In 1907 John Otto wrote,”I came here last year and found these canyons, and they felt like the heart of the world to me. I’m going to stay and build trails and promote this place, because it should be a National park.”  Also, known as “The Hermit of the Monument” His love for Colorado National Monument was so great he spent 23 years of his life there.    When we arrived at Colorado National Monument we knew what we wanted, to climb Otto’s Route.  He successfully scaled the bohemoth 450ft tower on July 4th 1911, YES 1911!, with only himself, a hand drill, hemp rope, a hammer, and a couple few lead pipes.  Not to mention he did it wearing cowboy boots.     Now its our turn!


John Otto – Colorado National Monument (U.S. National Park Service).

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An afternoon of hiking the rim, we are ready for our adventure.

DSCN7444DSCN7449 DSCN7453  DSCN7457 DSCN7471We will begin the day here.  Hiking down into the Valley at 5:30 in the morning, as to not make our 6 mile hike(round trip) and 450 ft. climb a late night event.  We belive in enjoying every moment, taking our time, not missing a thing.  Although, the hike out wasn’t as enjoyable as we would have hoped.DSCN7473     DSCN7475 DSCN7488           What is the saying, “people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”?  Or should I say, people in glass vans?


THERE SHE BLOWS!                                                    

Getting closer!  Our early morning hike is  TOTALLY worth it.   DSCN7491                                                             Enjoying the sights.  This place is a geological playground.  The base of the climb is the best sight, tho.

DSCN7496DSCN7504  Me starting the first pitch,                   and me finishing it.DSCN7516

Donn knows better than to trust my directions, but I would follow his lead anywhere.DSCN7513DSCN7518 DSCN7525 Some of Otto’s fine drill work.          These beefy anchors aren’t Otto’s work, but are greatly appreciated. They were added much later for climber safety.  Anchors are added, when needed, to the top of pitches(a segment of a multi-pitch climb) to make a safe belay station for climbers.DSCN7523DSCN7534 Climbing a tower like Otto’s Route gives me a feeling that is hard to describe.   It’s fear, joy, love, and……………….  All I know is that it puts a lump in my throat that feels like a lemon.  It is so strong it brings tears to my eyes.  There is nothing I would trade this for.

DSCN7536 DSCN7540       If you look close you will see some of John Otto’s work.  On his first ascent he drilled these holes and pounded pipes into them to climb this section to the summit.  Drill the hole, pound in the pipe, pull up on it, sit and drill another hole, pound in second pipe, pull up, sit and repeat. Its cool history, but were glad they don’t STILL practice this technique.                                                   DSCN7544 DSCN7546

I would  be lyin’ if I said Summiting isn’t that big of a deal,  BUT this summit was one of the best.  As we pulled the top, which was about 20 x40, we were awed by the 360 degree view of the valley.

We opened the summit box(a weather-proof container you find at the summit, that is filled with memories of other times), and it was a “lump in the throat”moment we won’t soon forget.  It felt like we were surround by all the climbers who shared their experiences.  DSCN7549 DSCN7554 People will leave anything from a match to a toy, whatever is in their pockets.                                DSCN7551                                      And there is always a comedian in the bunch.DSCN7552 DSCN7556 Donn wanted to leave something meaningful, he left his dad’s glasses.  That was his piece of his history to share with the others who experienced the honor of summiting this, one of a kind, Monument. DSCN7562 What goes up, must come down.  At least that’s what Newton said.   I wonder if he was as hungry for dinner when he said it, than we were when we did it?

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The hike out was ahead of us, but we mustn’t show weakness, for the desert creatures would surely attack.

DSCN7570What a great day, and a job well done!  Thanx Otto!!!!!