Thursday, May 30, 2013

Wind & Rattlesnakes

Kyle Duba's Lander climbing history film will premiere at the International Climbers' Festival this year.  I'm really looking forward to this!  Here's a new trailer that's just been released.
Wind & Rattlesnakes Trailer from Kyle Duba on Vimeo.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Savoring Summer Bouldering

The end of the school year is a busy time for teachers.  So busy for me that I had to put the climbing blog on hold for a few weeks.  But our summer season has been getting off to a strong start.  I've been getting outside to calm my mind after hectic days at school, and spent yesterday in Devil's Kitchen, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

The Upper Kitchen
 Long May days allowed me to spend evenings scouting and brushing boulders at the Rock Shop.  Occasionally on my own, and a couple times with Alex.  He's a boulderer from Missoula on an extended bouldering road trip who's excited to develop new problems.  One evening I brushed a tall problem on rappel.  Alex told me that he planned to camp nearby and climb a bit the next morning.  So I did what I had to do.  Despite the fact that I'd only planned to clean boulders that evening, I put on my climbing shoes, and fired the freshly brushed line.  It's named "Preemptive Strike."

Ashley climbing the second ascent of "Preemptive Strike" V3.
 The next day, Ashley and I got back to the Rock Shop and I climbed a new line that starts in underclings a few feet right and traverses the two diagonal cracks left to join the same top out.  It's a V5 called "Caroline Test."

Ashley committing to the common top out.
 I also brushed up a line I'd found last year.  I'd hoped to stay under the roof, but that line ended up being harder than I could do, and it also felt contrived.  The uncontrived line using the right arete goes at V4.
 The best way to top it out is using a pommel horse mantel.  I called it "Giddyup" and thought it might deserve three stars, but eventually decided to settle on two.
 Ashley and I planned to end one session with an easy problem.  This wall above "Giddyup" looked like it would be V2, but it's actually really tricky to climb.  We couldn't send it at the end of the day.

A week later, I came out on the afternoon of the last day of school to work on it with Alex.  The feet and handholds are all at strange angles.  To climb it requires foot jamming in pods, and awkward core tension.  Then once at the lip you need to commit to a scrunchy traverse to the right with feet on a sloping ledge.  The hand holds are good though.  The committing exit, and it being the last day of school, lead me to the name.

"The Great Escape" V5

 Conditions have been surprisingly cool at the Rock Shop.  Windy on top of the formations, but with just a pleasant breeze in the forest below.

Ashley took advantage of cool temps to make a quick repeat of one of her Rock Shop favorites "Burly."
 Roo enjoys cool conditions too.
 The wet spring has lead to an exceptionally pretty early summer this year.  The wildflowers are doing great.
 And Red Canyon is more green than red.
 In addition to the Rock Shop sessions, we've been doing things in Sinks Canyon that aren't new, but are still new to us.  In the guide I included the Slug boulder above the Cabins, but I hadn't gotten a chance to climb there yet.  The lines needed re-brushing, but they're ready to go again and offer interesting climbing on sloping holds.
Ashley climbing "Half Slug" V5.
 Today Ashley spent most of her session on the "Power of Now" boulder a.k.a. Broken Face.  In the guide I only documented one problem, but Ashley climbed five.  I think all of these lines were first done by Jeremy Rowan.  I'll do an update about them on the Bouldering in the Wind Rivers site soon.

The "Power of Now" boulder's left arete V2.
I was too worked to climb today, because I spent all day yesterday bouldering with Kyle, Jesse, and Jesi in Devil's Kitchen.

Kyle is filming some Devil's Kitchen bouldering to include in his upcoming film "Wind and Rattlesnakes" about the history and development of climbing in the Lander area.

Jesi came along to help out with the project.  Here Jesi films Jesse on a warm-up.
 With Kyle and Jesi already documenting the day's bouldering better than I could.  I spent the day documenting other things:
  The wildflowers.
The waterfalls.

 And the walls.
If the features of a natural landscape can combine to form something greater than the sum of their parts, like the individual instruments can in a piece of music, then Devil's Kitchen is a symphony.

