I got to spend a couple of weeks in June of 2019 working with the amazing crew at Arc'teryx in Colorado's Front Range. We toured Denver and ran, hiked, and climbed in the Flatirons, Upper Dream Canyon and the famed Caldwell family crag, The Monastery.
The Monastery was beautiful. That day was quiet, there was just one other party who we saw at the end of the day. It's a secluded crag in a flowery subalpine meadow made up of these ruddy, hundred-foot rocky dorsal fins breaching down along the side of the hill. The fins create little stone corridors so we had a small, steep canyon all to ourselves. It was a sort of arrow slit funnel view of the North Fork Big Thompson River and a county road down in the Galuchie Gulch, 2,000 feet below.
The late Richard M. Wright wrote the description for The Monastery on Mountain Project; "The crags at The Monastery ... were the scene of terrific devastation by the Bobcat fire in June of 2000. The whole area comprised of Spruce Mountain, Cedar Park, and Bobcat Gulch burned in one of the worst fires of recent memory, consuming over 5,000 acres of pristine meadow and forest. However, the fires left most of the crags untouched, and restoration of the access trail is largely complete.
Climbing at The Monastery is on igneous granitic pegmatite and some schist and gneiss. It is steep and edgy or slabby and on great friction. Alligator skin is common on the steeper walls. Many of the dozen or so crags have excellent South faces that remain dry for a large part of the year; however, they are located at 8,000+ feet and can get cold on a cloudy day, or snowed in, mid-winter. As probably everyone in Colorado knows, most the routes were established by Mike and Tommy Caldwell, so you can expect some hard climbing. Don't be put off by the bulk of difficult routes; plenty of excellent bolt-protected 5.9s and 5.10s exist.
The routes here are documented in Bernard Gillett's Estes Park Valley guidebook."
I'm looking forward to going back there. I want to try Psychatomic, a route Tommy Caldwell put up there in 1995. It's a reach but, maybe by the summer I'll be strong enough. You can see Jordan Cannon and Alannah Yip moving through it in these photos.
Sincere thanks to Dianna Brucculieri, Lauren Hughes, Angela Percival and John Wootton at Arc'teryx for having me on and to Eric Carter, Jordan Cannon, Alannah Yip, Quentin Roberts and Brette Harrington, and Garret Creamer everyone else for working so hard.