I will be signing my award winning adventure book and offering free consulting for folks who are interested in self-publishing, at the Blue Moon bakery in Nederland from 1:30 – 4 PM on Sunday November 19.
“Speak English to me!” Exclaimed the beautiful Peruvian woman somewhat frankly from the balcony of her mansion.
A fairly extreme scramble had left me in her backyard, and I did not wish to retrace my steps.
She had thought that the cliff below her was unclimbable, and wanted to know what in tarnation this gringo was doing in her back yard. Dozens of maids and other workers rushed out onto their balconies, and every dog in the neighborhood was barking.
I had just returned to Lima from a great adventure of skiing on the highest volcano in Peru and had left a day of buffer on my schedule to spend in Lima. This grand city that was once called the pearl city of the universe is a bit less than that now, but it still offers brilliant coastal views, great museums, and some of the best restaurants in the world. My favorite restaurant, El Rustica sits right on the ocean in the upscale neighborhood of Baranco. The cebiche is fabulous and the open air dining let’s you enjoy the smell, sound and sometimes wetness of the crashing waves.
I was staying in the nearby tourist friendly “Mira Flores,” which is a couple of miles up the coast, but the general area is fairly elite, and relatively safe for gingos.
There is a pleasant and safe path that follows the coast and affords spectacular vistas, but it crosses one fairly deep canyon, and the bridge is quite a ways inland. I had taken the long path on a couple of occasions and had also explored a trail that went directly through the canyon. It involved about 200 vertical feet of scrambling and crossing a semi-busy hi way, but it was substantially shorter. I had taken this route the day before and felt safe on it, but this time I decided to follow the hi-way down the coast. This would avoid climbing and descending the big hill, and I knew that the restaurant was near.
The hi way started out with a wide walkway, and it was obvious that others had taken it, so I proceeded anxiously, and could almost smell the fresh fish, as I wandered onward. ! The road that I was following quickly joined the Pan American hi way, and the traffic became extremely dense. The restaurant was now very close, but the path got even narrower, and crossing the hi way did not look like a good option.
I was about ready to turn back or cross the road, when I approached a large mesh fence. The fence had been erected to contain the small avalanches of rocks that were constantly sliding down the steep embankment, but there was a faint trail between the fence and the manky cliff. It looked a lot safer than the road, and El Rustica and the pedestrian bridge that crossed the hi way were now in sight.
But my hopes were suddenly dashed when I encountered an old rock avalanche that had closed the path. The old slide had become infested with dense brush, and the trail suddenly stopped. I tried to bushwack my way through the dense brush and loose debris, but it seemed futile, and I really didn’t wish to retrace my steps.
So, I contemplated my fate for a few seconds. I was reluctantly ready to turn back when I noticed a trace of a trail heading up the steep and manky headwall. The trail quickly vanished, but by now my alpine climbing instincts had kicked in, and I wandered upward. The route, which was probably a first ascent, involved up to 5.7 vine assisted mank and the crux move was a mantle off the remnants of an old retaining wall. It was an adrenaline filled solo, but I finally arrived at a friendly plateau.
I was hoping to find a public trail or road at the top of the cliff, but instead it was the backyard of a luxurious condo building. A 12 foot tall concrete wall protected most of the building from intruders, but a few of the condos had taken advantage of the terrain and had sculpted luxurious backyards that enjoyed the constantly changing vistas of the Pacific Ocean.
Suddenly, one of the dogs started to bark and a few curious servants appeared on the balconies.
“I am a gringo and I am lost,” I tried to convey in my broken Spanish.
The 12 foot wall looked unsurmountable, but I spotted a reasonable route to one of the yards. It involved a 5.3 vine scramble, but I survived and didn’t get shot. Everyone within earshot was now out on the balconies, and the caretaker of the property suddenly arrived on the scene.
My Spanish was good enough to convince him that I wasn’t a danger, but he told me to stay right where I was as he summoned the owner.