Jesse showed us an alternate road out of the Kitchen that leads higher up the hill.  The higher vantage points, and snow covered peaks were so beautiful that we stopped the truck a couple times just to take photos.

 Beautiful weather, vast wild landscapes with fields of amazing boulders, and eighty consecutive days off.
 It's going to be a good summer...

Monday, May 6, 2013

Good Times

I've been feeling lucky lately.  A couple weeks ago I got to spend three days leading my students on field trips in Torrey Valley.  The students learned what I wanted to teach them, but even more importantly they were able to experience the grandeur of the place.  Part of the lesson included ten silent minutes of free observation.  The sound of the river, and the bird songs would emerge as soon as everyone stopped talking.  Winds were blowing plumes of snow off the ridges above us, while the air was warm and still on the small hill on which we sat.  One group got to watch a herd of bighorn sheep graze just a couple hundred feet away for the entire activity.  The field trip was initiated due to my experience with the place through days spent bouldering there.  And the teachers on my team supported the trip by leading other activities in the valley, like hiking and a tour of the nearby fish hatchery.  About one hundred and twenty students spent the majority of three school days outside in the mountains.  That's a significant amount of outdoor time when you add it all up.    
 Some students saw more wildlife than others, but they all saw at least a few bighorn sheep.
And while showing groups of students glacial erratic boulders, I noticed new chalk here and there.  Someone has been spending time on difficult sit starts recently.

Last weekend, Ashley and I had such a busy day working on projects at Sweetwater that I barely took out the camera.  Most of the things we worked on are still projects, but Ashley enjoyed sending "Metropolitan Glide" at the end of the day.

Here is one new project I'm working on.  I'm pretty sure I can do it if I get back out there with a strong spotter.  I just couldn't get myself to commit without one.
 The rocks out there are blooming with phlox.
 And on the drive home I pulled over for a landscape shot in the afternoon light.
Yesterday was another nice day at Sweetwater.  Ashley decided to give herself a week off of climbing so she'd feel recovered and ready for more climbing into the summer.  I decided I wanted to try a roof crack called "South of Heaven."  It's a problem first done by Vance that I'd never attempted before.  It's at the Hampi Boulders and requires full tape gloves.  Devlin and Ana decided to take a break from their sport climbing projects in Sinks to check out the area with me.  I enjoyed giving them a tour of my favorite lines in the main sector.   

Ana climbing a problem I dubbed "Sloper Line" in the guidebook.

 I'd looked at the glassy boulder behind "Sloper Line" on many occasions, but never padded up the landing and tried the climbs until yesterday.  It offers a couple technical, insecure, but really fun V3 lines.

And I just can't get over the surrounding landscape.

Here's Devlin climbing one of the problems.
 Ana and Devlin spent time working on the Hampi Boulder Traverse.

 And then we walked along the slabs to the south side of the formation for "South of Heaven."  It starts 30 feet deep above a somewhat steep slab landing.  Sometimes the pads would slide a little, but we had enough to cover everything well.  The length and angle remind me of the problem "Analog" at Vedauwoo, but the climbing here is all hand jams.  Some that are perfect, and a some that are a little bigger than I would like.
 On my best attempt I made it out to the spot seen below.  The line is so stout!  But based on the hardest move it probably is accurate to call it V4.  No individual move is that hard, but it's such a full body workout.  There isn't a good way to rest, and by the end it's really difficult to finish it off.   5.12 crack climbing, is a number that better expresses the difficulty.
 I'm excited for a rematch.

We ended the session by hiking around and looking at a few more projects.

 Sweetwater offers everything.  Plenty of established lines, and lots of exploration to do as well.
Only two more weekends, and then my summer break is here!  It's hard to contain the excitement.

If you're excited to check out the bouldering at Sweetwater, or at eleven other areas within easy striking distance of Lander, you can buy the guidebook Bouldering in the Wind River Range from Wild Iris, Fixed Pin Publishing, or ClimbingWyoming.Com.  Climbing Wyoming recently posted a variety of action shots from the guide, and is also helping  promote the guidebook with a 10% discount right now.