Protection...the act of protecting, preserving from injury or harm....to also cover, as in coverage. In Telluride, Sarah and I traversed the "Krogerata", a via ferrata that traverses over hundreds of feet of vertical exposure at any time. To safely traverse the route, you need protection. Your helmet, harness, lanyards, and carabiners. You also need to use the protection that has been permanently fixed on the route. Which are the wire cables that have been installed and safely anchored throughout the route. And then of course the iron holds which are bolted and allow you to traverse across when you are on a complete vertical section of the route. All these pieces of "protection" are there for you...to minimize the risks of danger and to safely complete the route.
But here's the thing...all that protection does not matter...at all...if you do not trust your gear and the fixed protection on the wall. You have to trust that everything is under control with all the gear you have in place...so you can build just enough confidence to make it across. Without this confidence, there is no way we can focus on the route or task at hand. We would not have enough courage to move forward...and immediately recognize the danger and divert. The task would be too big, too dangerous, and quite frankly not smart.
Without God, I see life much the same way as I see this route. Life is big, dangerous, and I often make really really bad choices because I am not very smart on my own. Often times, I make decisions that leave me exposed...confused...and deflate all confidence because I moved forward without God. I feel that I can do things without Him, so I choose to "free solo" decisions...which leave me unprotected and on my own. And when I do (which I do often because I'm a fool), I ultimately find myself stuck...high above...looking around...with nothing but exposure. I'm done. Whatever I set out to do will not be completed...because I am no longer "protected" from the dangers of the route I've chosen...a route I foolishly chose to leave my Protection behind. I no longer have the confidence that comes with, when I trust in God.
In John 17:11...Jesus says, "I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name..." God is my protection! Jesus is talking about us! He is talking about me! I need to trust my spiritual gear on every route I take. He is in control of my route...because He is my gear and fixed protection. God is my helmet, my harness, my lanyards, and my carabiners. God is my wiring, my bolts, and my anchor! He is my Iron Holds! God is my everything...and because of this...I have full and complete confidence on any route I take...regardless of the exposure. Amen!
Who: Sarah and I
What: Bouldering, "Krogerata", Hiking, Vacationing (that's an activity right?)
Sarah and I drove the 5 1/2 hour drive from Zion to Telluride on the morning of 7/16. We drove through the 4 corners region and I was tempted to drive to Monument Valley. We didn't...but we should have. We arrived to town and this was my first time in Telluride. This place is beautiful! It is my new favorite town in Colorado. The town is nestled in a tight box canyon...there are several unique shops, restaurants, and a great, great...maybe the greatest town park I've ever been to: Town Park. We camped at Town park the first night...cost $20 something bucks...Town Park is very clean, softball fields that had turf equivalent to major league ballparks, a skate park with ramps and a pool, trails, soccer fields, mountain bike trail, and it had a trail that lead to Bear Creek trail. Then of course, you had the backdrop of Ajax Mountain and the surrounding San Juan Peaks. We walked the town and had dinner at Smuggler's Joe Brewpub. I recommend the Jalapeno artichoke dip with their Rocky Mountain Rye microbrew.
(On of the softball fields at Town Park)
I am going to mention this only because it somehow is one of my more memorable moments of this entire trip. Sarah and I caught a few innings of what appeared to be a very competitive beer league. I loved it! These men were good...ultra competetive...and took the game very serious. But at the same time, they were having a blast, enjoyed each other's company, and were ribbing their opponents in good nature. It felt like these guys were just playing the game they loved...in the moment...and nothing else mattered. Kudos to you men...I really enjoyed watching you guys out there. Especially the team that wore slacks, button down dress shirt, and ties for uniforms. That is hilarious!
We got up, and it was in the mid 40's...it felt wonderful. Especially since we are from Texas and it's over a hundred everyday this time of year. We cooked up some oatmeal, packed up our Prius and made our way towards Ajax mountain and the mines to climb and traverse the via ferrata. I spent about an hour bouldering at the Mine Boulders before we got started on our day up the mountain. I've heard a lot about Telluride's conglomerate blocs...so I had to get a bouldering session or two in before I left. So I did...I really enjoyed the clmbing. The landings are relatively flat and the rock is mostly solid. Between bouldering, sport, trad, and big wall climbing in and around Telluride...you have a lifetime amount of climbing. There are several guidebooks.
