Sunday, May 31, 2009

Rained Out

We took a chance on the weather this weekend, and we didn't quite win. Shaun and Aaron joined us at the Wild Basin boulder, and during our warm-up problems it began to rain. We hoped it would pass, and it looked like it might, but eventually the storm strengthened and we walked out in pouring rain. We did get a few tries on the "Slot Problem." Conditions weren't great, but it felt much more doable for me this year. On my best go, I managed to get into position and jump for the finishing jug. I think I'll be able to finish it off with one more session. Aaron and Shaun also made quick progress.

Aaron wielding his improvised stick brush.

On the drive home we noticed it wasn't raining at Carter Lake. We stopped and ran a lap on the Scenic Boulder "Standard Route," and started working a traverse across the boulder.

Scenic Boulder "Standard Route"

Soon the sun came out, and due to heat and humidity, bouldering was no longer fun. We took the girls down to play at the edge of the lake.

The two short sessions added up to about half a workout. Ashley left for the gym as soon as we got home.

Summer vacation is officially here, but we're still very busy taking care of things and preparing for the move. I have plans to do more thoughtful blogging once things calm down. Some other bloggers have already gotten started. Check out the links list. Mountains and Water has some good posts to think about.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Better Photos of "The Axe"

Scott took some good photos of us on "The Axe" last weekend. Here are my favorites.
Ashley sending the line.

Giving it my best effort.

It's a really good problem.

Thanks Scott.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Back to Needle Peak

Ashley climbing "Slopers of Controversy."

I've wanted to get back to Needle peak since my first trip with Scott, late last fall. The pass over the Snowy Range usually opens on Memorial Day weekend, and I've had this trip planned for months. It's amazing how well the plans worked out. On Saturday, I showed Ashley some of the boulders Scott showed me on the last trip. We did some classic problems on the "Prairie Shrine" boulder, and then headed up the gully.

A nice moderate on the back of the "Stanley" boulder.

Indian Paintbrush

Eventually we made our way to the top of the ridge. The problems seemed less concentrated on this trip. At one point I thought I had missed the boulders somehow, but then found them farther ahead. Hiking with Scott, the boulders were right there. Hiking with our kids, and the extra gear they needed, made the area feel more spread out.

I decided not to try to get them down to "Heart Strings." We were right next to "Thievery Roof" so we jumped on it. We weren't sure where the line went. Topping it out looked scary. We decided to traverse across it till it slabbed out in a corner. It's a fun gymnastic problem with a pumpy finish.
"Thievery Roof"

Rain had been falling on the mountains around us all day, and it looked like it was beginning to move our way. On the hike out we met Davin and Marla. It was beginning to rain, and we were worried about getting out with our van. Davin and Marla hiked out with us. The road in is sketchy even when dry. It has foot deep ruts someone made the last time the road was wet. We got in the van as soon as we got to the parking. So we didn't get much time to talk. The drive out was nerve racking. The tires kept getting caked in mud, and it was difficult not to slide into the ruts. Some other climbers somehow made it in with a Honda Odyssey, and they left after we did. It seems miraculous to me that they were able to make it out.
Feeling lucky that we made it out. We calmed down in the hot springs at the Saratoga Resort and Spa. It has a large warm pool, and hot pools enclosed by teepees.

The hotel has a western decor tastefully decorated with just a little taxidermy.

The hot springs were really nice after the day of bouldering, but overall we were disappointed with our hotel experience. The room was very expensive, and very small. The walls let sound through like they weren't even there. We could hear everything people said or did in the neighboring rooms, and one of our neighbors snored loudly all night. I would have slept better in our tent out at Needle. They also have a ridiculous rule that you can't bring in your own food. They want guests to eat in their restaurant, but we just wanted our cereal. We ended up having to eat breakfast at a picnic area off of the grounds. Not something we felt good about after paying for a room. We tried to make the best of it though.

We drove back out to Needle to meet Davin and Scott at 9:00. I tried to drive all the way in, but our tires picked up mud again, the front tires slid into the ruts, and my back tires started drifting towards a ditch. I decided to back up, but we were stuck. Ashley took the wheel, and I pushed. We managed to get unstuck, but didn't want to risk it a second time. Davin and his friends Brian and Austin helped us out by taking our pads. John Sherman gave us a ride in.

John wears a helmet when climbing, which suggests that he is safety conscious. But he spent much of the day way off the deck topping out uncleaned first ascents. He brushed holds as he went, grabbing lichen, and insecure looking features with barely a second thought. He wouldn't even look down to see if pads were still beneath him. I got this photo of him warming up, but most of the time I felt like it was a better idea to grab a pad to throw under him than to grab my camera. He climbs strong, and is quick with jokes I can't repeat on my blog. I'll never be able to think of bobcats and mountain lions the same way again.

