Sunday, April 21, 2013

A New Site for Lander Area Bouldering Info

We spent today at the Ice Age Area.  It's usually not the best bouldering sector near Lander.  But it might have been today.  Almost everything else was snowed in.  We got out early and managed to get most of our climbing done before the wind picked up.  Ashley climbed the complete Warm Up boulder traverse from a pocket at the far right to the top out on the left slab.  It goes high at the end, but stays below the top of the boulder the whole way.  It might be Jeremy's old traverse? It's pumpy and goes at V4 or 5.

So I've been making a habit of posting bouldering info like that within my posts since moving to Lander, but I think it's a good time to make a split between the journal that I keep of our sessions on this blog, and new information that might be helpful to anyone bouldering in the Lander area.  To get the new beta, you shouldn't need to also keep up with reports of every bouldering session that I get out for.  So I'm starting a new site called Bouldering in the Wind River Range.  It will be a site for posting new problems, guidebook updates, and corrections.  I did it in Blogger because it's a familiar, convenient, and free service for me to use, but that also means that its login is connected to this blog and a couple others that I do.  So I'm not planning to make it directly accessible to other contributors.  But I'd like it to contain posts from anybody who has developed an area, or even put up a single problem that they want to let people know about.  Please send posts and photos to my e-mail, and I'll add them to the site.  It's got a couple posts that I've put together already.  Hopefully this will grow into the go-to spot for information beyond the new guidebook, and also be a helpful resource when it's time for the next edition.  

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Guidebook is Out!

If you've been reading this blog, you probably already know that I've been quite impressed by the bouldering in the Lander area, since moving here from Ft. Collins four years ago.  Especially by some of the new areas developed during the last couple years like the God Eye Gully/ Norwegian Wood sectors at Sweetwater, the Falcon's Lair, Devil's Kitchen and the Rock Shop.  Each of these areas already have enough problems and enough potential within sight of the developed problems to be regionally significant bouldering areas.  Zoom out a bit and the Sweetwater Rocks region, and many parts of the Wind River Range could become nationally significant bouldering areas one day.

These boulder gardens haven't hit most boulderer's radar yet, and they aren't places to visit if you want to be part of a scene.  But if you're looking for some amazing bouldering in uncrowded places, the Lander area offers it.

About a year and a half ago I committed myself to writing a guidebook documenting the bouldering in this area.  I wanted to update the problems and areas already documented in Steve Bechtel's guide, and add all the new areas that Chris, Jesse, Davin, and I have been bouldering and developing at.  Last summer Ben Sears joined the project, and used his graphic design expertise to make the maps, format the pages, and make the whole guide look great in general.

Before starting the guide, I looked at every guidebook that I owned in order to figure out exactly what I wanted to create.  Guidebooks are collectibles to me, and I often buy guides to areas that I'm not even sure I want to visit.  I like the landscape orientation binding of the Stone Country Press guides.  Their guides look good and the weight of the wide pages keeps the books from closing themselves as soon as you let go of them.  But with pages bound on the short side I decided I'd need a sewn binding to be absolutely sure that pages wouldn't start falling out after use in the field.  I wanted the new guide to be full color, with photos of almost every problem, and have color coded lines based on difficulty.  It was also important for the new guide to be small enough and light enough that it would easily fit into a bouldering pack.  I like the history, natural history, and geology sections in Tom Moulin's Southern Nevada Bouldering guide.  I wrote my own, but decided to keep them brief.  I also liked the matte finish and photo quality of Wesley Gooch's Jackson Hole and Pinedale Climbing Guide.

I noticed some things in the guides on my shelf that I wanted to avoid.  One trend that has annoyed me in recent guidebooks has been the proliferation of advertisements.  They're a distraction.  And who wants to be carrying a bunch of unnecessary pages around?  I decided that my guide would be ad free.

After over a year of writing, and fixing issues as they arose, the project is finished! It wasn't easy, but I was able to meet the goals that I started with.  The guide is bound the way I wanted it and the pages are sewn in.  It's full color, the routes are color coded for difficulty, it's the size that I wanted, and it doesn't have any ads.  But custom sized pages, and sewn bindings raise the price of book printing.  Also, small print runs are very expensive per copy.  Stores and distribution require a mark up as well.  And there is a reason most full color guides have ads. They help offset the costs.  In order to make the guide as good as it could be, I paid the printing costs myself, and I priced the guide as low as possible based on those printing costs.

I worked really hard on this guide, and it is honestly the best guide that I could create right now.  Actually it's better than that.  Ben Sear's graphic design work, Davin and Jeremy's photos and topos, and the essay Davin wrote about his experience of bouldering in Wyoming have made this guide much better than any guide I could have ever put together myself.

I hope you buy the guide.  I hope you enjoy it, and use it to visit the great new bouldering that you have to explore in the Lander area.  And if you'd like it to be updated in a few years, I hope you get copies as gifts for your friends.  Ashley won't let me write and print a second edition until we're running out of boxes of this one.

The new guide is 200 pages and has over 500 problems.  It is currently available at Wild Iris Mountain Sports in Lander, and it will be available from Fixed Pin Publishing, and very soon.  Order it now, or check it out in your local climbing shop when it arrives.  And thanks for your support!  

