Tender Fingers

For years after first tying into a rope and feeling the cool, textured rock under my fingertips, climbing became my main pursuit. Highs and lows, adventures and misadventures. Then I moved to southwest Colorado, little more than 100 miles from Indian Creek, a world renowned climbing destination, and ironically stopped climbing. My rekindled relationship with mountain biking was too much fun. Scattered forays back to climbing brought a realization that most of my time ascending rock was spent being terrified. My favorite part of the day was having both feet return to a flat earth. Note that this experience only applies to rock and not ice. To me, ice is a much more beautiful and alluring medium on which to climb and interact and is one I spend a good deal of winter seeking.
Every now and then I flirt with the idea of climbing rock again. Not to push my boundaries, but to slow down and enjoy nature, enjoy the movement. 

Keri is in a similar boat. Mostly, she'd like to be on her bike but there's a small ember reminding her climbing was once a minor obsession. One route in particular continually flared to her consciousness. A unique approach and two previous attempts thwarted by weather before exiting the car added to it's pull. Still though, we hadn't been climbing in ages. The thought was both tantalizing and off-putting. 

Would it be fun or would it be stressful, scary, miserable? Did we really care enough to dig out all we'd need? Can I even remember how to climb? After spending three months earlier this year in a cast, I also had doubts about my right arm's fitness.

With a slight gritting of teeth, we figured we needed to capitalize on our beautiful autumn weather. Travis and Amanda were also interested in joining us and further sealed our plans.

Though frozen ground, snow, and numb fingers greeted us upon stepping from the car I was surprisingly giddy with excitement. A river flanked by icy banks poured over a 175ft waterfall mere feet downstream blocking our passage to the sunny wall we planned to ascend. We'd arrived at Keri's intrigue. 

The lady with the plan
Our grins grew wider as we each crossed.

Keri's grin was even bigger when I arrived at her belay above our first pitch. Her goal was to lead at least one pitch on the four pitch route and she'd accomplished that off the bat. She proceeded to take me up the next two pitches of fun climbing with ease. 

Only those leading the way for others get butt shots. 
Travis lead Amanda up the entire route, too
Never scary, not difficult but requiring thought and technique, beautiful and perfect. We were all enjoying ourselves. Our puffy jackets appeared as the sun disappeared. With a minor jog off-route, I lead the final pitch. Keri followed, Travis wasn't far behind, then Amanda was on top too. 

Amanda about to top out her first multi-pitch climb
We did get lost on our way home. 

The way home
Margaritas and hot springs provided assistance finding our way. 


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