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Soloing in Eldorado (2)

Here’s that other story I wrote about soloing in Eldo. This one really got to me…

Don’t Tell Mom
Eli Powell

There was no looking down, no ropes, and no noise. The silence broke. “Get outta here! Git! Get outta here.” Birds exited the alcove above. I didn’t know if I was talking to the birds or myself- I certainly didn’t like my position.
Bastille wall in Eldorado- climbing gold
I was 150 feet up the west side of the Bastille on a bulge that had no place on 5.7. There were three cars in the park. This may have been because it was the 20th day in a row over 90 degrees, or because of the ominous clouds above (which, by the way, lowered the temps). My shorts stuck to my legs, and my hands felt wet.

This all started a few days prior. I decided to pursue AMGA guide certification, and found out I needed more multipitch trad routes under my belt. What better way to do this than to run up some moderates in Eldorado. After all, I’d been onsighting “5.12” in Boulder Canyon recently, 5.7 should be no problem. Well the problem became clear that day- my balls hadn’t grown as large as my head or forearms.

I started up West Chimney with a “summer time and the livin’s easy” attitude. No need for water, I’d be down in twenty minutes. At the first good left jam, I hit a nerve and the back of my hand temporarily went numb- off to a good start. Moving through a rotten band of the best jugs you’ll never trust, my attitude changed. I pushed off a shaking leg with a shot of adrenaline and quickly broke my rule; I couldn’t reverse those moves, I was committed.

Suddenly the 5.7 off-width chimney above didn’t sound appealing. I tip toed around the corner to familiar ground. The ledge on West But./ Hair City never looked so good. I sat for a while. I thought about the BBQ I was supposed to be at, my ex-girlfriend, my family. I thought about all the serious accidents in Eldo this year, the memorial I walked by on the approach. I gave myself a pep talk. You know, the talk reserved for you’re partner when it’s his turn to lead and he can’t seem to move.

I moved up as the wind picked up. Last time I reached the budge, I placed three pieces in six feet. There was that old pin, especially useless now. I climbed through the bulge to the bird-poop-caked alcove. I was shaking again.

With some deep breathing, I calmed down and continued up. I moved on to the face and bore down on the normally causal edges. After a few moves, I mantled a ledge and finished the exposed part of the climb. In the final chimney, I saw a cork someone placed like a big bro in the crack. I laughed.

The top out was my first dessert tower; it was a cheesy motivational poster. I raised my hands in the air “Woo-Hoo!” The smile wouldn’t come off. As I walked down, I laughed it off like last time, “I’m never doing that again…for a while.”

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Soloing in Eldorado (1)

Last Spring and Summer I wrote a few short pieces related to climbing. Here’s the first one…

Lost in Transition
By Eli Powell

In the summer of 2007, I fulfilled a 5 year dream to move to Colorado. That was the dream- just to move. You see, I went to school in Nebraska, the Flatlands. Where every road trip is to higher ground, and internet climbing is the norm.
After settling in, a funny thing happened, the dream was gone. Colorado wasn’t as e
xpected; there was no campfire bullshitting, pizza eating, or pull up contests. My dream was hollow without the friends I loved.

I called my climbing mentor for guidance. He spat out a hundred routes he’d do if only he were in my position. I scribbled route names and started planning. Their dreams would be my reality.

I found a couple of climbing partners, but it wasn’t the same. No Wednesday night beers, no dirty jokes. But I kept ticking the routes, and sending updates back home.
Eventually I found some friends with whom to climb. Work started to slow, and my Flatlands To-Do list was complete.

On a crisp December day, I ducked out of work and drove to Eldo. The canyon was empty, the rock was dry. Hopping on a Wind Tower classic, I half joked, “You’d better be sure, 100 percent.” My constant partner stopped our conversation mid-pitch. I paused as Gravity tugged gently down, I was again living my dream as I floated up.

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I got a warm email from Katy yesterday. She gets it (that’s no surprise!). Climbing is how I’ve made life long friends, shared wonderful experiences, stayed healthy, enjoyed movement and challenged myself. Here are a few of my favorite climbing photos:

Kate and Tommy’s Wedding

Vegas Motel 6- First shower in a week x 10 people
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So I’m starting a Blog

Matt Davis at Outek first told me a “Blog” was a “Web-Log”, and I told him it was stupid.  Well Outek is long out of business, and blogs are a good way to get non commercial information, and share with friends.

This is my Blog.  I plan on talking about climbing and how it relates to my life.  Main topics will include: gear, spray, life & climbing.
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