Sunday, March 23, 2014

Another Day at The Beach

Sunny, fifty degrees, and a bit of wind.  A perfect day for The Beach, and we had new lines to get on.  Since our last trip, Justin and Matt have gotten some things done at the Beach.  I even heard that Ben helped out with some landing work!

After warming up on "Surfer's Paradise," I walked up the hill and did Justin's new V5 "Soft Like Me."
 Tall, with cool pockets, and an insecure top out that gets your attention.  It's the best line on the Rolling Dune.
 The girls enjoying "Surfer's Paradise."
 We spent the rest of the day on the Chobra boulder.  We both did the SDS line that tops out on the choss jugs.  Then we got to work on the difficult top out to "Chobra" V6.  It's one of the most difficult mantles I've ever done.  I managed to figure out the top out, but I still need to link it from the start.
 Ashley worked out her sequence to the top out, but hasn't quite done the mantle.
 Before we knew it, we were too worked to even try "Terdy Hairy." It traverses in from the right, and looks like a great line.  We're excited to get back to both lines soon.
It's great to have some high quality new problems to work on.  Thanks Justin and Matt!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunshine and Bouldering Beats Flowers and Chocolates

I wanted to give Ashley a good bouldering session for Valentines Day.  But the weekend forecast didn't look good enough.  Monday and Tuesday looked better, but still too cold. Temperatures looked much nicer to the south though.  Flaming Gorge looked guaranteed to be nice on Monday and at least half of Tuesday.  So we took a couple days off from school and put together a short climbing trip for an extended Valentines weekend.  

The nights and mornings were pretty cold.

 But the days were sunny and warmed up just as the forecast said they would.
 On Monday we had gorgeous weather, and it felt like we could finally emerge from winter shells.

Cicada shells on stone.
 We spent Monday afternoon working on a project we named "Mini Swoosh."  It follows a feature reminiscent of the "Swoosh" problem at Redfeather.
 The next morning Ashley got the first ascent, and four tries later I barely got the second.  It felt like a V7, and climbs really well.  In addition to sunshine and bouldering Ashley got a first ascent for Valentines Day.
Could anything be more romantic than that?

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Bouldering Saved the Day!

The forecast wasn't good, so I appreciate the fact that we were able to climb outside today at all.  But "Corner Drug" (our second warm up) was the only sport climb we got on that felt good.  Everything else was cold, "Dogs of War" felt harder than I wanted it to, and I was hiking down from the cliff feeling somewhat disappointed with the climbing day.

But rather than driving straight home, I got the pads out of the truck and jumped on "Youth Cry."  I'd never sent it from the proper start.

Ashley and Alan spotted, and once I warmed up to the start, I climbed right up the problem.

A disappointing climbing session was averted, and my birthday ended up being a happy one.  I'm so glad there's bouldering!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Beach

Well that didn't take too long!  Ashley sent the project today.  And Sinks Canyon has a classic new traverse.
"Bad Girls at the Beach" V6/7
Ashley named the problem after the M.I.A. song she was playing during the send.  

The problem begins on two low slopers on the right side of the boulder. 
 And it tops out using the chalked pinch on the upper left side of the photo below.
This sector might not have been developed if I hadn't received a Facebook message.  Three weeks ago, a boulderer named Shane from Casper contacted me.  He was planning his first visit to Lander, and he wanted to go bouldering.  The weekend forecast looked windy, and most of the boulders in Sinks Canyon were covered in snow.  The Dolomite Band was melted out, but it would be in the wind.  Just west of the Dolomite Band was a sandstone draw that might be sheltered from a strong west wind.  I hiked up to check things out.  I saw some things that looked good, and now there are ten good problems up there.  The area gets as much sun and melts out as quickly as the Dolomite Band, but it's much more sheltered from the wind.  It's the warmest bouldering discovered in the Lander area so far!  
 The area has a lot of very soft stone.  On our first day we passed a lot of chossy boulders on our way to a wall in the back of the canyon that was more solid.  We decided to start climbing there.  Unfortunately we weren't completely sheltered from the strong winds on that first day.  Ashley decided it was too cold and windy to climb. But Shane is used to living in Casper, so he thought the conditions were great!  I decided it was tolerable, so we put up some problems.  We're calling the aesthetic wall at the top of the side canyon "The Rolling Dune."

