Sometimes you don’t have to travel to Pakistan for a meaningful alpine experience. Our good friend and product tester, Kelly Cordes, who's also the senior editor of The American Alpine Journal, has been on “The Chase” in his own backyard looking for ephemeral melt/freeze lines. Says Kelly, “It's staggering to think about how many hours of time I, and others, spend on recon missions, carrying the gear around pursuing some rumor, studying maps and weather forecasts and scheming, etc. [The Chase] certainly applies to surfers as well, from what I gather, probably skiers too, finding the right stash and right conditions.” Today, Kelly shares with us the ups and downs of The Chase and how, with some local knowledge and little luck, it can pay off.
Since moving to Estes Park eight years ago, I, like every ice and alpine climber around, have fantasized about a route called Vanquished. Every fall and every spring, Rocky Mountain National Park climbers whisper about fleeting smears of ice and patterns of precipitation, temps, wind and sun. Ice will form and disappear within 24 hours. Rumors and notions circulate like conspiracy theories. The Chase begins.
[Photo: Steve Su hiking to the base after we killed an hour gearing up and hanging out in the rocks below, waiting for sunrise. It’d been cold at night (and T-shirt rock climbing weather down low in the days), but the forecast called for a warm afternoon, thus forcing us to eschew the preferred “crack-of-noon” style in favor of a proper alpine start, to try to finish the route early. I’d been chasing the route for so long that I didn’t want to risk missing it. All photos © Kelly Cordes.]