We decided to break even on some 5.10 climbing (Yosemite Decimal System grade given to climbs of certain difficulty). We set our eyes on a three pitch climb up a south facing cliff titled Jungle Mountaineering. I really enjoy climbing at a new location everyday. Rob & I used our expertise in balance on a particularly tricky section of bee and flower patch to get to this cliff. You could hear the garden humming with energy and I was very nervous to make sudden movements. Rob & I tied into the same rope and I headed up first placing carabiners until I got to a good spot to hunker down and belay. Rob seconded the climb and collected the gear I used to protect it. Many of the holds that we grabbed resembled strangely shaped chicken heads. It was fun and easy climbing and afforded us great views of Pike’s Peak the entire way up. Our view was limited, however, by the looming cliff we were tied to. This made it very easy for a summer thunderstorm to go unnoticed until directly overhead.
We scaled the last two pitches and peered over top of the ridge. Rob & I paused, ahead was a frothing storm. Blasts of light pounded the ridges in front of us, each flash moving a bit closer to our perch. We were still learning to time our climbing with the afternoon thunderstorms and had not gone a day without getting soaked. Luckily, when the storms pass, they leave behind patches of warm sun to dry our belongings. We rappelled as fast as we could down all three pitches to the ground. We ran through the bee patch and scampered back up the valley wall to an overhanging spit of rock. This became our Devil’s Head rain refuge on more than one occasion. We watched a grove of aspen trees whip around in the wind. Their leaves, darker on one side and lighter on the other, flickered like coins in the light. Drops of water formed on the textured rock in front of us, first forming puddles and then streaming together to form rivulets and streaks. The water barraged downhill and away from us.
Rob and I climbed two more routes in the cloud scattered light, titled Turd Burglar and The Green Tornado. We were tired from a long day of climbing and we had finally acclimatized to the elevation. We relaxed around our site for the remainder of the day. Rob read The Hobbit and I worked on my writing. I wrote, inspired by the sunset and in a poetic mood.
Balanced on a ledge, Rob & I are sitting over the forest with a great view most of the way up Devil’s Head. I’m watching the sun set over all of Pike National Forest. Pike’s Peak, a formidable giant on the horizon, is clothed in a hazy red and misty blue as the clouds reflect shifting colors through the sky. The sun falls below the clouds and begins to burn the land in a heated hue. What remains of the storm clouds are tattered and motionless, only the colors are moving. The trees remain green but now a much deeper shade. The sun sinks out of view and appears extinguished as if dropping a molten bead of iron in a pail of water. My last night here.