Sunday, 24 August 2014

On the way to Minnetonka

A deer in Roger and Janes garden settles down to watch us

Well this is a first, writing the blog while driving (well obviously I’m not driving) so how long it might last who knows!

It was a very sad farewell to Jane and Roger, but we will be back as we have books, tent, sleeping bags, camping stove and all sorts we have to return. What Brian didn’t mention in the last entry was after our sightseeing drive/walks I’d been out with Jane to see Sarah, one of her clients (she’s a fitness instructor), as she has two cats and Jane was determined to sort me out with a cat fix! What a Sweetie, Sarah was lovely, Diva was beautiful (and knew it), though the other was a wuss, and the wine was flowing! The boys thought we were lost!

Panorama from the top of Pioneer Mountain of Estes Park. Roger and Jane's house is down there towards the left....
This is a close up, their's is the brown house right in the centre
Elk in the village
We had a couple of calmer days, Monday and Tuesday, finishing with the party on Tuesday evening. Us and two other English couples who had never met, and Jane, Roger and Bill. We had a lovely evening, lots of laughter and lots of good food, Salmon cooked out on the BBQ by Roger for those who ate it accompanied, by lots of veggie polenta with aubergine and courgette (eggplant and zucchini), couscous, veggies and salad. All felt very healthy till it was rounded off by the key lime pie brought by Sunniva (she is English, and we had the story of her name but it has now escaped me). Jane and I had great fun in the kitchen beforehand prepping and cooking. 

A male Elk outside the hospital
And two very cute deer, with very big ears!
Flatiron #1, early morning. Our route went right to the top
Fortunately the evening started and finished relatively early as Brian, Roger and I were heading off to Boulder at 04.30 the following morning to do 'Fandango', a grade 5.5, 1000’ climb on the first Flatiron. We arrived and set off up the track (trail) in the dark but it soon got light and warm. 

Dawn walk in
I did the first pitch which was quite easy, though I did manage to mess up the ropes – it’s always tricky climbing in a three, bringing two people up on two different ropes trying to keep them separate to aid the leading off of someone else, but no harm done. Roger did the next pitch, which again wasn’t too hard, we did wonder as he went behind the tree we assumed he was going to be stopping at whether we’d have enough rope, we did, but with not much to spare. Brian set off up the next pitch which had a couple of interesting moves in the middle, on the whole though Roger thought he’d picked a good line, as the protection was good, so he might go that way next time. He however had not had quite enough rope, and we’d had to move up the very easy ground to the first piece of gear while he was still climbing so as to allow him to safely set up his belay position (stance). 

Jackie on the first pitch
Jackie and Roger on the first belay, 200 ft up
My turn again, and despite having said to Brian I wasn’t going to lead again I set off – well it didn’t look far, and it wasn’t, though this was mostly because I took the direct line rather than moving up and then left! It was interesting, the weight of the gear on my harness added to the weight of two ropes really focussing my mind on the fact that I seemed to be climbing on some very shallow pockets a long way above my last piece of gear, a long way till I could get my next in. Fortunately the friction was great and the angle of the rock very friendly. 
Roger near the top of his pitch
Roger reckoned I got a 5.7 move in there (VS 4c/5a to us) which is probably as hard as I’ve led on a trad climb, it’s why I like bolted climbs – it’s harder to get lost following a row of bolts! Still I got to a notch in the summit ridge where I made myself safe and comfortable and had amazing views in both directions, feeling very pleased with myself. One more move to my left and I’d have been on a big platform, but I wasn’t to know that, though fortunately Roger did so he and Brian could go and make themselves safe and comfortable there.  “Well that was the pitch of the climb” was Brian’s comment! 

Roger and Jackie on the second stance, 400 ft up
Brian on the third belay, 600 ft up
From there we moved together, along the ridge, with Roger in the lead over the two false summits to the top where we could abseil (rappel) 92’ back to terra firma to be greeted by Kira and Bear, two lovely dogs (so we did see bear, just not A bear!) who happened to be resting after their walk up. Back to the car by 13.00 and off for icecream! What a day out, fabulous climb with amazing views. Worth the early start to avoid the heat and the risk of afternoon thunderstorms, leaving us with time to visit the various local shops to buy good things to take home to Jane. One ‘local’ shop was Costco, as we have at home, only here, at the end of every aisle there seemed to be someone offering free samples, off all sorts of things from cheese burgers to jelly (Jello). Who needs lunch?

Jackie high up on her fourth pitch, just at the tricky moves
Close up of her looking for the holds
The journey home was slow as there was lots of work going on on the washed away road from the 1000 year flood, repairing the tarmac (black top), so we got home only just before Jane who had been playing bridge (joint first, well done), in time to shower before drinks and out to a Nepali restaurant (though most of the food was Indian). The ‘hot’ chef was on, so Jane was happy, I had the same king prawn (shrimp) noodles as she did, which was absolutely yummy, with enough for our light lunch in the middle of our drive. (Must get B to leave a little more of his dinner, though he had left a smidge). 

Jackie belaying Brian up the tricky bit of the fourth pitch, 800 ft up
We made it!
Up early again (though not as early as it might have been) to start the 1000 mile drive to Fred and Sharon in Minnesota, not a bad drive to slightly over half way, to Lincoln, capital of Nebraska. Jane had warned us of the ‘nothing’, if you think this is ‘nothing’ try the Outback in Oz. It was pretty flat but there were dairy farms, and sweetcorn, potatoes and rest stops (the first book exchange we’ve seen, hurrah!) lots of signs of life. Three hours in the Outback, was nothing – no cars, houses, crops, animals, NOTHING! Here it now looks remarkably like England, gently rolling, crops, trees, that is till you get out and it’s 33 degrees! Thank goodness for AC! 

Jackie belaying Roger on as he climbs up to the final summit. It was windy, as you can see from the rope
Roger on top at the abseil point
The start wasn’t quite as early as it might have had to be, as we’d finally heard from a housesit we’d applied for. For Mum’s first few days we thought we’d head up towards Laramie/Cheyenne to see a bit of ‘Wild West’, turns out we are going to be housesitting on a ranch with cattle, horses, cats, dogs, peacocks and wild birds! We are slightly nervous! We hoped we could pop in, but that wasn’t convenient, so we will be there the day before they go away to get us much instruction as we can!
Jackie on her way up to the final summit...
She appears onto the summit with Roger
And hey give a wave back to Brian who has yet to climb
Roger prepares to abseil (rappel) down the 92 ft drop, mostly in free space
Jackie and Brian on the summit as Roger prepares to rappel down
Jackie on her abseil
And Brian on his

All safely down with the rappel line behind us
Kira and Bear, the two dogs who greeted us at the bottom

Brian, Jackie and Roger on the walk back out with Flatiron #1 behind us. Our climb went up just left of centre of the face right to the top. A fabulous day of climbing, thanks to Roger

1 comment:

  1. I think you can easily let Brian eat all his tea if you are going to continue this much activity each day! Helen xx