OUTDOOR DAYS / by Angela Payne

Heading back to Mt. Evans for the first time of the season...

Heading back to Mt. Evans for the first time of the season...

At the beginning of the Colorado bouldering season, I went to a boulder problem called Sunseeker at Mt. Evans.  It is one of the most beautiful lines I have ever seen and is only safely climbable for a small window of time early in the season when snow covers the unpleasant landing.  Conspicuous Consumption was the original problem on this boulder and was established by Cameron Cross.  A few relatively easy moves lead to some committing slab moves and an awkward reach to the lip.  It took me many tries to commit to the top, and I was very intimidated, but it was well worth it, because this boulder is simply spectacular.  The low start (Sunseeker), saw numerous ascents this season and has now been added to my lifetime to do list.

Conspicuous Consumption

Conspicuous Consumption

Committing to the top out.  Scary!

Committing to the top out.  Scary!

Lost on the hill....

Lost on the hill....

Topping out this boulder was amazing, but it wasn’t the highlight of the day.  That came much later, after nearly 8 miles of hiking.  In an effort to find a shorter route between the car and this boulder, I ended up trudging up the steep hillside with a few friends for what turned out to be a rather long time.  I was hungry and tired and ready to be home.  I was not yet in hiking shape, so it was slow going for me.  And then, as we traversed the snowy hillside in search of the road, the sun began to set behind the mountains, and I didn’t want to be home anymore.  I wanted to be right there, utterly exhausted from a perfect day of climbing on a perfect boulder, still an unknown distance from the car and food, watching one of the most gorgeous mountain sunsets I have seen.  It was one of those moments of clarity, when I know that I have to have this—the outdoors, the rock, the movement, the beauty.

Crossing the snow at sunset

Crossing the snow at sunset

Sunset selfie

Sunset selfie

Whispers of Wisdom V10, Photo by Meagan Martin

Whispers of Wisdom V10, Photo by Meagan Martin

Since that day early in the season, that feeling has been reinforced over and over again as I have spent many more days outside.  Some days have brought sending and I have managed to tick off some boulders that have long been on my “to do” list.  I spent a handful of days and evenings at Emerald Lake working on Whispers of Wisdom with friends before finally topping out this spectacular problem.  This was a personal victory for me, as I have always found the long, powerful moves challenging and the tall, glory slab intimidating.

Other days have been spent falling and embracing the frustration that is so inherent to bouldering.  Recently, I have returned to my long-term project, Freaks of the Industry.  My journey on this boulder problem has been one of the most epic and emotionally-taxing endeavors of my bouldering career, but I truly love the process.  Plus, every time I attempt it, I am in one of my favorite places in the world, surrounded by the beauty of The Park.  I will certainly post more about it in the future and will continue the battle until I stand on top of that boulder.

Lower Chaos Canyon and Long's Peak

Lower Chaos Canyon and Long's Peak

No matter the outcome at the end of a session, every day that includes time spent outside has become a success in itself.  I have always enjoyed being outside, but this past year has opened my eyes to the fact that I really need the time outdoors.  Maybe it was the incredible trip to Greenland a year ago, or maybe the past 6 months of days spent inside at work with little more than a glimpse of the outside world.  Whatever the reason, I am learning that fresh air is critical for my mental and physical well-being.   As it turns out, climbing is also one of those things that is an integral part of my happiness, so climbing outside is a double shot of healthy.  Isn’t it wonderful when things line up like that?  ;)

Sun through the clouds in RMNP

Sun through the clouds in RMNP

Now, as the Fall rapidly approaches, I plan to get a dose of the outdoors as often as possible.  With cooler temperatures on the horizon, the days are only getting better!