Wednesday, June 24, 2009

From Needle Peak to RMNP

Austin and me contemplating "Sweet Things to do When You're Old" on the Polish Boulder.

Ashley contemplating "Into the Wild" in RMNP.

Great sessions this week. On Monday I woke up with a 4:30 AM alpine start so I could meet Davin in Laramie by 7:00. Davin, Austin, and I carpooled over to Needle Peak in Davin's jeep. With high clearance and 4-wheel drive, Davin parked just uphill from the Polish Boulder. It's a perfect boulder with a variety of classic problems including a really nice undone project. I was blown away by the problem "Sweet Things to do When You're Old." Twice I got past the crux to the last move, but couldn't get myself to go for the top. I'll definitely be heading back for it. As with all my best sessions, I was too busy climbing or spotting to do much photography. Davin took these shots and sent them to me.
Going for a hold beyond the frame on "Sweet Things to do When You're Old."

I was so worked by the Polish Boulder that I had negative progress on "The Axe." It should be better when I get back on it fresh. From "The Axe" we hiked up the hill to Davin's roof project. It looked difficult, and felt ridiculous. Davin did well on it. It'll go.
Davin working the project.

We ended the day on an undone problem that Scott and I looked at last fall. It uses a line of three nice holds over a roof before escaping to the left. Coming out the roof off the left side pull feels very committing despite the fact that it isn't too high. Eventually I got myself to go for it, and just barely got my first Needle Peak first ascent. I named it "Question of Trust."

As we loaded the pads into the jeep we noticed a bunch of Bryan's shell casings in the back. Davin commented "That's Wyoming."

The rock, problems, and atmosphere of Needle Peak continue to impress me. Thanks for showing me around Davin, and I hope we can get out again soon.

RMNP was the destination on Tuesday.

With general directions for the "Into the Wild" boulder I dropped off my stuff at Nymph lake, and scouted a vast area until I eventually found it. I ran back, and lead Ashley and the girls to it. "Into the Wild" has some really wide moves that didn't suite Ashley well. She really liked "Outta Season" though. A nice traversing line just to the left.
She did it a couple times for photos and video. I was too worked from Needle to even try it. My shoes were left in the car.

Today, Ashley was at a teaching conference in Denver. I took the girls to the Wild Basin Boulder, and sent "The Pinch Problem." I tried it after doing the "Slot Problem" a couple weeks ago, and thought it felt possible for me this year. The humidity was high, but I discovered new beta using a high left foot that made it just doable. As I finished the session, it began to rain. A common occurrence this summer.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Body Dump, Vedauwoo

On Tuesday and Friday we bouldered in Vedauwoo at the Body Dump. A frightening name for a really nice place. Luckily, we didn't see any bodies. Tuesday was windy, and rain shortened our session. Friday was perfect, partly sunny with nice cool temps. I spent a day looking for the Body Dump last summer, and didn't find it. This year I had a guide to the area we received at the Vedauwoo Bouldering Comp last fall. It was farther east than I had expected, and is it's own small formation. Last year I missed it by looking all around the large formation to the west. The boulders surrounding the area are standard Vedauwoo boulders covered with crystals. The Body Dump formation is completely covered in patina.

The Body Dump

The standard short, flat, and pretty Vedauwoo approach.

The first classic problem we did is called "Pogo Left." Solid, incut, friendly patina crimps up a tall bulging face.

From there I moved on to "The Pogo Stick." This is a tricky problem, that took me two sessions due to it's devious nature.

Eventually I learned that just because a problem has a nice looking chalked undercling hueco on it, that doesn't mean you have to use it. On Friday I tried a new sequence using what appeared from the ground to be unusable slimpers, and it worked.

Ashley's main goal was just to get a good workout. The guide had a problem named "Good Roof Traverse" and we went over to check it out. The same boulder also had a project listed in the guide. We found the sharp crimps Davin's guide described, and Ashley got psyched. Small moves on small sharp incut holds with frustratingly high foot holds, a rock slab just behind which requires powerful pulling just to keep off the ground. We had to take a single layer of foam out of Ashley's pad. Anything thicker made it impossible not to dab. A "Classic Ashley" first ascent only recommended for climbers with really strong fingers, and really short arms. Ashley called it "Stickworm Roof" after a caterpillar we found on the line. The name fits the problem well.

Ashley climbed it a second time for video.

A classic problem at the Body Dump that shouldn't be missed is "From Minnesota With Love." Perfect incut patina jugs, widely spaced, high above a sketchy landing. It's Vedauwoo's version of "The Melon Patch" at Hueco. It even has a good sit-start.

