Black Diamond athlete Chris Schulte put together this great bouldering video that’s about more than just bouldering. Lincoln Lake is an area of Mount Evans in Colorado that has seen a massive amount of attention in the past 18 months as boulderers have re-discovered the area. Below is Schulte’s report and video that highlights the importance of caring for the fragile environment of Lincoln Lake, as well as any other alpine bouldering area.
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Bouldering at Lincoln Lake is nothing new, but the development that went down in the summer and fall of 2010 was beyond the scope of what anybody expected. I’d driven by the steep talus field several times, always wondering what lay in the piles of granite rushing to the blue lake edge, but never made the trudge down the hill to see. My attention was on the other side of the mountain for a couple of seasons, mostly at Area B, working on a long-term project that finally cleaned up in the spring of 2010: the 1%er.

My slate clean, I was ready to see what was happening on the other side of Mt. Evans. I was psyched to have a new area to dig around in, mostly because I’ve been focused on searching for and doing FA’s the last two years. I was pretty pleased to have a slew of new hard lines to attempt, so that I could have a little reality check in the grades; it can get murky when all you’re doing is new stuff… Someone asks you how hard your new line is, and you give ‘em a nice, clear “errr… v8-12? 11? 8a-!“ Lucky for me, a lot of the new problems at the lake fit my preferred style pretty well: lots of compression, slopers, and arêtes. Some got done, some got close, and some were disasters. Bouldering—tons of failure, and sometimes the sun shines on the workingman.

My first trip down the hole was a bit of a shock. The storms come in blindside, up over a high ridge, and to escape, you have to climb UP into the fray—I am not a fan of lightning. Andy Mann likes to fire his flash when I’m standing around looking a little too content, just to keep me on my toes.

On the hike out, I noticed a traffic sign down in the talus. Not a surprise really, the wind up here can tear a car door off. This truly happens. Don’t ride your $60,000 Harley up here. So, the group of us teamed up and traded off carrying this unwieldy metal sign up the 800-plus feet of elevation gain, back to the car and then to the ranger station. After that, it seemed like every time I went down the gully, I found more junk. It became the aerobic extra credit at the end of the day: haul out a spare tire or two, some traffic cones, bits of metal from what must have been a spectacular ghost ride of a pickup some years back. Over the course of a few weeks, I hauled out close to 400 pounds of auto junk, and, unfortunately, climber junk as well. The usual shizz: tape, energy drink cans, and water bottles. No matter how often we talk about how responsible we are, a few of us still seem to miss the mark that was set a long time ago. I’ve heard excuses trying to explain why harnesses, rope, chalk bags of all sizes, big brushes and half-empty drink cans were left out in the open: “This huge storm blew in and we had to get outta there!” It’s an alpine area, with many hazards. Bring a shell jacket and just pick up your trash, in the rain/snow/sleet/hail. Grit your teeth. Come on.

At any rate, the area is now ALMOST refuse-free. Hopefully the auto-tourist folks up above won’t continue to think that rolling a spare tire down the hill is a sport. Hopefully climbers can police themselves and not contribute to the typical issues we should all be concerned with, namely, garbage, EROSION (come on and pick a trail, it’s alpine tundra! This is serious) and PARKING. It’s a roadside area, but the side of the road is the edge of a BIG drop. It will be interesting to see how it all pans out this summer, with the interweb media predicting an explosion from across the US and overseas due at any moment. Make no mistake: it’s freaking awesome here (though small), but… there’s space for like eight cars.

I’m really looking forward to heading back to this incredible area this year. Just remember: if you go, go loaded for bad weather. The bouldering is awesome, varied, and concentrated. You’ll have a full day, even if (especially if?) a storm blows through. Go ahead and pack something out if you find it. Handle it. Grr uphill. Then head down to the Clear Creek Ranger office and check in before dropping it off… they’ll be psyched. Maybe wink/nudge let ‘em know you’re a climber, and WE wanna help. Do good. Try hard. It’s not as hard as trying to climb at your limit, and it’s a lot more useful to you, and everyone else.

Thanks, and enjoy.
— Chris

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