Wednesday, November 27, 2013

So Many Places to be Thankful For!

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  I like the spirit of it, and I'm feeling very thankful this year.  Of course family, friends, and good health are the most important things for which I feel gratitude.  But this is the climbing blog.  So for this Thanksgiving post, I'm going spend a little time highlighting the areas that I'm psyched about right now, and some of their qualities which I'm thankful for.

Here we go,

Oz- has incredible stone in a beautiful environment, and wild horses!
 Torrey Valley- has classic mountain scenery and the conditions there are often nice when the weather is poor everywhere else.
 Roaring Fork- has a friendly mountain ambiance,
 and shaded high altitude blocks.
 Sinks Canyon- is so convenient,
with good sport climbing when the boulders are covered in snow.
And I'm also thankful that the fire in Sinks Canyon last summer only damaged a few routes.

The Rock Shop- because it stayed cool for most of the Summer,
 and kept sprouting new lines and even new sectors all last season.
 Thanks to Alex, Justin, Jesse B., Jesse F., Bryan, Kerrek and Calen, for adding many of the new lines and sectors.

The Falcon's Lair - I didn't get up there last summer, but I'm thankful that I can make up for that when summer returns.

 For more alpine granite that's solid and clean.
 The Source-
 because it still has a lot of potential that's not even far from the road.
 Bear Valley- vast and wild with so much potential!  I'm thankful that I got to see it this year.
 Zebra striped gneiss,
  and endless fields of boulders in the northern winds.
 Thanks to Davin for showing me the areas up there, and for giving me one of my favorite first ascents of the year.
 Sweetwater- because it feels like another world,
 with high quality projects already found and ready for attempts.
 And many more areas to explore.
 The Cirque of the Boulders- for fueling dreams, and making all the other areas feel easily accessible in comparison.
It was a stroke of luck that I ended up in the right place at the right time to be a part of these area's development.  And without Davin, Chris, and Jesse's exploration and willingness to share, I wouldn't have nearly as many areas to be thankful for.  Big thanks go out to them!

Directions and problem descriptions for the majority of these areas are described in the guidebook, and in case you're wondering it's available at:

Wild Iris
and Fixed Pin Publishing

Add it to your Christmas list, or give it to another boulderer, and thanks for the support.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Reminiscing on Weekends Past

We didn't get to go climbing outside this weekend.  Weather and circumstance just didn't align in our favor.  But I used the day to get as much work done as possible.  And for the first time in many weeks I can spare an hour to write a blog post.  The last few weeks have been good ones!  Let's reminisce.

Ashley got the first ascent of a traverse problem called "Gluten Free Pizza" at Sweetwater.  It tops out up the left arete and into the gap on the left without touching the left wall.  A powerful low and crimpy crux leads to a surprisingly pumpy finish.  Exactly what Ashley looks for in a boulder problem!  
 Ana came out with us for her first day of bouldering in a while, and we had stellar conditions.  It was a great session despite the fact that we left with more projects than we finished.
 We all worked on "Gluten Free Pizza" and the "Glutino" project seen below.
 By the time we moved on to the Ocean boulder we were all worked.  None of us had the core tension, endurance, or finger strength to get anything new done.  But we all gave it a good effort.

Ana on "Debaser."

 That might have been the last perfect weekend day of this season out at Sweetwater, but I'm still somewhat hopeful that we can get another.

One windy day, we were able to find shelter on the Falls Trail.  Just looking for something new to do, we added a sit start to Rio's Face that uses the boulder to the right.  Ashley did it by only using underclings.

 My method used two kneebars.  It doesn't add too much difficulty, but it does require more endurance than the low stand start.

Just west of Rio's Face is a tall south facing slab.  The pocket problem on the left is about V3.

The pockets were pretty clean, so I don't think it was a first ascent.  It's worth trying if you're in the area.  Ashley came close enough on "Blind Eye" to decide that it's worth working on some more.  I've begun working on a couple "Blind Eye"variations.

We've had a couple other good weekends, but I've got some papers to grade before getting some sleep.  It's time for me to sign off.