Just to the east of the Body Dump is another small formation with a few really good problems.
Ashley climbing the aptly named, classic moderate, "The Urinal."

We ended the day on "The Warlock." A good problem with wide strenuous moves, on big sidepulls.
Ashley about to stretch.

Sundance chilling like a border collie.

With all the rain, wildflowers are growing everywhere.

It's hard to clean up my projects when there are still bouldering areas around that I haven't checked out yet. This was a really fun one.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Red Feather Video and Article

Dead Point Magazine has posted a video and article about Red Feather bouldering on their site. The cover shot looks vaguely familiar. If you hit the Zoom button it gets much easier to read. It took me way longer than it should have to figure that out.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Summer Sessions

We've begun the summer climbing schedule, and it's been incredibly fun. Teaching is hard work, but I really enjoy the benefits. The high chances of rain have kept us close to the car, but the cloudy, cool weather has allowed us to climb at areas that are normally too hot at this time of year. On Tuesday we took a chance on the weather at the Wild Basin boulder in RMNP, and this time luck was with us. Conditions felt better than they ever have. Sunny, but really cool. Amanda climbed with us too, and we passed a handicapped (or should I say tailicapped) squirrel on the short hike in.

My main goal was to finish the "Slot Problem." I've worked on this line for years, and this has generally been my high point.

An attempt from last year.

On Tuesday, I was finally able to hold my position long enough to fit my left hand into the slot rather than jabbing at it as I began to fall. This helped a lot, and going to the top was pretty simple with my left hand locked in. It's a difficult problem.

POV climbing shot from the "Slot Problem."

With the "Slot Problem" finished, I moved on to the "Pinch Problem." While I worked on this, another climber arrived and started working the "Slot Problem" from a sit start.

Low on the "Pinch Problem."

Suddenly I felt like my send of the "Slot Problem" from slightly higher holds wasn't as legit as it should be. I jumped back on, and managed to do it again from the sit start. Ashley did it from the sit start too. It feels good to be stronger, and to have completed one of the projects I wanted to do before we move.

On Thursday, we climbed at the Cloud Shadow wall on Flagstaff Mountain with Amanda. With the exception of Hobo Cave, which has different rock, it had been many years since I'd climbed at Flagstaff. I'd enjoyed "Hagan's Wall," but had the general impression that the rock on Flagstaff was sharp, the pebbles were greasy, and the problems were very sandbagged. Some of these impression are probably true, but I was really impressed by the Cloud Shadow wall on Tuesday. Chuffer's online guide helped quite a bit. In the past, I was usually confused about where problems started, went, and ended. Chuffer's online guide shows exactly where the lines go, and even describes what holds to look for. This really improved the experience. Thanks Chuffer! Cloud Shadow has some of the best stone at Flagstaff as well. Solid, with hueco and rail features.

The Cloud Shadow Wall.

Sierra enjoyed a traverse she found on the "Pedestal." We were given some small rock shoes, and she's been putting them to good use.

Our plan was to work on the "UCT," but we decide pretty early that we didn't feel like trying that hard. I'm hoping my beta was off, because it felt like my wrists might explode from underclinging. At Flagstaff the "easy" problems often aren't too easy, so we tried some of them.
We jumped on the "East Alcove Crack." Here is Amanda giving it a go.

She probably would have jumped back on, but it began to rain. We went back to the base to get our things together. Luckily we didn't move too fast because the rain passed, and the sun came out. The rock dried quickly, and we jumped on "Consideration." It's a fantastic problem that feels committing until you do it. Then you realize it's not that hard or scary. We all did it, and Ashley did it again for photos.


We completed our workout with the "Cloud Shadow Traverse."

We had a lot of fun on Thursday, so we decide to go back to Flagstaff today. The "King Conquer Rock" and surroundings had high classics for me, and a traverse for Ashley. Alexis joined us, and the weather cooperated. The rock quality at King Conquer Rock isn't as good as at Cloud Shadow, but the location and views can't be beat. Every time you top out, all of Boulder is spread out before you.

Ashley climbing "Layback."

My main goal was to climb the "King Conquer Overhang." It's an impressive line, with everything you could ask for in a problem. I highly recommend it.

"Face Out" was fun and then we noticed Shark's Rock a few rocks south of King Conquer. The "Direct West Face" looked really good so Alexis and I jumped on. A beautiful line in an airy position.

Alexis flashing the line.

The rain came in and ended the session, but our skin was gone anyway. A very fun session. More sessions next week ...