Goverment closure brings out Phantoms

Phantom Spires Silhouette

We had a great trip to Phantom Spires.  Attending were Aaron and Kay, Tim , Seldom Seen Chris D., Mark, Ling, and new guys Chris S.and Todd.   We camped at the east end of the Leap, a first for all of us, and it worked out well.  There were a number of climbers camping out of vehicles at the parking lot, and we set up tents down along the river, which helped mask the sound of the highway.  It's a beautiful little spot, on open granite slabs dotted with trees next to slabby cascades, and views up toward Pyramid Creek above a watery pool framed by a grove of flaming aspen trees.  The sun hit the tents about 8:00 and we emerged blinking like ground squirrels to make coffee in the sun's first warming rays.  Saturday night we had dinner at the lodge and a big fire, and later a bit of rain and a dusting of snow, but it quickly disappeared in the morning. 

Getting ready for Gingerbread 5.7 on Upper SpireAlthough the Leap campground was closed (locked toilets and no water), the campsites were completely full, with cars parked out in the subdivision.  A lot of Euros, somebody said.  The turnouts along the Spires road and the parking lot were also well peopled with camping climbers.  Climbing at the Spires was sunny  Saturday and partly cloudy Sunday, windy as usual, and very chilly on the tops of the formations and in the shade.  Most of the better moderate routes on Upper and Middle Spire were ticked, and some of us ventured down to the lower formations Sunday to get out of the wind.  Kay went fly fishing, but unfortunately didn't manage to snag anything.  Chris D., ecstatic to be released from his cage for the day Saturday, won the Biggest Grin contest.  Aaron inspired a number of us to do the exposed 10a bolt ladder up the top block on Middle, while Mark led his troup up the main route on Upper.  Given the cool temps and low angle of the sun, nobody went to the Leap , although we heard it was very busy.   Chris S. was the only one to climb Monday, hopefully with success.

The trip gave us a good look at the potential for winter camping at the Leap and climbing at the Spires after the Leap campground is closed.  We should remember that just because our calendar closes out at the end of Oct, climbing is still possible into the winter!

Best, Paul