Sunday, February 17, 2013

Spring is When the Weather Goes Bipolar

There's a joke that a person suffering from bipolar disorder once sent out a postcard that read, "I'm having a wonderful time on vacation!  I wish I was dead."  The weather in Sinks canyon has been swinging just as dramatically lately.  Two weeks ago, we spent the first half of our climbing session in the gym because the weather outside was too cold and cloudy.  Then the sun came out, and we rushed out of the gym and drove up the canyon for a late afternoon of bouldering on the dolomite boulders at Fairfield Hill.

Willow and Roo during the second half of our climbing session two weeks ago.
Then last weekend, Sinks got twenty inches of snow in less than 24 hours.  We couldn't go climbing, so we went sledding.  It was such light powdery snow that you'd pick up speed at the top of the hill, and end up tunneling under the snow for a considerable distance at the bottom.  Like a mole digging in a time lapse film.

Sierra between sled runs.
 And then yesterday was possibly the nicest day I've ever had at the cliffs.  We climbed for seven hours, and conditions never felt too warm or too cold, the entire time.
Last Saturday!
 Then yesterday!
 I made some progress on my sport climbing project "Citadel of Hope."  Now it's just the last bolt that I can't manage to get clipped.  Ashley got bored of doing laps of my project on toprope, and decided to work it on lead.  But after climbing up the top half, bolt to bolt, decided that it was actually much more fun doing laps on toprope.  Sierra did some climbing too.  We ended the day on "The Heaven's Can Wait."  Sierra made a flash ascent to the top of the pillar.  She's a natural at chimney climbing technique, and I wonder if she could chimney her way up some of the high rated Vedauwoo offwidths?

As part of the guidebook writing process I've been trying to get first hand knowledge of as many local boulder problems as possible.  But actually that's what I'd be doing even if I wasn't writing a guide.  Anyway, Davin gave me a topo to some lines that he and Dave Nash put up about ten years ago.  This low roof problem was on the map, and I managed to repeat it during the late afternoon session two weeks ago.  The lighting was poor for video, and you can't see the holds because they are all pockets under the roof.  This video isn't my best work, but it's the only new video that I have.  One of the pockets is much harder to hold than the others, and I had to make a small dyno off of it.  It's a very steep problem.  If this roof were on a route, it would be considered classic 5.13 climbing.

Dolomite still isn't my favorite stone for bouldering, but I'm getting interested in it again.  There are a lot of new lines to be climbed on the dolomite boulders in Sinks, and they are less likely to be covered in snow than the granite boulders this time of year.

Spring is coming.  But in Wyoming that just means that winter weather, summer weather, and windy weather will alternate and blend chaotically for a few months until summer arrives.  All we can do is hope that the good days fall on weekends.  My mood in spring generally follows the weather pretty closely.  I just looked outside the window, and it's snowing again.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

50 Dangerous Things (you should let your children do)

If you're a climber and a parent, I think the book Fifty Dangerous Things (you should let your children do) will resonate with you too.  I couldn't recommend it more highly.  The main idea of the book is that when we round all the edges, put up safety rails everywhere, and protection eventually becomes overprotection, children don't learn the difference between what's just unknown and what's really dangerous.  That protecting all kids, from all risks, all the time, will eventually lead them to have a lack of competence in the world.  That we can teach kids to be more competent, confident, and comfortable in the world, by introducing them to risk in a gradual way.  Show them how to explore in a safe manner, and when they are ready, let them explore on their own.  The idea seems sound to me, but the best part of the book is that it has 50 fully explained activities that help you do that with your children.

I just got the book last week, and I'll be treating it like a bouldering guidebook.  Ticking as many of the boxes as I can.  My daughters and I started at # 1 last night.  We tasted electricity by licking a nine volt battery.  That went pretty well.  So today we jumped ahead to #31 and went underground.  The timing was perfect.  Recently, I was given a tour of a cave just a short drive from home.  Lander continues to offer up amazing surprises.  Don't expect to just find it though.  You need to get to know the right people and ask them to unlock the gate.  I invited a couple other families along for the adventure.  Only the dads showed up.  Andy and Devlin brought their daughters, and Devlin brought his dad, Tom.  Here are some photos from the cave.

Andy and a beautifully water sculpted ceiling.
 Sierra and Autumn checking out ice crystals near the entrance.
 Surf Wyoming
 The underground stream.
 Nice water carved fins of stone.
We all had a good time.  Cave exploring hits a lot of the same buttons that climbing does, and it's a nice winter activity.  This cave isn't suitable for bouldering, but it makes me wonder if I should look around for one that would be.  A dry cave of this rock type could offer year round bouldering, if the right one is ever found...

Oh, I got distracted by climbing again.  Sorry.  So two activities have been done, and we have 48 to go.  Our next project might be making our own slingshots, or cooking some food in the dishwasher.  Now that I've been reading this book, it doesn't feel so strange that we let our daughters belay each other at the cliffs with a Gri Gri on toprope.  We're just being responsible parents, helping our kids learn competence.  Maybe the safest path in life is to learn the right way to take risks?