Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend at the Rock Shop

Open spaces, an open calendar, and a new zone of easily accessible, high quality bouldering near Wild Iris.  Things don't get much better!  Three day weekends allow so much more climbing than the two day ones.  And for this one, Justin, Jamie, Collin, Mike, and Jared joined the standard Lander bouldering crew of Chris, Jesse, and me.  Chris has been the most active at the Rock Shop, and he led the tour.

Chris stretching for the session, while Mike climbs Chris's problem "Lord of the Flies" V5.
 Everyone was psyched, we had plenty of pads, and a lot of media was created.

Mike climbing "Zef" while Justin gets the shots.
 "Gem Thief" V11 got a lot of attempts.  Here's Mike checking it out, but this angle doesn't show how steep it is.
Jamie got the second ascent, and these shots show the true angle.

Collin and Justin worked on it too, and I saw Justin come close to getting the third ascent.  After I left, Justin managed to do it.

Justin is climbing strong.  He also flashed "Zef" and I think he flashed "Starry Night" V7.
He seems like a nice guy, and he's quick with a joke, but watch out!  Especially when he has his camera.
While most of the crew worked on "Gem Thief" Jesse cleaned a beautiful highball.
We knocked down the dead tree, which fixed up the landing.
And made the line look even nicer.
I wasn't around to witness Jesse's first ascent, but I saw Collin get the second.
The line is a classic called "Young Blood" V4.
Snow moved in, and I left to finish some work at home, but I got back as soon as I could.

On Monday, I repeated the tour with Ashley.  We warmed up on "Piggy" V1, and Ashley climbed "Lord of the Flies."

Here is Ashley climbing "Piggy."
I still had to finish "Zef." I made many attempts to grab a poor undercling on Sunday, but it never worked.  I was trying to follow Justin's beta, but on Monday Ashley found a better way.  We both sent the line, and I realized that while the energy of a crowd can help you try harder, sometimes taking the time to rest and work out beta is even more helpful.  The taller climbers use a sequence they call V6, and with Ashley's beta the line goes at V6 for shorter climbers as well.
"Starry Night" forced Ashley to do some extreme moves, but we discovered that it will be possible for her to send it.  The "Rock Shop" is already her favorite Lander bouldering area.

It was a great weekend, with a fun and talented crew.  It's good to see that people are getting excited, and the season is getting off to a fantastic start.

Monday, May 21, 2012

New Problems at the Rock Shop

On Saturday, I spent four quiet hours brushing, rapping, and brushing some more.  The goal was to clean enough boulders in a concentrated area so that Ashley would get a good workout on Sunday.

When you reach your mid-thirties it becomes essential that every sector of a bouldering area has good warm-ups.  Right next to "Sleepy Hollow" is a boulder named "Get to the Point."  I spent a while brushing, and now the right and left aretes are clean.  If you climb the center, and each side, using only that arete for your hands, you'll be warmed up and ready to go.  
"Sleepy Hollow" wasn't going to happen for Ashley, so we moved on pretty quickly.

Jesse said last week that a traverse into his unnamed problem looked like something that Ashley would like.  He was right.  It's a leftwards traverse that begins at a sit start.  I managed to make the first ascent one turn before Ashley got the second ascent, and named it "Left Behind."  Jesse's line has cleaned up, and with refined beta, I'd call it solid V4.  "Left Behind" felt like a soft V6.  A quality line with unique limbo-like moves.
 Just around the corner is another sit down start called "Falling Behind," a V2 with tricky beta.  An easier line traverses in from the left.
Just up the hill were a couple steep problems that I cleaned on rappel.
 It was time to put all the pads to good use.

Out the right side of the overhang I topped out a nice long line on perfect grey stone.  It starts sitting on the bottom edge of the photo and has a tiered landing, well protected with a spotter and two pads.  I was expecting V3, but it goes at V1.  It's called "Jammin was a Thing of the Past."
 The center of the roof has great features, but climbs right over a frightening chasm.  Using one large Organic pad standing on it's side like a "V" in the chasm, and another large Organic covering it and the edges of the chasm, I made a card castle of sorts.  When I tried standing on the landing to test it, the whole thing collapsed, but slowly enough that I was able to avoid injury.  It seemed like a fall onto the pad structure might be alright, but I hoped to avoid it.  The problem looked V4.  I went for it and was quite surprised that the line goes at a solid and committing V2.  It's an amazing line for the moderate grade!  I'm so impressed with the rock, and problem, quality offered by the Rock Shop.  Stone this overhanging, solid, and featured is a very rare thing.
 When I rapped this line the evening before, I had decided that it wasn't for Ashley.  I thought that Ashley might enjoy playing on some difficult moves just to the left, over a better landing, but climb over a chasm?  That's not Ashley's game.

