Thursday, September 25, 2014

Autumn Equinox Climb - Aftonroe (5.7)

I have heard good things about Aftonroe and wanted to climb it last weekend. Liam agreed. At this point neither of us actually knew where the route was or anything about it, thank god for the internet! We left Calgary at 7:30 with a vague idea of where we were going and way more gear than we needed and pulled into the parking lot on highway 1A at 8:30. There were already some other cars there and climbers just starting up the trail. We didn't have a back up plan so just decided to follow them up. We were expecting things to be relatively busy as it was the last weekend of summer and it was supposed to be a warm day.
Guides rock from the parking lot (Aftonroe follows the corner on the right bulge)
It was an easy approach (by Rockies standards) to the bottom of the climb. It only took about 30 minutes up a steep, obvious trail. When we got to the start, there were already 3 groups there, the first of which was just about to get started climbing. It was going to be a long day! 
First pitch still wearing my down jacket
When it was finally our turn to climb, Liam lead the first pitch. We were both pretty chilled from waiting in the shade, but as soon as we got up into the sun, the layers came off. It took some time to warm up, but by mid afternoon it was over 27 degrees on the wall.
Excited to be climbing finally!
Due to the traffic, we were not moving too quickly but were able to hang out and enjoy the views from each belay station, as well as get to know the other climbers on the route. We also had lots of time to take pictures. I wasn't too worried about moving slow, I was just happy to be out!
Liam above "Aftonroe" - now called Backswamp
Gaining altitude over the valley
Liam taking in the view 
Hanging out with new friends at another belay
Looking up at all the parties above us
We got to the top of the route (9 pitches) around 1:30. We hadn't seen anyone coming down yet (you have to rappel the route) which seemed strange. As we topped out, we heard voices in the trees, everyone was hanging out eating lunch! Since there were more groups still below us, the other groups started getting ready to rappel, waiting for everyone was going to take forever. This resulted in the biggest traffic-jam I have ever seen on a route, with 4 groups going down and another 4 going up. Luckily all the belay stations were pretty big. At one point there were 6 people at one belay with a person rappelling down to us and another person climbing up to it!! Craziness!
Liam getting the rope ready to rappel
Belay station chaos
 We were back at the car around 5, much later than we were expecting, but it was still a really fun day! We made some new friends and got to climb a new route so I would call that a great success.

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