Splitting the Barb

Image #1: SpearheadSpearheadView Larger Image

The weather has been hot and pretty horrible in my opinion but I’m also a winter type of person. I’d rather go climbing in 40 below then 100+ degree heat. Six weeks ago, I was running downhill when I tripped over a creek bed and broke my collar bone. Since then, I’ve been absolutely dying to get out. My recovery process might be different then the average person or more idiotic. It all depends on how you view it.

Image #2: Extreme TopropingExtreme TopropingView Larger Image

A week from injury, I was top roping safely in Eldorado Canyon with one arm along with enjoying the summit sunset on Mount Evans. The one arm climbing (and driving for that matter) continued for over another week until my sling came off. I then enjoyed the Bastille Crack with James and Jason. James and I then left for Red Rocks by Vegas for some moderate multi pitch and cragging. I came back and got rope gunned up Total Abandon on Pikes Peak for the last of the ice of the season. The doctor did tell me to get on the ice.

Image #3: Paul Perea and I on top of Mount EvansPaul Perea and I on top of Mount EvansView Larger Image
Image #4: James on Big Bad Wolf (Red Rocks, Vegas)James on Big Bad Wolf (Red Rocks, Vegas)View Larger Image
Image #5: James and Jason on Bastille CrackJames and Jason on Bastille CrackView Larger Image
Image #6: Wet!!!Wet!!!View Larger Image
Image #7: Bivy SiteBivy SiteView Larger Image

My buddy Jay sent me a message about going to RMNP for some alpine rock. I wanted bigger objectives but knew I had to limit the climbing, especially run outs. As if I take a big fall or trip over another pebble, it’s back to square one. Usually I enjoy taking all the scary pitches.

“You’ll be upgraded to half gimp,” Jay told me over the phone. I laughed at visualizing that concept.

Image #8: Route drawn in with cricles as our belaysRoute drawn in with cricles as our belaysView Larger Image

Jay mentioned the Petit but I was not extrememly motivated for it due to the crowds for the most part along with both of us having done it. I mentioned Spearhead, mainly the Barb. The Barb is a classic 5.10 that’s has lot’s of fun 5.9 with a brief crux. You then join the North Ridge for one 100 meter pitch to the top.

Image #9: Spearhead from Mills LakeSpearhead from Mills LakeView Larger Image

We started hiking at about 5:15 P.M. and got to the bottom of Spearhead, our hotel bivy site, at 7:30, just before dark. The bivy site was probably the best in the Park. This is quite the place to climb at! I highly recommend it just for the night. The whole way in, Jay and I fought about who would get the crux. I’ve seen many pictures of it. Since I had to carry a light pack due to my shoulder, Jay carried the rope and rack. (What a deal!) In the end, I gave the pitch to him since he was carrying the gear.

Image #10: High Park FireHigh Park FireView Larger Image

We went to sleep with the wind going crazy all night. I awoke from the sun coming up. We had our oatmeal and started up when the sun was just hitting it.

Image #11: Jay making a belay above the snow for P1Jay making a belay above the snow for P1View Larger Image

P1 was over 100 meters long on really fun liebacking around 5.8 to get to Middle Earth Ledge, a ledge system running across the face. I lead and when I ran out of rope, Jay started climbing. We simul climbed the next moderate pitch to speed things up, always having a bit of protection between us to keep us on the wall.

Image #12: Jay following P2Jay following P2View Larger Image

Soon he joined me and he let me have the next pitch as well. The climbing on this route just gets better and better! I went off on really awesome 5.6 flakes. The gear was questionable underneath them as those flakes are pretty hollow. A 5.8 face traverse leads to the crux 5.8 corner. Soon I was on a ledge. The wind was making it exciting. Gusts of 40 to 50 mph would come around the corner and almost blast you off the wall if you were not prepared. Luckily, you usually always have a good jam/hold.

Image #13: Jay leading P3Jay leading P3View Larger Image

Jay took off on the 5.9 P3 that was a rising traverse pitch with crimps but no feet. The smears are very good on this rock though. He dispatched it pretty quickly. I then followed just enjoying the view. The gorge around is truly amazing and jaw dropping. When I got to the ledge we looked at the time and we were moving pretty fast, at least it seemed. It had been under two hours since leaving the ground.

Image #14: Leading the awesome A frame roof pitch.Leading the awesome A frame roof pitch.View Larger Image

The next pitch looked fun as it had a little roof. I traverse back to the crack. It went from finger locks to a thin hands traverse. You get a bomber hand jam in the minor roof and stand up. Two kind of loose finger locks get’s you over the roof and then it’s all splitter to the belay. It was so good! I was yelling in excitement. This is just what I needed. Jay followed and was kind of jealous. Laughing

Image #15: Splitter!Splitter!View Larger Image

He left the belay with an exciting run out. Soon he sent the 5.10c crux without a problem. I soon followed and had to chill out for a few seconds before the crux since the wind was so bad. So bad that it blew out half my chalk blocks from my bag and nailed Jay in the helmet with a loud sound like a rock hit the ground. The crux was barn dooring type of moves. I was threw it and followed the awesome splitter to the belay.

Image #16: Jay on cruxJay on cruxView Larger Image
Image #17: Following the crux movesFollowing the crux movesView Larger Image

We then basically simul climbed one long pitch through the crux of the North Ridge to the top. We hung out for a while and watched the High Park fire blaze. Jay had no interest in reaching the summit. I raced up and walked on the exposed summit only to get off being afraid of getting blown off several hundred feet to the ground. We scrambled down just blown away how amazing the route was.

The bad thing was we were staying another night so we had nothing to do for 8 hours until dark. I got attacked by 300 flies along with being as red as a tomato. Jay and I discussed how we should of climbed way slower. There are not many times I’ve agreed to that statement. There was just to much sitting around in our man caves. We were so sun burnt that the thought of going in the sun scared us. We even had sun screen.

Image #18: McHenry's PeakMcHenry’s PeakView Larger Image

This is a must do route and will exceed your expectations. If nothing else, go do the North Ridge. It’s a classic mountaineering route at 5.6 or better. Don’t forget to visit the summit. It’s unique. Enjoy!

Image #19: Jay at the top of the routeJay at the top of the routeView Larger Image
Image #20: Chiefshead beckonsChiefshead beckonsView Larger Image
Image #21: Self Portrait on summit block with extreme wind in action. No smile due to it.

About Noah McKelvin

Never skip a day of living life
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