Living on the Flip Side


Fall is without question my favorite time of year. I’m not one to get hung up on complaining about “poor conditions” in the summer, but there is something magical about this time of year. The changing leaves that give each tree a glow that seems to come from within. The sun getting lower in the sky paints the world in a more gentle light than the harsh rays of summer. The glorious temperatures, often perfect for climbing, whether you prefer sun or shade. And there is a bittersweet urgency to it all, because winter is right around the corner, and all this will be over soon, until spring when the snow recedes and life returns to the hills.

This fall has been spectacular in Western Colorado. Perfect, dry days, amazing colors lighting up the hill sides… and I’ve spent most of it training indoors. The first half of this year was incredible for me from a climbing standpoint. A long trip to Red Rocks, a productive spring at the local crags, a trip to California, a bunch of days in Rifle, and then I got injured. So like any good injured climber, I got in the gym and starting training my way back to health. Three months later, the rehab is done and I’m stronger now than I was in July when I got hurt.

Life has also been unusually busy since my injury. A series of circumstances have demanded my time and all that’s been left for climbing is a few hours here and there for gym time. I love training and getting stronger, and this has forced me to get serious about it in a way I haven’t been for some time. The flip side is that I haven’t been getting outside much, and it’s been interesting to experience fall this way. The longing for adventure is deep, but the I haven’t yet been able to scratch that itch. Which is fine, because it only makes me appreciate the days I do get all the more.

Last Saturday I was able to make it out to Rifle for the afternoon, and it was glorious. The canyon was quiet, the temps perfect, and it felt good to move over real rock. Even though I hadn’t been there recently, I felt strong thanks to the training, and it made me appreciate all the more what you can do with a focused amount of time in the gym several days each week.

Now I’m setting my sights on late fall/winter climbing goals, local crags that stay warm and desert objectives that are good all winter long. And maybe since I’ve not gotten out much this fall, I’ll be that much more motivated to make some things happen during a time of year when I’m usually content to sit back and reflect on the year that was.

Because the season never really ends, it just changes. And this year it’s a change I’m ready for.

Locals Corner

Bulldog Creek Dog Walk (IV WI 4+)

Hayden Carpenter and Tom Bohanon recently repeated an obscure ice climb on the south side of Mt Sopris. Given a brief mention in Jack Robert’s ice guide, Bulldog Creek Walk is described as being 100 meters of WI 4. What they found was seven pitches of ice in a remote setting that makes for one […]

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