Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Long Rush for Timelessness

"I confess I do not believe in time... And the highest enjoyment of timelessness ... is when I stand among rare butterflies and their food plants.  This is ecstasy, and behind the ecstasy is something else, which is hard to explain.  It is like a momentary vacuum into which rushes all that I love. A sense of oneness with sun and stone."  Vladimir Nabokov 

That's what boulderers are looking for!  That sense of oneness with sun and stone.  Most of the year, I can find it, but it often gets difficult in spring.  Weather and circumstances force a sense that time is limited.  Spare moments, before heading to work, are spent studying weather websites, making plans, and then having them fall apart as new spring storms appear.  Probabilities need to be assessed, and I end up settling for sessions that can only last a couple hours, before the sun sets or the snow starts to fall. What I want is a full day of bouldering outside each week.  Long enough for that sense of timelessness to set in.  But I settle for minutes, or even moments, when that's all that I can get.  Here are some of the best bouldering moments I've managed to find this spring.

Climbing the second ascent of Ashley's problem "Lioness" V7 at the Beach in Sinks Canyon.
A fun left to right traverse, that felt like V5, along the Warm Up boulder at the Beach, Sinks Canyon.
We lucked out with a perfect weekend day at OZ.
We put up a couple new warm ups.
And I tried as hard as I could on "Wild Thing Stand" V8.
We made our way to Gateway, CO for spring break.
And I finally feel like we've devised a really good car camping system.
We sampled new stone.
And got to experience spring before it made it to Lander.
I really enjoyed "Blacking Out the Friction" and "Blood on the Tracks" which both felt V4 to me.  But both lines were too reachy for Ashley and Sierra. They've decided that Wingate Sandstone is not a fair rock type for short people.  It doesn't have many extra holds. And between holds, the stone is totally blank.   It's pretty though!
"Rail Slide" was once a V4/5 but Christian Prellwitz (the guidebook author) told me that a hold broke on it, and it's harder now.  I'm not sure how much harder it is, but we couldn't hit the top out.
Ashley was disappointed by the Wingate, so she had us make a stop the next day for the Dakota Sandstone of Unaweep Canyon.  She was so happy to have multiple traverses to climb, with plenty of small features!

We had some rain over the break, and while giving the sandstone plenty of time to dry, we climbed at the gym in Grand Junction and took a look at Colorado National Monument.

We also checked out some interesting rock art panels on our way back home.
During recent spring weekends the Falls Trail was the only place we could find bouldering out of the wind.  We put up some new moderates.  This is the shortest one, but it has the most photogenic backdrop.
I sent a project on the Blind Eye boulder.  "Foot in the Eye" V6 starts on a good hold low and left, then traverses the sloping lip to end at the top of "Blind Eye."  Ashley got the second ascent.
Then I got to work on a line in the talus field.  I was already tired, and it felt slick in the sun.  So I didn't send it that weekend.  And that bothered me all week.
So I came back with Sierra on Friday after school, and climbed it.  It's called "Freaky Friday" V4.

Then it was my turn to spot Sierra on "Silver Spoon" V5.  She did all the moves, and would have put it together, but then it started to snow.
The snow didn't stop.  The weekend was so cold we didn't get an outdoor bouldering session.  We hiked up to Bomber Basin instead, and I scouted a few boulders there.

Since that weekend, we've managed to get a couple after school sessions.
A highlight was climbing this fun V5 on the Balanced boulder above the Beer Time Boulder last Friday.
Last weekend we got rained out, and the weather this upcoming weekend is also looking poor.  I need some time, some good weather, some sense of oneness with sun and stone.  Without it, life just rushes by.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Sunshine, Snow, Helpful Ranchers, and Reflection

Despite cold temperature forecasts, the sun has been out, the wind has been still, and we've been getting out for a nice bouldering session each weekend.  We even got out the day after competing in the Wyoming Bouldering Series Comp held at the Elemental Gym here in Lander.  It was just too sunny to stay inside.
 But we were too worked from the comp that day to climb anything new.