"Starting Over" V2


 "Dune" V3 is a more direct start that finishes the same as "Starting Over."

 After finishing those two problems, Shane added a highball to the west called
"Black Slabbath" V0+



The next day I met Shane again, and we hiked up to what looked like warm ups.  Turns out they weren't warm ups.  This one starts low, matched on the hold Shane has with his left hand, moves right, up, and then slightly left to the top.

"Truth Hurts" V5
 I also climbed a SDS line on the short boulder just right of "Truth Hurts."  Ashley came out and repeated it last weekend.

"Get Shorty" V4
 Shane ended the development that day by doing a SDS line on the south side of the dolomite boulder in the field below the beach.  It has some of the sharpest rock around!
"Scalpel" V1.
It was fun to spend a couple sessions with another boulderer psyched on development.  Thanks Shane!

 Last weekend I used a broom to sweep up a piece of the cliff band just above the boulders.  Some of it was covered in onion skins of loose sand, but the rock below was solid enough, and it turned out to be a perfect warm up traverse.
"Surfer's Paradise" V0
 On the Rolling Dune, I added another independent line just left of "Dune."

"Mirage" V4


 The same day, I committed to a unique line on a boulder just above "Get Shorty."

"Step Right Up" V3 is somewhat of a circus trick.
 You start low with a good right pocket and a low left sloper.  To top out you need to high step, get your weight over your feet on poor holds, and then walk up the sandy slab without any holds.
After doing "Step Right Up," we began working on the traverse that is now "Bad Girls at the Beach."  It took us two full sessions to send it.  Most of the rock at the Beach is very sandy when you first start climbing on it.  Even after brushing with a lapis brush it continues to shed sand when you grab the holds for many attempts.  For a while we needed to brush the pockets on "Bad Girls" after every attempt.  Eventually all the loose sand came off the holds though, and the rock turned out to be very nice and surprisingly solid underneath.  We thought "Bad Girls at the Beach" would be V8 or 9, but once the holds were clean, it went at V6/7.

If you hike up to the Beach from the Dolomite Band parking, you shouldn't have any difficulty locating the established problems.  All the lines above will be clean for a while.  Remember that sandstone is more fragile when wet.  Please let the problems dry for a couple days after a big rain or snowstorm before climbing on them.  If you want to do some more first ascents up there, feel free.  There are some proud lines waiting to be done, but they will probably require some rappelling to clean up first.  I'm planning to get to work on them eventually, but I don't mind if someone else puts in the brushing time and climbs them first.

Friday, January 24, 2014

The List, through 2013.

We've spent the last couple weekends developing a new (seemingly undeveloped) sandstone sector in Sinks Canyon.  It's been called "The Beach," because it has warm temps, and sandy stone.

Shane on the first ascent of "Black Slabbath" at the Beach.
But we need to finish some more lines before I can do a complete post on the area.  It's hard to say how long it will take to send our projects there.  So it could be a little while before I'm ready post about anything new.  But I've still got some older things to post about.   So much happened last year; I felt it was time to get it all organized.

Below is an attempt to compile recent Lander area bouldering first ascents.  A few of the ones below went up in 2012, or earlier, but the vast majority of the listed lines were done in 2013.  The order of the list for each bouldering area is almost random.  I just listed the lines as they came to mind, or I found them online, and then cut and pasted them into the right geographic 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 all of you some idea of the development that happened in the Lander area over the last year.  But this list isn't comprehensive at this point.  Many problems done during the last year by Chris, Justin, Tim, Tony, Danny, and others, are missing from this list.  I'd love to include them, but I don't have the necessary information yet.  Many mysterious new lines of chalked holds appeared at Oz, Devil's Kitchen, and the Rock Shop all last season.  And hopefully I'll track down the names, grades, and first ascentionists of those lines eventually.

