Escaping Tahoe’s “Mud Season” with a Climbing Trip to Boulder, Colorado
When summer 2019 seemed to decide it was never coming to Tahoe, I took things into my own hands and planned a long overdue trip to Boulder, Colorado to visit one of my favorite adventure buddies, Adam. I’ve written about our outdoor pursuits before, most recently when we hiked from Tahoe to Truckee.
While Tahoe was still in the throes of mud season, with rain and a few thunderstorms thrown in, I boarded a plane to Colorado.
Adam and I had already agreed the trip wouldn’t be as epic as our marathon Tahoe hike, but we still managed to keep on our toes with some thunderstorms, rain, and two days of approaches that involved dangling over a raging creek.
Being that it was the first time climbing outside for both of us this season and my third time climbing all season, we decided to clip some bolts. The adrenaline was already pumping before we even got to the crag with a hair-raising Tyrolean traverse on the approach. I packed light for the trip and with my tiny loaner backpack; I had it a bit easier than Adam.
It goes like this.
1. Get into your climbing harness.
2. Climb up into a tree.
3. Clip yourself onto the climbing rope tied from your tree to the one across the creek.
4. Think positive thoughts. Do not tell your partner if they fall they will probably die (sorry, Adam, it was all in good humor).
5. Go hand over hand along the rope as the creek splashes up on you and the deafening noise of the rushing water makes it hard to think.
5a. Do it a second time on the way back since you forgot to take photos the first time.
6. Down-climb the tree on the other side, which sounds easy, but can be the hardest part after all that arm effort to get across!
7. Pretend like it didn’t make my arms feel like they were done for the day and get on with the climbing.
Once at the crag, we enjoyed some moderate routes and top-rope challenges on incredible granite.
Luckily or unluckily, it started to rain, so my tired forearms would get a break for the afternoon. After the Tyrolean to get back, that is…
With early threatening skies again, we settled on a short, 5.7 trad route. With just one car in the parking lot, I thought we’d walk right up, but when you pick a popular climb, that one other party is probably on it.
We decided to wait for them rather than choose another route.
In the end, the rain didn’t quite decide to wait for us. But it waited enough. It was a gorgeous ultra-classic crack climb, plenty of chill time on belay ledges waiting for the party ahead and an all-out downpour as soon as we summited.
Kind of tired from the rest of the trip we set our sights on a 2-pitch 5.6 at Castle Rock with a 30-second approach and no Tyrolean! We took full advantage of having the route to ourselves, spending extra time at a nice belay up high, taking in the views, watching the swallows swoop and dive, feeling lucky to have an imperfect, yet perfect, climbing long weekend.
Can’t get enough climbing? You’ll love this trip report:
Rachel Arst McCullough is an avid runner, hiker, mountain biker, rock climber, yogi and skier living in Truckee, CA. She’s always up for an outdoor challenge and is willing to put in the hard work to tell you all about the process, learning experience, and adventure, even if it didn’t go quite as planned!