The Last Roundup: the closing of the Boulder Clubroom

April 28, 2017 by

The author on Arapaho Peak, 6/18/16


If  you would like to help with this final move of the Clubroom, and get free access to the grand finale party, please see the schedule that appears below the following story…

The Boulder Council has, regrettably, decided that it will need to shutter its beloved Clubroom by the end of June 2017, due to circumstances beyond its control.  This has been a long process, as anyone who has been reading the Compass newsletter about this topic for the past year and a half will know.  (For anyone interested, see these past stories on January 26, 2016 and February 3, 2016, about when we moved to the current location.)

What is clear is that the Boulder Group — which has been the only CMC group to have its own dedicated clubroom all these years, starting back in the late 1990’s — simply cannot continue to support the expense and uncertainty of maintaining the Clubroom in Boulder’s real estate market. The Boulder CMC is not the only non-profit having to relocate or close its offices because of the high cost of real estate in Boulder, so this comes as no real surprise. Consequently, the Council has been working hard to develop the means to keep the Group running without a dedicated clubroom space.

The decision to eventually move from the current location has been discussed by the Council ever since the last stressful and unexpected move, because of two factors: (1) the uncertainty of our lease status, and (2) the cost of maintaining a mostly unused space. The first reason is due to the fact we know that the property management company, W.W. Reynolds, only needs to give us a month’s notice if they find a retail client to rent the current Clubroom space (which would pay several times our below-market rate, which we were lucky enough to negotiate, with the help of Scott Robson, our executive director). We were offered and have been able to keep the current space this long, we’re convinced, largely due to the undesirability of the location as a retail space, with only two windows in a small, unnoticed corner of the Table Mesa shopping center. Not to mention the booming noises that continually occur from the roof as pedestrians walk along the overhead terrace! Well, we CMCer’s never minded that…

Secondly, we are spending a large amount of our income to keep the Clubroom open: nearly 30 percent of our projected 2017 budget is dedicated to rent. Based on some crude calculations I made in the course of our discussions about the actual time we use the Clubroom, it implied the Group is renting the Clubroom at the rate of around $200 per hour! The Council has agreed this is just not sustainable.

So, in light of all this, there will be an organized and coordinated effort to manage all the various tasks that will go into this significant effort of shutting down the Clubroom, moving our classes equipment into storage, and disposing of all the furniture, books and other assets. You are encouraged to volunteer to be part of this historic event.

The dates in the following schedule are tentative and subject to change. Please see our Facebook page or check our website ( for the latest news as the dates approach. If you would like to volunteer to help with anything, please email Gary Johnston at

As far as how the Boulder Group will manage future meetings and classes, that is under development. We will be holding our May Council meeting on Monday, May 8th, 7pm at Lucky’s Market community room as a first trial in a free space. This is open to the public for anyone wishing to attend, and will be attended by Scott Robson, CMC’s executive director. At this point, the only thing for certain is that we have leased a larger offsite storage facility for storing all the Club gear at AAA Storage at 47th & Pearl; see these Facebook photos.

The Moveout Schedule and June Parties

All dates are this year, 2017:

mid-May Rick gets larger storage unit leased at AAA Storage, begins working with handyman volunteers to build internal shelving, making use of existing material in current gear room.

Tuesday, May 30: Scott Robson deadline for 30 day move out notice to landlord

Saturday, June 3: Nelson last field trip for Spring BMS (Wilderness Route and Trip Planning)

Saturday, June 3: Organize items for Sale, separate out Trash/Recycle/Reuse/Donate/Hazardous. Remove wall anchors

Saturday, June 10: Member Memories Party! Boulder CMC members invited to share stories of the Clubroom. Sale of books, photos and furniture. Open to CMC members. Pictures of furniture will be on website; notifications will posted at Facebook.

Sunday, June 11: Sale open to public, items free to CMC members at a set time (2PM?). Start filling up dumpster & recycle with items not suitable for sale/donation/reuse/recycle

Monday, June 12: Take unsold items to eco-cycle/charm/boulder hazardous waste as appropriate

Saturday, June 17: Move all but items needed for Backpacking Class and Party to Storage or give away as Donations

Sunday, June 18: Complete anything not handled above

Saturday, June 24, 2017 Grand Finale Party!  Free for volunteers (movers, hosts, council, instructors, school directors, active and new trip leaders), suggested donation for others. Clubroom Key Collecting ceremony (bring your key if you have one; we know who you are!)

Sunday, June 25: Party clean up, sign removal, and final move out except for Backpacking Class items. Put fridge up for sale on craigslist cheap.

Tuesday, June 27: Nelson Backpacking School lecture 6:30-9 (last class!)

Wednesday, June 28: Move out remaining items and clean up

Friday, June 30: Gary turns in all keys. Lease ends.

CMC YEP Summer Courses are coming to Boulder!

