Monday, July 20, 2015

Loch Vale and Boulder Canyon

On Saturday, we had plans to hike Quandary Peak but they were cancelled since the weather didn't look very good, so we headed to Rocky Mountain National Park for a hike to Loch Vale for some fly fishing. 

It was a 3 mile hike into the Loch. The trail was low angle most of the time and really well maintained, so the hike was pretty easy. The lake was beautiful and had some cool looking mountains all around with Thatchtop on the left and Sharkstooth on the right.

Once we got to the lake, we spotted a cool spot to fish from on the other side, so we had to cross the stream and bush wack for a little while to get to our spot. We fished near the inlet of the Loch from a big flat boulder out in the water where we could look down and see all the trout swimming around. It was pretty fun being able to see the trout and trying to cast the fly in front of them where they would see it. Sometimes they would get spooked and swim away, sometimes they would swim up to the fly and decide they didn't want it, and sometimes they would try to bite it but miss. What they didn't do is actually bite any of our flies.

After a while of fishing at our first spot, we found another one and after just a few casts Shelby caught her first fish while fly fishing! It was a little guy, but really exciting to finally catch something.

On Sunday we headed up to Boulder Canyon for some climbing. We're hoping to do some alpine rock routes in RMNP soon, so we wanted to get a bit more trad climbing practice in before going. Cob Rock was the destination for the day, a beautiful rock a little over 200 feet high with plenty of cracks for protection.

The first pitch looked a bit intimidating. It was relatively steep and looked like our only holds at a few sections would be the hand crack. Shelby lead this pitch, starting out with some tricky moves up the initial 15 feet up a nice hand/fist crack with only a few edges outside the crack to use for feet. A short section of easy climbing lead to a small roof with a hand crack for hands and just some small spots to smear your feet. The pitch finished off with a tricky traverse to the right and then a nice, easy dihedral to a ledge.

The next pitch pitch was also a lot of fun. It started out with some tough stemming up a dihedral to a small chimneyin a corner. I followed the corner up to a spot with some balancy liebacking and then an awkward straddling move onto a sweet small ledge on an arete where I belayed Shelby up to me.

Definition time: Dihedral is where two planes of rock intersect forming an inside corner. An Arete is a steep, sharp ridge.

The next pitch would be the last and hardest pitch. The first pitch was supposed to come all the way up to the ledge on the arete, where our second pitch ended. Since we were expecting the route to only be 2 pitches, we thought Shelby would lead the first pitch and I would lead the second pitch. But since we split the first pitch in two it was now Shelby's turn to lead on the crux pitch. Haha. So after we moved the belay closer to the wall and Shelby contemplated if she wanted to lead this pitch, she decided she'd give it a whirl and headed up the zig zag hand crack. The crack goes straight up to start with, traverses to the right 6 feet, then goes straight up again, making a lightning bolt shape. It was a tough pitch with no good feet to use for much of it, but the hand crack was really good, albeit slippery. Shelby made it up to the top and was excited to have pushed herself on a hard pitch and succeeded despite feeling intimidated before heading up.

"Well, I think I'm ready for Spearhead," Shelby told me at the top. Spearhead will be our main objective when we go back to RMNP next weekend, so hopefully you'll hear all about in the next post.

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