Friday, July 27, 2012

The Rock Shop Rocks

 My appreciation for the Rock Shop continues to grow with each trip.  When Chris first showed me the area, after a snowstorm last October, it was obvious that the place would have some really good problems, but it wasn't obvious that the area would have a high concentration of problems.  Now that I've hiked a bit, it's clear that the Rock Shop will have many sectors.  And that each sector will have a set of concentrated problems.  I'm feeling very content and relaxed, because I've finally found enough great bouldering to keep me happily occupied for a long time.  I can still enjoy exploring new places, but I don't feel like I'll need to for a while.  The Rock Shop is what I've been looking for.

Tuesday evening, Jesse and I went out to do some development.  Jesse was brushing and climbing, but I didn't bring my climbing shoes.  It was a rest day, and I wanted to focus on cleaning and exploration.  We hiked to an overhanging block that a few climbers had noticed on their way to "Nexus."  It was finally time to brush it off.  While Jesse worked on the overhang, I set up a rappel and started cleaning some cracks on the left side of the boulder.  I finished my brushing, and Jesse was still working on the overhang, sussing out the beta.  I went for a few hikes in different directions.  The first two didn't lead to any inspiring boulders, but on the third one I found a lot of nice lines in close proximity to each other.  It started to get dark.  Jesse hadn't completed his project yet.  Ashley and I were planning to have a session at the Rock Shop the next morning, and I asked Jesse if we could try the line.  Jesse was pretty sure that Ashley would get the first ascent, but he generously offered it to us, saying that we could give it a try.

The next morning was cloudier than expected and conditions began pretty good.  We took our time. We warmed up on the Paralysis wall.  Ashley climbed a new link up on the wall called "Total Paralysis" and I did the second ascent.

We moved on to the lines I had cleaned the night before.  I was familiar with the holds after cleaning it on rappel, and that helped me get the first ascent of "Sliced Bread" V3.  It works it's way up the center of the "slices" from a stand start, and the climbing is unique.  It follows two cracks, but jamming is optional.  The cracks have huecos inside them that you can grab instead!  I also wanted to climb some features up the arete on the right side of this face, but we didn't finish it.  It's now known as the "Top or Not" project.  It's probably not too difficult.  It just feels very committing.      
We finished climbing on the things I had cleaned, so we moved over to Jesse's project.  Ashley figured out some beta, and climbed it very quickly.  Jesse was right.  It suited her well.  It was a struggle for me though.  Ashley's beta was too scrunched up, and I had to figure out another sequence.  Things were heating up and I was getting frustrated.  Eventually I figured it out and got the second ascent.  It might be V6 in good conditions.

Ashley named it "Burly."
 Ashley channeling her boulderer's focus on the crux of "Burly."
 Ashley and a tall overhanging wall that will have some nice highballs someday.
This seems like as good a spot as any for a puppy break.  "Willow" is our new puppy from the Lander Pet Connection.  Here's a photo of her at Wild Iris.
 And another with her in the shade at the Rock Shop.  Sundance is in the sun.
 Today Jesse and I visited another project.  A beautiful line that will probably be about V8 or 9 from the stand, and will also have a double digit sit start.

Jesse working on the stunning line.

 The crux moves of the project are too big for me, so I worked on a short powerful line to the left.  I'm pretty sure that Chris got the first ascent, but I'm not sure if he named it.  Until I hear that Chris has a name, I'm calling it "First Contact?" and it felt like a V7.  My sequence required a jump, and it was a surprise when my hand caught the lip.  My ascent is in the video below.   After getting too worked for the steep stuff we added a couple new lines.  I rapped and cleaned the middle of the face below.  The line starts on a perfect slot five feet off the ground.

"Armchair Martian" V2
 Jesse brushed and climbed another new problem he named "Mars Attacks."

Here is a video I put together with photos and videos of some of the new problems at the Rock Shop.  Video footage of includes Ashley's ascent of "Starry Night" and her first ascent, "Burly."

