What was your first climb in Eldorado Canyon?


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Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Jul 12, 2013 - 02:32pm PT
Summer 72, 1st Wind Ridge, 2nd Calypso, 3rd Bastille. Those were all pretty straight forward, until I got on The Bulge, that scared the bejeezus out of me.

Crunch: not the Dakota formation, it is the Fountain Formation, shed off of the East side of the ancestral rockies, the equivalent formation on the West side is the Maroon Formation. The Fountain is substantially more solid than the Dakota, whis is lighter in color and makes up the spine of the hogback at Morrison Co.

Front Range stratigraphy
Front Range stratigraphy
Credit: ydpl8s

Trad climber
Chamonix, France
Jul 12, 2013 - 02:37pm PT
Bastille Crack for me on 8 August 1978. First route in the States, too. I'd driven an old VW beetle from Philadelphia to get there. Must get a prize for that...

Trad climber
Jul 12, 2013 - 02:45pm PT
ydp8s that is a sweet graph! where else does fountain sandstone exist in the world?

Seems like nothing else comes even close to the uniqueness of fountain sandstone.

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Jul 12, 2013 - 03:09pm PT
The front range of Colorado and Wyoming are the only place that that particular formation name exists, flatirons, Red Rocks (where the amphitheatre is) to name a few.

As with many formations, it is more solid in some places than others. That type of rock is formed from and ancient alluvial fan that has been buried and then indurated (squeezed) by overburden pressure. There are many such formations in the world, with varying degrees of solidity and color. The Fountain formation is late Pennsylvanian in age, just under 300 million years old. It is a specific type of sandstone known as an arkose, which generally means it has a higher feldspar content than normal sandstone.
Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Colombia, South America
Jul 12, 2013 - 03:55pm PT
There was a radio interview with Bachar, online somewhere, where he talked about his trip to Eldo. I guess then you could drive on the road through the park, and they drove right by wind tower, etc. looking for the climbing area. "Dude, that WAS the climbing area." I guess coming from Yosemite it would be kind of small. But it's actually bigger than it looks, the Naked Edge must be over 500' which to most people is big.

I think Derek Hersey's first route in Eldo was a solo of the diving board. Crusher or Mic probably knows if that's true.

two miles from Eldorado
Jul 12, 2013 - 07:52pm PT
Yeah, Don I think that Derek story is true. Thanks Scott... subduction causes orogeny.
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jul 13, 2013 - 07:59pm PT

Actually Fowler started by charging a quarter. It later went up
to 50 cents. I remember his truck being blue. He would chase after
you early in the morning, if you managed to get in and up toward
the rock without paying your quarter. Once he saw Layton and me,
and he just smiled and turned around and drove back home.
We treated him with respect, and he liked us, for some reason.
Another time, he was having a chest-butting contest with Breashears,
because David would go to any extreme to avoid that quarter,
even climb way up around the top of the Bastille to get in, and
Fowler's nose hairs were about an inch long (outside the nostrils).
It was intimidating....

As for my post above, I don't think I made it clear what my first
climb was. I honestly don't remember. I think Pseudo-Sidetrack was
certainly one of the first. It's a great easy route, with huge
holds everywhere, but it leads you up and left up over lots of
exposure right away, so it's fun. At one point, if you peer around a
corner to the left, you get the most incredible view of the Naked
Edge. I happened to take that look, around that corner, one day,
maybe the day I first did Pseudo-Sidetrack, and saw Stan Shepard
Bob Boucher on the Naked Edge. No one had climbed the Naked Edge yet,
and there was quite a mystique about it. Boucher was dressed entirely
in green, and Shepard in virtually all red, against the bright
yellow rock.... I had no idea Boucher would be my partner for the
Diamond, a few years later,in 1964.... Those are such fond
memories.... the early days of Eldordo. There was so
much excitement for us in Eldorado back then, everything new, and
everything unclimbed.... To lose Layton recently, well, it's the
end of an era, the end truly of the golden age. Damn, it's painful
just to think about.

Social climber
Jul 14, 2013 - 12:12am PT
Psyched to be the next post after Mr. Pat Ament.

