Friday, January 28, 2011

The Game Continues...

Hiking out for another turn on "Mo."

Graham taking a turn on the long moves of "Addiction."

Teaching and parenting have kept us very busy lately, but we're still managing to get out climbing.

The weekend weather has been generally good enough, with fleeting moments of perfect conditions when the sun is out and the breeze is still.

We spent one pleasant session at the Boulder Band.

And a couple times I worked really quickly in order free up a couple spare hours. Instead of posting on this blog, I used the time to go out exploring. There is so much bouldering to explore, clean and climb in the Lander area. It nags at me like a job that needs to be done. One day I searched the flat area north of the granite buttress to get a better view of boulders seen from the switchbacks last summer.

These are a few of the best boulders I found. Each one could have at least one good problem. They are very spread out though. A similar climbing concentration as Red Feather, less rock, but almost all the rock is high quality.

This boulder might have been cleaned and climbed in the past. No chalk, but the features are very solid and clean at the bottom.

Another view of the boulder above.

The second exploration session, crossing treacherous snow covered talus on the hillsides south of Sinks, felt just as committing, and required as much focus at times, as a high boulder problem. But I finally found an extensive sector of boulders that Davin and Chris have recommended. I didn't get photos, but I'm very excited for Spring to come, the snow to melt, and the switchbacks to open.

We also competed in the 2011 Elemental Bouldering Competition. I only have pictures from the women's competition. Approximately eight women competed this year.

The men's competition was much more crowded, and Ashley decided not to push her way through everybody to get photos. It was a fun comp with BJ and Colby tying for first place. I did better than last year, scoring high enough to be put into the Open category with the 6th highest score. Many strong climbers from Casper and Cody made the trip to Lander, spending the day climbing at Sinks followed by the competition in the evening. I knew I was never in the running for first place, but I had lots of climbers to compete against at my ability level. This was great motivation, and I gave all I could to get the highest score possible. I was fully engaged during the competition, and have been enjoying further work on the comp problems during our after school gym sessions. It was also fun to meet more climbers, and catch up with everybody. Thanks go to Steve and the Elemental Staff for putting the event together each year.

And now for something that's mostly different.

Warning: The following paragraphs are mostly philosophical and contain no climbing or area beta. Skip to the next post if you don't like existential musings.

Lately, I've noticed a few blog posts and comment threads concerning the meaning of climbing, and I've been giving it some thought for the past few days. Here are some ideas that I keep coming back to.

Climbing doesn't serve much of a purpose. We could get many of the physical and recreational benefits more easily from other activities. And as far as meaning goes, it just has the meaning we give it. As much meaning as we're willing to commit to it. So it can have just as much meaning as any other activity I guess.

But climbing has some inherent meaning in that the act of going climbing often makes a statement. By climbing we say that our individual subjective concrete experience (which in climbing includes the experience of nature at higher than normal levels of intensity, personal challenge, and personal growth) is more important than the other more abstract,but more purposeful, things we could spend our time on. Climbing is very easily portrayed as selfish, but is also based upon the existential realization that our lives are finite, under our control, and it's up to us to spend them well. Our experience is our reality. The only reality we can be sure of. Much of the world is beyond our control and will never be what we wish it to be. But our days are ours and we have the freedom to choose where and how we spend them. We only have so many, and how we spend our days is the meaning and existence we create. The game continues...

Monday, January 3, 2011

Colorado Climbing Christmas

We spent our Christmas break with Ashley's family in Colorado Springs, and were able to climb on three days before the Canadian cold front came in. But before we left we climbed for a day in Sinks Canyon, spending most of our time toproping "Mo."

We drove past Sweetwater Rocks on the way, and I was surprised by the lack of snow. There may have been some climbable days there in December.

But the area was snowed in when we drove back, and the wind was so intense I decided not to pull over for a picture.

On Christmas afternoon we took advantage of incredible weather at the most convenient bouldering in Colorado Springs, Ute Valley.

It's on a ridge above a housing development within town.

We warmed up on the Hueco Boulder, and ended up spending the whole session there.

The boulder is small, but very nicely featured. Every problem on it climbs like a Hueco problem, and the top out isn't high so Ashley committed to the dynos.

I bashed my elbow on the rock, and was making a bloody mess. The first aid kit was forgotten in our sport climbing gear, but I had a Three Ball Climbing sticker from the CWC comp in my bag and some tissues which made a good bandage.

We got back to Ute Valley for another session a couple days later. I climbed "Galley Traverse" on my first attempt after working out the moves. I'd been on the problem days before we moved to Wyoming, and hadn't been able to do it. Unexpected improvement.

We ended the day on the Tie-breaker boulder. It has a good traverse that Ashley did in both directions.

A climber highballing at Ute Valley.

On our final day of good Colorado weather we decided to check out some Dakota sandstone bouldering west of Pueblo. Unfortunately all the sandstone in the region is on private land. John Gill was active there for many years, and he discovered many exceptional problems and areas. Most of these areas are now closed, but I'm under the impression that the owner of this one place allows climbing access. We weren't able to find contact info for the owner (though I did try.) Newlin Creek was a backup spot, we could visit if things didn't look good. But when we checked it out there were no signs posted along the faint access trail, no livestock or houses in the area, and the rock had fresh chalk on it. So we climbed.

We warmed up on a well featured block.

Climbed some short roofs.

And a good line on this boulder.

We climbed most of the uncontrived roof lines in one session.

The area has a lot of traverses, and many possible dynos. John Gill had the vision, and Dakota sandstone is the perfect medium for gymnastic movement. The small canyon has incredible stone, and a beautiful, subtle, intimate atmosphere. Like climbing in a natural garden. A quarry not too far away is cutting up Dakota stone for landscaping rocks, and I'd hate to see any of Gill's areas destroyed by quarrying. Hopefully the Access Fund will do all it can to acquire these historic areas if they ever have the opportunity.

I hope you all had good holidays too. The days will only be getting longer.