April 7, 2017 by

New for 2017!  The CMC Youth Education Program (YEP) is happy to announce we will be offering our popular Intro to Rock Climbing camp in Boulder this summer.  Many thanks to Friends’ School of Boulder for hosting.

Intro to Rock Climbing

Outdoor climbing instruction for youth with little or no climbing experience, but lots of interest! This five-day course focuses on technical rock climbing instruction, exploring Boulder’s beautiful crags, and meeting new friends.  Participants will learn about outdoor safety, equipment, knot tying, belaying, and rappelling in a small, supportive environment.  Course fee includes instruction by AMGA certified Single-Pitch Instructor and trained outdoor education staff, equipment use, transportation to and from outdoor sites, and snacks.

 Ages: 10-13

Fee: $390 CMC members / $400 non-CMC

Dates: July 17-21, 9:00a – 3:30p

Location:  Friends School Middle School, with daily field trips to local open space crags
**Family discounts and Scholarships are available. Please contact Program Manager, Doug Maiwurm at or 303 996 2741 for information.

YEP has been providing experiential education programs since 1996.  Learn more about our full line-up of Summer Adventure Courses.

AMS students compleat a tough 2017 season

February 13, 2017 by

AMS, or Advanced Mountaineering School, is always a challenge, but some years the field trips are tougher than others, just due to conditions. This is a mid-course description of my observations of the course based on descriptions from the students I encountered through my teaching of the Ice Clinic.

AMS consists of a sequence of field trips that covers the full range of winter  high peak mountaineering, interspersed with lectures to help prepare for the field trips, covering all the topics that go into this demanding sport. It is considered the culmination of all of the outdoor courses taught by the Boulder Mountain Schools for those who aspire to the full mountaineering experience. Entrance to the course is by application the previous fall for consideration the following winter. The course and application process is described on the Boulder website.

I taught the Ice Clinic this year, consisting of a lecture at the Clubroom and a weekend field trip. This year there were enough students to divide the field trips into two groups going out each day that weekend. At the lecture, I was expected to discuss the basics of ice climbing, but this was preceded by a debriefing of the previous weekend’s field trip, which was the winter camping trip. The site that had been selected was at Left Hand Resevoir in the Indian Peaks. The approach is not difficult, a hike up a road for a couple of miles, but the location is purposefully exposed to conditions, necessitating the construction of snow shelters as a survival skill. As I listened to the students nonchalantly recount their experiences, I had to admire their strength and resilience. What they discovered, unfortunately, was that the snow at the site was very difficult to dig into there, which foiled attempts to construct an igloo, or even to build A-frame shelters. They did have some tents as backup shelters, but not enough for everyone. Consequently, several of them had to sleep in exposed conditions in high winds, basically in a trench in the snow, which would be tough for anyone. Everyone survived without risk of injury from exposure, though it sounded like it was difficult and uncomfortable experience, more for some than others.


Val Hovland, AMS Director, addressing the 2017 students & instructors, Feb 7, 2017 in the Clubroom

Fortunately, the Ice Clinic field trips do not require overnight camping!

I led the two weekend field trips for the Ice Clinic, on Saturday and Sunday, February 11th and 12th. The two days were quite a contrast, illustrating what extremes conditions in Colorado can swing between. On Saturday, I chose to stick with a site that AMS had used in the past, Silver Plume, due to its short approach and (normally) greater amount of ice to climb. I, as well as the other assistant instructors, were concerned about the unseasonably warm temperatures that the Front Range had been experiencing recently. The ice at Silver Plume is directly south facing, and in full sun most of the day. Arriving there early Saturday morning, I could see there was much less coverage on the approach, and was wondering with some dread what the actual ice climbing conditions would be like.


On the way up to the ice at Silver Plume, about 7:30am

What we saw when we got there was something akin to an ice climbing horror show:


The main flow at Silver Plume, February 11, 2017: a fraction of its normal size in previous years

The main flow was only a shallow curtain of ice, and on the right side, where there were normally big pillars of ice, were flowing streams of water. Though seriously disappointed, I was determined to make the most of the situation, and not have the day be a total disappointment for the students. I asked my assistant instructor, Scott Edlin, to proceed with assisting the students to prepare for the other activities while I hiked up and around a side gully to set up a top rope anchor from above. There are bolts in rock above the ice, though I found that it would be necessary to place a directional ice screw to position the top rope above the one remaining ice flow. I attempted to do this, placing an ice screw into some ice of questionable integrity. As I began to rappel down, I found out just how questionable it was: it failed, and I unexpectedly twirled and pendulumed to the right, out of control. Fortunately, I had rigged an autoblock on my rappel device, which stopped me even though I lost control of the rope. Fazed but unhurt, I reassured the class that I was ok, and cursed the failed ice screw, now dangling from the rope in front of me.

