70 degree weather, in February. Gotta love Colorado Winters! We still get at least a few days of bluebird skies, even in the harshest of months. And when you take a trip a couple hours south, the weather turns even better!
Shelf is known as a Winter crag, and while it’s also good in the shoulder seasons of Spring and Fall, it comes into its own in the dead of Winter.
The weather was perfect – warm in the sun with a cooling breeze. Partly cloudy, and angled light rather than the full-on solar of the Menses Prow.
That day we nearly went to Menses, but seeing the crag gangbanged with every route taken up we hung a right at the Mural Wall sign at the split in the trail.
And to paraphrase: it made all the difference.
We had a section of the wall all to ourselves, with a 5.9- warmup (Protect the King), and a series of various flavors of 5.10’s further right. There’s actually a series of seven 5.10s all in a row to the right of Protect the King. To the left of Protect the King are harder climbs of 5.10d to 5.12s.
From the Mural Wall, one has a good view of the Menses Wall, and with the acoustics of the canyon – you can hear everyone pretty clearly too (this is sometimes a bad thing).
We decided to warmup on Protect the King first.
I found Protect the King slightly weird actually. It had varied surfaces to practice anything from crack to face climbing, <BETA> but the large crack to the right of the bolts at the top I found to be a total fakeout. Better to get on the face to the left immediately, rather than utilize the sidepull of the offwidth to the right.</BETA> I think we have a natural desire to stay close to the obvious crack, versus the scrimpy crimpy face, but the holds are good on the face, (and less awkward).
From there, we just kept moving right to Killer Queen (5.10a). varied climbing again, starting with a right sidepull, crimps and pockets and edges to the top.
Then we skipped the 5.12 and 5.7 to move right to Soldier without Faith (5.10b). This, I thought, was one of the coolest climbs. It meanders left to a faceclimb with varied pockets and edges and exposure. Then at the top the chains are around the corner to the left, and when things start to get desperate in the crimp department,<BETA> there’s a huge jug to throw for. I missed seeing it, and threw for something around the corner. I had half a finger pad on sharp edges and went, ‘Nope, that wasn’t the jug!’ before flailing off!
After a rest I could see the horizontal line marking the juggiest of jugs.</BETA> My second go I grabbed the handle and made it to the chains.
We finally finished things off with Los Pepes, a 5.10a which is mostly easy, interesting terrain with huge jugs…that gradually get smaller and smaller. Once you get to the slotted roof the holds are small – but all there. A slight roof and the chains.
Mural Wall – Recon Jones makes his way up Los Pepes, 5.10a sport
So, after leaving home at 7am, at the crag by 9:30am, 3 climbers swapping leads on one 5.9 and three 5.10s on bullet hard limestone and bluebird skies – Randy had something to get back to at 1:30pm. A short hike back and home by 5pm.
I’d say that was a good day.
- Shelf Road Climbing – The Bob D’Antonio book, which is the main reference book.
- Rock Climbing Shelf Road
- Shelf Road Rock, A Complete Climbing Reference