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!