Saturday, February 27, 2010

Spring at the Crag

After last week's icy incarceration it was wonderful to be out in the warm sun, climbing at Sinks. The cliffside weather greatly exceeded our expectations. The forecasts called for mostly cloudy skies.

Sierra has improved her framing, but hasn't mastered auto-focus. Here are a couple shots of my best attempt on "Citadel of Hope."

My leading is improving, but my endurance still needs work.

A full afternoon, enjoying singing birds, and sprouting plants. Spring has arrived at the cliffs of Sinks Canyon.

Other areas around Lander are just beginning to melt.

On Monday the trailer for Core will be available. Lander climbing is featured in the film, and based on the quality of Chuck's last film, it should be excellent. I can't wait to see it.

This week I really enjoyed an interview with Matt Samet at Mountains and Water. I'd always wondered what it would be like to work for a climbing magazine. Now I know, and it wasn't what I expected. One of the most interesting blog posts I've read.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Icy Incarceration

Going on two feet of snow over the last three days, and it's still falling. This morning I took the photo above. Through the day the snow has risen and the icicles have descended. They are getting close together now. Beginning to feel like we're trapped in a jail cell of ice. All hope for climbing outside this weekend has been abandoned.

Using the time to get as much work done as I can, tax returns, lesson planning ...
Will I be able to share any climbing photos and stories next week... maybe?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentines on the Rocks

Sunny weather got us out on Saturday for a session on the sandstone in Sinks Canyon. There is a boulder near the Ice Age area that I was hoping to develop. The weather wasn't as nice as it looked though. Chilly wind cut our session short, and we didn't get to the boulder. Ashley didn't even put on her climbing shoes. I did a couple moderates on the warm up boulder.

Then attempted to catch the eye on "Il Mammut." Touched it, but couldn't keep it.

We went home after that, but Sundance had a good stick session. If I could focus like her I'd probably climb a couple grades harder.

On Valentine's Day we woke up to an inch of new snow, and cloudy skies. By midmorning we noticed breaks in the clouds, and decided to try sport climbing at Sinks. We hiked up to the cliffs in some cold fog. Conditions weren't good, but they looked like they could improve.

I climbed the cold rock bolt to bolt, and when I came down the sky was clearing.

The clouds burnt off quickly and we ended up spending the whole afternoon making toprope attempts on "Citadel of Hope" in good conditions.

I've really been enjoying the sport climbing sessions at Sinks this winter. When we first moved, and through the fall season, I'd always considered Sinks the back up area, only visited when Wild Iris was too windy, or the boulders were covered in snow. In my mind the routes were greasy, the rock a bit chossy, and the area had sandbag ratings. Being ever vigilant for poison ivy and rattlesnakes was annoying too. But my opinion has changed. Hanging out in the sun, in a T-shirt, on 20-30 degree winter days is wonderful. No poison ivy or rattlesnakes to worry about this time of year. The rock feels crisp to the touch and nicely textured, the two and three star routes are almost always choss free, and with good friction the ratings feel right on. After many midwinter sessions, my assessment of the area and it's climbing has risen dramatically. Rather than being bummed that Sinks is the only place climbable on a given weekend, I'm excited to get back for more perfect sessions.

This weekend I discovered "Timmy Tuesdays" videos, and stayed up late watching them all. Check them out if you haven't already. Here is the link.
Timmy Tuesdays brought to you by Spadout

Monday, February 8, 2010

The 2010 Elemental Bouldering Competition

Last Saturday was the biggest climbing day that I've had in a long time. It's now Tuesday night, and I'm still recovering. The forecast called for clouds and snow all weekend so I expected that we'd just be climbing in the comp. But Saturday morning the sky was perfectly clear so we went out to Sinks for what we planned to be a quick, easy sport climbing session. The sky was incredibly clear and I heard one climber say "It's too bright to send."

Ashley finished the redpoint on "Hardware" and then I tried really hard and flashed "Murgatroid." I'm not calling it an onsight because someone left draws on it, and a few tick marks helped. Yet it felt really good because I've never done a 5.12 first try before. I really pushed myself, and as I went for the anchors I thought that I'd probably be too pumped to clip them. But I was able to slot my hand into a horizontal crack and clip the draws without grabbing anything. So began a day of many serendipitous events.

Some climbers drove long distances to attend the comp Saturday evening. Trevor came up from Colorado with his friend Sam. It was nice to catch up. Since he left Laramie, the last time we'd seen him was at the Vedauwoo comp two or three years ago.

Only four women competed, but it was good competition. Ashley and Sam worked on many problems together, and for a while it was hard to tell who would win. Sam finished one problem that Ashley couldn't and won first place. When it was my turn to compete I couldn't finish the problem either. Nice climbing Sam!
Trevor and Sam

Ashley getting ready to flash.

I was still worked from the sport climbing session, but decided to give the comp my best shot anyway. Took two ibuprofin, and chugged a small thermos of coffee a half hour before the climbing began. The level of competition was very high. Stronger climbers and more difficult problems than I've seen in a comp in a very long time. I couldn't finish any of the Open problems, and couldn't do a couple of the Advanced lines. The Mens' competition was packed, but everyone took turns and stayed out of the landing zones. The route setting was good, and it was a well run, fun competition.

I got first place in the Advanced category. It was nice to win, but I felt humbled at the same time. I'm curious to get back into Elemental tomorrow, and see if I can do any of the Open problems with fresh forearms.

While I competed, Ashley took portraits of climbers we've been getting to know in Lander. Under florescent lighting, the photos look better in black and white.

Kirk: Likes routes, but has spent more time at Hueco than I have.

Alan: The "Bruce Lee of Lander Bouldering."

Tom: Climber, Boulderer, E.R. doctor.

Graham: Boulderer, Ice Climber, Exploration Organizer

After the competition Ashley went home to relieve the babysitter, and I went to the after party. I picked up a Wild Iris shirt, and a Black Diamond chalk bag that Ashley won in the raffle. After many small prizes were given out, it was time for the big one, a bouldering pad made by Red Chili. A guy's name was called, but he wasn't at the party. Then all the names were put back into the drawing and the next one drawn was Ashley's. I went up to claim the pad. Got a few "boos" for winning twice, but I couldn't turn down a free pad. I'll find a way to strap it on my Organic, and use it while developing the boulders. One more pad is always welcome on the stack.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Ashley Takes the Lead

Ashley visualizing the moves on "Hardware" last week.

After years of bouldering, Ashley has had some difficulty getting used to leading sport routes again. She started trying a few leads last Summer, but when the stress of the school year hit, she decided that she didn't want the added effort of fighting fear each weekend. So she's been spending the majority of our sport climbing days doing toprope laps on my projects.

But recently an article on fighting phobias ran in Time magazine. It said that one way to reduce fear is for people to be put into scary situations, that bring out the fear, but then turn out alright. So Ashley forced herself to take a couple lead falls on "Hardware" last week. It was a scary situation for her that turned out fine, and it looks like the method helped quite a bit. This week she almost redpointed "Hardware," and took a short fall while trying.
Ashley taking the sharp end on "Hardware."

After getting "Hardware" off of my project list, I realized that I have so many other projects to get back on, areas to check out, and boulders to develop, that I was beginning to lose track of them all. So I compiled a list of climbing related plans on a notecard. Over 22 things that could keep me busy for years. So much to do... hope I've got a lot of time.