Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sticking with the Plan

The "Plan" is to spend half our climbing time at Wild Iris and the other half bouldering. It's been going well so far.

Bouldering at the Source

Wild Iris

Many ravens have been hanging out at Wild Iris gliding in the updrafts. No food around that I've been able to notice. It appears that they're just enjoying the activity, surfing the wind coming up the slopes.

Maybe we aren't the only ones that devote time to recreation.

Recent days haven't all been spent climbing though. I've been working too. Hours up at the Source, brushing holds, exploring, and improving landings. We'll see how things develop.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Gneiss Bouldering in Wyoming

Torrey Valley

We spent our climbing time during the last ten days, bouldering on some nice gneiss. A couple Wednesdays back it was raining in Lander, but we saw a wedge of blue sky to the north. We decided to drive up to Torrey Valley to see if it was dry. It was, the clouds stayed over the high peaks to the west, and we had a great session on the Mead boulder.

We warmed up on a couple slab problems.

I repeated a classic line.

And I showed Ashley the problems Davin showed me last year.

She did a few of them, and couldn't quite complete the full traverse of the south face that she worked on.

On the way out, I hiked the sandstone looking for petroglyphs. Here is the best panel I found. I upped the saturation on this shot to help the carvings stand out. The one on the right looks a lot like a mammoth. I wonder if it could actually be one?

Grand Teton National Park

Hiking into Bouldertown.

The Tetons are incredible! The most beautiful mountains I've seen, and so much bouldering potential. The place could probably have as much bouldering as Rocky Mountain National Park if people started exploring the canyons between each peak. We planned to visit four areas during our week stay, but only made it to two of them. Bouldertown kept us busy for three and a half sessions. It's a collection of six boulders developed back in the eighties. Two of the boulders are very high quality and have difficult problems on rock similar to that of RMNP.

Ashley warming up at Bouldertown, and avoiding a sketchy loose jug at the top of boulder #2.

Climbing a classic SDS to a high top out on the right arete of boulder #2.

Ashley spent three sessions on the difficult traverse starting with a sit start on the right arete and traversing left to a topout on the center of the steep face on Boulder #2. During session two she stuffed tissues in the holds to dry them after a rainy night. We started calling it the "Tissue Traverse" though we would love to know its real name.

During the third session Ashley did it.

The tissue traverse didn't suit me, but I spent two sessions on a SDS in the middle of the steep face and eventually sent the powerful, core intensive problem.

Ashley climbing a good moderate at the end of day one.

During days three and four at Bouldertown we spent most of our time at Chouinard's Boulder. I'd rank it as one of the top five boulders in the state. Steep faces, incredible features, at least 8 problems, six of which would be classic anywhere.

We spent two days working a traverse that began at obvious holds right of Ashley and topped out above Sierra in the picture above.

Ashley on the topout.

Climbing the steep roof to the top out from an easier start.

We did the parts, but didn't manage to put the pieces together on the difficult line. We will try again someday if we get stronger.

On our last day in the Tetons we checked out the boulders developed by John Gill at Jenny Lake. Three large blocks of slippery white granite.

I climbed "The Gill Problem" on Red Cross Rock. Gill climbed this section of stone by jumping off the ground which was once higher. It's eroded since, much like the Right Eliminator problem at Horsetooth Reservoir.

Gill didn't use the right hand crimp, but jumped his right hand all the way to the hold I'm grabbing with my left hand in the photo below. The right crimp was rumored to have been chipped, but it looked and felt just like a natural crystal crimp when I examined it. I think Gill just skipped it because he could.

The modern non-eliminate version is a good problem that I'd estimate to be V6.

If you decide to develop the untapped potential of Grand Teton National Park be aware of the moose. This one snorted at me and approached when I was checking out some rock in Death Canyon. I stayed close to a large tree so I could run around it if the moose decided to charge.

I saw this sign in Cascade Canyon. I think it means "Guns beat bans."

The western pine beetle is attacking trees in GTNP, just like the rest of the west. The tracks in this fallen tree were made by the beetles and their larvae.

Epidemic Insect Artwork

Which concludes our trip to the Tetons. Today we got into Wild Iris for our first day of the season. Loved it. I'm planning to split my climbing time this summer, bouldering half the days and sport climbing at Wild Iris the other half. A perfect plan.

