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 ClimbingWyoming.com very soon. Order it now, or check it out in your local climbing shop when it arrives. And thanks for your support!