The day begins in a maddening comedy that ends with us chasing Sean down a forest road, and Sean going home with no idea where we are. We embark without him on the rugged trail to The Monastery, where we manage to do some climbing on strange new rock despite a hot sun. When we return exhausted to camp we find one thing that can relieve any lingering ache or regret: ice cold India Pale Ale.
Sean must have thought I was joking last night when I offered to give him GPS coordinates of our location. He laughed, “Just directions would be fine.” So I laughed too, and told him how we got where we are. Without mentioning that the roads all have two names. Or that I’ve given him the names on the map, not the names on the signs. Or that some of the roads are unmarked. Etcetera. I do give fairly precise distances, but of course if you’re on the wrong road distances are moot. So it comes to pass that Sean drives right past us with no idea that we might be there, behind his car, running, screaming, and waving a big blue thermalounger. Nor does he know that I have leapt into my Subaru to give chase, only to be soundly outrun. So Sean drives back to Fort Collins, and we leave him many phone messages. (You can also see what this was like for Sean.) Then, feeling terrible, we embark on the steep, roller-coaster trail to the unknown rocks of The Monastery.
The arduous hike is not made easier by minds plagued with could-haves and should-haves. We arrive at the rocks feeling dour, but the mood is lifted a bit when we finally reach Sean on the phone and he takes the failed rendevous in stride with no animosity for us. The next problem is that all the moderate climbs seems to face southeast, right into the hot sun. I scout around as far as The Nursery and find no exception. Thankfully there is fresh breeze, and plenty of trees to give shade. So we find a shady belay and try some routes on The Sepulchre.
The Graveyard 5.7. A big flake at the base provides shade. The crystally gneiss and shist are hard for me interpret, and it feels harder than 5.7, but I make it up. Vague memories of footwork begin to emerge.
The Mausoleum 5.9-. A freebie TR, this feels more sequence-intensive and more positive than the first route. Highly enjoyable.
Headstones 5.8. A bit of slab is introduced into the mix. I don’t feel certain about the rock at all, and sweat my way up a few of the moves. The anchors here are awkwardly placed – no toproping.
We move now to The Chapel, where a tiny bit of shade is creeping over the face at 3 pm.
Going to The Chapel 5.8. A full-on gneissy slabfest. I start strong, but after some sustained climbing on small holds I start to doubt them. At one point I recognize an impulse in my mind to latch onto a nearby tree branch. Banishing such thoughts I pull through the steep section and traverse to the anchors of Simplexity.
Simplexity 5.9+. On toprope again, this route feels solid as can be to me. Fun, sequency moves finish the day.