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Eldo by the Numbers

American climbing is as vast and varied as our people and cultures. From Joshua Tree to Red River Gorge to The Gunks and everywhere in between, we are lucky to have so much at our fingertips. But through the history of American climbing, two places stand tallest – Yosemite and Eldorado Canyon.

Tyler leading Pitch 2 of The Wisdom, one of Eldo's many heady 5.11 testpieces

For the last three years, I’ve largely devoted my climbing to Eldo’s beautiful maroon sandstone. Steve Levin’s recent guidebook documents over 1,100 routes. Many, if not the majority, of these lines are rarely-repeated historical notes. But scores of Eldo’s climbs are true classics and several hundred amazing routes await those with the desire to explore and the temerity to face the “old school” standards.

Though numerous excellent moderates and lines up to 5.14 are available, Eldo is the land of 5.11. If you can muster the craft and courage to lead 5.11 on devious gear and bewildering rock, Eldo will reward you with the best tasting warm sunset PBR that’s ever graced your tongue.

Whether vague or specific, setting goals has always helped me stay motivated and excited to keep getting out for great climbing. Last year, two goals became apparent for my Eldo adventures. First, I wanted to either redpoint or onsight at least 50 Eldo 5.11s, on lead. Second, I wanted to climb at least 200 Eldo routes of any grade. In October, I ticked off Eldo 5.11 number 50. Unfortunately, I came up just short of the 200 route mark with 191.

Though every climb and every day climbing holds great potential and great value, some climbs are better than others. I’ve put together a few lists that you might find useful if you’re looking to sample Eldo’s vertical terrain.
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Andrew - I totally agree with you about setting goals. Keeps you motivated and gives you something to work towards. My goal for the coming year will be to tick as many of the above routes as possible, in preparation for something even bigger (Kris you know what Im talking about..). So when are you goin to be back to tick off the last 9 Eldo routes and possibly increase that number to 300?January 19, 2012 – 10:32 am

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Shorts: Hands In The Clouds

We’re perched at our hanging belay above the iconic ceiling that defines Eldo’s roof routes. I stare up at the journey ahead, Hands In The Clouds, a spectacular and rarely done 5.12. The combination of a required aid approach pitch, sparse protection and difficulty keep virtually everyone away. Tyler gives me a handful of small cams, nuts and draws as I mention almost in passing that I’m nervous about this pitch. Only 4 bolts protect 70 feet of hard climbing and supplemental gear may not exist. Big fall potential awaits.

At work my thesis sits half done. In a few short weeks I’ll be on my way to California for a high-pressure job interview. One hundred tasks, large and small, await my attention at home in anticipation of a move. My life is a churning flux of uncertainty.

Tyler aiding out the Temporary Like Achilles Roof on the way to Hands in the Clouds (5.12a)

And as I place my foot onto the first Hands in the Clouds edge, all of that stays on the ground, a million miles away.
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Eli - Nice work Adam! Proud send.January 9, 2012 – 6:16 am

Kimberly - good job Adam!January 9, 2012 – 4:37 pm

Jon - Holy smokes, that’s some good writing, Adam. My palms were sweating from the comfort of my barcalounger.January 9, 2012 – 6:53 pm

kris - Awesome!January 11, 2012 – 4:19 pm

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An Eldo Winter

December 22nd is the Winter Solstice. During these short days in Eldo, the sun barely peaks above the Bastille, then creeps westward along the canyon rim in a shallow arch. For a few golden hours, warmth soaks into the towering striped maroon and red walls and gives climbers respite from gym hibernation.

Ian taking a run on the perfect Center Route (5.11a)

Much of the Redgarden and Rincon walls as well as the West Ridge are climbable and the allure of crisp rock draws out the sleepy faithful like wide-eyed teenagers to a square dance.
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Andrew - Adam, Im going to miss the Eldo adventures with you, no matter the time of year.January 1, 2012 – 6:56 pm

Chris - Yes, yes. It was always a pleasure climbing with you and best wishes from Omaha on your new adventures. Hopefully the best of our climbing days together are not past us!January 4, 2012 – 3:36 pm

Adam - Thanks, gents. We have many great days ahead.January 5, 2012 – 6:45 pm

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Adventure in Costa Rica and Nicaragua

*Editors Note: This is a guest contribution from Chelsea Phillipe about her and Jason’s recent adventure to Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

Having procrastinated packing for our 2 month trip until the last minute, we scrambled to throw a few things in some small bags, then barely caught our connecting flights. But finally we arrived in the hot and humid Costa Rica – perfect!

The next day we received a message from a friend to join him in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. Our first day we saw whales crest and enjoyed several cervezas at a secret beach requiring a difficult hike. We spent the next few days rafting the Savegre River, swimming in the ocean and watching the World Championships of Rafting on the Pacuare River.

The U.S. Team at the World Championships of Rafting on the Pacuare River

Results after 4 events (32 mens teams, 27 womens teams):

Men: 1. Japan, 2. Czech Republic …7. USA

Women: 1. Czech, 2. Japan …7. USA
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Andrew - Thanks for the post Chels! As always, it makes me want to get out and travel some more!December 28, 2011 – 7:38 pm

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The Industrial Wall

For hard, quality sport climbing in high concentration around Boulder, there is no competition for the Industrial Wall. I’ve lived here for five years, but not until the last few weeks have I visited this phenomenal area. The Industrial Wall hosts a 5.11d warm-up and a handful of 5.12s, but 5.13 and 5.14 are the norm.

Cruxing on Chump (5.13a)

The climbing on the conglomerate Industrial Wall sandstone is powerful, bouldery, overhung, beta-intensive and fun. For much of the year the area is closed for raptor nesting. Several months in which access is allowed are practically eliminated due to heat. But a crisp, clear winter day provides the perfect opportunity to climb some of the best rock around. Enjoy some images and the stories behind them from our recent trips to the Industrial Wall.
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Chris - Always wanted to check that place out, but have never felt strong enough. Now I know why!

Looks like its beautiful climbing though. It’s awesome to see you guys climbing strong!December 13, 2011 – 3:37 pm

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Shorts: A Problem

I reach into my chalk bag, yet again surprised at the lack of actual chalk. Not sure why though. I’ve had the same experience for the last six sessions. Anyway, after the fourth dip for each hand, I’m satisfied they’ll be dry for the next week. A quick blow across each palm and I rehearse the moves one more time.

Flagstaff BP - Chalked Hands

Photo Credit: Eli Powell

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Tyler - Awesome post! It sounds like your talking about flow states, which are a complete immersion in an activity, to the exclusion of literally everything else. They are achieved in athletics when learned patterns of movement are allowed to operate unhindered by the conscious mind, which is why memories of peak performances are so often fuzzy and undefined. It’s pretty cool stuff.

If you’re feeling too cooped up in the gym, then keep an eye on Colorado weather – if we have a nice weekend and you can make it out, you’re welcome at our place.November 25, 2011 – 9:10 pm

Andrew - Good inspiration for the winter months. The winter is a time to put your head down and plow face first into training for the spring and summer goals, giving it our all so we can get our all. Besides, there is always ice climbing…..November 29, 2011 – 7:12 pm

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