Monday, June 7, 2010

A Few New Problems in Sinks

Balsamroot covering the hillsides.

Small storms kept us off the cliffs Saturday and Monday. We didn't want to deal with wind while leading, or get caught in rain far from the car. During some exploration I noticed that obvious boulders above the Sinks Visitor Center are sheltered from the wind. We decided to try climbing on them.

We began on a boulder with a nice line of pockets along an overhanging face that looked traversable. This is where we decided to start.

It turned out to be a good problem. About V4 from our start, and a line beginning farther left may be possible at a much higher grade. Chris has been active in the area, and we noticed that some cleaning had been done. Chris has been so busy climbing things he hasn't come up with names for everything yet. Until we learn another name, Ashley and I will call it the "Poison Ivy Traverse." Poison Ivy is growing along the entire base of the boulder. It adds some excitement to the lowball line. You don't want your feet to slip, and the problem might not be climbable until fall if the plants get much bigger.

We also climbed a line beginning in a pocket on the left side of the face that then followed the left lip to the top of the overhang and topped out. The first move is the crux, maybe V2 once you figure it out. This had also been brushed. We're calling it "Ivy League" until we hear another name.

We ended the day on a large boulder with three old top rope bolts on top. We did some traverses, and went as high as we were comfortable with on a highball line Chris named "Beer Time."

We finished the day by climbing the problem below. It traverses the face right to left and then climbs the left arete on jugs. about V5 to finish by grabbing the top of the flake. Topping out seems unwise, the end of the flake is thin and feels quite fragile. Chris climbed this line, but hasn't named it yet. "Slice Face" seems appropriate.

Sunday evening we took a drive, and took scenic shots. We followed Red Canyon Road which is listed in the Lander Sport Climbs book as a "Scenic Dirt Road." The huge green treeless hills seem almost otherworldly.

When we skirted red cliffs on the road at sunset I felt compelled to jump out of the van for a photo.

Whole hillsides are covered in wildflowers and scattered with cows.

Yeah it's scenic.

On Monday I ran into Jesse downtown. He's moved to Lander, so I was hoping to run into him. In Lander it seems like you'll randomly run into anyone in town, usually within three days. We talked about bouldering and made some plans. A difficult looking problem Ashley and I had looked at on the left side of the large boulder came up. Jesse thought the sit start was still a project. Ashley and I went out that night to give it a serious effort.

We began by working on it from the stand start. Ashley made quick progress, but was having trouble committing to the top out. Eventually I unlocked my foot sequence and made it to the top. A fixed rope came in handy on the descent. After seeing me do the top, Ashley topped it out and we focused our attention on the sit start. I was working on an intricate and strange undercling sequence to move into the right dihedral before reaching a right hand to a slopey undercling. Then Ashley tried the move in the most straight forward manner possible and it worked! She nabbed what we thought was a first ascent from the sit and named it "Go Beaver" after the lyrics of a Yellowstone campfire song. I found out tonight that Chris got the first ascent, but he said we could keep the name. It's a fantastic problem. Ashley could do the sit start moves pretty easily, but needed a spot for the top out. I could do the top without a spot, but found the sit start moves to be difficult. That's why you see Ashley doing the first moves, and me on the end in the photos below. Eventually I caught the undercling and topped out the line from the sit. Chris thinks it's V6, it felt V7 to me, and Ashley calls it "moderate" which is her word for somewhere between V2 and V10.

"Go Beaver"

Ashley wasn't finished yet. She began with a sit start on the right arete, traversed the face into the slopey undercling and topped out "Go Beaver" to create the problem "Beaver Time." This most likely was a first ascent. I didn't have the endurance to finish it on Monday, so I'll need to go back.

The first move of "Beaver Time."

Ashley was on a roll. So she did the sit start to "Go Beaver" and traversed all the way into the sit start on the right arete to create "Beaver Jive." The north face of this boulder provides a full workout by itself.

After climbing we took a look at the Popo Agie river which running higher than it has since the Sixties.

I found this photo on Google Images of what the Sinks usually look like, where the river disappears in the cave.

This is what the Sinks looks like now, most of the river is just flowing past the cave. Lander has had some flooding this week, and camping in City Park is closed until it's over.

Chris and Graham have been spending a lot of time exploring and bouldering in Sinks. I'm excited to keep finding what they have found.