Last weekend, we had a big day at the Falcon's Lair. We had a large crew, and more pads than ever. And I had hired a tag team of babysitters so that Ashley could check out the area.
Davin and Seth drove up from Laramie. Danny, Cory, Jeff, and Tony came up from Casper. Chris, Ashley, and I made up the Lander contingent. I was very excited about the day during the previous week, and very disappointed as we drove up in cold rain. When we reached the parking, some snow flakes were falling and the breeze was frigid. It looked like we might end up just hiking and exploring all day.
The crew, about to begin our hike.
Cory took this nice shot of snow on the hike in. Thanks for the photos Cory! Cory's shot of Danny on the approach. We made our way down the center of the talus to the Lander boulder. It was a rough way to get there, but we did get to look at some amazing future projects.
As soon as we arrived at the Lander boulder, the clouds began to clear. We decided it was time to eat a little lunch, and start getting serious.
Jeff, Cory, and Davin getting serious. Chris getting serious. Jeff getting even more serious. It was going to be a bouldering day.
The sun hit the Lander boulder, and we got started immediately. "That Easy" got many ascents. Davin did a new line from a sit start, up the arete left of "Danger Danger." "Lander" got done quite a few times too. Since the first day of exploration with Davin, I'd saved the long low traverse into "Lander" for Ashley. I was hoping she would be able to make it up to the Lair this season, and get the first ascent. The low finger traverse just screamed her name. Danny liked the look of the line, and began working on it too. On an early attempt, Ashley's foot slipped in the middle of the line, and Danny jumped on for a try. He got to the final jug, but dropped off so that Ashley could get the first ascent. He's quite a gentleman! I was impressed.
Cory's shot of Ashley nearing the end of her first ascent "The Landerite." It begins at very low holds about 25 feet right.
I repeated the line, and would rate it V4/5.
While the rest of us worked on a new roof project, and ascents of "Squamish Syndrome," "Boop," "Day of the Black Fly" and "Not That Easy"... Chris and Davin hiked up to the Ice Cave area to get started on their projects. We joined them a little later, and watched Davin come heartbreakingly close to getting the second ascent of "World Conqueror." Chris was so motivated by the line, he had hiked in alone earlier in the week, and filmed his first ascent. Nice work Chris!
Danny was aiming for an ascent of "Wind in the Willows." He came close, but will need to make a second trip. Ashley tried "Wind in the Willows" a few times too, but we spent most of our time making ascents of "Cracked Eggs," "Sidewalk," "Captain Falcon" and a new line Chris did that traverses from "Cracked Eggs" into the end of "Sidewalk." It's a fun problem that goes at around V5. I would have enjoyed another hour or two of climbing, but we needed to leave to meet our babysitter. The guys from Casper hiked out with us, just as Chris, Seth, and Davin's session was gaining momentum.
The morning rain was still flowing out of the meadows and down slippery slabs leading out from the Falcon's Lair. This made the trip out more difficult than usual.
Sliding down the dry slab to get around a wet patch. The talus seemed a little more treacherous too. Ashley didn't enjoy it. We made it to the trail, just as Ashley began to feel sick. A mix of exhaustion, altitude, and a cold she had picked up from school, all got worse as we hiked the two miles back to the car. I felt alright on the hike, but developed a sinus infection a couple days later.
Elk bugled on the way out, giving the place a primeval feel. The light was beautiful as usual. The last photo I snapped was this picture of a government mule by the parking area.
The cold, wet weather gave the Falcon's Lair a much wilder feel and left me more tired than I'd experienced on previous trips. I'm very excited that we were able to climb, and that Ashley, Danny, Cory, Jeff, Seth, and Tony were able to experience the place. It was most likely my last trip of the season. I'm sure there will be many more beautiful days at the Falcon's Lair this fall, and I'll be jealous when I hear about other peoples' trips during the next few weeks. But now that the weather has cooled, other areas will fit more conveniently into my weekends, with school monopolizing most of my time.
Thanks for heading in everyone, and hanging in there while the weather didn't look so good. And thanks again to Davin, for taking me in on the first day of exploration, and making it up here for almost every session since. Great times! I'm already thinking about next summer, and all the possibilities. Such as going all out on "Mortal Angel" when it still has a nice snowdrift underneath. Dreams that will keep me psyched until next July...
Ashley's been good to me. Watching the girls all day on multiple occasions while I get to climb on beautiful alpine blocks at the Falcon's Lair. Not only do the trips take me away from home for full days, they also keep me from having the time to clean new boulders that Ashley can get to. So lately, Ashley's been getting her workouts at the gym, and sport climbing at Wild Iris. But over Labor Day weekend another option opened up. A cold front came through on Friday evening, cooling everything by almost twenty degrees. The timing was incredible, and conditions were perfect for a trip to Cody. We both climbed on Saturday at the Africa and Dirt Boss areas. The highlight of the day came early, with Ashley's send of the fingery traverse into "Spear Chucker" called "Babies for Breakfast."
Ashley climbing the crux of "Babies for Breakfast."
"Babies for Breakfast" felt good to me at first, and then the power I needed just slipped away. I couldn't do it, and that made Ashley happy, at least. I'll try it again next trip.
Then the rest of the day. We got sandbagged on "Dr. J" which we never did unlock. I did "Drive By" because it was there. We climbed "The Toolbox" but it's a drilled boulder problem. Ashley seemed o.k. with it, but it felt wrong to me that it was ever created, and that it lead to so many other drilled pockets elsewhere at Cody, and for that reason, I didn't enjoy it. "The Prow" right of "The Corner" was easier than I expected, and after doing a few other variations we were quite worked.