Yesterday I was well rested and excited for a day at Sweetwater.  We pulled off the highway, and began to hit some snow.  So I put on my new chains, and we started driving down the two track. It didn't look bad at all.  But before I could even pick up speed, my tires fell through a crust on top of the snow and we went slower and slower until came to a stop while going slightly downhill.  We couldn't go forwards or back!  Our tires were just spinning in pits of snow that only got deeper the more we tried to get ourselves out.  The snow wasn't even that deep, but once the tires dug to the bottom of the snow they hit soft sand underneath, and just kept digging deeper.   After forty minutes of trying various things I decided that I wasn't going to be able to get myself out, and I walked the little ways back to the highway.  We had no cell phone service.  My plan was to flag someone down, and ask them to stop at the Split Rock Cafe in Jeffrey City to call in a tow truck.  It took five minutes of waiting before a single car came past.  I saw a college age girl in the driver seat.  I waved my arms, but she pulled into the opposite lane and seemed to accelerate as she passed me.  I couldn't be sure if she was too scared to stop, or just indifferent.  A few more minutes passed and I saw an old truck coming slowly down the highway with two guys in it.  It pulled up, and I thought I recognized the old rancher who lives near the boulders.  It was the same guy. Turns out the pair were there to pull out a horse trailer that had gotten stuck a little further down the two track.  They backed down the road, hooked up a rope to my truck, and yanked us right out of our stressful predicament.  We thanked them profusely, and gave them the small amount of cash that we happened to have with us.  I parked safely by the highway and we started hiking into the boulders.  It took us about twenty minutes. We watched the ranchers continue driving through deepening snow, pull the horse trailer out of a drift, and tow it past the boulders to the ranch.  A little while later they drove back out with a horse in the trailer.  I don't really understand how their old truck was able to go anywhere, even through deep snow, while pulling a loaded horse trailer. Meanwhile my truck got stuck almost as soon as we pulled off the highway.

We started warming up in cold but climbable conditions.
Then the wispy clouds drifted east, the sun came out in full strength, and suddenly it was T-shirt weather! I got to work on an old project, we'd already put a few sessions into, that I'd been calling "The Common Core Project."
And just before it was time to start hiking out, I managed to put it all together. But it didn't feel right to call it "Common Core"  anymore.  I never would have climbed the line yesterday if the ranchers didn't get our truck out of the snow.  So I named it "Rescue Ranchers" in appreciation of the help we received. Here's the uncut footage.

In other news, I turned 40 last week.  An age that forced me to reflect on how I've spent my life so far, my motivations, and my future.  And after thinking through all the aspects of my life with a critical eye, I'm still feeling good about things. Very relieved that I don't see a midlife crisis on the horizon. 

So as far as bouldering goes, I'll be sticking with my current path.  To keep climbing as much as my body will let me, keep training as little as possible, and keep exploring as much as I can without letting hiking cut into my climbing time.  That's how I want to spend the time I have.  Because every project is a question, my bouldering maps still have promising blank spaces, and I'm as curious as ever.       

Thursday, January 21, 2016

So Many Projects...

Is that Hueco? No, it's Lander in January!
Let's just jump right in. What are the projects I'm talking about?

Well I spent a day at "The New World" with Jesse and Chris.  After a day of hiking, a few years ago, I'd written the area off as too featured.  But Chris showed us some worthy boulders he found.  Quite a few classic lines need to be done out there.

It's the perfect spot if you're looking for solitude.
But we're also trying projects close to home.  It's our third season at the Beach, and we're still working on some of the best lines up there.  I used a ladder to clean up this one.
 I've spent one day trying to climb it so far.
 Dynamic methods haven't worked.
 But to do it statically, I'll need to commit to a heel toe cam. And I won't try that without a strong spotter.

Ashley recently finished one of her projects at the Beach.  She got the second ascent of "Triple S" V6.
 We're also working on a traverse of the Rolling Dune.  It starts high and then moves down to follow the seam feature.  I'd already hiked up all our pads up for the "Ladder Project" so I thought we might as well put them all to use.

We spent a cold, but beautiful, session up at Torrey Valley.

 I tried to do the full sit start to Wild Berry power.  But I'm not sure I'll be able to finish it.  It's probably V10 and painfully crimpy.  Someone should do it though.
 We've also got new things to finish at Sweetwater.  I put up a nice V2 called "Vast and Still."  Sierra flashed it.
 Further down the wall I did a SDS V4 called "Stillness."  A V6-8 traverse into it from the left is still a project.

And then there is the land of new projects, The Frontside, at Oz.  I already knew Oz was really good, but I hadn't seen the south side of the mountain.  And I never would have guessed that it was accessible in winter.  Chris and Jeremy made it out there at the end of 2015, and that started a winter bouldering resurgence in Lander.  Groups of boulderers have been getting out there a couple times a week ever since.  My first trip was a day of climbing and exploration with Jesse and Chris.
I was impressed with the amazing stone, the huge junipers, and the expansive view.
Jesse and I watched Chris get the first ascent of "Wild Thing" V11.

