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 davlloyd3@yahoo.com 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
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

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

New Projects, New Problems, New Perspectives

I've been really motivated towards bouldering lately.  We've been getting out a lot, and Sierra's been helping me explore.

One afternoon after school we found this new wall in the mountains near Worthen reservoir.  We did three new up problems (V2, V3, and V5) on it, and Ashley added a long traverse.
And this great project is right below it.
The next day we got to work.  We figured out that all the moves go, but we weren't able to finish it.  Now it's at the top of my list for next Summer.

The next weekend, I put up really nice new line at City Walls called "The Good Life" V5
During a three day weekend, after parent/teacher conferences, I spent Friday with Sierra exploring Lone Mountain.  We found some nice looking routes out there, and some bouldering potential.  But the boulders I found on Lone Mountain weren't quite good enough to justify the long drive out there.
But I did see more that I want to explore in the distance.

I spent two sessions that weekend on a line that I think will be a classic V8 for Sweetwater.  Another problem that I need to finish!
Sierra put up the first problem on the boulder and named it "Just Being Difficult" V2.
We followed her theme, and Ashley put up "Just Being Cool" V3.

And at the end of the day I committed fully on a move that appeared quite improbable.  But as soon as I really went for it, it didn't feel so difficult.
"Just Being Crazy" V3
If I finish the ~V8 project, I'll call it "Just Being."

In many ways I'm just following what's become my bouldering routine.  But I'm also aware that the routine is leading to some growth.  I'm working on harder first ascents.  I'm exploring further from the roads.  And I've grown comfortable with, and very fond of, landscapes that once intimidated me.  The sagebrush felt like a vast ocean when I first moved to Wyoming, and I had some fear of getting lost in that sea.  But now I seek out the sage.  The sagebrush has become an equal alternative to the forests, deserts, and alpine tundra that I've always experienced as beautiful.
 And I've been thinking about new things.  Including the topic of bouldering as a moral activity.  Bouldering was a part of my move away from the community and values of my upbringing.  By doing my own thing, I began to think more independently as well.  But I've found that there are strong values associated with bouldering and boulderers?  It's a pursuit of purity, mastery, transcendence, and a certain oneness with things.  It shares many aims with religions.  More overlap with eastern religious practices than western ones.  But if it's aiming at many of the same things that some religions do, should it really be classified as a sport?  For many it occupies a middle ground, like martial arts or yoga often do.   The activity, natural settings, and other worldliness of many bouldering areas often leads to a sense of the sacred.  One day I might put together a complete post on the topic, but it would be a difficult one to write.  It would take a lot of time to do it right.


But I've been really motivated towards bouldering lately, there are so many good lines to do, and time is the limiting factor. Philosophy can wait.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Magic Days

Some days stand out.  The bouldering feels even better than normal. The colors are brighter. And the forests, moon, and the even the empty space in between, all feel right.  Tangibly right, like you could measure the rightness, or hold onto it, or even become a part of it. Maybe that's just how Fall is.  Or maybe it's an effect caused by the stark contrast between a day in the sun, and the full week spent under fluorescent lights at school.  Whatever it is, we've had some amazing bouldering sessions during the last month.

On the first day that felt like Fall, Charlie used the good conditions to get the first ascent of "Always on Time" V5 at the Rock Shop.
 I got the second ascent, and this is the photo of it :)  It's so much fun to catch this move!
 Ashley and I also climbed Charlie's line "Drop It Like It's Hot" V6 just to the left.  Really good, and surprisingly difficult.  It's a stand out problem!
 After that we spent two wonderful days on the Elemental Wall at Torrey Valley.
Under the lichen it's a wall of amazing pink and black streaked gneiss.
 We did a couple different traverses on the left half of the wall, and on the first day I did this line from a stand start at V3.  The next weekend we added a new SDS to it that makes the problem much better, and more difficult.  "The Final Blow" V6.
 Torrey Valley is beautiful.

 And then we got back to Neverland.  We hoped to see the eclipse, and we lucked out.
 My photography skills weren't up to the task of documenting the pale orange moon or the incredible milky way that came out.  But my daughters finally get the fact that they live on a planet floating in a ridiculous amount of space.

We also wanted to catch the leaves before they were gone.
 And do some great bouldering.  This line was our second warm up.  It felt a bit harder than I expected, maybe V3?
 The bouldering highlight of the trip was our sends of "Hair of the Dog."  A line Davin put up that is all of V6 for short climbers.
 I added a new line called "Mr. Smiley" V4, and a line near the summit of this formation called "Dry Fire" V4 that had always had a pool under it on previous trips.  Both short, but very high quality climbs.
 The next morning we woke up to quite a sight.  We were above the clouds.
 With mountains emerging like islands.
 This is the type of thing I love being able to show my daughters!
 It was just the trip we were looking for.
 And that brings us up to yesterday. It was rainy in Lander, but the clouds opened up at Sweetwater.
 We warmed up with four fun new slab problems.
 And a couple laps on Jesse's "Cherry Bomb" V2/3
 I repeated "Skin in the Game" V6 from a lower start, with both hands matched on the undercling crimp, and Ashley repeated it too.  Later I caught "the move" on my project three times.  Turns out the next move is really hard too, but I'm now confident that I can complete this line.  It's right at the edge of possible for me, so it feels perfect, even if it is a bit sharp.
And that catches us up with all of our notable ascents for the last month.

I hope that you're getting magic bouldering days too, and that we all have many more of them before the snow hits!