Monday, December 13, 2010

Two Days in December

The sun was bright and the sky was deep blue last Saturday. We got back to the cliffs after two weeks spent indoors. It felt so good to be out, like waking up again. We passed some more cool icicles on the approach. In Moss Cave this time.

We warmed up on "Southpaw" which is a good route, but an abrupt warm up. Conditions were perfect on "Purple Galaxy," and I redpointed to the first set of anchors on my second attempt of the day. It's a fantastic route, long and sustained, which is my weakness. Then we top roped "Crowheart." Ashley got it without falls, and I'll be heading back to lead it. Fierce slab moves on perfect stone to dirty rock for the top ten feet.

On Sunday, we got out for a second session. The sky was cloudy, but the air wasn't very cold, maybe 50 degrees or so. We felt like climbing some new boulder problems, but we didn't have time for a long approach. So we took brushes out to some short boulders I'd noticed just above The Rise parking lot. We warmed up on a jug covered rock just above the lot, and then hiked a short steep gully to a rock split by a thin finger crack. Amazing stone with no evidence of established problems just a minute from the parking lot. The only explanation I can imagine is that other boulderers were frightened away by the very low starts, and the boulder's lack of height.

But Ashley isn't afraid of low starts or short boulders. She got the first ascents of both problems that we did. We named the rock "The Scrunchy Boulder."

The crack problem starts with a left hand pretty low in the crack, and the right in a shallow but positive one finger pocket.

Shoot up to a flat crimp.

Get finger jams with both hands in the sandy crack.

Get a foot up and grab jugs.

That's "Smooth" V3 or 4. A sit start might be possible, but it will be very difficult, and uncomfortable.

The second problem we did climbs really well, but the start is very low. Pull up into the horizontal, and keep the right knee off the ground.

Reach left to a pretty good pocket, carefully, so you don't dab with the right knee.

Do the crux move which isn't pictured.

Reach out left to a good crimp.

Get your feet higher, and top out by making a big move to the top of the large patina panel. That's "Kinky" V5 or 6.

They aren't three star classics, but they are fun, climb good sandstone, and are very easy to get to. I'd recommend them to other climbers our height or even climbers a little taller.

That's post #200. The blog now has three and a half years of posts written almost every week. The time's been flying by. But when I look back so much has happened, a lot of climbs have been done, and we've had so many great days. Thanks to everyone who has gone out with us, shown us around, or developed the routes and areas we've visited so far. Our adventures wouldn't have been the same without you.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The 2010 CWC Bouldering Competition

Last night, Ashley and I competed in the third annual CWC bouldering competition in Riverton, WY. We had a great time, with a laid back and entertaining group of competitors, on very well set problems.

Darren Wells organized the competition.

Chris Marley and Jesse Brown set the problems.

Ashley competed against four other women, came in first place, and won fifty dollars.

Sixteen men competed, which filled up the wall pretty well, but never felt too crowded. Luke Ross, a climber from South Dakota, came in first place. He climbed open problems 2 though 6 without a single fall.

Here is a photo of him attempting open #8.

I came in second place by climbing open problems 2 through 6 with one fall on #2, and three on #6. For the second hour of the competition I made attempts on Open #8. I knew that I was behind Luke in falls, but if I could reach the top of Open #8 I still had a chance to win. I took good rests, cooled down outside between attempts, and gave it everything I could, but couldn't quite make it happen. Here I am latching the hold that was my high point.

I didn't win, but it felt good to know that I could have if I was a little stronger. The setting was very good, and other than open #7 which was a dyno that no competitor was able to climb, every problem felt within reach. Good job to the setters, and everyone who helped out.

We've had some trouble getting outside lately due to low temperature weather, and high temperature children. Our last good day at Sinks was on Thanksgiving. A high of 22 degrees in Lander, 16 with the windchill, left the pockets a little cold, but surprisingly still climbable.

Many large icicles formed in the back of Killer Cave. They're so cool... they're like ice.

Autumn says they even taste good.

One unexpectedly nice day, when we should have gone climbing, we explored the sandstone of Red Canyon. It looked like it might have some bouldering potential.

But it doesn't. The rock is so soft that even jugs break off when weighted.

I had some time to wander the internet over the Thanksgiving break, and found a couple things worth recommending. Pat Goodman has a great blog that I added to my list, and if you have an extra hour, Aaron Huey's photo lecture about his walk across America called "American Ocean" is very well done, enlightening even.