The Finger via East Face Right (5.8+)
Kruger Rock via Hermit Park
May 24, 2012
The Cast: Don Chapman - Brian Kalet
Don, Brian and I set out to climb the Finger above Estes Park. There is very little information on this formation, and only one person has logged it on List of John. Joe Grim scrambled to the base in 2008 and gave the description, "This is where I stopped, as it is was definite 5th class climbing from here; my novice guess is 5.4 (having only limited climbing and no rock leading experience)." Not sure what to expect, we took a load of gear and crossed our fingers that there would be a reasonable way off the top. The trail up toward Kruger Rock rolled pleasantly under our toes and we kept on it longer than we had to. The descent down to the Finger was steep but straight forward and the formation was easily seen through the trees. At the base I scrambled around onto the west face to scout a line. It appeared there would be a "reasonable" route that would traverse the face, but the rock was loose and the exposure fierce. I opted to lead an obvious crack on the east face that looked clean with the exception of a bush growing out of it down low. Leading up was easy at first but the rock reared back halfway up. I placed several cams and pulled into the overhang. Just as it seemed bleak, a nice hold materialized and I was able to make a thin left-ward traverse onto a ledge. Another bush was avoided by climbing a small bulge and I found myself clipping into a wad of webbing above an ancient piton. Some of the cord seemed fairly recent but I backed it up with a #3 camalot regardless. I wondered how often people came up here as I rigged a belay. Don and Brian cruised up and we enjoyed the small and chossy summit. The large drop toward Estes added some nice drama to our position and peering over the edge further helped me believe a route would be possible on that side. The rap was easy and we trudged straight uphill for Kruger Rock. Back on trail we breezed to the summit of Kruger and enjoyed the excellent views.
Let us go home with the sunset on our faces--
We that have wandered far
And stood by noon in high, disastrous places,
And known what mountains are
Between those eyries and the morning star.