The List for 2013

Sweetwater
The Original Sweetwater V8/9 Collin Horvat
War Cry V12 Sweetwater Kyle Vassilopoulos
Horsepower V8 Sweetwater Chris Marley
Whispering Eye V5 Sweetwater Jesse Brown
Old School V5 Sweetwater Rocks David Lloyd
New School V6 Sweetwater Rocks David Lloyd
Tappin' the Rockies V6 Dyno Sweetwater Rocks Jesse Brown
Schlitz V2 Sweetwater Rocks David Lloyd
Gluten Free Pizza V5 Sweetwater Ashley Lloyd
Over the Hump V5 Sweetwater Ashley Lloyd
Another Toe in the Ocean V4/5 Sweetwater David Lloyd
What Goes Boom V6 Sweetwater David Lloyd
Yellow Cake V3 Sweetwater Jesse Brown
Sleestak Stand V4 Norwegian Wood Sector Sweetwater Rocks David Lloyd
Butterfly Traverse V7 Norwegian Wood Sector Sweetwater Rocks Ashley Lloyd
The Walls are Coming Down V1 NWS Sweetwater Rocks Ashley Lloyd
Mocha Machine V3/4 Coffee Wall Sweetwater Ashley Lloyd
The Roof is on Fire V5/6 NWS Sweetwater David Lloyd
This Bird Has Flown V7 NWS Sweetwater David Lloyd
Debaser V3 Sweetwater Jesse Brown
Silver Bullet V6 HB Sweetwater Jesse Brown
The Banquet V7 Sweetwater Jesse Brown
Runway V3 HB Sweetwater Jesse Brown
Horse Piss V6 Sweetwater Chris Marley
Beer Googles V4 Sweetwater Jesse Brown
Slapping the Bass V3/4 Sweetwater Jesse Brown
Dynomite V3 Sweetwater Jesse Brown
Rollup V3 Sweetwater Jesse Brown
Great Stone Slab V2 Sweetwater Jesse Brown

Sunny Side Up V2 Sweetwater Jesse Brown
Crystals and Pistols V1 Sweetwater Jesse Brown

30 Total

The Rock Shop
In the Akasha V7/8 The Rock Shop Kerrek Stinson
Darth V3 The Rock Shop Bryan VanSickle
Stone Country V3/4 The Rock Shop David Lloyd
Touch of Grey V5/6 The Rock Shop David Lloyd
Ready to Go V4 The Rock Shop Ashley Lloyd
Just Getting Started V5 The Rock Shop Alex Johnston
The Boulder of Montana V5 The Rock Shop David Lloyd
My Mind's Eye Traverse V6 The Rock Shop Alex Johnston
Hard Rock Syndrome V2 The Rock Shop Alex Johnston
The Great Escape V5 The Rock Shop David Lloyd
Giddyup V4 The Rock Shop David Lloyd
Caroline Test V5 The Rock Shop David Lloyd
Preemptive Strike V3 The Rock Shop David Lloyd
Fear of Commitment V4 The Rock Shop David Lloyd
Silence V3 The Rock Shop David Lloyd
Seemingly Suspect V3 The Rock Shop V3 Alex Johnston
Little Roof V5 The Rock Shop Ashley Lloyd/Jesse Firestone
Captain Obvious V1/2 The Rock Shop Jesse Firestone
Pork Chop V6 The Rock Shop Bryan Vansickle
If, Then, Because V6/7 The Rock Shop Jesse Firestone
Chocolate Thunder V2 The Rock Shop Justin Iskra
Escape From Reality V5/6 The Rock Shop Justin Iskra
Snake Salad V6 The Rock Shop Ashley Lloyd

Two Snakes Traverse V5/6 The Rock Shop Ashley Lloyd
To the Pain V6 The Rock Shop Ashley Lloyd
Slippery Truth V1 The Rock Shop Sierra Lloyd
My Mind's Eye V1 The Rock Shop Alex Johnston
Rattlesnake Traverse V5 The Rock Shop Ashley Lloyd

Quality V1 The Rock Shop ?
Slopers to Quality V1, V3 The Rock Shop Ashley Lloyd
Weirdos From Another Planet V5 The Rock Shop Jesse Firestone

