I remember the first time I climbed at Turkey Rocks. I had moved from Georgia to Colorado just a few months earlier and was chomping at the bit to explore the beauty the Rockies had to offer. I had met Luke at the climbing gym and remember asking him if he climbs outside. “Do you have a trad rack?” I asked. He paused, then responded with a laugh, “kind of.” He described the collection of haggard and worn camalots, frayed slings and oval biners that had been handed down to him from his dad.
A few weeks later I met up with Luke and our friend Ryan, way too early in the morning, to shoot up to Turkey Rocks before our homecoming dance that night. We trudged up to the Turkey Perch at dawn to explore the moderate classics like Left-Handed Jew and Reefer Madness. Quiver And Quill stood tall up the hill of boulders from us on the west end of the Turkey Tail and I remember catching Luke gawking at it just as I did. “That thing’s no joke,” we agreed. After we were done trying really hard and embarrassing ourselves on 5.8s, we hiked up to the base of The Quill and laughed at how heinous it looked looming over us.
In the next few of months Luke’s crack climbing abilities took off. He went from being completely wrecked after a 5.9 lead to sending 5.11s clean and even getting up 5.12s on the sharp end. He told Ryan and I that he almost got Quiver and Quill and that he’d started to work it really hard. Ryan and I, still working on crack climbs in the 5.8-5.9 range, were left in the dust but nevertheless psyched for him.
Maybe climbers have gone soft since the days when Turkey Rocks was established (we probably have), but Quiver and Quill is harder than 5.10. I have the utmost respect for the hardman that put up that route, but it’s no 5.10. Halfway up the climb it quickly turns into a battle between the climber and two reachy cruxes back-to-back that depend on terrible feet. After pulling the second crux, the route’s victim relies solely on drive and perseverance. After the cruxes comes a brutal offwidth sequence. On Luke’s send go, he got his body into the offwidth, cammed his forearm, yelled, “I feel like I’m gonna f****** vomit dude.” He flailed his body onto the slabby topout, let out a sigh of relief and threw in an anchor.
Quiver and Quill embodies South Platte climbing. It is a truly beautiful line nestled in an area that has been preserved, respected, and cherished by climbers. Among our small tribe, we like to consider Turkey Rocks as the lesser-known Yosemite of Colorado. Although you might spend half the day looking for rap anchors, and the grades might leave you embarrassed, the adventure that can be found there is unparalleled.
Climber, photographer, high school senior, living in Colorado Springs, Colorado.