All that Noise: A Summertime Rant from Estes Park

A party on the Upper Great Face, seen from atop the Lower Great Face at The Crags, Estes Park.

A climber on the Upper Great Face, seen from atop the Lower Great Face. The Crags, Estes Park.

Audibly, I suppose today in Estes Park was like any other here in summer, with blaring sirens, incessant noise pollution from everybody with a compensatory complex and a Kid Rock fantasy (giving double meaning to the term “hog”), and, of course, the town’s summertime mating call: car alarms. As climbers, however, we can usually get away from such obnoxiousness. At least some of it.

I love climbing for a lot of reasons, including the silence. There’s silence like the absence of human noise, replaced by the sounds of birds and the wind. It enhances another silence, an invaluable silence: the quiet in my head while climbing. The greater experience of climbing, of course, extends far beyond the physical. After all, I can do cool moves in a climbing gym, which I enjoy and do regularly, but getting outside, away from the road, is different. I tend to think that climbers who venture beyond the trailheads share these values. It often lends itself to an immediate connection, knowing you’re there for the same reasons. That very thing happened today, in fact, up high at The Crags. We’d done some climbing, saw another party across the way, enjoyed a friendly chat, then the afternoon storms came. They headed home while we waited out the rain, and then began hiking toward a sub-section called Wizard’s Gate. It has terrific climbing, and, with a 45-minute approach, a great vibe with glorious views. One of my favorite summer spots in Estes.

As we rounded the corner, we heard something different, another party. Orgasmic-sounding grunts from her. Loud “Yeah, fuck yeah!” repeating from him. My climbing partner and I exchanged puzzled, bizarre looks. Then they came into view: they were in the cave area, which probably magnified their sounds. No, they weren’t fucking. She was climbing. Trying hard (which is rad, of course – there’s my obligatory nice statement), with him completely unaware, it would seem, of his location or of even the slightest possibility that anybody but them might be trying to enjoy the day within, oh, like a couple of miles. Maybe Rifle was closed for the weekend, I don’t know. She kept going, kept trying. He kept bellowing. Like, top of his lungs bellowing, “Fuck yeah, you got his! Breathe, breathe, you own this, it’s all you,” “You’ve earned this, relax, yeah, get it back, FUCK YEAH!” and, my personal favorite from the day: “Stay positive, you’re here for the right reasons – to fucking crush this thing!”

Hey, I’m all for encouragement. But when you’re out there, just so you’re not the climbing version of the jackweeds on their obnoxious Harleys, I’ll offer some advice: Maybe think about fucking crushing the silence button. Just a little bit. Not meaning destroy the silence, no, definitely not that. I mean “crushing” in the annoying parlance of our (climber) times.

Anyway, so then, finally, we heard her first words: “Fuck. Let me down.” She was close, good effort. Maybe next time. A blissful silence followed as she lowered and they made out at the base (I’m not making this up), and once again I could hear the birds singing. Ahh, so nice. For a couple of seconds, anyway, until they were drowned out by douchebag Neanderthals in pirate costumes roaring through in the valley below, advertising their diminutive manhood to the world.

Who, I wonder, wants to be like that?

On days like this, autumn can’t come soon enough.