Before I start I must warn you this blog is all about one boulder. I normally try not to bore you with the specifics of a send but the significance of this climb to me warrants the specificity in my opinion.
Both Sides of the Spectrum was put up in 2007 by Harry Robertson, later in the year I saw a video of Tyler Landman and Dave Graham climbing it; since then this stunning ‘Karma’ like climb has been on my all-time ‘to do’ list. It is a subtle climb that requires a balance of technique, flexibility, left shoulder power and good conditions. It is also very simple; just 5 moves in length on perfect white granite; bouldering in a nut shell in my eyes.
I tried it briefly in the summer and although I managed to hold the sloper once I was going nowhere. I remember feeling dejected as it was what I wanted to do more than anything and a mixture of poor conditions, skin and probably a lack of strength had denied me.
With our time in Colorado coming to an end and Joes Valley beckoning I still hadn’t been up to Both Sides. It sits in the sun all day long and this makes it tricky to get the right conditions. However last Saturday a cold, cloudy autumn day graced us with its presence. I was excited to head up, things had been going my way and confidence was high. Walking to the boulder is one of the easier ones in Colorado; a flat 20 minute saunter through golden aspens with the sound of the river filling the brisk afternoon air.
Arriving we met Adam, Mike and Ben; friends who live in Estes Park, they looked cold and said conditions were ‘minty’. I started the warming up process, which took a while but after climbing the brilliant Hanging arête I thought I was ready. A couple of throws to work out the feet and the next thing I knew I had stuck the sloper, put my heel up and was rocking towards the top. This is where the body position becomes strange, I couldn’t figure it out, wasting time my heel popped and I was earth bound. Dragons off, Freerides on for a thawing of the toes, I was excited I knew if I could just figure the body position I would be ‘in like flin’ (not sure who flin is or where this comes from)!
Another go ended in the same result and then I remembered wise words from a friend of mine; instead of shouldering the sloper he found pulling towards it created a better body position. Another warming of the cockles, feet and hands, a sip of something hot from the thermos and I was ready. I could feel excitement brimming up inside me.
Pulling on, I hit the sloper and placed my heel the same as before but this time I really pulled over towards the left hand, click, my body was in a position that I could move from. I went again with my right hand and latched the slopey rail, praying for my heel not to pop I matched in. I knew I was close, my mind started to race should I change my heel to a toe, tick-tock, tick-tock. Time seemed to slow but watching the video back I was only there for a few seconds, I went with the heel and moved my right hand again up the top and the relief of a good hold!
Topping out Both Sides of the Spectrum felt so good, it’s not the hardest climb in the world but I had wanted to do it more than anything else in Colorado and would have gladly sacrificed my other ascents to climb this boulder.
I was simply elated!