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Upper Chaos

Boulder has been mired in a heat wave for a solid month. Climbing in 95 degree heat drains you. So when a couple friends invited me to go bouldering in Rocky Mountain National Park above 10,000 feet I jumped at the opportunity.

D-Rock cruxing on Skipper D

D-Rock, Ian and I wandered up to the Upper Chaos boulders where we found shade, cool temps, beautiful rock and a great community of strong boulderers.

Ian warming up

Aside from a handful of warmups, the problems at Upper Chaos start at V7. Numerous amazing lines from V7 to V14 are littered among the marbled granite boulders in the shadow of Hallet Peak.

The back side of Hallet Peak viewed from Upper Chaos

Most of our day was devoted to Skipper D, widely regarded as one of the best V8 problems in Colorado.

D-Rock getting started on Skipper D

The overhung problem consists of 10-15 moves including heel and toe hooks, pinches crimps and throws. While we worked the problem, about 15 boulderers cycled through, some just trying to link a few moves, others warming up.

D-Rock had a bad encounter with a conspicuous gap in the blanket of pads below Skipper D

Everyone was encouraging and beta flowed like PBR at Cinco De Mustache. Though I rarely boulder outside, I’m always impressed with the openness and positivity of the bouldering community. It may stem from the fact that problems, unlike long routes, are easy to share and that crowds facilitate an exchange of ideas and beta. Problems are solved with group efforts.

Even Daniel Woods and co. need to warm up

I benefited from the community and pieced together beta that worked for me and after numerous attempts I was happy to send Skipper D. Though most of my effort was spent on Skipper D, the neighboring route, Skipper G is also a high quality V8 and after a good rest I had enough to come very close. I was through the crux but came up just short on the last tough move and despite several further attempts couldn’t overcome a day’s worth of fatigue and printless pads.

Taking in the view among the Upper Chaos boulders

We decided to call it a day and started our hike out.

A carnation among the boulders

Slick snow and a mile of rock hopping made the three miles back to the trailhead an adventure in and of itself.

D-Rock scoping out Lake Haiyaha on the hike back

But the work required to get there was well worth the amazing bouldering. The beautiful setting didn’t hurt either.

A pond full of lillypads on the hike to Upper Chaos

While the weather remains hot and we’ve got plenty to work, we’re looking to make a return trip to Upper Chaos soon…

Daddyo - Great pictures and beautiful country. I would imagine climbers look at the details in the land a lot more than most people do. It’s like I look at landscapes and think what a cool golf hole that could be.

95 degrees would be a cold wave in Lincoln right now. Three of us played golf at Colbert Hills in Manhattan, Kansas last Wednesday. It was 108 (temp, not heat index) at the end of 18. We set out for our second 18 and got through the front 9 at 111 degrees and quit. Then for 48 hours I had heat exhaustion. Got a new respect for heat. So stay hydrated, shaded, and keep cool when it’s hot!August 1, 2011 – 9:07 pm

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