Tag Archives: outdoors

Valle De Los Halcones

 


Once upon a time when I started this trip I was like a lone wolf, bounding across the meadows and mountains.. Then I met Karli, and we were two misfit wolves driving across the desert and mountains. Then Chris and Nicole came along, and we were a pack of wolves looking for bad ass climbs….

Knowing the Suesca main crag would be busy We decided to concentrate a weekend on the Valle De Los Halcones. According to the guidebook the land was private and all the bolts on the area had been cut off by the land owner due to climbers making a mess. Fortunately for us an American and another English lad, Jason and Sam, were living in Suesca and said we could park at their house right on the edge of the valley and they knew the land owners. They invited us to talk to them and after a brief few minutes of talking Chris had made it clear we would be careful and take everything out we brought in. The owner permitted us to enter the valley for 2000COP each (about 60cent each or 40p).

We grabbed our packs and headed over the rise into the valley. It felt nice to have a short walk in again. Despite going running most mornings including this one the small rise had me breathing hard. It could have been the pack of climbing gear and a 6 litre bottle of water and the 9000ft elevation, but hard work felt hard.

Entering the valley was like entering a lost world. Crazy knowing a mile away were hundreds of people climbing on top of each other. We walked around a while and found a big slab worthy of a play. All the bolts had been cut or removed so we ran a rope to a boulder further back and set up a top rope for the morning.

The start of the problem was hard. Real hard. First I tried, then Chris, then Karli, we all failed. The crimps were too small and shoes just weren’t holding. Nicole came next and some kind of witchcraft happened, she just cruised to a higher point. But was again stumped. The line was hard. Not being dismayed we all took a turn overcoming the hard part with some aid and climbed higher. The top 2/3rds of the boulder were awesome. Small crimps combined with good footholds and a couple of flake holds leaving a dyno to the top for a rounded edge.

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We took it in turns going for the top. I took the chance while not on the rope to run around to the top and lean over to get these shots.

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sequence of climbing to falling. quite cool I think

After a while and getting the whole sequence linked we moved further down the valley to relax while climbing up and down some vertical/slightly overhanging but easy crag. At the end of the day we were all pretty beat and cold and headed back to town for 60cent beers and soup.

With thanks to Das_Karlo, Burritocharmer and Olas_y_montanas.Screenshot 2017-12-06 at 8.31.50 AM

Trad Climbing in Suesca, Colombia

So. In prep for some bigger mountains, I’ve started teaching Karli how to trad. She can sport climb already, so its been quite good progress, the past week has been spent around Suesca, Colombia. Camping at around 9400ft which is a nice gentle bit of acclimatisation for Cocuy National Park. We have been running and climbing each day. By that, I mean climbing some, and thinking of running; then not.

Ive been teaching Karli how to place gear, build anchors and safely rappel. She led her first multi pitch, approx 250ft, a good solid 5.7 (American grade) with some interesting features- 35meters up an interesting clean corner, a 15meter run out on a traverse without any protection, and a nice steep 40 meter corner to climb with bomber protection. A great fun route .

 

We have been camping up the hill on the far side of the valley, in an old dissused quarry big enough to hide the car from weather with great views back the way too, nice sunsets, lightning storms and best of all its free.

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top of route after Karli’s first multi pitch route and lead.
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top of another three pitch route
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coiling rope after a good day out
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the end of the traverse before going straight up.

The weather has held up great and we have been ticking lots of simple routes. Below is a picture of Karli gasing the wildlife with arms raised, poor squirrels, didn’t know what hit em’. Lunch has been from a local restaurant costing about 3 dollars to feed and water both of us with soup, and a plate full of chicken and rice and veg and fresh juice. The roof tent has been building a nice sweaty climbing shoe aroma after a week of not washing. We are back in Bogota for a weekend off before another week or so of climbing in Suesca and running in the evenings before the ambition grows. After the restrictiveness of Central America nearly sending me crazy with cabin/car fever being confined by rain, high entrance fees and every local sticking out a hand wanting money, South America is starting to become really good fun and re-establish why we are on this trip.

