Rock Climbing – Stairway to Heaven (5.3), Boulder, CO

Stairway To Heaven Route Beta
Stairway to Heaven follows the yellow line up the top edges of the fins of rock.

On Sunday, after running the Federal Cup 5K, and previously climbing Swanson’s Arete, I co-led a rock climbing graduation climb for 2 of my CMC Boulder’s Basic Rock Climbing students, Jack and Shawn.

Mike, the senior instructor and trip leader, picked the perfect grad climb: Stairway to Heaven (5.3). It is a fun climb with a few mild but interesting challenges. I was excited to climb something new and in a more remote location. On a pretty day like today, there was bound to be scads of climbers on Flatirons 1-5!

Also, I was super happy Andy climbed with us. He assisted with belay transfers, which greatly improved our ascent efficiency. He also helped me to communicate with Mike, who was way out in lead. Thanks, Andy!

There were 4 minor hiccups in the day (listed at the bottom), which put a small damper on our collective moods at times. But, other then these few items, we all had fun and were safe.

Jack and Shawn did very well and I was very excited for them. They got experience belaying climbers from above and below, were at various times perched on small, exposed ledges, and also rose to the challenge of route finding on the descent. We had an excellent day of climbing, topped off with a full solar eclipse.

Sneak Peak of Route Through Trees
Mike and Andy on Approach

Jack Ready to Be at the Crag
Jack ready to be at the crag…it’s a fairly long approach!

Mike Traversing on Pitch 1
Mike traversing on pitch 1.

The Crux of the Climb
The crux of the climb, on pitch 1. I bypassed this by going around to the left, out on a face to the edge.

How I Avoided Crux of Pitch 1
Looking down from my crux avoidance spot.

View of NCAR from Stairway to Heaven
View of NCAR from Stairway to Heaven, NICE!

Mike and Shawn Getting Ready for Pitch 2
Mike and Shawn Getting Ready for Pitch 2

Jack at the End of Pitch 2
Jack at the End of Pitch 2

Andy Found a Nice Belay Block!
Andy found a comfortable belay spot!

Andy and Jack at a Belay
Andy and Jack at the end of pitch 3

Shawn Making the Moves on Pitch 4
Shawn climbing the last pitch we did of Stairway to Heaven

Jack and Clare Glad to be on Solid Ground
Clare and Jack happy to have survived the treacherous downclimb!

Hiking Back to the Car
Hiking back to NCAR!

Minor hiccups:
1. On one of the pitches we did a little simul-climbing, so I wrapped the rope in a mountaineers coil. Unfortunately, it got hopelessly tangled when I uncoiled it. I have no idea how. One of these days, I need to figure out how to make that loop properly!

2. We had a little bit of thunder heads form overhead, but luckily nothing more than a little spitting rain materialized.

3. We descended the wrong way, as shown in the above picture. We went down the red route, which descends a treacherous loose and sloppy gully. The green route would have been a cinch, but we didn’t know! At one point, we all scootched down a steep slab rather than try and walk down…it was covered in pea gravel and there were some gnarly consequences should one slip.

4. Jack accidently knocked a rock the size of a softball into the area just above my ankle and it hurt like a mofo. I had a bruise for about 2 weeks after…It was my fault for standing directly beneath him as he was completing a switchback down the gully. I should have been paying more attention! I have the experience to know how to get groups safely up/down loose scree/boulder filled gullies, I was just tired and being a dufus. I know he felt bad, regardless…However, looking on the bright side, it turned into the perfect opportunity to discuss the timing of yelling, “Rock!”.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.