We woke up early Monday morning to get gear ready for climbing at Lumpy Ridge with Seth and Max, and for Sharkstooth the following day. Both areas lie within Rocky Mountain National Park. Sharkstooth would require an alpine start... we planned on getting on the trail around 2am, being to the wall by sunrise, and on the summit before noon.
After arriving in Estes Park, Seth and Max let us know they were running a bit late, so we decided to head to the Lumpy Ridge trailhead and hike in to the 2 miles to the the climb.
|The hike to the Left Book|
We were looking to climb "White Whale," a classic 5.7. We arrived at what we thought was the correct wall and geared up. Dave led the first pitch(actually 1.5 pitches), with two brief showers of rain before setting up the belay. Just as Alex reached the belay, the thunder and rain began again, so Dave lowered her and then made 2 rappels to the ground, leaving a gear anchor in the wall. While waiting out the storm, we evaluated what we would do next. Realizing we were on the wrong climb and gathering information for the climb we were actually on (Melvin's Wheel), we knew there was no way to walk up and rappel down for the gear... so we would wait out the storm and finish the climb.
|Melvin's Wheel (5.8)|
|Chimney at the base.|
Melvin's Wheel turned out to be a very enjoyable climb, with an AWESOME hand crack on the 2nd pitch that seemed to go on foreeeeever! After the second pitch, Dave traversed around to the left and found a rap station that would take us to the bottom of the gully. Rain began to fall, AGAIN, as we began to rap down. After we were in the gully, we saw the White Whale!
|The White Whale (5.7)|
We walked around the base of our climb and retrieved our remaining items, hiked out to the car, and drove in to town to find food.
While filling our bellies with scrumptious food at Ed's Cantina, we reevaluated our plans for the following day. The unstable weather we had been dealing with was not something we wanted to deal with while attempting Shark's Tooth. We considered a repeat of our 2011 summit of the 14,259 foot tall Long's Peak via the Keyhole Route as an alternate plan to climbing the following day. After some research, we discovered winter conditions still existed on the mountain... so that was out. We settled on taking it easier and returning to Lumpy Ridge and climbing The White Whale... since now we knew where to find it!
We spent the rest of the evening driving around Rocky Mountain National Park, taking in the spectacular views along the Trail Ridge Road before we settled in the Rav4 for the night.
The buzz of the alarm came at 5am on Tuesday morning. However, we decided to stay in our sleeping bags until seven because of the heavy overnight thunderstorms and chill that was still in the air... and probably on the rocks. We also knew that we made to correct choice in climbing at Lumpy again, and putting of Shark's Tooth until a later date... maybe in August?
We ate some breakfast, drank some coffee, drove to the trailhead, and headed to mount the White Whale.
We were lucky enough to have great weather, and an uneventful, thunder, lightening, and rain free day! The climbing was good, the weather was good, so we decided not to push our luck and instead called it at day!