Thursday, July 22, 2010

New Problems at the Source

Climbing "Ice Cream."

Since the last post we've spent two days at the Source and three at Wild Iris. Most of our time at the Source has been spent doing first ascents, but our goal for today was to climb "The Tombstone." I'm pretty sure Chris found the boulder, and did the first ascent. Let me know if I'm mistaken.

Hiking in.

I climbed "The Tombstone" from the stand start first, which is about V4, and then did it from the sit-start, which is probably V6 or 7. It's a fantastic problem, one of my favorites in the Lander area. Great find Chris! Unfortunately the dappled lighting didn't lend itself to good photos.

At the top of "The Tombstone."

Ashley wasn't psyched on the height of "The Tombstone," but she saw a lip traverse behind it that she wanted to climb.

Ashley climbing "Grouchy Smurf."

I think she's trying to get revenge on tall first ascentionists and highballers by putting up the scrunchiest problems possible. After I thought I had done it, she told me the obvious foot flake seen in the left side of the photo above is off! A slopey, scrunchy, lowball, lip traverse, that's also contrived. I don't know what else to say.

After I'd finished on "The Tombstone" and Ashley had climbed "Grouchy Smurf" I scouted for some more problems. Found a few possibilities on top of the formation that I want to return to, but also found a couple lower problems. One looked like it would suite Ashley, and one was more my type. We began at the boulder that looked good for Ashley. We brushed it off, and just as I expected Ashley got the first ascent.

"Sassy Smurf" begins on a sloping ledge, and felt about V4.

I sent it a few tries later. It's a good problem.

From there we hiked to the west side of the formation where I'd seen a tall crack problem up a patina covered face. Small but perfectly positioned feet allow it to go at a physically moderate grade of V3, but the problem feels really committing, and it's over an uneven landing. This is as high as I'd go without a spot during my post send posing.
"Ice Cream" V3/4

Earlier in the week we went to the first area we began developing at the Source. We planned to start doing problems up on the formation, but got distracted by the undone lines and sit starts at the base. We started on some small blocks with perfect patina holds.

Ashley climbing her first ascent "We are the Littles" V3

It tops out above Ashley's left hand in the photo above. It's a low line, but it's really fun.

I climbed a line coming out of the pit. A vertical V1 or 2 called "Meana Pitina."

We also did a short line left of "Big Stick" called "Misquoted." It goes up above my camera case in the photo.

I got what I think is the second ascent of "Walk Softly" which I'd call V7, but the sit starts to "Teddy" and "Misquoted" will have to wait for a stronger effort.

At the Iris we worked and redpointed a variety of climbs.

"Ambuscado" is shady and steeper than most Wild Iris climbs, but also still a bit chossy.

Ashley looking at one of her favorites "The Guns I'll Never Own."

An unidentified climber on my favorite redpoint of the week "Zorro."

That's all I've got right now, but Wind River bouldering will be coming soon.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

So Much Climbing

The 17th International Climbers Festival was this week, and I've never climbed, watched climbing, or hung out with climbers as much as I have lately. Three days of Wild Iris sport climbing, a session at the Cabin Boulders, two climbing slideshows, four International Climbers' Festival competitions, a tour of the Source, a windy session at Motown, and an 18 mile boulder scouting hike into the mountains crammed into 7 days. Too many things to write about them all. I'll let the photos tell the stories.

Brian lives in Ft. Collins, but we first met him bouldering in Sinks Canyon last spring. He came up for the climbers' festival, and climbed with us at the Remuda.

Lupine at Wild Iris.

Brian on "Coyote Vacuum."

Brian took this photo of Ashley on "Coyote Vacuum." It's a fun bouldery route.

We did some bouldering at the Cabin boulders too. The temps were cool, but the holds still felt slippery. I think we'll save the Cabin boulders for after school sessions this fall.

Brian on "Mr. Bigglesworth"

Sierra on a perfect crack problem for kids.

We spent Friday at City Park, watching and participating in the various Climber's Festival competitions.

This dog was perfectly content to walk around like this.

We want a dog that is this laid back, so the next time we get one, we're planning to give it the banana test.

I was the first contestant in the Bat Hang competition, and fell off immediately, but Brian had a respectable time.

I did well in the crate stacking competition with 16 crates.

I think the winner stacked 21.

Yesterday Davin, Bryan, Ethan and I went on a long hike to look at alpine boulders in the Wind River Mountains. One more step forward in a plan I've been thinking about for the last year, and that has been in Davin's mind for many years now.

A scenic and calm river encountered early in the hike with the mountains still far in the distance.