And we looked at a lot of lines that could become classics.
I was so psyched, I bought some chains so I could get out there with my vehicle.
And I made it back with my family last weekend to join Chris, Freddy, Jesse, Tom, Devlin, and Ana at the Wild Thing boulder.
Here's Ana on her project "Heart Sing" V7.
She came very close, and I'm sure she'll get it on her next trip.

As you can see, the list of things to do is growing really quickly.  And as long as we keep getting sunny weekends, and weeks without much snow, it's a great time to get things done.

Monday, December 7, 2015

The 2015 First Ascent List

It's once again time to reflect on the year we've had, and compile a list of all the first ascents that I'm aware of from the past twelve months. At least 140 new lines were finished in the Lander area! This list will help me make sure that I don't forget lines when it's time to write the next guide, and give you some idea of the amount of development that happened in the Lander area over the last year.  But this list isn't comprehensive yet.  Many problems done during the last year are missing.  I'd love to include them, but I don't have the necessary information. Names in quotes are descriptions rather than names.  If you have any ascents to share, can fill in any of my question marks, or see a mistake, please send info to or message me on Facebook. I'll update this list as soon as I get new info.  Thanks!

I've also added photos of the most difficult new ascent, that I could find a photo of, from each area.
Sweetwater Rocks:
God Eye Formation
Kashmir Kitty                  V9                   Kyle Vassilopoulos
Snake Charmer                V7/8                 Mike Bockino

Origami                           V7/8                Kyle Vassilopoulos
Steamed Pork Bun           V5                  Kyle Vassilopoulos
Unicorn Tears                  V6                   Jesse Brown
In Spite of Myself           V6/7                 David Lloyd
Narwhal                           V4                  Kyle Vassilopoulos
Comp Day                       V4                    David Lloyd
Mother's Milk                  V4                    Jesse Brown
Sea of Green                    V5                    David Lloyd
The Down Climb             V3/4                 Jason Sloan
Fade to Black                   V3                    David Lloyd
Scorpion Mantle               V3/4                Ashley Lloyd
The Scorpion Traverse     V3                   Ashley Lloyd
Scorpion Stand                 V4                   David Lloyd
Cover Girl Traverse          V4                   Ashley Lloyd
By the Slice                       V3                  Ashley Lloyd
"Jason's Warm Ups"          V2                  Jason Sloan
"Kian's Vision"                  V2                  Kian Stewart
In Spite of the Wind          V3                  Sierra Lloyd
The Slither Traverse          V1                  David Lloyd
Cookie Pizza                      V1                  Sierra Lloyd
Scorpion Arete                   V1                  David Lloyd
Pepper Flakes                     V0                 Ashley Lloyd

Weapons of Mass Destruction Formation
Fight the Nothing               V6/7              Ashley Lloyd

Skin in the Game                V6                 David Lloyd
Falkor                                  V5                 Ashley Lloyd
More Difficulties                 V4                David Lloyd
Technical Difficulties          V3                David Lloyd
Cherry Bomb                       V2/3             Jesse Brown
"The Four Slabs"                 V0-3            David and Ashley Lloyd

North Boulders
Just Being Crazy                   V3               David Lloyd
Just Being Cool                     V3               Ashley Lloyd
Just Being Difficult               V2               Sierra Lloyd
Tree Wall                               V2              David Lloyd

Sinks Canyon:
The Beach

Triple S                                  V6               David Lloyd

Fire and Ice                            V5               Ashley Lloyd
April Fool                               V5              David Lloyd
Fire                                         V4               Ashley Lloyd
Ice                                           V4              Ashley Lloyd
Combustion                            V3              Ashley Lloyd
"Lauren's Tall One"                V2              Lauren Thomasberger
Hyperventilate                        V1              David Lloyd

The Falls Trail
Gordian Knot                          V6             Ashley Lloyd

Ashley's King Line                V4/5          Ashley Lloyd
"Jason's Puzzle"                     V3/4          Jason Sloan
Tetris                                       V3             Ashley Lloyd
Tooth Pick                               V2             David Lloyd
Tavern Puzzle                          V2             David Lloyd
Spring Hatch Stand                 V1/2          Jeremy Rowan

The Summit
Riversong SDS                        V7           Ashley Lloyd

The Doctor                               V3           David Lloyd
Highlander                               V1           David Lloyd

Torrey Valley
The Final Blow                         V6           Ashley Lloyd

Wilder Berry Power                  V6           David Lloyd
"Elemental Traverses"             ~V5         Ashley Lloyd

