Sometimes, you are granted a gift from Aeolus, the wind god. I guess he must find us just a little amusing. Climbers, I suspect, are high on his entertainment list. He probably laughs at their struggles, clawing at the rock to pull themselves up a few more inches before falling. So every once in a while, he decides to help a climber. If you are the one receiving such a rare gift, you are just supposed to climb. It may not look that way, but you are. Don't ask questions, just climb. Otherwise, you will anger Aeolus and he will punish you.
Our trip had started well before dawn. I wanted to finish a climb at Shelf Road, north of Canon City in Colorado. I had tried to on-sight it the previous week, but pumped out after clipping the second to last bolt. As is typical of spring in Colorado, high winds developed and I was not able to give the route another attempt that trip. High winds were predicted again. Our plan was to get to the cliff early, before the winds developed.
It was not a pleasant drive to Shelf. It rained and snowed; the wind was already howling before the Sun rose. We talked about returning home. But we knew if we didn't try, the climbs would remain undone. Our stubbornness appeared to have been rewarded as we drove up the canyon towards Shelf. The good weather, however, made it easy for us to see the sign "Road Closed". A bridge was being replaced; we could not proceed up the road to my climb.
In climbing, it is important to "Always have a backup plan". We quickly turned into the Sand Gulch parking lot and headed to Mural Wall. Aeolus must have noticed our change in plans. He countered by turning a cold, windy shoulder to us. We ran up the trail, arriving at the base of the cliff near 'M&M', a 12a with a two out of three stars rating. I put on my harness as it started to rain. I quickly climbed, hanging from a draw to rest, and worked out a sequence to get through the crux while the wind howled. My dad lowered me to the ground. We closed up the packs and moved them under trees to keep them dry. We then sought shelter under some overhanging rocks. When not shivering, we studied the sky looking for a hint of a change and found none. Finally, it was time to climb or freeze. The beginning of the route was a struggle; Aeolus' wind kept trying to rip me off the rock face. Then, I got to the balancy crux. Suddenly, the wind and rain stopped. It was dead calm. I climbed through the crux and paused at a rest above it. The rest of the climb was relatively easy. This was good for the wind and rain returned. But I finished the climb.
It hadn't seemed I was suppose to climb on this stormy day, but Aeolus had granted me an opportunity. And I made the best of it!