But if you have any time to spare, I highly recommend watching "Wind and Rattlesnakes."  It tells the story of Lander climbing, and Kyle also included a section on the new wave of bouldering development.  Kyle put a lot of work into the film.  Often a day of effort on his part lead to just seconds of film within the finished movie.  Kyle came out bouldering with us for four days just to film the parts that Jesse and I were in.  It was fun to be included, and see the process of its creation.  Wyoming in general, and Lander in particular, is a special place that inspires art in many forms.  "Wind and Rattlesnakes" is a work of art and obviously a labor of love.
Wind & Rattlesnakes from Kyle Duba on Vimeo.
If you like it, consider buying a copy on DVD or giving Kyle a donation.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Latest From Sweetwater

 We've spent a couple days climbing at a sector at Sweetwater that's new to us.  Some the rock is naturally very clean, so it's hard to say with certainty that all of these lines are new.  But I didn't see any evidence of prior bouldering in the area so I'll call these first ascents until I hear otherwise.  This sector has a lot of walls and boulders that I'm interested in climbing, and is incredibly scenic.  On our first day of climbing a strong wind kept us on the eastern side of the formation until it calmed down in the late afternoon.  We did a few short lines on a sheltered boulder.  The best and most difficult was this V5 SDS done by Ashley.

She still hasn't settled on a name.
 When the wind stopped we walked a short distance to what I'm calling the Ocean Boulder.  It's the centerpiece of the area, and now has three classic problems.  The first line I put up goes right up the center of the face from an obvious sit start jug.

"Another Toe in the Ocean" V4.

I put a few tries into a dyno to the left, but we had to go before I finished it.

 It wasn't long before I returned with Jesse.  He did the dyno from a stand start, and also added a line up the left side of the right arete.

"Debaser" V2/3

 I managed to figure out the dyno from the stand.  And before we left I linked into it from the sit start jug.

"What Goes Boom" V6

It looks like good weather and more new discoveries will be converging soon.  I'll let you know what develops.

Access Note:  The access situation at Devil's Kitchen seems sensitive right now.  The reservation has put up new signs, and it's possible that they could close the two-track access road if they decide it's getting too much traffic.  If you're planning to visit the Lander area to boulder this Fall, I recommend erring on the side of caution and not visiting Devil's Kitchen this season.  The Rock Shop and Sweetwater are great alternatives and have good conditions this time of year.  Please don't be the climber that gets the Devil's Kitchen closed for everyone.  If you do decide to visit Devil's Kitchen despite this warning, please make sure you have a Fishing Permit, keep a low profile, carpool, be friendly, and go up in a vehicle with Wyoming license plates if at all possible.  Fair or probably not, out-of-state plates attract extra attention.  Three Wyoming plates go past, no one notices.  Three Colorado plates go past and suddenly people remark on how much traffic there is.  Thanks for understanding, and helping preserve access up there.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Finding Autumn

We were on top of the Tombstone formation at the moment this year's Summer died.  A storm came out of the mountains, and sent us back to our truck.  It brought a couple weeks of wet and unsettled weather, and just days after that, Winter started to visit.  We had just one sunny cool breezy weekend, and then weekly snowstorms started hitting Lander.  During the last week of September, and the first week of October, back to back Thursday snowstorms broke the branches off the green leaved trees, knocked out the power, and covered Sinks Canyon and the mountain boulders in a foot of slush and powder.  After the first storm, we managed to find snow free blocks away from the Wind River upslope conditions by driving to Sweetwater.  Our number one project out there was too cold and windy, but we were able to find some shelter from the tempest at the Hampi boulders.  We had fun and got a great workout on a variety of lines.  Here are a couple we enjoyed that we hadn't tried before. 

"Center El Herman" V5      

 This unknown V6 SDS has great moves, but the strong wind, possibly loose top out flakes, and not enough pads kept us from committing to the top out.
 We hope to get back soon.
 Last weekend I noticed that the northern Winds didn't get nearly as much snow as Lander did in the latest storm.  We drove up to Torrey Valley and had a nicer day than we ever expected.  Snow free, and 60 degrees.  I got a sunburn.
 Ashley got "The Good Earth Traverse."  Right to left, and then after a rest she jumped on and did it left to right.
 I got through the crux going right to left, and then pumped off the easier part before I could get my feet established. It was getting late in the day, and I was getting worked.  It should have been disappointing to come so close and not send the line.  But the weather and scenery were so good, I couldn't be upset in the slightest.
 On the drive home I decided it would be safer if I pulled over and took a photo.  It's hard to keep your eyes on the road while driving in a landscape like this.  I often wonder how many cars actually go off the road each year due to scenic distraction?  I bet it's under reported.
Unfortunately, Autumn can't be found everywhere this year.  In western Wyoming she's seemed conspicuously absent. But we've been able to find her on the weekends so far, hiding out of the wind, or in a sunny mountain valley.