Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Trip to Cody, and a Second Trip to Flaming Gorge

About a month ago we planned a week long trip to Yellowstone. We'd spend climbing days in Cody and the Tetons, and rest days checking out Yellowstone and looking for wildlife. Ashley saw some wolves during a school field trip in April, and I really wanted to see them too. Unfortunately, the weather didn't look good for the 2nd half of the week. A cold front was coming, and the weather was going to get pretty poor in Yellowstone. On the bright side, things were going to cool off statewide. This meant I had an opportunity to show Ashley the bouldering at Flaming Gorge.

The trip began with a warm Sunday afternoon at the Sheep Camp on Cedar Mountain. Ashley felt she had some unfinished business from the last trip. She had gotten close to climbing "The Coke Twitch" and "Ahona Verdugo," and she wanted to send them both. She wasn't sticking to the crimps on "The Coke Twitch" in the heat so we both ended up doing the less conditions dependent traverse ending instead. It's not in the guidebook, and I don't remember its name.

Then we visited the Ahona Boulder. Ashley wanted "Ahona Verdugo" and I was curious to see what the final moves of "When Life Gives You Lemons" were like. Mike got the first ascent on our last trip, and I had begun working out the beginning. On Sunday, I worked out the end moves quickly, and surprised myself by sending the problem.
Here are photos of one of the harder moves.

Ashley had trouble with the crux move on "Ahona Verdugo" Here she is making faces at me, because I had a better session.
That evening we drove on to Silver Gate, Montana. We were driving into the Beartooth mountains, and Ashley told me it would be pretty.
Soon after turning off onto highway 296 some large grey overhanging limestone cliffs caught my eye. If I were a sport climbing developer, I'd head back to check them out.
Then we drove over Dead Indian Summit, and I was totally blown away by the view.
For the next hour we were driving through the prettiest mountain landscape I've ever seen. I've done some beautiful drives in my life. The drive into Telluride, Crested Butte, or from Redstone to Marble in Colorado. Highway 30 through the Adirondacks, and the Pacific Coast Highway north of San Francisco were pretty spectacular, but none have blown me away like this one did. It was pretty in every direction. It couldn't really be captured with my camera.
We had to get to Silver Gate, so I couldn't spend much time on photos anyway. I rented a spotting scope and made plans to maximize our chances of seeing the wolves. We'd leave at 5 am.

We followed the plan and made our way through the Lamar Valley. Stopping at every pullout that had people with spotting scopes. We even ran into a wolf biologist with radio telemetry equipment. But the wolves weren't out in the open. We ended up at Mammoth Hot Springs without seeing any wolves.

The Mammoth Hot Springs

We did see a lot of bison.

And a marmot at the limestone hoodoos south of Mammoth. The hoodoos look good for bouldering from the road, but not so good up close. A few problems have been done, a few more could be done, but it's only worthwhile if you happen to be there. Not worth a trip, for the climbing.
Tuesday we were back at the Sheep Camp. The cold front was coming through. It was in the 50s with 30 to 40 mile per hour winds. Luckily the boulders we wanted to climb were very sheltered from the gale. We warmed up and started on the Ahona boulder. Ashley tried the crux move once, and did it easily. Then she cruised it from the bottom. What a difference cool temps, and fresh fingers can make! Then she did it again for video. I'll get that edited and post it soon.

We returned to "The Coke Twitch." Ashley finished it off, and almost did it again for photos.
She pulled through using two really poor crimps that everyone else just hit as intermediates.

Ashley and I left Cedar Mountain happy to have completed our goals. We spent a rest day in Lander, and then drove down to Flaming Gorge.

On Thursday we went to the Cart Bridge boulders. It was too hot when we arrived, but as we walked the boulders, clouds came in and a breeze began to blow. We ended up having a great session. I showed Ashley what Alan and I had gotten on last week.

Ashley climbing "Batman."
On this trip all the cactus were flowering.
Lizards there match the rock color perfectly.
Ashley climbing "Nip Tuck."

I put away the camera for a while, and we just climbed a lot of moderate quartzite gems like "Barn Door," "Barney", and "Peddle Car."

We ended the day on the Grease Boulder. I did "Greased Lupeda" and Ashley did a non dyno variation where the "Greased Lightning Dyno" is located.

After a rest day spent in Dinosaur National Monument, and taking the girls swimming in the Reservoir, we visited the Overlook Boulders. We did a little warming up, and then jumped on "Lay Down Sally."

Warming up.
We liked it after we sent it, but you want to be very warmed up before going through the contortions it requires. The photos didn't look good.

We walked up hill to "Shady Lady." The crux is getting off the ground, but the moves are really interesting, and the stone is amazing. Highly recommended!

We finished the session at the Hard Rock Cafe boulder. Those photos are in the post below. Both trips were just what we hoped they would be (except for not seeing wolves). Now that they are done, I'm excited to focus on climbing near Lander for a while, and let the Summer slow down.

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