An amazing wall exists in Rocky Mountain National Park that hosts some of the best front range mixed climbs including 'Mixed Feelings' (M6 WI4), 'Blade Runner' (M8, WI5), and this spectacular line, 'Free Strike Zone' (M7, WI4+). Brilliant movements on overhaning rock with an exit onto an ice curtain entail a great variety of movements and require the upmost endurance and focus of the climber. A really amazing line that has realtively easy access, I highly recomend this climb.
Map of the path to get from the parking lot to the climb.
To get to Estes Park, from Denver, head North on I-25 to US 36, through Boulder to Lyons. In Lyons, turn left and follow US 36 to the end of town. To get to the Glacier Gorge/Moriane Park Area, continue to follow US 36 to the right into the town of Estes Park. From Estes Park, follow US 36 into the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station. To get to the Longs Peak or Wild Basin area, from the W end of Lyons, turn left on Colorado 7, continue this N once you hit the Peak-to-Peak Highway.
From the lot follow the trail to Loch Vail, during the winter an obvious path is made through the snow. Just before the Loch itself, take a left and cross the river to the base of several ice climbs, (the ice should be visable from the main trail.) Head to the left passing the ice to an obvious overhaning wall. The bolts should mark the climb, this climb is in the middle of 'Blade Runner' (the climb with an ice dagger) and 'Mixed Emotions'.
The bottom section of the climb at the third bolt.
This is the more difficult variation and direct start to the climb 'Mixed Emotions'. Follow a line of three bolts to one fixed piton. After this initial 30 foot section or so, a few cams or nuts must be placed (when and where you can) to an eventual no hands rest before moving left to gain the ice. Pulling the ice curtain and climb it to the top where a tree can be used for the anchor. The ice usually froms in WI4+ to WI5 conditions. A 60 meter rope will be sufficient.
A typical rack for tackling a mixed climb in RMNP.
This is a mixed climb, so it is up to you, but I highly recomend some form of a leashless ice tool. Crampons are a must, mono-points make the climbing more precise. 4 quickdraws will protect the three bolts and piton. A few small cams (.3-1) and a set of nuts will protect the upper section. Depending on how comfortable you are running out the ice, bring two to three screws of mid length (16cm). CAREFUL! DO NOT PLACE ICE SCREWS IN THE BOTTOM OF THE CURTAIN! If you do this and the ice breaks there is a chance it will rip you off the climb and could result in injury. Make sure to place your first screw in fat ice that is well bonded to the rock. If the ice is too thin or brittle use common sense. It might be wise to back off and wait for better condtions to avoid a large chunk of ice falling! (others will thank you too so that they can also climb the ice!)As always wear a helmet and be safe!
[img:363038:aligncenter:medium:A typical rack for tackling a mixed climb in RMNP. ]
"Society speaks and all men listen, mountains speak and wise men listen."