Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Land of OZ

 Sometimes unspoken wishes come true.  Last weekend, I was wishing that Neverland was closer to Lander.  And today, I explored an area with stone just like Neverland, that's only an hour's drive away.  Davin circled this spot on my maps a few years ago, but when I went to explore the place one spring day, I turned around the mini van when I encountered a wet two track road.  I passed along Davin's tip to Chris and said that he should check it out if he had the time.  He made the drive, and then wrote a blog post that inspired me to try the trip again.  Today I was driving a 4 wheel drive Honda Ridgeline, the roads were dry, and Jeremy came with me.  The trip was casual.  I probably could have made it in the mini van.

The weather was unsettled, a little cold, and windy.  I wasn't expecting to climb.  My hope was only to scout the drive, and the stone, and maybe find a few of the lines Chris has already developed.  I couldn't believe it when we ended up taking a direct path to "A Tribe Called Lander" hidden up on a ridge.  Boulderers must think alike.  It looks incredible, and desperate!

A Tribe Called Lander
 We passed many high quality boulders, and problems.
 We also saw some, Neverland style, fake rock art.  A strange coincidence.
 The best block and walls are a little spread out, but when you find good stuff, it's really good.  Solid, featured, gneiss with very little lichen to brush.
 There is potential for scattered, short, sport climbs on great rock too.
 Occasionally faces don't have holds, but they are the exception rather than the rule.
 Even the tiniest crimps are solid on the stone here.
 I'm excited to return, and next time I'll be climbing.
 I've got so much rock to keep me busy, and feel very lucky to have it.  Just happen to be at the right place at the right time I guess.
 Depending on the weather, I could return next weekend, or need to wait until April.

Jeremy taking in the vastness.
Thanks Davin for the recommendation.  Thanks Chris for checking it out, and sharing what you found. And thanks Jeremy for coming out with me for some exploration.  Another fantastic new area... I can hardly believe it!  Christmas came early this year.

Monday, November 26, 2012

November Sun

A combination of reasonable temps, sunny days, and the lack of snow allowed more bouldering over Thanksgiving break than I've ever been able to get.  On Thursday, I spent the afternoon on rappel, brushing sandstone boulders near our project.  And on Friday, we went to climb them.
Our traverse project was good, but we didn't have any good warmups nearby.  At my age, if I warm up, and then pack up my things, and then hike for ten minutes, and then take out my things, and then get my shoes back on, on a cold day, it's like I never warmed up all.  I was excited to find a well featured overhanging wall just uphill from our project.  The two lines I brushed aren't just warm ups, they are proud warm ups.  The top outs turned out to be more committing than I expected.  Both lines are about V2, and the top outs are the cruxes.

The first line I named "Oh Sugar."     

 The second line climbs a couple yards to the right and is called "Ahh Honey, Honey."  Ashley climbed "Oh Sugar" and also did a traverse of the wall moving right from "Oh Sugar."  Well warmed up, we went straight to the project, but we didn't quite send it on Friday.

On Saturday, I made a long drive to get a tour of Neverland from Davin and Bryan.  Scott and Ken drove up from Colorado to see the area too, and it was nice to see them again.
After checking out the large, overhanging, featured roofs of Neverland at A Place of Legend and Mode of Passion it was finally time to check them out for real.  They lived up to my high expectations.
The area has incredible potential.
And great patina lines such as "Copperhead."
Unfortunately, the wind exceeded my expectations.  Greatly exceeded my expectations.  I've never experienced wind like that.  Maybe I've been in gusts, that approached the wind speeds we had on Saturday at Neverland, but this wind was an unrelenting roar.  Extreme and otherworldly.  We warmed up half out of it, but I still couldn't hear what anybody was saying, and couldn't enjoy the climbing like I wanted to.

This patina covered warm up was really nice.  In my experience, the windiest spots often have the best patina.

I don't think this classic has a name yet.
Scott climbing the patina.
Ken climbing the same line.
The hike back to the car was crazy.  It felt like my pad, was almost lifting me off the ground as we hiked against the wind.  I crawled under a low barbed wire fence rather than risk stepping over it.  Davin said that we'd be able to get out of the wind at Fingerpaint Cave, and we did.  Finally we were able to hear each other, catch up a bit, and climb some more good problems like "Triangle Man" and the end of "Fingerpaint."  I didn't take any photos, but you can check out the other blogs I mentioned for much more extensive posts from Neverland.

