andrew may have felt differently:
Fast forward a couple of cold weeks. Armed with dulled memories of the chilly afternoon up canyon, we found ourselves facing another beautiful Saturday; sixty degrees, sunny, and the last weekend before the cliffs would close for raptor nesting. We decided to brave the hike up to the Mickey Mouse Wall, and peeked our heads hesitantly from the gym doors, blinking like naked mole rats dug from their burrows.
Getting to the Mickey Mouse wall involves a hard trudge up icy paths, and ten minutes into the hike we were shedding layers. It was early, the day still shaking off the night’s chill, and it promised to be beautiful. By the time we reached the train tunnel that serves as the gateway to some amazing rock, Andrew and I were sweating. Fifteen minutes later, at the base of the climb, the sun raised a single, glorious middle finger and disappeared for the rest of the day. Around the same time, a cold wind came howling down the valley, pushing away the warmth held near the rock, and driving temperatures into the upper thirties and low forties.
We’d hiked too far to not climb, though, and retreating was never discussed. We ventured out onto the face, immediately finding the first thirty feet of the crux pitch to be a solid mass of thin, cryptic, difficult, Eldo-style 5.9 moves protected by a #2 BD stopper, a #1 BD stopper, and a piton that wiggled when tugged. I finally sunk a great .5 camalot, and took a breath. The crux of the route involved a tricky stem, some shoulder scumming, a crimper rail that was too cold to ascertain its quality, and a twenty footer if I blew it. Fortunately the movement was so fantastic that, despite the cold, I reached the anchor with a huge grin.
Andrew followed in short order, cruising through with nothing more than an occasional humph to signal the difficulties. I personally thought my manly whimpering was more effective, but to each their own.
A quick transfer of gear, and Andrew launched off onto the second pitch, which I believe to be the best 5.7 I have ever done. Twin finger cracks follow the right side of a corner, providing tricky feet and ample finger locks, before heading across an exposed step with no feet on hands just sloping enough to keep your attention. A mantle onto a ledge, and then some overhanging jug pulling and a few full-blown Indian Creek hand crack moves lead to an anchor shared between Captain Beyond and Perversion’s final pitches. Andrew literally laughed his way up the thrilling pitch. Absolutely classic, but be solid on finger and hand cracks before venturing up it.
The final pitch is a stunning, enormous open book dihedral, with great slabs of rock spreading out from the corner in both directions.
Hand jams, finger locks, and liebacks within the juncture of the huge faces unlock the slabby feet and mantles that pop up on the right face. Looming at the top is an enormous roof with a deep fissure leading high into the rock.
Hidden from the climber is a series of great hands in the roof, as well as some amazing exposure. A final turn of the corner, and I found myself at the top, buffeted by forty-mile-per-hour gusts, trying to set an anchor while the frozen wind tried to whip the gear off my harness.
It was worth it. I tend to be overly excited by the quality of a climb immediately upon finishing it, but weeks later, I still feel that Perversion is one of the best routes I have ever climbed. Each pitch would be an area classic on its own, if they were located in Eldorado Canyon, complete with easy access. Add in an extra half-an-hour hike and bird closures, and you have an amazing climb that’s relatively free from chalk and crowding. Highly recommended. Five naked mole rats out of five.