On Sunday, I rested while Ashley had a second session. We spent the day at the Maze and the Bat Cave areas. Ashley warmed up by climbing the classic 60 foot long V1 "West Face Traverse" of the Symmetry boulder both ways. I took what were probably the BEST PHOTOS EVER!!!, but my camera somehow was switched to a random, very wrong, setting, and they all turned out black. Ashley didn't want to pose on it, or do it a second time, so here is the problem in two rather lame frames. It begins in the low horizontal left of Sundance. And goes all the way around the right arete on rock that perfectly mimics Horsetooth Reservoir. Ashley worked on "Camel Toe" for a while, and we ran into Kerrik, a friendly, and strong local boulderer. He was in the middle of a difficult circuit, but he hiked down the hill to introduce himself, and was nice enough to tell us about a few classic problems that aren't in the guide.
Ashley wanted to end the day by getting on some problems that she was likely to finish. "Ground Effect" only gets one star in the guide, but for someone Ashley's size it's a great line that begins in a perfect hueco back in the cave. Ashley squeezed through the gap on "The Mercenary" without dabbing. And really enjoyed "19th Century Assassin" just to the left. She warmed down on the Maze's warm up, "Turtlehead." Very fun days spent on the sandstone boulders of Cedar Mountain! We drove home and I worked into the night so I could spend my Monday off at the Falcon's Lair, as seen below.
Davin, Brian H., Chris and I spent Labor Day at the Falcon's Lair in perfect, cool, sunny conditions. My appreciation for the area keeps growing. The quality of the rock, the aesthetics of the view, the breezes that come off the permanent snowfield, the adventurous approach, and the fun of sharing it with other psyched boulderers, all add to the Falcon's Lair experience.
For this session, we skipped the warmups at the Lander Boulder area, and hiked straight to the Ice Cave. On previous sessions I''ve been distracted by problems at the lower field, and didn't have enough power left to complete projects by the time we reached the snowfield. Davin seemed happy to head straight there too. He also had a project in the Ice Cave.
We warmed up and got to work. Chris was climbing strong and he made quick work of "Wind in the Willows." I completed the fourth ascent in ridiculously desperate fashion. My feet cut twice, and I almost pumped off of the top out sloper. It was a struggle, but it felt so good to get it done.
Then Chris and Davin began working on the Ice Cave Project. It was fun to watch them piece the moves together, and refine their beta.
The Ice Cave Project's attention grabbing first move. Now you're bouldering.
The hold pictured below is very difficult to catch after working through the beginning. Both Davin and Chris came heartbreakingly close to linking it up. A double digit classic, that I predict will get done next trip.
Brian H. made the drive with Davin from Laramie. He's been climbing for about a year, and just moved to Wyoming in August. This was his first trip to an alpine bouldering area. What a way to start! He shoed up and jumped on "Cracked Eggs." He came so close to finishing it! Now he has to visit again...that's how it all gets started. He did three first ascents, the first of his life, on Monday. "Captain Falcon" V3~ is just left of the Ice Cave and starts on two obvious holds in the small overhang. I'm looking forward to trying it next trip. The only reason I didn't try it on Monday is that I was saving everything I had for another go on "The Yeti." "The Yeti" traverses a thin sloping rail across an overhanging footless face. It has a very powerful start and a longish move to the lip over a suspect landing. Earlier I had linked both cruxes and had just thrown my heal over the lip to top out when my right hand slipped off the rail. I yelled "Falling!" and as any good spotter would, Davin reached up for me. Just as his hand touched my back I realized I wasn't falling. My left hand and foot was enough to keep me on and I didn't swing off the top like I thought I would. Davin didn't take weight, but it was a dab. I rested and tried again a few times, but never could make it back to the lip. "The Yeti" goes at about V7. Doing it in good style is my first priority for the next session. I love the line, and I want to do it right.
Davin did the first ascent of a beautiful lip traverse right of "The Yeti." It's on immaculate stone, and uncontrived, by which I mean it's impossible to top out early, before the apex. The top out is the crux, and it's over a perfectly flat landing. It looked really difficult, and I didn't feel any rush to get on it. We'd start working it eventually. Then Davin tried it, and flashed the first ascent. The rock has such good friction, the line goes at V4/5.
"The Barnyard" Chris did it too. And I did the third ascent just before we hiked out.
After "The Barnyard," Chris sent "Mortal Angel," a spectacular dyno problem, which can be seen in the post below.
Bouldering doesn't get much better. Davin wrote a great post about the day on his blog, and I got a photo of Davin dancing at the After Party.
Thanks for the great session guys! I'll be in touch, and am planning another trip as soon as I can spare a day.
This post covers Monday. But Ashley and I spent Saturday and Sunday, last weekend, bouldering in Cody. I'll get to work on that post soon. Climbing so much, that I get behind with the blogging is a problem I can live with.
So much climbing got done last weekend. It's going to take me days to get everything posted. So I've decided to break the weekend into three sections and work my way back to the start. Once the posts are finished, they will read in chronological order.
Let's begin (or end) with a video I put together of Chris Marley climbing the first ascent of "Mortal Angel" at the Falcon's Lair. It's hard to rate a climb like this. Until it gets some repeats, I'll just say it's quite difficult, very intimidating, and a significant contribution to the Falcon's Lair. Well done Chris!