Monday, June 9, 2008
With a name like 'The Monastery' you may think your cragging experience religious as you foray through spines of stone high above the Big Thompson river. Well, I guess that hinges on whether you send or don't send. However, everyone can find something that satisfies their soul at this shischt/gneiss sanctuary. Whether you're looking for sandbagged Tommy Caldwell steepness, moderate slabs, or classic face climbing you are sure to find something to thank the gods for. Additionally, The Monastery is a good area, but you should be warned that I wouldn't consider it a destination crag. If you find yourself on the front range for a while and want something a little different, then head up there, but you would probably be sad to drive a distance just to climb there. Okay, the preface is over, here's the meat!
Don't be dissuaded by evil stories of the "heinous" approach to the monastary, it's just not that bad! Considering that the crag is at 8000 feet may cause flatlanders, smokers, and general lazy asses to take a little longer on the trail, but it is well worth the effort. By the way, I am all three of the above mentioned adjectives and I am cool with the approach, twenty-five minutes or so. Due to elevation this area is pretty tolerable during the summer, so it may be beneficial to cruise up there if the Boulder is just way too hot. This crag is also bueno during spring and fall seasons. Bring all the usual necessities for bolt clipping, plus a hardened set of finger-tip skin. Watch for Rattlesnakes, Mountain Lions, and cursing would be third ascensionists of Grand Ole Opry.
There are several areas to consider when headed up to the Monastery. The Vestibule should NOT be missed though. This classic corridor holds some of the best and most aesthetic routes at the crag. The must do list includes: Tabula Rosa 10c, Arch Crack 11b, Stolen Land 11c, and Psychatomic 12d (Some say the BEST 12d in Colorado, I may have to agree, at least top 3). For the mutant crowd try your hand at: The Quickening 13c, Third Millenium 13d, Grand Ole Opry 14a.
Additional areas to consider for your Monastery experience include; The Lion's Den, The Corridor, The Bear's Den, and The Outer Gates. These walls contain routes that range from 5.6 to 5.12, with a good amount of moderate routes in the 5.9 range, so go get on them! The Guidebook, Bernard Gillett's Estes Park Valley.