As I said, the next stop was Rocky Mountain National Park, CO, home of the famed Chaos Canyon. A few notes about “the Park”:
-Expect tourists, lots and lots of tourists. I’m guessing the parking lot holds about 200 cars and it was full when I arrived the second day (on a Tuesday morning!). Luckily as I was driving around the lot, debating on whether to deal with the 4 mile shuttle with two crash pads, a spot opened up and I snagged it. On the hike, you will pass a tourist about every minute and they will all ask you the exact same thing, “You spending the night?”
-Expect pros. I met 3 world class boulderers and all three were very down to earth and kind. Two of them warmed up on a mini-project of mine and were gracious enough to hang out and spot me for an extra 15 minutes.
-The hike ain’t that bad. To Lower Chaos and Emerald Lake it’s about a 40 minute gradual uphill hike. If it weren’t for the 10,000 foot elevation, the hike would be pretty casual for most MT boulderers. Even with the elevation it’s not nearly as bad as I thought. I’m sure Upper Chaos is a lot more of a pain, but I didn’t make it up there. Speaking of the elevation, I didn’t seem to notice it on the hike, but I was sucking wind while doing/trying longer problems. It took me a lot longer to recover after trying long problems as well.
-If you’re a V10+ boulderer you should move to Estes Park and go to Chaos every chance you can get. It is stacked with rediculous and aesthetic mutant problems. If you’re not a mutant, spend a week. I only spent two days at RMNP and I was already felt like I was running out of V6 and under problems. If you can’t boulder V3, don’t bother going. One of my favorite things to do at a new area is to cruise around the easier classics, but they are few and far between at the Park.
-If you do go, buy the guidebook by Jamie Emerson. Chaos Canyon is a place that would be incredibly easy to get lost, but the guidebook does a great job of getting you where you want to go. Highly recommended.
Here’s a few photos:
Parking lot for Chaos Canyon and Emerald Lake - 99% Tourists
Lake Haiyaha and Upper Chaos
The amazing Bushpilot Boulder - Bushpilot (V11) goes straight up and Freaks of the Industry (V13) follows crimps out right
Chaos Canyon Gneiss
The Kind Wall - Emerald Lake
Breakfast of Champions - Jimmy Dean & Eggs
Sunset over Vedauwoo on the way back
the Tetons on the way back