Friday, July 31, 2009

Welcome to Lander, WY.

After a family beach trip to North Carolina, and many full days of moving work, things are beginning to settle down. I also have internet access again. I'm planning to keep to my weekly update schedule, but now this blog will mostly highlight the bouldering and climbing of western Wyoming. I've gotten out for a couple sessions. The areas are beautiful, there's a lifetime of sport climbing already developed, and many bouldering areas to explore. I think we're going to like it here.

Ashley checking out the starting holds of "Council of Despair" at Motown, Wild Iris.

Just ten minutes from our house is the bouldering of Sinks Canyon. Last Tuesday was pretty stormy, but the clouds broke at about 6:00 in the evening, and I still had time to get a session in. I took a look at the Kingsford Boulder on Fairfield Hill, but didn't see anything I wanted to warm up on.

The dolomite boulders are plentiful, mostly undeveloped, and really sharp.

Luckily there are also granite boulders nearby. I climbed some fun slabs, and was working a tricky problem called "Doctor Gorpon" on the Plastic Green Head boulder when it started to rain again.

The Plastic Green Head Boulder

The granite bouldering on Fairfield Hill doesn't get much traffic. No trails or trampled vegetation under the boulders, and some of the holds were growing lichen again.

On Thursday, we all headed out to the Motown area at Wild Iris. The weather was so good! Sunny and temps in the 50s and 60s. Photos just can't fully capture the spaciousness of the landscape up here.

In the background of this photo is a sandstone formation that's got to have some problems on it. I'll find out soon.

We found the area without much difficulty, but figuring out where the problems went took a little while.

The A-Frame.

Ashley loving the little pockets on "Borne Slowly."

We spent most of the session working "Gut of the Quantifier," a very overhung traverse that tops out. We're still working on one long move near the start.

Ashley traversing the roof.

We had fun sending new moderates too.


I'm surprised by the lack of bouldering development at Wild Iris. The boulders seem basically the same as the boulders at Niagara Glen, but better because they aren't as vegetated. Most climbers must get too distracted by the great sport routes. I'm wondering if we'll end up spending most of our time on the sport routes. For the moment, we've got bouldering problems to finish before we get out the rope.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Last Few Colorado Sessions

for a while at least.

Recent events and upcoming plans have converged to convey a strong sense that time is limited. I've been getting out when I can, and appreciating the chance. We had nice conditions at the KB boulder in RMNP yesterday. Ashley finished off the surprisingly powerful problem "Snizzle Sticks"

I didn't quite figure out my beta quickly enough.

On the 4th of July I got out for a great early morning session with Jacob at Red Feather. More wildflowers than I've ever seen.

We got back on the dyno problem that eluded us for a couple sessions last fall.

I managed to stick the dyno, and finish off the mantle. The mantle was quite strenuous, as seen in the video below. I'm not sure if there's a more elegant way to do it or not. It's probably been done before, but I'm calling it "Buddha Belly" until I learn it has another name.

We did a couple high moderate problems, and had a couple tries each on the Pachyderm project.

Jacob climbing "Raised Eyebrow."

It's hard to say when I'll make it back to Red Feather. I'm going to miss it. My schedule will be quite a bit busier for the rest of the summer. I'll blog when I can, but it might not happen every week.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Buddha Belly

Sometimes bouldering isn't pretty.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Vedauwoo to Evans and Back

The week began at Vedauwoo's Bistro boulders. I've been trying to help Ashley find a summer project, and I mentioned to Davin that Ashley liked hard traverses and problems with small holds. Davin said that a problem he did called "Cumulus" has really small holds, and is V11 or 12. I remembered seeing video of Jamie Emerson doing the problem. It sounded worth checking out. If you want to find it, it's listed in the Vedauwoo Bouldering Guide as the "Bolrog Project."

I let Davin know that we were coming up. He drove up to meet us and brought his friend Guili who had just gotten the third ascent. Conditions were better than expected. A nice cool breeze made things really pleasant as we got started. Davin and Guili walked us out to the problem, and helped us with their beta. Ashley was making quick progress and it looked worth trying, though I didn't have very high expectations. I jumped on and surprised myself by putting some moves together. I kept waiting for a move to shut me down, but it didn't happen. Once I had all the moves worked out I tried a few times from the bottom. The sharp rock cut through one of my finger pads and the moves felt much harder in succession, but possible. Ashley was making it look easy. She got through the majority of the problem quickly, but couldn't figure out how to get to the top out holds statically. Ashley doesn't jump when she's high off the ground. Davin and Guili were surprised by our quick progress. The crux moves are easier for short climbers. We made plans to come back on Tuesday, but my finger wasn't healed on Monday afternoon so we changed plans and decided to go to Mt. Evans instead.

Mt. Evans

My project at Evans for many years has been "Seurat." On my second trip to Evans I did really well on the problem. It was early in the season, and all that kept me from sending was seeping water in the final jam. Since then I've had three more days on the problem, and haven't managed to get my hand in the final jam again. Each time I visit the crack is more chalked up, and the foot pod out right feels less likely to stick. It looks like someone tried cleaning the pod with a wire brush, and ended up removing the texture I needed to get established. I know it's still getting climbed, but it may be getting more difficult faster than I'm improving. Long story short, every trip to Evans we've gotten worked on Seurat. Too worked to send anything else. On Tuesday, we got worked by "Seurat" once again. We felt holds on the Dali boulder.

We brushed some holds too, but we didn't climb much.

The only new line for me was the fun, but not too difficult, one facing Bierstadt.

Thursday we went back to Vedauwoo with the goal of sending "Cumulus."

We left Ft. Collins at 6 AM to try and get on it before it heated up. Our plan didn't work at all. The problem was in full sun and warm to the touch. Mosquitoes were swarming, everything was covered in dew. The problem felt slightly wet to the touch in the warm humid air. Ashley and I were competing to see who could send it first. Ashley was having no problem getting up to the top out moves. I sliced my finger back open on my first try of the day. I taped it up, and surprised myself by getting through the crux from the bottom. I wasn't sure if I could get through the crux again so I gave it everything I had and managed to finish it off. Here's the video. The holds are sharp so I didn't feel like jumping on it again to film other angles or hand shots.

Based on my experience with the grading system, I'm calling the problem V9. My experience with this problem reinforces the fact that grades don't work all that well for bouldering. A problem's difficulty often varies dramatically for people with different body types. Ashley cruised to the top out over and over again, but ended up three inches short of a static solution. Despite the sharp holds I really like the problem. Interesting, challenging climbing up an aesthetic line.

We left the Bistro Boulders, and finished off the session at the Nautilus. "Tempest" felt really hard after losing our skin on "Cumulus." Our daughters found a hideout that they wanted us to check out.

It was a cool hideout and we found a couple boulder problems inside. The first was a nice lip traverse with an exciting mantle over a poor landing.

Ashley was psyched to see a dirty lowball line. After brushing off a lot of dirt, she put all the moves together for an ascent.

It was a quick transition from what felt like serious bouldering to just having fun climbing around in a cave like hideout. Maybe it should always feel like just fun climbing around.