Kayleen on her second lap on the OW in the lay back section
“AHHHH!!” I yell as I propel myself into a two-foot wide crevice high in a limestone wall at Shelf Road. I pant and toss my beanie thirty-feet down onto the ground below me. I wipe some sweat and dirt from my brow. I’ve just climbed a strenuous lie-backing section of an off-width route and now have myself wedged inside a chimney of rock. My legs are splayed like a frog. There aren’t any holds and I just use body tension to inch my way up the chimney.
I am happy here, in my little world. Eight inches in front of my face is rock. I study the beautiful intricacies and irregularities as I inch along towards the top of the route. If I look to my left, all I see is darkness. No one but the little rock lizards really knows how far back this crack goes. If I look to my right, I see sunlight. Close to me are the high walls of the canyon. Far away are white-capped mountains.
A few minutes later, I have inched my way to the top of the chimney and make a few precarious moves onto the face of the rock and hit the anchors. I let out a triumphant yell.
A year ago, I was horrendous at crack climbing. Now I love the cracks. They are often burly. They are sweaty. They are dirty. But, they are always an adventure. Always unique. And, the views at the top — incredible. That’s the #Gneisslife.
Have fun. Make time. Be Gneiss.
Kayleen Glaser—Gneiss Apparel Supply Co. ambassador and budding crack climber—is a law clerk for the Colorado Court of Appeals, graduate of Indiana University, and team leader for the Outdoor Women’s Association, Front Range. When she’s not working on local conservation issues, she’s climbing, mountaineering, backpacking, cooking, or teaching her cat to play fetch—any of these you can follow on her adventure blog, The Climbaholics.