Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sweetwater Rocks Photopost

We returned to the God Eye boulders on Sunday. We had great weather, and climbed a few problems. A highlight for me was figuring out the crux reach on "God Eye."

A highlight for Ashley was doing the first ascent of a difficult traverse. I jokingly suggested that it should be called the "Goddess Traverse." Ashley decided the name was perfect.

The start
The middle
A couple lowball moves follow, and then it tops out.

A traverse into "God Eye" is possible, but would be very difficult. I still need a second session to send the "Goddess Traverse."

We saw many raptors, pronghorn, and cows. Only the photos of the cows turned out.
Cute calf milk face.
I had to keep the writing short this week. Three more days of school, and then I'll have the time for more bouldering, exploring, and blogging.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Spring Bouldering at Sweetwater

Planning to go bouldering at Sweetwater? If so, please review the access situation.
Sweetwater Access Information
Vehicle access to many boulders at Sweetwater rocks crosses private property. Some landowners allow access, but access could be revoked at any time at the landowner's discretion. To maintain access, it is very important to limit group size, and the number of vehicles parked near the rocks. Anyone visiting Sweetwater areas on private lands, or requiring roads that cross private lands, should maintain a low profile by visiting in small groups with few vehicles, leave all fence gates as found, cross bridges slowly, never build fires or spook animals, and obey posted signs.

Today we had great weather at an area called the God Eye Boulders. Davin did some development there, and gave me directions when we moved to Lander. We began today's session at the Hampi Boulders, but Ashley pulled a muscle in her back and decided to leave the "Hampi Boulder Traverse" for another day, so we drove to these blocks. The God Eye boulder looks really fun, but we also saw some cool looking boulders on a ledge above it. We checked them out, and decided to start there. Ashley got the first first ascent of the day.

"In Spite of Injury" V1

I got the second one "In Spite of Love." V4/5

The girls got into a little fight and Ashley got the first ascent of "In Spite of Tears." V4

This nice line is called "On the Edge" V4/5

First ascents, on good stone, above a landscape so vast it feels like climbing above the ocean. I'm keeping directions to myself for now, but hopefully I'll have more problems to share next week.
We still need to get on the "God Eye."

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sinks Canyon Riverside Boulder

On Saturday, Ashley and I had a fun session on a newly developed boulder in Sinks Canyon. Many granite boulders in Sinks Canyon have been cleaned and climbed lately by Chris, Jesse, and Jeremy. The Riverside boulder is one of the fine new additions. We climbed seven problems, and worked on a difficult low traverse. The boulder is easy to find and incredibly accessible when the river isn't too high. But with recent rains, the landing could be submerged until the spring runoff has ended. Look for the boulder by site 13 in the Popo Agie campground, and hopefully it will still have a good landing after the river drops!

Fun lines.

A great sit start, with a fun sloper move.

A perfect spot to climb and hang out.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Reality Unbroken?

“I realized that compared to games, reality feels broken: it doesn't engage us or motivate us or inspire us or connect us as effectively and reliably as our best games do.” Jane McGonigal

During a rest day in Vegas, I spent some time with Jane McGonigal’s recent book “Reality is Broken.” It describes her research on computer games, what makes a good game, the positive affects games can have on those who play them, and the characteristics that the best games share.

In my opinion, her ideas apply to climbing to an even greater extent than they do to the computer games she writes about. Here are a few main ideas I jotted down from the book, and a some concluding thoughts.

A short definition for all games is “The voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles.” Could just as easily be a definition for climbing.

Games have four defining traits that make them engaging and satisfying:
-a defined goal
-rules that usually make things more challenging
-a feedback system
-voluntary participation.
The defining traits apply to climbing perfectly, and explain the persistence of grading systems as a part of the game. Grades provide the feedback players crave.

The book goes on to explain that games can be put into two categories. Finite games which are played to win, and infinite games. In an infinite game, being intensely engaged is more pleasurable than winning, and the goal is to keep playing as long as possible.
For most climbers, I’d say, climbing is played as an “infinite game.”

Through the creation of computer games, designers have hit on some core truths about what makes us happy. Surprisingly to me at the end of the school year, she says one of the keys to happiness is hard work. Depression is characterized as a pessimistic sense of inadequacy and a lack of activity, and good hard work is shown to be depression’s opposite. With good hard work, you have an optimistic sense of your capabilities and an invigorating rush of activity. Whether games have any outside purpose or not, they provide this “good hard work” leaving us more fulfilled, confident and happy as a result.

And there are some other things people seek out that games, such as climbing, can provide.
-the experience, or at least the hope, of being successful
-social connection
-to be part of something larger than ourselves
-curiosity, awe, and wonder about things that unfold on epic scales
-to belong and contribute to something that has lasting significance beyond our own individual lives

Climbing can push all the buttons. And at least to me, it has the added value of having a more substantial reality than the computer games that McGonigal writes about. The cliffs and boulders will still be out there long after World of Warcraft has been forgotten. Once you’ve unlocked a boulder problem it is repeatable and feels like a new skill, unlike a golfer’s hole in one for example. You learn about the world as you climb, in order to climb, and you must apply some measure of strategy to your life to be able to keep climbing. The life of a climber begins to take on some positive game-like qualities, it becomes more engaging, and for climbers, maybe reality isn’t so broken.

Check out “Reality is Broken” by Jane McGonigal for a much more complete explanation of her ideas and the research that supports them.