G & T 31 and El Barrio
It may be the second day of spring, but up high, it is still winter. I was hoping that I could sneak in my weekly run today prior to the snow starting to fall this evening - there was no snow, but a nice steady wind was blowing from treeline up. There are certainly signs, however, that spring is here - lots of birds in the trees, evidence of melting and refreezing along the Stevens Gulch road, and compaction and solidification of the snow above treeline. Wind, and windchill, apparently doesn't follow any season, and it certainly was cold this morning as the wind blew at a constant 20mph (I've thought of this a lot, and I have no idea how powerful the wind gusts are that I have had to deal with this winter. I read on 14ers.com and other sites of winds in the 60mph range all the time, but how is one to know? Look, its windy and it sucks, need I quantify it more?).
Still a solid morning on the mountain, and despite running the Salida marathon last Saturday, I didn't feel any lethargy. As race season approaches, however, keeping up the challenge is proving to be even more difficult (like it needs to be any harder). I have to prey for a weather window early in one week so that I can tapper a bit before a race, but then hope that the following week allows me to tag the summits later in the week. Once "winter" is over, I won't be too worried, but there is still April, which can bring tons of snow up high.
Along the Front Range, climbers are blessed with a number of natural, outdoor gyms to train on. Indoor gyms are great, and you can get wicked strong really fast by climbing inside everyday. However, climbing on real stone is always better, and spending time outside in the woods, meditating between sessions has always been something I've greatly enjoyed. One of these natural climbing gyms is El Barrio. Located up Boulder Canyon just before Castle Rock, El Barrio is a fun little place to work not only power, but also endurance. I've been climbing here for at least a decade, and the other day I was reminded why I enjoy the place despite its location directly off the road. With a few natural rock benches to chill out on, El Barrio hosts a couple long 5.13 problems as well as a ton of hard, contrived, eliminate problems that you can use to work almost any weakness you may have. Right now I have a lot of weaknesses, after taking some time off from climbing, so coming back to El Barrio and re-visiting problems I sent years ago was fun and challenging. One summer, in fact, I read all of Reinhold Messner's books here, doing laps on the main .13a problem in between chapters. El Barrio is not "in" among most climbers, and that is fine with me, as you can usually bank on no one being there and having a solid session free of any disturbances. However, now that it is spring, one has to watch out as I found a tick on my bag when I was done climbing, and there is nothing that puts a buzz kill on a climbing session like finding ticks crawling all over the place.