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Colorado
  2008-06-24 22:31:35    

About a month ago I moved out to the Boulder area. So far it seems like this maybe has not been the best choice. I have now been up to Mt. Evans, Upper and Lower Chaos Canyon and Emerald Lake in RMNP, and to the Flatirons and Boulder Canyon. These are all really beautiful areas, which obviously are much more impressive than MD. But still even now as I have seen most of the famous climbs I have always heard about, I am still not psyched at all. I am not saying that the climbing in Colorado is actually bad, maybe just a little bit disappointing as on the east coast we are always hearing about how amazing CO is and how there is so much amazing climbing packed around Boulder.

So I actually move out to CO and I am not sure it was really worth it from my perspective. When I first saw the Dali wall I must say it is perhaps the most beautiful wall I have ever seen, and some of the problems look pretty good, but they were still just boulder problems you could find at many other areas I have been to. Some of the problems did look like three or four stars, but not this whole other amazing level of climbing. So then you have to take into account that this is after driving a touch over 2 hours and then hiking for, I am told, about an hour and half. So this means that about 7 hours of your day are taken up by transport and approach. I am not just being a sissy about the hike, I did it reasonably well given that I am from sea level and had never hiked it before, it is just kind of a pain in the ass. Also so far in the month of June I have spent $140 on gas, and I have only gone to Evans once and the park twice. I would happily make this journey for an area that is packed with Naguals, God Modules, Swarms, and Clear Blue Skies. But it is not, it is just another good climbing area. Maybe somehow I got the wrong impression on what the climbing here is like, but I feel like myself and I think some others have this impression that it is this whole other amazing level of awesomeness, and I have simply been disappointed.  

This Sunday my friend Seth nicely took me up to Chaos. Now admittedly, the conditions of the approach will get better than they are now and maybe I will be able to do it with less suffering. But as it is now, not only is it some ungodly long approach up a mountain, but during certain sections I thought I was going to slip and cripple myself. I would be a lot more willing to just plug out some super long hike, but this was mentally exhausting for me as I was seriously afraid during parts of hike. And although I did not see every problem in Chaos I got to see quite a few classics, and I was still so unmotivated I did not even put my shoes on. My head is very largely to blame for my lack of psych on CO, but I was hoping that when I went out to see all these super classic problems I would get really psyched up and motivated to climb. If you think of the scenario of a climber who has just been climbing in the gym and has not been psyched, one would think that if you were to plop that climber in front of some amazing climb they had always heard of but never seen that they would get all excited and hopefully be psyched to climb. Unfortunately this has not worked out so well for me at all.  

One of the reasons that I got the impression that the climbing in Colorado was so amazing is the same reason my opinion should not be weighed as very important. Every fucking climber in the US seems to move here. A funny example of this was at the Teva Games/World Cup I asked my friend Sewell when he was moving out to Boulder. Now I actually had no idea if he was actually planning on moving anywhere at all, the question was asked partially as a joke, but he responded with some date in the near future. The huge number of climbers here is also so far not a plus for me. It is not people themselves, there are not any people I dislike or anything, but it is troublesome overall as a community for me. In MD there was the climbing community and the not climbing community, everyone was perfectly comfortable climbing with anyone, and although many did not climb outside very much, those who did were always psyched to go out and climb with anyone. In Boulder…..well I do not think I am experienced enough to really break down how it works, but I am pretty sure there is not just one climbing community, there seems to be smaller circles and these circles are harder to break into than it would seem at first. I recently ran into Herm at CATS for the first time since I moved here, he joked that I did not live in Boulder yet. I was just a visitor and needed to apply for membership. I think Herm’s joke explains things pretty well. Perhaps though I will keep my visitor status. Maybe one area was just not meant to have this many climbers, it is like some crazy social experiment of battling egos, scorecards, grading theories and whatever else I have yet to see. I am not saying that the people in Boulder have bigger egos than other places it is just that there is a whole bloody lot of them.   

Although everyone else seems to love it here, I still feel that I should state my view, first off so if anyone ever moves here and agrees with me maybe they will be slightly less surprised. Also some of the things I fail to appreciate may make any of you living in Boulder (or a similar area if one exists) appreciate them more. When reading this you may think “Having a large active climbing community is great!” so next time you are climbing with a huge posse you hopefully will be reminded “My friends are awesome! James is a socially retarded idiot”. Or “Why are you complaining about the approach? The approach itself is an amazing thing of beauty that should in no way be counted against the climbing.” So maybe next time you take some long long hike you will think “Man this is beautiful, James is an ass.” I find that overtime you grow jaded to the things that you love and need something to remind you of why you loved it in the first place. And that is what I have been failing to find in Colorado.

