Monday, September 27, 2010

Tours Top Topos

Things turned around on Saturday. The entire day was devoted to climbing, conditions were good, and I really enjoyed it. Davin was in town, and he gave me a tour of some bouldering on the Falls trail. He had already given me a topo of the bouldering, but I had missed a couple of the best problems and wasn't sure where other lines went. Davin showed me exactly where the problems are, where they begin, and where they end. I quickly realized what a difference that can make.

Nice weather and colors.

We established a warm up, bouldered on a project, and began development of a new boulder.

After Davin had to go, I spent an hour hiking the south side of the canyon, and then returned to the trail in the afternoon to boulder with Ashley on the problems Davin showed me.

Ashley climbing "Rio's"
Pulling on without using the small boulder to the left is the crux, followed by long moves to good holds on a tall face.

Davin's problem "Silver Spoon" is an area classic that I highly recommend. Slimpers, slopers, and insecure pinches lead to a fun top out.

We both completed the problems, and really enjoyed them. Thanks Davin!

We ended the day by bouldering in the talus field nearby. We found a few good problems, and I'm excited to get back in there to explore the area some more.

Saturday demonstrated the difference that a tour can make. Topos work well when there are trails to the boulders and the holds are chalked. Without tracks to follow, a topo can be very difficult to interpret. I was beginning work on a bouldering topo to part of the Source bouldering area. But now I fear that even if I finish a really good topo, people still might get lost trying to find the best problems or be frustrated by not knowing where the lines go when they do find them.

I'd like enough traffic up there to keep the holds clean on established lines and some help developing new problems. So I'm offering a tour of the area open to anyone interested in bouldering up there. My current plan is to meet at the Wild Iris climbing shop at 4:00 pm on Saturday or Sunday this upcoming weekend. The weather looks good either day. Please send an e-mail to, leave a comment, or bring it up with me at the gym this week if you are interested, and let me know which day you would prefer. Lots of great problems are already established, and some of the best still need to be done. It's a good time to be up there.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Beautiful Frustrating Disappointment

It's my favorite time of year, which has made the bad conditions we've had during our last two weekend sessions even more disappointing. We work hard during the school year to climb outside one day a week. That's all we can get, so we really want the day we get out to be a good one. Last Sunday we took a trip to the Aspen Glade and everything was looking gorgeous. I was so excited to have a perfect session.

We did one warmup and then the wind came in like a freight train. No way I could keep it together while pumped on the final crimps of "Gun Street Girl." We fled from the insane gale and went to the relatively sheltered route "When I Was a Young Girl, I Had Me a Cowboy." I got a workout, but it still feels beyond me. We ended up hiking out early.

Two weekends back, on Saturday, we had our first session on Fossil Hill. It's a large cliff on a mountain top, with mad exposure. At times I was looking past my feet at the domes of Sweetwater Rocks 70 miles away. The air felt cool at the car, but the sun was brutal on the south facing cliff line. Feet on fire, and palms sweaty, we bailed after I fell off the end of our second climb. A route called "Casual Entertainment."

We tried to make up for our short session with another short session at the Source. It was good, but we didn't have much time. We added a few new sit starts, and rechalked the holds on some lines that had disappeared back into the lichen after a month without traffic.

One of our nicest recent sessions was after school, on the Rubber Blanket Boulder. We're working on some enduro link ups of shorter problems we've done. Ashley sent "Milton's Little Bi+%@*$ Traverse." It's quite pumpy, about 50 feet long, and now it's on my to do list.

Sierra relaxing by the Rubber Blanket Boulder.

I'm crossing my fingers that the snow doesn't hit as early as it did last year. We aren't ready for it yet.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Area Reports

Getting all our climbing sessions in has been difficult, and finding time to blog even harder. We've been getting out after school, and we spent a couple sessions on Fairfield Hill in Sinks Canyon.

One rainy afternoon cleared up as soon as we drove up the canyon.

Fairfield Hill Granite Bouldering

"Light and Shadow" is known to be one of the best V2s in the Lander area. It is an excellent problem, but I'd never call it V2. It could be V5!

"Optimus Prime" is a nice tall warmup on the Plastic Green Head boulder.

The book lists no known problems on the Godwhale boulder shown below. We found a good V1 on the left side of the face with clean, but unchalked, holds. I also climbed a V6ish problem that goes up the center of the face beginning on indentations in two slopers. One key crimp was clean, but I had to clean one more before I could do it. I'm not sure if it's new or not. I'm calling it "Rolling Mario" until I learn more about it.

Fairfield hill is quite scenic, and most of the rock is solid. Only "Light and Shadow" is significantly overhanging. Most problems are vertical or ascend slabs. The area doesn't provide a quick forearm work out, but the harder problems in the area like "Doctor Gorpon" and "Rolling Mario" are fun tests of power and technique.

Wild Iris
We had a good weekend session at Wild Iris a few weeks ago. I redpointed "Poker Face Alice" a nice short and powerful roof route. The photo below is of Nick Iverson posing on the route. I found the photo on the Omega Pacific website.

We didn't get any photos of the route, but I like the one we got of Sundance.

Cabin Boulders
After a year in Lander we're still finding ways to keep ourselves occupied at the Cabin Boulders. We did a chalked low start to "Mr. Bigglesworth" which makes it even a little better and more of a sandbag.

Ashley made up a traverse that follows a feature from "Cherokee Dudes" to finish on "Ship's Prow." A good variation.

Lost and Found: After leaving the coat and water bottle at the boulders for a week they are now in my garage. Contact me if you know the owner.

Up the hill, south of the Cabins, is this nice roof problem. It looks like an established problem, but we cleaned some intermediate holds, and discovered a sequence that lets it go at V6 or 7.

Over Labor Day weekend we took our first trip to Tensleep.

The climbing there is world class, and it appears that the word has already gotten out.

From a distance the cliffs look similar to Sinks, but the rock feels much more solid and has cooler features. "Great White Buffalo" has hueco like pockets

The canyon is huge.

We had good weather, and there weren't mosquitoes, so we slept under the stars. They were so amazing...I've felt insignificant all week.

We weren't able to get any photos of Tensleep climbing, but you can check out some good ones at Aaron Huey is a Photographer. The climbing exceeded my expectations and I'd have to agree with Aaron's guidebook introduction that we will be entering "the period in which Tensleep is recognized as the greatest limestone climbing in the Western Hemisphere!!!"

I was worried that the climbs would all be too long, but it turns out the bolts are just close together. The tens felt hard and the twelves felt easy. It's hard to tell if the higher grades are soft or if it's just that much easier to climb hard when you aren't scared. If you go, check out the Circus wall for high quality short routes in a cool side canyon.

On the way home we stopped at the hot springs in Thermopolis. Here I am after two days climbing, one night camping, and twenty minutes in mineral water.

Enjoy the Autumn weather. I'll be out there, and I'll post when I can.