Distance: 4.25 miles roundtrip (can be shortened if take other trails down)
TH: start of the switchbacks...near the ponds you see in the google image above
time: 4 hours (however, we spent time taking pictures, visiting the falls, and 20 minutes lookinf for the initial trail)
The Krogerata is Telluride's via ferrata. The via ferrata translates to "Iron Way." Most via ferratas climb vertically with few to several traversing sections. The Krogerata is one long traverse under Ajax Mountain and the end of the box canyon on the East Side of Telluride.
After hiking a little over a mile and cutting back 5-6 times on the switchbacks...you finally arrive at the base of the falls. Unfortunately at this time, there are signs telling you to keep out and not enter the base area of the falls. But as you can see, you get to come this close to the falls...and really that's close enough. The falls are spectacular. If you are not hiking up to the via ferrata, this 2 mile roundtrip hike is worth the trip alone.
After you leave the falls, just continue straight up on the same road until the road swithches back up. At the end of this same road, you will see an old wooden bridge that was constructed over the creek. You want to cross this bridge and not continue up the switchbacks. Now, don't be like me...after crossing the bridge I continued moving forward...attempting to locate the TH to the Krogerata. ***There is no posted TH sign*** Don't look for one, you won't find it. I spent 20 minutes trying to find the trail...I couldn't find it. I knew where the route was above me...I could see it. From the bridge, you can see the small shelf (pictured above) and the remaining route. I tried to find different lines up to the shelf...even attempted to go up loose talus to no avail. I was a bit frustrated. Sarah was down below trying to find it as well. Finally, we gave up...and decided must not have been the right turnoff...though every piece of information told me you had to cross the bridge to find the TH. So we made our way back to the bridge, and lo and behold, there it was. The trail is literally just a few feet after crossing the bridge. It's a very faint trail that immediately goes up... and once you see it, you know it. Remember...right after the bridge, look to your right and look right up. After you ascend 40 to 50, you are on the shelf you see above. At this point, the Krogerata is very easy to follow.
1) Helmet. Not just from imminent rockfall from above...but there are many sections on this route where you crouch down below and have to come back up. You will bump your head...and though it's not a hard hit...we all know that any slight bump on solid stone hurts. The helmet prevented pain more than anything else.
3) Lanyards or webbing. Of course, there are specific via ferrata lanyards design specifically for this sport. And that's what you are suppose to use. Sarah and I used both dyneema and nylong slings as lanyards. We used a total of 4 120 cm slings each that we thread through our climbing loops on our harness and overhand knotted the clipping end for our carabiners. So we had two slings of the same length for the left side and 2 slings for the right side. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that's the right gear...but we felt that we were redundant with out protection and felt comfortable with our choice. If you choose to make your own Lanyard set like we did...make sure you use appropriate length and the slings are specific to climbing use, in other words UIAA certified. If you don't know what UIAA is, then you should buy the specific via ferrata sets...Also, there are several sections when you need slack, so make sure you have long enough slings to make those those moves.
4) Carabiners. Locking biners if you want to be redundant.
5) Camelbak or water resevoir of some sort. Both your hands will be occupied for the most part. So water bottle may not work...
Somthing else you should know about this route...It's not entirely protected with cables. There are many sections the trail narrows, the rock is loose and rotten, and the trail slopes away from the wall...as you can see above. I felt these sections of the wall were the most dangerous. Not when you are on the vertical exposed wall hundereds of feet off the ground...no. It was in these parts...where I took smaller steps and hugged the wall next to me.
Here's my favorite picture. The obligatory pic on the most exposed section with the falls in the background. I'm sure everyone that does this route will have a similar picture...but you just can't get tired of looking at it. I remember just looking down...thinking, "This is sooooo sweeet! This is what I came for."
After completing this last section, you clip off onto this ledge. It's narrow, loose, rotten and not protected. This is where Sarah sighed and was relieved to be off the wall...this is where I get nervous. Go figure...
This is what most of the remainding route looks like. On exposed walls with a small ledge, protected by the cables. If you do this route counter-clockwise, be prepared for more via ferrata after the big exposed wall. Most of the traverse on the wall occurs after the Krogerata Bench. We were on this route for another hour before we were completely off the cables. This route, though is not long in distance...does take some time to complete.