“Bouldering with Mountain Lions” in Vail, CO

After hiking Longs Peak on Saturday I drove Southwest to meet Moon in Vail, where he’s working as a climbing instructor for the summer. We caught up and made some pasta, but I crashed and was asleep on his floor by 8:30 PM — evidently still exhausted from the early morning hike.

I woke up feeling great the next morning, though, eager to get out and do some proper climbing. Since Moon rolled into town a couple weeks ago, he’s been frequenting a bouldering paradise about twenty minutes away called The Klettergarden.

‘Peace’ taken at The Klettergarden

Moon had warned me in advance of “old, rich hippies” who hang out at the boulders for days on end and pester the climbers. We saw no trace of them, but there were loads of other climbers trying to make the most of the beautiful Sunday.

‘New Line’ taken at The Klettergarden

The Klettergarden is a fairly recently developed site, allegedly established just eleven years ago. Colorado rock is unique, too — there are so many tiny features on the rock that each person can have their own distinct beta on a problem. The freshness of the site and abundance of beta options meant there was lots of potential for new lines, so Moon and I collaborated and set a few new problems. We’re super stoked with what we came up with.

‘Try Hard’ taken at The Klettergarden

After climbing for a few hours and beating ourselves up on the rock, we left to see if any fish were biting. The water conditions aren’t great right now; the rivers are high, fast, and unclear. Nevertheless, we scoped out a prime spot that looked like it had promise.

Unfortunately by the time we got down there, another fly fisherman had beaten us to the spot. He ended up catching a decent rainbow trout. We had no such luck but had great fun anyway.

‘Track Walk’ taken in Vail

Desperately hungry from a long but thrilling day, Moon and I went back to town on the hunt for some late night grub. We found ourselves at a cafe bar exclusively filled with people twice our age, but that didn’t stop us from staying until closing time. Our conversation was so great, in fact, we unintentionally lured an eavesdropping woman at the bar into joining us.

The next day I spent mostly working at a coffee shop in town. But come evening it was climbing time again. First we checked out a local indoor wall that surprised us with a couple tough project problems. Once dusk fell, we headed back out to The Klettergarden to do some night bouldering.

‘Layback’ taken at The Klettergarden

We knew the risks of being out at this hour; mountain lions are frequently spotted at these rocks and Moon has even seen their fresh tracks firsthand. But we had a group of four and made plenty of strange noises to keep the cats at bay. An eerie presence followed us around the whole time we were out there, as if we were being watched (and we surely were), but luckily no lion made its presence known.

I jumped on a few projects and made some headway on each. I found the rock here very inspiring, both in its forgivingly smooth touch and its untapped possibilities. Coupled with the surrounding aspen grove and a night sky dense with stars, I easily consider it my favorite outdoor bouldering spot yet.

‘Sloper’ taken at The Klettergarden

Woke up in Vail, CO.

Sleeping in Vail, CO.

Miles unknown.

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