High Peaks Revisited Larry Coats Rock & Ice 1989

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Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Original Post - Oct 31, 2009 - 12:47am PT
Larry Coats' excellent survey of climbing in Rocky Mountain National Park from Rock & Ice May/June 1989.









Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 7, 2009 - 12:27am PT
For anyone wondering why I would post this article, a tale or two...

In 1987, I worked a season for Colorado Outward Bound. After two standard mountain courses out of the Crestone base, I headed north for some climbing. At the time, Larry Coats was living in Boulder and working for Neptune Mountaineering. When I called to touch base about objectives, he already had something in mind, Spearhead. After doing the approach we arrived at the base and I couldn't believe how friendly the two prospective new routes seemed.

A rope length up, the northeast face has a ledge system across its right side and the crack systems above angle towards the Barb. We started just right of the original Barb route and followed moderate arches and ledges up beautiful granite. As the rock becomes steeper, the wandering gets a bit harder until we arrived at the belay for the Barb Direct Finish. Delicate and slightly awkward climbing at the bottom end of 5.11 made for an excellent finish to a fun and generally moderate alpine rock climb. From the summit ridge we could see the slabs of Chiefshead. We talked about the wild and slightly longer Seven Arrows route that had been done there and tried to piece it together. We discussed a name that somehow involved the word “barb” and that tiny voice from the sexual sixties coaxed awake Barbarella!

The next day Larry and I took a more direct line through a series of overhangs that turned out to be much easier that expected and gained the center of the big ledge. Easy slab climbing with sparse protection brought us to another ledge. A few moves above the ledge is a tricky boulder problem that I climbed into to explore and ended up pulling past at 5.10-. It leads to a good crack and the rounded ridgeline. We named this more direct route Burning Spear, playing off of Barb Gnarly (and the Flailers) which Larry’s brother Timmy and Bret Ruckman had just put up.

I drove back to Leadville for my last course of the summer and first as a full instructor. When I finished, I found out from Larry that Ed Webster and Craig Fry had repeated part of Burning Spear and established a 5.10 variation that climbed a crack system left of our easy second pitch and required several fixed pitons.

Ed and I had a small rivalry going ever since he and Bryan Becker became the first Coloradans to visit Tucson and nab some routes. Ed came in to Gary’s shop to report the “new” route while Larry was working and I will leave it to him to describe his surprise. Neither Larry nor I used chalk and I used to harass Ed about it while he was on our turf in Arizona. It wasn’t exactly the Northeast Face of Pingora, but we had a good laugh at beating him to the prize and the punch by not leaving any chalkmarks behind.

I wonder if these routes have ever seen any repeat ascents?
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Nov 7, 2009 - 03:03am PT
I saw "High Peaks," and immediately thought of Pinnacles, sorry force of habit.


neat story, thx Steve
ß Î Ø T Ç H

climber
. . . not !
Nov 7, 2009 - 03:27am PT
Larry still around ? Nice topic , thanks .
rick d

climber
ol pueblo, az
Nov 7, 2009 - 09:00am PT
larry posts here as coplateau fyi
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 7, 2009 - 09:07pm PT
I justed talked with Larry this afternoon and he will post his recollections when he can make the time.

How many repeats did the Seven Arrows route ever get, if any? Anyone know?
coplateau

Trad climber
Salt Lake City
Nov 8, 2009 - 07:03pm PT
Although I remember having a great time on that couple of days in August, one main recollection is our run-in with the rangers at the bivy. Having arrived in the dark, we set up where we thought we were on bare ground, and in the morning just as I was noting that a few sprigs of vegetation were nearby and pondering moving- the ranger's head popped over the ledge. When Steve gave his home address as Tucson, the ranger mellowed, and was ready to let us off with a warning. But my address in Boulder did the trick- "we really want to get the word back to Boulder" was his reply as he handed us the $50 ticket (and that seemed like a lot of money then!).
The magnificent granite of Spearhead.
The magnificent granite of Spearhead.
Credit: coplateau
Steve Grossman on the lower slabs of Burning Spear.
Steve Grossman on the lower slabs of Burning Spear.
Credit: coplateau
Steve drilling on the lower slabs of Burning Spear. (Note: this 3/...
Steve drilling on the lower slabs of Burning Spear. (Note: this 3/8"X3.5" bolt went in with approximately 4 blows!)
Credit: coplateau
Steve on the above-mentioned 5.10- boulder problem high on Burning Spe...
Steve on the above-mentioned 5.10- boulder problem high on Burning Spear.
Credit: coplateau
Steve somewhere in the middle of Burning Spear.
Steve somewhere in the middle of Burning Spear.
Credit: coplateau
LC leading on the lower dihedral pitch of Barbarella.
LC leading on the lower dihedral pitch of Barbarella.
Credit: coplateau
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 16, 2009 - 09:47pm PT
Thanks for posting up those photos, Larry.

I remember that you kept your sunglasses on and were acting a little off when the ranger showed up so as to decoy him away from recognizing you as a Neptune's employee! Gary would probably just have laughed it off but it sure took away your plausible deniability.

I wonder if these two routes were ever repeated?
Zander

Trad climber
Berkeley
Nov 16, 2009 - 10:45pm PT
Good thread guys,
Z
drljefe

climber
Old Pueblo, AZ
Nov 17, 2009 - 07:13pm PT
Damn!

Thanks SG, LC. Killer pics.

This thread deserves some action.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 21, 2009 - 08:13pm PT
Larry- Could you persuade Timmy to post about Barb Gnarly if he has the time and inclination? His route and photos must have inspired you to recon Spearhead before we went up there.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 24, 2009 - 01:01am PT
A short piece on the Barb from Glenn Randall's excellent Vertigo Games, 1983.




My favorite fuzzy Jello shot!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 5, 2010 - 08:38pm PT
Barb Gnarly Bump!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 20, 2011 - 09:51pm PT
Rocky Mountain Bump...
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