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913 Summer Stories
MacGregor Slab - Direct

During the summer ('13) while staying in Rocky Mountain National Park, a friend of mine joined me for a climb on MacGregor Slab. My friend, Mark is a climber. He climbs regularly and can climb much harder routes than me, but he still humors me and allows me to tag along on a climb or two each year.

Mark allowed me to chose where to climb. After poring over the guide books, I finally decided on MacGregor, mainly due to it's out of the way location. Most climbers visiting Estes Park, flock to the nearby Lumpy Ridge area and never even think about MacGregor. That was okay with me.

The Direct route on the Slab was 5.7 in difficulty. The route was moderately easy which would be challenging for me, but almost boring for Mark. But, anytime I go into the mountains with Mark it somehow always turns out to be an adventure.

On MacGregor Direct, Mark led up through thin corners to an easier than expected overhang, and then to the top. It was a fun climb. As we climbed we kept seeing bolts that went up the center of a face to our left. The route seemed as if it was being used as both a climbing route and as a multi-station rappel. We discussed why anyone would want to rappel down the slab. The chances of getting your rope stuck was great on the less than vertical slope.

After completing the 7 pitch (rope lengths) route, we coiled the rope, packed the gear, and started down the regular descent off the backside of MacGregor. It was supposed to be a hike that would lead us down a gully on a faint path and then over to the base of the cliff. The descent was supposed to be easy, but oh, we were wrong. Due to the pine beetle infestation, the once navigable gully was criss-crossed with downed trees.

And so the adventure began ... The descent was not really dangerous. We were finished with the rock climbing, but we were still in for a challenge. We had to climb over, under, around, and through the trees and their snarly branches. There was no visible path, only a puzzle of trees. What we needed was a chainsaw! Soon we realized why the bolted rappel stations were in place, they were installed to avoid the descent gully. Even if you got a rope stuck, at least you did not have to live through the heinous descent gully.

We finally returned to the base of the climb. I was bruised and bleeding. When the limbs didn't stick me, the thorny bushes poked me instead.

If we took the Direct route up MacGregor, then we took the torturous, serpentine route down through the maze of trees as we searched for the path of least resistance. We should have rappelled!

Ha! Now, as I look back to the day, it is the gully that I remember the most. It was a good day with my friend, Mark.

Happy Direct trails


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