On Sunday, we went climbing again.  It was one of those special days when you think it will be too cold to climb, but you end up having perfect conditions instead.  While we warmed up on the "Oh Sugar" wall, Roo found a carcass to tear into.  And then the sun came out of the clouds.
Conditions were perfect, and I was extra motivated, knowing that this could possibly be the best last chance to send our project before snow hits the canyon.  On my first try, I swung off the end and missed all the pads.  On the second try, I gripped as hard as I could to make sure that I caught the swing.
And then just managed to have enough grip left for what usually feels like an easy top out.
It is an eliminate, but the only rule is that you don't bust up above the low seam until after you've rounded the corner.  My preferred start makes a difficult move out of a sit down start by locking off a left hand pocket to reach the rail.  Ashley couldn't make the reach on that move, so she started sitting on the rail five feet left, and finished that line.  Her start feels easier, but makes the end more pumpy.  I think both start variations are V7, and we named the line "November Sun."

Psyched after sending our project, we still had a freshly brushed line to try.  Features lead up the tall overhanging face, but the top out looked like it might be really difficult, so we decided to set up a toprope.  Features up top are such soft stone, I anchored with a long piece of webbing around a large aspen rather than trust gear under fragile plates.  My excitement turned to disappointment pretty quickly.  A perfect side pull flew off when I liebacked on it.  Then another perfect hold broke higher up.  The limestone like features are so sharp they puncture finger tips, and then even on top rope I couldn't figure out a way to top it out.  It might go for someone, but I don't predict that it will ever be a classic.
On the back of the same boulder is an established line I'd wanted to try since the first time I'd seen it.  Ashley and I were making quick progress.  I grabbed a high hold and was getting my feet established to go for the lip, when the entire brick sized feature I was gripping ripped off, just barely missing my head.  The problem was ruined.  So three good new problems got done last weekend, but one potential line wasn't what I'd hoped it would be, and another one fell apart.  My estimation of the area's stone quality got somewhat downgraded.  It looks a lot like Joes Valley, it feels like Joes Valley, often it even climbs like Joes Valley, but it isn't as solid as Joes Valley.
I'm still glad to have it though.  We had a great long weekend of bouldering, with an entire canyon to ourselves.
Thanks for the tour of Neverland Davin and Bryan!  We'll be back for another visit, one fine day.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Climbing in a Winter Wonderland

 Four inches of new snow, and highs in the twenties.  Today our only outdoor climbing option was Killer Cave.  It was a bit cold sometimes, but never too bad.  We did a couple laps on three long pitches, and I feel like I got a workout.  The snow covered scenery was amazing, the sun was out all day, and when the breeze was still, the stone was warm to the touch.

Vance was already climbing when we got to the parking lot.
 The view from the cliff.
 Steve crushing.
 The best shot I managed to get of Ana on Bush Doctor.
It's such an inspiring line.

I worked the corner pitch of Baghdad up to the anchors at the roof.  It's a fun pitch that I plan to send next time.
 When the shade hit the climbs, it immediately felt like a good time to go home.
That's it for this week.  The finish line for the bouldering guidebook is coming into view. It's still a ways off, but every night I work on the guide, I can finally see that it's actually approaching.  And I'm excited to get there.  It's time to get back to work.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Solace in the Sandstone

 The weather has been gorgeous lately, and the Devil's Kitchen has been cooking with development.  It seems like everybody's been making trips down there, and so many lines have been cleaned and climbed.  Spectacular photos keep appearing on Facebook of "Big Country."  And I'm very happy that so many people have been able to experience the Kitchen, but lately I haven't been able to partake in the new zone festivities.  As hard as I try, I just can't get all my work done fast enough to free up an entire day.  Yesterday, I scheduled all my grading, planning, and housework and decided I could free up about six hours for bouldering.  Devil's Kitchen was out of the question, and Sweetwater would have been rushed, so I decided to go back to a zone that Chris showed me last winter.  And it turned out to be the perfect time to take the family.  No snow yet, but too cold for snakes.  All the poison ivy is withered, and the river is low.  We crossed the river, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that someone has been cleaning boulders!  I don't know any problem names yet, but I'll update this post when I learn them.  We warmed up on this fun block, and Ashley did a low traverse from a lie down start on the right, to the roof top out on the left.  The stone is soft, but this block offers some fun lines!
 We tried another line up the hill.  It's really a high quality sit down start out a roof, but also very difficult.  We weren't able to put many moves together.  Classic V10?
 We did this interesting pocket problem from a low stand, but couldn't quite unlock the sit down start.
 We passed this face, and I think I see a line.  I'll take my cleaning rope next time.
 We ended the day by cleaning and working on a new traverse problem.  It's an obvious eliminate that starts sitting at the pink pad, makes a move up to the lowest rail, and then traverses that rail to the right arete to top out.  All the moves go, but we haven't linked it up yet.  I'm hoping we can get back to it soon!