After more than a few minutes of waiting, the beautiful woman finally appeared. She told me that what I was doing was very dangerous, and I think she thought I was a bit crazy.
I apologized for trespassing and tried to tell her that I was an experienced climber and Peru was one of my favorite countries, but she quickly instructed her manager to guide me back to the street and retreated back to her mansion.! The path through the luxurious condo was a great adventure and the brief chat with the manager on the way out was very amusing. I left a card with my website for the owners, but I don’t think they bought my book. ! The exit dropped me on a friendly street in Baranco, and a short stroll brought me to my favorite restaurant. It was the best adrenaline buzz of the whole trip, but a great pisco sour calmed my nerves, and the cebiche was worth the adventure.
The New Year started in it’s usual manor with some really good live local music shared with friends and some great food and wine. It proceeded onto my 65th birthday, which I celebrated with my best friends at a remote hut in the high rockies. We used our own power and backcountry ski equipment to travel 10 miles and 3,000 vertical feet into the Eiseman hut near Vail, and spent a joyous weekend indulging in untracked powder, an awesome wilderness setting, and lots of food and fine wine. Having 3 holidays in a row nearly wore me out, but it was snowing in Steam Boat Springs, so I proceeded north. My season pass included 6 days there, a huge storm was predicted, and one of my best adventure buddies calls it home, so it was impossible to resist.
My old body keeps hanging in there, so I feel obligated to use it, and skiing is still my biggest passion. The snow Gods cooperated and I enjoyed another incredible winter and tallied 97 days of skiing bliss. But the winter ended all too soon and springtime at 9,000 feet can be a bit wintry, so I packed my van and headed west. Part of my family was planning a reunion in Yosemite in late June, so I headed out a month early.
I love Colorado! but California has the best geography in the US and maybe the world. It is filled with mystical ancient forests, pristine deserts, the best rivers on the planet, the magnificent high Sierras, and they also have a beach. I had spent a lot of time kayaking there in the 90‘s and I was anxious to return to this remarkable paradise.
It’s a bit of a drive, so I decided to stop at a remote climbing area in central Utah, which I had read about in one of my climbing magazines. “Maple Canyon” is smack dab in the middle of Utah and offers a world famous climbing mecca in the middle of no where. The primitive local sheep herders are amazed at the visitors that have come to this barren land to test their skills on the steep rocks, but they don’t seem to mind and the remote canyon offers solitude and some intriguing routes. I was traveling alone, but lots of other climbers do too, so it’s usually quite easy to team up, and I’ve met a few of my best friends that way. I lucked out again, and managed to instantly mingle with some awesome strangers and spent a very enjoyable week in this remote paradise. “Birds of a feather flock together” and the adventure world is really small. Most people laugh when I say this, but I really believe that climbing is the safest way for an old geezer to get an adrenaline buzz, and I am a confessed adrenaline junkie. Adrenaline is a natural drug that was genetically intended to help us survive, and I truly believe that it is one of the secrets to staying youthful. You obviously have to be cautious and know what you’re doing, but unlike kayaking, the moves can be carefully contemplated, and the rope offers a safety net.
My next stop was Bishop California in the eastern Sierra Madres, where I discovered the “Hostel California!” This friendly oasis is a melting point for adventurers of all sorts including a bunch of backpackers who were hiking from Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail, and had stopped to relax and wait for the snow to melt on the high passes. It was also a hanging spot for climbers, so I made new friends, and enjoyed some great routes in the Owen River Gorge and a few other nearby Crags. The hiking in the Sierras is also fantastic, and I savored about a dozen blissful days in the ancient forests, with vistas of high alpine lakes and lofty peaks.
This area also boasts numerous free hot springs that spew out of the ground from a tiny version of Yellowstone park. The nearby resort of Mammoth Mountain offers world class skiing and it was still open with excellent conditions and spring discounts, so that’s were I tallied day 96 & 97. Yosemite Park was extremely crowded, but It was great to see LuAnn, Bob, Tiff, Julie, and Tim and we spent two very pleasant days conversing, hiking and enjoying the scenery of this stunning paradise. The gigantic waterfalls were raging, and filled the valley with a fine mist, and the giant walls brought back some fond memories of climbing there in the 70’s.
