Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Sandstone Sessions

Wednesday afternoon, after a half day of school, we tried to get up to Sawmill Crossing for a session with Davin, but the Forest Service closed the loop road. It won't open again until late spring. Disappointed, we turned around and went to work on the Back Pocket Boulder's "Back Pocket Traverse into Double Clutch." Davin found us there. We made plans to explore the granite up the Middle Fork trail on Thanksgiving Day, and then have a climbing session up there on Friday.

On Thanksgiving, Davin and I were driving up to the trail when we pulled over to check out a good looking sandstone boulder. We found good stone and ended up looking at sandstone blocks for the next four hours. We never made it to the Middle Fork trail, and we decided to spend today climbing at one of the areas we found.

The area got so warm today, we're calling it the Ice Age. The perfect place to go when things get cold.

The Warm Up boulder has amazing features.
Ashley warming up.

Davin warming up.

Davin got the first ascent of the area classic. A sit start arete problem called "Il Mammut." Italian for the Mammoth.

Davin conquered the beast by getting two fingers in it's eye.

Ashley and I topped out later by crimping a wrinkle on the beast's forehead. I used a kneebar on my ascent, but Ashley's stretchy synthetic pants wouldn't stick in the kneebar. She demanded to borrow my pants, and did for a few attempts. Now you all know who wears the pants in our family.

We finished the day on a few more fun problems. A right exit to "Il Mammut" I'm calling "Ice Age 2." A traverse Ashley named "Prehistoric Squirrel Traverse", and a contrived problem called "High Steppe" pictured below.

We're thankful for the fun Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Productive Day

Ashley climbing "Premiere Traverse" on the Dolomite Band.

A lot got done today. In the morning, I explored the Sawmill Crossing boulders.

It's near a stream crossing so I was expecting shade and snow. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the area gets sun all day, is sheltered from wind, and is easily accessible with the van. The area isn't large, but it has at least three good boulders, and possible problems on the small cliffs above. Most problems are between 12 and 15 feet tall. It doesn't look like they've had much traffic.

I'm planning to return with brushes soon.

This afternoon we were on our way to the Back Pocket boulder, but a frigid breeze sent us back to the car. We started driving to the gym when I noticed the Dolomite Band above Sandstone Buttress. It looked sheltered from the easterly breeze. We decided to give it a try.

It was pretty cold when we started bouldering, but the clouds broke and things warmed up nicely.

We did a bunch of fun moderates, mostly V2s, and then I noticed a possible line out the middle of the face on Big Overhang. It took some work, but I unlocked it just as the sun was about to go down. Here are photos of the crux moves.

It's a really nice line, the most direct way up the middle of the face. Here's the full description: Sit start, then a large move to a small left hand crimp, lower body rotation to get a high right foot, pull really hard to get to a horizontal line of holds above, then climb the committing, straight up, top out. It shares it's sit start with a V3 to the right, and uses a heel hook on "Off the Butt" to the left. It felt V5/6 to me, but it might be more difficult for tall climbers. It's probably been climbed before, but I'm calling it "Double Helix" until I hear an official name.

It's nice when things exceed expectations.

Monday, November 16, 2009

We're Boulderers

Bouldering "Double Clutch," a classic on the Back Pocket boulder.

On Sunday we went climbing in Killer Cave.

It's the most famous cliff in Sinks Canyon, and our goal was to project the route called "Killer." Eighty feet of solid steep climbing. Seemed like a good goal, and a great way to get a workout for a few weekends.

A climber on "Killer"

I set it up mostly bolt to bolt, linking the easier sections. Ashley had a try on toprope, and then I tried it on toprope too. Ashley went up forty feet, and came down because she doesn't like heights. I went up forty feet and fell off an easy section because I don't have endurance. Then a climber we had just met asked "Aren't you boulderers?"

My immediate answer was "Yeah, we are." And as I said it, I knew it to be true.

Other climbers from across western Wyoming and northern Colorado were all having a great time.

But the boulders at the base off the hill now looked more appealing. We hiked down from the cliff, and made our way to the Back Pocket Boulder. We did difficult moves on the classic problems, and confirmed that we do like bouldering better.

I got pumped a couple times, but never so pumped a problem wasn't worth trying again.

We'll be spending our time on the boulders, and the shortest routes in Sinks this winter. Because we're boulderers.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Quick Trip to Cody

After a couple twelve hour days of teaching and conferences with parents, we had a day off on Friday. We decided to spend a day and a half of our long weekend in Cody, Wyoming. I've had Mike Snyder's Cody Bouldering Guide on my shelf for over two years, and finally got a chance to check the place out. We started with the Antelope boulder, and ended up spending the whole session on it. Its west face is perfect. A sweeping overhang of beautiful sandstone featured with incut rails and crimps. One of the most fun individual boulders I've ever climbed on.

"Meathook" was harder for me than I expected, but I knew it could be done. Ashley shot these pictures of my fourth attempt.

Somewhere between attempt fifteen and twenty I dyno/deadpointed accurately enough to latch the crimp, and topped the problem out. By then we had given up on getting photos.

Ashley made a quick ascent of the steep and crimpy problem "Pocahontas."

There are many good lines explained in the guide, but eventually we just started making up problems that looked fun. Features are plentiful enough to create many ways of climbing the wall, but not so plentiful that you have to off route holds to make things difficult. Ashley found many ways to extend problems by traversing into and out of them using the horizontal features.

The rock has a good texture. It reminds me of Joes Valley, blended with some Horsetooth Reservoir.

When the weather is good, and we have a break from school, we've got our sights set on Cody.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy Halloween

We got out for a perfect climbing day on Halloween. The weather couldn't have been better, and we climbed three classic 5.11s. Might not sound like much climbing, but the routes at Sinks are long. Three Sinks climbs is equal to at least five at Wild Iris, and my arms are still pumped a day later.

We hiked up through snow.

But the cliffs were dry.

It was a crowded day by Wyoming standards. There were other climbers to take photos of!

I gave the camera to Sierra, and she got these shots of us on "Whipperly Wamberly Walk."

On the hike out, the hill was snow free.

On Friday we watched the documentary Man on Wire.

I'd recommend the film to anyone, and I highly recommend it for climbers. It isn't climbing, but any climber will understand Petit's motivation and appreciate the commitment needed to achieve his goal of wire walking between the World Trade Center towers. As inspirational as any climbing movie I've seen.