The next day was ideal. Dry rock, sunshine, and moderate temps even permitted t-shirt climbing. The crew met at the Eldorado Springs commuter lot then we car pooled into the canyon. Group assignments were made the night before and 2 groups would climb with Mark Hammond and Rob Hess on Calypso to Reggae, Recon, and Bomb on the Wind Tower while two other groups would climb with Tom Hargis and Angela Hawse on West Crack, West Dihedral, and Clementine on the Whales Tail. Even though Eldo is chock full of long classics and hard test pieces it also has some “classic” easy routes. Where else can you find easy 3 and 4 star 5.3-5.6 classics? Understandably these routes were great skill assessment routes that did not require much of a time commitment. As such our 3:1 climbing ratio, that included a “ghost,” was able to get everyone on lead while we employed the previous days skills.
On day four we headed to a typical short rope practice venue in Eldo, that is Quartzite Ridge. This is where Tom Hargis demonstrated different short roping techniques including kiwi coils, hand, hip and terrain belays along with some clever hitches used in conjunction with terrain
After a morning of discussion we headed up to Castle Rock in Boulder Canyon. A short drive through the canyon led to this historical landmark. When in 1964 Royal Robbins and Pat Ament free climbed the nations hardest free route of the time Athletes Feat at 5.11. Here we reviewed many skills including knots, coils, and anchors. By afternoon, thunderstorms had built overhead and many cracks of lightning prompted us to call it a day.
On day 5 we were back at Castle Rock in Boulder Canyon. To our surprise it was relatively dry so the instructor team decided to do some multi-pitch climbing on Jacksons Wall and Cussin’ Crack. Each team reached the top in about the same amount of time, then we switched roles and the climbing guide switched to mock client while the mock client became the down guide. From the top we would short rope up blocks, across the top, down through slots and cracks, implementing hand, hip, and terrain belays where practical, and at least two of the groups eventually rappelled to the ground. Once at the bottom we quickly started demonstrations on belay escapes, knot passes, mechanical advantage, and rope ascending methods.
The next few days were scattered with ground school lessons and class room discussion. Eventually we found ourselves leaving Boulder and headed to Earth Treks climbing gym in Golden. This massive facility proved to be
As the course started to wind to an end the instructor team continued to introduce knowledge and skills including teaching pedagogy, leadership styles and additional soft skills. The final day consisted of individual reviews with the instructor team and an opportunity for participants to exchange contact info and continue to network within the climbing and guide community.
All in all this course was a challenge due to weather, but the instructor team filled every day with pertinent guide knowledge, experience, and skills. Even though many skills had limited application time they were all presented. In the end it will be up to the participants to practice and apply these skills in every day guiding to prevent falling back into old habits. The process to gain experience and follow through with the program requires tremendous effort and dedication and participating in this course was no exception and only the beginning of a fulfilling and rewarding process.