At first, I was surprised. What were so many people doing here on a Monday, during the first week of October? We were on a school trip to Indian Creek, and there were quite a few folks hanging out in the main campground. Don’t they know Creek season starts in November, when the climbing everywhere else gets too cold? Many of the days in October can be too warm to climb anywhere but in the shade, and there just aren’t that many options for completely avoiding the sun in the land of splitter cracks.
And then I started thinking about it. If you get up early, or don’t mind going to cliffs you can’t stay at all day, there actually is quite a bit you can get done down there in the warmer months. And maybe more and more people are realizing that the “early” season means less crowds, and more solitude, which is one of the best things about the place.
I was talking to a friend in the gym the other day, who loves going to the Red in December, because “everyone is gone and the friction is supreme.” Which had me pondering further, is there really an off season any more? Last winter was a bit of an anomaly, but even around here you can still get out on the sunny local cliffs in December, January and February.
As our crags become more and more crowded, has the “season” been redefined? In order to have that experience of being at our favorite places without a major crowd, maybe we are learning that it’s OK to think outside the box a little. Indian Creek in the summer, Yosemite in the winter? Why not?
On a personal level, I know that after a couple years of focusing on climbing year round, I no longer think of the end of THE season, but the end of “a” season. When summer is over, it’s time to hit the fall crags. As the snow starts piling up, we hit the lower elevation spots and sunnier walls. There are people who climb in Rifle all winter long, chasing what sun there is. Granted, it’s a select few, but it goes to show that with the proper motivation, a great summer crag can be a decent winter one too!
So what do you think? Have you ever visited a crag “out of season” and found that it was actually pretty darn fun? Is the off season more of a state of mind? Or are we holding on too tightly, and should we just go skiing or play Xbox during the winter instead?