Written July 1998; Climb date 6/30/98
The Yellow Spur is one of the all time classics of Eldorado Springs Canyon, maybe in the entire state of Colorado. It is frequently closed until mid-Summer due to raptor nesting, but this year no birds chose to call this home and it was opened up for climbing. I'd only climbed the route once before. Fifteen years ago a stronger climber had led me up the tougher pitches and I'd never been back. The Trashman suggested climbing Tuesday before work [6/30/98] and I offered the Yellow Spur as an objective. He immediately accepted, but blanched when I mentioned meeting at 4:50 a.m. I couldn't get into work too late since I had a lot of work to do.
We met at the Mesa Trailhead and then drove into Eldo together. We put on our harnesses at the car and I threw on the rack as the Trashman put on the rope. We were hiking by 5:06 a.m. Needless to say we were the only people in the canyon. We hiked up in the dim light of dawn and were soon at the route. Twenty six minutes after leaving the car I started leading the first pitch. This pitch starts with some 5.9 climbing up a right facing dihedral and then a traverse underneath a large roof until it can be turned. Turning the roof is a burly move and I launched into it before checking it out much. That way I was committed and had to figure out how to do it fast or fall off. I found the sequence and was soon at the belay. The Trashman followed quickly and he started up the second pitch only ten minutes after I had left the ground.
I found the second pitch a bit tricky, but the Trashman moved fast leading it. The third pitch seemed reasonable and I put the third and fourth pitches together. This isn't recommended because of the awful rope drag. We should have put the second and third pitches together. The Trashman led the fifth pitch up to and underneath the big roof, and then out to one of the most exposed and beautiful belay spots in all of Eldo. We had been climbing for just an hour.
I led up the crux pitch and found the 5.9 climbing to be pretty easy, but things changed at the 5.10 crux. I thought this section was pretty desperate. The holds are very tiny and I had to crimp hard with the left hand to clip the last piton. Reaching right for the pinch hold and stepping up, I thought I'd be done. Wrong! There is still a very hard, tenuous move which I barely pulled off. I ran the next pitch, a beautiful, exposed and sparsely protected 5.6 arete, together with the crux pitch. I summitted at 6:50 a.m. - an hour and forty-five minutes after leaving the car. The Trashman joined me at 7:01. We were elated with the quality of the climbing, the solitude, the efficiency in which we moved. We had done the route in five pitches and feel the best way to do it would be to combine pitches 2 & 3, 4 & 5, and 6 & 7. This way you could do the route in four pitches with a 50-meter rope.
We belayed the descent into the notch and then unroped. We switched back into our approach shoes and descend the slabs down to the trail. We arrived back at the car two hours and twenty-four minutes after leaving it. I got back home by 7:45 a.m. just in time to see Sheri leaving for work with the boys. I showered and got into work before 9 a.m. - earlier than I normally get in.
What a great place to live!
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