After watching me do the line, she couldn't resist the incredible climbing.  She decided to commit, and did the second ascent.

 The line is named "Fighting Paralysis."

Bryan and Rachel were visiting from Laramie and camping in the area.  Bryan seemed excited to spend the day exploring.  I noticed that he spent some time looking at an overhanging wall at the top of a nearby formation.  After we finished climbing, I hiked over to check it out.  Bryan had moved on, but the wall he was looking at is amazing.  I know that one line has been completed on the right side.  More will be done, but the landing will require some work, or a plethora of pads.

It was a great day at the Rock Shop, and I left with another new project.  I have a feeling that I've only seen the tip of the iceberg at this point.  Chris reports that he has discovered some very promising sectors.  Lander bouldering just keeps getting better...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Climbing to Excess and a Visit to the Rock Shop

As the days get longer, the temperatures rise, and the snow drifts melt in the mountains, the climbing opportunities around Lander multiply.  The end of the school year is a very busy time, but I haven't been able to resist perfect climbing sessions.  Household chores and school work are finished during late nights, and I haven't been sleeping enough, but the climbing has been so good!  

We've had a weekend session on the Squaretop Boulder.
 And an after school session at the Cabin Boulders.  The whole area looks like a wildflower garden right now.

 We spent a very long day at the Wild Iris main wall in perfect weather.
And another after school session, with perfect temps, at the Lizard Lab.
 So much climbing...but those are just the standard areas, I've blogged about on many occasions.  On Sunday, I spent a long afternoon bouldering with Jesse, Brian, and Chris at the Rock Shop.  An area with very high quality stone that Chris began exploring last fall.  We met Chris at a meadow, and he took us to a small cavelike feature.  Jesse and Chris started brushing while Brian and I explored.  I returned just in time to see Chris top out his first ascent called "Sleepy Hollow."
 It's a V6 that is more difficult for short climbers.  I worked out the moves, but my sequence feels more like a V7 or 8.  It's a project that I'm excited to return to.  Chris also began working on a more difficult extension, but he had to leave before he could finish it.  We said good bye, and moved our pads to other new lines we had spotted.

Brian discovered a long line of features up an overhang over a rising landing.  A great problem he named "Mustache Ride." A lot of fun V2 climbing for a single boulder problem.

Jesse had his eyes on a tall wall of perfect rock.  He set up a rappel and cleaned the line.  Then climbed it ground up on his first try.  Quite high, with a stepped landing, and very long moves, neither Brian nor I felt like even attempting a second ascent.

"Headless Horseman" V4

 Then we hiked past a line that I wanted to try.  It looked like my style of problem, but Jesse snagged the first ascent.  A few attempts later Brian and I climbed the line too.  It's a V4/5 that Jesse hasn't given me a name for yet.

 We did a bit more exploring and Brian came back saying that he had seen a boulder that reminded him of the Mental Block, and that it had a good landing.  He had found a boulder Chris already named the Cube.  Jesse and I left another good roof we were looking at and checked it out.
 The line was beautiful, overhanging, and tall.  Jesse broke out his harness and rope to clean the high top out.
 It was a lot of work, and Jesse was the only one who came prepared to do it.  It was only fair, that he got the first few attempts on the line.
 He made quick progress and was the first to gain the lip, but was too tired at this point to commit to the top out.
 The crimpy face fit me well, and after testing the fall a couple times I made it to the lip.  Even though the landing was pretty flat, the top out scared me.

After getting to the lip a few times and contemplating whether the top out looked easier up the right arete or left towards a long move into a crack, the light began to fade and it was almost time to leave.  The climbing up to the lip was fun, so I decided to do it one last time.  I got to the lip and reached my hand up the arete just to see what it felt like.  Then I threw a heal hook just to see how it would feel.  It didn't feel right, so I switched my left foot to a toe.  Then without even deciding to do it consciously, I began rocking my weight over it, and found myself standing on the lip without any good handholds!  Suddenly committed, I traversed left and gained good holds in the crack.  Then it hit me that I had finished the problem, and it was by far the best first ascent of my life.  The stone, angle, setting, features and height are exactly what I look for in a boulder problem.  It goes at V5, and the only other V5 I've done that surpasses it for quality and commitment is "Germ Free Adolescence" in Eldorado Canyon.  I've done harder first ascents, such as "Follow the Work" but this is the first I would give three stars using the Capps and Wilder world class objective scale.

I've decided to call it "Nexus Causality." It won't be the easiest name to remember, but I like the idea that most events don't have a single cause, and a nexus of causes definitely went into this ascent.  Chris showed us the area, Brian came down the hill excited about the boulder, Jesse cleaned the line, and fading light gave me a deadline. No single thing lead to the line getting done.  It was a team effort, and a combination of causes.  Thanks for everything guys, and let's get back to the Rock Shop soon!