Scott Bennett is a well-established rock climber and “dabbles” in ice climbing whenever the opportunity arises. Scott began climbing in Kentucky’s Red River Gorge and has since traveled the globe in search of new routes in areas including Patagonia, Pakistan, and the western states.
Here on the Colorado Front range, it’s been a wet season. Historic rains in mid-September produced massive “100-year” flooding from Boulder to Estes Park, leaving roads destroyed and residents inundated. After drying up, cleaning, and rebuilding, Colorado climbers welcome an unexpected gift of the rains: early season ice! Many longtime locals are seeing formations for the first time in years, or perhaps ever.
I’ve been embracing this windfall of climbable ice in the mountains on two “14ers”: Long’s Peak and Mt. Evans. Thanks to SCARPA, I also have the perfect boots for steep ice, technical mixed climbing, and alpine style ascents – the Rebel Ultras!
On a new route on Mt Evans, Doug Shepard and I linked thin smears of excellent ice with short steep sections of rock. A footloose crux sequence culminated in a great heelhook, and I was thankful to be in such agile boots.
One hazard of hiking in the mountains during fall is running water. Not everything is frozen, and creeks and swamps are frequently camouflaged by fresh snow. I punched through this “camouflage snow” many times during an approach in the Indian Peaks, leaving my pants frozen and boots coated in ice. My feet, though, remained warm and dry thanks to the stretch Gore-tex liners and integrated gaiter.
This fall season in Colorado has given me a new appreciation for the power and wonder of nature, both for destruction and enjoyment. I feel lucky to be able to get out and explore in this unique season. Long approaches and dynamic conditions make success rare in Colorado ice climbing, and I’m glad to have the best equipment to stack the odds in my favor.