Colorado and Joe’s Valley Utah

Eldorado Canyon, Colorado

I’ve been in Colorado for nearly two weeks now, not really sure where the time has gone. Snowboarding for the first time at the beginning of the trip was not such a bright idea. I’m still nursing sore intercostal muscles. Clocked up a few sessions and a look at the famous CATS gym home of the strong and visited by the weak.

Checked out Eldorado canyon and did a couple of polished classics, Gill Face V2 and South Face V2, respectively John Gill and Pat Ament problems. After this tried a Paul Robinson V9 called Resonated, lovely spot down by the creek as shown in the above drawing.

Checked out Flagstaff and had a look at Trice V13, stuck the first move for a nano second! wished I had more time.

A weekend gave us the chance to go further afield. A long  drive up Poudre Canyon, gave me the first taste of the mountains, so peaceful and wild. I did a couple of classics on Hanks Boulder, Scarface V6 and hanks Lunge V5, flashed the 5 and should have flashed the 6. Took a few goes to do another good low-ball called Puffing Stone V6, by this time we were tired and bothered by very large mosquitoes. Sunday should have seen a session at Fort Collins but it rained!

Big Bend, Utah

A week later we went to Utah, very hot in the Moab area so headed for Joe’s Valley. Turns out it’s a pretty amazing spot. I’d been once before over ten years ago, It had seemed ok. but not memorable. This trip proved quite different, maybe it was the difference between the hustle of Boulder and the complete silence, peace and relaxed ambiance of Joe’s and nearby Orangeville. It was still hot, maybe a bit warm for sandstone, but we got a lot done.

Andy and Jane's moderately busy tick-list
Andy and Jane’s moderately busy tick-list

What really need mentioning though is the good work done by climbers and locals in making this a very worthwhile destination. The bouldering needs no hyping, solid sandstone and masses of boulders. But what is really interesting is the way the area has been managed.  According to Brad Davis, Director of Utah Office of Outdoor Education, interviewed in Climbing, may 2015, ‘Climbing has had a strong economic impact in Orangeville, where Joe’s valley bouldering is located…since 2000 when Ben Moon first climbed Black Lung V13…Now that coal is being replaced by cleaner natural gas, we’re working with the land managers and groups like the Access Fund and salt lake Climbers Alliance to enhance camping facilities and access to the boulders’. What this means in reality is trails up into newly developed areas, porta-loos at the campsites, which are quite and peaceful and free and a warm welcome in the local town, Orangeville. The Aquatic centre positively welcomed us when we went for a shower, they have a map and get all the dirty climbers to mark on a world map where they come from. The Food Ranch, pictured below is also awesome, world famous donuts recommended.

Orangeville, Food ranch
Orangeville, Food ranch

I couldn’t help contrasting this positive situation with the situation of the free camping in Fontainebleau. I was lucky or unfortunate enough to experience the closing down party at the now long gone Bas Cuvier bivouac. This was shut down because of the ‘crap’ and rubbish in the forests surrounding the bivouac spot. In the Autumn of 2014 I spent quite a few weeks at the Bouron Marlotte bivouac, this site is again free, managed by the authorities, but I fear this will be shut soon as well. I witnessed daily the procession of campers/boulderers trooping of into the woods, with no shame, to shit, even though a toilet is provided. Not a nice one, but better than the woods. It seems that in this situation the climbers feel that they are entitled to climb in the forest, not realizing their behaviour is being watched and balanced in the light of all the other users of the forest. I’m not sure what the answer is in this situation.

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