I’m officially semi-retired, but I still enjoy challenging projects and I was approached with the opportunity to build a pair of tiny houses. Designing and building two 8 x 15 foot cabins was a fun challenge, and the finished project turned out to be quite livable.
Kayaking, unlike climbing, is a very dynamic sport and the water is very powerful, so I’ve decided to cherish my old memories and paddle very little. But, I do still love the rivers, so I joined an expedition with old friends on the Colorado river through Cataract Canyon, and enjoyed 5 remarkable days of rafting and hiking in this remote paradise. Most of the participants had worked as raft guides on the Zambezi river in Africa, so it was a fun reunion of very interesting adventurers.
I’m still pursuing a retirement career of inspirational speaking and writing, which has been very interesting. Oprah still hasn’t called, but it’s turning into a great hobby, and I’ve really enjoyed membership in our local toastmasters club. The key to staying young is to have a good attitude, and to keep moving both mentally and physically, and I think that a bit of adrenaline really helps. I feel very fortunate to live in the paradise of the rocky mountains and I enjoyed another invigorating summer of climbing on the local peaks. Our fall weather was incredibly warm, but winter has finally arrived, and the change of seasons offers new energy. Skiing is like dancing on snow, and it always brings a smile to my face. Nature is my religion, and the only thing that keeps me sane in this crazy world. I must admit that I am somewhat shattered at the current events in our country, but I continue to hope for peace and prosperity for everyone on this incredible planet and I plan to spend most of the next four years hiding in nature. I never worry about the world when I’m hanging by my fingertips on a great mountain. Please check out www.danceonedge.com if you want to read some more stories. Happy Holidays John Mattson
1998: I moved to Nederland from Sugar Loaf and built a house on 5th Street. BOB had been running experimental boating sessions on Barker reservoir that summer, and I had a chance to kayak on the lake. It was a very pleasant experience. The sessions were run by volunteers and everything went very smooth, and there was lots of positive feedback. I don’t know the exact history before that date, but I do know that BOB had been working on the project for a very long time.
1999 or 2000: The reservoir and all of the water rights were sold to the City of Boulder for water storage, because water was now more valuable than the hydro power that had been the reason for constructing the damn.
The experimental sessions were terminated immediately by the city of Boulder and a “professional study group” was hired by the city of Boulder to determine appropriate us of the reservoir.
All of the work that BOB had accomplished was essentially scrapped, and we were told to go back to square one. I went to approximately five meetings over the next two years and listened to these “professionals” lie and allude and basically do everything in their power to drag out the process and wear us out while they fed us bad hors d’oeuvres. I believe this was all part of their lawyers plan.
The final consensus was that each boater would bring 2.4 dogs and that they would pollute the water. That was all they could find against it. This was at a City of Boulder city hall meeting which I attended about 2001 and I’m sure that it is part of the City records.
The Boulder city council essentially laughed them out of the meeting, but they had wasted more than 2 years and had essentially accomplished their goals.
We were told that we could possibly have boating, but it was up to the town of Nederland to finance and redo all the work that had already been done.
I personally decided that the political process was a farce, and decided to paddle elsewhere. This meant driving down the canyon or Peak to Peak hiway which wasted my time and polluted the atmosphere.
Gross reservoir now has boating because the FERC required them to, and I have not heard of any problems. The Boulder Lawyers managed to dodge the FERC, because it’s no longer producing electricity. The last meeting that I went to they said that they were going to build a half million dollar deceleration structure to return the water to the river by the old hydro plant, because fixing the bearings was not cost effective. That seems about as stupid as anything I’ve ever heard of, and I can’t understand why they don’t just put the water back in the river where it belongs. When the lake is full, it is not an eyesore, but when it is half empty it is not a pleasant sight. It is essentially a storage tank for the city of Boulder, and we should at least be able to use it.