Location: Brown Cloud Crag, south side of North Table Mountain – Golden, CO
Parking: Parking Lot, Colorado 58 (39.766105, -105.214137)
Hike: About 10 minutes from parking lot to crag, less than 1 mile
Route: Brown Cloud has 50+ lines, so it can be hard to find a specific route. There is a class 3/4 gully that can be climbed to set a top rope anywhere. “Bolted Line” is just a few slabs to the left of that gully.
Route Stats: 5.10+, 25′, 1 pitch
Climbing type: sport or top rope
Pro: 3 sport clips and 2 fixed rap rings
Gear: 3+1 quickdraws for sporting and 2 quickdraws for TR setting. PAS for cleaning the route after the climb. Helmet for any sport climb.
Basic Gear: harness, ATC, locker, chalk bag with chalk, 9-10mm single rope
This was Andy’s first time using his own gear, so he was anxious to give it a shot. He had twelve 18cm Black Diamond quickdraws, a 9.5mm Mammut 60m single rope, a PAS, and some lockers.
Personally, I am working on getting a PAS and more quickdraws, but for now I have a 10.2mm Mammut 60m single rope, two 18cm Black Diamond quickdraws, two 60cm Dynex runners, two 120cm Dynex runners, ATC with jaws, and 3 lockers. For now, I am using my runners as a PAS, but really I should be reserving them for setting a TR.
This line was my first attempt at leading a sport climb. With Andy’s new set up, he was very anxious to break it in. Having only ever seen how to sport watching others and watching YouTube videos, I had an idea what to expect but was a bit nervous putting it into practice. After having him lead a couple routes, I decided to give it a shot on one that appeared easier from the bottom. I would have guessed that it was a 5.8, but that was NOT the case!
Needless to say, this was a pretty tough one to start with. From the bottom, everything looks like friendly cracks or jugs; but the truth is that all the cracks are too small and that the jugs are really slopers. Going up for the first bolt was difficult. I came up to the left of it, with my hand wrapped into the crack. It was difficult to stabilize myself enough to get my first quickdraw in, but I managed. This was definitely the scariest part because you are high enough to hurt yourself.
After that, I tried traversing into the middle of the slab to climb, but the holds were all slopers, so I moved back to the left side of the route and pretty much hung around there, only moving into the middle for the final third. If you manage to go up the middle, it is likely a 5.10+ or so, but keeping to the left crack probably makes it more like a 5.9.
Overall, the route was pretty short and not super exciting if you stay in the crack. I think top roping up the center would be more fun. It wouldn’t have been difficult to set the TR anchors if we hiked up the gully beside us. Either way, it was good to try a sport climb on a short route where a bad injury was unlikely. That being said, I am sure there are other short and easier routes for which I could have tried my first sport route on.
I learned that there are many subtle things to watch out for when sporting:
- Always clip yourself so the climber’s end of the rope faces away from the wall.
- Never left the rope get your leg between it and the rock, or else a fall will result in a leg injury, or worse.
- Sport belaying requires that you leave a little slack for the climber to move upwards. In a way, sport belaying is the reverse opposite from TR belaying. You also have to pay more attention in sport belay and expect a climber’s fall to move you a little off the ground. A grigri belay device may not be wise for a sport climb, in my opinion. A regular old ATC worked well.