Last week I had an errand in Rock Springs, and I decided to do a little desert exploration while I was down there.  I'd heard about an area with Basalt boulders.

The boulders are in the distance on the right side of the photo.

 Many are big enough to climb on.
 Some of the biggest blocks have toprope bolts.  And this one had an owl!
 I was surprised to find north facing bolted cliffs as well.  It reminded me of a wilder, slightly shorter, version of Penitente Canyon with more cracks and fewer pockets.
It was a fun area to explore, but I'm not planning on going back anytime soon.  I won't need to... because I'll be climbing at the Rock Shop!

Or the Falcon's Lair when it's hot, I've got a full day, and someone is psyched to hike up there with me.

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Fun Session at the Falcon's Lair

On Monday, I took my tenth trip into the Falcon's Lair.  Justin, Kerrek, and Ina came along for a tour. 

Kerrek enjoying the hike out after a successful day. 
 On the drive up we saw a lot of wildlife.  Groups of quail, sage grouse, cottontails, and young pronghorn with their Moms.
 We warmed up on the Trolley boulder.  The project Davin brushed off and almost sent on the last trip caught our attention.  The dyno beta Davin was using is too big for me, but a cross through to a poor crimp seemed like it might be doable.  Kerrek started using the same beta, and for a few attempts it was hard to tell who would get the first ascent.  But Kerrek topped it out first, and I got the second ascent a few attempts later.

Moving left from the sit start.
 The first crux move.
 And the second, sending, crux move.
 The line goes with this sequence at V7 and Kerrek named it "Seeking Purity."  Kerrek and I were neck and neck for a couple attempts at the start of the day, but after "Seeking Purity" my power was almost gone.  In contrast, Kerrek was just getting warmed up!  Next, he got the second ascent of Chris's line on the right side of the Trolley boulder.  I'm not sure of the name.
 Ina climbed too.  She worked on a short line by the Trolley boulder, that is now named "So Intimidating."  She sent "The Twins" at the upper boulderfield, and she did "Sidewalk" from a high start.

Ina climbing "The Twins."
 Justin, Kerrek, and I did the low start to "Cracked Eggs" and then Kerrek began working on "World Conqueror."  During a rest we moved the pads over to a line that Justin had looked at.  The short line begins on a pedestal block and climbs out the underside of a thin block sitting table-like.  Using a handjam, and then a committing heel toe lock on top of the pedestal it's possible to reach a crimp off a slick sidepull before releasing the foot and then campusing to the top.  It's a tricky V5 that I named "Table Dance."

Justin campusing on "Table Dance."      
While I did a little scouting, Kerrek on his last chance attempt for the day, just before we had to start hiking out, climbed "World Conqueror."      

It was a great day at the Lair.  I'm getting a good sense of the place at this point, and I have things I'm excited to work on at every sector of boulders.  It was fun sharing the place with climbers who were excited to be there, and we all share a similar sense of humor.  We made sounds and listened as the echos swirled around us in the cirque.  We all talked about jobs, climbing, travel, the American diet, a book about the zombie apocalypse, techniques for hunting cows with garden tools after a zombie apocalypse, and the possibility that scientists will one day discover The Grand Unified Theory of Cheese.  In case you weren't aware, there really are professional cheese scientists.

When I got home, Ashley and the girls had picked up a new puppy from the Lander Pet Connection animal rescue.  Autumn named her Willow, and she's such a great dog.  I was immediately won over by the cute, playful creature.  It's been a long time since I've owned a puppy.  Our other dog Sundance is now acting jealous, entitled, and grumpy.  Sort of like a lot of grownups you meet out there.  I've been reminded that it's good not to grow up too quickly, and plan to only act like a grown up when moments require me to be one.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Festival

Early afternoon at Friday's Trade Fair.
We had a good time at the International Climbers' Festival this year, and did a lot of good climbing too!  The festival was well organized, the films were entertaining, the speakers inspiring, and the prizes seemed perfectly selected for the recipients.  Autumn won a digital camera in the pull up contest, and has been a busy photographer ever since.  And Sierra won a copy of Katie Brown's book Girl on The Rocks.

