Eight inches of new snow fell last night, and it's our first day of break. Couldn't climb, so we went sledding instead. Then I spent a couple hours improving this blog. Each post is now tagged with the area, or areas, that it's about. All the areas (38 so far) are listed to the right. Sorry, it took me so long to get organized. Now you don't have to scroll through hundreds of entries to find what you want, and you'll see the entries that Google doesn't catch. I can't believe I've written forty-five posts about Sinks Canyon! For a few areas you'll need to click on "Older Posts" to see all the entries.
A couple more bouldering blogs were added to my list as well, Kearney Journey and Try Hard.
It's nice to have some time to get the little things done.
Saturday felt like an early Christmas at Sinks. The gift being, The Most Perfect Climbing Conditions I've Ever Experienced! Cobalt blue skies, air so still it felt like being indoors, cool rock, warm sun. And a friendly crew of local climbers assembled at the Bootie Wall to enjoy it.
Evan lowering past Lindsey.
Lindsey climbing "Waiting on a Friend." The day's ingredients mixed incredibly well, and at one point I heard another climber spontaneously exclaim "I love my life!"
It's wonderful, when people are happy, and are aware that they are.
With no distractions or discomfort to fight, leading felt like top roping to me. I redpointed "Achin' for Bootie" for the first time ever, and then traded routes with Scott and Evan. With their draws pre-hung, I redpointed "Cavity Search", and then Scott put my draws on "Smell My Finger." (Don't blame me, Mark Howe named them.) With draws hung, and feeling very comfortable on the wall by that point, I flashed the route.
Last year, I wasn't sure I'd ever have the endurance needed to redpoint the long climbs on the Bootie wall. This year, I did three in a day. My endurance feels slightly better, but most significantly I'm learning how find rests, take the rests, and climb quickly in between them while holding back my effort. I'm realizing that successful route climbing effort feels very different than successful bouldering effort. Bouldering is all about learning to try harder. Sport climbing is mostly about learning not to try any harder than you need to. In the past, I approached routes like a series of connected boulder problems. Some routes work like that, but endurance routes don't. On endurance routes you need to move quickly, but stay relaxed. Trying as hard as you can between rests doesn't work. You've got to hold back some strength so you can use it later. I'm still learning some of the basics, 16 years into the game.
Ashley enjoyed herself too, top roping each of the three routes, twice in a row without rests, for an endurance workout. Ashley excels by training her strengths :)
Feeling bullet proof at the end of the session, I got on "Grabbing Greta" and accidentally didn't bring enough draws. The sun set, and the rock got really cold really quickly. It wasn't the perfect way to end the day. The session would have been more fun if we had quit while we were ahead. Night falls so fast this time off year. That was our climbing this week.
Winter bouldering sessions are rare in the Lander area. The overhanging cliffs of Sinks stay nice all winter, but the boulders are usually blanketed with snow. Sweetwater Rocks is almost always too cold and windy, but there was a favorable forecast for the upcoming weekend so Jesse and I made plans for a Sweetwater session. By Friday night the expected temps dropped ten degrees, and the wind forecast increased by 20 miles per hour. Sweetwater wasn't going to work, but we were set on bouldering, so we visited Torrey Valley instead.
The Croquet Ball offers good warm-ups and a couple harder sit-starts.
The north side of the canyon has an incredible micro-climate, and the canyon generally has less snow than Sinks. The forecast was for forty degrees last Saturday, and we climbed comfortably in T-shirts all afternoon. Most of the bouldering on the north side of the canyon is found on about 6 widely spaced granite erratic boulders. The sandstone boulders in the valley are off limits to bouldering because they usually have petroglyphs on them.
Most visitors to the upper valley don't notice the boulders. This time of year they're too busy looking for bighorn sheep. Torrey Valley is winter range for the largest single herd of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep in the world. Jesse and I got to see quite a show while hiking to the Croquet Ball.
The challenger circled the boulder, and then crash! It sounded so cool! The female ran off and the bigger male followed. The challenger watched them run off. The sheep were quite preoccupied by their drama, and didn't seem to care that padded people were walking across the meadow below.
After a bit of hiking, Jesse warmed up a second time on the Coco Cabana boulder.
Just behind the Coco Cabana boulder is a short little boulder with perfect stone, and frustrating slopers where a single unnamed Manley problem is found. It was mostly clean, in the sun, and looked difficult enough, but doable. We decided to give it some burns.
After falling off a few times, things started to get interesting. I wasn't sure if it would go or not. I wasn't sure how it would go, but still felt confident that one of us would unlock a sequence. Jesse was offering some friendly competition for the first send of the day. The conditions were perfect, and the scenery spectacular. It didn't matter to me that the short boulder problem would probably only be given one star on any objective scale. For many attempts it offered everything that a boulder problem has to offer. A very engaging and uncertain challenge, that required and allowed intense levels of effort. That's what it's about. I made an unlikely move, because it felt like the only move I could make, and it surprised me when it worked. Jesse sent it soon afterwards. Here is Jesse showing what ended up being our key sequence. I was excited to do some exploration, but Jesse felt tired after working a late night. Jesse napped in the van while I went hiking. It was a successful mission, and I will have some new things to climb and clean on my next trip to Torrey Valley.
We drove out in beautiful light, ate dinner in Dubois, and watched for deer while driving home with a full moon. Unfortunately, we were too late getting back, and missed the bouldering comp at Elemental. I would have enjoyed it. But I can't regret missing it. For me, nothing beats a good bouldering session outside. Yesterday, Ashley and I were able to try the problems, post comp. Really fun, well set, all new lines, which I highly recommend. Torrey Valley and Elemental offer the best bouldering in the Lander area, until Spring...