Pit Viper V4 The Rock Shop David Lloyd
Calen's Face V2/3 The Rock Shop Calen Campbell

C-3PO V7 Rock Shop Jesse Brown
R2D2 V7 Rock Shop Jesse Brown

Punctuality Award V2 Rock Shop Jesse Brown
Roasted V2 Rock Shop Jesse Brown

36 Total

Devil's Kitchen
Camera Girl V1 Devil's Kitchen Kyle Duba
The Devil's Double V7/8 Devil's Kitchen Collin Horvat
Wrecking Ball V9 Devil's Kitchen Justin Jaeger
Catacomb Left V7 Devil's Kitchen Justin Jaeger
Catacomb Right V5 Devil's Kitchen Justin Jaeger
Sitscratcher V7 Devil's Kitchen Jamie Emerson
Business Time V5 Devil's Kitchen Justin Iskra
Hatchet Left V7/8 Devil's Kitchen Jesse Brown
Hatchet Right V7 Devil's Kitchen Justin Iskra
Crystalis V6 Devil's Kitchen V6 Shannon 
Viscountess Olive V? Devil's Kitchen Davin Bagdonas
Resurrection V6 Devil's Kitchen David Lloyd
Resurrection Arête V5 Devil's Kitchen Kerrek Stinson
Mosh Pit V4 Devil's Kitchen David Lloyd
Business Time V3 Devil's Kitchen ?
Guy on a Buffalo V3 Devil's Kitchen Justin Iskra
Satans Logic V3 Devil's Kitchen Jesse Brown
Bottoming Out V6 Devil's Kitchen Jesse Brown
Karl Malone V5 Devil's Kitchen Jesse Brown
Dynomite goes corporate V6 Devil's Kitchen ?
Two Minutes in Heaven V4 Devil's Kitchen

Distractions V7 Devil's Kitchen Jesse Brown
The Mistress V7 Devil's Kitchen Justin Iskra

Baby Got Back V4 Devil's Kitchen Jesse Brown
Dances With Wolves V4 Devil's Kitchen Jesse Brown

The Devil Makes Three V3 Devil's Kitchen Collin Horvat
Bologna Skin Arête V3 Devil's Kitchen Jesse Brown
Rolling Pin Arête V3 Devil's Kitchen Jesse Brown
John Stockton V2 Devil's Kitchen Jesse Brown
Chopping Block V2 Devil's Kitchen Jesse Brown
Paradise Lost V2 Devil's Kitchen ?
Buffalo Wing V2 Devil's Kitchen Cameron Maier

Accidental Discharge V4 Devil's Kitchen Jesse Brown
Driftwood V2 Devil's Kitchen Jesse Brown
28 Total, but this list only includes the new lines I know about.

The Northern Winds
The Anvil V7 The Northern Winds David Lloyd
There Can Be Only One V1 Three Waters David Lloyd
Black Boulder V3/4 Bear Valley Davin Bagdonas
Mini Miracle V2 Bear Valley David Lloyd
Mountain Flowers V4/5 Bear Valley David Lloyd
East Face V4/5 Bear Valley Davin Bagdonas
Wolf Tracks V? Bear Valley Jamie Emerson
7 Total, but this only includes two trips that I was able to make.  Davin and Bryan have done a lot up there, and that isn't reflected in this short list. 

The Source
Southern Smoke SDS V8 The Source Justin Iskra
El Sol V6 Tombstone Calen Campbell
The Mexican V3 Tombstone Calen Campbell
Warm Up Wall Lines V0-V3 Tombstone David Lloyd and Calen Campbell
Ferg V1 The Source Calen Campbell
Western Fire V5 The Source Jesse Brown
Anti-venom V6 The Source Calen Campbell
Snake Wrangler V4 The Source Ashley Lloyd
Longmire V4/5 The Source Calen Campbell
Long Arm of the Law V4/5 The Source Calen Campbell
The Arrowhead V6 The Tombstone Formation Ashley Lloyd

Do or Die V0 The Tombstone Formation David Lloyd
The Aftermath V5 HB The Tombstone Formation David Lloyd
13 Total

Oz
Eye in the Sky V6/7 Oz Chris Marley
Fog Horn Left V? Oz Chris Marley
Fog Horn Right V? Oz Chris Marley
The Six Sense V? Oz ?
The Walrus V5 Oz Justin Iskra
Flying Monkies V1 Oz Jesse Brown
Toto V6 Oz Jesse Brown
Kor Roof V6 Oz Jesse Brown

Warm Ups V0-2 Chris Marley
9 Total, but there are many more unidentified lines.

