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Good Ol’ Melvin

(Story from Summer 2015 adventures)

Lumpy, Estes Park, Colorado

Lumpy, Estes Park, Colorado

“Emily, don’t fall here.  Seriously.”  I say.

As soon as the words leave my mouth I realize that probably wasn’t the best thing to say.  A fall was imminent and wanted to warn her of the dangers of falling in her position.   I could see the fear bubbling up while being faced with a 20 foot tumbling swing.

“Be calm.  You got this.”  I say as her leg moves into a position of immobility.

After some thrutching mixed with a bit of panic, a good left hand, a high foot and stability are realized; coupled with a string of swear words, questions about why she keeps doing trad routes with me, pseudo tears, and comments of never climbing again.  I felt a little bad for not placing more gear to protect the swing / traverse but only a little.  We were on the first pitch of Melvins Wheel at Lumpy and this 5.8 roof was every bit a 5.8.

Happy until not. Just below the crux and potential swing.

Happy until not. Just below the crux and potential swing.

The day started off with a different plan and the excitement of doing a route that I have been wanting to climb for a long time.  Mainliner on Sundance Buttress, a 6 pitch 5.9.   A 6am departure from Boulder put us at the trailhead by 7:15am and we were on our way.   On our way until we reached  an ominous sign with red warning letters and a picture of a greyed out cliff.  “Sundance Buttress Closed for Raptor Nesting.  Closed until August 30th.”  NOOOOOOO!!  The whole buttress?!  Indeed.  The whole buttress.  As we stood in the parking lot trying to digest the bad news and limited information of other climbs, a team of older gentlemen came up to us and suggested climbing Melvin’s Wheel.  The difficulty was roughly the same and only 3 pitches but still a very enjoyable route.  We were off once again, this time to The Bookmark.  

At the top of the first pitch, Emily had some time to compose herself as I prepared for the money pitch, a flared “hand” crack for 100 feet.  A hand crack at Lumpy usually means small gear and nuts in the back of a slopey almost hand jams size cracks and not much else.  I reach the belay stance with a smile on my face and bring Emily up while looking up the chimney third pitch.  Climbing is good soul medicine.  

Jams!

Jams!

The top of the route rewarded us with spectacular view of Estes Park and Long’s Peak. The decent and hike out gave time for reflection and by the time we got back to the car, Emily had apologized for yelling at me and decided to continue climbing.  As of this writing, she is out exploring Red River Gorge and pulling down hard on 5.13a projects.  

Last pitch.

Last pitch.

 

Emily Kilmer and Andrew Kuklinski (Author)

Emily Kilmer and Andrew Kuklinski (Author)

Emily Faith Kilmer - Andrew, thank you for making my day. Sometimes, lately, I have been caught up in the grades. “I am so weak, I can’t climb…” The list goes on, but I have been trying to remember why I got into climbing in the first place. I began climbing in a gym in Nebraska and dreaming about being like my fellow Nebraska gym climbers who moved to Colorado and were outside having fun. Friends, nature, and fun….and that cold beer afterwards. That’s why I love climbing. You are one of my best friends Andrew. Thanks for always keeping me safe while pushing my limits. Can’t wait to go on more adventures.December 18, 2016 – 10:48 am

Andrew - Thank you for your words. “Friends, nature, and fun…” I should put that somewhere where I see it everyday to keep me aimed in a positive direction. It’s always fun climbing with you and can’t wait for the next adventure!!!!December 19, 2016 – 3:50 pm

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