We were standing inside a Starbucks in Golden, Colorado, peering out the window at the light fog, the scattering of snow and a blanket of grey clouds thick enough to obscure the sun in its entirety. Our smartphones were proclaiming current temperatures below freezing. But after the clocks struck noon, we headed back up to a parking lot above the Coors beer plant, fully intending to climb the golden rock walls sitting on top of North Table Mountain like mohawk haircut.
We figured the sun was about to scatter the clouds and radiate its warmth among the south-facing cliffs soon, and we were right. It turned out to be a spectacular February afternoon to climb eight routes of the Brown Cloud Rocks.
This is what Erika, Jordan, Julie, Scott B., Julie’s friend Scott C. from Boulder, Steven, Susie and I climbed:
- Axis of Weasels (5.7): a traditional crack climb (no bolts) that Susie led.
- Windy Days (5.8-): An easy corner climb.
- Pee on Dee (5.8+): A nice face climb.
- Brown Cloud ArÃªte (5.10b): The first time I went up this, I fell once at the crux. So I went up a second time, actually used my brain this time, and did it cleanly.
- Bullet The Brown Cloud (5.11d): a climb on an arÃªte (depicted in the above photograph) that Scott C. led. I tried it on toprope, and fell about five times at the crux before figuring out the sequence. Basically, it required some good footwork with the right foot (the left foot basically had nothing). It was a great feeling to get to the top; kudos to Scott for leading this.
- Retro Crack (5.9+): A climb with a gnarly overhang at the top. I ultimately cleaned this route.
- Punkin Puss & Mushmouse (5.10a): I led this route, and while getting to the seventh bolt was easy, the second-to-the-last bolt was really tough. I tried about a dozen times to get up to it legitimately, but after twenty or so minutes, just tried to get to it in any way possible. Ultimately I went rightward and was able to get a quickdraw in. Then, using the quickdraw as a hold, I yanked on it to get myself high enough to clip in. Yes, that was cheating. Ditto for the final anchors. This climb (my eighth ascent of the afternoon) took everything out of me and was my final climb.
- Deck Chairs on the Titanic (5.10a): Some of the others climbed this one. As we were running out of daylight and it was getting cold quick, I didn’t give it a shot, but it looked fun.
Turned out to be a great afternoon of climbing. Glad the sun came out after all as we wouldn’t have bothered to do even half of these climbs if it didn’t.