Before the festival even began, tents started going up in City Park, and the Wild Iris parking area had more cars than usual.  But we still had the Rock Shop to ourselves.  We went up there for a morning session with our new Wyoming climbing (and family friendly) vehicle, a Honda Ridgeline. 
We visited a new sector that Chris showed me last week called Wonderland.

Ashley on a Wonderland warm-up.

 Chris said that a line could go out right to the rail, but that it would be pretty easy.  I cleaned it up, and it turned out to be more interesting, and climbed better than I expected.  I think it's a first ascent. But the holds before the rail had already been cleaned.

"Wanderland" V4**

 On Wednesday, we went out for a session in the Sweatlodge.  It was a good session, and we got on four routes.  The highlight for me was "Whiskey Drunk."  It's a great steep and pumpy sport route at a level of difficulty I'm working on right now.  But the cave itself has a couple strange properties that deserve reporting.  While we were in the cave a couple small storms passed by, but the wind in the Sweatlodge became exceptionally powerful.  The cave seems to act as a wind tunnel, and I can't imagine what it would be like to be in there on a truly windy day.

The entrance of the Sweatlodge.
 A more mysterious property is that the area seems to steal or possibly warp time.  I'd left my phone in the truck, so we weren't sure what time it was, but we were very aware that we wanted to leave by 4:00.  We didn't want to miss the Explorer's Presentations that night.  When we walked out of the cave we all thought it was about 3-3:30 in the afternoon.  When we looked at the time in the truck it was 6:45!  Where did the three hours go?!  We arrived at the Explorer's Presentation just as it ended, and I was disappointed that I missed Jesse's Lander bouldering slideshow.

On Friday, we spent the afternoon at the Trade Fair, watching and participating in competitions.  The burrito eating contest started innocently enough.
The burritos really looked good, but they were hot and spicy and filled with eggs and potatoes.  In fifteen minutes the winner only managed to finish three and a half of them.  One competitor puked, and everyone looked somewhat uncomfortable.

George breaking a sweat.  I'm not sure what the other guy is disgusted about.
 The tug of war championship went to a very strong local team.
 And I stayed steady with my crate stacking performance two years ago with 16 crates.  Maybe I'll be able to do better next year?
 It was interesting to watch the toprope get set up for the crate stacking contest.

Steve on belay.
 Mike making the terrifying lead up the cottonwood.  An "R" rated route for sure.
 Jesse, and the festival program, inspired a few people to check out the new bouldering areas.  Saturday afternoon, I gave Mitch and George a tour of the Rock Shop.

Mitch climbing "Lord of the Flies."
" Zef" was feeling difficult in warm conditions, and I worried that "Starry Night" would feel even worse, so we went to "Nexus" which is physically easier.  George was still recovering from the burrito eating contest, but Mitch made quick progress.

 He got to the lip twice, but wasn't willing to commit to the topout mantle.  Hopefully he'll return to finish it off someday.  The line still hasn't had a second ascent.

This year's festival was everything that it should be.  A chance to socialize, share information, have fun, be inspired, and for visitors to discover the amazing climbing this area has to offer.
 I'm looking forward to the 20th!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Photos and Captions

Many hours were spent working on the guidebook yesterday.  Thanks to Ben, it's looking great!  And I'm very excited about how it's developing.  I need a break from explaining everything in minute detail though.  This week's post is for people who can read between the lines.

Chris, Zach, Lander, Summer Sport Climbing

 Lander's 4th of July parade.

 The Rock Shop
 "Second Hand Smoke" V4/5 **

 Ashley on the 2nd ascent.
 They grow up so fast.
See you at the festival!