One might have thought that this warning sign would have signaled a sign that ice conditions were not good enough to climb. But AMS instructor that I was, I was determined to provide my students a worthwhile experience, and placed another directional ice screw on rappel on the way down. Once at the base, I discussed a plan to place more ice protection on mock leads on the way up the flow, and hopefully reach the top. I asked what student would like to go first, and Jan Rous gallantly volunteered. A tough looking Czech, he had much rock experience, and some on ice. After I explained the plan, I stepped back to my pack to organize the gear for the exercise.

As I was fumbling around in my pack, I heard a loud, unexpected swooshing sound, and looked up to see the sky immediately above me full of slush and chunks of ice raining down. Expecting some major impact, I ducked in towards the snow, hunkering down to lessen my exposure. In a few seconds it was over, but the shock of the experience was not. No one else had been struck but me, but now clearly alarmed at the danger we were in, I loudly exclaimed to the class to pack up and get out of this danger zone. No one saw the avalanche as it happened, but it must have been some ice that was or near the top of the ice wall above me, since above that is a flat area.

Fortunately, nothing else came down as we all packed up our gear, and moved over to a gully on the right side. In this safe zone, the class was still able to practice using a mechanical ascender on a fixed line, one of the drills. Meanwhile, I hiked up to the anchor again to clean it, rap down and retrieve the rope. As we were hiking out, we saw some of the larger ice chunks that had come down, the largest the size of a big microwave. We were lucky that day. And I learned a lesson the hard way to not attempt to anything on ice that in such marginal condition.

The next day was blissfully uneventful and genuinely fun. We went to the East Portal of Moffat Tunnel, near Rollinsville, where the ice is quite shaded, faces northwest and sees almost no sun. It is a smaller area, but it was enough to share between our group and another climbing party. Here we were able to conduct all the drills for the Ice Clinic: climbing on top rope, mock leading on top rope (optional), placing and retrieving ice screws, making V thread anchors, and ascending and descending a fixed line with a mechanical ascender.


Rob Dunkel, assistant instructor, starts up leading the ice pitch. Kahle Toothill turned around as I took the photo. 


Daniil Gladkov, Chris Marchbanks and Ben Feinstein enjoying the start of the clinic.


Jordan Holquist intently belaying a climber above, and Scott Edlin shows Kahle Toothill about ice screws in the background. 


Jennifer Buechler practices descending a fixed line with a Petzl ascender…which is trickier than it looks!


Jordan Holdquist takes a lap, as Rob, Daniil and Chris observe. (A second, non-CMC group is climbing on the right.)


Chris Marchbanks puts full body weight on his V thread anchor, as instructor Scott Edlin looks on

Next weekend will be the last exercise for the AMS students, climbing a Fourteener in winter with a required overnight campsite. I wish them all a safe and successful trip!



CMC + NSP Avalanche Course Recap

January 12, 2017 by

This past weekend, the National Ski Patrol and CMC geared up and headed outside for two full field days to conclude the Level 1 avalanche course.

Day 1: Saturday, January 7. Instructors and students headed to St. Mary’s Glacier for a day of analyzing snowpits, using beacons to locate buried beacons and learning about decision-making in avalanche terrain.

Day 2: Sunday, January 8. A much longer hike into the backcountry along the Second Creek Trail on the north side of Berthoud Pass led instructors and students into a winter wonderland (pictured below).

Students rotated between stations that focused on analyzing snowpits, making good decisions, finding beacons, immediate search training and complex immediate searches. The final exercise (complex immediate searches) acted as real-life scenarios with multiple burials–beacons and wetsuits were buried in the snow and students were instructed to locate them as quickly and efficiently as possible in the midst of chaos.

At the end of the long, snowy day, students were given certificates of completion at the trailhead, while instructors were applauded for their hard work and dedication.


Along the Second Creek Trail on the north side of Berthoud Pass


Instructor Jordan Lipp (left) teaches students how to dig and analyze snowpits to study the many layers


Students got down on their hands and knees when they approached buried beacons, before they started digging to find them


Instructor Cindy Gagnon (right) teaches students how to read the information displayed on their beacons before beginning another beacon-finding exercise


Instructor Lin Ballard points to avalanche terrain, explaining to students how to identify dangerous slopes and estimate safe distances from them


The view from Broome Hut along Second Creek Trail on the north side of Berthoud Pass. Students traveled up to the hut during one of their rotations to study the terrain and (thankfully) warm up for a few minutes.


The weekend concluded with the presentation of certificates to students and applause for the volunteer instructors.

Denver Group is Bringing Climbing Self-Rescue 2 Class to Boulder

January 12, 2017 by

Jerry Allen and Bill Haneghan of the Denver Group will be teaching this advanced rock climbing self-rescue class in the Boulder clubroom on 3/21 and 3/23 with a field trip on 3/25. They’ll teach skills to help you get out of difficult situations, using only the people in your group and the gear you have with you. The class size is very limited, and we’re especially interested in enrolling Boulder group members who have an interest in teaching this class as one of our offerings in the future. If you fit that description, please contact