Sinks Canyon
Left is Alright V3 Lizard Lab Alan Pirie 
The Pocket Problem V3 Falls Trail ?
The Clam, Slug Boulder Fairfield Hill V5/6 Ashley Lloyd
Right Cheek V1 Sinks Canyon Alan Pirie
Bob's Blob, Seven Problems V0-3 on block SE of Il Brutto in the trees Bob Branscomb
11 Total

The Roaring Fork
A Fine Line V2 Roaring Fork David Lloyd
Into the Woods V4 Roaring Fork David Lloyd
Above My Head V3 Roaring Fork David Lloyd
Warm Up Slab Ashley Lloyd
4 Total, but I'm missing some lines added by Jesse and Chris in 2012, and any lines added by Ana, Devlin or Alex last season.

Wild Iris
Soul Man V7 Wild Iris Jesse Brown

Smith Lake
Mormon Cricket V4 Smith Lake Jesse Brown

The number of difficult first ascents done by visiting climbers wasn't quite as high in 2013 as it was in 2012. But the number of high quality problems in the V4-V7 range near Lander increased considerably last year.  Kyle's ascent of War Cry V12 stands out as the most significant new problem of 2013 based on its combination of quality and difficulty.  

The list was put together using: Jesse Brown's 8a scorecard, Facebook posts, e-mails and texts sent to me by first ascentionists, this blog and a couple other blogs.  If you know of some new problems that I'm missing, please send me information.  

In conclusion, over 130 new boulder problems were put up in the Lander area during the last year!  And so far we've been keeping up the same pace of development in 2014.  More on the new lines (hopefully) soon...




Thursday, January 2, 2014

Wrapping up the Year at Roy

Exploring boulders I've never seen before is one of my favorite things.  Each new area opens up new possibilities, new problems, or places to go when conditions are right.  The boulders of Wyoming are covered in snow or being blasted by icy winds this time of year.  But we spent Christmas in Colorado Springs, and our break aligned with a couple days of good weather down in Roy, New Mexico.  The bouldering near Roy has been somewhat of a secret for many years now.  I went to explore the area, without much information, on a snowy day a couple years ago.  I saw that the area had a lot of rock and bouldering potential, but I wasn't able to locate the good, previously developed, areas.  This year a friendly New Mexico boulderer shared some directions and a google map with me before we made our trip.  Thanks for that!  It made all the difference.  I'd share his name, but I'm not sure how often he wants to get bothered with beta requests.  

I'm having trouble deciding whether this area needs to be a secret or not?  It isn't an area that will appeal to everyone, and in some ways the secret has already been out for years; the place has appeared in many blogs and online videos.  But the best problems there are pretty difficult to find without beta.  It's an easy place to keep quiet, and the camping nearest to the best bouldering is somewhat limited.  Some of the trails and problems could probably benefit from a little more traffic.  But no one wants crowds. Ultimately I don't feel the secrecy issue is up to me to decide.  I'm posting this; but I'll let the area's developers decide how much information they want to share.      

With a map in hand, and following any cairns that I came across, I was able to find many established sectors.
This area is too far from Colorado Springs for day trips.  So we camped out.  2013 stands out as the year I rediscovered camping.  In addition to opening up new possibilities, such as taking advantage of summer evenings and early mornings at the Devil's Kitchen, camping also extends the feeling of connection with the environment that bouldering helps create.  You can boulder while watching the sunset.  Wander back to camp and get a fire started.  Then cook dinner as the stars appear.

