It feels like it will be a hot day, so we go to the Dark Side to look for shade. The views and flowers at The Bank Campground are enough to make me giddy. Bright sun shines on many wildflowers, while the snowy Sange de Christo mountains loom over the southern horizon.
It turns out that the north-facing Dark Side wall gets sun well into the morning, but it’s pleasant enough to start in the sun with the relief of shade on the way. We spend the whole day here, weathering a few brief thunder showers.
- Lumina 5.9 Our book calls this a four-star 5.8, which inspires Ann to give it a try on lead. She gives it a good go, but comes down after a few falls. Going up to finish it I find sweet, very continuous climbing on small pockets and edges. This is indeed a very good route, but harder than I expected. We decide it has everything you could ask for in a single pitch sport route, including a tree-root bench at the base for changing shoes.
- Fragile 5.10c Mark leads this easily with a series of nice stemmed clip stances. We all enjoy toproping this one.
- Porkus Procurement 5.10d I manage a clean lead of this very fun tiny pocket party.
- Enchanted Porkfist 5.11a Mark takes a lead fall (just so he could remember what it’s like maybe) on this, but finishes it up in good style. I lead it too on his draws, losing my balance and coming off of one of the delicate stances but recovering well after that. A beautiful test of balance. Kate nearly cruises this on TR – she seems to have a penchant for this sort of climbing.
- Punjabi 5.11b – I decide to go for one last challenge. It goes well until the last clip, which is very steep, thin, and sharp. After two small falls I figure out a clip stance, but fall once more trying to pass it. Finally I reach decent holds, staring at the anchors, but can’t move my feet and fall off. Thunder rolls, and I give up a bail biner, alas!