Rock and Ice Photo Camp: The Fryingpan, Colorado 2015

Rock and Ice Photo Camp: The Fryingpan, Colorado 2015


Big FishCasting For Routes Along Colorado's Fryingpan River

A DECADE AGO my wife and I moved up the Fryingpan River, a babbling, trout-infested 42-mile tributary in west-central Colorado. Summers I noticed a preponderance of fellow Texans dressed in waders standing midstream at seemingly every eddy, anxiously waving poles over their heads like Pony Express drivers whipping their ponies.

I couldn't help but notice that this gold medal trout stream was also home to some lunker-sized cliffs, and soon my friend B.J. Sbarra introduced me to a striking and bullet wall of sandstone uphill from Mile Marker 12.

Over the next several years, I joined B.J., Luke Laeser, Josh Gross, Lathrop Strang and Dave Rasmus- sen (among others) in developing what must be one of Colorado’s loveliest crags. A sweeping sandstone cliffline unfolds like a red fan, trending uphill for about a mile. The rock itself is beautiful—solid and aesthetic. At times it feels like you’re climbing art. Some climbs, such as Laeser Beams (5.13c), are cast with graphic black-and-white bars, like rays of sunlight shining through the blinds of a colossal palace. Some exposures are streaked with green lichen—as on the crimpy Green Span (5.12c)—bringing an aesthetic contrasting color to the rock. Other climbs ascend sculptural buttresses and aretes—such as my favorite line on the Upper Crag, The Strang (5.12b), a tribute to Lathrop, who died attempting an extreme ski descent on nearby Mount Sopris.

The Fryingpan is a tasty combination of Mill Creek, Utah, and Eldorado Canyon, Colorado, with a hint of Australia’s Grampians for spice. With over 100 technical and fingery 5.8 to 5.14s that are mostly 80 feet high but sometimes soar up to 200 feet the crag should be an ant pile of activity. Yet you often have the prime fishing to yourself, thanks to a stout half-hour uphill approach in thin mountain air.

This year Rock and Ice hosted some 15 photographers bent on catching the crag's magic. I hope you enjoy the shots and maybe even get motivated to check out the climbing and land a hawg for yourself. Guidebook: Western Sloper, available in November from Wolverine Publishing.

—Jeff Jackson

Rock and Ice Photo Camp: Ouray, Colorado 2014

 


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