 

 

Climbing

So, my trip has taken a turn (not the first on this trip) which I will get to in a minute. A few days go I cycled the 80 miles out to the base of longs peak (14,259ft), with a bike climb from 5000ft up to 9500ft, collected route information from the ranger station, cycled down 6 miles to national forest and camped.

The next morning at 3am I started cycling in the pitch black by head torch back up the mountain. There is always a debate in my mind when I wake early to climb or hike about should I just lie there and be a normal person getting up at a reasonable time, is this a sane thing to do? Anyway. Arriving at the trailhead I stashed my bicycle behind the ranger station and made some hot cinnamon oats which tasted great. So this is quite a popular peak and there were plenty of people heading up while I ate. The ranger the previous day recommended setting off around 1am, naturally I chucked this piece of advice to the wind believing myself to be a supreme machine(often I am wrong in this assumption). At around 4.15/4.30am I started up, hiking and running the flatter areas. I reached the Keyhole, a natural gap in the ridgewall and only way up at first light, which is where the scrambling begins. I flew past a lot of people and reached the summit after around 2.5hours. I sat a while talking to a few other hikers then started descending. Two others descended with me and turned out to have a decent pace. Which was nice compared to the solitary ascent. After getting back to the car park I whipped up some spaghetti and a mystery silver foil packed sauce which was possibly some form of madras with lentils then dropped down to boulder for the night. There was no plan to go to boulder but 20dollars at the campsite in Lyons seemed expensive for what was there, so I carried on.

In boulder its surprising just how many signs saying no camping are up around the town and surrounding area. I ended up paying 100 dollars for a motel room I didn’t want, I resented it but it did beat the hostel that offered my their last suite room for 250 dollar. This rarely happens but I was tired and hungry and had saved money the previous nights wild camping. I cycled back to Denver, cleaned up my bike with a pack of 1 dollar wipes, bought a beer from a brewery and before I finished the beer sold the bike to a gent I agreed to meet there a day previous to boost my funds a little for the next part of my trip. Met a lovely couple while drinking my beer and letting the gent go test the bike. I had a minor concern he would just ride off on it never to be seen again, but i figured if he did it would be one less thing to worry about.

Chapter 2- The Next Part

So, Through chance I have met a girl called Karli who is wanting to drive from Denver to Argentina. Her plan beats my original plan in a few ways, first, cycling a long way on paved surface is boring, really boring, especially alone its like solitary confinement on a seat not designed for a mans behind. Second, it would be nice to be on a roadtrip for a while and have a few luxuries like pressed coffee, a real seat to sit in instead of dirt, and a climbing partner for some more technical ascent, which there will be plenty of. I have spent the past couple of days hanging around and getting to know Karli and her friends. Today we went tubing on a river with a couple of beers followed by volleyball under glorious sunshine. Sometimes life is hard but I guess I can endure.

Setting off in a couple of days. Mayhem bound to follow.

Benjamin

Choose Junk Food

Choose Junk food

Choose smarties, choose snickers, choose candy and hope diabetes wont catch up with you.

Choose double espresso for breakfast with donuts coated in sugar and chocolate and tell yourself you’ll burn it off in a workout.

choose 5 coffees to stay awake then energy drinks to peak the rush you chase every day.

choose 5hour energy for motivation, choose babe ruth bars for dinner, choose 2 burgers to comfort you when the days been long.

Choose candy for hikes, choose m&ms for biking, choose pop-tarts for alpine ascents.

Then wash it down with an unending quantity of Pepsi, Cola, monster, relentless and all the soda you can get your hands on.

This is my life, this is what i do. I’m a sugar junkie. It fuels me.

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On the trail, I eat eat like this. The above writing is just a bit of fun. It is exactly how I eat.

 

After The Basin, from Rawlin to Steamboat

I’ve just felt my face. It felt like it was covered in grit. I’ve looked in the mirror, its covered in salt, white from the effort and sweat. Today I cycled 85mile off road and 30 miles on. I felt unstoppable, until the climb, then i felt like a uncooked beef steak chucked over the handlebars. The end of the gravel cycle had a 1500 ft climb, but the road kept dropping hundreds of feet every few miles adding hundreds more to the ascent. All I could think is the surveyor who planned the road despised cyclists, he probably sits at the front of a log cabin on the way up. Smugly grinning each time he sees a cyclist collapsing over the handlebars with exhaustion, covered in sweat, trying to suck in air that doesn’t seem to exist. After the effort the reward was a smooth paved descent through a lightning storm towards Steamboat Colorado. It was brilliant.

