A Select from Shelf

Coffee_OatsOur canned milk has spoiled. The heat from the prior day has soiled our milks. What is a bowl of oats without a splash of milk? It didn’t matter, we had brown sugar for assisting the bland flavor. Besides, our saving grace is our one truest luxury: two eggs each, slowly cooked over our white gas stove. I ran to the car and dug the carton of eggs from the coolest place we have. Rob and I eagerly glared at the packaging and pried the tabs apart. The first egg cracked well and sizzled when poured into the oil we were heating. The second egg, however, cracked poorly and no egg dripped out. Instead our egg was cooked. The egg had cooked from the heat of the day.

Our campsite is located precisely on the edge of one of the limestone cliffs at Shelf Road. We pitched our tents among knotty pinyon pines and clusters of prickly bear cactus. A few steps from my tent and the landscape unfurls to an expansive vista of the Sangre de Cristos mountains. They stand tall and sloped as one pale color in the distance. Near to me are smaller steep mountains with rough edges and bands of cliffs. There is a small dirt road that leaves our vantage point and descends rapidly into the valley. Rob & I scarfed down our pathetic breakfast and hit the trail.


Rob & I were working on a project climb on a shady slab of rock. Neither of us had made it to the top without falling on our rope and hauling ourselves back up. Our goal was to not fall – to climb it as if there was no rope (but surely use a rope). The climb finishes with a clean cut crack running straight up. Rob ascended to the base of the crack and leaned left while jamming his fingers. A loud squeak could be heard. Something stirred within the crack and became very unhappy that Rob was intruding. Rob relaxed and fell back on the rope. He leaned right and peered into the slit in the rock. Bats. There were bats in the crack.


I lowered Rob down to me and he explained his surprise. What could we do? Rob & I would feel very guilty for rousting bats from their home (especially as volunteers for the Adventurers & Scientists for Conservation organization). We decided to leave our project climb for the bats and we would find our own climb to call our own.


We climbed for a couple more days at Shelf Road. We met one of the only locals, Bryce, and contested with loose rock on some daring climbs. Our time at Shelf was spent well and we enjoyed the solitude and wilderness experience. We climbed less than we usually did but we experienced more. Our adventure is half over and our anticipation is building to an immense level as we prepare for three more classic and bold climbing areas in Colorado: Clear Creek Canyon, Eldorado Canyon, and Boulder’s Flatirons.


About Clint Valentine

Clint is currently enrolled in two undergraduate degrees in Biology & Environmental Science at Northeastern University. He enjoys pursuits of endurance and distance which have included summiting many peaks in New England during winter alpine ascents, sailing the Atlantic in a vintage gaff-rigged schooner, rock climbing in five states including Oregon, and cycling 5,000 miles across North America. He has goals of pushing the envelope of his limits and combining his many outdoors interests into one big trip. He has a passion for photography and hopes to one day produce a documentary for a round-the-world tour.
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