We arrived in Colorado with a tick-list of goals that would define our adventure. Rob & I are well aware of the pitfalls that can come with planning too much of a trip or committing to many details. We pride ourselves on following the guiding words of the famous mountaineer Bill Tilman that “Any expedition worth doing can be planned on the back of an envelope.” This is an approach many find reprehensible and deserving of untimely disaster. It has not yet failed for Rob & I.
Among many of the ticks, we wanted to climb the long lazy routes up Boulder’s Flatirons, located just west of the city. These standing teeth of mountains are inclined at a relaxing fifty degrees tapering up to the Rockies farther west. From a distance they look like magnificent ramps of stone at the point where the plains meet the hills. We were inspired by stories of the view from each pinnacle of rock. A fine place to be with mankind at your back and wilderness in sight.
These routes are so easy to climb that Rob and I abandoned traditional belay methods and decided to simultaneously climb. We tied ourselves together with 20 meters of dynamic line and I started up in lead. The goal of simultaneous, or simulclimbing, is to have points of protection in between both climbers, placed by the leader and removed by the seconder. With good timing and luck we would make it to the top without having to stop more than once to refresh the leader with gear.
The moment we slung the anchors at the pinnacle a bellow of thunder screamed out of the mountains. Rob jerked around shocked, was it really thunder or a boulder falling in the ravine below? We rappelled quickly off the diving board of rock into the valley and scrambled out of the looming shadow of the Flatirons. We were worried for the climbers that were only partially up the routes, behind us. The rain came in heavy and forced us into town. We waited out the storm in a proud way, by ogling in Boulder’s famous outdoor gear store, Neptune Mountaineering.