 

This day started with the sun beaming at my face under the tarp sheet, the wind had been flapping it all night due to my lazy attempt of stringing it up, I envisioned it blowing away in the night but it held on.  I packed quickly, I drank a one dollar energy shot and hopped on the bike. Within a few miles a rattlesnake blocked the route, at first I thought it to be like every dead snake, stretched out along the gravel after a driver swerved to get it, but this one was slightly different in that when I drew closer and it snapped up into a coil. I hastily braked. I feel positive of my identifying this as a rattle snake due to the rattling its tail made. Fortunately the road was wide enough for both of us and I carried on with my odyssey.

I met a few CDT hikers, one called J who happened to be in the right place for a kinda cool photo. Later in the day up the pass where I rested for ten minutes I was entertained by many many humming birds. I have noticed the past couple of days the variety of birds along the way. I don’t know what they are called but keep meaning to snap some photos of the colourful ones, but it seems like effort to stop the bike and so I have only the two photos so far. I have made a few frantic grabs for my phone, but by the time the pin is typed in and camera activated, the desired shot is one hundred meters past already. And so, I sigh.

Its nice to have a motel bed tonight.

Ps. I have noticed when cycling and nearing or cresting a summit, Americans do this fist pumping action thing like a sign of victory along with an agreeing nod and big smile, sometime a ‘Yeah!!!!’. If it happens again tomorrow, I will fist pump back!! Goodnight world.

 

 

Cycling The Great Divide Basin

 

The divide basin is a large flat(ish) area that splits the rockies in wyoming. Its dusty, hot, there are lots of ticks that will try to bite you and its long. (136miles by the official bike route I think).

To get to the basin from Landers first i had to cycle the wrong way up 2300feet into a headwind. I resented this climb. I didn’t really need to cross the basin, I hiked across in 2015 and didn’t expect it to be much different. I could have taken the shorter road route but that wouldn’t be much of an adventure and i considered this a necessary evil on my trip.

I waited around Atlantic City, a small town on the edge of the basin with a few other hikers and bikers till after 4pm when it would start to cool, and set off, the water sources being about 22mile in, then 56mile, then Rawlins at the far side. I have two 1 litre water bottles but bought a couple of extra litres for just in case a flat tyre or something cataclysmic slowed me down, but i soon ditched the extra water with the thought there will be someone else out here if it goes south. I currently have a buckled back wheel and is is very slowly getting worse. hopefully it can make an extra 140miles to Steamboat springs where bike shops are plentiful.   I was very fortunate to have a tailwind for the first time and this was great motivation to keep going till after dark, knowing the next day it might be gone. I followed the tail of a storm, the clouds just keeping me in shade. The wildlife was brilliant, I had mule deer running all over, horses, cows, hares and after sundown, a coyote that kept me entertained for a while. The coyote seemed chilled, but always tried to keep behind me, if I turned to it it would back a distance away and circle again. I rode into the dark with a poor headtorch that I love, and nearly wrapped a few times hitting ruts and sand. But progress is progress.

Sunset and sunrise are worth watching, the colours are unreal, like a brilliant filter has been applied. I took an hour out in the morning to play with my camera and see what i can achieve. The night sky was so clear, lighting every inch of ground. The below video is in the divide and I think its mule deer running across my path. This was great fun to see repeatedly over 60miles.

This is the sunrise while i was packing up and getting ready to cycle. All in i wouldn’t recommend cycling the divide or walking it, but it is beautiful and a dirt road runs through it. Worth a trip for the safari.

I am trying to work out how to climb as many 14,000ft+ peaks as possible as I cycle through Colorado, maybe one a day southbound? I’m gonna finish this beer and hit the road.

Love ya’ll. Benjamin