Hot Rocks

Jun 1, 2005
Outside Magazine
Summer My Way

"My favorite trail is the one up Half Dome, the finest summit in the Yosemite region. It's a beautiful, nearly 5,000-foot hike full of waterfalls, wildlife, and fantastic views."—Royal Robbins, climber and entrepreneur

If there's a deal breaker to a climber's summer dream scene, it's rock that's scalding to the touch. Fortunately, Estes Park, Colorado—a town of 6,000 at 7,522 feet in the Rockies—offers something that desert crags don't: alpine air conditioning and hundreds of routes just outside of town in Rocky Mountain National Park. "The park is best known for 14,255-foot Longs Peak, but the smaller mountains offer equally challenging multi-pitch routes," says 24-year-old phenom Katie Brown, a Patagonia-sponsored climber who lives in Moab but spends a month or two in Estes Park each summer. "Lumpy Ridge, a series of granite domes, is my favorite. One dome, the Book, has an awesome 5.9 called J. Crack and a 5.10c called Fat City. I also like to hike the four-mile trail around Lumpy Ridge for the views of Longs Peak." When Brown craves quesadillas, she heads to Ed's Cantina & Grill, in town, a favorite hangout of resident climbers like Beth Rodden, 25, and her 26-year-old rock-star husband, Tommy Caldwell. "Estes is about escape," says Rodden. "You can just run into the mountains and play your heart out." Rocky Mountain National Park, 970-586-1206; Estes Park visitor information, 800-443-7837.