After a few warmups, and a good problem on the "Square Tower," Davin took us to "The Axe." It's a difficult traverse, that kept Ashley and me occupied for many attempts while Davin, Brian, and Austin put up a couple first ascents. Eventually Ashley linked it using some tiny crimps to avoid the standard dyno finish.

I'll need one more session on the line. Scott and John spent time working a difficult line that goes straight up from the start of "The Axe." Widely spaced crimps over a bulge. I couldn't come close to making the span.

Thimble spent the day eating bones and grass.

Ashley and I were too worked after "The Axe" to keep climbing. The group moved on, and we moved out.

I can't wait to get back.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Everybody Loves Red Feather (Even Ashley)

Pasque Flowers

On Sunday we went to Red Feather with Scott, Alexis, all the kids, and our dogs. Blake and Erin (sp?) saw us with our pads, and decided to join our crew.

We made a good team.

More spring blossoms

We warmed up on the warm up wall. The day was also warming quickly. Scott suggested we get to my project "Fat Man in a Little Coat." I was excited to try some new beta Jacob told me about, but the rock was pretty warm and the problem felt just as sketchy awkward as last year.

I was monopolizing the pads, and no one else was psyched on trying, so I moved on after three tries. Everyone was psyched on what we've been calling the "Unnamed V6" just to the left.
Scott working the line.

We each gave it many attempts. Eventually Blake got the sending started.

Ashley sent it next with some insane/improbable looking, high feet double undercling beta. I was spotting so I couldn't get any photos. This really got me psyched. I had written off the problem as being impossible for her. I wasn't even sure if it was possible for me, but now I had to do it. By committing to an insecure high right foot jam, getting a high left foot, and shooting up with my left hand, I finally unlocked the thing.

Three ascents were made, using three very different methods.

While we were there Old Man Ken joined the crew. He had heard us while hiking around, looking at problems.
Ken climbing "Crumb Bum."

Scott, Blake, and Erin headed out, but the rest of us made one more stop at the "Huggy Bear" wall which was now in the shade. Ken sent "Huggy Bear", Ashley sent a nice traverse across the Huggy Bear wall, and I felt too worked to top out the highball to the right and escaped by grabbing and downclimbing a tree.

Ashley, Alexis, and Kendal on the hike out.

It feels great to spend a full day bouldering in the mountains with a full season still ahead.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Project Cleanup

Return to the Monster Boulder.

We'll be leaving the Frontrange for new teaching jobs, and will be busy moving over the summer, but we still have projects to send. Ashley's list is cleaner than mine, but we both have problems we've invested days into that we haven't done yet. We're hoping not to leave them unfinished.

The weather looked unsettled for the weekend, so we hadn't nailed down climbing plans. When Saturday morning looked nice we headed out for a quick session on the Monster Boulder. We needed to clean up the "Traverse du Jour" after working on it in March. It climbs across the entire North face of the boulder. While we worked out the moves, the girls sat on a small boulder pretending to be animals.

I take my responsibility to motivate Ashley seriously. After I worked out the cruxes, I did the problem on my first attempt from the start. That got Ashley really motivated. After a few attempts, she finished it off. I was really glad I could help her out like that. We checked the project off our list.

The plan had been for a quick session, but the weather was perfectly sunny and cool so we didn't want to leave. We tried "Dynoman" and quickly moved on to "Sloper Chief." We spent a couple days on "Sloper Chief" nine years ago. Sent it, and hadn't been back on it since. It felt really slopey yesterday.

On this attempt, I slipped off the lip. My feet hit the small padded boulder, Jim and David spotted well, but I landed hard on my back. I didn't feel like jumping on again.

We played around on the roof to the right, and headed home to grade papers.

In case anyone's curious, here are the projects I've invested time into that I hope to finish before we go. "The Tempest" at Vedauwoo, "Seuart" at Evans, "The Slot Problem" at Wild Basin, and "Fat Man in a Little Coat" at Red Feather. It seems that a boulderer's work is never done.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Exciting News!

We were busy driving and interviewing last weekend, so we didn't get time to climb. And I might be too busy to blog much for the next few weeks, but we have exciting news. We're moving to Lander, Wyoming this summer. Here are a couple pictures from the Cabin Boulders in nearby Sinks Canyon that we took during a trip three years ago.

Ashley working a cool line.

Ian climbing a tricky classic.