Fall alpine climbing has been some of the best in memory. I’d call it fall climbing but other than a few minor exceptions, it was summer—without thunderstorms. It has been dry and warm throughout, particularly since the second half of September. I was lucky enough to have great clients on great climbs.
With John Pratt, one of the few clients I’ve had who has climbed longer than I have, we climbed Sharkstooth’s Northeast Ridge (5.6), which was the last time I’ve seen rain this fall (but we reached the summit) and Notchtop’s Spiral Route (5.4-5.7), which has always been one of my favorites.
I did get blown down from the Petit Grepon (5.8) with Jim Findlater a week later, but since then I’ve had perfect weather on Longs on two consecutive trips—one on the under-climbed Keyhole Ridge (5.6) with old friend Kevin O’Hara, Sean, and Mark. For Mark, it was his first multi-pitch climb, a fact we kind of discovered in process, a mis-communication but one he was a good enough athlete to pull off.
The next weekend we had the Scwartz family, father, brother, cousins, buddies, kids, and the family priest on the Keyhole, the first alpine climb for a few of them, but all summitted—again, in absolutely perfect weather. Sadly, on the way down, just before we reached the Keyhole, we learned a solo climber had slipped and fallen to his death. What bothers me about the Keyhole is how casually people take it and how brutal the route can be when someone’s careless.
It’s October now and still strangely summer-like at high elevation. I’m hoping to get in a few more alpine rock climbs before the ice tools come out.
Join us before the fall alpine rock season ends. It’s going quick!
CMS Owner and Senior Guide
AMGA Certified Rock and Alpine Guide