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How Climbing Rumors Start: A Story from Rocky Mountain National Park

Kelly Cordes  /  May 17, 2012  /  4 Min Read  /  Climbing

A fun Saturday on Lumpy Ridge. Photo: Kelly Cordes

“I hear Tommy had to carry you out of the Park the other night,” the Danimal said over the phone. “Carried ya in his strong arms like Kevin Costner with Whitney Houston in The Bodyguard.”

Dammit. So this is how rumors get started.

Rewind. First, last weekend, me and my special lady friend (SLF) did this:

Kc - toots lumpy IMG_4446(LR)

Pretty nice little Saturday, actually. Damn, it’s a great time of year in the ‘Rado.

But then on Tuesday, for some stupid reason, Weasel One and I went scratchy climbing in the Park. We heard Alexander’s Chimney was in good shape – a nice, moderate outing, and I haven’t climbed much scratchy stuff since breaking my leg two and a half years ago, so I thought it might be a good time. You know, pull some G’s. (G is for grovel.)

And it was a good time – only, as these Park days often go, Weasel One and I got sidetracked. Kind of like those rumors we whisper when we hear of some ephemeral smear forming up….brings back memories – I love the chase. Of course, at this stage in my life I should know that white crap plastered to rock isn’t good ice, but how can you resist? Look at this and tell me you wouldn’t do the same:

Kc - W1 stettners IMG_4484(LR)Then Tuesday…who could resist? W1 (a.k.a. Weasel One, Chris Thompson) heading for white stuff near Stettner’s Ledges, Longs Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo: Kelly Cordes

Itchy itchy, scratchy scrappy, sketchy G-climbing makes me happy happy. Odd, I know. Except that I hate scratchy climbing, it sucks and it’s scary, but I’m too stupid to remember that I hate it until it’s too late and I’m already in it, and then I forget about how bad I hated it the last time and so I go back again the next time.

It ain’t easy living with these sorts of limitations.

ChrisT - kc Stettners ss 1Itchy itchy scratchy scrappy… Kelly pulling some G’s in the Park. Photo: Chris Thompson

Long day, great day. Except I forgot to mention to my SLF – who didn’t know me before I got runover by a bus a couple years ago, thus is (was) unfamiliar with how things kinda sorta sometimes tend to go – that like, well, a Park day can mean a lot of things. She was coming over for dinner that night. Ooops.

Around sunset – 8:30 p.m., how did that happen? – after multiple pitches of scratching up runout snow-covered junk, I suggested to Weasel One that we start rapping. Said I thought I might be late for dinner. (It’s a few hours out…)

Turns out my SLF got worried – yes, I feel like an irresponsible dillweed – and called CFS, who apparently called Doug, who said “Alexander’s? Yeah, they’d fully be back by now. They probably saw something else. Or someone got hurt.”

CFS, exercising his solidly sound judgment, told my SLF: “They probably saw something else. I’m sure they’re fine.”

ChrisT - kc Stettners ss 3Doing fine but dang, dude, I think I’m gonna be late for dinner… Photo: Chris Thompson

Then he called Tommy, just to check. Later, when I told everyone I was grateful for their concern (I’m fine, by the way), but that I felt kinda bad, Tommy’s wife, Becca, just laughed and admitted that she’s sent people into the park looking for Tommy at least twice before. I got the feeling that this has maybe become a half-party, half-serious concern sort of late-night ritual with guys like us.

Anyway, sometime before one a.m., near the trailhead, as I hobbled down behind Weasel One – the last two hours of downhill absolutely pounded my leg – we saw headlamps and heard: “Kelly?”

“Tommy! Hey Jay, hey Zach! What are you guys doin’ here?”

“Lookin’ for you.”


And that was that. Laughs, no lectures, good times. It’s damn sure nice to have friends who care. Even if I owe them all a round of margs for making them worry. So, no, Tommy did not pick me up and carry me out in his strong arms. But I know that he would if he had to.

ChrisT - kc Stettners ss 2Kelly climbing sn’ice on Stettner’s. Photo: Chris Thompson

Kc - stettners w W1 Screen shot
W1 scratching around near Stettner’s. Photo: Kelly Cordes

Kc - W1 Stettners IMG_4520(LR)
W1 on one of the spicy pitches. It looks like ice, only it isn’t… Photo: Kelly Cordes

Kc - stettners IMG_4513(LR)
Good climbing. Photo: Kelly Cordes 

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