It hurts a little, to not be able to get back to Devil's Kitchen right now.  I'd love to be up there, but I take comfort in the fact that Lander has many beautiful canyons, with good bouldering, close to home.  Thanks Chris, for showing me this one!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Devil's Kitchen Featured in New Video by Bear Cam Media

Devil's Kitchen has had a lot of visits during the last few weeks, and things are developing pretty quickly. Check it out.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Wobbler

I don't condone throwing fits amongst the boulders, but this line was a perfect recipe for screaming.  I've been falling off this mysterious line on the north side of the Camera boulder for years.  It was cleaned before we moved here, but it isn't in the guide, and none of the locals I've asked have known the name, grade, or if it's been done.  So I wasn't sure that it was even possible, but decided to give it a try last weekend in perfect sending conditions.  After many attempts, I finished the top and knew the line was possible.  That's when things got a little bit epic.

I had set up my camera to record the send, but it was really hard to keep the really bad sloper after doing the bottom moves.  The first throw is a V6 move and I knew I might run out of the power to do it.  The sloper hold pops unexpectedly, uncontrollably, when you really don't want it to.  I kept hitting the record button to capture the send, and just kept failing instead.  The frustration built, as did the yells and screams.  This is a collection of the falls and fits edited together with the eventual send.  I decided to edit out the couple instances of explicit language.  Bouldering can be really frustrating, but there really isn't any excuse for a man my age to act this way.

The Wobbler

Click through to YouTube to see it in a larger format.

Once it was done, it felt V7 physically for someone my height, but very conditions dependent and much more frustrating than the average V7.  Please let me know if you have any knowledge of this line's history.

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Couple Days Bouldering in Cody

 October offers the best climbing conditions of the year.  And it would be a shame to not take advantage of the month when the rock seems to grip you back and everything feels a grade easier.  So we decided to take a trip up to Cody for some sandstone bouldering.  We visited a few areas, beginning with the "Space Oddity" boulder.  It offers some great traverses from V3 to V5, and it's east face offered shelter from a cool breeze.  But it's right above the highway.  Most of the Cody bouldering has a better ambiance, but the rock is good and offers fun pumpy warm ups on big holds.

Ashley dressed for the cool weather at "Space Oddity."
 After Space Oddity we hiked up the hill to the "V0" boulder.  Ashley and I climbed a few problems from V3 to V6 on the north face, and Sierra enjoyed the quality V0s on the west face.

 Sierra makes bouldering faces uncannily similar to her father's.
 The next day, I took the girls to the local pool so they could swim while I did some school work.  Clint, a local Cody boulderer, recognized us and introduced himself.  I mentioned that I was interested in climbing "Wilford's Wretch" and he said that he might be able to come out climbing with us.  That evening the wind stopped, and I gave him a call.  In less than a half hour we were bouldering.  After I fell off the first move, invalidating the onsight attempt, Clint shared all the beta.

 I made many attempts, feeling rushed by fading light.
 Made it to the last move three times, but couldn't get myself to fully commit to the long move to the lip.
 Clint demonstrated how it was done.
 But I just kept falling.
 That night, I decided to change my beta.  If I could throw to a good edge in the middle of the boulder with my right hand instead of my left, it would save me a difficult match and leave me with a little more grip strength at the top move.  I tried the new method the next morning, and the throw was more difficult, but still doable.  I set up the camera, and committed to committing.  It worked.  I climbed "Wilford's Wretch," and it's one of my all time favorite problems.  Such a classic!

Clint also recommended a problem called "Lewistown Pharmacy" found above the Africa area on Cedar mountain.  We went to check it out, but Roo wasn't able to negotiate the talus field.  So I had to carry him.
 He was pretty excited to be let down on the other side.

"Lewistown Pharmacy."
The beta on "Lewistown Pharmacy" was trickier than either of us suspected it would be.  A difficult start leads to a moderate top.  For a while it looked like we wouldn't be able to put it together, but eventually we both unlocked it via different methods.

Here is video of Ashley climbing "Lewistown Pharmacy" and my ascent of "Wilford's Wretch."

We finished our workout down the hill, as the winds and clouds started building up.  It was time to drive home.

Lander has great bouldering too, but the quantity and quality of the developed bouldering near Cody make it worth at least a few trips each year.  It's fun to climb on established classics, and with every trip we've met another friendly Cody boulderer.  Thanks for the beta and directions Clint!  Our best climbs this trip wouldn't have happened with out you.