We didn’t initially plan to do any climbing this weekend, but looking ahead we realized this might be our last chance for a while. Hoping for reduced crowds on this weekday, we head for Wind Ridge, 5.8-, on the Wind Tower in Eldorado Canyon. Our guidebook says these three pitches of red sandstone arete climbing “may well be the most climbed route in Colorado”. What better time to try to tick the route ourselves?
We’re a little slow to get moving, and arrive around noon. It’s a warm sunny day, and we inevitably find a number of climbing parties on the Wind Tower. There’s no wait to start on Wind Ridge, though, and we count ourselves lucky. A returning party warns us of the ravenous chislers (chipmunks), and since this crag is so close to the parking lot I run my lunch bag back to the car. Food free, we rope up.
The first pitch begins with some lovely, exposed 5.8- moves up a flake to reach the arete. From there a blissful array of cracks and face holds lead the way up the arete. I enter one of my favorite climbing states, the one where there is no other place I would rather be than here on this climb. The climbing is easy, 5.6, but engaging. It reminds me of my first long pitch, Late For Work, at Great Falls Basin in the Mojave desert. Each move first demands concentration, then brings a warm satifaction. I combine the first two pitches for about 190 feet of heavenly motion.
After building my anchor I buzz Ann on our two-way radio, but get no response. I yell, but no response. I tug on the rope, but feel only weight. This is the problem with long pitches – communication difficulties can bring progress to a quick halt. How will she know when it’s safe to climb? What if she slipped and hit her head? I’m just about to tie her off and descend to check on her when the radio comes to life, “Are you waiting for me?” Her volume knob had been jostled off somehow, that’s all. Finally, her turn to enjoy the climb.
A few minutes before she reaches me, a darkening sky begins to crack with thunder and lightning. When Ann reaches the ledge we retreat into a recess to see if the storm will pass. After half an hour we give up and scramble down a ledge, leaving the last pitch unclimbed. The sky stays dark, eventually loosing a short but heavy rain. By that time we’re on the road, and soon after the sky is clear again. No regrets though, we now have a feel for another excellent neighborhood crag.