 



Blog by: James O'Connor
OffLine Milky "Bonerack" Williams
  2008-06-26 23:44:43    

It's a shame you had to move there to find that out.....a short visit would have been sufficient.

OffLine User Deactivated
  2008-06-27 06:51:34    

James,


  The true beauty of Colorado is the massive quantity of stone in close proximity.  If you want to really get an idea of how much rock is out there that is still untouched just start exploring in the Flatirons.  You could climb there for years and never go to the same place twice.  Don't "Be like the Jonses" and try to go to the "Best Spots", just meet a couple of people and start having your own adventures.  Also, Chaos is only a single canyon in the RMNP that has become popular.  There are tons of other areas that are not even on the radar yet.


BTW I live in Evergreen, which has no where near the amount of climbing that Boulder does, but I still have over 500 Boulder problems that I can walk to from my home and several thousand climbs less than an hour away.  I also almost never run into other climbers because I don't mind hiking for a half hour from the trailhead.

It takes a while to get your feet under you...just keep going new places and don't get caught up in the Boulder scene....If you think it sucks it surely will.

OffLine j ojile
  2008-06-27 15:13:21    
don't put down a climbing scene because of not meeting your expectations. your first mistake was moving to boulder. that town would turn anybody off to climbing in this state. colorado is just a place like any other you just have to drive a little farther to get anywhere. if you're not into a little exploration to go along with your climbing then flee back east. the more people that can't make the approach the better in my book...go home gapers.
OnLine James O'Connor
  2008-06-27 21:06:02    

   I am not putting down a scene because it does not meet my expectations, it is simply not a scene that fits with me very well, I did not say it was inherently bad.


And as for the approach it is about the return and how psyched I would be to even walk 10 minutes. I said that my head has been in a bad place before I even came to CO. I just don't see the point of spending lots of time and money when I am not getting anything out of the climbing. When many people go climbing they enjoy time with their friends, relaxing, hiking, the movement of climbing, projecting, sending, etc. But I am not getting these things and not because of the approach.


OffLine j ojile
  2008-06-27 23:55:54    

i'm sorry, man. i didn't mean to jump all over your personal downer. i know how it is to not be where you want to be(mentally that is).


just don't base your judgement of the colorado climbing scene on boulder, chaos or evans. there is so much more quiet beauty in this state that is not represented in those tourist traps. i get a little turned off by the number of people and the attitudes as well, just stick with it and you'll find something in this state that will be sure to inspire you.


welcome to colorado

OffLine John
  2008-06-30 08:52:59    
"Maybe somehow I got the wrong impression on what the climbing here is like, but I feel like myself and I think some others have this impression that it is this whole other amazing level of awesomeness, and I have simply been disappointed. "

I hope this will help:

Climbing Magazine
1260 Yellow Pine Avenue
Boulder, CO 80304
phone: (303) 225-4628
fax: (303) 417-1371


OffLine Infinity
  2008-07-01 23:38:29    
You know, I think you have a serious point. I climb in New Mexico, and while certainly not the super-mecca that colorado is, we have a pretty large climbing cmmunity here. I climbed for fun for two years, and never really got anywhere, but in the last three months, I find myself flashing v3's and even v4's now. As I get better, it's like the climbers around are accepting me more, but at the same time, they seem to be a lot more on edge. I have noticed that this is mostly the idiotic over competitive people, who get mad when they can't send a problem in front of the cute girl at the gym. But these guys make up a big majority of competitive climbing whether we like it or not. You sound like a guy that cares more about the fun of climbing, and I will tell you, those legendary climbs, are not perfect without the right people. When you have a group that every person you are sure will jump under you to catch you if there is no pad, and every single one has a style you can't do, they push you. It makes you really want to work, and those climbs in co are sick, to a degree. I am actually gonna be heading up that way later in the year to try a few things, but I will not go alone. You may be a visitor to some, and that is good, cause ego can drown out fun really fast. If you have not seen the movie Pilgrimage, check it out, and I recommend you look for the people who are laughing when they fall off the problems, because they will be the best people to hang with for you. There are some very cool points to colorado, and you will find them, but the first thing to do is find a nice group to climb with, I don't know if all those people will be on 8a, in fact, no offense to the site, I am the only one in my group that actually uses this site, but all the people in my group climb hard, and push me to my limit. Your one friend is a start, but remember, attitude is everything, go out and explore, not just all the already existing routes, but try bouldering in places with no guidebook, just guessing at ratings with your friends, and see if you can't make a problem that means a hell of a lot more than any Realization or Mandala.