It was Anthill Direct in 1993, and I was terrified following. The position was the stunner.
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jul 15, 2013 - 04:13pm PT
If you were to come to Eldorado and focus only on the hard climbs,
you would miss some of the best climbing on the planet. Eldorado
has perhaps the best moderate climbing anywhere, routes such as
Ruper, where you traverse out over a wild vertical drop, and that
route is 6 pitches. The top three have wonderful vertical
climbing where nice little finger buckets keep turning up.... One
of the best 5.10 routes in the world, in my opinion, is Super Slab,
a gorgeous place to be on any afternoon. It's a strenuous 5.10,
though, and might be bottom level 5.11 in some other climbing
area. And of course the Yellow Spur... it doesn't get any better
than that. I made the first free ascent of the Yellow Spur,
with Royal Robbins, in 1964. It was not too hard
and did not tax us, really, but that didn't
matter. To move up those gorgeous pitches and then the final
near-vertical headwall, with about five hundred vertical feet
below, and the rest of the canyon opening below that, to the river....
I've done that route probably fifty or more times, and it's always
fun in a good wind..., which happens a lot in Eldorado... The
Grand Giraffe is another wonderful classic, with a crux crack
close to 5.10, but the rest just lots of very steep enjoyable
rock. The second pitch is a lovely almost vertical wall..., but
the upper pitches, above the big Upper Ramp, are really superb
vertical climbing with finger pockets and buckets everywhere....
T-2, another hard 5.10 (the overhanging start) is a fantastic
route. Maybe it's best pitch is that first pitch above the Meadow,
and the traverse left, across a vertical wall, to the left-angling
finger crack. I have so many good memories of all those climbs.
Rincon and Over the Hill, also, two of my favorite routes....
gorgeous sandstone almost as clean and good as Yosemite granite....
Rincon has one little 5.11- section at the top, but most of it is
moderate and beautiful. Over the Hill is just like your first
love, something so infatuating and wondrous, well, maybe I'm
getting carried away.
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jul 15, 2013 - 04:24pm PT
Pat Ament, first pitch of T2, Eldorado, about 1972, photo by Jeff Schw...
Pat Ament, first pitch of T2, Eldorado, about 1972, photo by Jeff Schwenn
Credit: Patrick Oliver

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Jul 16, 2013 - 11:39am PT
Now that's what I'm talkin about! It doesn't get any more iconic Eldorado than that, Pat on T2, in 1972, with the Bastille in the background, almost makes me want to move back there.
Whitehorse Jeff

Trad climber
Fairfield, CT
Jul 16, 2013 - 01:31pm PT
Like a number of others, Wind Ridge on the Wind Tower, on my first trip west of the Gunks, summer of 1971. I had found a partner thru the bulletin board at Culp's Boulder Mountaineer and after getting to know him on a couple of routes on the west face of Castle rock, I led Wind Ridge, then Calypso. Like another earlier poster, I remember belaying near the anchors to Ivy Baldwin's wire across the canyon-- just looking across that wire gave me vertigo. When I returned to Eldorado the next time in 1980 with some French friends (and equipped with Wild Country friends) I was sorry the wire was no longer there, as I had been telling them (the French friends) about it as we drove across country from the east coast.
Climbing last July on a small crag in NH with George Hurley, I raved about Rewritten, which I had just climbed in June three weeks earlier. George said " I think that's one of my routes" to which I replied: "that's one of the main reasons we did it!" Its reputation had preceded it and it lived up to the hype many times over-- like many others here, on the recommendation of local friends, we also used P1 of The Zot to start, and found the whole route superb!
Since my first visit in '71, I've made 6 or 7 climbing trips to Boulder, and continually want to rinse and repeat! So many climbs, in so many places, and so little time to do them!
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jul 17, 2013 - 11:53am PT
One of my earlier climbs was to follow the master, Bob Culp, up
Grand Giraffe. I will never forget how smooth he was, how with
that long lean body he stepped left, half way up the second pitch,
and did those vertical balance moves..., and the actual crux
crack. He was the first person, really, to teach me that one could
find all sorts of hidden holds and tricks to solve some impossible-
looking section. He seemed to know the crack inside and out and
used little flakes far within that you could only feel for. He
didn't hesitate. He didn't whimper, as other climbers did. He did not
say much at all, just moved methodically, exactly upward, kind of the
way Pratt would, in tune with the rock, there for the pure pleasure
of climbing and not for any notice.... When later I became a strong
leader, gymnast, and such, I often repeated Grand Giraffe but
never could quite feel I had the mastery Bob did.... The name, by
the way, if I recall, was another of Layton's, a play on Grand Jorasses
(spelling). I loved Layton's names. I still think Guenese was his
mis-spelling of gneiss.... The rock had that gray look in places....

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Jul 17, 2013 - 12:11pm PT
It's true Pat, that we can't think of Eldorado without remembering Layton. I can remember beautiful spring days when the three of us were the only three people climbing there. For sure, we had the place to ourselves during the winter. It's hard to even imagine that now. Paradise lost.
goatboy smellz

Jul 17, 2013 - 12:26pm PT
One of those cracks next to Rincon, don't remember the name.

Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jul 17, 2013 - 01:38pm PT
Ahhh, Jan. Yes. Life will never be the same, but Layton remains with
me. I see him daily. I laugh with him, talk with him still. We went
very deep, literally got in each other's psyches during those
psychedelic '60s. He is a part of us. I was thinking about all the
contributions and fundraisers and how many people helped him during
these last few years. I mean, even just to make some loose count in
my mind it was somewhere around $50,000., but I imagine more. The
fundraiser they did for me, well, that was very generous and raised
about $6000., but I sense whereas there would have been no end to
the help Layton would be given, there is a real and true
limit on how much I mean -- far far less, I think.
Layton and I joked that we were bottomless pits of need, but I have
never seen anything like the love people had for him. A couple of
weeks ago, right after the Memorial for Layton in Golden, I was
sitting here with my two young daughters, and suddenly tears started
flowing from my eyes. I had simply been thinking about how much I
loved Layton. I still keep that little scrap of paper he left on my
car in Eldorado one afternoon on which he wrote, "Oliver, see
you later today, can examine routes then and work on the walls
tomorrow." Doesn't that capture his spirit? I have been thinking
of late how many moderate routes he and I did around a lot of harder
ones. We walked all the way up one day to do Green Slab. It was
sunny with a lot of snow on the rock. The crux, normally 5.9, was
icy with snow patches and probably a grade harder than it should
have been. We wore sweaters. I think he had a light cagoule and his
red hat, those same gray knickers and knee-length socks, and Kronhoeffer
shoes.... I remember how he stemmed out on that difficult section. He
hoped he didn't slip on the ice. He was truly a master alpinist
and could climb icy rock. I will never forget how when Larry and I
got caught in that vicious snow storm on the Yellow Spur. We had
decided to wait it out on a stance. Layton came roaring up the
scree slope in dark, with Jack Turner his partner, and led the Dirty
Deed or whatever that west crack is called, and it was plastered with
ice and snow. I don't know how he did that, honestly. Go up there,
friends of Layton, and imagine in kletterschue climbing that pitch
all plastered with ice and snow. Impossible. One day Layton,
Dean Moore, and I made the first ascent of Grandmother's Challenge,
another colorful Layton name.... All those times he had me skip
school, so we could do some first ascent somewhere.... Yes,
I often think of him, speak to him. Layton, see you later today,
can examine routes then and work on the walls tomorrow.... Oliver.
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Jul 17, 2013 - 01:43pm PT
I believe it was the direct start to the Bastille Crack in 1975.

I can't wait to climb there again in September.

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 17, 2013 - 01:44pm PT

I still recall first meeting you in Eldorado on a cold 1962 Winter day, along with Bob Culp, to do the Ruper. Sadly I was home on leave from the Army, in really rotten shape, and on my way to Ft. Dix, NJ, Brooklyn Army Terminal, a troopship to Bremerhaven, and Germany for 2 years. I couldn't climb the Ruper Crack at that time, and it ate at me for nearly 3 years. It became an obsession for me, and I finally climbed it with Steve Thompson sometime in Spring, 1965. Another memorable ascent of Ruper was in Spring 1981 with my GF Anne Carrier; we did the lower Ruper after work in the evening wherein I led the Ruper Crack and she led the traverse pitch; we made it down via Exit Stage Left to a pizza and beer in Boulder.
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jul 17, 2013 - 02:08pm PT
Crunch, Nothing important, but just to let you know the Eldorado rock
is not Dakota, rather Fountain, like the Flatirons. Some of the
rock in Eldorado, such as Rotwand Wall, is Lyons Formation. And of
course you have the quartzite of Supremacy Slab and Supremacy Crack.
It might be possible to find some little section of Dakota somewhere
in Eldorado. I have wondered at times if the Wind Tower has a
little Dakota in it, as its south wall seems like Dakota in places....

Rodger, I have almost a photographic memory for the zillion climbs
I've done, though a few seem not to have been recorded by my mind.
I remember doing the Diagonal 4th ascent with you, and you were
my belayer when I did Supremacy in spring 1965, but I do not
remember Ruper. I find it difficult to believe you were ever that
out of shape, but I guess sometimes we get that way. Barry Bates
used to walk up and down Generator Crack and, after a long layoff
couldn't do it one day, he told me.... So I guess it happens. But
I also can't imagine doing Ruper and not remembering Culp. Every
climb I did with him, I watched and studied and learned. He was
the master free climber. As I mentioned above, he and I did
Grand Giraffe, but I can't recall him on Ruper. As I sit here,
though, a memory seems to start to manifest... of him walking up
those moves of the crack.... If it's any solace, Larry fell of
Ruper one day. I had decided for some reason to belay at the start
of the crack. When he fell, he slid down, and his legs straddled
me. So I caught him by virtue of the location of my belay. Had
I not belayed there, I suspect he would have taken a very serious
fall and a great deal farther....
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jul 17, 2013 - 02:09pm PT
Mark Hudon in Eldorado. Wow, I wish I had been your partner.
One of the great ones...
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