To get to the boulder field we had to cross this river five times. To get back out we had to cross it five more times. It was usually waist deep, and sometimes flowing fast. For six crossings I had to take off my pants, and cross in my boxers. For two crossings Davin and Bryan needed to block the current and give me a hand so I didn't get swept away.

There are bears in the Winds, and we saw this one.

After eight miles of hiking through the forest, past large round and mostly featureless boulders, we entered a landscape of big walls and big clean fractured boulders.

Bryan takes it all in.

Is that El Cap? Davin consults the map.

I've never seen boulders so large. The largest block in this photo was measured using Google Earth. It's 300 feet wide! A boulder that could cover a football field.

The boulders in this field are of a more appropriate size, and are well featured.

The majority of the rock in the area is very similar to what is found on Mt. Evans. If you took this area and made the cliffs much shorter, removed the gigantic peaks, and took out 90 percent of the boulders it would be just like Mt. Evans.

To be fair, we didn't find a "Dali" boulder, at least not yet, but we found plenty of classic boulders that are screaming to be climbed on.

It's time to get ready for an expedition.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Perseverance Pays Off

about three fourths of the time.

We've been climbing a lot since the last post, and the wildflowers on the way into Wild Iris are especially impressive right now.

Ashley and Sierra take a break while Autumn and I catch up on the hike.

Shaun climbed with us on Sunday and took this photo of me working Ruby Shooter. I got the redpoint on my third attempt of the day. Score one for perseverance.

On Friday, we left early to have cool temps at the Source. Two problems on this boulder begin at a sit start where the cracks cross in the lower left hand corner.

Chris got the first ascent of the problem shown below, and named it "The Serpent." The crux for us was the match seen below. It felt about V7, but the problem might be easier for people long enough to skip the match.

Successfully moving through the match.

Latching a good hold. "The Serpent" tops out straight up from here.

Then Ashley brushed an extension to "The Serpent" that goes all the way to the right arete, and uses one hold around the corner to reach the top out. She sent the harder line and named her first ascent "The Caterpillar Arete Traverse."

Perseverance pays once again.

With so many boulders in the area, it's a little hard to tell when it's time to stop looking, and start developing what you've already found. Before I could really focus on the Source, I felt like I had to check out one more possibility. I spent much of the winter looking through books and online at photos of the Wind River mountains. Beautiful alpine boulders appear to be abundant in the Winds, but the hikes into the alpine areas are much too long for bouldering day trips. The only possible exception I read about was Silas Canyon. Forty minutes of driving and four and a half miles of gentle uphill hiking to alpine granite.

All winter I hoped I would find fields of house sized talus lining Silas Canyon similar to what is found on Mt. Evans. I'd been looking forward to checking it out for a long time. But I didn't find what I hoped would be there. The area is alpine and it's beautiful, but the good blocks were missing.

My hike was on Canada day, and I kept thinking how Canadian the environment felt.

I even hiked through thigh deep snow on the first of July.

Even though I didn't find good boulders, I did enjoy walking through an interesting ecology. The forests in the canyon are dominated by Whitebark Pine.

I saw some interesting geology.

And I did find boulders, just nothing good enough for me to feel like hiking back in with a pad.

Perseverance doesn't always work.

Today we woke up to cloudy and cool weather. I thought conditions would be perfect for bouldering at the Source. Then we hit dense fog on the drive up and had to turn the windshield wipers on. Ashley wanted to turn around and drive home, but I stubbornly persevered. Fog surrounded the parking area, but the rocks felt dry.

We began on a low ball line I had cleaned last week. It looked like a good warm up. I climbed the line and thought "Endeavor to Persevere" would be a humorous name for the easy low ball line. Then Ashley had the "visionary" idea to add an even lower start to the line. She grabbed on to my starting heel hook hold, and climbed the line from there. Then she changed the name of the problem to "Limbo."

I think her new problem should be called "How Low Can You Go."

Then we went up to the Arrowhead boulder.

I rolled around the corner right here for a problem I named "Off Target." The complete line to the tip of the arrow hasn't been climbed yet. If I finish it first, I'll call it "Bull's Eye."

Then Jesse arrived, and we moved on to better boulders.

Jesse cleaned a line on the right wall, but I climbed it first. It might be V2 from the stand start, and I named it "Teddy."

I brushed a line, and Jesse climbed it first. A V5/6 problem called "Big Stick."

Ashley got the first ascent of the plum line. The sit start to an arete problem that Davin did about eight years ago. I'm not sure what Davin named it, but Ashley named the sit start "Walk Softly."

It uses a fragile hold with the left hand. Grab it high, don't pull too hard, and hopefully it won't break.

It's a difficult line that I'm still projecting.

Eventually rain brought the session to an end, but I'm glad we didn't turn back too soon...