4th of July and Lizard Head 
Monday, July 8, 2013, 08:02 PM - Weekend Fun
Posted by Administrator
For the 4th of July, I had a few people over (Rusty, Mike, Tom, John, Jack, Jeanne & friends) to BBQ and, after carbo-loading, we jumped on bikes and headed to Balloon Fiesta Park for a Fireworks. Rusty was cruising strong on his cyclocross bike (occationally in the arroyo), so I hoped on the back wheel and blazed down there with him (not in the arroyo). The fireworks were nice, but the lightning was even more impressive. Coming back, the arroyo was flowing strong--great to see in this drought.




Mike, Tom, and I, ventured up to the Wilson's area by Telluride for the long weekend. We climbed Lizard Head (5.8ish) via the Southwest Chimney route. Up at 4:30, we were roped up at 6am. I led the first pitch and was very happy it wasn't too cold on my hands above 12,000'. My 2nd hold exploded when I gave it a pull. Albert Ellingwood spoke warmly of this effect after his 1921 FA, noting "a rottener mass of rock is inconceivable" and "most of the enticing small holds crumbled at a touch, and large masses of the loosely compacted pebbles would topple dangerously at a slight pull.”

After that, I was having some serious mental issues with my holds, and without my confidence, my climbing was particularly weak. I managed to get up to a slight roof but awkwardly moved around in the crack for about 20 minutes, came down to rest and look at the moves again, and went up to finally work up the gumption to step out, clip a piton, and crawl over the bulge. The final move of the pitch was also tricky, but well protected; I pulled a nice layback to make it up to the spire. I belayed Mike up and then belayed him out while bringing Tom up at the same time. Easier said than done, but it was safe and I didn't tangle the doubles somehow. Weather looked a little more threatening at this point, but it would hold for us.

Mike led the crux pitch relatively well. A few questionable placements, but he got to the top and brought Tom and I up quickly. I had the backpack dangling off my harness for the crux (slight roof) and it kept getting caught and pissing me off to no end. The summit of this massive pile of choss was... chossy! We went up to the top, signed the log AMRC Alpha Team, and then rapped back to the top of the 1st pitch.

Here's where things went wrong. I got to the anchor but the ropes refused to pull. We all tugged hard. Nothing. I climbed back up on the loose debris to get to a place where I could prussic onto the pull rope and weighed it down. With everything I could give it, there was a little movement. I backed my way to the 1st anchor with my 1:1 system. Then up I went again to give it another pull. Again, putting my whole weight into the rope it moved slowly through the chains on the summit. I repeated this 10 ft/pull maneuver until we had the ropes. It was particularly scary to be jumping down the debris field toward a 200 ft cliff prussiced to a loose end of a rope... though Mike did have a belay on the other end.










To celebrate the climb, we headed into Telluride for pizza and a beer. On the free gondola ride over to Mountain Village, a middle-aged Florida woman openned conversation by saying, "You're dirty." We explained that we were camping and she told us her sons wanted to try that, but there were too many things that could eat you out there and that she'd need to hire a guide. We just looked at each other in disbelief. Really, is there such a thing as guided camping?


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