Another destination, another style of climbing. Rifle... We had heard all sorts of things about this place... It’s crowded, it’s polished, it’s too warm to climb there in the summer, it’s hard to climb anything unless you have beta given by someone, and so on. Never listen to what people say before you see it for yourself, right? After spending a few days there, our opinion was straight forward: that place is stellar. The rock quality is great, the routes are varied and inspiring, and there is enough to climb here for a lifetime. Sure, the limestone is polished on some of the older routes (but if you have been to Spain, that’s something you encounter regularly as well), grades are stiff, the beta sometimes are cryptic, and you get your behind and ego completely kicked once in a while. But you get use to it and live with it within a couple of days...
Rifle Mountain Park, CO.
Onsighting here definitely was challenging. I managed to onsight the same level than elsewhere, but had to fight a lot more in Rifle, that’s for sure. After a couple of days working on the style here, I decided to get on Apocalypse (13c), a beautiful line at the Project Wall. This climb is just right of the cave in the center of the Project Wall, starting out in the parking lot.
The start of Apocalypse.
On Apocalypse, at the start a blue tufa gives way to overhanging white rock. Sustained, cruxy climbing (including kneebar trickery: remember, this is Rifle ;) ) through the middle gives way to a rest, then another powerful bulge and a technical finishing headwall on crimpers summarize this line.
Getting on the first crux of Apocalypse.
I definitely was really happy when I stuck the last crux moves before the anchor! This was my first time in Rifle, the climbing here was exceptional and we lived each day to the fullest, but 2 ½ weeks there wasn’t enough! I truly wish I could have kept pushing my standards on many more routes for much longer!
Heading to the last crux.
The first time I got on the route, Dan Mirsky, one local there gave me a few beta for the first tricky crux, which helped me a lot to progress on the route. I found my own small-people beta for the following cruxes, and sent it 8th go. While getting ready to get on the route one day, we saw Lynn Hill arriving at the crag. Curious about our French-Canadian accent, she approached us, and mentioned that she had been interested since a long time to eventually try to onsight Apocalyse, but that she had never quite felt in shape enough to attempt it. She asked for a few small-people beta on the route. Standing beside her felt strange, mainly because I don’t often have people that almost are exactly the same height as me standing right next to me. Meeting her convinced me that if I have a hard time reaching a hold on a route in the future, I shouldn’t complain about it anymore, and simply try harder...
The Rifle crew at the Project Wall. Yes, there is barely no approach to get to any crags, and you can belay right out of your car!
Another aspect about Rifle that got my psych high is the sheer number of female climbers crushing here. Any given day, you’re bound to watch a girl crush hard on hard projects. I loved it!
Celebrating my birthday in Rifle. This place is fantastic!