On our first night at Roy the air was so still I decide to sleep out under the stars.  Ashley bought me a new down sleeping bag for Christmas, and I was excited to test it out in cold conditions.  I'd never slept in a down sleeping bag before.  Based on published pros and cons lists in camping books I'd always bought synthetic bags.  Now in my late 30's, I realized that some qualities just can't be accounted for in a pros and cons list.  Yes, down might be expensive and lose all insulating properties if it gets wet, but if you keep it dry it is like sleeping in a light and airy comfy warm cloud.  
I felt perfectly comfortable, lying on my back, warm despite the very cold air I was breathing, and staring into one of the clearest night skies of my life.  Nothing between me and outer space but a thin skin of atmosphere, as I floated through the universe, stuck to Earth by this mysterious gravity.  So it took me a while to get to sleep, despite the downy comfort.

Most of the best boulders at Roy are tall, and many are highball.  The best rock reminds me of Rotary Park at Horsetooth Reservoir, but some of the area's rock is sugary and fragile.  This single boulder offered both rock types.  The west side was surprisingly fragile, but the south side had perfect patina.

Warming up on the south side.

"Spring Chicken" a.k.a. "Thumbelina" offers classic movement.  I onsighted the line.  Ashley got "full value" out of the problem, but eventually worked out good, intricate, beta for the top and sent the line.
We ended the first session on a low compression problem about 20 yards east of "Spring Chicken".  I worked it out, put the hard moves together from the start, but ended up dropping off near the end because I was irrationally afraid of a gap in the boulders beneath me.  Ashley had moved the pads, and everything was safe.  But I had dropped off, and it was getting too dark for me to rest and try again.

The next day I went in search of the World Wide Wall.  It was difficult not to get distracted by other rock on the way.

After more hiking than I expected, and more hiking than was required, I found the wall.  I also found cairns that lead to the top of it.  I ran back and got Ashley so we could start climbing.  We followed the cairns to the edge, and then I realized that though we could drop our pads and down climb to the World Wide wall, our dogs couldn't make it.  Worried that they might hurt themselves trying to get down, we decided to start climbing on the boulders above the World Wide Wall instead.  We made up four good variations on this wall.
And did five on this boulder.
Ashley traversed in from the left side and linked into the little dihedral.
I enjoyed a dyno in the center.

Fun stuff, but I wanted to get on some harder lines.  Ashley got out her reading book, and I went off exploring again.  I found what I believe was the Mega Roof and the Solar Roof, but it's hard to be sure.  The reaches didn't look as long in the Solar Roof, so we went there.

Ashley warmed up again, out the left side of the Solar Roof.  Thirty feet of horizontal climbing on mostly jugs.
I spied a line busting out the center of the roof and ending on some huge jugs.  One move was a little big, but the holds were surprisingly good.

For Ashley, the big move required a bit more work.  She tried four different methods, and decided that it probably wouldn't go for her.
I told her repeatedly "Try it just like I did it.  There isn't going to be an easier way for you.  You just have to do it my way, but jump a lot harder.  Please try it my way a few times.  I think you can do it!" After a power spot, many tries,  and further encouragement she did the move.  After a couple more attempts from the start, Ashley sent the line.





It was pretty cool to see her do it.

The expression below says that Ashley is simultaneously happy to have gotten the problem, and also upset that I was right.
  We lucked out with the weather.  Our two days there were sunny, still, and topped out at 60 degrees.  Warm enough that we could climb in the shade.  That was important, because the rock at Roy gets surprisingly little sun.  The trees, canyon angles, and large roofs create a lot of shade.  You can usually sit in the sun, but you usually can't climb in it.

To wrap up this post, I'll just say that if you're looking for concentrated, convenient bouldering, with ratings, beta, a guide, and other boulderers, Roy isn't the best place to find those things. But if you like highballs, exploration, bushwhacking, making things up as you go, brushing rock, breaking trail, development potential, and sunny weather away from everybody, Roy might be just what you're looking for.
We enjoyed ourselves, and hope to visit again during future Christmas Breaks whenever we're lucky enough get the gift of warm weather.