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Spring Break Wrap-up

Jesse climbing his new highball "Silver Bullet."

One of the reasons we didn't travel far over Spring Break is that the Bouldering in the Wind River Range guidebooks were supposed to arrive yesterday.  Unfortunately shipping to Lander appears to be more complicated than shipping to the rest of the country, and the books haven't gotten here yet.  I've been told that they should arrive on Monday or Tuesday.  

In hindsight, we could have gone on a trip.  But really, I can't imagine a Spring Break climbing trip that would have been better than the days we've had at Sweetwater over the break.  I did three great V7s, seven first ascents, discovered four new projects, and the weather was wonderful up until today.

Lindsey on "The Banquet." 

 Sophia on "Silver Bullet"
 Lindsey deciding that she's high enough on "Silver Bullet."
 Today started overcast, cold, and windy.  The weather didn't look good enough to risk two hours of driving for Sweetwater.  But we drove up Sinks Canyon and were able to get a breezy session on the Lizard Lab.  The girls were happy to be able to do a few problems that they couldn't do last time.
And that wraps up the Spring Break climbing this year.

My feelings are completely split right now.  I'm so happy about the climbing we did over break, and excited by the upcoming bouldering season at Sweetwater, Oz, and the Rock Shop.  But waiting for the guide is driving me crazy.  It's difficult to work on something somewhat obsessively for over a year, invest a lot of money into it, and then feel like it's out of your hands for over a month.

The next post better be about the arrival of guidebook...

Thursday, April 4, 2013

New Three Star Lines at Sweetwater

Jesse's been establishing some amazing lines at Sweetwater lately.  Today I climbed one of them, and watched Jesse climb two more.  Sophia, Lindsey, and Jesse's new friend Buddy all came out to see the area, sample the new lines, and add a couple pads to the stack.

I'll post photos soon, but the highball first ascents in this video are so good, I'm posting the video tonight.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Spring Break at Sweetwater

 We decided to stay home for Spring Break this year, and it's been a great decision so far.  When you hit perfect weather at Sweetwater, the sessions are as good as I've had anywhere.  I've spent three out of the last four days in the Norwegian Wood sector at Sweetwater, and each day has been more productive than the last.  In those three days we never saw another soul, watched cloud shadows move across the plains, and soaked up the sun.

On Saturday, I'd planned to visit the Land of Oz with Cameron in order to find and clean some problems that I could climb with my family on Sunday.  Oz still looked snowy in the distance, so we went to Sweetwater instead.  Cameron made an inspiring ascent of "Take it Easy."  It seems like I'm the only person that the problem fits well.  Cameron also climbed "Norwegian Warmup" and then we started work on a project on the right side of the Norewgian Wood face.
 After about an hour and a half of attempts "This Bird Has Flown" V7 was finished.
 I also added an up problem near the start of "True Grit."  It's a SDS under the roof called "The Roof is on Fire." V5/6
Cameron and I ended the day by cleaning up a wall with some warmups and a pumpy traverse on jugs.  On the hike out, Cameron made a flash ascent of "Gimme Three Steps."  

The next day Ashley and I named the juggy wall "Coffee Wall" after it's dark patina, and that it gets you started in the morning.

Ashley got the first ascent of the full traverse and named it "Mocha Machine" V3/4.

Ashley did the second ascent of "The Roof is on Fire," worked on "Norwegian Wood" and then started working on a new line.  A traverse below "True Grit."  It climbed surprisingly well, and the start wasn't as low as it initially looked.  We both worked on it, and worked ourselves in the process.
 Then we took a rest day.

We returned yesterday for a surprisingly perfect day.  I found and brushed a good new warmup, and Ashley climbed the first ascent on her first try.  "The Walls are Coming Down" V1.

 Ashley found a new traverse project to the right, but we still had another project to send.

Ashley beat me to the first ascent of "Butterfly Traverse" V7.

It took me three more attempts, and I felt lucky to be able to finish the second ascent yesterday.  It was surprisingly difficult to finish it off after doing the start.

In over twenty days spent bouldering at Sweetwater I've only seen one rattlesnake.  But ever since our dog Sundance was bitten by one during a Spring Break in Colorado, we try not to take any chances.  A couple months ago we had both our dogs vaccinated against rattlesnake venom.  It helps us be a bit more relaxed out there.
Sweetwater has so much potential.  In just this one sector, there are many boulders to be climbed that I haven't gotten to yet.  At the moment, I'm enjoying the views and patina found up on the formation.  I'll probably finish developing the formation before moving back to the boulders in the gully.
 While hiking around I was surprised to find three new lines in close proximity to "Norwegian Wood."  Two were quite inspiring, but looked too difficult for how worked I felt.  So I jumped on the easiest and shortest of the three new discoveries.

The Sleestak Project was done from a stand start yesterday.  The SDS is still a project.  
 Here is another project found down in the main gully below the formation.
The other two projects are prettier, but I'm going to try them before I post about them.  The wind forecast isn't as good for the second half of Spring Break out at Sweetwater, but I won't let the new lines wait too long.  I'm so psyched on this sector right now!