The Rock Shop
"Carlo's Problem"                      V11          Carlo Traversi

Photo by Mary Meck from Carlo's Instagram

Lost in Space                            V11          Mike Bockino
"Philanderer Wall Traverse"     V?            Chris Marley
Spidey Sense                            V?            Chris Marley
Pain and Perfection                   V9           Ashley Lloyd
Get High and Fly                      V9            Chris Marley
Back Alley Hooker                   V?            Chris Marley
"Arete by Money Train"           V?            Chris Marley
Get High and Fly Stand            V6            Chris Marley
Drop it Like It's Hot                  V6           Charlie Manganiello
Powerball                                  V6            Ashley Lloyd
Joy of Life                                 V5           Kian Stewart
Always on Time                        V5           Charlie Manganiello
Piggy to Lord of the Flies V.     V5?         ?
Black Swan                                V?           Jesse Brown
Mesmerize                                 V4            Kian Stewart
Against All Odds                       V4           Charlie Manganiello
On the Move                              V4           Ashley Lloyd
The Wedge                                 V4           Kian Stewart
The Wind Blows High               V4           Kian Stewart
Coral Reefer                              V3/4        Kian Stewart
Satisfy My Soul                         V3/4        Kian Stewart
Moon Rocks                               V3           Kian Stewart
Jet Stream                                   V3           Ashley Lloyd
Bikini Bottom                            V3           Ashley Lloyd
Money Train                               V2/3        Stephen Snell
Purple is a Color                         V2           Spenser Tang-Smith
Short Stack and Variations       ~V2           Calen Campbell
Havana Daydream                      V1/2         Kian Stewart
Raise the Roof                             V1           David Lloyd
Awakenings                                 V1           David Lloyd
Limb by Limb                              V1           Kian Stewart
The Line                                       V1          Kian Stewart
Zef Warm ups                              V0-2
My Side Piece                              V1/2        Kian Stewart
High Stakes                                  V?           Kian Stewart
In Tents                                        V?            Kian Stewart
The Sun is Shining                       V0/1        Kian Stewart
Party Time                                     V0          Kian Stewart

City Walls
Technicolor                                  V7            Ashley Lloyd

The Good Life                              V5           David Lloyd
Scrunchy Traverse                        V5            Ashley Lloyd
Greater Sagebrush                        V4/5        David Lloyd
Hummingbirds and Eagles           V4/5        David Lloyd
New Curriculum                            V4          Ashley Lloyd
Back to School                              V3          Ashley Lloyd
Sagebrush Sea                               V3           David Lloyd
Ancient Hawaiian Saying              V3          Kian Stewart
Cilantro                                          V3          Ashley Lloyd
The Hoff                                         V3          David Lloyd
Hawaiian Traverse                         V3          Ashley Lloyd
Up With Pee Pull Traverse            V3         Ashley Lloyd
Up With Pee Pull Roof                  V3           David Lloyd
Inappropriate                                  V3          David Lloyd
Awkward                                        V2          Ashley Lloyd
Tenacious D                                   V2          David Lloyd
School of Rock                               V2          David Lloyd
Tribute                                           V1           David Lloyd
Sage                                                V1          David Lloyd
Fish in a Barrel                               V1          David Lloyd

Roaring Fork
The Exciting Traverse                    V5           David Lloyd

"Triangle Boulder Problems"         V4?         Jesse Firestone
Seeping Excitement  SDS               V4           David Lloyd
Pure Excitement                              V3           David Lloyd
That's Exciting                                V2           David Lloyd
Exciting Low Traverse                   V1          Ashley Lloyd

Deer Park
Focus and Flow                               V5          Ashley Lloyd

Flowing Left                                   V3           David Lloyd
Flow                                                V2           David Lloyd
Flow Traverse                                 V2?          Ashley Lloyd

Midsummer Valley
The Columbine Traverses             V2 and V3 Ashley Lloyd
Midsummer Sunshine                      V2/3        David Lloyd
Midsummer Warmup                       V1/2        Ashley Lloyd

Warbonnet                                       V?           Mike Bockino

Photo from Mike Bockino's Instagram

Fueled by Psyche                            V?           Mike Bockino
Here Comes Santa Claus                 V?          Mike Bockino

Mt. Lester
Time Quake                                    V6/7         Jesse Firestone

One of my attempts on Time Quake

Surrender                                         V6           Jesse Firestone
"Two to the left of Time Quake"     V?           Jesse Firestone
Dead Eye Dick                                V3/4        Jesse Firestone
Fin SDS                                            V2          David Lloyd
Little Lake                                        V2          Sierra Lloyd
Left of Lester Arete                          V1          David Lloyd
Breakfast of Champions Direct        V1          David Lloyd
Breakfast of Champions                   V0          David Lloyd
Lester Arete                                      V0          Jesse Firestone